Steve Spagnuolo held his first practice as interim head coach, and spoke with the media immediately after:
Steve Spagnuolo had less than 48 hours to do what new head coaches typically get weeks and months to do.
Such is life for a defensive coordinator named as the interim head coach with four games left in a season. Spagnuolo, who is in the third year of his second stint with the Giants, took over the head coaching duties following Monday's dismissal of Ben McAdoo. The Giants, who flew back from Oakland with a 2-10 record, play three more home games against NFC East opponents, beginning this Sunday with the rival Dallas Cowboys.
And the NFL doesn't slow down for anybody.
"It's been a rough 60 hours since we left Oakland," Spagnuolo said following his first practice as interim head coach. "Needless to say, it's been real emotional. Everybody has kind of felt it. The first thing I want to say or convey is how much respect I have for Ben and what he did here as the head football coach. I feel personally I'm one of the guys that let him down. We failed as a team, but part of that failure was me. So, it's really hard – it's hard for me to stand here in the position I'm in right now and I want to publicly thank Ben for two years ago sticking with me as the defensive coordinator here. I greatly appreciated that. He's a great man. He's a great coach. He'll be a head coach again in this league in my opinion and a really good one.
"Having said that, I do want to say I'm honored that ownership asked me to do this. I will give it every ounce of energy that I have out of respect for this organization and I'll give every ounce of energy to help unite, restore and win football games. That'll be the goal."
Spagnuolo has three years of head coaching experience under his belt with the Rams from 2009 to 2011. He got the job in St. Louis after spending two years building the Giants into an elite defense, one that helped take down the undefeated Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
"I've got a – I want to say it's six pages, typed out list, I'm not a good typer -- that has all of the 'what would I do next time?' [and] 'what did I think I did wrong?' and I've already reviewed that," Spagnuolo said, referring to his tenure as the Rams' head coach. "I'm not going to reveal them all. It's too long of a list, but sometimes you learn more from failure than you do from success. I think everybody understands that. So, there are many things. This is a little different. It's boom. It's not OTAs and training camp, so we're going to kind of improvise and adjust as we go. But I'm hoping all of that will help."
Spagnuolo began his time in St. Louis calling the defense before turning it over to Ken Flajole, his defensive coordinator at the time. For right now, though, Spagnuolo will stay "heavily involved" with the Giants' defense and game planning.
"Obviously with some new duties here, I'll be in and out of there," Spagnuolo said. "So, when I'm not there and somebody has to cover, [safeties coach] Dave Merritt will do that. We'll worry about calling the game on Sunday when we get to Sunday. We'll figure that out as we go." I
n the meantime, Spagnuolo will try to leave his imprint on the team, if only for four more weeks.
"It's our hope to unite, restore and find a way to win football games," Spagnuolo said. "When I mean restore, you know, restore Giant pride. It's hard to be real prideful when you don't win a lot of football games. But I think the guys feel that. They understand it and we'll function that way going forward."
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