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Valentine’s Views: Ben McAdoo’s Challenge, Jerry Reese’s Failings, More Things I Think

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There are lots of things to talk about this week

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New York Giants v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

“Valentine’s Views?” “Five Things I Think I Think?” No matter what I call this brain dump of my thoughts on the New York Giants someone complains. Whatever. They are my thoughts on the current state of the Giants. Here are five for this week.

Can Ben McAdoo Answer The Challenge?

There are, as expected, angry calls from the fan base for New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo to be fired. Go to Twitter and fans are coming up with all sorts of derisive, demeaning names for the Giants coach.

This is what happens when a team falls to 0-4 and is one of only four winless teams left in the NFL. Especially when that team is coming off an 11-5 season and has expectations of contending for a championship.

I certainly have my problems with McAdoo. At times, I believe has been inflexible — too stuck in his belief of what should work to adjust quickly enough when it doesn’t. His brusque, sometimes boorish, treatment of the media really isn’t called for. I think sometimes his practices are designed more to make sure players stay healthy than they are to actually get better as a football team. Maybe, just maybe, McAdoo came into this season just a little too puffed-up, thinking he had the answers after taking the Giants to an 11-5 record and a playoff berth as a rookie head coach.

Thing is, 21 games into his head-coaching career I’m not sure we know yet whether or not McAdoo has what it takes to be a big-time NFL head coach. He proved last season that he was comfortable in his own skin, that he had no fear of taking over from a two-time Super Bowl-winning coach in Tom Coughlin and implementing his own program.

You can argue, though, that McAdoo wasn’t the driving force behind the Giants getting to the playoffs a year ago. You can argue that he rode the coattails of a desperate and successful defensive spending spree by GM Jerry Reese, the work of Steve Spagnuolo and that defense, and the offensive brilliance of Odell Beckham Jr. You can argue that the offense — his offense — is what held the Giants back from a deeper playoff run.

In my view, it is only now — with the Giants in crisis — that we will find out what kind of coach McAdoo really is.

Can he hold this Giants’ team together? Can he take an honest look at what has worked, what hasn’t worked and make changes? Can he take an honest look in the mirror at his own culpability for the 0-4 start?

You could tell from his remarks on Monday that McAdoo recognizes the gravity of the situation.

“The biggest thing that I get concerned about is guys going numb,” McAdoo said. “We can’t go numb. Can never accept this. You got to fight through it. You got to work for that first one. Work for the first win.”

Great coaches don’t win all the time. Bill Belichick compiled losing records in five of his first six seasons, albeit his first five years having been with the Cleveland Browns. Bill Parcells had a 3-12-1 season in his first year as Giants head coach.

What kind of head coach can McAdoo be? I think we are about to find out.

Lack Of Success Is On Jerry Reese

Only one team, the 1992 San Diego Chargers, started a season 0-4 and made the playoffs under the current format. Using its ‘Elo’ formula, FiveThirtyEight gives the Giants a 4 percent chance of becoming the second. That means a 96 percent chance that this will be the fifth time in six years the Giants will miss the playoffs.

Pat Traina pointed out this week that the Giants are 39-45 (.433) over that six-year span, worst among the four NFC East teams. She also rightly put the blame for that at the feet of GM Jerry Reese.

Reese and the scouting department headed by Marc Ross are the constants over that stretch. The Giants forced Tom Coughlin to change offensive and defensive coordinators, then eventually forced him out the door.

With the pressure on, Reese got a bit of a reprieve last year when his spending spree helped get the Giants to the playoffs.

When you look at this team, though, we’re right back to questioning the way in which it was constructed. I wrote Monday that the Giants chose flash over fundamentals in building this team. Not adding at least one significant piece to the offensive line and not adding either a third pass rusher or impact linebacker to the defense are both decisions that are coming back to haunt the Giants.

The Giants don’t historically fire general managers. I doubt this season will get Reese fired. Where else, though, can you put the blame for this extended lack of success?

Wasting Eli Manning’s Final Years

I have made this argument before, but it’s my belief that despite two Super Bowl titles the Giants have under-achieved with Eli Manning at quarterback. Manning has never been a perfect quarterback, but after the 2011 Super Bowl who figured the next five years — and now probably six — would feature only one playoff game? At the time, that thought seemed absurd.

Yet, here we are. The real shame of the Giants’ post-2011 failings is that they have wasted what should have been years that cemented the Hall of Fame legacy of the best quarterback the franchise has ever had.

Darian Thompson’s Issues Shouldn’t Surprise

We have seen it over and over this season. A runner or receiver breaks into the open field, safety Darian Thompson comes racing up, the runner jukes, Thompson dives and comes up with only air, whiffing on the tackle.

The constant stream of missed tackles got me thinking. I seemed to recall that some pre-draft scouting reports referenced tackling — as well lack of athleticism — as issues for Thompson. I was right.

Here is Inside the Pylon:

Thompson’s aggression works against him at times, as he will overrun plays coming from deep zones and charges in too out-of-control to respond to cuts and jukes. He needs to improve his ability to defeat blocks and stay alive on run plays.

Here is Pro Football Focus:

Comes up in the run game like a torpedo, but tackles like one too, launching himself into the ball carrier and hoping that does the job. Most of the time it does, but he missed 11 tackles in 2015 and is susceptible to a side step that leaves him just face first on the floor.

Here is the problem. It is very difficult to improve as a tackler at the NFL level. Teams talk about tackling, and say they practice it, but they really don’t. No one tackles live in practice. Teams occasionally tackle a dummy or tackling ring, but that’s all.

You can either tackle when you enter the league, or you can’t. The way NFL practices are run now there really isn’t a mechanism for fixing that issue.

About National Anthem Protests

How you react to those is entirely up to you. A great discussion of that was recently posted by ‘pataroons,’ a long-time community member. I’m not venturing into a political discussion, telling you how you should or should not react, or how I feel about any of it. It’s a free country — you can feel however you feel and react however you choose to react, as long as you do it legally.

The only reason I mention it is this. I have been getting e-mails with petitions for various movements or letters that will be sent to Giants co-owner John Mara. I’m appreciative of the sentiments expressed and supportive of anyone’s rights to do so.

Just don’t look for attention from Big Blue View for those things. Or, for me to join your cause. Whatever action you choose to take, if any, is your business. Big Blue View is staying out of it.