New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo spent a little under 15 minutes at the podium, covering a variety of topics.
He then spent some time off podium with the team’s beat writers in attendance where he dropped a few other interesting tidbits offering insight into what might lie ahead for the team.
Let’s run down some of the highlights and how they factor into the bigger picture.
It Sounds like They’re Leaning Toward Moving on from Rueben Randle
McAdoo was all too willing to disclose that the plan is to have receiver Victor Cruz on the team in 2016 despite the fact that Cruz’s health status is still unknown.
He was less definitive about Rueben Randle, who has given the Giants four inconsistent seasons since being selected in the second round of the 2012 draft.
McAdoo on wanting Rueben Randle back as a FA: “At this point in time it’s a little early to tell.”
— Tom Rock (@TomRock_Newsday) February 24, 2016
Beyond Randle’s lack of consistency–per Pro Football Focus, he was the target of 17 interceptions over the last four seasons, the most of any receiver on the team in that period—a valid question that not many people are speaking about is the tendinitis that plagued Randle in the summer.
How much of that condition had a bearing on Randle’s ability to perform? How much of his lack of consistency was a result of him not being prepared?
Whatever percentages the Giants arrive at, the point is they need to be able to count on players being healthy and coming to the gridiron prepared, something that wasn’t always the case for Randle, who will likely move on once he hits free agency on March 9.
So Far, McAdoo Doesn’t Sound Overwhelmed
Whether it’s because he’d just a laid-back kind of guy or because of his “coaching upbringing,” McAdoo doesn’t sound the least bit intimidated or overwhelmed in his new position.
Let’s face it; it’s not easy dealing with a media contingency that’s probably two, three or four times the size of what some of the other teams have. It, in fact, takes a special type of person to be able to handle that pressure and not crack.
Bill Parcells? He had it. So did Tom Coughlin.
Ray Handley? Nope. Dan Reeves? Not really.
McAdoo? Grated he hasn’t had his feet put to the fire yet, but so far so good, and he owes that, in part, to having worked under two Super Bowl winning coaches in Mike McCarthy in Green Bay and Coughlin in New York.
“It gives you a blueprint. You get a chance to work with Mike [McCarthy] and work with Tom [Coughlin], see a couple of different ways, really, to go about your business. There are a couple different ways to skin a cat, and Tom and Mike are great examples of that.”
Of course, having served as a position coach and then a coordinator helped as well.
“You do things on a smaller scale as a position coach—you’re the head coach of your position. Then as a coordinator, you’re the head coach of the offense. So now, you have a chance to work with different people and a variety of areas, and have a chance to wrap your hands around the entire team.”
By the way, if anyone has any concerns about McAdoo running into Coughlin, who per Bob Glauber of Newsday still shows up at the Giants’ facility to get a workout in and to say hello to the administrative staff, don’t.
“No, not awkward at all; I respect Tom (and) have talked to him a few different times since he left,” McAdoo said. “I feel we have a strong relationship. I’m going to bounce ideas off Tom as long as I can bounce ideas off of Tom. He’s someone I have a tremendous amount of respect for, and I’m grateful for everything that I learned from him.”
While McAdoo shares Coughlin’s passion for winning and excellence, he has no plans to become Coughlin II.
“Like I said before, I’m not going to try to be Tom. I’m not Tom. He’s already taken,” McAdoo said. “We’re going to evolve a little bit; it’s evolution, not revolution. If something works and we feel good about it and we like it, we’re going to stick with it. If not, we’re going to make some changes.
“There are some things that we’ve done in the past and we’ve kicked around a lot of ideas within the staff. We’re going to implement those moving forward, and we’re going to make it our own.”
Victor Cruz is Still in the Team’s Plans
In an interview with USA Today in which he was promoting Courtyard by Marriott, receiver Victor Cruz estimated that he has an “80 percent chance” of returning to the Giants in 2016.
“Absolutely,” McAdoo said when asked if he envisioned Cruz as being part of the team’s plans. “Right now we’re taking a look at things and he’s on the roster right now. If anything changes, I’ll be the first to know.”
The only thing that could change and thereby lead to Cruz being purged from the roster is if he and the Giants can’t get together on a salary restructure that would lower his $9.9 million 2016 cap hit which includes a $7.9 million base salary.
That’s far too big of a cap number to allocate to a player who hasn’t been on the field in almost two years and whose status is still uncertain for 2016.
McAdoo, however, is confident that the 29-year-old Cruz is on target.
“He was by the office the other day just kind of bouncing around; he was doing some rehab. He seems in good spirits, looks great, feels good. Hopefully we have a chance to get him healthy.”
And, of course agree on a new compensation level for 2016 that’s fair to both sides.
So what happens if that last part doesn’t come through and /or Cruz has another setback?
“We have some other guys that are going to have a chance to step up, possibly some young guys.”
McAdoo Still Hasn’t Decided About Who Will Call Plays
The question has come up twice now about whether McAdoo will continue to call the offensive plays or if he’ll turn that duty over the offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan.
“You know what, that hasn’t been decided yet. We’ll take a look at a couple different scenarios moving forward,” he said. “But like I said in the past, that’s a schematic advantage so I’m not going to talk about that.”
Ultimately it’s going to come out as to who is calling the plays. But as far as making that decision now, it wouldn’t be surprising if McAdoo goes through the preseason experimenting to see what he feels most comfortable doing.
It’s All About the (Pass) Rush
Anyone who watched the Giants last season knows full well about the team’s inability to successfully run the passer.
McAdoo is hoping that changes.
“You want to do a better job getting after the quarterback whether it’s up front, or whether it’s coming from the secondary, putting pressure there from the linebacker level. But you have to make the quarterback comfortable, certainly.”
So what about Jason Pierre-Paul, who had offseason surgery on his right hand in order to regain more range of motion?
“I spoke to Jason a couple of different times so far throughout the offseason. He seems in good spirits. He went through a procedure and we’ll have to see how that goes,” McAdoo said, adding that he wasn’t sure if Pierre-Paul would be able to shed the club that he played with last year.
Regardless, McAdoo believes Pierre-Paul is still a player who can make an impact on the game.
“It was obvious when Jason came back last year how disruptive he was without playing football for a long time. Just coming in and having a couple weeks to get his feet underneath him being able to go out and be disruptive as a pass rusher,” the head coach said.
“I just think when you look at him and his ability to get off the ball and get after the quarterback, it’s easy to see and that’s something that comes natural for him.”
It’s All About the Fundamentals
When McAdoo looks at the Giants, he apparently sees several breakdowns in the fundamentals that have contributed to the team being having a losing record these last few years, which is something he intends to fix.
“The game’s about the ball, number one, so we need to take care of the ball better,” he said. “The next thing we need to do is we need to extract the ball better, we need to take it away. After that, we’re going to spend a lot of time on blocking and tackling. If we can take care of those things, we’ll be able to find some more wins.”
Of course, an upgrade in talent at certain positions would also help. McAdoo said that the lines of communication are open between him and general manager Jerry Reese and that they’ve “had productive dialogue.”
No doubt part of that dialogue has been McAdoo’s outlining exactly what he hopes to get out of the draft and free agency.
“When you look at things, we have a lot of guys right now on the roster who are free, so we need to address that. We need to add some pieces there, but they need to be the right pieces,” he said. “We need to look out for the long-term interest of the New York Giants. It’s a combination between free agency and the draft on how you add players, how you acquire players. We just need to add some good pieces.”