Steve Spagnuolo's first game as the Interim Head Coach of the New York Football Giants is Sunday:
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –Eli Manning said today the Giants offense will look largely the same Sunday without Ben McAdoo, the man who designed and oversaw it for almost four years.
"It's obviously Mac's offense, so now we just don't have his involvement," Manning said. "It's still the same offense, not a whole lot changing. Sully (offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan) might have a few ideas or a few plays that are still in the system that he wants to run this week, so not a whole lot has changed from that standpoint."
The Giants will host the Dallas Cowboys Sunday in their first game since McAdoo was dismissed as head coach on Monday. General manager Jerry Reese also lost his job.
Manning did not play last week in Oakland in McAdoo's last game on the sideline. Upon being named interim head coach, Steve Spagnuolo immediately announced that Manning would start against the Cowboys.
Sullivan has been on the Giants' coaching staff for 11 of Manning's 14 seasons with the team. But Manning said he has not had more influence in the game plan with Sullivan effectively in charge of the offense.
"I think I've always had input," Manning said. "(With McAdoo) when Sully was in the meetings, he'd have to run things up, and (McAdoo) would say yes or no. So he's making the final calls on stuff. But again, I've always felt involved, and Mac was always accepting of stuff and new ideas and trying things out. So I think not much has changed on that front."
After seeing his 210-game starting streak end last week when Geno Smith played, Manning is downplaying the fact that he has regained his job. "Always excited about playing the Cowboys," he said, "and I look forward to going out there, playing well, moving the ball, scoring some points and getting a win."
Manning has played his entire career under offensive-oriented head coaches in Tom Coughlin and McAdoo. Spagnuolo has been a defensive coach for more than 30 years, including almost 20 in the NFL. That hasn't changed this week.
"Sunday morning, I'll have some time with Eli to talk about game management and things," Spagnuolo said. "But Eli's been in this business. He's got a lot of experience under his belt, and so does Mike, so I'm going to rely on those guys heavily for certain things."
"I used to always meet with coach Coughlin Saturday mornings about some game management stuff, and watching examples of two-minute and four-minute drives," Manning said. "So whatever he wants, we'll make it work."
*Spagnuolo said he will continue to call the defensive plays from the sideline, as he has done since returning as coordinator in 2015.
"The biggest thing is I don't want to disrupt the apple cart very much at all, so I'll be doing that," Spagnuolo said. "Then we'll take it game-by-game, but that's the – I enjoy that part of it if it's going well. It's another story when things don't go well, but I don't want that to change too much. Mike will do the offensive calling, and obviously Tom Quinn will handle special teams."
*The Giants today held their first Friday practice since 2014. McAdoo used Friday as a recovery/meeting/walk-through day, and Saturday was his "launch day," when he held a practice. Tom Coughlin used the same schedule in 2015, his final season as head coach. Spagnuolo returned to the former schedule.
"This was a different Friday," Spagnuolo said. "I was thinking this morning there are some guys that haven't had this kind of practice in pro football. But I think the vets did a good job and I think we got a lot of work out of it.
"I think we can get a little bit more work done (practicing on Friday). I think this part of the season, I thought our guys were fresh enough that we could do it. There were a lot of good reasons for doing it the way we did before and some of the guys, I think there was a portion of the team that liked it that way. That's not why I did it. I'm used to this. When I was a head coach (with the Rams from 2009-11) and I was here with Tom, when I was with Andy Reid, when I was with John Harbaugh, that's how we did it. So more than anything, it's a comfort level for me. And hopefully, everybody else that's involved will feel that same way. The most important thing is will it be productive for us on Sunday. We'll find out about that in a couple of days."
*Two Giants players will definitely miss the Dallas game: linebacker B.J. Goodson (ankle) and offensive lineman Justin Pugh (back).
Six players are listed as questionable: cornerback Eli Apple (hip/back), running back Orleans Darkwa (illness), defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul (finger), wide receivers Sterling Shepard (hamstring) and Travis Rudolph (hamstring) and tackle Chad Wheeler (concussion).
Asked about Pierre-Paul, Spagnuolo said, "He got a little bit of work in today. He needed to test that hand out. I haven't had a chance to talk to him since he got done, but we'll have to see right now. Not 100 percent sure on that."
But JPP insisted, "I'll be out there playing Sunday. I'm ready to go."
*Spagnuolo on whether he's heard from other coaches since his promotion this week: "A lot of different coaches. Yeah. Now, they're all busy, too. That's the beauty of text messages. I've gotten a lot of those."
Has he talked to Coughlin, for whom he was twice defensive coordinator, including in 2007, when the Giants won Super Bowl XLII.
"I haven't talked to Tom, but he's in constant contact," Spagnuolo said. "You know he's a good text man. Works pretty good at that. Doesn't claim to, but he does a good job."
Keep an eye on these five players as the Giants get set for Sunday's game