Former New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo came clean (mostly) about the various missteps he took in his short head coaching career that resulted in him being fired after only 29 games and a one-and-done visit to the postseason in 2016.
McAdoo, 41, whose thoughts appeared in NBC Sports’ Peter King for King’s “Football Morning in America” debut column, spoke about the dossier file he’s been compiling on himself that includes things he’d do better if he gets another chance at being a head coach. The dossier, he said, is more than 200 pages and growing and consisted of the following…
He needs to work better with players
McAdoo specifically spoke about receiver Odell Beckham Jr., a player for whom the former head coach admitted he spent too much time trying to scheme the Xs and Os and not enough time working to develop and mentor Beckham as a player and person trying to navigate his way in the demanding New York market.
“I needed to be better for him personally, as a coordinator and head coach. I was too busy trying to scheme ways to get him the ball, especially early in my time in New York, that I didn’t step back and see the big picture the way I should have.”
There’s no denying that Beckham is a generational talent, but at the same time, what makes him so special besides his God-given talents is his passion. And that passion, as we have seen in the past, is very much a double-edged sword.
Beckham needs to learn to control himself to where he’s not drawing 15-yard penalties as he did both under Tom Coughlin and McAdoo.
In retrospect, the loudest and clearest message both head coaches could have sent Beckham and the rest of the team for that matter, would have been to take away what he values so dearly: the game.
Whether it be for a series or two, both coaches chose to stick with Beckham because of his talent, sending a bad message to the rest of the team that if you’re talented, you can pretty much get away with anything, including racking up penalty yards that hurt the team.
He didn’t handle success very well
When the Giants reconvened last summer for the start of training camp, McAdoo spoke about flipping the page and putting the successful 2016 season behind them .
However, McAdoo admitted that he didn’t do a very good job handling success and appeared to be just as guilty as anyone in believing the press clippings that projected the 2017 Giants as a potential Super Bowl contender.
“I failed to convince the players and coaching staff that nothing carries over in the NFL after we won 11 games in 2016. The most important message after finishing any season is to hit the reset button. You have to have the willingness to put your body and mind through everything that it takes to play team-oriented winning football year after year. High expectations mean nothing. When you start listening to the prognosticators, it’s poison. We had too much of that around our team in 2017.”
No argument from me here, but I think what bothered me more is how McAdoo was often guilty of being quick to puff out his chest when the team found success, yet when the team lost or struggled, he was suddenly reluctant to take his share of the blame, at least publicly, when he was questioned about it.
For example, when in a Monday night loss to the Detroit Lions, McAdoo decided to go for it on a fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line instead of attempting the field goal.
Eli Manning tried to audible on the play after seeing something on the defense but, unfortunately, the play clock expired, the ensuing penalty pushing the Giants back five yards and forcing them to go for the field goal anyway.
After the game, McAdoo blamed the mishap on “Sloppy quarterback play,” adding, “Quarterback and center need to be on the same page there. We need to get the ball snapped.”
Not for nothing, but as the head coach, couldn’t he have called a timeout if he saw the play clock dwindling down?
Apparently not. So instead, he pointed the finger at Manning for not calling the time out, thereby distancing himself from one of the many errors that doomed the Giants 2017 season.
But had the play gone off and resulted in a touchdown, one can’t help but wonder if McAdoo might have crowed about his bold decision after the game.
Bottom line: you take the good with the bad. McAdoo, at least not until the end when the handwriting was on the wall, didn’t do that as much as he should have.
He mishandled the media
It didn’t take an insider to tell that McAdoo was, without a doubt, not only uncomfortable dealing with the media, he disliked that part of his job, an admission he made to King.
“I grew up in this business seeing media as the enemy. To me, press conferences became the only thing where I was not in it to win it; I just wanted them to be over. I asked one of my friends in the game about it, and he said, ‘You’re smart. But when you answer questions from the press, you sound like an oaf.’”
Can I get an “Amen!” here? McAdoo would take even the purest football questions, and give the person asking those questions a glare that would melt a block of ice before delivering an abrupt, severely watered-down answer that as his friend said, made him look like an oaf.
To be fair, dealing with the media is an acquired skill. It took Coughlin time to learn how to handle the media — he did so just before the 2007 season by holding off-the-record, one-on-one, no-holds barred meetings with some of the more experienced beat writers at the time to collect honest feedback on how he could improve in that aspect of his job. And he took the advice moving forward, becoming a joy to work with.
McAdoo held no such summits. Maybe if he had, he not only would have realized that the media was not the enemy, and that it had a job to do.
Even if the coverage was negative — and in a 3-13 season how could it not be? — everyone is entitled to an opinion. At the same time, if you put out as much of your version about what’s going on, the public will not only see that, it will also leave the media with very little wiggle room to misconstrue what’s going on.
There’s no easy way to make the tough decisions
While McAdoo said earlier in his piece with King that he wasn’t afraid to make tough decisions, he also realized that some of those decisions come with a price, such as the one involving the benching of Eli Manning for Geno Smith.
“Right or wrong, I am at peace with how I handled the decision to play quarterbacks other than Eli Manning down the stretch of last season. At the time, we were 2-9, beat up, and I told Eli we wanted to see the other quarterbacks on the roster — including our promising rookie, Davis Webb. I was not ending Eli’s career with the Giants; I was making sure we knew what we had behind him with a high draft choice prior to a big quarterback draft.”
While the decision to bench Manning didn’t go over well with many people inside and outside the organization, it was McAdoo’s insistence on seeing what Geno Smith, a quarterback on whom there was plenty of tape available to review from his time with the Jets, had over Davis Webb.
Interestingly, McAdoo never explained the decision to go with Smith ahead of Webb to King. One can only conclude that his decision to go with the more experienced Smith was because he wanted to try to save his job rather than helping the team.
With the season already lost by that point, what did he have to lose by taking a look at Webb, even if the youngster at the time was still a bit green?
The answer is nothing, which is what his pride and ego left him with when he went with Smith instead of doing what was truly best for the organization at that time.
“If there’s one thing I want fans of the Giants to know, it’s that I made this call to try to make the Giants stronger for the future,” McAdoo told King. “It probably got me fired, but I believe I did the right thing for the right reasons.”
Sorry Ben, but the right thing would have been to play Davis Webb, who is on the 2018 roster while Smith is off in San Diego.
McAdoo seemed surprised at how former teammates and the public rallied around the two-time Super Bowl MVP after he was benched. This showed just how out of touch he was.
Yes, Manning struggled last year — who on the team didn’t? But when a quarterback loses his top receivers, is forced to play behind an inconsistent offensive line, and has no running game to speak of, changing the quarterback in an effort to win a game isn’t the answer.
As it turned out for McAdoo, that move was the fatal blow in a season of many that ultimately cost him his job.