After an embarrassing rout and a controversy fueled by what he called “fake news,” coach Ben McAdoo believes the best thing for his Giants will be getting on the field Sunday against the 49ers.
“When you have a setback like we did last week [a 51-17 loss to the Rams] and some fake news — I guess you could call it — like we had this week, some drama, I think it’s good to go out and play the game you love to play,” he said Friday.
McAdoo was referring to an ESPN report that cited two players anonymously criticizing him for losing the team, and for alleged missteps such as overworking players in practice on Saturdays and handing out too many fines.
When asked what he meant by “fake news,” McAdoo noted that it was based on anonymous quotes. When pressed on the distinction between anonymous and fake, he said: “I’ll let you define it for me, then. It’s anonymous.”
McAdoo said he was heartened by the sentiments of players who spoke on the record Thursday. Some expressed support for the coach and all were critical of the unnamed complainers. “It’s not an issue,” McAdoo said. “I’d like to help the players who have issues. It’s not an issue for the team. We can handle it. We’re strong. You saw how the players responded in the locker room [Thursday]. I thought they did a great job.”
Defensive end Olivier Vernon who did not speak to reporters Thursday, said Friday: “Everybody is behind coach McAdoo. So everything that you [reporters] hear or whatever comes out, I have no comment on that one . . . If somebody wanted to come forth and say who said anything, come forth and say it. If not, it doesn’t really mean anything to us.”
Asked if he has spoken to Giants president John Mara since the Rams loss, McAdoo said, “I’m going to keep my personal and private conversations personal and private.”
McAdoo has spent 1 1⁄2 mostly bland seasons as the Giants’ coach, but with his job and reputation seemingly in peril this week, he became more expansive than usual, first in his weekly sitdown with Giants.com on Thursday, then with reporters Friday.
On Friday, he said he gets ideas for motivational messages mostly from listening to audio books on his commute to work.
In his Giants.com Q&A, McAdoo quoted a former president. “Andrew Jackson said, ‘I was born for a storm, and a calm does not suit me,’ ” McAdoo said. “I think players need to be comfortable being uncomfortable, and that’s where we are right now.”
McAdoo said of his relationship with Eli Manning: “I respect everything he’s done and accomplished in this league. But right now, we need to win and we need to play better and I don’t like to grade players in the media or in the public, but everyone needs to be held accountable and he’s going to be held accountable just like everybody else in this building that’s under my watch. Period.
“Does that mean I don’t have faith and confidence in him? Heck, no. I’ve got a ton of faith, a ton of confidence in him. I always have. I always will.
“Do I say it enough to him? Probably not. I wasn’t raised in a warm-and-fuzzy environment. But I do have a lot of confidence in Eli and I have confidence that we’re going to right this ship and make a run.”
The 49ers are winless and battered by injuries, but the Giants have injury problems of their own, notably at linebacker, where B.J. Goodson, Devon Kennard and Keenan Robinson are out and Jonathan Casillas and Calvin Munson are questionable.
Vernon is questionable with an ankle injury. “I’m feeling great, man, so we’ll see how it goes on Sunday.”
So he expects to be on the field? “I’m taking it day by day,” he said.
Kelvin Sheppard, whom the Giants chose not to re-sign after last season and the Bears cut before the season, worked out for the Giants on Tuesday and promptly was re-signed. “He’s going to have an opportunity to play [Sunday],” McAdoo said.
Said Sheppard, “I’m back where I wanted to be from the get-go.”
Interesting week for a 1-7 team. “I don’t think it’s taken a toll,” McAdoo said. “The way last week worked out, I think we’re excited to go jump on a plane, go across the country and play in a ballgame.”