Steve Spagnuolo

NFC East Notes: Giants, Spagnuolo, Cowboys

The Giants don’t have a ton of cap room to work with this offseason, but former defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo seems to think that there’s enough defensive talent in-house to turn things around.

We hit the injury bug,” Spagnuolo told Alex Marvez and Bill Polian on SiriusXM. “The most compelling thing to me was having to play five (middle) linebackers throughout the season…That’s no different than having to put five different quarterbacks in there. That’s the guy that kind of runs the show.”

Coach Spags was hoping to be a part of that turnaround and was disappointed to learn that he would not be a part of Pat Shumur‘s staff in New York. For his part, the defensive guru says he is intent on returning to coaching in the NFL.

I’ve got a lot of football left in me,” Spagnuolo said. “I’m gonna coach again. I want to. I’m passionate about the game. I enjoy dealing with the players, teaching, mentoring — that’s what I think coaching is all about. “Sometimes it’s not a bad thing to sit back for a year. That may happen, it may not. There’s a slight chance of maybe working in 2018 still. But, if not, I’ll use this time wisely.”

Here’s more from the NFC East:

  • Center/guard Joe Looney didn’t start a game last season, but he’s among the free agents that the Cowboys need to retain, David Moore of The Dallas Morning News writes. On two occasions last season, Looney did a solid job of filling in for guard Ron Leary and he also showed his value as a part of the team’s jumbo package – the formation in which Dallas replaces a tight end with an extra lineman. Retaining Looney shouldn’t cost much as his previous two-year deal paid him a total of $1.675MM.
  • Paul Perkins was not the answer for the Giants at running back and they’ll need to invest in the position this offseason. Ryan Dunleavy of looked at some possible options for the G-Men, including unrestricted free agents Dion Lewis, Carlos Hyde, Frank Gore, Jerick McKinnon, and Isaiah Crowell. Dunleavy notes that McKinnon would be a natural fit for the Giants thanks to his history with Shurmur, though he’s not necessarily built to be workhorse at RB. If the Giants want to go bargain bin shopping, names like LeGarrette Blount, Darren Sproles, Eddie Lacy, and Damien Williams might work for their limited budget. Last year’s rushing leader, Orleans Darkwa, is scheduled to reach free agency next month, and it’s not clear whether Shurmur sees him as a fit for his offense.
  • The Eagles need to re-sign defensive tackle Beau Allen, Eliot Shorr-Parks of writes. Allen’s 20 tackles and one sack aren’t eye-popping numbers, but he was a key member of the D-Line and earned a respectable 74.5 overall score from Pro Football Focus. If Allen walks, there is no clear option to replace him, but the Eagles will have to plan carefully as they are roughly $9MM over the salary cap.
  • On Wednesday, Redskins safety Su’a Cravens was granted reinstatement by the NFL.

Coaching Rumors: Spagnuolo, Fins, Cowboys

While Giants interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo interviewed for the position, there is an upside for him in current Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur likely accepting the team’s offer to be their next head coach. With Shurmur on board, the veteran defensive coordinator is a more likely option to stay in the role he began the 2017 season in, opines Ryan Dunleavy of

Back in 2008, Spagnuolo hired Shurmur as his offensive coordinator when he got the Rams head coaching job. The two also have history in the Andy Reid‘s coaching tree back when the now Chiefs head coach hired both coaches out of the college ranks.

Spagnuolo does have a track record of defensive success, and while this past season was more trying, the Giants unit was one of the best in football just two years ago. Based on the coaches’ history with one another, it appears that Spagnuolo has a good shot to retain his job. But if Shurmur does decide to go in a different direction, Dunleavy throws at names like Ohio State linebackers coach Bill Davis, Eagles linebackers coach Ken Flajole, Bills defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier and Chiefs linebackers coach Gary Gibbs that could make sense for the post.

