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Tom Coughlin doesn't expect 'radical change' of defensive philosophy

Head coach Tom Coughlin of the New York

Head coach Tom Coughlin of the New York Giants walks on the field during warm ups prior to their game against the Washington Redskins at MetLife Stadium on Dec. 14, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. Credit: Getty Images / Jeff Zelevansky

Tom Coughlin is still in the process of determining who the next defensive coordinator will be for the Giants. But Wednesday, in his first public comments since firing Perry Fewell and opening a search for a replacement, Coughlin suggested that the unit likely will be more familiar than different in 2015.

"I don't know that it's a philosophical change," Coughlin said on WFAN when asked what he is looking for. "Depending on who that person may be, it certainly is going to allow that that individual be able to reflect on his strengths, his experiences, and what he has done well. We know exactly what we're trying to accomplish there and within reason it will be the philosophy that we've always had here."

That could the biggest hint yet that Coughlin is leaning toward a reunion with Steve Spagnuolo. The former Giants coordinator interviewed for the position Wednesday. Spagnuolo, who left the Giants after the 2008 season to coach the Rams, is currently the defensive backs coach for the Ravens. He is one of several candidates Coughlin is considering.

That's not to say the Giants are going to maintain the status quo. "I'm certainly in a position where I'm open to and flexible enough to adjust to whatever the particular person can come in here and prove to me is the direction we should go," Coughlin said.

"It's still going to be a matter of personnel and how the personnel can be coached or fitted to the system in terms of what you can call your strengths and what are your weaknesses."

Unlike a year ago, when offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride retired and Coughlin brought in Ben McAdoo to revamp the entire system, the Giants seem to be looking for a smoother transfer of power.

"I don't think you'll see radical change," Coughlin said. "You will see some things that are a result of the experiences the coaches have had, but you probably will not see a radical change."

Coughlin, general manager Jerry Reese, and president and CEO John Mara all appeared on WFAN and spoke on a number of other topics as well. Among them:

- They generally agreed that the offensive line remains an area that needs improvement. They think Weston Richburg can be the anchor of the offensive line at center -- "That's why we got him," Coughlin said -- and left open the possibility that Justin Pugh could move to guard. "Pugh is the right tackle until something better allows us to have some flexibility," Coughlin said.

- Mara said he has not had any conversations with Coughlin regarding his status beyond the 2015 season, but those conversations will take place shortly. Mara sounded less enthusiastic about having a head coach in the final year of his contract, as Coughlin could be in 2015, than he did when the season ended two weeks ago.

- Reese said doctors and trainers tell him that Victor Cruz is progressing well from surgery to repair his torn patellar tendon. "We're really hoping that he can come back and be a dynamic player for us," Reese said. "But I don't think you can put all your eggs in his basket to be that guy that we can count on 100 percent."

- Reese also spoke about drafting Odell Beckham Jr. last spring, saying that there was very little conversation involved when their pick came up and Beckham was still available. Offensive lineman Zack Martin, who was an All-Pro as a rookie guard for the Cowboys, was also available at the time and the Giants were high on him as well. "Any time there is a dynamic playmaker up there and a guard," Reese said, "I'm taking the playmaker."

- He said Beckham was the highest ranked player on their board when they picked, but admitted that they did have WR Sammy Watkins rated higher than Beckham when the draft began. Good thing for them the Bills did, too.

- Mara delivered a win-or-else ultimatum. "We need to be a playoff team in 2015," he said. He also said he believes the Giants are not far from doing so. "It's hard to convince anybody you're close when you go 7-9 and then 6-10," he said. "But I do think we have a nucleus to be successful."

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