Another week, another loss, another locker room brushfire, and more evidence to suggest that Ben McAdoo is out of his depth as coach of the Giants.
After a promising rookie season in which he led them to an 11-5 record and their first playoff berth since 2011, the wheels already have fallen off. A team that weeks ago harbored what appeared to be legitimate Super Bowl aspirations has become a dysfunctional mess, with McAdoo presiding over the chaos of an 0-5 start.
It’s bad enough the Giants are dealing with the season-ending loss of Odell Beckham Jr., one of four receivers hurt in Sunday’s 27-22 home loss to the previously winless Chargers. But now McAdoo is dealing with the kind of dissension that shows he’s in danger of losing the team.
If he hasn’t lost it already.
McAdoo had such a heated discussion with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie on Tuesday that it led to the indefinite suspension of the 10-year veteran. McAdoo offered few details other than to say “we had a conversation that was personal upstairs. He came in today, decided to leave. We will suspend him.”
An ESPN reporter who texted with Rodgers-Cromartie said the cornerback planned to return to the team Thursday, but it remains to be seen whether his status will change.
Regardless of the resolution of this situation, it’s further proof of McAdoo’s failure to keep his team from coming apart, and it surely will weigh heavily on co-owner John Mara when it comes to deciding his fate.
Mara is the chief executive of an organization known for its patience and deliberation before making significant changes, and it remains to be seen whether McAdoo’s poor handling of his team will be enough to force his ouster. But you shouldn’t forget Mara’s background when assessing his tolerance level. He grew up during some of the Giants’ darkest years, from the mid-Sixties to the late Seventies, and saw firsthand how his father, Wellington, struggled through that era.
John Mara, who is 62, was so disconsolate after some losses that he begged his father not to make him go to school the next day so he could avoid the unrelenting criticism and humiliation from his classmates. He’s not about to sit idly while his franchise is the object of scorn once more.
Mara’s Giants play next in a nationally televised game against the Broncos in Denver, and rest assured that further embarrassment on the field will add to McAdoo’s troubles dealing with off-field matters.
The hits keep piling up:
In Week 3 against the Eagles, Beckham celebrated a touchdown by pretending to be a dog urinating in the end zone. Last week, Beckham hinted that McAdoo’s offense was too predictable, citing a conversation with Bucs cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, who said Tampa Bay knew what was coming from the Giants’ passing attack. Cornerback Janoris Jenkins left the field in the final minute Sunday. Cornerback Eli Apple suggested there was “a whole culture” issue at the root of the problems on defense and his own struggles.
And now the incident with Rodgers-Cromartie, who surely bears his share of the blame, is another example of a season gone wrong and a coach who’s in over his head.
Compare the bedlam to the last time the Giants had such a poor start, when Tom Coughlin went 0-6 in 2013. There was never any of this infighting. Coughlin, who had earned unquestioned respect in the locker room with two Super Bowl championships and firm discipline, kept his team together. The Giants won seven of their last 10 games and even briefly contended for a playoff spot.
Coughlin’s 12-season run ended in 2015, and McAdoo did a commendable job in making the playoffs in his first year. But what’s happening now shows that although he can lead from the officers’ quarters, he had yet to show he can lead from the foxhole he finds himself in. And if he can’t fight his way through this mess and keep his team together, then Mara ultimately will have no choice but to find someone else.