Sunday’s victory by the New York Giants over the Kansas City Chiefs did not save Ben McAdoo’s job as Giants head coach. The win and the events leading up to it, though, might have been a first step for the embattled coach as he tries to do just that.
McAdoo never acknowledges that his job is in jeopardy. We know, however, that it is. Giants’ ownership told us as much when it recently released a statement McAdoo would remain as coach, for now, but that “at the end of the year, we will evaluate the 2017 season in its entirety and make a determination on how we move forward.”
Maybe it was a sign that he can reach the players. That he hasn’t completely lost the locker room, or if he did that he still has a chance to rescue that relationship. Maybe winning was a sign that players are still listening and that they will still play for him.
Maybe it wasn’t. Among the many things that happened last week was a players’ only meeting on the defensive side of the ball in which players held each other accountable. The biggest issue the past few has been the defense, both performance and effort-wise. The biggest change on Sunday, aside from a few trick plays, was that the defense played the way it was supposed to play from the beginning. Whether or not McAdoo has anything to do with that is an open question. Players know their jobs and careers are on the line, too, no matter who the coach is.
A few victories the rest of the way would help McAdoo’s case for staying beyond this season. Especially since four of the Giants’ remaining six games are against NFC East teams. They won’t, though, erase the idea that falling to 1-8 in the first place was largely McAdoo’s fault. Or the idea that he waited far too long to do many of the things, on the field and off, that have ultimately been done.
It’s on McAdoo that the Giants didn’t look ready to play in their first two games of the season. It’s on McAdoo that the Giants didn’t fully embrace Orleans Darkwa as their lead back until Week 6 — it was obvious way back in the spring he was the best one they had. It’s on McAdoo that D.J. Fluker didn’t get into the lineup until Week 4. That he didn’t give up play-calling or seem to recognize that he needed to coach the entire team until it was too late to salvage this season. It’s on McAdoo that the Giants didn’t make real adjustments to their offense until after Mike Sullivan began calling plays. And that the offense really hasn’t functioned for two years. It’s on McAdoo that the perception has been that he blames everyone but himself for what has gone wrong this season.
Mostly, it’s on McAdoo that he didn’t start really reaching out to players, really trying to repair his relationships with them and fix a culture that had become far too negative, until ownership made it clear that his job was on the line. Would he have challenged players the way he did last week had it not been made crystal clear that he might not be back in 2018?
There is a narrative among some in the media that perhaps has some merit. That is that McAdoo last week finally found a message that works with players, a way to get through to them that is more direct and easier to understand than poems and stories. That is being direct and holding them accountable in front of their peers.
Only time will tell if it’s too little, too late.