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The McAdoo Report: Focus on fundamentals

Posted Nov 10, 2017

The McAdoo Report, an exclusive weekly interview with Giants head coach Ben McAdoo:


Q: On your conference call on Monday, you were asked a question about fundamentals, which I think we all took to mean blocking, tackling, alignment, etc. Yesterday when you told us your message to the team, it almost seemed like you were talking about going back to mental fundamentals. Is that an accurate way to put it?

McAdoo: “I think a lot of it starts between the ears. As coaches, we have to get back to just training the simple things. But for players, I think a lot of it starts between the ears, and when you start pressing, you start to lose the fundamentals. There’s an important quote that I believe in, and when I was talking about the legacy starts between your ears with players, I think everything does. One of my favorite quotes is, ‘Watch your thoughts for they become words, watch your words for they become actions, watch your actions for they become habits, watch your habits for they become character, watch your character for it becomes your destiny.’ That’s essentially how you develop your legacy and what you leave behind, and it starts between your ears. What you pay forward starts between your ears.”

Q: You also talked about doing simple better. Is that your call to execute the fundamentals better?

McAdoo: “We don’t need to go out and try to trick anybody with any scheme. The later in the season it gets, the more it comes back to fundamentals and doing the blocking, the tackling, the handling of  the football, the pursuit angles, doing those simple things well.”

Q: A season like this can wear on players and coaches. Is part of your message to not carry that around with you, just focus on what’s ahead?

McAdoo: “Absolutely. Even in times of success, I think that’s important. You need to stay in the moment the best you can. But I think it’s also important to recognize another one here. Andrew Jackson said, ‘I was born for a storm, and a calm does not suit me.’ I think players need to be comfortable being uncomfortable, and that’s where we are right now. Know that all we can focus on is the task at hand, and put your feelings aside. Don’t believe the lies that your feelings are telling you, because that’s not going to help anybody get any better this week, including yourself or your teammates. It’s not about feelings, it’s about making decisions to prepare.”

Q: Do you have to deliver that message to the assistant coaches as well, because they might have some of the same feelings?

McAdoo: “Yes, absolutely. I talked to the coaches on Monday in our staff meeting. We talked about the most important thing we can do is to make each other better and stick together and be solid as a staff, be one unit as a staff, be saying the same things and being on the same page. We have talented men of integrity, whether it is upstairs or in the locker room, and that’s not something I’m concerned about.”


Q: Do you think that the core message that you talked about -- sound, smart and tough -- is important to repeat from time to time?

McAdoo: “That’s what I talked about (Wednesday) in the press conference. Just because it’s all over the building and you said it a few times doesn’t mean it’s ingrained. I know it’s something that I need to say more. I know when I’m saying it enough when I get the eye rolls at the press conferences, and that’s what I need to do because that needs to be important. Our value system is important. We need to be humble, respect is important, empathy is important and dedication. But our football, what we want our tape to look like is sound, smart and tough, committed to discipline and poise and that wasn’t the case on Sunday (in the 51-17 loss to the Rams). We need to get our tape to reflect that.”

Q: What have the players shown you that makes you think they can go on a run?

McAdoo: “We practice well. That’s something that I like about this team. I like this team. The way we go about our business during the week and the way we prepare. We need to get that to show up on Sunday. And when the players are sick and tired of being sick and tired, when they’ve had enough, it will, and I’m confident that it will.”

Q: What is your response to the critical anonymous player quotes that were reported by ESPN?

McAdoo: “Listen, I have an open-door policy, and any player who wants to come up and talk to me about anything that we do can do so. There is a reason why we do what we do. If they want to come, I have an open-door policy. I’ll address it. It would help if they put their name on it, because if you put your name on a quote, then I know how to help you. Obviously, it’s hard to help someone that doesn’t put their name on their quote. The other thing would be, I’d go back and talk about the difference between bitching and complaining. No one likes to be around a constant complainer. That wears people out. But at the same point in time, everybody has to bitch. And if you don’t have a bitch, I’m not doing it right, and I believe that. You can quote me on that.”

Q: You talked about the team watching the tape of the game on Tuesday. When do you watch the game tape? Do you try to do it the night of the game or do you like to give it a little time to digest and look at it first thing Monday?

McAdoo: “Usually, I like to watch the defensive side of the ball as soon as I can after the game. I’ll watch the special teams either that night, or with (special teams coordinator) Tom Quinn very early the next morning. It depends when we play. Then the offense with the offensive staff. After this game, I watched it all at home, on an iPad in the pantry, because I had to make sure I had to get my eyes on the film as soon as possible. So I walked through the door, set my bag down, picked up the iPad out of my bag and watched it right then and there.”

Q: Does it take a long time on the initial viewing of the tape?

McAdoo: “A few hours.”

Q: Eli (Manning) said that you have faith in him and you told him to keep grinding. He is one of the NFL’s most accomplished players. Do you think it’s important for even Eli Manning to hear that from you?

McAdoo: “I think that sometimes I take for granted the type of guy he is and the way he prepares. I say things in press conferences where you have to hold all players accountable. He’s accomplished so many things in this league at a high level, but he still needs to be held accountable. The past is something that we all learn from and we all hold dearly in some instances, and some instances we don’t. I respect everything he’s done and accomplished in this league. But right now, we need to win and we need to play better and I don’t like to grade players in the media or in the public, but everyone needs to be held accountable and he’s going to be held accountable just like everybody else in this building that’s under my watch. Period. Does that mean I don’t have faith and confidence in him? Heck no. I've got a ton of faith, a ton of confidence in him. I always have. I always will. Do I say it enough to him? Probably not. I wasn’t raised in a warm and fuzzy environment, but I do have a lot of confidence in Eli and I have confidence that we’re going to right this ship and make a run.”

