Metairie, La. - The New York Giants boast a top-ten offense that is plenty capable of handing an improving Saints defense a setback. New Orleans Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo is tasked with keeping up the defense's strong performances. Today he addressed the media and the following is a copy of the conversation, as transcribed by the New Orleans Saints:
Opening Statement: "It's been over 72 hours since the game. We've certainly moved on to the Giants. We had a good practice today, I thought. The weather was great and I thought the guys worked pretty well."
What were the biggest positives you can take from last week's game for this week?
"If I go back, this is just my nature, I get stuck on that first drive. I really wish we could have found a way to play better on that first drive because quite honestly after that we played a pretty good game defensively. (We) found a way to have five three-and-outs. We're a team and if our offense is only able to generate 13 points, we have to hold them to 12. It's just how we feel defensively. There was a lot of good there. Hopefully the good part will carry over into the Giants game and we clean up some of the things that we didn't do well. That's the hope."
What do you think about holding that team to just 283 yards of offense in their stadium?
"I like the sound of that but I haven't gotten stuck on the bad stats so I'm going to get stuck on the good ones. I appreciate you bring that up, you're right. I think our guys should feel good about that. The thing that is hard to overcome is that we want to win and we didn't get the win so the result is not really what we wanted."
How have you seen Eli Manning progress throughout his career and where he is now as an elite quarterback?
"You described it, he's elite. There aren't many that are elite, he's one of them. He's another one of those guys, and they do a great job there coaching. They've been in that system together, those coaches and that quarterback, for a long time now. They know exactly what they're doing. I watched three or four games over the weekend. You put one game on and you can see they're attacking a defense a certain way and getting in and out of the right thing. Then they get a totally different defense and have different approach. I am not sure which way they'll go in attacking us. (We) did play against the Giants a year ago with this (defensive) system so we have that to go on. They'll have something planned for us. He is the kind of guy that doesn't get rattled. He sits big in the pocket. People will say he's not a scrambler, yet you can always find some plays in a game where he gets himself out of trouble, puts the ball downfield right on somebody and makes a big play. We have to be prepared for everything. I think our guys will be."
What are your thoughts about playing the Super Bowl champions on their home field?
"It's a special place. To me, it was more special when it was the old Giants Stadium. This is a beautiful place that they have there now. John Mara and everybody there in the Giants organization have done a great job putting that thing together and getting that beautiful stadium. They're a good football team. It's a great challenge, they are the defending Super Bowl champs and until somebody else becomes the Super Bowl champion, it's them. I have a lot of respect and admiration for Coach (Tom) Coughlin and what he's done there, what all of the coaches have done there. It's kind of like when I was in New York and we used to play Philadelphia and going back and playing somebody you really know and care for. It's like playing your brother. Sometimes you compete harder when you go out on the basketball court and battle and compete against your brother. This is a game we need. We know what's at stake. They have a game tonight and we'll see where they're at. No matter what, it's going to be two good football teams going head-to-head on Sunday."
Even though you were there only two years, do you have a lot of memories when you go back and play there?
"Yeah but it is a little different because the stadium is new to be quite honest with you. I had the pleasure, and really was blessed to spend two years in old Giants Stadium. There were a lot of memories there. You talk about the mystique of that stadium and all the great history and Giants football there. Going to the new stadium, it's a little bit different. It's really playing the New York Giants. I'll tell you what, it's a great challenge. Our guys, I think, are really fired up for it. You come off of one game and you move on to the next and they don't get any easier. Now it's the Super Bowl champs."
"Our offices were right there in Giants stadium. The locker room was downstairs. Every day you were in Giants Stadium. I have been very fortunate in my career. I was able to take memories away from Giants Stadium and also spend three years in Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia. You talk about two stadiums, venues, that have had some terrific historical games in it. Both of those places did. That means something to me. I remember working for the Giants and being with the players after a year or whatever. Here, it is plush, it's nice. It wasn't all that plush, it was Giants Stadium. It was a little bit older. Every once in a while, we'd complain about it. You know, same thing at Vets Stadium. Having been in the Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia and then getting in a new one, I knew that when Giants Stadium was eventually not there, all of the guys that played in Giants Stadium would wear that like a badge of honor. ‘Yeah, I played for the Giants or worked for the Giants when it was Giants Stadium' and we do. You wear that because you played in a stadium that has a lot of tradition and history. Again, it's a new place so that part of it is different for me. Playing the organization, it's like playing you're brother so you get geared up."
What kind of player is Corey Webster?
