Peter Giunta (pronounced GEN-ta) enters his third season as a Saints senior defensive assistant in 2017. He’s a 39-year coaching veteran, including 27 years of experience in the NFL with three Super Bowl Championships.
In his first two seasons in New Orleans, he has collaborated with secondary coach Aaron Glenn to tutor the club’s defensive backs that has played a pivotal role in the club’s defensive improvement, improving in opponent net passing yards per game from 32nd in the NFL 2016 to 15th in 2017. The starting cornerback duo of Ken Crawley and rookie Marshon Lattimore enjoyed impressive seasons in their first seasons as starters in 2017. Lattimore enjoyed a breakout campaign, starting all 13 games he appeared in and leading NFL rookies with a team-high five interceptions and tying for the rookie lead with a club-best 18 passes defensed as he was the youngest Saint (21 years old) ever selected to the Pro Bowl and the franchise’s first AP Defensive Rookie of the Year. Crawley opened all 13 games he appeared in and finished second on the club to Lattimore with 17 passes defensed. Giunta helped develop young safeties Vonn Bell and Marcus Williams, who went from second-round draft selections to starters. Bell has led the secondary in tackles for two consecutive seasons, leading the entire defense with 78 stops in 2017 and tying for second on the club with 4.5 sacks. In 2017, Williams started all 15 games he appeared in and finished second on the team with four interceptions, being named to the PFWA All-Rookie Team.
Giunta served as the secondary/cornerbacks coach of the New York Giants from 2006-14, a period when New York captured two Super Bowl titles. With the Giants, he was at the forefront in the development of several young cornerbacks, while also experiencing success with veterans.
During his tenure in New York, the Salem, Mass. native was pivotal in the development of cornerbacks who contributed to the Giants winning two Super Bowls. Former LSU standout Corey Webster developed into an eight-year starter under Giunta’s watch in New York and recorded 22 interceptions and four fumble recoveries in the regular season and postseason, including recording three takeaways in the 2007 playoffs all the way to a Super Bowl title. Webster’s pick of a Brett Favre pass set up the Giants’ game-winning field goal in overtime of the NFC Championship Game in Green Bay. In 2011, Webster opened all 20 regular season and postseason contests. CB Aaron Ross, the club’s first round draft pick in 2007, was inserted into the starting lineup midway through his rookie campaign and he delivered with three interceptions including one brought back for a score. Ross returned to the starting lineup in 2011 and finished tied for second on the team to Webster (six) with a career-high four picks. Most recently, Giunta was instrumental in the development of CB Prince Amukamara, the team’s first round draft pick in 2011, who despite missing the last eight games with a biceps injury in 2014, had set a career-high with three interceptions through the first eight contests. In 2009, CB Terrell Thomas led the team with five interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, as New York ranked ninth in opponent net passing yards per game. Thomas was selected to the USA Today All-Joe Team.
Giunta was Kansas City’s defensive backs coach from 2001-05. In 2003, S Jerome Woods earned his first career Pro Bowl berth under his guidance, an impressive feat considering the fact that he missed the 2002 campaign with a broken leg. The Chiefs registered 25 interceptions to rank third in the NFL that season, as S Greg Wesley and CB Dexter McLeon paced the team with six picks apiece.
Giunta joined the Chiefs after spending four seasons (1997-2000) with the St. Louis Rams, including the last three as that club’s defensive coordinator. Giunta served as the Rams’ assistant head coach under Dick Vermeil in 1998-99, after originally joining the staff as defensive backs coach in 1997.
As defensive coordinator, Giunta was responsible for the resurgence in the St. Louis defense which helped spark the club’s unexpected run to a world championship in 1999. Those efforts culminated with a 13-3 regular season record and a 23-16 victory over the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV. Giunta’s unit led the league in rush defense in 1999, allowing just 74.3 yards per game, while ranking fourth in scoring defense (15.1 ppg.) and sixth in total defense (293.6 ypg.).
The Rams’ 1999 defense led the NFC and was second in the NFL with 29 interceptions. CB Todd Lyght tied for the league lead with six picks, earning his initial Pro Bowl berth in the process. St. Louis was also opportunistic, returning nine takeaways (seven interceptions and two fumbles) for touchdowns in 1999. Those turnovers were due in large part to a Rams pass rush which racked up 57.0 sacks, a figure which tied for the league lead. The sack brigade was headlined by Pro Bowl DE Kevin Carter, who led the NFL with 17.0 takedowns.
Giunta’s long had a reputation for getting the most out of his defensive backs. In 2000, McLeon intercepted eight passes, a total surpassed only by one player. In Giunta’s first season as defensive coordinator in 1998, St. Louis ranked third in the NFL in pass defense, allowing 176.9 yards per game. With Giunta serving as defensive backs coach in 1997 the Rams were second in the league with 25 interceptions, including an NFL-high nine by CB Ryan McNeil.
Prior to his stint with the Rams, Giunta spent two seasons as defensive backs coach for the New York Jets. In 1995, the Jets led the league in opponent net yards passing (171.3 yards per game). Giunta was instrumental in the development of Glenn, who would go on to be a three-time All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection.
Giunta entered the NFL as the defensive backs coach with the Philadelphia Eagles from 1991-94. In 1991, the Eagles defense ranked first in the league in passing defense (150.8 yards per game), rushing defense (71.0 yards per game) and total defense (221.8 yards per game). That marked just the fifth time in NFL history and the first time since 1975 that a single team led the league in all three of those defensive categories. No team has equaled that feat since the 1991 Eagles.
Giunta’s 10 seasons in the college ranks began at Penn State (1981-83). He was a defensive assistant his first year before coaching the tight ends in his final two seasons. While he was at Penn State, the Nittany Lions won the 1982 National Championship with a 27-23 victory over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. Penn State won three bowl games during Giunta’s tenure.
Following Penn State, Giunta moved to Brown (1984-87), where he coached both the tight ends and wide receivers before becoming the offensive coordinator (1986-87). He then joined the staff at Lehigh (1988-90), where he was responsible for the tight ends and wide receivers.
After a four-year playing career as a defensive back and running back at Northeastern (1974-77), Giunta began his coaching career in Massachusetts, where he was an assistant coach at Swampscott High School from 1978-80.
PLAYING CAREER: Northeastern, 1974-77.
COACHING CAREER: Swampscott (Mass.) High School, 1978-80; Penn State, 1981-83; Brown, 1984-87; Lehigh, 1988-90; Philadelphia Eagles, 1991-94; New York Jets, 1995-96; St. Louis Rams, 1997-2000; Kansas City Chiefs, 2001-05; New York Giants 2006-14; New Orleans Saints, 2016-.