Here’s more coaching news from around the league:

  • The Dolphins have let go of their secondary coach Lou Anarumo, per Barry Jackson the Miami Herald (Twitter link). Anarumo had been with the team since 2012. This is just one of a few changes Miami has made in regards to their coaching staff this offseason.
  • The Cowboys and Bengals have switched offensive line coaches this offseason. After Cincy hired former Dallas offensive line coach Frank Pollack to the same role, we learned today that the Cowboys have hired the guy who held that post for the Bengals in Paul Alexander, reports Alex Marvez of SiriusXM (Twitter link).
  • In other offensive line coach news, the Seahawks have brought in Mike Solari to replace Tom Cable as the primary guy handling the offensive front, according to Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network (Twitter link). Solari has a history in Seattle, he served as the team’s offensive line coach from 2008-09. The team also recently hired Ken Norton Jr. to replace Kris Richard as defensive coordinator earlier today.
  • Andy Reid is adding a new face to the Chiefs coaching staff for 2018. The team has hired Jay Valai as a defense quality control coach, reports Terez A. Paylor of The Kansas City Star (Twitter link). Perez adds that Valai will also assist the either the Chief’s defensive back of linebacker group in addition to his primary duties.

Coaching Notes: Spagnuolo, Bettcher, McDaniels

The coaching carousel is in full swing. Here are six stories regarding coaching staffs across the NFL:

  • The Giants have interviewed their interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo for the full-time job, the team announced today. Spagnuolo is considered a longshot to land the position given that new general manager Dave Gettlemen would probably like to bring in his own guy. But, the former Rams head coach still had his shot to impress the Giants executives today. New York has six more candidates they’re planning on interviewing in the days to come. Check out who by using our 2018 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker.
  • The Cardinals also used most of the day to interview an internal head coach candidate, defensive coordinator James Bettcher, according to Ian Rapoport of (Twitter link). Bettcher had the first chance to make his case as the team has another seven coaches they would like to talk to about their vacant head coach position.
  • The Colts will speak with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels tonight about their head coach vacancy, according to Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports (Twitter link). McDaniels is getting head coaching interest from many different teams because of his offensive knowledge. Indianapolis could be looking for a more offensive-minded coach to pair with quarterback Andrew Luck. Although they have requested interviews with coaches on both sides of the ball, including: Matt Nagy (Chiefs), Kris Richard (Seahawks), Mike Vrabel (Texans) and Steve Wilks (Panthers).
  • La Canfora does also note that the bad weather in the Boston area could affect potential interviews regarding McDaniels and fellow Patriots coach Matt Patricia. The team has to be back home to prepare for their divisional round opponent, which could push back a few potential interviews for both New England coordinators.
  • The Packers have a offensive coordinator vacancy after reassigning Edgar Bennett to another position earlier today. Three names who the team could show interest in to replace Bennett are former Green Bay coaches Ben McAdoo and Joe Philbin, along with current offensive line coach James Campen, per Rob Demovsky of (Twitter link).
  • The Broncos have hired Sean Kugler to be the team’s offensive line coach for 2018, reports Mike Klis of 9News (Twitter link). While Kugler is a new face to the coaching staff, the team did decide to keep both of their coordinators and fire three other coaches on Monday.

Giants To Interview Steve Spagnuolo On Wednesday

The Giants will initiate their head coaching interview process by meeting with interim head coach/defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo on Wednesday, per Mike Garafolo of (Twitter link). Steve Spagnuolo

Spagnuolo, 58, began his second stint as New York’s defensive play-caller in 2015, and subsequently took over as the club’s interim head coach after Ben McAdoo was fired earlier this season. In four games as head coach, Spagnuolo posted a record of 1-3. Nearly everything went wrong for the Giants in 2017, and Spagnuolo’s defense wasn’t immune to dysfunction, as the unit dealt with off-field issues en route to a No. 24 rating in defensive DVOA.

If new general manager Dave Gettleman does opt to retain Spagnuolo, he’ll be keeping someone with head coaching experience. Spagnuolo, who’s been an NFL coach since 1999, was the Rams’ head coach from 2009-11, but never finished with more than seven wins and posted a 10-38 overall record.

Meanwhile, the Giants put in a request to interview Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur for their head coaching vacancy, and that request has evidently been approved. Shurmur will interview with Big Blue on Saturday, tweets Garafolo.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Coaching News: Packers, Cowboys, Giants

Earlier in the day, the Packers fired defensive coordinator Dom Capers. They continued to clean house on the defensive side of the ball later in the day, letting go of inside linebackers coach Scott McCurley and defensive line coach Mike Trgovac, ESPN’s Rob Demovsky reports.

McCurley joined the Packers in 2006 as an intern but quickly moved his way up the ladder. For the last four years, he served as assistant linebackers coach and helped oversee the transition to young linebackers like Blake Martinez. An NFL coach since 1995, Trgovac had been with the Packers since 2009 following an extended stay as the defensive coordinator in Carolina.

