The McAdoo Report: Positive attitude is key

Posted Oct 14, 2016

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

Q: The players are obviously disappointed after losing three straight games. As a head coach preparing for the next game (Sunday vs. Baltimore), is it more important what you do strategically or emotionally?

McAdoo: “I think we need to be consistently positive with the way we approach things. Obviously, scheme factors, fundamentals factor coming off a couple of road games that have been prime time games. We have to be smart in what we ask these guys to do this week. It’s always great to have positive energy in the building. I think that’s the way we operate.”

Q: You haven’t run the ball as well as you would have liked the last couple of weeks. Some coaches will say it’s important to keep running the ball, even if you’re not gaining a lot of yards. Are you a proponent of sticking with the ground game?

McAdoo: “Over the last couple of weeks, you may not think so, but I am. We need attempts. I need to do a better job staying committed to the run. I believe in our run game. I believe we’re making strides upfront and our backs are making progress. We need to stick with it and continue to chip away so we’re in a position to win the battle of the hitting game in the fourth quarter.”


Q: How intertwined in your opinion is the run and the pass? Does not passing well have a lot to do with not running well?

McAdoo: “Good offense is synergy. I think everything is connected. You need completions on first and second downs. You need to be able to run the ball on first and second downs so you can have balance. A lot of times, your passes are like runs and your runs can come out like passes. Everything is really built off each other formationally. You have things that work off of each other schematically. They’re all intertwined. The other place where it shows up is third down. If you do a better job on first or second down, whether it’s the run game or completion mindset in the pass game, it gets you more manageable third downs. Third downs haven’t been the problem. It’s the distance to go on third downs.”
Q: When an offense isn’t performing as well as you want it to, there are two schools of thought. You can retreat a little bit and go back to basics or you can expand what you do to try different things. Do you have a rule of thumb there or is it just feel for situation, your players, and the opponent?

McAdoo: “I think you have to take a look at certain areas and certain situations. Push the limits on where you’ve had success. Get back to the basics on where you haven’t had success. I don’t think you can say in one statement that we have to go back to basics, or that we have to expand. I think you have to look at players first, not plays. Situations where you’ve had success and haven’t been as successful as you’d like. Push the envelope there a little bit. At the end of the day, it comes back to fundamentals. If you’re blocking well enough in the run game, you’re probably going to run the ball well enough in the run game. If your protection is good, you’re creating some separation in the pass game and you’re accurate in the pass game, you’re going to have some success in the pass game. Scheme may give you a slight advantage at points in time, but it all comes back to the fundamentals.”

Q: The last couple of weeks, the longest completion to a wideout is 16 yards. As you play these games and then look at the tape, are teams focused on playing both safeties deep and taking away the long ball?

McAdoo: “Teams want to make us go the long way. It’s probably pretty smart. They don’t want to let Odell (Beckham, Jr.) wreck the game. That’s been their focus. He’s had a lot of man coverage underneath and a safety over the top. Sometimes another safety leaning that way. They want to force you to go elsewhere, force you to run the ball and be patient. A lot of that has to do with if teams make you go the long way, you’re going to make a mistake and it’s going to kill the drive. A penalty or a mental error. That can certainly happen. Where we are in the season, we should be very confident in our ability to minimize the penalties. Hone in on the mental part of the game so we don’t make those types of mistakes, so we can go the long way.”


Q: Eli Manning said at his locker the other day that he has to play better. Are you glad to see the leader of the team take responsibility like that, or would you prefer he not put it all on his shoulders?

McAdoo: “It’s not all on his shoulders. I think it’s the sign of a great leader to be willing to put himself out there. It’s my responsibility and the players’ responsibility. We have to do it together. It’s not coaching, playing, playcalling. It’s players and coaches coming together. When you decide that you’ve had enough, you’ve had enough. Execute the way you’re capable of executing. Calling the game the way you’re capable of calling the game. Going out and playing well enough to win.”  

Q: You have talked about blocking out outside noise. When Eli spoke to the media, he was asked whether the big hit against Washington has affected how he feels physically and if it has affected his performance this season. In your three years with him, is he good at blocking out that outside stuff?

McAdoo: “I think he’s great at it. We have a relationship where we can talk about anything. Any distraction, anything coming up from the outside or any noise that’s coming up, anything that happens, we can talk about and put it on the table. I think it’s important for everyone to know that I have his back. We’re committed to him. He’s played great football here. He’s a champion. He’s a leader. We flushed last week and we’re moving on to this week.”

Q: You’ve said many times that your offense  has to complete a high percentage of your passes. Eli actually has his highest completion percentage of his career right now. Do you look at that and think maybe he is playing a little better than people are giving him credit for?

