Steve Spagnuolo reaches across line of scrimmage for feedback

Posted Jun 22, 2016

Steve Spagnuolo communicates with Eli Manning and Coach Ben McAdoo for feedback on the defense at practice:

The Giants’ defense wanted to match the offense’s success so badly that it went out and got its very own Eli this offseason.

While Eli Manning led a top-10 unit in passing yards, scoring, and total yards in 2015, the defense allowed the most yards and second-most points in the NFL last year. The front office made the disparity its No. 1 priority, bringing in a major haul of free agents and using the No. 10 overall pick on cornerback Eli Apple.


“It is funny that you have to add a last name to [Eli] now,” defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo said last week as the Giants wrapped up minicamp and the offseason workout program. “I was yelling ‘Eli, Eli’ one day and No. 10 was looking at me. I was like, ‘I’m not talking to you; I’m talking about Eli Apple.’”

It wasn’t the only interaction Spagnuolo had with the “other” Eli this spring, nor will it be his last.

Anytime a defensive coordinator can pick the brain of the two-time Super Bowl MVP and four-time Pro Bowler, he does. The same goes for bouncing ideas off head coach Ben McAdoo, who formulated game plans and called plays as offensive coordinator for two of Manning’s best statistical seasons in 2014 and 2015.

“Usually every day I will visit with Eli and/or Ben about what we have done on defense, is it giving them trouble? Should we keep it? Should we not?” said Spagnuolo, architect of the defense that held the record-setting Patriots to 14 points in Super Bowl XLII. “The feedback that way has been good. At some point we will cut it down, keep what we think is good and get rid of what we don’t think is going to work, but I think it is fun to be creative and keep the offense off balance.”


That was on full display during the final full practice of spring. Spagnuolo and the coaches mixed in new looks that they had not gotten to previously so there would be tape on it heading into training camp, which opens July 28.

The same was true on the offensive side as one hand washed the other.

“Just little things, I will ask about disguises. Should we keep trying to disguise? Are we giving something away?” Spagnuolo said. “That is a give-and-take and they do the same thing; they will ask on the other side. I think the open conversation there is really good. I think the good teams do that.”

“There’s no bigger fan of the defense getting the types of players that they got,” offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan said, “because that means they’re going to take the ball away, they’re going to put us in position to force some punts, force some field goals or not even let them get into field goal range. And that’s going to give us more snaps, more opportunities, more at bats, if you will, so it made our team better and I’m really excited about that.”