"Corey is one of my favorites. When we got there he was young. Even in that season, that first season, he struggled at the beginning and then boom, all of a sudden he hit a stride and we ended up using him in those four playoff games and put him on the four best receivers, Terrell Owens and a bunch of other ones. He did a great job in all of those games. We put him on Randy Moss. It's really great, from afar, to watch him grow and mature as a player and as an adult. He is one of my favorite guys. We'll communicate periodically now that you get text messages and what not. I haven't had a chance to get ahold of him this season yet, but he's a good football player. My guess is he's still playing pretty good. I don't really get to see that. Once in a while on cross-over film I will but I enjoyed my time with him."
Did you have him on Randy Moss in both of those games, the regular season finale and the Super Bowl?
"I can't remember in game 16. I don't remember in that one. I know Sam Madison had gotten hurt. I know in the Super Bowl, we did. In the Dallas game, he was with Terrell Owens. In the Green Bay game it was Donald Driver. In Tampa, they had a pretty good receiver…"
"It might have been Joey Galloway. I think it was Joey Galloway. At any rate, he stepped up that year and really was integral in what we were doing at the end there."
Were you watching the games yesterday and pulling for the teams right in front of you?
"I'll be honest with you, I don't do that. Five percent I might have watched but I spent it with my wife. I don't get nearly enough time with my wife here. We were on bikes down on Magazine Street and enjoying New Orleans. I saw a little bit of the Eagles-Dallas game at night and that was about it and then got ready to get going."
With the Giants playing tonight and you playing last Thursday, how much is the extra time going to benefit you?
"I wish we were playing here, then they'd have to travel coming off a Monday night. I don't know, at this point in the season teams are kind of in their routine. The New York Giants have played in a lot of Monday night games. They've played a lot of primetime football. I don't think it will have much of an adverse effect on them. I wish it would. I'm hoping that us being a little fresher will be helpful but we'll see."
Are guys getting healthier now?
"Our guys? I think so. I hope so. Corey White worked a little bit today. Junior Galette worked a little bit. I don't know where those guys are right now. The big test, and Scottie (Patton) will tell you, you get them out there and then do they go backwards or do they go forwards? We'll have a better idea tomorrow I think."
Talk about the performance of your cornerbacks last week?
"I thought they were very aggressive. I thought they did some really good things at the line of scrimmage. Jabari (Greer), P-Rob (Patrick Robinson) and Elbert Mack came in there and did a nice job. I think that the aggressiveness that they played with helped us overall as a defense. Even the very first play and Malcolm (Jenkins) is right there to pick that ball off. That would have been nice. Jabari and Patrick Robinson, there are some plays on there where the ball doesn't get thrown their way because they've covered so well. That's the unseen, hidden production that those guys have. I would agree with you, I thought they played really well against two pretty good receivers."
Is that the best anybody has done against those receivers?
"I don't know that, I'd have to look back. I know it was good for us. Those two guys (Roddy White and Julio Jones) are pretty dynamic players and they've come up with some pretty dynamic plays. Our guys took on the challenge. For the most part, Jabari was over there on Roddy White for most of the game and Patrick Robinson was on number 11 so he held Julio (Jones). Unfortunately for us, we didn't win it. Even though there is some positive there, we want to get better. If we're getting good, we want to go to great. If we're getting to great, we want to be the greatest. We just want to keep getting better."
Is one of the challenges of facing the Giants the number of quality receivers?
"Yeah, similar to Atlanta. They're starting to get their guys back and healthy. They move them all over the place. (Victor) Cruz, he's just not on the outside, he's inside. I think their tight end (Martellus Bennett), I don't think people should fall asleep on him. He's a good football player. The guy that makes it all go is Eli Manning. I think he makes all of those guys better. (Hakeem) Nicks is a great football player out on the edge. Domenik Hixon was there when I was there and he can run. They have a couple of young guys at wide receiver that are doing a pretty good job. We have to find somewhere, somehow, to slow them down because playing at their place is always a pretty good challenge."
Do you feel any vindication that the defense started so poorly and now are playing more like how you want them to play?
"I don't go down that road, quite honestly, because there is still a lot of season to go. If you rest on any laurels, I get concerned you're going to go backwards. We're still climbing a hill. The goal is not to just get over the hill, it's to get over and keep going further. I think all of the guys will tell you. Is it better than it was before? Yeah, but it's not exactly where we want it. To me, the ultimate goal of a defense is to not allow any points. If you could do that then you can't lose, right? That's the goal. Until we get there, we'll just keep working to try to do that."
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