The McAdoo Report: "We’re a hungry team"

Posted Oct 7, 2016

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

Q: Two weeks ago when the Redskins came in and they were 0-2, I asked you if they were a desperate team. The Giants have lost two in a row. Are you a desperate team?

McAdoo: “I think we’re a hungry team. We’re not a desperate team. This (the Giants’ game Sunday night in Green Bay) is one of 16, but a big one.”

Q: You had said last week that there were good and bad aspects of having a longer week to prepare. Now you have a shorter week. Are there good and bad aspects to a short week?

McAdoo: “Absolutely. Good things and bad things.”


Q: What are some of the good things in the short week?

McAdoo: “Well, coming off of a loss, it’s good to get back out on the field quickly. You get a chance to dive right into the next opponent. Put a plan together that’s very clean and you can go out and do it quickly. Players can play fast and not overthink.”

Q: Justin Pugh said you delivered an inspiring speech to the team (Wednesday). After two losses, how important is it for the players to hear their coach give them a positive message?

McAdoo: “I think it’s important that they know I have confidence in the locker room and in the players. It was a tough game the other night against a good opponent (the Minnesota Vikings, who beat the Giants, 24-10). We’re a good team. I like where this team is going. We need to rally the troops, so to speak. Get everyone pulling in the same direction and move on to the next one.”

Q: You’re the most important voice here, but you do have a lot of young players. Do you also rely on the veterans to speak up and help out in that regard?

McAdoo: “I think leadership can come from all age groups. I think we have some young players who can lead. The veteran players are usually more outspoken. As the season goes on, I think you’ll start to see some young players come to the front a little bit more."

Q: You were asked yesterday about being sixth in the NFL in yards per game, but 27th in scoring. What does that indicate to you? That you’re not taking advantage of the opportunities? That you’re moving the ball, but not finishing as you should?

McAdoo: “Yes. We’re moving the ball. We’re pretty good at getting that first first down and starting to be productive as an offense. What you’re seeing is a byproduct of the turnovers, a byproduct of making contested plays, and a byproduct of field position, when we have a long way to go to get the end result. The penalties also factor in there as well. When teams force you to go the long way, you need to be consistent, committed to discipline and poise. You can only take what they give you. That’s really the bottom line.”

Q: It’s been mentioned several times that the defense has no takeaways. Without them, you don’t get the benefit of a short field. Only one of your possessions has started in the opponent’s territory. Is that a byproduct of not being able to get a takeaway?

McAdoo: “Yes. When you take a look at last season, we were scoring more points at that point in time. Not to say that can’t change or won’t change, but we were getting a lot of turnovers. I think our offense this year is a better offense. We’re not putting up the points that we need to score, but we’re also turning the ball over, getting too many penalties and the field is longer. All three things make it hard.”

Q: When you talk to the defensive players about takeaways, is it still important to stress that you want them, but you don’t want your players going beyond their assignment to try to get them?

McAdoo: “The takeaways are going to come. We need to keep playing sound, smart and tough defense. Great defense fits together like nuts and bolts. When you have players starting to go rogue, trying to get turnovers and seeing things that aren’t there, trying to be their own player or man instead of fitting in the scheme of what they’re asked to do and doing their job, that’s when you start giving up big plays.”

Q: Your time of possession in three games has been under 27 minutes. Is time of possession an important statistic to you?

McAdoo: "I think it’s a team stat more than it is an offensive stat. I think a lot of that is intertwined. You’re running the ball; it’s stopping the run. It’s also completing the ball at a high percentage. When you don’t complete the ball at a high percentage, it’s hard to hold onto the ball.”

Q: We’ve heard a lot this week about Odell (Beckham, Jr.). The salient numbers are three and 23, his receptions and yards in Minnesota. The three wide receivers (including Victor Cruz and Sterling Shepard) averaged 8.6 yards per catch. Do those numbers have to go up for the offense to run as efficiently as it should?

McAdoo: "The overall season numbers don’t look that way for that group. What you find is they (the opposition) are going to make us go a long way. If that’s the case, we need to complete the ball at a high percentage. Once you complete the ball at a high percentage and run the ball better, you get them out of those coverages and have a chance to throw the ball down the field more.”


Q: The Minnesota game was the first without your top two running backs, Rashad (Jennings) and Shane (Vereen). How did Orleans Darkwa, Bobby Rainey and Paul Perkins respond?

McAdoo: “I think they responded well. We have confidence in that room from top to bottom. That’s a good room for us.”

Q: It looks like Darkwa runs hard every time he gets the ball. Is that an accurate statement?

McAdoo: “I think he’s a talented back. I think he has good instincts on where the ball fits based on what the defense is doing. Sometimes, it’s hard to teach that. He always runs with a nice forward lean.”

Q: Perkins caught a short pass and turned it into a 67-yard gain. Was that just him making a big play?

