Thursday's final mandatory mini-camp practice for the New York Giants taught us nothing about the Giants, as they held only a very brief jog through. Afterwards, however, assistant coaches were made available to the media for the first time this offseason -- and that meant the first opportunity to meet and talk with new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo.
So, what is the 36-year-old McAdoo like?
Serious. Business-like. A commanding presence. Confident, but not cocky. A guy who believes in "we" and not "I". Direct. A guy who looks you in the eye when he shakes your hand, something he did with many of the writers after speaking on Thursday. A guy who has no doubt he is ready for his first offensive coordinator job, and who looks and sounds ready. A guy who is going to measure his words and not say any more than he absolutely has to.
Truth is, McAdoo might be bringing a new style of offense to the Giants but in many ways he sounds like an old-fashioned Giants' kind of guy. More to the point, a Tom Coughlin kind of guy.
Before McAdoo spoke, Coughlin was asked for his impressions of the guy who has been tasked with putting Humpty Dumpty, or the Giants' "broken" offense, back together again. If it's possible for Coughlin to gush, he gushed about McAdoo:
"He’s exactly what I thought when we hired him. He’s a hard worker, he’s driven, his priorities are what they should be, he works long and hard at his trade. I think he’s a good communicator," Coughlin said.
Here are some snippets from McAdoo's Thursday meeting with the media.
The very first question McAdoo received regarded his "comfort level" as a first-time coordinator. He deflected that, talking instead about the offense:
"I'll say this -- 12 practices together vs. the defense, we've made some progress. The players are working hard. They're excited to be here, they're dedicated," McAdoo said. "A lot of guys, we all understand that this is voluntary, most of it, we're in our mandatory minicamp now but they made a commitment to the organization and we're excited about that."
Asked again later about adjusting to his new role, McAdoo again gave a team-oriented answer:
"I'm not spending a bunch of time worrying about myself. I like to do what I can and lead by ... leadership through service is probably the best way to go," McAdoo said. "Do what I can do to help the coaches and the players around me."
What does he think of the state of the Giants' offense heading into training camp?
"They [the players] have a good feel for what we're looking for at this point. To say that we have things mastered after 12 practices, by no stretch of the imagination do we have everything mastered but they understand the identity that we're looking for moving forward and it will be exciting to get them back here and get some pads on," McAdoo said. "Right now we're trying to get better every day. We're making small strides. Our identity - we want to be sound, smart and tough and we want to be committed to discipline and poise. At this point in time we're not there but we're getting close."
How has working with Eli Manning been?
"It's been great. On the outside looking in I've always admired Eli. I've had some rough days vs. Eli in the past but I admire him as a pro. He's a smart player, I like the way he thinks about the game and I'm excited to see him grow," McAdoo said.
On whether he had to "sell" himself to Manning:
"We have a value system that we believe in. Humility is one of those values. Respect is another and dedication is a third," McAdoo said. "Eli is very humble. He is a guy that is very anxious and very excited to be a part of something. He didn't have the year that he wanted to have last year so we didn't talk about this but what I see is a guy who is a consummate pro and is excited to move on."
The Giants turned the ball over a league-worst 42 times last year and were 31st in turnover ratio at -15. Asked about fixing the turnover issue in "his" offense, McAdoo again gave an answer straight from the Coughlin school of media relations:
"Well, first things first, this will be our offense. This is going to be the Giants' offense, not my offense," McAdoo said. "Watching the film from last year, it's no secret they didn't protect the ball as well as they would have liked to. We've made strides already I believe this offseason in doing that. The fundamentals were a big part of it, decision-making is a big part of it. And yes, it can be fixed, and yes, it will be fixed."
What the Giants are trying to do with the offense this season is not easy. They are trying to sell a new offense to a two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback, they are trying to mesh an entirely new coaching staff and a largely overhauled group of offensive players into a cohesive unit. They are, basically, starting from scratch and building something new. It is a huge challenge. Will it be successful? Right now, nobody knows.
Is McAdoo the right man for the job? He is certainly off to an excellent start, but only time will fully answer the answer the question. One thing we do know. McAdoo is not afraid of this challenge.