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If Steve Spagnuolo leaves, New York Giants have many options to replace him as coordinator


by Jenny Vrentas/The Star-Ledger Friday January 02, 2009, 7:35 PM

medium_spags2.jpgSaed Hindash/The Star-LedgerIf and when Steve Spagnuolo leaves to take a head coaching job, the Giants have many candidates on hand to replace him as defensive coordinator. Danny Clark has come to expect Giants linebackers coach Bill Sheridan to call down from the press box after every series, with what the strongside linebacker calls "thorough" adjustments. Sheridan's input isn't just for the linebackers. When defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo isn't sure which blitz path to take, for example, Clark said he'll ask Sheridan.


"It's good to hear a coordinator have that much confidence in a linebackers coach," Clark said. "It's like how a head coach leans on a defensive coordinator."


Well, with the league-wide interest in Spagnuolo for several head coaching vacancies this offseason, there's the potential one or more of the Giants' defensive assistants could be considered in a defensive coordinator capacity sometime soon.


Several of the Giants' defensive players expressed confidence in their position coaches -- as Clark did about Sheridan -- if they were tapped to fill Spagnuolo's shoes. Coach Tom Coughlin, though, didn't want to prematurely speculate who the team might consider if Spagnuolo leaves.


"You are always thinking, and you always have thoughts, but I'm not going to share anything with anybody about that," Coughlin said. "You are prepared, but we will just see how it goes."


Sheridan, in his fourth season with the Giants after coaching in the college ranks, is one option. Just like linebackers have to be knowledgeable about what the whole defense is doing, so does the linebackers coach, which could make him a good fit.


When the Giants hired Spagnuolo from the Eagles two years ago, Sheridan only had two seasons coaching in the NFL under his belt, but he could be considered now. When Clark, a free-agent signing this past spring, took his visit to the Giants, he said Sheridan impressed him right away with not just his knowledge of the game, but his ability to convey it.


"A lot of times guys talk with their mouth, but Bill was great at taking everything to the board," Clark said. "That's huge, because everybody learns differently, so if you're able to show guys on tape and draw it up on boards, speak the same language with them, you make them understand. He is a guy that's definitely equipped to be a defensive coordinator in this league."


Secondary/cornerbacks coach Peter Giunta is the one defensive assistant who has been an NFL defensive coordinator in the past: for St. Louis from 1998 to 2000, during which the Rams won the Super Bowl.


"He works well with all the players, and he knows the defense as a whole, not just specializing in the corners," cornerback Kevin Dockery said. "He was once a defensive coordinator, so he's very good at relaying the information. I think he'd be a good one."


Secondary/safeties coach David Merritt and defensive line coach Mike Waufle are the other two defensive position coaches. Waufle has had success coaching several talented defensive linemen in his five seasons with the Giants -- but defensive tackle Barry Cofield seemed to think he enjoys doing exactly that, coaching defensive linemen, which he has done for 25 straight years.


"I think 'Wauf' is a guy who loves D-line; he tells us every day how much he loves the D-line," Cofield said. "He loves being in that room over there, on the concrete with us. ... So until they tell us different, he's just our D-line coach."


For now, the defense would prefer not to think about Spagnuolo leaving. But if he does get hired elsewhere, the Giants can fill his spot either from outside the organization or from their own ranks.


The players see a lot of positives in the latter option.


"Some guy that you know, and he knows the system, and you know how he goes about things -- obviously," defensive end Justin Tuck said. "It's a certain level of confidence that would allow you to have."


WR Domenik Hixon (ankle/foot), RB Brandon Jacobs (knee), WR Steve Smith (tendinitis), TE Michael Matthews (ankle) and LB Zak DeOssie were on the sidelines during the portion of practice open to the media. But Tuck (knee), RT Kareem McKenzie (back) and S Michael Johnson (thigh) were back to work after sitting out Wednesday. The team will have today and tomorrow off.


K John Carney and P Jeff Feagles jointly purchased Invicta watches for the members of their kick and punt teams as thanks for helping them to Pro Bowl seasons.


Larry Ennis, a part-time member of the Giants' pro personnel department, passed away on New Year's Day. Ennis, who was 78, coached football and baseball at Emerson High School for 34 years before joining the Giants organization in 1990.


"Larry was a humble, wonderful person with a great sports mind and an unmatched sense of humor," general manager Jerry Reese said in a statement. "He will be truly missed by the Giants family."


If Spag's takes a Head coaching job I believe Reese will Fill the DC position from with in the organization.

my bet is Mike Waufle.

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