The McAdoo Report: Regular season underway

Posted Sep 9, 2016

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

Q: It’s clearly important for any coach to have his team prepared for the opening game. When the opening game is a division road game, is the importance and significance of that heightened even more?

McAdoo: “No. You have to be ready to go no matter who you play or who you start off with. It’s one of 16. It’s important. You’re only guaranteed 16 of them, but we do understand division games are worth two.”

Q: How much have you discussed the importance of playing your first game on the road against one of your chief rivals?

McAdoo: “We’ve talked about it. Obviously, playing in this rivalry with the tradition on both sides is an important game. You really don’t have to say too much to them the first game out. There’s going to be a lot of energy, a lot of juice. I expect they’ll be like me, champing at the bit.”


Q: When you were a position coach and a coordinator, did you have a sense going into an opener how your unit was going to play? And now as a head coach, do you have a sense how your team will play Sunday?

McAdoo: “We feel like we built this team up to be a physical, heavy-handed, well-conditioned, confident football team. We’ll figure out what we look like on Sunday. We expect a great effort from both teams. We’re excited to see how it plays out.”

Q: As a coach, do you go over in your mind how you expect the game to play out?

McAdoo: “Yes. You always visualize as many possible scenarios as you can. Whether you come out and it’s a close game, a back-and-forth game, whether it’s a game where you fall behind early or whether it’s a game you come out and jump ahead early. I think you have to visualize all three scenarios. Every game, regardless of the scenario, has a path to victory. It’s up to us to find that path.”

Q: As a coordinator, you watched the opposing defense. Do you now also take time to watch the tape of the opposing special teams and the offense?

McAdoo: “Yes, absolutely. You have to take time. Make sure you’re on top of the special teams, on top of what they’re doing from an offensive perspective. What is natural for me is spending time with the offense, and being on top of what they’re doing defensively.” 

Q: Do you still spend most of your time with the offense?

McAdoo: “I budget my time.”


Q: I know that you’re very good at removing the emotion from things. But Sunday is a big day in your life, your first regular-season game as an NFL head coach. Are you going to be able to take the emotion out of it because you’re good at doing that, or because you have to do that?

McAdoo: “I think you are who you are. I’m comfortable in my own skin. I’m not going to let emotion get in the way of what my job is. I’m going to attack the job.”

Q: This week, all 53 players on the active roster practiced. When that happens, do you have to decide early in the week which players will be inactive, because you have to know who will play on the special teams, or do you let the players practice and decide late in the week?

McAdoo: “You go in and you identify who’s competing to get up. You just let practice unfold. Thursday’s full-pads practice will tell us a lot about who’s going to be up and down in the game. You want competition at practice. I’ll never forget in 2010 in Green Bay. We were never healthy all year. Finally, we get to the Super Bowl practice and we had 53 guys healthy, plus the practice squad. We go down and they’re competing to get up. We had some pretty good knock-down, drag-outs down there in the Super Bowl week practices with pads on. To me, those are the best types of practices; you have guys competing to get a suit on game day.”

Q: Are you going to have season captains or weekly captains?

McAdoo: “We’re going to have both. We voted on team captains for offense, defense and special teams. Then we’ll have three captains each week to go out there with them. We’ll have six total.”

Q: Can you say who the season-long captains are?

McAdoo: "Yes, we announced it to the team: Eli (Manning), Zak (DeOssie) and J.C. (Jonathan Casillas).”

Q: When you arrived here two years ago as coordinator, Victor Cruz was a star and Odell Beckham Jr. was soon to be drafted. I imagine you were thinking of the plays you could call with both of them on the field. That happened for about 60 snaps. Can you see your plan coming to fruition?

McAdoo: “The offense has really taken shape schematically and with the personnel. It’s exciting to be able to go down to Dallas with all your pieces in place. I’m excited.”

Q: You had mentioned at the NFL meeting that you were going to have a game management team. What is the gist of that?

McAdoo: “We put time in all offseason and training camp getting ready for it. We’ve been practicing situations daily in camp, and once a week when we got into the in-season prep. We’ll have conversations throughout the week and then we’ll have our game management meeting on Saturday mornings.”


Q: When you were asked about the Cowboys offense, you said, it didn’t matter who the skill guys are because everything revolves around their offensive line. Is that unusual?

McAdoo: “They’re a little bit of a throwback team. It’s like that on both sides of the ball for them. It always starts up front with the O and D lines. That’s a credit to them. They do a nice job up front.”

Q: With all the attention on Dak Prescott, it seems Jason Witten hasn’t received as much attention as he normally does. This team certainly knows Jason Witten well. I know you’ve played him many times. Talk about Jason Witten.

McAdoo: "I have played him many times. I had the chance to coach him in the Pro Bowl one year. He works at it. Everything is important. He doesn’t let anything slide through the cracks, even at the Pro Bowl. Just very smart, aware. Doesn’t waste any movement on the field. He knows what’s coming and knows how to beat it. The chemistry with the quarterbacks, especially with Romo, is tremendous. It’s hard to find that. You go back and think of (Joe) Montana and (Jerry) Rice, and some of the great chemistry with the quarterback and receiver or tight end. That has to be one of the best that’s ever existed.” 

Q: (Linebacker) Sean Lee is Dallas’ best defender. What do you see when you watch him on tape?

McAdoo: “It’s like he plays with a little bit of a head start. You can tell he has good instincts and studies film. He has good ball skills, so we always have to know where he is.”

Q: Dallas’ kicker, Dan Bailey, has made more than 90 percent of his career field goal attempts. Do you have to keep that kind of accuracy in mind when you’re making a decision on the sidelines?

McAdoo: “I think everything factors. He hasn’t done much kicking in the preseason but, obviously, the history is there.”