Q: What did (newly re-signed linebacker) Kelvin Sheppard give you last year and how quickly do you think he can give you something now?

McAdoo: “Obviously it’s a challenge to come in, in the middle of the season, even though he has knowledge of our systems and the way we do things, and has been here in the past. But he’s a unique individual in a lot of ways. He’s got leadership capabilities, he has some charisma, he gets football and he brings some positive energy. So it’s interesting to see. He had a good day on Wednesday. Take it one day at a time.”

Q: What can you say about the effort of (undrafted linebackers) Calvin Munson and Curtis Grant?

McAdoo: “Calvin Munson, I can remember throughout the draft process when we were allowed to talk to free agents, getting on the phone with Calvin and recruiting him really to come here and give us a shot here. I told him that he would have a golden opportunity here. I expressed that he had my word that he would have an opportunity to compete for a job here. Not only has he taken advantage of it, but he’s taken it and he’s running with it. He’s a throwback type, he’s a tough guy. He can handle multiple jobs on (special) teams and at the linebacker position. He gives you everything he’s got. He’s a tough guy, I’m glad we have him. Curtis Grant, I remember sitting down at the (roster cut to) 53. We had to let him go from the 53. Started on the practice squad and then we eventually brought him up. Having conversations with him in the offseason about how hard he worked at learning the defense and studying it and being able to play multiple spots, and really growing as a special teams player. He plays with a lot of physicality on special teams. That’s something that I appreciate and he’s really growing into a good, hard-nosed player for us.”

Q: How much was Avery Moss’s rise to starter last week due to need at the defensive end position or is it because of his development?

McAdoo: “It goes back to, I like to draft and develop players. He’s no different. In the offseason, he really showed some good things. Improved during camp. When things get challenging schematically, it could slow some young players down, so he might have slowed down a tick there, but then started to come on in special teams and on defense. He got his opportunity to go out there and play and compete at a high level. And he can do it at a couple different spots on special teams and on defense and take advantage of his role, do it at a high level, and have confidence to do it. If you put a guy out there on Week One, it may be a little more challenging to do that. He has to go through the process a few times first.”

Q: You’re in the middle of the NFL pack with 10 giveaways, but you have only seven takeaways. Are there things that you can do in practice to help prevent the giveaways and start getting the takeaways?

McAdoo: “Every coach since the beginning of pro football has been doing that. Yeah, we spend a lot of time in the Duke period. (On Thursday, we did) it in the L.T. period. Just spending time doing drills, getting defensive players used to getting their hands on the ball, punching and ripping it out. The second guy in goes after the football. First guy in secures the tackle, second guy in goes after the ball. Offensively, drills on plucking and tucking the ball, high and tight, keeping two hands on the ball as you’re moving in the pocket. Ball location is important this time of year. Decision making, you can never have turnovers on decision making from the quarterback position. You’re going to miss some throws, but this time of year when the weather turns, ball location is so vital, because if it’s just off the target a little bit when that ball gets chalky and cold, it’s tougher for the receiver. So we have to make sure we’re on point with everything we do. Right now, we are minus-three. As far as takeaways go, a lot of times they come in bunches. Unfortunately for us, the giveaways came in bunches last week and that’s something that we can’t have. If we want to play the type of football that we need to play to win games, we need to play sound on teams and we need to take care of the ball and get takeaways on defense. That’s got to be the formula for us. It’s worked in the past, history proves it works and we have to do that this week.”

Q: Last week, Brad Wing had a 53.3-yard gross average, but a 27.6-yard net, because of the Rams’ punt returns. You said one of the issues was kicking the ball down the middle of the field. As a general rule, do you prefer punting outside the numbers?

McAdoo: “I prefer location outside. When you punt the ball down the middle of the field and we don’t get the type of releases in coverage, it makes it challenging. It’s not all on the punter, but the coverage team needs to adjust when the ball doesn’t go outside the numbers, and we didn’t do a great job of adjusting (last week) and it showed up. So it’s more than just one thing, it’s location, it’s distance, it’s hang, it’s releases in the coverage and coverage adjusting their lanes based on the depth, the hang and the location of the ball.”

Q: Carlos Hyde leads the 49ers in rushing and is tied for first in receptions. What do you see when you look at him on tape?

McAdoo: “He’s a complete football player. He can pass protect, too. So he’s not just a guy that they like to get touches. He’s a complete back in a lot of ways for them. He’s tough to bring down, he’s thick. He’s a complete back. We’re not getting a break this week as far as the running back we’re going to see.”

Q: They’re starting a rookie third-round draft choice at quarterback in C.J. Beathard.

McAdoo: “I think he’s a guy that playing in the system at Iowa helps him. It’s a pro-style system and he’s been taught by coaches who’ve coached in the pros, so I don’t think the game mentally has been that much of a challenge for him. The volume may be a little bit different. I think he’s taken to the fundamentals and the footwork nicely. He’s tough as nails. He’s taken some shots and he hangs in the ballgame and he’ll hang in the pocket. Seems to keep his eyes down the field. And he’s a young, developing player.” 

Q: Talk about their group of pass rushers and how they’ve flown under the radar this year.

McAdoo: "They come in all shapes and sizes. (Elvis) Dumervil is built low to the ground. Quick first step, can drop dip his shoulder. Then you got (DeForest) Buckner, who’s 6-7 He’s a large human being who’s really improving as a football player, and getting better and really shows up on tape. So they have a bunch of different guys that factor in. Whether they play four down or some three down-type looks that they’ll jump into on third down and two-minute. But it’s a talented group, and it really forces the line to study not just who they think they’re going to match up against, but multiple matchups. So they got to know their one on one’s and their one on one can be a variety of different guys so it forces them to put the time in preparation-wise.”