Giants Name Peter Giunta Secondary Coach

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Peter Giunta, who has 15 years of NFL coaching experience and was the defensive coordinator for the 1999 Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams, was today named the Giants' new secondary coach. Giunta (pronounced JUN-ta), 49, spent the last five seasons as the Kansas City Chiefs' defensive backs coach.

"I'm really excited to be joining the Giants," Giunta said from his Kansas City-area home. "The Giants have a great football team, and I'm happy to be part of Tom Coughlin's staff."

Giunta replaces Ron Milus, who was the secondary coach during Coughlin's first two seasons with the Giants.

"Peter has been a defensive coordinator and he has a Super Bowl win," Coughlin said. "He's coached the secondary for one of the fine coaches in the National Football League in Dick Vermeil (with whom Giunta worked in St. Louis and Kansas City), who gives him an outstanding recommendation. His interview was excellent. I think he's a guy that is going to help us from a standpoint that he's an excellent teacher. He is a technician. I think our players will learn and grow under his tutelage. I also think he's going to be big help for us on game plan day."

Giunta has several connections with the Giants' coaching staff. He worked with offensive line coach Pat Flaherty at Penn State in 1982-83. "We won the national championship there," Giunta said. He worked with defensive coordinator Tim Lewis' brother Will at Brown University. "Will and I hit it off, and that's how I met Tim," Giunta said. "And when you work with defensive backs you travel in the same circles at workouts and the combine."

Giunta got to know Coughlin when the head coach visited the Chiefs' training camp at Vermeil's request in 2003.

The Giants' new coach is also familiar with the metropolitan area; he was the Jets' defensive backs coach in 1995-96.

"Our family loved it there," Giunta said. "When we left New York to go to St. Louis, the kids were devastated."

Giunta is looking forward to working with the Giants' defensive backs.

"There are some good young players there," he said. "There is talent there. I think we have a chance to be a great defensive football team, not just a good one. I'm looking forward to the challenge, along with the rest of the defensive coaches, of turning this into a great Giants defense."

Giunta will officially begin his Giants duties on Monday, when he will meet Coughlin in Atlanta. The two coaches will then fly together to Alabama for the Senior Bowl. Giunta's first day at Giants Stadium will be the following Monday.

"I'm looking forward to a new challenge," Giunta said. "Tom and Tim and I spent the whole day together Monday, talking football, watching tape – it was great. I'm really excited about the whole situation. I'm going to grow as a person and as a coach being around Tom and the other coaches, and I hope they're going to grow from being around me."

Giunta joined the Chiefs after spending four seasons (1997-2000) with St. Louis, including the last three as that club's defensive coordinator. Giunta served as the Rams' assistant head coach under Vermeil in 1998-99 after originally joining the Rams staff as defensive backs coach in 1997.

In 2003, safety Jerome Woods earned his initial Pro Bowl berth under Giunta's guidance, an impressive feat considering the fact that he missed the entire 2002 campaign with a broken right leg. The Chiefs registered 25 interceptions to rank third in the NFL that season, as safety Greg Wesley and cornerback Dexter McCleon paced the team with six picks apiece.

As Rams defensive coordinator, Giunta was responsible for the resurgence in the St. Louis defense which helped spark the club's remarkable run to a world championship in 1999. Those efforts culminated with a 13-3 regular season record that year and a 23-16 victory over Tennessee in Super Bowl XXXIV. Giunta's unit led the league in rush defense in ‘99, allowing just 74.3 yards per game, while ranking fourth in scoring defense (15.1 points per game) and sixth in total defense (293.6 yards per game).

The Rams' 1999 defense led the NFC and was second in the NFL with 29 interceptions. Cornerback Todd Lyght led the way, tying for the league lead with six interceptions, earning his initial Pro Bowl berth in the process. St. Louis was also opportunistic, returning nine takeaways (seven interceptions and two fumbles) for touchdowns in ‘99. Those turnovers were due in large part to a Rams pass rush which racked up 57.0 sacks, a figure which tied Coughlin's Jacksonville Jaguars for the league lead. That charge was headlined by Pro Bowl DE Kevin Carter, who led the NFL with 17.0 sacks.

Giunta also has a reputation for getting the most out of the defensive backs he coaches. In 2000, McCleon registered eight interceptions for St. Louis, a total which was surpassed only by Green Bay safety Darren Sharper, who had nine. In his first season as defensive coordinator in 1998, St. Louis ranked third in the NFL in passing defense, allowing 176.9 yards per game. With Giunta serving as defensive backs coach in 1997 the Rams were second in the league with 25 interceptions, including an NFL-high nine by Ryan McNeil.

Prior to joining the Rams, Giunta, a native of Salem, Mass., native spent two seasons as the defensive backs coach for the Jets. In 1995, the Jets led the league in pass defense (171.3 yards per game). Giunta was also instrumental in the development of cornerback Aaron Glenn, who would go on to earn Pro Bowl nods following the 1997 and ‘98 seasons.

Giunta's first NFL position was coaching defensive backs for Philadelphia from 1991-94. During the ‘91 season, the Eagles defense ranked first in the league in passing defense (150.8 yards per game), rushing defense (71.0 yards per game) and total defense (221.8 yards per game). That marked just the fifth time in NFL history and the first time since 1975 that a single team led the league in all three of those defensive categories.

Giunta's 10 seasons in the collegiate ranks began at Penn State (1981-83). During his first year on Joe Paterno's staff, Giunta was a defensive assistant before coaching the tight ends for his final two seasons. While at Penn State, the Nittany Lions claimed the 1982 National Championship with a 27-23 victory over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. Penn State won three bowl games during Giunta's tenure ('82 Fiesta, ‘83 Sugar and ‘83 Aloha).

Following Penn State, Giunta moved to Brown (1984-87), where he coached both the tight ends and wide receivers before becoming the offensive coordinator (1986-87). Giunta then joined the staff at Lehigh (1988-90), where he was responsible for the tight ends and wide receivers.

After a four-year playing career as a defensive back and running back at Northeastern (1974-77), Giunta began his coaching career in Massachusetts where he guided Swampscott High School from 1978-80.

Giunta and his wife, Cindy, have three children: Christina (23), John (19) and D.J. (8).

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