The new Giants season began exactly where the previous one left off.
Ben McAdoo eschewed the traditional welcome-back speech when the Giants assembled for the first time on Tuesday to begin their offseason program, and instead of delivering fresh words of encouragement he went back to what he told them in the locker room at Lambeau Field in January after they had lost to the Packers in the wild-card game.
In fact, he showed them the video of that postgame locker room. The sad, droopy faces. The eyes red with disappointment and frustration. And the coach’s message back then for the players to bank their anger and use it to drive themselves forward.
“He definitely still wants that to be an image in our head, showing us that,” wide receiver Sterling Shepard said on Tuesday night. “We’ve got to kind of put that in the rear view and move on from it too. It’s a balance. You kind of want to keep it in your head but keep it in the back, too.”
Shepard, who spoke at an event at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan to announce the winning designs of the NFLxFIT Visual System Design Contest, said he already had a vivid picture in his mind from that disappointing locker room. Mostly, he said, because he was told to.
“I remember,” he said. “He told us: ‘Remember this, literally, remember this feeling.’”
It was a year ago that McAdoo opened his first meeting at the start of the offseason program by pointing to an empty space on a wall in the team’s auditorium where the picture of the next championship squad will hang. He made it clear from his first moments as head coach that the goal was to put “a fifth trophy in the case.”
The Giants fell short of that last year, but they certainly took steps in the right direction. They were 10-6 in the regular season, made the playoffs for the first time since 2011, and resurrected their defensive identity. This offseason they added a few pieces (certainly not as many as last year when name tags were practically needed on the first day) and lost a few (Victor Cruz and Rashad Jennings were released, Johnathan Hankins signed with the Colts). But the core of the team that made 2016 a relative success is back.
And they are still stinging from their last game.
“We definitely have that bad taste in our mouth from the last game,” defensive end Romeo Okwara said at the same event where Shepard appeared. “Had a lot of time to think about it. It’s nice to get back with the team and get back to work.”
Said Shepard: “It was good to get around the guys again and kind of get things off and started. We didn’t complete our goal at the end of the season. It’s time to move on and start something new.”