Here is more from around the league on the coaching front:

  • The Broncos fired outside linebackers coach Fred Pagac on Monday, reports NBC 9 in Denver’s Mike Klis (Twitter link). Klis cites the lack of a pass rush following the departure of DeMarcus Ware as grounds for the dismissal. Shane Ray provided just one sack on the opposite side of Von Miller. The team also let go of defensive backs coach Johnnie Lynn.
  • New Giants general manager Dave Gettleman told the team’s assistant coaches they are free to look for other jobs without the Giants blocking the search, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports (Twitter link). Among the names expected to draw interest from other teams includes interim head coach and defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
  • Cowboys quarterbacks coach Wade Wilson is expected to be let go, sources tell the Sporting News’ Alex Marvez (Twitter link). Marvez notes that more changes to the team’s offensive coaching staff are expected to come, one of which could be wide receivers coach Derek Dooley, who is reported to not being returning to Dallas by’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter link). Dooley denied the report, saying he has yet to meet with head coach Jason Garrett, Pro Football Talk’s Charean Williams writes. The coaches have been with the team since 2007 and 2013, respectively.
  • After firing head coach Jim Caldwell, the Lions continued to overhaul its coaching staff by letting go of assistant head coach and offensive line coach Ron Prince, the team announced. Prince had been with the team since 2014.

Jim Schwartz On Giants’ HC Radar?

Having moved rather quickly to replace Jerry Reese with former Reese lieutenant Dave Gettleman, the Giants now are focused on filling their HC vacancy.

Ernie Accorsi will not “officially” be part of this search for their next head coach, John Mara said (via James Kratch of, on Twitter). Accorsi won’t sit in on interviews, but the ex-Big Blue GM will be a resource in the process, per Mara. The Gettleman hire occurring — after myriad reports of the former Panthers GM being the favorite — leads some around the league to believe they have a coaching candidate ready to pair with Gettleman, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk hears.

Florio writes Eagles DC Jim Schwartz is the name that’s been most connected with this vacancy and floated an interesting reason for this buzz. Accorsi is believed to lean heavily on Bill Belichick‘s advice and Florio’s heard the Patriots HC has suggested Accorsi recommend Schwartz’s hire to Gettleman.

This would make for an interesting route, and Florio adds some in the league regard this recommendation as a way for Belichick to keep Josh McDaniels in the fold for another season. However, McDaniels has been connected to an HC avenues alongside New England VP of player personnel Nick Caserio as GM. A previous GM candidate, Caserio looks to be out of the picture for the Giants after Gettleman’s hire.

Mara said he would prefer an experienced head coach to take over, per Kratch (Twitter link). This would match up with Schwartz, who has extensive experience as a defensive coordinator and served as the Lions’ HC for five years. Schwartz has also had supporters within the Giants organization for years, Ralph Vacchiano of notes, adding some sources believe Gettleman is high on the HC candidate as well.

Steve Spagnuolo will interview, but Mara is unsure OC Mike Sullivan will. Mara opened Gettleman’s presser today by saying he sought an exec with GM experience, so it would stand to reason the traditional organization wants a more seasoned HC. Mara’s Ben McAdoo hire — after only two years of coordinator experience — did not work out, so he’s planning to take a different route this time.

The Giants could interview Schwartz next week since the Eagles have booked a bye. The Ringer’s Mike Lombardi tweets the Giants wanted their GM search to conclude before the season ended in order to be ready to “act quickly” on a coaching search by the time interviews could be scheduled.

There’s certainly some unique reasoning associated with it, but Schwartz — who runs a 4-3 defense like the Giants do and has long been regarded as an upper-echelon DC — looks to be firmly on New York’s radar.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Breer’s Latest: Black Monday Preview

With the final week of the NFL’s regular season approaching, that only means two things; 12 teams will soon be focusing on reaching the Super Bowl, while the rest will start to look ahead to next season. One major part of looking forward is addressing who on the coaching staff will be returning in 2018. Many of these coaching questions are answered on the day following Week’s 17 conclusion, conveniently called “Black Monday”.

Veteran reporter Albert of Breer of Sports Illustrated, gave a preview of the coaches he expects to stay and the ones that will likely be shown the door in his most recent column. Breer ranked the potential firings as “Likely/Done”, “We’ll See”, and “It’s Complicated”. In total, there were 15 head coaches mentioned who could see their situations change starting next week.

