When Ben McAdoo was introduced as the Giants’ coach in January, he made as much news with the oversized suit he wore as he did with anything he said about the job he had inherited from Tom Coughlin. The jokes were quick to follow, as was the buzz on social media.
So, too, was the obvious metaphor: Would the jump from mostly anonymous offensive coordinator to head coach in New York also be too big for the small-town guy from Homer City, Pennsylvania?
At 10-4 and on the verge of the team’s first playoff berth in five years, McAdoo has answered any skepticism about whether he was out of his depth. The suit may have been too big, but not the task of getting the Giants back into the postseason mix.
McAdoo has done such a good job of turning them around that he deserves to be in the conversation for NFL Coach of the Year honors.
If the Giants beat the Eagles on Thursday, they will clinch a playoff spot, which would make this season one of the most important in team history. Credit McAdoo for quickly adapting to his expanded role in one of the toughest markets in the world.
“I think he’s done a great job of rallying the team,” Eli Manning said Monday. “After each week, just dealing with whether it’s the ups or downs and getting us prepared and ready to play the next week. I think he’s done a good job of keeping things fun and keeping things light. Also having a serious side. I think he’s handled the situation very well.”
He has indeed, especially the off-field challenges of the Josh Brown situation and the controversy sparked by Colin Kaepernick’s anthem protests.
The Giants received national scrutiny when news broke about Brown’s one-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal- conduct policy in connection with a domestic-violence arrest in 2015. The team was rightly criticized for retaining Brown in the first place, then for initially keeping him after court documents exposed just how pervasive his abuse of his wife had been. McAdoo struck the right tone with his players in shepherding them through a painful process.
He also ingratiated himself with them over their concerns about racial injustice, a conversation Kaepernick renewed by refusing to stand for the anthem. McAdoo also convinced his players to stand out of respect for those who have sacrificed for this country.
McAdoo’s handling of Odell Beckham Jr.’s temper is another plus. He dealt with Beckham’s ridiculous outbursts with what appears to be the right mix of discipline and understanding. The talented receiver seems to have gotten a handle on the issue.
Oddly, the one area in which McAdoo has struggled is his primary area of expertise. He was a viable alternative to Coughlin largely because of his work as offensive coordinator, but McAdoo’s offense hasn’t been anywhere close to being as effective as it was the previous two years. The Giants haven’t scored more than 28 points in a game, with only 41 in their last three.
Manning sees small signs of improvement, though. “Teams are playing us a little different and forcing us to run the ball, not giving us the big shots [in the passing game],” he said. “If that’s what’s going to work, then that’s how we have to play.’’
Manning and McAdoo can be thankful the Giants have a championship-caliber defense to continually bail them out. But the formula has worked, and McAdoo deserves credit for the turnaround season. It’s certainly good enough for him to join Bill Belichick, Jack Del Rio, Adam Gase and Jason Garrett in the discussion for Coach of the Year.