New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo finally won a game in 2017. If you’re impressed by that fact, you should stop reading now.
You’ll have to excuse me for a moment because the headlines surrounding New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo after his team’s first victory of the season are making me sick to my stomach.
“Giants coach Ben McAdoo may have saved his job with drastic measures he took” was the title of Pat Leonard‘s story for the New York Daily News.
“Upset of Broncos gives Ben McAdoo some breathing room” sat atop a piece by Newsday‘s Neil Best.
I could continue, but you get the idea and, well, I’m all out of Pepto Bismol.
To be fair, writers and reporters tend not to have control over headlines—that responsibility falls on an editor’s shoulders. But the insinuation that one game suddenly changes McAdoo’s job security—or makes him a better coach than he was a week ago—is downright insulting.
One win in six weeks is still one win in six weeks. It’s nothing to be proud of.
He Deserves Credit For Giving Up The Playcalling
That’s a common narrative—that McAdoo’s decision to hand the reins of the offense to offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan was an unselfish act by an unselfish coach, someone who has his team’s best interests at heart.
Hell, it’s exactly what McAdoo told everyone after the game.
“I felt like during the course of the week, I need to make sure that I was here for the entire football team and this organization any way that I could be,” McAdoo said, per the Daily News‘ John Healy. “We talk about doing what’s best for the team, and what was best for the team last week was for me to give up play-calling duties.”
Does anyone really believe for a split second that, if the Giants had a semi-full compliment of their wide receivers—let’s say two of Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard—that McAdoo would have willingly given Sullivan control of the offense?
If you believe that, you’ll that I’m actually 6-foot-5, not 5-foot-6 as it says on my driver’s license.
The only reason McAdoo gave up playcalling duties is that he could no longer run his high-octane, pass-heavy offense with the likes of Ed Engram, Tavarres King and Roger Lewis Jr. running routes.
Or, at the very least, he no longer believed that he could.
He Solved The Offensive Line’s Issues With A New Alignment
Yes, the Giants finally made some changes up front that, for once, actually worked. With Ereck Flowers and John Jerry on the left side, Justin Pugh and D.J. Fluker on the right side and Brett Jones in the middle, the offensive line, for once, wasn’t offensive.
It stands to reason that group will only improve when Pro Bowl center Weston Richburg is cleared to play after suffering a concussion in Week 4 against Tampa Bay.
But before we start anointing this group as solid, or even adequate, let’s realize that their success was tied to the team’s decision to go back to ground-and-pound football.
“It was what we wanted to do for a while,” Fluker told Michael Eisen of Giants.com. “I’m happy we established it. It wasn’t perfect at times, but we just kept going and coach Sully [Mike Sullivan] was like, ‘You might get two yards, you might get three yards, sometimes you might get four, we might get a big play, but you never know so we’re going to pound it until we figure out what we’re going to do. And that’s what we did. We went out there and pounded the rock. We passed it when we had to pass it. I think that was a great game plan by our staff. We did a great job.”
Fluker is right—the offensive line did a great job opening holes against what was the NFL’s best run defense.
But if this is what the O-Line has “wanted to do for awhile,” why didn’t the Giants implement a ground-and-pound approach weeks ago? Why did it take until now for McAdoo to finally make a change to the gameplan?
Perhaps more importantly—and something plenty of people will try to gloss over—is that they were terrible in pass protection. Eli Manning was sacked three times and hit on three other occassions—if not more. That’s not good.
Manning, for one, wasn’t happy with the way the offense ran.
Eli on @WFAN660 "It's not always an easy thing to play that way. As a QB it's not the ideal way you want to play. You want to throw it."
— Tom Rock (@TomRock_Newsday) October 16, 2017
Manning wants to throw the ball—not run it—despite knowing that his O-Line fails miserably in pass protection.
He Finally Got The Defense Motivated
“This week you could tell the guys were hungry,” Jason Pierre-Paul told Eisen. “We practiced with effort and intensity. Everything the coaches asked us to do, we executed it very well. It’s a game of football, we’re going to make some mistakes, but I think the effort outweighed the mistakes.”
What JPP is actually saying is that the defense has been practicing without effort and intensity up until this point. It’s as if they believed that they could half-ass it during the week and flip a switch on game day. That’s not how this works.
That’s a failure that McAdoo, defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and the rest of the coaching staff need to own. It’s their job to make sure the players they put on the field are ready to play. And if they’re not ready, they shouldn’t play. Simple as that.
As for the defense’s success, let’s not forget that they were going up against a quarterback, Trevor Siemian, who looked like he belonged under center for a mediocre mid-major college team, not leading an NFL offense.
Sunday night’s showing was nice, but it was nothing to get excited about.
Bottom Line: Nothing Has Changed
Applaud McAdoo all you want. But a win against a team that clearly wasn’t taking their opponent seriously isn’t impressive. Not even a little.
He’s still the same guy who stood in front of the world last week, doing his best impersonation of Lieutenant Frank Drebin of Police Squad, telling people that there was “nothing to see here” while the fireworks factory behind him was exploding.
He’s still the same guy who has refused to try and establish a ground game for more than two years.
He’s still the same guy who, less than 72 hours ago, most Giants fans would have gladly driven to Newark Airport if it meant they never had to see him on the sideline ever again.
McAdoo is still the same coach. That’s not a good thing.