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Chiefs hire Steve Spagnuolo as new defensive coordinator

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The Chiefs will hire Spagnuolo to take over as their defensive coordinator.

The Kansas City Chiefs are hiring Steve Spagnuolo as their new defensive coordinator, according to a report from NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter chimed in that the deal for Spagnuolo is now done and official.

Spagnuolo, 59, most recently served as an interim head coach for the New York Giants back in 2017 following Ben McAdoo’s midseason dismissal. Spagnuolo was the Giants’ defensive coordinator from 2015-17. He spent 2018 out of football.

“Steve is a bright defensive mind with a lot of coaching experience and success in our league,” Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said in a statement. “I know him well from our time together in Philadelphia and I feel that his leadership skills and teaching abilities, combined with his scheme, will be a great fit for our team as we move forward.”

Our own Craig Stout weighed in on Spagnuolo earlier this week in his five names to watch:

Spagnuolo is an intriguing name, and a real possibility considering his Andy Reid ties. A Jim Johnson disciple, Spagnuolo was a defensive assistant, defensive backs coach and a linebackers coach under Johnson while Andy Reid was the head coach.

Primarily running a 4-3 base, Spagnuolo embraces Johnson’s blitz-heavy approach, especially coming from cornerbacks and safeties. He famously utilized smaller defensive linemen as defensive coordinator for the New York Giants, manipulating fronts and keeping the offense off balance.

While recent success has eluded him — being let go after becoming the interim head coach for the Giants in 2017 — Spagnuolo does have ties to Reid, and is an established name in the NFL. If Reid wants to hands the reins to a more established coordinator, Spagnuolo could be the guy.

The change from Sutton to Spagnuolo means the Chiefs will in all likelihood be switching to a 4-3 base, which makes you wonder if a move like this was in the cards all along. The marquee signing of inside linebacker Anthony Hitchens, as well as draft picks like Breeland Speaks and Dorian O’Daniel are seen as better fits in a 4-3 scheme.

As Craig noted, statistical success has mostly eluded Spagnuolo—he produced only two top-10 units in nine seasons as either a head coach or a defensive coordinator, but in 2016, the Giants were ranked No. 10 in yards allowed and No. 2 in points allowed, so it is not all bad.

If anything, his blitz-heavy, 4-3 scheme will be the complete opposite of Bob Sutton’s tendencies, which is exactly what many Chiefs fans have been longing for.

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