Good Evening
Good Evening

New offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo is a work in progress

Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo speaks with quarterback

Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo speaks with quarterback Eli Manning and quarterback Curtis Painter during the first day of minicamp on Tuesday, June 17, 2014. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

Eli Manning was befuddled. It was the kind of question he should know the answer to, he seemed to know that much. But for some reason nothing was coming to mind and the frustration on his face was telling.

Had it been a question about Ben McAdoo's new offense, he probably could have answered in the time it takes to hike a football. A question about McAdoo's routes or protection schemes or even the new language of McAdoo's playbook would have been easier. He'd spent the last two months studying those, getting intimate with every X and O that flashed on his iPad.

But this wasn't a query about McAdoo's offense. It was a question about McAdoo. About what he's like as a person. And Manning was drawing a blank.

"We're figuring it out," he finally said after some verbal false-starts. "It's tough to say right now."

Five months after he was hired as the Giants' new offensive coordinator, Ben McAdoo may still be the most important offseason addition to a team that has experienced more turnover than at any other point in the past decade. And hardly anyone knows who he is. The players are starting to get comfortable with the personality of the new system, but they have no idea about the personality of its architect.

"Right now it's all kind of football, but we talk about our families," Manning said. "It's good to have a good relationship in the meeting room. Most of what you're doing is football-based, but some things are understanding each other's personality. Sure, that's important."

It just doesn't happen right away. The limitations of the offseason workouts coupled with the urgency of installing the offense have not allowed for much casual chitchat. Plus, by most accounts, McAdoo isn't exactly a small-talk guy. He'd much rather converse about red-zone play-calling than kids and families and backgrounds.

"He's a nice guy to talk to, but he is down to business," fullback Henry Hynoski said. "He's a football guy. He lives and breathes for this."

Hynoski and McAdoo are both from Western Pennsylvania, an area of the country known for its lack of nonsense.

"Bring your lunch pail to work and get ready to grind it out for a few hours and get down to business," Hynoski said.

That's not to say McAdoo is incapable of forging bonds. He was extremely close with head coach Mike McCarthy and quarterback Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay.

"Relationships," McAdoo said this week during his first and only in-person news conference since taking the job in January, pondering the word for a moment. "Building relationships and having strong relationships is an important part of pro football. It's difficult in year one to do that, you usually have to go through some things together and develop a strong relationship so that takes time."

McAdoo and the Giants will have to win together, lose together, fight together and argue together before that happens. For now, they're all keeping it focused on the task at hand. It's something everyone seems to appreciate.

"He's exactly what I thought when we hired him," said Tom Coughlin, who used to be a coach-bot without much need for human interaction with players before changing his ways and winning two Super Bowls in part due to that change. "He's a hard worker, he's driven, his priorities are what they should be, he works long and hard at his trade."

"That's the kind of persona you want him to have," running back David Wilson said. "You don't want anyone to have any excuses like you're not taking your job seriously . . . He's always serious and focused on the task at hand. I think that will give our offense a different personality this season. More focused and more consistent. That's what we need."

There are certainly some lighter moments. McAdoo will sometimes put old high school pictures of players on the big screen during team meetings and draw a chuckle from the crowd.

"Brief, quick," Manning said of the jovial pause, "and then we're quickly back to work and figuring out how we're going to get better."

McAdoo has been trying to figure that out since he took the job shortly after his season with the Packers came to an end.

"It feels like week 32," he said wearily of this anything-but-offseason. "But it's been exciting, an exciting time. It's been a very fast time."

The grind will even continue during the next month while he takes some vacation time and catches up with his family that includes two young children.

"I'll spend a little bit of time away from it, but try to get some work," he said of the limited days until the Giants report to training camp on July 21. "I have young kids that will take naps, [so I can] get some work done. It will be good to see them though."

After that, it will be back to football. Back to getting ready for the 2014 season. Back to work.

"He wants to work," Manning said. "He's coming in here and we're working, we're getting things done and we're figuring out how we're going to get better. I like that from a coordinator, a guy who is passionate about what he wants to do."

Really, what more does he need to know about McAdoo?

New York Sports