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News » Coaching candidate possesses 'vision' Giants' Spagnuolo, Broncos executives to sit down tonight


Coaching candidate possesses 'vision' Giants' Spagnuolo, Broncos executives to sit down tonight


Coaching candidate possesses 'vision' Giants' Spagnuolo, Broncos executives to sit down tonight
Osi Umenyiora recalled Friday his reaction the first time he met Steve Spagnuolo.


"He was intense," said Umenyiora, one of the New York Giants' stars on their march to the Super Bowl title last season, with Spagnuolo running the show on defense. "He came in, and you knew right away that this guy knew what he was talking about. He had a vision and a direction for his defense. It definitely was a good first impression."

Spagnuolo will try to duplicate that vibe tonight, when the Giants assistant coach is scheduled to have dinner in the New York area with Broncos owner Pat Bowlen, executive vice president Joe Ellis and vice president of Football operations
The gathering will be one of four meetings with interested teams this week for Spagnuolo, after he reportedly interviewed with Cleveland and Detroit on Thursday and also is scheduled to sit down with the New York Jets today.

The condensed schedule for Spagnuolo owes itself to the Giants' bye weekend, which affords teams a narrow window to speak with coaches employed on postseason teams.

"Why wouldn't you go after him?" asked Umenyiora, a two-time Pro Bowl defensive end who has missed the entire season after undergoing knee surgery. "You'd be a fool not to go after him. And I'm not just saying that because I played for him. Within the first couple weeks of meeting the guy, I thought he'd be a head coach in the NFL."

Spagnuolo, 49, was hired by the Giants on Jan. 22, 2007, after a 25th- place finish in total defense, including 28th against the pass.

Last year, his defense rose to seventh, the franchise's best ranking since 2000, while finishing in the top 10 in eight defensive categories.

Giants 'D' improves

The 2008 group improved to No. 5 overall, and despite losing defensive line standouts Umenyiora and Michael Strahan (retirement), they finished among the leaders in 13 of 16 major categories, including rushing yards (ninth), passing net (eighth), sacks (fifth) and points (fifth).

In stark contrast, Denver was near the bottom in almost all major defensive statistics. And given the Broncos' superior personnel on offense in comparison to its defense, it's not a stretch to believe the franchise might focus on someone with a defensive background to right the ship.

Before joining the Giants, Spagnuolo worked under well-respected Philadelphia Eagles coordinator Jim John- son as a quality-control assistant and secondary and linebackers coach. Johnson's defenses are known for their aggressive bent, and Spagnuolo's units possess those trademarks, too.

It's not read-and-react-oriented, but it's not completely blitz-happy, either.

A basic Spagnuolo philosophy: The defense will dictate what the offense does, not the other other way around, with pressure packages - as evidenced by the way the Giants exploited New England's pass protections in Super Bowl XLII.

"He's a smart coach and he pays attention to all the small details," said Ike Reese, a linebacker for the Eagles from 1998-2004. "The one thing I loved about him, as a player, was that he listened to his players. He knows how to relate to today's athletes. It sounds kind of elementary. But a lot of coaches get in trouble with that, where everything has to be his way or no way. With 'Spags,' he's firm but fair. All the guys I know who have played under him love him. He has a way of inspiring you to go out and play hard."

With the Broncos, the effort of the front office to rebuild the talent base defensively will be just as important. There are some building blocks, personnelwise, but overall, the group needs upgrading. And an identity is needed on that side of the ball.

"He'll find the guys that can make his defensive system work. And whether they're big-name guys or not, when you play a defense like he has, that defense can allow you to become a star and a name that's ringing out across the league," Reese said. "It's about having good speed on that side of the Football and guys who are willing to sacrifice a little bit of publicity and notoriety for the betterment of the team - and the whole unit will get the glory they need."

Players appreciative

Most Giants players have resigned themselves to the fact Spagnuolo soon will be gone after New York's playoff run ends, but they believe he's ready for the next step.

"Obviously, the numbers and success speaks for itself," Giants defensive end Justin Tuck said. "I don't think we won a Super Bowl before he got here. I feel as though he's been a huge part of the success we've had - not only defensively. This entire team is appreciative of the way he goes around here and goes about his business."

Umenyiora believes - with Denver defensive holdovers such as cornerbacks Dre Bly and Champ Bailey, defensive end Elvis Dumervil and linebacker D.J. Williams as a core - Spagnuolo would be a smart pick as head coach.

"My honest opinion - he'd be a great fit. He'd be great there," Umenyiora said. "But I don't want him to leave the Giants."

BELL FINED: Broncos running back Tatum Bell has been fined $5,000 by the NFL for a chop block in the season-ending loss to the Chargers.

Bell was flagged for the penalty in the second quarter of the 52-21 loss. The league ruled Bell had hit a defender low who already was being blocked above the waist.

Broncos running back Michael Pittman was fined earlier this season for a similar play.

INFOBOX 1

Interview schedule

As of Friday, this was the Broncos' schedule of interviews of head-coaching candidates during the next week:

* Today: Steve Spagnuolo, Giants defensive coordinator, in New York.

* Sunday: Josh McDaniels, Patriots offensive coordinator, in Rhode Island.

* Tuesday: Jason Garrett, Cowboys offensive coordinator.

* Wednesday: Rick Dennison, Broncos offensive coordinator; Raheem Morris, Buccaneers defensive coordinator, in Denver.

INFOBOX 2



Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: January 3, 2009

Chris Clemons Name: Chris Clemons
#91
Position: DE
Age: 26
Experience: 5 years
College: Georgia
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