Steve Spagnuolo is a young man that I had an opportunity to interview and I was very impressed by his detail, his energy, his enthusiasm. His resume is outstanding. He's had a lot of different football jobs. He's been in the scouting end of it, he's been a defensive line coach. When he first went to Philadelphia eight years ago he coached the corners and then the safeties. Then the last three years, he's coached the linebackers there. He's been with Jim Johnson and that outstanding defense for a number of years. His philosophy is an aggressive philosophy. I like his background. He's been a coordinator at the college level. He's been a coordinator in the World League. He's worked for Jack Bicknell, who is a wonderful guy and an excellent football coach. Steve and I had some stories to share about Jack. But a lot of similarities along the way in people he has worked for and that I have knowledge of. I'm very impressed and very excited to have him on board.
Q: Was finding someone with his aggressiveness a top priority for you?
A: I was obviously looking for a guy who had had the opportunity to work with some outstanding defensive people in this league. It wasn't just a matter of the aggressiveness because the scheme that we have played here has been an aggressive scheme. Steve is familiar with the fire-zone theories. He's also familiar with absolute blitz coverage, which obviously you've seen over the years from the Philadelphia defense. I just thought it was such an attractive commodity to have a guy who has worked to a great extent and in great detail with one of the recognized outstanding defensive coaches in our league.
Q: How much does it help that he knows the division and also that he's been successful in the division?
A: Here's the thing: He goes back a long way with Andy Reid, way back to the college level. They're not only fellow coaches, but they're friends. I think that this opportunity came his way. It is a plus that he would be someone who knows our division, but it's also a plus that he comes from a program which has Andy Reid as the head coach and Jim Johnson as the defensive coordinator.
Q: I assume he's going to stay with the 4-3 front? Was that at all a topic of discussion?
A: We've discussed in detail a variety of opportunities for fronts, but again, it's based on personnel and we're going to give him a chance to really get in here and take a hard look at our personnel.
Q: Is he the only one you interviewed?
A: He's the only one that I interviewed as such, as my first choice. I did a lot of research on any number of guys.
Q: Did you speak to anyone else over the phone?
A: I spoke to many people over the phone, yes.
Q: Given his aggressive mentality and the fact that you are going to review the personnel involved, do you anticipate having to rebuild any of the areas to coincide with his philosophies?
A: Those discussions are forthcoming. We have not really gotten into all of the detailed discussions on personnel, with Jerry Reese just being named general manager. Those discussions are really forthcoming. We have taken a hard look basically at our team, but moving forward we have other discussions coming.
Q: Are you retaining any of the defensive position coaches?
A: I expect to retain all of the position coaches on the defensive side of the ball, yes. I do want to say this: I think we have an outstanding group of coaches. Steve is familiar with a number of them and I think that one thing that was a huge plus is I have a great sense that he will work very well with our current coaches and that the transition for him will be smooth.
Q: Was it a factor that he hasn't been a defensive coordinator in this league?
A: No, that was not a factor. No.
Q: Is anything going on with the quarterbacks coach?
A: It's on-going. Thank you for asking.
Q: Do you expect to come out of Mobile with a quarterbacks coach?
A: I don't know. I wouldn't put a timetable on it. I certainly expect that progress will be going forward and again, we'll see. We have any number of candidates here and since I've been here – and I've only been here about an hour or so – I've probably had four calls to the room.
Q: Do you have any thoughts on the news out of Dallas that Bill Parcells is retiring?
A: Bill is an excellent football coach, a very good friend. There have been rumors about this. We're going to miss Bill Parcells on the sideline. We're going to miss him in the NFC East. We're going to look forward to the continuation of our friendship probably at a different level now because we're not going to be in the same division. I wish him well because I think Bill is looking forward to having some opportunities to do some of the things that he truly wants to do, and we wish him well and good health in his retirement.
First of all, I'd like to thank all of you guys for taking the time to call in. I look forward to meeting and working with all of you. Secondly, I want to say thanks obviously to Coach Coughlin for the opportunity. I'm excited about it and I'm proud to be a part of his staff. And thirdly – and real important to me – I want to thank publicly Andy Reid, Mr. (Jeffrey) Lurie, Joe Banner and Jim Johnson, all (of them) down in Philadelphia. That is one class, great organization. I'll miss them all. The nice thing for me is that I'm going to another classy, great organization. All of that is very exciting.
Q: What's it going to be like coaching against Andy Reid?
A: It'll be fun. Andy and I – I heard Coach Coughlin saying to you guys, are real good friends. We go way back, and I think any time you can compete against your friends, that's kind of special.
Q: How did you sell yourself to Coach Coughlin when you had his attention and were in the room with him?
A: I think honestly, I was just me. I think you go about it that way in this league. You show what you are, what you're about and hope that that's what they're looking for. It's obviously in this situation, I guess whatever I said, did or acted, Coach Coughlin did. I just did what I've been doing for the last – I just presented what I've been doing for the last eight years and my 24, 25 years of experience in coaching, and it worked out pretty good.
Q: How would you describe what you've been doing and your philosophy on defense?
