G-Men adjust to life after McAdoo
EAST RUTHERFORD » Steve Spagnuolo set the tone for his tenure as interim head coach by blaring “That’s Life,” a song by Frank Sinatra, when the Giants stretched at the start of practice shortly after noon Wednesday.
Once the song finished, Spagnuolo switched back to the hip hop music that typically pierces the air at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center.
“I just wanted to see if the players would know who that was,” Spagnuolo said with a smile. “Some did not. My dad used to play Frank Sinatra every Sunday morning when we came back from church. It was great. So, I enjoy it. Now, it shifted real quick, didn’t it?”
Everything has shifted quickly in the last few days for the Giants. The players said that they weren’t privy to Monday morning’s firings of head coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese through any official email or other line of communication from the front office.
They had to check their smartphones and turn on their televisions like the rest of the world.
“We heard the news from ESPN, social media,” defensive tackle Jay Bromley said. “The schedule changed a little bit, got here a little bit earlier. We all got a chance to meet coach Spags. And it was kind of like, we absorbed that hit and now we’ve got to move forward. We’ve got a game (coming up).”
Spagnuolo, who has been the Giants’ defensive coordinator since 2015, is altering the Giants’ practice schedule in a way that will give the players more rest Saturday before a Sunday game.
Under McAdoo, the team held a “recovery day” on Friday and then practice on Saturday at 80 percent intensity. Spagnuolo will hold standard practices Friday followed by a walkthrough Saturday, which is how most NFL teams operate. The Giants have not done so since the 2014 season under Tom Coughlin, who then changed the routine in his final year.
New York (2-10) has four games remaining beginning Sunday at home against Dallas.
“We just felt at this time of the season, really third down and red zone are really, really important — winning those areas — and you got to win them both offensively and defensively,” Spagnuolo said. “So what that schedule does is it gives us an opportunity to do more third down on Thursday and then extend more red zone on Friday. It’s a schedule I’m real familiar with and I think it’ll help us in the upcoming games.”
Spagnuolo called it a “rough 60 hours” since the Giants left Oakland on Sunday after the 24-17 loss. He began his first press conference by publicly thanking McAdoo and conveying how “hard” it was to stand in his position knowing he let McAdoo down during the team-wide failure this season.
Spagnuolo, who was the Rams’ head coach from 2009-11, also said he hopes “restore Giant pride” with wins this month. Co-owner John Mara has said he will be a candidate for the full-time position after the season.
“I’m honored that ownership asked me to do this,” Spagnuolo said. “I will give it every ounce of energy that I have out of respect for this organization, and I’ll give every ounce of energy to help unite, restore and win football games. That’ll be the goal.”
Spagnuolo said he will remain heavily involved with the defense and game planning. Safeties coach Dave Merritt will step in when Spagnuolo becomes occupied with head coach duties. They will wait until Sunday to decide who calls the defensive plays.
Veteran cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie raved about the 57-year-old Spagnuolo’s passion for the game and how it brings out the best in players, but said seeing McAdoo go midseason still hasn’t quite sunk in yet.
Second-year safety Andrew Adams said he texted McAdoo on Tuesday, wishing him well and thanking him for everything he has done for his career.
“For the most part, man, I think guys were shocked,” Rodgers-Cromartie said. “To happen like this late in the season, you kind of want to see guys finish it out. But at the end of the day that decision was made and you’ve got to live with it.”
Giants interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo observes during practice Wednesday.