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Mac-Mess! He Owns It, Now Can Ben McAdoo Clean Up Giant Mess?

More than Monday’s game is on the Giants head coach

NFL: Detroit Lions at New York Giants
Ben McAdoo couldn’t stand to watch Monday night. Neither could we.
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

That was New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo after Monday night’s latest putrid offensive performance by his team, a 24-10 loss to the Detroit Lions.

That, to be honest, is squarely where most of the blame belongs. Scream at GM Jerry Reese for not fixing, or really even trying to fix, the offensive line. You have a point. What we don’t know, and will never know, is if the coach told the GM to get him better play-makers and he would live with the offensive line.

Truth is, much more than Monday night’s game is on McAdoo. The offense — his offense, the one he brought from Green Bay and that got him hired as head coach — is broken. It has been broken ever since McAdoo became the successor to Tom Coughlin.

Let’s also be clear about one other thing. McAdoo OWNS this mess. But his brutal comments about Eli Manning, a player with more accomplishments as a quarterback than he has as a coach, showed that he may have said the words but in his mind he’s not really owning it.

Monday’s 10-point effort marks an unbelievable eight straight games in which the Giants have not scored at least 20 points.

The Giants are 30th in the league in points per game at 6.5. It is actually pretty unbelievable that after two weeks, two teams — the San Francisco 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals — are worse.

This is all happening, of course, after the Giants were 25th in the league in offense a year ago, averaging 19.4 points per game and failing to score 20 points in their last six games. It is all happening after the Giants spent eight months studying what went wrong and adding new players to diversify the attack and try to “fix” what went wrong.

Problem is, nothing is fixed. Things appear worse. Whatever cracks there were a year ago, have erupted into massive fissures over the course of the first two games.

The Giants can’t block. That’s a problem for a lot of reasons. First, Eli Manning can’t make plays with his feet. He needs to have a decent pocket, or at least a chance. When he doesn’t get it, and he takes the kind of shots he took last night it’s impossible not to understand why he might get a little skittish standing back there. Second, if you can’t block you can’t run. On top of which, the backs aren’t making anyone miss. And that exacerbates the pass-blocking problems.

The play-calling is all over the place. Do the Giants really have a plan?

Brandon Marshall looks lost. Sterling Shepard looks more like former Giant receiver Steve “catch and fall down” Smith than a play-making weapon.

The Giants’ 11-5 record a season ago, giving them their first playoff berth in five years, was built almost entirely on the strength of their defense. That provided McAdoo cover as the offense dissolved into a mess the deeper we got into the 2016 season.

In the face of an 0-2 record and with one touchdown to show for eight months and two games worth of building, that cover has been blown to smithereens. The ineptitude of the Giant offense is on full display. It isn’t the only problem, but it is front and center as the Giants head into a road game against the division rival Philadelphia Eagles with their season teetering on the brink of disaster.

Can McAdoo fix this mess?

The ability to adjust on the fly, to face adversity and find a way to overcome it is one of the things that separates top-tier coaches from the ordinary ones. It is one of the things Tom Coughlin did best. He won two Super Bowl titles with teams that weren’t expected to do that. During the down years, like 2013 when the Giants started 0-6, he got more victories out of those teams than the talent Jerry Reese handed him suggested he should have.

I’m not trying to re-open a Coughlin debate, that ship sailed long ago. I am simply using him as an example.

Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots is another example, maybe the best one. What Belichick does better than anyone is adjust to his, and the opponent’s, personnel. He is married only to the philosophy of “whatever it takes to win” rather than “this is my system and, by God, we’re going to run it until this ship sinks.”

Well, right now the Giants ship is taking on water and McAdoo has yet to show the flexibility, or willingness, to make adjustments. At least not quick ones. We talked about McAdoo’s stubbornness a week ago, and now we have to do it again.

The biggest elephant in the room is the play-calling duties. There are now 19 games worth of evidence that McAdoo is not as effective doing two jobs (head coach and calling plays) as he was just calling plays. McAdoo needs to take his ego out of it and give Mike Sullivan, who has had a long and successful relationship with Eli Manning, a chance to run the offense. See what happens. It can’t get worse.

At this point, the Giants are not getting a whole batch of new players. They have to make the best of what they have, and right now it doesn’t seem like McAdoo and Co. are doing that.

The job of a coach is to put players in a position to succeed. The Giants aren’t putting Manning in a position to do that. Give Ereck Flowers more help so that Manning has a chance. This is the hand the GM stuck the coaching staff with. You can’t keep sticking Flowers out on an island and expecting him to be better than he is. Helping the line is what the Giants signed Rhett Ellison to do, so let him do that. Use Orleans Darkwa more. Do something to get Marshall involved, or get him off the field. Do something different. Anything.

What it all comes back to is that McAdoo had eight months to fix what was broken last year, to come up with a better plan. He couldn’t, didn’t, or wouldn’t. Take your pick.

Thus, their season is on the verge of slipping away. A loss Sunday in Philly and you can pretty much turn the page on the Giants playing important games the rest of this season.

Can McAdoo fix in a few days what he couldn’t fix over the course of an entire offseason? Is he willing to try, or will he and the Giants just keep beating their heads against the wall and hoping for a different result? If it’s the latter, the Giants ship is going down.