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Internal Candidates for Defensive Coordinator

From NY Daily News:

The last time Tom Coughlin had to name a new defensive coordinator, his players were in desperate need of a change. This time it appears that a change is the last thing they would want.

Over the last few weeks, as it became apparent that Steve Spagnuolo was likely to get a job elsewhere, several players said they hoped Coughlin would promote his new defensive coordinator from within. They believe there are several qualified candidates on the staff – including linebacker coach Bill Sheridan, secondary coach Peter Giunta and defensive line coach Mike Waufle.

Better to give the job to one of them, the players said, than to bring in someone else with a new system and scheme.

“Whenever a situation like that arises it’s always beneficial to have someone that you’re comfortable with,” said defensive end Justin Tuck. “We’ve been with this staff for four years, so we’d be comfortable with anybody that comes up from those guys.”

According to a team source, all three of those assistants will get “strong consideration” to replace Spagnuolo, who will be introduced today as the new coach of the St. Louis Rams. Coughlin also is expected to speak with current Patriots secondary coach Dom Capers, who was his defensive coordinator in Jacksonville from 1999-2000.

But after seeing what Spagnuolo’s defense was able to do the last two seasons – ranked seventh in 2007, fifth in 2008, and totaling 95 sacks over that time – Coughlin doesn’t need change as much as he did after the 2006 season, when he fired defensive coordinator Tim Lewis. At that stage the Giants’ defense was ranked 25th in the league and several players had lost confidence in Lewis’ system.

If Coughlin does want to maintain as much of the status quo as possible, he may have to act fast because Spagnuolo already appears to be moving to assemble his staff with the Rams and, according to an NFL source, has his eyes on at least one of the Giants’ assistants. Sheridan, who joined the Giants in 2005 after 20 years in the college ranks, is believed to be Spagnuolo’s choice for Rams defensive coordinator.

Even if Sheridan does leave, though, Coughlin has other internal options. Giunta is the only one on the Giants’ staff with experience as a defensive coordinator. He joined the Giants in 2006 as the secondary coach in charge of the cornerbacks. He was the assistant head coach/defensive coordinator of the Rams from 1998-2000. He has also been instrumental in the rise of the young corners on the Giants’ roster, particularly Corey Webster.

Waufle has been on Coughlin’s staff since the beginning, in 2004, after spending the previous five years as the defensive line coach of the Oakland Raiders. He has earned rave reviews, particularly this season after losing Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora before the season began

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