What the Loss of Steve Spagnuolo Means to the Giants

Eric SalomonContributor IJanuary 20, 2009

The most important acquisition the New York Giants had prior to the 2007 season was not a player or draft pick. The hiring of Steve Spagnuolo as Defensive Coordinator had a greater impact on the success of the team these past two seasons than any player. 

After spending eight years under Jim Johnson in Philadelphia, Spagnuolo joined the Giants in hopes of transforming a defense that lacked strength in the secondary and relied too much on veteran Michael Strahan.

And that he did.

During the 2007 season, Spagnuolo's defense led the league in sacks and contained the high-powered offense of the New England Patriots to a meager 14 points in Super Bowl XLII.  It was this performance by the defense that made Spagnuolo an instant front-runner for vacant head coaching jobs.

Instead of leaving the Giants to coach the Washington Redskins, Spagnuolo decided to return in hopes of winning back-to-back championships. For much of the season, it seemed as if the Giants would have little problem doing so, until the Philadelphia Eagles came to town.

No team gives the Giants more grief than the Eagles, especially this season, and especially at home. The inability of the Giants defense to contain Donovan McNabb, Desean Jackson, and the biggest Giant-killer of them all, Brian Westbrook, led to their early exit from the playoffs this season. 

Although Steve could not get that second championship ring, he has brought to New York a new defensive philosophy that Bill Sheridan, new Defensive Coordinator for the Giants, will do well to continue.

Spagnuolo has overseen the development of young stars such as Osi Umenyiora, Kenny Phillips, Corey Webster, Aaron Ross, and others.  He allowed the Giants to get back to basics: a solid defense and devastating running game that has proved a successful formula for football teams

That defense has taken the pressure off of Eli Manning and allowed him to make the necessary throws, let the running game work its magic, and allowed the defense to take care of the rest.  Although his tenure in New York was short, the impact of Steve Spagnuolo's coaching will hopefully continue in the years to come.