Ben McAdoo is at the center of unrelenting controversy, his job status is tenuous, and his 1-8 team continues to stagger through a lost season that may lead to his ouster.
So how’s the Giants’ second-year coach holding up?
“I’m built for this,” a defiant McAdoo said Wednesday after his first practice for Sunday’s game against the Chiefs. “A calm doesn’t suit me. A storm does.”
McAdoo appears to have drawn inspiration from one of President Andrew Jackson’s favorite quotes: “I was born for a storm, and a calm does not suit me.” And while he didn’t credit Old Hickory, who defeated the British at the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812, McAdoo is clearly not hiding from the torrent of criticism aimed his way.
In fact, he’s embracing it, even if these will be his final seven games as the Giants’ coach.
“The tougher it gets,” he said, “the better I’m going to get, the better I expect this team to get down the stretch. Seven more weeks, I think it’s a great opportunity. It’s probably the greatest opportunity in my life these next seven weeks.”
The stoicism will get him only so far.
His team has been horrendous from the start, and even after a reprieve this week in which ownership said it will not make any decisions on McAdoo’s future until after the season, things have only gotten worse. The Giants are coming off back-to-back losses by a combined 44 points, and it’s almost impossible to foresee McAdoo returning next season.
But rather than accept his fate without a fight, McAdoo remains resolute.
“A lot of doubt out there,” he said. “Whether it’s in the building or not, but there’s definitely doubt on the outside. So, we have a chance to flip the script these last seven weeks.”
McAdoo took the unusual step Wednesday of showing game tape of Sunday’s flop to his entire team, rather than have the Giants break off into offense and defense, as they usually do. While he wouldn’t name names, he didn’t hide that he was “brutally honest” when assessing the performance level of specific players.
It doesn’t take a Rhodes scholar to connect the dots and suggest that one of his primary targets was cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who had an awful game in giving up an 83-yard touchdown pass and making two weak attempts on tackles during two scoring drives. There were presumably others who felt the coach’s wrath.
“I think we needed to get snapped at a little bit,” guard D.J. Fluker said. “We do need to get fired up a little bit. That’s all needed. That’s part of being a coach. That’s part of getting ready to play. You’ve got to have some fire to you. If you get guys fired up, (upset) about what they did, that will make them want to play better. Coach Ben is always hard on us. He’s on us to get better. He wants perfection.”
Defensive tackle Jay Bromley related to how McAdoo embraced the situation.
“Adversity, it takes a certain kind of individual to take all the bull that’s thrown in their face and keep smiling,” he said. “That’s the kind of guy McAdoo is. I know that’s the kind of guy I am. I’ve been through so much in life. These are just a few games. A few plays here or there, and (the record) is different. Just keep riding it, keep pushing, keep pressing, and we’ll break through one day or another.”
Bromley didn’t mind McAdoo calling players out.
“As a man, you don’t want to be rebuked in front of everybody,” he said. “It’s one thing to be in front of four or five people in your (meeting room). It’s another thing to be in front of the whole team.”
It’s too late to turn around the season, but not too late to salvage some pride. That’s about the only motivation left.
“We talked about running to adversity,” McAdoo said. “That’s where we are in the season. We have one win. Let’s run right to it.”
Unfortunately for the Giants, all they’ve run right to — and into — is the brick wall of last place in the NFC East and an eventual departure for the guy who’s led the way to the bottom.