WHAT CAN YOU McADOO?
The report card on how Ben McAdoo is handling the first major crisis of his head-coaching career has been almost as unanimously negative. From dealing with the suspension of Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to his offensive play-calling, there are a lot of his fingerprints on this team’s 0-5 record.
This is his first time going through such an abysmal start in his coaching career, but he’s not the first one to experience it or something like it. And since others understand when support is needed – or maybe misery just loves company -- the Giants head coach said he has heard from a number of people who have reached out to him during this depressing time.
“You hear from people who have gone through similar types of things and have found a way to rebound, or maybe have not found a way to rebound,” McAdoo said this week. “But it’s good to hear from mentors and familiar voices and talk to people who can help you out a little bit.”
McAdoo did not mention any names, but knowing his coaching pedigree that list likely includes Packers head coach Mike McCarthy and maybe even Tom Coughlin, who went through an 0-6 stretch himself as head coach of the Giants in 2013.
When it comes to winning games this season, though, McAdoo knows that those messages are essentially worthless.
“At the end of the day, it’s inside this building,” he said. “It’s inside this building, inside the locker room with the players and the coaches and the rest of the building. Get everybody to continue to pull in the same direction and speaking the same language and believing.”
Still, it’s nice to be thought of.
“Tough times come, tough times go,” McAdoo said. “Tough people last. Usually you hear from some other tough people when you’re going through these types of times, whether it’s in this profession or whether it’s in another professional sport.”
Broncos head coach Vance Joseph had his defense all planned out for facing Odell Beckham Jr. Now, with Beckham out for the season, he said he won’t have to do anything special to stop a group of untested, mostly unheard of, Giants receivers.
“We’re a five-man rush, man-free team, so our structure of how we play defense won’t change,” he said. “Obviously if they had Odell Beckham, that’s a problem because he’s a special player. So that would take some game-planning to make sure he wouldn’t hurt us. But we’re a five-man rush, man-free team, so the structure won’t change.”
Joseph said he’ll be on the lookout for the Giants to rely more on TE Evan Engram and RB Shane Vereen in the passing game. “That’s what I would do,” he said.
But for the most part he’ll stick with the basics.
“Obviously we have to adjust during the ball game, once we kind of figure out what they’re doing and how they’re attacking us,” he said. “But as far as our defensive structure, it will not change.”
8: Snaps missed by Landon Collins since the start of the 2016 season. He had gone 18 games without missing a snap before taking three of them off last week when he injured his ankle. He is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game with that injury.
5: Straight wins for the Broncos against NFC East teams going back to 2013. The Broncos have scored at least 41 points in each of those victories.
5: Consecutive losses for the Giants in Sunday night road games. Their last win was against Washington on Dec. 1, 2013. Since then they have been outscored 145-62 in such games during the streak.
WEBB HAS CONFIDENCE IN GIANTS’ NEW RECEIVERS
Eli Manning does not have a lot of experience throwing passes to Travis Rudolph and Ed Eagan, two of his possible receivers for Sunday’s game against the Broncos. They were low on the depth chart during training camp and on the practice squad during most of this season.
But there is one quarterback who has worked with them extensively, and he told Newsday they should do just fine.
Rookie Davis Webb, who spent the summer taking reps with the two and was their quarterback for the “opportunity” portions of practice when younger players try to catch the eye of the coaches, said he’s seen the progress they have made.
“They’ve really stepped up throughout the whole year,” Webb said. “This is their opportunity. Travis and Ed will get a chance to step up and I’m excited to see my teammates flourish with Eli.”
They’ll get that chance because Odell Beckham Jr. (ankle), Brandon Marshall (ankle) and Dwayne Harris (foot) are out for the season and Sterling Shepard will miss this game with a sprained ankle.
Webb said he did not act as a conduit between Manning and the young receivers this week – no ‘he likes this pass here’ or ‘he runs this route this way’ - but instead allowed them to develop their own budding chemistry. He also denied that he’ll have any special sense of pride in aiding their development should one or both have a big game.
“Whatever it takes to win a game, it doesn’t matter how,” he said.
Webb still got to work with them the past few days, but a lot less than usual. Most of their time has been spent putting in extra playbook studying and bonding with their new quarterback.
“It’s a little different than their normal weeks,” Webb said of the receivers’ experience as full-fledged members of the squad, taking first-team reps, and prepping to be potential cogs in a gameday offense, “but that’s football.”
PUGH: WINNING IS HARD, LOSING IS HUMBLING
The first time Justin Pugh went through this kind of start to a season he had no idea what was going on. He was a rookie in 2013 and the Giants started 0-6.
“I just thought we would win,” Pugh said of that season. “We were the New York Giants. They won a Super Bowl two years previously. I thought we were just going to go out there and that was just going to happen.”
It didn’t. And now, Pugh is in a similar situation. This year’s Giants have started 0-5.
What’s different, though, is Pugh’s role in the locker room. He’s no longer a rookie along for the ride. He’s now a veteran and one of the leaders charged with trying to keep the team together through these dreadful times.
It’s something he takes seriously.
“I love that part of it,” Pugh said. “When things are going well it’s easy to be a leader. When things are going bad is when it’s tough.”
Things are going pretty bad, not just on the field but off it too. Veteran cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has been suspended indefinitely, virtually the entire receiver corps is injured, and now the Giants are heading to Denver to face the league’s top defense.
This is when Pugh draws on the lessons he learned in 2013 from Justin Tuck, Antrel Rolle, Chris Snee and David Diehl.
“I was a young guy just seeing how the veterans handled it, and now I’m trying to handle it the same way they did,” Pugh said. “Keep working, keep doing the same things we’ve been doing. That’s the only thing I know how to do is work hard. Keep doing that and not get sidetracked.”
He also learned the lesson from 2013 that winning is hard.
“That’s the NFL,” he said. “It humbles you real quick and it’s doing it to a lot of people in here. We have to learn how to win the close games now. Soon. This week.”
And if not, Pugh’s message will stay the same.
Eli Manning’s passer rating in three career games against the Broncos. That includes six interceptions and three touchdowns. He’s averaged 268.6 passing yards in those three games with a 1-2 record. He has not beaten Denver since 2005, his first full year as a starter.