The New York Giants are preparing for their stiffest test of the season. In fact, their game against the Carolina Panthers may be the hardest test of Ben McAdoo's tenure as Giants' offensive coordinator. All eyes in the media have been anticipating the match-up between Odell Beckham Jr. and Panthers' corner Josh Norman.
McAdoo, however, has to focus on preparing his offense to play the entire Carolina defense, not simply one single match-up.
That Carolina defense happens to be one of the best and most thoroughly talented in the league. It's something McAdoo recognizes:
"They're a talented front and they have some depth, they have some big bodies, some wide bodies. Jared Allen, playing against him for a bunch of years in my last stop, he's a slippery guy still and he's effective there, but they have a variety of guys to get to the quarterback and in a variety of ways. They do a nice job in coverage, so you have to hold the ball a little longer than you would versus a normal opponent. But I really think what separates this defense from a lot of defenses in the league is they have three linebackers plus who are instinctive, who can play with speed and physicality and they can cover. they can rush and they can cover and they can do it in a variety of ways so they're very skilled there."
The solution, McAdoo believes, to dealing with that defense has already started. That solution -- as much of a solution as there is -- is in the preparation that began in practice on Wednesday.
"I think it starts with his preparation. He's a guy who plays the game before he plays the game. He studies the opponent, he studies the scheme, he knows what he likes and what he doesn't like, and he likes having some control, the adjustments at his fingertips. There is a lot of responsibility that goes with it and he handles that well."
McAdoo did see some encouraging signs from the Giants' 31-24 victory over the Miami Dolphins.
On what Odell Beckham has improved this year:
"What I think he's doing better, I think the starting point is at practice, he's getting a lot of reps at practice, you can see the chemistry developing between he and Eli, and he's playing multiple positions and working hard to get the techniques down at those positions."
On the running backs and run blocking:
"You know what, we had a couple get out of the gate early. Our big guys up front, they fought pretty well. Didn't win them all, they had their hands full but they battled. Got Rashad (Jennings) going, had a couple of nice runs early, which was encouraging to see, and got a nice workload because of it."
It is worth noting that McAdoo wouldn't rule out the possibility that the Giants would return to the dreaded "Running Back By Rotation." However, I wouldn't read too much into that, as McAdoo can't give away any clues to the Giants' game-plan.
But despite the incredible efficiency of Eli's game against the Miami Dolphins, McAdoo wasn't terribly impressed.
"You know what, going through the game, didn't feel like he was having a monstrous game by any stretch of the imagination. We were focused on the task at hand, and afterwards when you see the numbers, you think back and you didn't see the ball hitting the ground a bunch. But we definitely had a big time challenge, that was a good defense we played. I guess as the game was going on, I didn't necessarily realize."
All that being said, the match-up between Beckham and Norman is the headline of the Sunday's game, and McAdoo was asked about it.
First, he praised Josh Norman, who leading the conversation for "Best Corner in The NFL."
"He's a young, athletic, hungry guy. He'll be a great challenge. Look forward to the match-up."
However, McAdoo refused to be intimidated by the shutdown corner.
"We're going to play our game. We're not going to shy away from anybody. We'll pick our spots at times, but we're not going to back down from any challenges."
He also added that the onus of the match-up would ultimately be on the Giants' quarterback.
"You don't go into a game thinking they're going to double-cover Odell on every play. They're going to pick their spots like everyone else has. I'm sure the single-high safety, if they want to play that way, will favor him, they may play a safety over the top of him at times, and they may give him a one-on-one matchup at times. It's up to the quarterback to find his one-on-one and take advantage of it."