On Monday, it’ll be a little bit of a reunion for Kansas City Chiefs’ defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
For the first time since he was the New York Giants’ defensive coordinator and interim head coach in 2017, Spags will face his old team. Before that three-year stint, he famously won Super Bowl XLII in his first season as the Giants’ defensive coordinator — beating the undefeated New England Patriots with a great performance from his unit.
On the opposite sideline now, his unit is nowhere near as impactful as that 2007 Giants’ defense was. He’ll be looking for a bounceback game from that side of the ball — and that means defending a New York offense that is centered around quarterback Daniel Jones.
Jones has the physical tools to make most of the throws he needs to make — but he’s actually the team’s leading rusher this season. With an average of 5.6 yards per carry, he’ll require extra attention from the Chiefs’ defensive linemen and linebackers.
“This guy’s athletic,” Spagnuolo said of Jones during his Friday press conference. “Yet he can stand back there and be the prototypical player that can sit on the spot, fire the ball downfield [and] make all the throws. When his offensive coordinator calls for him to run — or something we do dictates him to run — he’s really pretty good. For a big, tall, 6-foot-5 guy ... I’ll tell you this: he’s a fearless runner ... I have a lot of respect for him.”
Jones has had to be the centerpiece to the offense that has a lot of players banged up. Running back Saquon Barkley has missed time — while this week, he and New York’s three leading receivers are all on the injury report.
There’s still a chance that the injured players could be ready for Monday; if they are, Spags believes they are dangerous.
“If they’re all healthy, they’re a pretty scary offense,” he admitted. “They have all kinds of speed on the outside. I was there while [tight end Evan] Engram was there — I got a lot of respect for him — then you throw the running back in there when he’s healthy. It’s a three-way challenge for us, meaning the quarterback, running back, and wideouts are problems — but we’ll see where they’re at health-wise.”
The defense could use a confidence boost — even if it’s against an inferior offense. Taking advantage of an injury-riddled Giants team could be a positive sign for the Chiefs, who then face the Green Bay Packers, Las Vegas Raiders and Dallas Cowboys.
This week, there should be high expectations for Spagnuolo’s unit this week. If they are yet again unable to stop an offense, there’s little hope it will get any better this season.