The McAdoo Report: Building off first win

Posted Sep 16, 2016

The McAdoo Report,’s exclusive weekly interview with head coach Ben McAdoo:

Q: It’s sometimes said that the first job of a head coach is to manage the game. Last week in Dallas, you called plays and made the decisions a head coach has to make. How do you think it went?

McAdoo: “I don’t think ‘game manager’ is a term I’m comfortable with. I think more of it is a game dictator. I think you want to dictate the way you want the game to go, as opposed to managing the game. I thought our communication and the way the game went was clean. Everything was efficient. There were no question marks or open ends. Everything worked like clockwork.”

Q: In your experience, is this the week where a lot of details – offense, defense, communication among the coaches – are cleaned up?

McAdoo: “Yes. From Week 1 to Week 2 in the preseason, there’s a big jump that takes place. From Week 1 to Week 2 in the regular season, the same thing happens. A lot of these players played a significant amount of plays for the first time. I think once we got our eyes on the film, we got some things corrected. The way we’re working this week, we need to take a big jump.”


Q: Your offensive line has received much scrutiny and criticism. Do you think it responded pretty well last week, particularly in the four-minute offense? You got two first downs and you almost had a third to clinch the game.

McAdoo: “I think there’s a lot of noise about our offensive line out there. I’m confident in those guys. When you go back the last five weeks in regular season games, Rashad Jennings is the leading rusher in the league. He has the most 10-yard runs in the league, 10 yards or more. I’m confident in those guys. I thought they did a nice job protecting in the game. They have some things to work on and get better at. That’s why we practice.”

Q: Your time of possession (23:17) wasn’t great. Dallas ran a lot more plays (75-54) than you did. Do those types of things concern you, or do you look at it that you moved the ball and won the game?

McAdoo: “Time of possession is important. We want to control the ball and we want more plays as an offensive unit. It’s harder to speed teams up than it is to slow them down. That’s our challenge. We need to get off the field on third downs on defense. Offense needs to move the chains on third down and be more efficient on first and second down. We cannot turn the ball over.”

Q: When you said you were going to have a fullback by committee, I don’t think anyone thought Brett Jones was going to be the guy. What did you see in him that makes you think he’d be good for that role?

McAdoo: “Well, he’s an offensive lineman, so we know he spends a lot of time blocking. He’s built low to the ground. He’s a center, so he has a stature that would fit the position most.”

Q: Regarding the game-winning touchdown to Victor Cruz, Eli Manning said that Cruz “might get a minus on the actual route, because he did something he wasn’t supposed to do.” I would imagine that happens all the time - a player has to improvise to make a play. What is your philosophy about that? He scored the winning touchdown, but he didn’t exactly do what his assignment called for.

McAdoo: “When I saw the ball snapped, I was getting my fourth-down call ready. I didn’t think we were going to have a great play. It’s an example of players going above and beyond the X’s and O’s. He didn’t have a window to sit down, so he created his own window, a second window. He did a great job."

Q: So you’re fine with it?

McAdoo: “Like I said, I was getting my fourth-down call ready. I didn’t think we were going to have anywhere to go with it. It was a version of an extended play. It wasn’t him making his own play up. It’s not like he was being insubordinate in any way, shape or form. He was playing the play as an extended play. It shows the chemistry that Eli and Victor have together, even though they haven’t played together the last couple of years. That stuff has some carry over.”

Q: Dallas converted 10 third down opportunities. You had neither a sack nor a takeaway, which statistically usually results in a loss. Do you look at those as areas of potential improvement?

McAdoo: “Yes. Dallas played clean football. They protected the quarterback well. We got some rushes in the second half on him, JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul), in particular. They played clean, they used the clock. They were very methodical in their approach. I’m encouraged with the defense playing with poise, being comfortable and uncomfortable. That’s a big part of it. They gave up some yards, but they played the full 60 minutes and no one panicked.  They just trusted their technique, trusted the system and it paid off when we got into the red zone.”


Q: You go from playing a quarterback (Dak Prescott) with zero career starts to one (Drew Brees) with 217 career starts, the highest total among active players. Does the mindset have to change at all as a defense since you’re playing such an experienced, accomplished quarterback?

McAdoo: “We need to play with poise again. The focus this week is really on the communication and our details in being precise on everything we do. When you’re playing a future Hall of Famer at the position, it makes it a challenge. We’re excited to play him on our own turf. As long as we play with discipline and poise like we’re capable of and we’ve shown, we’re very confident.”

Q: You’ve worked with some great quarterbacks. You’ve played against Brees. Why does he stand out in your opinion?

McAdoo: “I think when I go back to all the times we’ve matched up against Drew, it’s just the competitive nature. Just the competitive spirit. In Green Bay, Drew and Aaron (Rodgers) had some battles, some good battles. The battle with Drew and Eli last year was a tremendous battle. I think he’s a competitor at the end of the day. You can talk about him as a natural passer, a cerebral guy that has good instincts. He has rhythm in his body and can make all the throws and all those types of things. The competitive spirit is also what drives him.”

Q: The Saints have led the NFL in third-down conversion percentage four of the last six years. What do they do on third down that makes them so good?

McAdoo: “Drew is one of those guys that has a natural instinct on where to go with the ball. That helps. They do a nice job with their skill players as far as distributing them. They have guys that are all shapes and sizes. They have always been that way. They can play really a man game and a zone game. They can play a pressure game and have success. They have the pieces to do that.”


Q: Their defense looks like a good baseball team, strong up the middle with (tackle) Nick Fairley, (middle linebacker James) Laurinaitis and the two safeties (Kenny Vaccaro and Jairus Byrd). How has Laurinaitis fit in?

McAdoo: “He’s kind of the glue, I think. He’s a guy that does a lot of the communication that pulls everything together for them. (End Cameron) Jordan is a guy that is a very talented player, as well. He’s a guy that can wreck a game and destroy a game. We have to make sure we’re aware of where he is. He’ll line up in multiple spots. Byrd’s a guy that has a pretty good nose for the football.”

Q: Their coverage teams stand out. McAdoo: “Their coverage teams have a variety of players that have good speed. They have good physicality and they’re aggressive that way. They’ll also take some chances, which may slow some teams down a little bit and give them more of an advantage with their skill sets. Teams are playing a little bit slower and making sure they don’t have any gadgets pulling on them.”