Here’s a quick look at Breer’s takes on some of the league’s hottest coaching questions:

  • There were five head coaches included in the “likely/done” category including: BearsJohn Fox, BengalsMarvin Lewis, LionsJim Caldwell, ColtsChuck Pagano and and the Giants‘ interim coach Steve Spagnuolo. The four full-time head coaches on this list have all had their fair share of success in the league. In fact, three of them led their current teams to multiple playoff appearances during their tenure. However, Caldwell and Lewis have been unable to win a postseason game with Pagano and Fox having failed at continuing the past success they have shown during their careers in football. Breer notes that while the “expectation is that Fox will be gone”, the decision on the fate of general manager Ryan Pace is true question facing the franchise this offseason. There’s been rapid speculation about Lewis, Caldwell and Pagano throughout the year, so their inclusion on this list is no surprise. Finally, the Giants are currently interviewing general manager candidates who will almost certainly be looking to lead their own head coaching search once hired.
  • Breer puts six current head coaches in the ‘we’ll see” part of the list. This portion mentions the CardinalsBruce Arians, BroncosVance Joseph, RaidersJack Del Rio, BuccaneersDirk Koetter, TitansMike Mularkey and the RedskinsJay Gruden. There’s a variety of situations going on here with Breer noting that Arizona could see Arians retire, which could lead them to other current NFL head coaches: Todd Bowles and Bill O’Brien. Del Rio and Gruden have had their fair share of success because of quality quarterback play, but both have managed to decrease confidence because of an inconsistent 2017 season. However, Breer points out that both are signed long-term so their owners would have to eat the remaining years of their current deals. Mularkey and Koetter were rewarded for the relationships they formed with their QB’s, but there’s been disappointment with how this season has unfolded for their teams. Breer notes that should Mularkey lose this Sunday, he could be on the chopping block come Monday morning with the team looking to hire an offensive-minded coach like Josh McDaniels. Finally, Joseph has forced himself to the hot seat even in his first year of coaching the Broncos, though Breer says himself that this situation is “unpredictable” given that team president John Elway is just “not pleased with how the season’s gone”.
  • Browns head coach Hue Jackson, and the two previously mentioned O’Brien and Bowles of the Texans and Jets, find themselves on the “it’s complicated” section of Breer’s roundup largely because of just the many factors are at play in regards to their situations. Jackson got a vote of confidence from owner Jimmy Haslam himself, but new general manager John Dorsey could have his sights on implementing his own guy after a winless season. O’Brien has made the playoffs before, but has struggled committing to a QB even after the team selected Deshaun Watson in the first round. Bowles has done a lot with a little in New York this season, but ownership could go in a different direction with a new starting signal caller likely walking into the building next year. Also, there is the potential that all three coaches could move onto new head coaching gigs with the number of openings that could be available this offseason. The final and definitely most surprising inclusion on this list was Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll, who Breer mentions could retire at age 66 with a roster about to see major turnover in the next few years. Although, I would venture that nothing he’s said this season would indicate that being the case.

East Notes: Patriots, Giants, Jets, Cowboys

Rob Gronkowski will miss out on more than $270K in salary and bonuses as a result of his one-week suspension, but the Patriots tight end could see his finances affected even further due to the ban, as Mike Reiss of explains. Under the terms of a restructured contract signed earlier this year, Gronkowski can earn three separate tiers of incentives, all of which are tied to playtime and performance. The top tier — which includes a 90% playtime requirement as one stipulation — could now be nearly impossible to reach, as Gronkowski has played on 83.4% of New England’s offensive snaps thus far (and will obviously see that percentage decrease as a result of next week’s absence).

Here’s more from the NFL’s two East divisions:

  • Interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo will remain “heavily involved” in the Giants‘ defensive scheme, but secondary coach David Merrit will also see an increased workload, Spagnuolo told reporters, including James Kratch of (Twitter link). Spagnuolo, of course, is still New York’s defensive coordinator in addition to interim head coach following the firing of Ben McAdoo, but with gameday responsibilities now on the table, Spagnuolo will almost certainly require assistance. Merritt, for his part, is the Giants’ longest-tenured assistant, as he’s been with the club for 14 years.
  • Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson has continued to have trouble with tardiness, and his one-quarter suspension on Sunday was indeed a result of missed meetings, reports Darryl Slater of Wilkerson, who signed a five-year, $86MM deal last summer, but he’s offered only middling production this season. In 12 games, Wilkerson has managed 2.5 sacks and graded as the NFL’s No. 55 interior defender among 117 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus. New York can create $11MM in cap space by releasing Wilkerson this offseason, and a team source said Wilkerson will be “gone,” per Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News.
  • It’s no secret that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was against the NFL extending commissioner Roger Goodell, but now that a deal is officially signed, Jones doesn’t have many avenues to pursue, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. If Jones attempts to rip up the contract, Goodell would likely be entitled to a hefty buyout. But Jones could still pursue a legal strategy, especially if he believes the league’s owners were supposed to discuss Goodell’s contract before it became official, per Florio.

