Sometimes the message from Ben McAdoo is direct. Other times it’s far more subtle, even if the underlying message is as bold as the one he delivered Wednesday.
This was a few minutes after the Giants concluded a spirited practice for Sunday night’s season opener in Dallas. McAdoo spent the better portion of his news briefing offering little detail about Odell Beckham Jr.’s availability for the game, saying only that any decision about the star wide receiver’s status would be up to the medical staff.
But McAdoo later delivered what seemed to be an innocuous comment about the pace of practice — a quote that beneath the surface offered a window into just how strongly he believes in the team he’ll take into the season. The message was almost subliminal, but it was unmistakable.
As McAdoo later confirmed.
“If you take this practice here for a Wednesday in-season practice,” he said, “with this type of energy, we move around and play with this type of energy on a Wednesday in December, January and February, we’ll be in good shape.”
It was vintage McAdoo “coachspeak” and sounded like any garden variety comment about being happy with the pace of practice. But look at the months of the year he mentioned.
Just to make sure he meant what he said, McAdoo was approached as he walked back to his office. A reporter began to recite the line, “You said, ‘If we practice like this . . . ’ ”
McAdoo picked up the thread: “ . . . in December, January and February, we’ll be right where we need to be. That’s the type of energy you’re looking for. At the end of the season, when it gets long, the players get nicked up and they’re sore, Wednesday’s a tough practice. It’s great energy to have for a Wednesday.”
But the end of the season — the regular season — is December. January? That’s playoff time. February? That’s Super Bowl time. Was there a message in there?
“We’re talking about the end of the season, right?” McAdoo said. “That’s the end of the season.”
Then he added another line for emphasis. “We all send messages.”
Sounds like a good one.
“We’ll find out.”
That’s no Super Bowl guarantee, but that is a coach who understands where he wants to go, who isn’t afraid to say it, and who has a team he believes is good enough to be practicing in February.
For Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis.
On Feb. 4.
McAdoo’s players love the confidence, which has been there from the beginning. This from a coach who was mocked at his introductory news conference for wearing an oversized suit and poked fun at for going to a slicked-back hairstyle in recent months.
“He’s got a swagger about him,” All-Pro safety Landon Collins said. “The way he carries himself. It’s not manifested in what he does or how he wears his clothes. It’s his attitude toward the game and how he feels about this team and how we should be able to determine the outcome of each and every game.”
Can the Giants be as great as McAdoo suggests?
“Yes,” Collins said. “We’re on the verge of being great. We’ve got to take it week by week, keep growing as a team.”
Linebacker B.J. Goodson said of McAdoo: “Sometimes, you don’t know whether to laugh or keep a straight face, but all in all, he’s a great coach. He makes sure we’re well prepared and ready to go in for battle.”
Second-year cornerback Eli Apple has sensed McAdoo’s confidence from the start.
“Our first meeting last year, he said, ‘Expect greatness and don’t be shocked by it,’ ” Apple said. “We expect to be great, and that’s what we’re working toward every day.”
The journey begins Sunday.
If McAdoo’s conviction about his team is fulfilled, that journey will continue through January and into February.