EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Ben McAdoo wouldn't use the word "embarrassing" on Sunday. But after watching his defense give up 51 points to the Los Angeles Rams, Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo had no problem using that word at all.
"There's a pit right here -- it's called an embarrassing pit," Spagnuolo said on Thursday. "We feel terrible about that and looking to get it corrected."
That might be easy if this were a one-game collapse, but really the Giants' 51-17 loss at home to the Rams was just the bottom (they hope) of an embarrassing season for Spagnuolo's once-proud defense. They were a Top 10 unit one year ago and brought back almost every key player. This year they are statistically the third-worst defense in the NFL and have now given up more than 400 yards in four of their last five games.
Yes, the Rams game was their worst performance (473 yards), even though they were severely hurt by the offense's three turnovers. And even for Spagnuolo, it was hard to pinpoint exactly what went wrong.
"Sometimes, when it rains, it pours and starts snowballing," he said. "We were trying to patch some things together because of the injuries and what not, but that's no excuse. I mean, we just need to play faster. I think the guys will tell you that. Make some tackles."
The Giants were missing a few key players -- defensive end Olivier Vernon and linebackers Jonathan Casillas and B.J. Goodson sat out with injuries and cornerback Janoris Jenkins was suspended. And that was dangerous going into a game against a Rams team that has developed the most explosive offense in the league.
Spagnuolo thought the effort was generally good, though, despite the fact that so many on the outside are convinced that the Giants - particularly the players on defense - quit.
"You can pick out a play here and there -- and we track 'loafs' all the time and we have never gone through a game and not had a couple," Spags said. "We do have some guys out there with some injuries and at times, I think they're trying to save themselves. I don't think that's the right thing to do, but that might have happened a couple times."
So where does the embattled defense go from here? They may get a couple of their injured players back on Sunday, which will help. It also helps that they're facing a winless 49ers team that averages a mere 15.9 points per game - even less than the Giants' offense. That should set the Giants' defense up for a good day.
But just to make sure, Spagnuolo said that he plans to simplify the defense - something Ben McAdoo said earlier in the week that he'd ask his coaches to do.
"We're always doing that," he said. "Look, (when) things don't go good we can find all kinds of excuses. We're always doing that. We'll continue to do it. We're just going to try and find the things that work for us, knowing that we have different people in there. Last year was a - we all know how blessed we were last year, to stay as healthy as we were because you can start adding pieces, you know. This year is a little bit different. So, we'll go forward accordingly."