McAdoo: “I think you have to give credit to the offensive line, for them getting out on the perimeter and throwing some nice blocks on the play and springing him. It shows his bounce. He has very good bounce and very good patience for a young back. That’s hard to find. He did a nice job protecting the ball. Next time he has to score.”

Q: You sometimes say about a young player, “The game’s not too big for him.” Andrew Adams started for the first time at safety in Minnesota. I doubt he played in front of a lot of crowds at UConn like we saw the other night. How did he hold up?

McAdoo: “The game is not too big for Andrew. He’s a guy that it’s in his DNA. Sometimes you can see that when players walk through the door. He’s a very confident and well-prepared young player.”

Q: When we play in Green Bay Sunday night, you will be coaching for the first time against one of your mentors, Mike McCarthy, who is your friend and someone who means a lot to you. McCarthy said on his conference call that he looks forward to seeing you before the game. You don’t impress me as the kind of coach that likes to schmooze before the game with the opposing coach. Would you make an exception for a mentor and a friend?

McAdoo: “I look forward to seeing Mike and talking to Mike. It’s been a while. I’m not a big schmoozer by any stretch of the imagination. He and I go back a long way.”


Q: You downplayed your return to Green Bay. You did spend eight years of your life there. You got married there and your children were born there. Wouldn’t it be natural to walk into Lambeau Field and feel a little nostalgic or reminisce a little bit?

McAdoo: “They made some changes. I look forward to seeing some of the changes that they’ve made. I have a job to do. There may be some feelings, but I have to focus on my job and putting this team in the best position to win the game.”

Q: You spent a lot of time in Lambeau. As an NFL guy, do you think Lambeau is a special place?

McAdoo: “I think it is. I think it’s kind of like a college atmosphere.  A university atmosphere in a pro league. That’s tough to find. There are only a handful of mom and pop franchises left in this league. The Giants are one of them. They’re hard to find. It’s a different atmosphere. It’s like a college atmosphere even in the locker room. The players all live relatively close to one another. It’s just the size of the community. You can get anywhere in about seven minutes there. Seven to 15 minutes. But it creates a close-knit locker room. It has its advantages. When you walk into Lambeau, it’s similar to walking into the stadium in South Bend.”

Q: The Packers have a collection of skill players – Aaron Rodgers, Jordy Nelson, Eddie Lacy, Randall Cobb – who have with a history of producing. How good is this group?

McAdoo: “They are very good. With Jordy back, they’re firing on all cylinders in the receiving room. They have a good group of young receivers there that are developing as well. Randall is always dangerous in the slot. They can bring him out of the backfield, too. You definitely don’t want to let Lacy and (James) Starks get rolling downhill. They are two big backs and a nice one-two punch.”

Q: I’ve heard so much about Aaron Rodgers being a master of the hard count. I’m sure you helped teach him that.

McAdoo: “I learned it from him.”

Q: Even if he’s not drawing you offside, does he affect the defensive linemen, because they must be mindful that he’s trying to do just that?

McAdoo: “Yes. Our defensive front has to play with earmuffs. That’s an important part of things. He uses the count to get the defense to tip their hand. He’s very good at it. He finds the young player on the defensive side of the ball. He can get them to give him information based on the coverages that are being played. He’s great at the game within the game. When you’re in a system as long as he’s been in a system, you can really focus your preparation on that in the one-on-one matchups. Not just taking advantage of scheme and learning what you’re going against or studying what you’re doing; you have a pretty good idea of what the game plan is going to be going into the game based on your history of the system.”

Q: Their run defense numbers really jump out. They’re the best in the league so far. Do you credit that to the young players they have up front?

McAdoo: “I think it’s a combination. (Defensive coordinator) Dom (Capers) does a great job. Mike Trgovac, their defensive line coach, does a tremendous job there. They’ve always been good against the run. That’s their number one focus each and every week. The players buy into it. They teach the techniques. Fundamentally, the players carry them over from practice into the game. (Tackle) Mike Daniels is playing at a high level. That helps them there. He’s a buzzsaw for them. They have some good players in that front five in their base defense and the front four in the nickel defense.”

Q: What does Clay Matthews mean to the defense?

McAdoo: "Odell brings energy to our offense. Clay brings energy to that defense in a similar fashion. Just the relentless energy, pursuit and effort level that he plays with. It raises everyone else’s game around him.”

Q: It seems that every team that you play has outstanding coverage guys on special teams. The Packers have Chris Banjo and Jeff Janis (who combined for 36 special teams tackles last season). When you look at special teams tape, do they jump out at you?

McAdoo: “Yes. They have some outside linebackers that can contribute there as well. Banjo was there when I was there (2006-13). He was a young player working to get on the 53. It’s nice to see it pay off for him. The bottom half of their roster is really loaded with linebackers and secondary players that can run, be explosive and are combative. That helps.”