Steve Spagnuolo: Sunday’s Defensive Performance Embarrassing

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New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo might have been reluctant to use the “E” word when describing his team’s 51-17 blowout loss to the Los Angeles Rams last Sunday, but defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo called it what it was.

“There’s a pit right here. It’s called an embarrassing pit,” he said. “We feel terrible about that and looking to get it corrected.”

So, what happened?

“Sometimes, when it rains, it pours and starts snowballing,” Spagnuolo said of the 51 points, the most scored by a Giants opponent since Nov. 28, 2015, when the Giants lost in New Orleans, 52-49 and the highest point total they allowed at home since Dec. 12, 1964, in a 52-21 loss to Cleveland.

“We were trying to patch some things together because of the injuries and what not, but that’s no excuse. I mean, we just need to play faster. I think the guys will tell you that. Make some tackles.”

Per Pro Football Focus, the Giants missed seven tackles on defense, just four shy of their 2017 season high 11 missed tackles coming against the Eagles in Week 3.

In addition to the missed tackle epidemic, there were certain plays in which players either looked confused, such as this one and this one, or appeared to give up on the play such as this one involving cornerback Eli Apple, who Wednesday insisted he didn’t quit on the 3rd-and-33 play, but rather overthought it.

With all that said, Spagnuolo said that he saw enough effort coming from his players.

I thought so. You can pick out a play here and there and we track loafs (guys not going full speed) all the time and we have never gone through a game and not had a couple,” he said.

“We do have some guys out there with some injuries and at times, I think they’re trying to save themselves. I don’t think that’s the right thing to do, but that might have happened a couple times.”

Spagnuolo also dismissed the brewing firestorm resulting from an ESPN report in which unnamed Giants players told Josina Anderson that head coach Ben McAdoo lost the team and in which one player called out Spagnuolo for having “panicked” during last week’s rout.

“Coach Spags has really just been panicking in the game.” the unnamed player told Anderson. “He was bringing up calls last week that we ain’t seen since training camp. So, a lot of us were confused. They had to really just coach us on the sidelines when we came off. Coach Spags called a couple plays in the game that we hadn’t really went over and guys were scrambling. So he definitely really needs to dumb it down.”

“I don’t know ‘anonymous,’” Spagnuolo said, adding that it doesn’t trouble him that one of his guys would say that. “We just got to move on. I can’t even worry about that.”

Spagnuolo then questioned whether the comments were even made.

“It’s anonymous, right? We don’t know – anonymous – we don’t know if it was made up. We don’t know if it was actually said. Would that be true? So, I’m not going to comment on it. Move on.”

Well sort of. One thing Spagnuolo did acknowledge was that he was looking for ways to simplify things for the defense for these final eight games to hopefully help the players perform faster.

“We’re always doing that. Look it, things don’t go good. We can find all kinds of excuses. We’re always doing that. We’ll continue to do it,” he said.

“We’re just going to try and find the things that work for us, knowing that we have different people in there. Last year was a – we all know how blessed we were last year, to stay as healthy as we were because you can start adding pieces, you know. This year is a little bit different. So, we’ll go forward accordingly.”