We knew things around the New York Giants were going to change when Tom Coughlin retired and Ben McAdoo was promoted from offensive coordinator to head coach. Changes in the coaching staff, changes to the training staff, changes to practices, those were all completely expected.
But what wasn't expected was McAdoo pulling back the curtain -- just a bit -- to give us a glimpse into his world as he steps into his first NFL head coaching job. First he gave the folks at Giants.com a look at a staff and team meeting, as well as a candid interview to Jenny Vrentas at Monday Morning Quarterback.
Monday, the team's "Rest Day" between their three-day acclimation period at the start of camp and their first padded practice on Tuesday, McAdoo sat down in his office with Bob Papa and talked in depth about how he his finding his voice as a coach, bringing the diverse backgrounds and personalities of his newly-formed coaching staff together, and pulling the team together as a whole.
It's difficult to imagine Coughlin doing the same thing.
Papa launched right into the meat of the discussion, asking Coach McAdoo how he is developing his voice as the head coach of the team.
"I'm pretty comfortable in my own skin." McAdoo responded "I'm not somebody who is going to try to be somebody else, everybody else is already taken, so I need to be the best 'Ben McAdoo' I can be. But our message to the team, we're gonna spread that thing out. I'm going to try to not talk too long in front of them, I think that's important too, and spread our message out over 14 meetings or so. There's a lot of things you want to say, but make sure they can digest everything you want to talk about."
While we don't know how he will manage a game, McAdoo's cliche-ridden coach-speak game is already on point. But beneath the coach-speak, there was an emphasis on getting his message to the team efficiently and in a way that was easily understood.
"No question." McAdoo said when Papa asked if he is actively trying to pick up the pace of meetings. "We're a stick and move operation. We like to keep them guessing, like to keep the meetings entertaining and educational, try to get them as involved as much as we can. I think that's important. We keep them sticking and moving and next thing you know they're going to want to go in the meetings and not be on the field all day, and that's a part of it."
Getting his message out quickly, efficiently, and in a way that the players can quickly digest takes planning. McAdoo mentioned in his interview with MMQB that he spent part of his "Prep-Cation" planning every detail of camp, including the team meetings. And while the plan was influenced by Mike McCarthy, the discipline seems to be some of Coughlin's influence
"Tom was a great mentor of mine, the discipline part of things." McAdoo said, talking about the impact his predecessor had on him. "And like I said earlier in the week, sometimes you don't know where's he's coming from with the discipline part of things and what he requires for players, but you figure it out along the way. I had an opportunity to figure that out along the way the last couple years and you really grow to appreciate it as a coach, and I'm sure the players do as well. They may not appreciate it right away, but at some point, some day, the light will come on and they will appreciate it.
But McAdoo has much more to do than just get his message across. He has to bring a lot of different people together, from his coaching staff to a roster that has been heavily turned over.
"Well, I think when I speak to the team I need to speak to everybody," Said McAdoo. "The players and the coaches, not just do it in the staff room, not just do it downstairs to the players. Making sure that my message is being heard by everyone and it's a consistent message both upstairs and downstairs. The other challenge is not to micromanage. We have some great coaches here and I need to make sure that I do whatever I can to help them do their jobs."
The rebuilding of that coaching staff started with retaining defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and promoting quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan to offensive coordinator. While McAdoo still hasn't given any indication as to who will call the offense, he did call promoting Sullivan a "no brainer."
"First thing's first: They're great leaders and great men." McAdoo said "I trust them and they wouldn't be here if there wasn't that level of trust. Mike Sullivan, I had a chance to work with him for one year and it was a no-brainer to elevate him into the role he's in now. He's doing a tremendous job, and he's done a tremendous job last year, and he has history here with the program and with Eli. Spags, I mean really, going back to his Philly days and that 2007 defense and the way that that improved throughout the season was very impressive, and we look forward to him taking a similar type of jump this year."
Between the two coordinators, Spags is certainly the one with more work cut out for him. Not only does he need to make the defense carry its weight, he needs to help McAdoo in blending in the Giants' many offseason defensive additions.
"Well right now we're in the installation phase, and we're just trying to evaluate these guys as best we can." McAdoo said about working with Spags to make the defense cohesive. "Put them out there and throw as much at 'em as we can and see how they respond and who we can trust. Because those are the guys you want on your team, the guys that you can trust. Talent isn't everything, and at times it can be overrated. As we get going we're going to have long, hard discussions, about who we're going to play in certain situations and packages. But at the same time, Spags is a defensive expert and I have to do what I have to do to help him be successful and give him the support he needs and make sure I don't micromanage.
Not micromanaging while keeping track of an entire team is a challenge for anybody, let alone a rookie head coach who is used to focusing on just one side of the ball. And even McAdoo admits that keeping track of the whole team in training camp is difficult.
"It's a challenge, when you have a 90-man roster as an offensive coordinator, as a defensive coordinator, to even know the names of the players on the other side of the ball is a challenge." McAdoo said, "You're so into what you're doing and trying to get the players on the offensive side of the ball on the same page. The organization that goes into it, the detail that goes into it, in trying to evaluate the players, and the system, and the coaches to try to make everything work.
"So it's nice to be able to take that and go over to the defensive side of the ball and when they do something great, encourage them. And when they don't, make sure it's being addressed and fix it as best you can out there on the field before you get in here for the meetings."
Perhaps the most surprising admission of the whole interview was McAdoo's thoughts on the Giants' offense, an offense that has ranked in the top 10 since he joined the team and was sixth in scoring in 2015.
"By no stretch of the imagination were we happy with the way we performed on offense last year." McAdoo said of the attack which ranked eighth in the NFL last year. "We felt that we made some progress and we are heading in the right direction. I think its a loser's mentality to think that you're going to come in and pick up where you left off. We have a lot to prove and we have a lot of work to do. We feel that we have the pieces in place that if we take care of our business we have the chance to be a pretty good offense."