EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – For the last two years, Ben McAdoo occupied the office next door to Tom Coughlin’s. Today, the head coach’s workplace belongs to McAdoo, and he moves there with the confidence that, like his predecessor, he can deliver championships to this proud franchise.
Although he largely avoided specifics, McAdoo very clearly stated his ultimate goal.
“The vision for this football team goes into winning and putting that fifth Lombardi Trophy in the case,” he said. “That is our goal and that is the vision.”
The Giants believe he can do that. McAdoo, 38, was the team’s offensive coordinator the previous two seasons. He was one of six candidates interviewed by team president John Mara and general manager Jerry Reese. After a second interview that included chairman Steve Tisch and treasurer Jonathan Tisch, McAdoo was selected as the franchise’s 17th head coach.
“I think what really gave me the edge was the familiarity,” Mara said. “I’ve been able to watch him for two years. I loved what he said, he had a really good grasp of what we had on our team, what we needed to improve on, and a great vision going forward. It’s just something about having watched him on the field with the quarterbacks and with the offense. The first thing that came to mind two years ago was that this guy is a teacher, and he’s got an edge to him. He’s not afraid to lose his temper out there and bark at guys, and I happen to like that. Plenty of times I wanted to bark at the last couple of years (each of which ended with a 6-10 record).”
“I think two years of being the Giants’ OC is very valuable,” Steve Tisch said. “For us, it’s not a first date. We got to know Ben over two years. His experience working with not only the players, but working with Tom and Spags (defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo) and the other position coaches, that experience is extremely valuable.
“My sense of Ben is that he’s a great student. I think those two years are a game-changer. I think those two years did move the needle in a very positive way. He’s not coming into a system that’s going to be new to him. There’s a tremendous amount of continuity because he’s been with the team for two years. The team he’s been with and the players who will continue on the team going into this season he knows. He knows the locker room, he knows the strengths and weaknesses of not only the players, but the staff, the organization. So for me, that was a game-changer.”
McAdoo received strong endorsements from both Coughlin and quarterback Eli Manning, who gets to remain in the offense in which he has thrown 65 touchdown passes in two seasons. Before coming to the Giants, McAdoo was an assistant for eight years in Green Bay, and Packers coach Mike McCarthy offered strong praise of McAdoo after his appointment.
“The concern, as it always is, was that he’s never done it before,” Mara said. “You can say whatever you want, but you just don’t know until he’s out there as the head coach. But I feel good about him. I think he’s got everything it takes to be a successful head coach.”
That includes the ability to put together a quality staff. McAdoo wouldn’t say which assistant coaches will remain, nor identify any coach he hopes to bring in.
“The staff is very fluid at this point,” McAdoo said. “We had a chance to talk to a bunch of different guys, but nothing is set in stone. There’s nothing to report at this time. … There are a lot of good coaches around the league and we’re going to sit down and talk to some different people and not rush into anything and take our time.”
But McAdoo might have inadvertently revealed his intention to retain Spagnuolo when he responded to a question about “the progression for this defense.”
“Spags and I … did have some conversations on some things, and being the second year in the system is going to help some guys,” McAdoo said. “It’s going to help them with the foundation being set. It will let them play faster, they’ll be able to anticipate things.”
“It goes back to the question about the staff,” McAdoo said. “When our staff is complete and we feel comfortable releasing that, we’ll talk more about it. I feel that’s a competitive advantage for the opponent, so that’s not something we need to necessarily talk about.”
McAdoo faces a daunting challenge. The Giants have missed the playoffs in four consecutive seasons, and finished under .500 in each of the last three years. The defense allowed more passing yards and more total yards than any other in the league in 2015. Virtually every position on the roster needs an infusion of talent. “I don’t think his view is as maybe as dim as mine has been,” Mara said, “but he knows where we need to improve, and he knows what we need to do.”
The Giants have a huge and vocal fan base that has grown restless for a winner.
“I like the pressure,” McAdoo said. “This is what you live for. This is the opportunity of a lifetime. It’s a capital of the world, it’s the football capital of the world. What could be better than this type of opportunity and this type of pressure? You prepare for it and I’ve been a guy that’s always been baptized by fire and I’m comfortable with it.
“We’re not looking to rebuild, we’re looking to reload, and we’re going to start in a couple of minutes.”
Even before he moves into that new office.