The Ben McAdoo era is officially underway for the New York Giants, with the energetic and confident new head coach having fielded questions for nearly a half hour from a large cast of press on hand to gain insight into his thought process.
In addition to McAdoo, team co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch and general manager Jerry Reese all spoke to the media.
What did we learn from the pressers? Let’s break it all down.
The Giants Feared They’d Lose McAdoo to the Eagles
Although Mara, Tisch and Reese said that McAdoo was the direction they were leaning toward after the first round of interviews that included five other candidates (Adam Gase, Doug Marrone, Steve Spagnuolo, Mike Smith and Teryl Austin), the threat of potentially losing McAdoo to the Philadelphia Eagles hastened the team’s decision, according to both Mara and Tisch.
“I think the Eagles situation did accelerate our decision, but at the same time, at the end of the meeting with Ben on Wednesday, we knew we were going to make the move and contact Ben’s representative’s right after he left the office,” said Tisch.
“It did accelerate the process; no question about it,” said Mara.
Eli Manning’s Endorsement of McAdoo Wasn’t the Swaying Factor
It certainly doesn’t hurt to keep the franchise’s 35-year-old quarterback happy, especially after Eli Manning told reporters a couple of weeks ago how much he liked McAdoo’s offensive system.
However, the quarterback’s opinion, which did reach management’s ears, wasn’t what tipped the scale in McAdoo’s favor.
“That was part of it but I think that’s been overblown to tell you the truth,” Mara said. “I did talk to Eli right after the last press conference we did, and I talked to him about some of the candidates, and he obviously liked Ben but he liked some of the other guys to. I was aware of that but that was not the factor that a lot of you make it out to be.”
Had they gone in another direction, Mara was confident that Manning would have rolled with the tide.
“Absolutely. Players adapt, particularly somebody as smart as he [Eli] is, he would have adapted to that.”
Still, Mara admitted that familiarity was something McAdoo had in his favor.
“I watched him for two years, had a certain familiarity with him, so I guess you could say he was the favorite going in.”
“I think two years of being the Giants’ OC is very valuable. It’s kind of like, for us, it’s not a first date,” he said.
“We got to know Ben over two years. His experience working with not only the players, but working under Tom and with Tom and Spags and the other position coaches. That experience is extremely valuable.”
The Assistant Coaching Staff Situation is “Fluid”…
McAdoo insisted that he hasn’t made any decisions regarding his assistant coaching staff despite numerous reports and sources claiming that such decisions have already begun to be made.
“With this happening so quickly, the staff is very fluid at this point and we had a chance to talk to a bunch of different guys, but nothing is set in stone,” McAdoo said. “There’s nothing to report at this time.”
While it was initially thought that McAdoo was feigning surprise when asked about former Miami Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin, with whom he worked in Green Bay under Mike McCarthy, it turns out he wasn’t playing coy. The Colts hired Philbin to be their new offensive line coach.
…But McAdoo Might Have Accidentally Let One Assistant Coach’s Name Slip
McAdoo, who was mostly bland in his responses when he was the offensive coordinator, did slip up later in his press conference when it came to a question about the Giants’ mangled defense.
“(Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo) and I have had some conversations and, again, the staff is fluid at this point, but we did have some conversations on some things, and being the second year in the system is going to help some guys,” McAdoo said.
“It’s going to help them with the foundation being set. It will let them play faster; they’ll be able to anticipate things and install.”
That sure sounds like Spagnuolo, who has one year remaining on his contract, isn’t going anywhere in 2016.
He’s Going to Be His Own Man
McAdoo is not naïve to think that he won’t be compared at some point to Coughlin by the fans and media.
If that’s the case, then so be it.
While McAdoo would love to replicate the success Coughlin had for most of his time here, the new head coach is going to achieve that success his way.
“The most important thing when we talk about leadership is you got to be yourself,” he said. “Everybody else is already taken, including Tom, so I can’t worry about being in Tom’s shadow; I got to be comfortable in my own skin, and I am that.”
He Could Have Done More Regarding Odell Beckham Jr.’s Flare-up vs. Carolina
McAdoo spoke often about building and maintaining relationships with his players. Yet when it came to star receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who famously lost his cool in a late-season game against Carolina, McAdoo admitted that he could have done more to help defuse the situation.
“Football is a people business and it’s about relationships,” he said. “After what happened on the sideline in Carolina game, I should’ve been better and I take full responsibility for that. Odell feels as bad as anybody about it and it’s my job to pull him out of that when we go down that road.”
