What did the Bucs know, and when did they know it?
The Giants don’t seem to care all that much about either question.
A day after Odell Beckham Jr. told reporters about a postgame conversation with Tampa Bay cornerback Vernon Hargreaves in which the rookie said the Bucs knew which routes the Giants were running in their 25-23 loss Sunday, the two coaches most responsible for the offense seemed unimpressed by any defensive soothsaying.
Offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan pointed out Thursday that the Giants’ offense managed to do pretty well in the game.
“I know that we were able to get almost 400 yards of offense in the game, no turnovers, and a couple of touchdown passes, one that put us ahead late in the game,” Sullivan said. “And also that the player who he was talking to was actually the same player that Odell beat on a 42-yard double move. I don’t know how much stock I take in those types of accusations, if you will, as far as what opponents will say.”
It is a rather common quip from defensive backs — particularly when they win — to say they knew the plays. Ben McAdoo, who calls the Giants’ offense, said he tends not to believe them.
“Teams do a good job scouting the opponent,” McAdoo said Thursday through the team. (He was not scheduled to address the media Thursday but responded to questions from reporters through a team official.) “That’s a part of gamesmanship. We have things to counteract it, and it paid off for us in the game. Every defensive back thinks they know what you’re running until they don’t. Unfortunately, we didn’t win the game.”
It’s not uncommon for NFL players to be able to predict plays or routes. Former quarterback Tony Romo has begun his career as a broadcaster doing just that. The key to success, McAdoo said, is not worrying about deceiving a defender, but just beating him.
“There is no defense for the perfect throw and the good route,” McAdoo said. “I think if we do what we’re supposed to do from an execution standpoint and the throw is on time and where it’s supposed to be, we should be able to complete the ball. And we are one broken tackle away from taking one to the house, especially when Odell is the receiver.”
That seemed to be Beckham’s larger point when he spoke Wednesday and let slip his conversation with Hargreaves (he added that he told McAdoo about it).
“I was talking to Hargreaves after the game and he was just like, ‘You know, we know a lot of what you’re doing,’ ” Beckham said Wednesday. “But, it still just comes to the point where you have to trust it. We have to trust 10 (Eli Manning) to make the throw like he did, not put anything extra on (the route) because if I didn’t put something extra on it, the timing probably wouldn’t have been perfectly right.”
Beckham said he was not worried about the offense being too predictable.
“It’s the system, it’s our offense,” he said. “We were 11-5 last year and we were running the same thing. So, is it really this or are we just not executing right? I don’t think we’re executing the way that we can, at a higher level. It wasn’t a problem last year when we were winning games. It’s just a matter of execution, really.”
Still, some perceived Beckham’s comments as a breach of team secrets or, worse, a public condemnation of McAdoo’s offensive scheme or play-calling. The coach said he does not feel that way: “Your interpretation of what Odell said and mine are entirely different.”