Ben McAdoo is safe. For now.
The embattled coach of one of the NFL’s worst teams was given a reprieve — if only a temporary one — from speculation about his job security Monday after a second straight Giants game that became an embarrassment. Co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch issued a joint statement to stave off incessant calls for McAdoo to be fired.
“Ben McAdoo is our head coach and has our support,” the statement read. “We are in the midst of an extremely disappointing season. Our performance this year, particularly the past two weeks, is inexcusable and frustrating. While we appreciate that our fans are unhappy with what has occurred, nobody is more upset than we are.
“Our plan is to do what we have always done, which is to not offer a running commentary on the season. It is our responsibility to determine the reasons for our poor performance, and at the end of the year, we will evaluate the 2017 season in its entirety and make a determination on how we move forward.”
In other words, McAdoo has seven weeks to save his job. It’s a quest that begins Sunday against the Chiefs at home.
“I’m working to find a way to get the team better,” McAdoo said when asked about the statement of support, hedged though it may have been.
Even with a few wins down the stretch, it’s possible that McAdoo’s fate has been sealed. That ownership referred to last week’s 51-17 loss to the Rams and Sunday’s 31-21 loss to the previously winless 49ers as “inexcusable” carries quite a bit of weight.
The Giants also might decide to look more at last year’s 11-5 playoff season and give McAdoo a chance to return in 2018.
Best two out of three, anyone?
At the very least, the statement changes the narrative of the rest of the season from wondering when Mara and Tisch might see enough to end McAdoo’s brief tenure as coach to waiting until the Dec. 31 season finale for a proclamation.
Besides the losses, the Giants have had off-the-field turmoil. McAdoo has had to suspend two of his top cornerbacks, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins, for separate violations of team rules in the past month and a half. Last week, ESPN reported that a pair of Giants players anonymously said that McAdoo had lost the team and the players had quit on him.
Still, many players have voiced public support for McAdoo. Landon Collins said Sunday that McAdoo is “doing a great job” and “needs to coach this team next year, too.” Rodgers-Cromartie has said this 1-8 nightmare of a season is not a reflection on the coaching staff.
Eli Manning was asked about the owners’ statement during his weekly appearance on WFAN on Monday evening.
“I think it’s the right move,” Manning said. “We have a lot of games left to play. Yesterday was a tough one and we have to figure out a way to play better. This is not on coach McAdoo, this is on the players playing better than how we are right now.”
The Giants haven’t fired a coach in midseason since 1976, when Bill Arnsparger was canned after an 0-7 start in favor of John McVay. The Giants went 3-4 the rest of the season.
It’s difficult to anticipate how the statement and a return to semi-stability at coach will affect the team. Many players spoke passionately about their belief in McAdoo last week, yet that passion disappeared Sunday.
Even McAdoo said he is unsure what will happen. “Only time will tell,” he said. “We’ll have to see how everybody responds. My focus is on the week of preparation and trying to put a good plan together, helping these coaches and players.”
Which is exactly where the owners wanted to make sure his attention (and everyone else’s) is with the statement they made.