Home / Sports / Myers: Tom Coughlin-Steve Spagnuolo reunion could fix Giants

Myers: Tom Coughlin-Steve Spagnuolo reunion could fix Giants

EFE OUTBill Kostroun/AP Bringing back Steve Spagnuolo as defensive coordinator could set him up to succeed Tom Coughlin as head coach.

With each awful defeat, the heat on Tom Coughlin intensifies. At 3-7, the Giants are off to their worst start ever under the veteran coach and there are already rumblings about Coughlin and his two Super Bowl rings being shown the door at the end of season.

But I think Coughlin deserves one more shot at turning the Giants back into winners, but some changes — including bringing back Steve Spagnuolo — have to occur.

Coughlin is very loyal to his assistants, but he should replace defensive coordinator Perry Fewell — who ran the 2011 Super Bowl defense but often seems overmatched — with Spagnuolo, the high-energy architect of the 2007 Super Bowl defense.

Spagnuolo, currently a senior defensive assistant with the Ravens, is one of the Giants’ most popular assistants ever with players and management, and if he comes back, John Mara and Steve Tisch can create a healthy in-house competition between Spags and offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo to succeed Coughlin.

If either gets their side of the ball to a championship level, they earn the opportunity to become Coughlin’s successor.

Coughlin’s job status is the hot topic in New York. He is about to miss the playoffs for the third year in a row and for the fifth time in six years. Winning two titles has earned Coughlin major benefit of the doubt from Mara and Tisch, but he’s just about run out of collateral.

The Giants’ issues of the last few years, however, are not all Coughlin’s fault. He has proven he can win Super Bowls. He has not lost the locker room. The players have never quit on him.

The problem is personnel. The Giants’ roster is lacking in talent. That is why I no longer think this should be Coughlin’s final season, especially in a year without superstar candidates.

Coughlin has been sabotaged by GM Jerry Reese’s years of poor drafting and poor free agent decisions and his inability to give Coughlin the players to construct an offensive line to protect Eli Manning. Mara is a big fan of Reese — he gave him a solid endorsement at the end of last season — so he’s not going anywhere.

John Mara has a lot of his father Wellington in him, which means loyalty and patience are two of his admirable qualities, although he is probably not as patient as his father, who endured missing the playoffs from 1964-80. Only in 1979, when he hired GM George Young, did he admit that changes had to be made in the organizational structure.

But even if Mara does decide to make a change, there is another issue: Who replaces Coughlin?

The Giants like the way offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo conducts himself and should also be considered as a possible replacement as head coach.Corey Sipkin/New York Daily News The Giants like the way offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo conducts himself and should also be considered as a possible replacement as head coach.

Coughlin has a better resume than any potential candidate — including the always-mentioned Bill Cowher, who has not coached since 2006, the latest genius assistant coach (if there is one, let me know) or any hot college coach who will be on the first booster’s private plane back to campus as soon as adversity arrives.

Even though the transition to McAdoo’s West Coast offense has been painfully slow and his play calling has been erratic, the Giants envision him as a potential Coughlin replacement. They like the way he conducts his business.

But with the way the offense has played this year, there is no way Mara and Tisch sell McAdoo as the head coach for 2015.

Still, the Giants have made an investment in McAdoo and switching offensive systems again next year will be detrimental to Manning, who has one year left on his contract and figures to be here for the next few years, at least.

After the Giants won Super Bowl XLII, Spagnuolo turned down the Washington job despite heavy recruiting by Daniel Snyder — he had Spags sequestered at his mansion — and he stayed one more year with the Giants when they were on their way to repeating before Plaxico Burress shot himself in the leg.

Spagnuolo went to St. Louis and went10-38 in three years with a bad team nobody could have won with. He then went to the Saints as defensive coordinator in 2012, but stepped into the most dysfunctional season ever: It was the post-BountyGate year. Sean Payton was suspended and the Saints had no leader at the top and no defensive personnel. The Saints gave up a record 7,042 yards and when Payton returned, he fired Spags.

He has been with the Ravens the last two years working for John Harbaugh. They had been together on Andy Reid’s staff with the Eagles. Spagnuolo had an excellent relationship with Coughlin and it would be a smooth transition if he returned.

There are some hurdles: Coughlin might not want to fire Fewell one year after Mara forced out offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride. Coughlin will be 69 by the time the 2015 season opens and he just might decide he’d rather walk away at this point in his life rather than fire another friend.

And there is no guarantee that either McAdoo or Spagnuolo would be a good head coach for the Giants. In the short term, Coughlin is better than anybody who could replace him. Spagnuolo, who did a spectacular job in 2007, is better than Fewell. Spags’ 2007 Super Bowl defense was ranked No. 7. Fewell’s 20011 Super Bowl defense was No. 27.

Let McAdoo and Spagnuolo prove who deserves to replace Coughlin in 2016. If neither is worthy, then it will be time to start over.

It’s not time yet. 

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