“Evolution, Not Revolution”
While some new head coaches might want to tear down everything and rebuild the operations to their vision, McAdoo doesn’t see the need to reinvent the wheel.
“Our theme moving forward this year is evolution, not revolution,” McAdoo said. “We’re going to have an opportunity to carry something over, some things we won’t. We know more about each other now than we had when I got here and we’re going to build off things we do well and work on fixing the things we don’t do well.”
Anyone who has followed the Giants the last several years has a pretty good idea of what the team does well and what it doesn’t do well. While the rookie head coach is still working on assembling his coaching staff, a staff that is expected to consist of a mix of some familiar and new faces, McAdoo, a big fan of the fundamentals, has a four-point plan to make sure that his tenure starts off on the right foot.
“The first is strong leadership. The second is we need to surround that leadership with talented men and women of integrity. The third is a positive working environment needs to be created starting and maintaining with myself and it needs to inspire teaching, learning and accountability. The last is comprehensive structure and function,” McAdoo said.
“We will have a value system in place. Football is a people business and it starts with relationships. Three value system, excuse me, three values what we will incorporate are respect, humility and dedication. Dedication, obsessed is a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated. We will be dedicated in our football.”
McAdoo Has an Overall Team Identity in Mind
Whereas most head coaches facing a roster rebuild let the identity of a team develop on its own, McAdoo has a very clear vision about what he wants the Giants’ identity to be.
“Our offense, our defense, our special teams must play as one and our identity will be sound, smart and tough – committed to discipline and poise.”
You know, things that the team started to get away from in the waning years of the Tom Coughlin era.
“Coughlin Time” Will Remain Part of the Organization’s Culture
To pay tribute to Coughlin, the man who believed enough in McAdoo to make him a first-time offensive coordinator, McAdoo plans to pay tribute to the now ex-head coach by keeping a famous practice that created headlines when it was first implemented 12 years ago.
“(Tom Coughlin) has made a big impact in my life as a coach and as a person and his discipline, punctuality and success are obviously legendary,” McAdoo said.
“Thinking of a way to honor Tom, there are so many ways we can do it, but I figure the best way would be when I first walked into the building he looked at me and said, ‘Don’t mess with the clock.’”
He chuckled and then added, “When you look to the right here, we have our digital clocks they’re all five minutes fast and we’re going to stick with that–that’s ‘TC time;’ that’s a part of Giants culture now.”
Fixing the Personnel Issue is Priority 1, 2, 3 and 4
Not a single member of the Giants organization denied that the roster assembled by the personnel department had more than its fair share of flaws. So to make sure that McAdoo’s tenure gets off on the right foot, the Giants brass are going over the personnel with a fine-tooth comb.
“We’ll start that here tomorrow and start the process of evaluation and cut-ups and looking at personnel,” McAdoo said. “Personnel side already has, they’re knee-deep into the study at this point, but the coaching staff needs to start with the comb and begin that way.”
So far the process, which will see McAdoo have a heavy collaboration with general manager Jerry Reese in reshaping the roster, is off to a good start according to Mara.
“(McAdoo) is on the same page in terms of what we need,” Mara said. “I don’t think his view is as maybe as dim as mine has been but he knows where we need to improve and he knows what we need to do.”
Mara stressed that the since 1979, the first year the team hired an outside general manager (George Young), the head coach has “always had significant input into the personnel decisions” made by the club.
“No players were ever forced upon them and that’s going to continue to be the case,” Mara said.
The Personnel Department and Its Processes Are Still Being Evaluated
Both Mara and Reese weren’t merely paying lip service to the legions of frustrated Giants fans who share the outrage over the state of the Giants’ rosters, especially their disappointing draft classes.
“We’re looking at what we’ve done personnel wise, where we have made the mistakes in the draft, and why we have missed on guys,” Mara said.
“Are our standards too rigid or are they not rigid enough? Let’s look at that and figure out what we need to improve, and do we need some additional people down there or do we need to make some changes.
“I know what our roster looks like and I know it has to get a heck of a lot better if we’re going to put the fifth trophy in the case.”
“At the end of the day, it’s up to me with personnel,” Reese said, “When things go bad in personnel, it’s my fault. Last week it seemed like we couldn’t get that right. It’s my fault if something goes wrong with the personnel.”
Mara, who expressed confidence two weeks ago in Reese’s ability to fix the roster, reiterated that sentiment again.
“What gives me confidence is that I know we’ve done it before and I believe we have the right people here to do it again. I believe we can do it under this head coach.
Photo by P. Traina