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Ben McAdoo: “This is where the real football begins”

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Coach says “our hard work up until this point has set the table”

NFL: New York Giants at Cleveland Browns
Will the good times continue for the Giants?
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants are about to embark on a stretch of games that will be their first truly meaningful December football since 2012. Head coach Ben McAdoo knows that the season will be defined by what happens from here on out, not by anything that has happened up until this point.

“As a team, where do we go from here? It’s December football. This is where the real football begins. All our hard work to this point has set the table for December. It’s an exciting time against a lot of playoff teams and playoff environments. The margin for error is small. This is where our identity needs to take over,” McAdoo said Monday.

“All of our hard work up until this point has set the table for us to be playing meaningful football in December, which is what everyone in the league shoots for.”

Here are a handful of other takeaways from McAdoo’s Monday conference call.

On young players in their first real playoff drive ...

“We’re going to rely on our veterans to lead. It’s important this time of year that the players spend time together. Spend more time together talking about their football and getting our football right. We need to be mentally dialed-in on our preparation. It starts way before game day.”

On what makes him happiest about the Giants’ defense ...

“I think the most important stat for a defense is points. If we hold a team to 13 points like we did yesterday, that’s a great place to start. I think situational football is improving. Affecting the quarterback is something that is improving. It was nice to see us get some fumbles yesterday, recovered and score on defense, too. The situational football is important, points are obviously important and disrupting the quarterback because we’re going to see some good ones coming up.”

On whether Odell Beckham Jr. will continue to return punts ...

“We will get to that when we talk through our game plan meetings. That’s not something I’m going to be talking about with all of you.”

Asked about the risk of injury returning punts, McAdoo said “I think every play that they’re out there on the field is a risk.”

On why wide receiver Sterling Shepard was never targeted ...

“It was a combination of a lot of different things. It’s unfortunate that that’s the way the game went. (He) actually had a nice carry there in the fourth quarter to get us in scoring range. We have some things from an offensive perspective that when you see the type of coverages we did yesterday, you would like to get the ball in his hands.

“We’re not completing enough balls or moving the chains as much as we need to move the chains for everyone to get involved. Our details and consistency needs to improve. Everyone wants touches. We need to get better and finish better.”

On the state of the running game ...

“I believe in a normal down and distance we made some progress there. We’re not where we want to be yet. We’re going to keep working our way through it. Again, it’s not just the offensive line. It’s the tight ends, receivers, the backs. Everyone is included. We all need to take steps to get better.”

Injury updates

McAdoo said that safety Nat Berhe and linebacker Mark Herzlich are both in the concussion protocol. He said it was “too early to tell” if injured offensive linemen Justin Pugh, Brett Jones and Marshall Newhouse would practice on Wednesday.