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Valentine’s Views: Long-term future still cloudy for Ben McAdoo, Giants

Winning a game was nice, but McAdoo and the Giants still have issues

New York Giants v Denver Broncos Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

The NFL is a “what have you done for me lately?” business. The last thing the New York Giants did was win a game. That, though, doesn’t mean all is well at 1925 Giants Drive in East Rutherford.

McAdoo still has much to prove

Things are better for Ben McAdoo today than they were a week ago. The Giants won a game. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has been reinstated, apparently having said the magic words the coach wanted to hear. The temperature on McAdoo’s hot seat has been turned down. A little.

None of that means that McAdoo has done nearly enough to save his job beyond this season. Even after Sunday’s victory, Peter King wrote in his ‘Monday Morning Quarterback’ column that it would “be hard to fathom” how McAdoo could keep his job beyond this season.

In my view, that’s a little harsh. Not entirely inaccurate, but a little harsh. I believe his status should be listed as “to be determined” depending upon how he and his team handle the next 10 games.

I lauded McAdoo on Monday for turning the offensive play-calling over to Mike Sullivan and — finally — focusing on the bigger picture of focusing on dealing with the entire football team.

McAdoo said it was his decision and that he made it because “the entire locker room needed me this week.”

First of all, doesn’t the entire locker room need its head coach EVERY week? I found that statement odd, and a bit disturbing. Second of all, and more importantly, do we know for sure that turning over play-calling was McAdoo’s decision based on what he thought was good for the football team? Or, did he reach that decision with some encouragement from the people who sign his paychecks?

We don’t know, and will probably never know for certain. All we know is that after falling to 0-5, McAdoo admitted that “everyone” (read ownership) was “disappointed” or “irritated.”

What will happen now? Can, and will, McAdoo become a true head coach? I have found it interesting that any real locker room issues he has had thus far (Rodgers-Cromartie and, apparently, Eli Apple) have involved defensive players. That, of course, is the side of the ball he has not really been involved with since becoming head coach.

After the inevitable couple of poor offensive games, will he get itchy and snatch play-calling back from Sullivan? Can he repair whatever damage has been done in the locker room? I don’t care what he or players say — there has to have been some. Can he win some games? Can he get players to give effort if they don’t?

I have written many times about the patience of Giants’ ownership, and it is currently being tested. A week ago, I figured that patience would lead to McAdoo sticking around as long as the team stuck together. Right now, I think the answer to the “will McAdoo stay or go?” question is a toss-up.

How will the rest of the season pan out?

There are three ways this could go.

  • The Giants could make an unprecedented turnaround and become the first NFL team to reach the playoffs after starting 0-5.
  • They could be just good enough the rest of the way to win something like 5-7 games, far from playoff contention but not bad enough to land a top 5 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
  • They could be awful and land that top 5 pick. If the draft were held today, they would have the third overall pick.

How will it go? If I had to guess I think it ends up something like 2013, when the Giants started 0-6 and finished 6-10. I really don’t think this is a one- or two-win football team. Nor, though, do I have any confidence that this team can win of eight of its 10 remaining games. That is what the Giants would have to do to get to nine wins and have some type of shot at a wild-card playoff berth.

Is the way they defeated the Denver Broncos on Sunday night sustainable?

That starts with whether or not the defense, which played for the first time this season on Sunday the way it did almost all of last year, can continue to shut teams down. Maybe it can, but the Giants will face a lot of quarterbacks over their final 10 games who are better than Trevor Siemian.

On offense, Sullivan calling plays and the Giants getting a win made it a feel-good week. Still, the offense is far from fixed. Orleans Darkwa had had back-to-back career games. Can he continue to produce that way? If not, can Wayne Gallman pick up the slack? Can you continue to win throwing the ball fewer than 20 times and getting only two catches from wide receivers?

Teams are going to go to school on how the Giants attacked the Broncos. They will start to crowd the line of scrimmage. They will start to make life miserable for Evan Engram when he tries to get out on pass routes while lined up inline. They will force the Giants to try and get the ball to Tavarres King, Roger Lewis Jr., Travis Rudolph and Ed Eagan.

A historic 10-game run would be nice. I’m not counting on it, though.

Yes, it’s time to #PayPugh

In the wake of his performance against Von Miller on Sunday night, the Twitterverse has suddenly latched on to the #PayPugh hashtag, offering a little “friendly” advice to Giants general manager Jerry Reese when it comes to what to do about free-agent-to-be offensive lineman Justin Pugh.

Yes, the Giants need to #PayPugh. Pugh may not be an All-Pro, but he is a pretty darn good offensive lineman. Those, as Giants fans know all too well, are not easy to come by. There just aren’t enough of them. Especially ones with the versatility and willingness to play multiple positions without complaint. He is also a locker room leader, always accountable and always willing to face the media horde — even when he knows the questions are ones he isn’t going to want to hear.

It is going to cost the Giants a pretty penny to retain their 2013 first-round pick, whether he is a guard, tackle, or both. Guard Kevin Zeitler got a five-year, $60 million deal with $31.5M guaranteed from the Cleveland Browns last offseason. Right tackle Ricky Wagner got $47.5 million over five years with $20.5 million guaranteed.

If he can avoid a devastating injury over the next 10 games, Pugh certainly appears to be headed for that type of pay day. And it’s a check the Giants need to be willing to write.