The disciplinary issues that have contributed to the embarrassment of the New York Giants this season can, in my view, be traced all the way back to the Odell Beckham Jr. - Josh Norman fiasco late in the 2015 season.
I can already hear the screaming that I’m about to blame this whole mess on Beckham, a guy who isn’t even playing right now because of a devastating injury. I’m not. Far from it. The blame falls on the people who should have done a better job in creating a more disciplined environment for the Giants to begin with. Tom Coughlin at the beginning, and now Ben McAdoo.
The biggest problem with Beckham-Norman wasn’t that Beckham lost his cool. It was that while Beckham was embarrassing himself and the franchise by getting three 15-yard penalties and earning a one-game suspension, Coughlin was turning a blind eye.
For me, this was the low point of Coughlin’s time with the Giants. A two-time Super Bowl-winning borderline Hall of Fame coach who made his reputation as a disciplinarian, who guys like Tiki Barber hated because he was hard on them, wouldn’t deal with the situation.
After that game, Coughlin said only that he gave “strong consideration” to taking Beckham out to let him cool off but that “I want him out there to win the football game.”
In other words, he is too good and I am too desperate to win games to deal with that.
McAdoo, offensive coordinator at the time, didn’t help the situation, either. When he was hired to replace Coughlin, he admitted that “I should’ve been better” in that situation and “it’s my job to pull him out of that when we go down that road.”
Problem is, McAdoo hasn’t really been better. With Beckham or the rest of the roster.
Fast-forward to this year. When the whole celebration thing happened with Beckham in Philly McAdoo’s response was only “It’s real simple, I don’t want to kick off from the 20-yard line. It doesn’t help our team.”
Like it was any other penalty. Nothing said about embarrassing the coach or the organization, about the right way to represent yourself and your team. Until John Mara stepped in. Then McAdoo changed his tune.
I’m not equating anything Beckham did with outright disrespecting a coach like Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins did. They aren’t the same. Beckham isn’t the problem. Refusing to hold a star player accountable, treating one player differently than others, is.
I’m just saying there is a trickle-down effect. When you won’t at least call out your best player when he’s wrong, the other guys on the roster aren’t going to take it well when you try to bring the hammer down on them.
There is also this. McAdoo was offensive coordinator for two years. The defensive players barely knew anything about him. He spent his entire first season and most of his second hardly dealing with the defense at all, until recently having the epiphany that the “whole team” needed him.
Quite honestly, I don’t think it’s an accident that the disciplinary issues McAdoo has faced in recent weeks have come via players on the defensive side of the ball. I don’t honestly know the answer to this, but it’s fair to wonder just how solid McAdoo’s relationship with guys on defense was before any of this happened.
When ownership moved on from Coughlin, John Mara said a big part of the reason was that the franchise had “lost some credibility.”
More than wins and losses, it will be that credibility that determines McAdoo’s future. Can he put the genie back in the bottle? Can he get these embarrassing incidents to stop?
That might be the biggest question that needs to be answered over the final nine games. It’s the one that may ultimately determine his fate.