McAdoo: “When you look at it, we’ve played two tremendous defenses on the road in tough environments (in Minnesota and Green Bay). We haven’t executed as well as we’ve needed to. We need to run the ball better, complete the ball better, so we have manageable third downs so we can stay on track and ahead of the chains. We haven’t done that. Everything is tied together. It’s not just one thing. It’s never just one player. The thing that you keep going back to is when you have success, the quarterback gets a little too much credit. When you don’t have success, he gets a little too much blame. That’s the way it goes in this league. It’s unfortunate that it goes that way, but that’s usually the direction that outside forces take it. That’s the world we live in. We accept it and move on.”

Q: This week you signed Coty Sensabaugh, a cornerback who was recently released by the Rams. Is it easier for a defensive player or an offensive player to prepare to play in a short time period after joining a new team during the season?

McAdoo: “It’s not easy with any player. He has to acclimate to a culture. He has to figure out where he’s going to live. He’s still finding out his way around the meeting rooms. There’s a lot of things going on. With that being said, he’s a football player. That’s what he does for a living. This is pro football. You come in, relate the terminology with what you’ve learned in the past and you learn as quickly as you can. The coaches are doing a great job spending extra time with him trying to acclimate him to our system. You throw him out there and you go.”

Q: Shane Vereen and Darian Thompson traveled to Green Bay last week even though there was no chance they would play. I don’t know if many teams do that, and the Giants previously did not bring injured players on trips. Why is it important to you to have them travel?

McAdoo: “I think our team is our team. Just because someone gets banged up or injured doesn’t mean you want to exclude them from this team. They’re still part of this team. Still have leadership value. Especially players that are going to play for you again in the season. You definitely don’t want to alienate guys like that. You want to be as inclusive as you can. The more guys you have pulling in the same direction, the high-character guys like the two you mentioned, the better.”

Q: It seems every week you’re confronted with an excellent front seven. This week you face Baltimore, which arguably has the league’s best. They’re in the top five, top seven in all the major statistical categories. What do you see as an offensive coach as you study them?

McAdoo: “They’re similar to the front we played last week, just different body types. The scheme might be a little bit similar on first and second down. You can make an argument that they’re the best defense that we’ve faced yet. Very big and physical, heavy-handed up front. They have some explosive pass rushers on the edge and some linebackers that have some savviness inside. They have the complete package. They challenge you schematically. We need to be ready for that. It’s good that we have them on our home turf. We’re excited to be back at home with the fans behind us. That’ll help.”

Q: An inside linebacker, C.J. Mosley, leads the team with three interceptions. Is that indicative of his versatility?

McAdoo: “I think it shows how instinctive he is. He gets ball and it shows up on film. You knew that coming out of the draft. We saw clips of him over and over again. He has a good nose for the football.”

Q: Marty Mornhinweg took over as the Ravens’ new offensive coordinator this week. If a new coordinator is hired in the offseason, you would do a detailed study of his background. Did you do that this week, or are you focused more on their personnel?

McAdoo: “First things first, you have to trust your system and trust your players. Put them in sound calls. We have great scheme here and great coaches. We put the players in a position to be successful. We have all those reps in training camp. After that, you look at the opponent. I’m sure they’re going to have some things that they hang their hat on schematically. Study the players, the opponent's players. Every coordinator has a little book on each coordinator in the league on the opposite side of the ball. There are always things that you can refer to that way. The tendencies may change; a couple things may change schematically. At the end of the day when you’re this far into it, it’s tough to make radical changes in the course of a week.”

Q: Is Joe Flacco’s throwing arm as strong as anyone you’re going to play this year?

McAdoo: “There are a lot of guys that can throw the ball a long way with some good velocity in this league. We just played one last week who can throw the ball pretty good (Aaron Rodgers). Joe definitely has a big arm. He likes to throw the deep ball and put some air under it. Let guys go run underneath it. That’s something we have to be on the alert for.”

Q: All four of their key special teams players have been Pro Bowlers. Do you look at Justin Tucker as a weapon as a kicker?

McAdoo: “No question. We were just watching some of his kickoffs. You don’t think that’s a weapon, but the way he can disguise where he’s going with the ball is a weapon for him. Usually kickers by the way they line up give away everything they’re going to do. He’s pretty insightful with the way he disguises it.”

Q: Baltimore is the only team in the league that has had every one of its games decided by six points or less – that extends to 17 of their last 21 games. Do you think a team becomes confident when it plays so many games that are close at the end?

McAdoo: “I think it depends if you’re winning or losing them. I think it depends on each team. Each game is different. I think it helps with your mindset when you know it’s going to be a close game and come down to the fourth quarter. They all do. Even if they’re two-score games, they always come down to the fourth quarter. Once you get over 16 points, that’s usually when they’re a little out of hand in the fourth quarter. If it’s 14 points or less, in the blink of an eye, that game can change. You can be right back in it or the other team could be right back in it. I think playing in those real close games gets your mind right for the end of the game to make a run at it.”