Latest On Giants’ Coach, GM Search

Ben McAdoo‘s stint in New York was short and ended without a championship, but he did make history in his own way. McAdoo was at the helm for just 28 regular-season games, giving him the lowest total by a Giants head coach since 1930 (as noted by Adam Schefter of, via Twitter). In that season, Benny Friedman spent two games as a co-player-coach.

Starting today, the Giants are officially looking to fill vacancies at head coach and GM. Here’s the latest out of New York/New Jersey:

  • Giants owner John Mara says his “very strong preference” is to have a separate head coach and GM. However, he does not rule out a dual role if the right candidate emerges (Twitter link via Ralph Vacchiano of SNY).
  • Mara says that both interim hires (GM Kevin Abrams and head coach Steve Spagnuolo) will be interviewed for the full-time jobs (Twitter link via Aditi Kinkhabwala of Personally, I don’t think the odds are in Spagnuolo’s favor, even though he is well-regarded by the organization. After a disastrous 2017 season, it seems more likely that the Giants will opt for a reset when it comes to the next head coach.
  • Reese was not responsible for the firing of Tom Coughlin and subsequent hiring of McAdoo, Kinkhabwala tweets. When Coughlin was fired, Reese advocated for two candidates over McAdoo.
  • Former Giants GM Ernie Accorsi has agreed to serve as a consultant in the GM search, Mara announced (Twitter link via team). The owner added that it is possible that a GM hire will be made before the season is through, noting that the team already has some names in mind (Twitter link via Kinkhabwala).
  • Mara says that McAdoo is the one who initially came up with the plan to bench Eli Manning (Twitter link via’s Josina Anderson).

Giants Fire Ben McAdoo

Giants coach Ben McAdoo has been fired (Twitter link via Ian Rapoport of His dismissal comes in the midst of a disappointing season, but also less than one year after leading his team to the playoffs. Ben McAdoo

[RELATED: Giants Fire GM Jerry Reese]

The Giants will install defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo as the team’s interim head coach. Meanwhile, Giants’ assistant general manager Kevin Abrams will serve as the GM for the rest of the season, a person with knowledge of team’s moves tells Aditi Kinkhabwala of (Twitter link).

Steve and I spoke after yesterday’s game in Oakland and agreed to talk again today,” said owner John Mara in a statement released by the team. “Ben, as a first time head coach, continued up until this morning to do everything in his power to give us a chance to win. I know the public perception of both these men is not positive, but within these walls, you could not ask for two better professionals.”

This marks Spagnuolo’s second stint as an NFL head coach. After making a name for himself as the Giants’ DC years ago, he went on to become the head coach of the Rams. Things didn’t go as planned in St. Louis, unfortunately, as his teams went a combined 10-38 in three seasons. While he remains highly respected in coaching circles, it’s fair to wonder if he is the right guy for the Giants’ top job given their defensive struggles this year.

Heading into the season, the Giants believed that they had the talent necessary to contend in the NFC East. Instead, a slew of injuries early in the year – including several in the wide receiver group – hurt them early in the year. The offense slumped without Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall, but the front office apparently feels that a lack of leadership was also to blame.

Last week, McAdoo was slammed by fans when Geno Smith was installed as the starter for Sunday’s game over Eli Manning. The decision to give Smith a shot over the franchise hero was not exclusively McAdoo’s, but it seems that he is being made to be the fall guy. Smith had his moments against Oakland, but ownership has decided to clean house after watching the Giants fall to 2-10 on the year.

McAdoo first made a name for himself nationally as Aaron Rodgers‘ position coach in Green Bay. In 2014, he joined Tom Coughlin‘s staff as the offensive coordinator for the Giants. Two years later, the Giants pushed Coughlin out and installed McAdoo as the head coach. At the time, the Giants felt that they were choosing the coach best suited to guide Manning. That wasn’t the case in hindsight, but other teams had serious interest in hiring McAdoo, including the rival Eagles.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.