A: Obviously you guys have seen the Giants-Eagles contests the last few years. That's obviously going to be the bulk of what I am and what I do, because I believe in it. It's been successful. But I will pick pieces and parts of where I've been in a lot of different places. This business is a beg, borrow and steal, so whenever you can get an idea of something new or innovative, you try to incorporate it into what you have and what you do. I'll try to put all of the pieces together and come up with something new.
Q: Do you think the Giants right now have the personnel to carry out what you want to do?
A: Well, I'll be honest with you, I haven't had that time yet, to really make any decisions that way. I'm looking forward to getting together with the defensive staff and Coach Coughlin. That will be the gist of what we do at the beginning, but I don't have a good feel for that right now. You have to remember, when you're playing either in the conference or someone in the NFL and you're on defense, you're kind of honed in to their offense.
Q: Knowing that you're coming to a team with a healthier LaVar Arrington and Antonio Pierce at the position you just coached with a Pro Bowler – Is that exciting for you?
A: Yeah, what I do know about those guys is real exciting. I was lucky to coach Jeremiah Trotter here. I was blessed in that way. That was a hard conversation this morning. Jeremiah and I got together…But no, I do look forward to that, no question.
Q: What did Trotter tell you?
A: Well, you know, it's funny. I guess you never know about players until you get in this situation, but in my mind I just felt like players move on, get another coach, but – I won't tell you what our conversation was, but I was touched by it, I can tell you that.
Q: The Eagles defensive under Jim Johnson has been known for its aggression and its blitzing. How much of that was Jim? How much of it was personnel? How much was a mix?
A: That package we had was Jim. He's been in the league a lot of years prior to coming to Philadelphia, and I'm sure he pulled from other people along the way and did the same thing. We put our heads together as a staff and came up with a few things, too, but the majority of it is Jim sitting down, mixing it together and coming up with something good.
Q: I know it's obviously a move up, but was it a difficult decision to think about maybe being the heir apparent in Philadelphia and the potential uncertainty here?
A: Not really. I don't know if you guys can appreciate this, but when you're in the business I'm in and you aspire to be in certain positions and coordinator was one that I wanted. There's only 32 of them in this league and I don't think you ever say no to them. Every year in this league is going to be a challenge, so I look at this as another one and I'm looking forward to it, so no, that never crossed my mind.
Q: Knowing you're going to be facing the Eagles twice a year and knowing Andy Reid, will that be an advantage for you?
A: I guess there'll be a slight advantage, but I would say this: I don't know that that slight advantage is going to make the difference between winning and losing. The advantage I guess I'll have is I'll know the personnel a little bit better, but when you go back and forth – offensive coordinator, defensive coordinator, and you're making calls – I may know what they do, but I don't know what they're going to do on that play. They don't know what I'm going to do on the play that's about to come up. Maybe knowing personnel will help, but that's a good football team down there and I'm anticipating we'll have a good one. I think it will be like all Giants and Eagles games – Hard fought, good, tough football games.
Q: Since you're at the Senior Bowl, obviously you're going to have a particular say in who the Giants draft. What is your idea of an ideal defensive player?
A: First, I'm not down at the Senior Bowl. I'm not going to get the chance to go down there. I'm actually just trying to get things together here in Philadelphia and get up there as soon as I can. But when you talk about an ideal – I think you asked about an ideal football player? Can you say that again?
Q: To fit into your system, what is the ideal of a good, young football player? What are you looking for?
A: I think in any system in this league defensively, I think we all look for guys that play fast. I'm not going to go down the size, speed issue, all of that. You want smart, intelligent football players that play aggressive and play fast. Now, when I say ‘play fast', that doesn't mean he has to be 4.5, but when he's on the field he has to play like he's 4.5. I think aggressiveness and playing fast – I will use that term a lot because in this league, especially on the defensive side of the ball, players have got to be able to play fast.
Q: Have you always been a 4-3 guy or have you ever done 3-4?
A: No, actually when I coached in NFL Europe and coordinated there, we ran a 3-4. Most of my other experience has been 4-3, but it's been a mixture. I'm thinking back, as you asked that question, I think we ran…Most of it's 4-3. I think, again, along the way when I was with Jack Bicknell and the Barcelona dragons, way back when it was World League of American Football, we played the 3-4 defense with Red Kellen, who is a Jersey guy. I don't know if you guys recognize his name – (He's a) good football coach.
Q: Is this the first defensive coordinator job you've been up for?
A: No, there have been a couple others.
Q: Do you have any knowledge of the tradition of defensive coordinators at the Giants and what they've gone on to do?
A: I mean, John Fox obviously comes to mind. Bill Belichick pops in my head and I'm sure there are others that I'm not aware of, but you're talking about some pretty good football coaches.
Q: And what does it mean to you to be the defensive coordinator at a franchise that has traditionally had such great defensive coordinators?
A: At the New York Giants, you're saying, specifically? I'll tell you…I'm a little overwhelmed. I'm excited and certainly proud to be a part of the New York Giants. When you think of the NFL and you think of NFL football, there are certain teams that jump out in your head and I think the Giants are one of them. I think it goes without saying that I'm a lucky, lucky man to have the opportunity to hold that position with that particular team.