John Mara and the New York Giants finally have something they have been lacking since slumping to 0-5 — a reason to fight.
Believe it or not, the New York Giants still have three football games that need to be played in this wretched season.
Beneath the uproar, the fallout and the dispirited atmosphere in East Rutherford peak fresh motivation for those hungry enough to grasp.
Despite the Jints 30-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, John Mara relieving Ben McAdoo of his duties has given the players something the former Giants head coach failed to deliver- a reason to play.
McAdoo allowed the Giants to throw in the towel after a shock 0-5 start to the season, losing the locker room in the process and showing a disregard for the bigger picture.
He failed to adapt as Tom Coughlin did by connecting with his roster on a human level and stressing the pride of New York as the underlying reason to show some fight. Though the onus was on the players to maintain their work ethic, there was no reminder that wearing the blue jersey means representing the people of the city.
Between his prolonged reluctance to hand-over play-calling responsibilities, to singling out Eli Manning for “sloppy quarterback play” after the Detroit Lions defeat, to his disputes with his cornerback corps, McAdoo himself was to blame for surrendering his authority.
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Former Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz alluded to McAdoo’s costly loss of respect from his players.
When asked if the same disharmony would be a factor under Coughlin, Cruz told Good Morning Football.
“No shot. Coughlin had such a command, you had such a respect for him that you’d never want to let him down, you’d never want to disrespect him.”
Discussing where it potentially went wrong for McAdoo, Cruz added, “You have to be someone who takes care of their players on and off the field.”
“So if there’s things that are going on in their personal lives, whether it’s Cromartie walking out of the practice facility or Janoris Jenkins not showing up, these are things coach Coughlin would pull us to the side for. That separation and that love is what gains even more respect for coach Coughlin.”
It’s up to McAdoo’s long-term successor, whomever that may be, to re-establish the balance between undisputed superiority and being the leader his players can identify with.
Headline decisions demand headline response
Regardless of the fact the decision was long overdue, the Giants sacking a head coach mid-season for the first time since Bill Arnsparger in 1976 needs to serve as a serious wake-up.
Fans can only hope it marked the sign of the Giants ownership taking a ruthless stance towards reshaping and reinvigorating the entire organization. A case of every job is on the line.
With the primary culprits of the team’s downward spiral no longer at the helm, the spotlight turns to the Giants’ stars to give something back to New Yorkers. In aid of their future, they have no choice but to do so.
Their fresh impetus is fuelled by the significant rebuild that beckons, and the beginning of a new fight for places.
The players have a responsibility to give Steve Spagnuolo the fair opportunity he deserves to stake his claim for the role of McAdoo’s permanent replacement.
Having inspired a notable revival as defensive coordinator following the Giants’ 32nd ranked defense in 2015, the entire team owes it to him to play as though the season can still be saved. It can’t, but he has the right to demand that mentality.
History has served as proof that aspiring head coaches can tend to improve significantly after struggling in their first job. Spags is worthy of that second chance after his tough stint with the St. Louis Rams.
On the field, those who opposed the benching of Manning have the chance to not only prove the decision was wrong, but also to make it up to the two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback so many of them let down.
As for the remainder of the season itself, matchups with all three divisional rivals in the final four regular season games shouldn’t need any added motivation.
Sunday’s clash with the Dallas Cowboys is the chance to vent all anger and frustration against famous foes and make amends for where it all started to go wrong in week one.
The message to the Giants is this. Fight for your jobs, fight for your quarterback, fight for Spags, even fight to prove the sackings of McAdoo and Reese were completely justified. Remember how privileged you are to wear that blue jersey and, perhaps most importantly, give something back to those paying good money to watch you every weekend.