Ben McAdoo has been with the Giants only since January, but he has firsthand experience with some of their history. In 2007, he was the tight ends coach for the Packers team that crushed the Giants in Week 2 and made just about everyone, including Tom Coughlin, worry that new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo was in over his head.
"They were struggling at the time on defense," McAdoo said Thursday. "And then we had a chance to play them in the championship game that year and it was interesting how they looked on film, the progress that they made and how impressive they were."
When the Giants beat the Packers for the NFC title and then won the Super Bowl, that slow start to the season became part of the lore of the championship run. That chapter of the Giants' past was brought up for a second straight day Thursday. The hope for the Giants is that the storyline will repeat itself.
"It's called development for a reason," McAdoo said of the early struggles by his unit. "We just haven't been doing it very long together. We need to speed up the process and make less mistakes so when we get in the game, we can take advantage and execute better. But there are definitely some times that things are starting to click . . . We're going to work hard, we're going to work smart, we're going to trust each other and we're going to count on the chemistry kicking in."
McAdoo, a first-time coordinator, is struggling to shape his offense and, much like Spagnuolo, has felt the heat that comes with less-than-immediate results.
"I'm my biggest critic," he said. "A lot has been said and a lot has been written, and that's never going to change how I view myself. I'm always going to be hard on myself and I'm always going to be hard on the players. We ask them to be their biggest critic."
So how does the rookie play-caller assess his debut?
"You know," he said. "You need to look in the mirror like everyone else. You ask opinions of the people you trust around you. And you take it with a grain of salt and you move forward."
He hopes the offense moves forward, too. The Giants posted only 197 net yards and 14 points in the opener, but McAdoo said the most encouraging part of the process has been the variety of errors that have been made. "They're different mistakes," he said proudly, an indication that the players are learning as they go along.
That even the gaffes can be held up as minor victories shows just how far the offense has to go. But as McAdoo learned in 2007, the coach, the unit and the team you are in Week 2 is not always the one you wind up being at the end.