Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan has stepped into an increased role this week:
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –Steve Spagnuolo isn't the only Giants assistant coach with additional duties this week.
Spags, the Giants' defensive coordinator, has certainly taken on the most responsibility since begin named interim head coach on Monday. But offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan is also carrying a heavier load. Since Sullivan assumed that position in 2016, Ben McAdoo had been at the top of the team's offensive hierarchy. McAdoo was deeply involved in devising the game plan, had the final say on what was included and omitted, and called the plays last year and through the first five games of this season.
With McAdoo's dismissal, Sullivan is in charge of the offense. Spagnuolo has veto power, but he has spent his career on defense. Sullivan is preparing the offense to face the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday. And instead of looking up to McAdoo, who brought the offensive system to the Giants when he was hired as coordinator in 2014, Sullivan has sought more input from his position coaches.
"Obviously, Ben for the first season and first five games this year was calling the plays and was heavily involved in the game planning process, and then he handed those responsibilities over to me," Sullivan said today. "He still would be involved in the game plan. He was still a sounding board. He still had ideas. We had a lot of collaboration. The quarterbacks are involved. Then, you put together a plan and you go out and practice it and hope for the best and that voice hasn't been here this week. Obviously, he has a great wealth of knowledge in this particular system and we've had to pick up the slack. The other guys have had ideas and we just kind of bounce suggestions off one another and look at our personnel, where we're at, how we have to play and come up with a course of action that we think is going to help us go out there and beat the Cowboys."
On Monday, McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese were dismissed, one day after a 24-17 loss in Oakland dropped the Giants to 2-10. Sullivan called the week "eventful," and like Spagnuolo before him expressed regret at what happened to their bosses/colleagues.
"First word that comes to mind would be sad, the first thing that comes to mind in terms of what happened with Ben and Jerry is thinking about things that I could have done differently," Sullivan said. "What more I could have done? What more the other offensive coaches could have done and the players, and there's a human element to this. It goes beyond what's on Twitter or message boards, etcetera. It's families. So it is sad, and then you look at just the circumstances as they presented themselves and where we're at right now and just zeroing in on winning a football game. Just trying to do everything I can to support Spags and get the offensive coaches, get the players ready to go. So it's been a challenge, but we're moving forward."
In the opening statement of his first news conference as head coach yesterday, Spagnuolo announced that Eli Manning would return as the starting quarterback against Dallas. Geno Smith played the entire game in Oakland. Rookie Davis Webb might also play in the last four games.
"Last week as well as this week, the effect has been different on different individuals," Sullivan said. "That entire room – all three of those guys have been professional. They've been hard working. They've been team guys pulling for one another. So they handled it well last week. They're handling it well this week.
"In terms of Eli and how we feel about him compared to how we feel about Geno or how we feel about Davis, all three guys are individuals that bring certain talents to the table and do things that can help us win. I thought Geno did a lot of good things against the Raiders. He from day one has been someone that's had a great attitude. He's been a hard worker and he's improved as a player. In terms of this particular game, this opponent, in terms of experience in our system, in terms of all of the ins and outs that go with that, in terms of adjustments that we're going to make, in terms of things that we're going to want to do both in the run game and the pass game, we feel that Eli Manning gives us the best chance to win. That's nothing disparaging to anybody else. We looked at a body of work and what we're going to try to accomplish, and how we're going to try to attack Dallas, that was something that – again, Spags wanted our feedback. He wanted to talk. We gave him that feedback and that's the decision that was made."
Regarding the offense as a whole, Sullivan hinted any changes he makes won't be drastic.
"We're 12 games into it," Sullivan said. "We have our personnel. In terms of some subtle things, I think anytime you're the final decision maker, there is some latitude to maybe tweak a thing here or there. As far as installing a streak read-run, a shoot offense that was here from 2004 to 2011, that's not going to happen. But we are just well aware of the things that we need to do to be successful and it sounds like a broken record, but it does start with regardless of what plays we're calling, we've got to protect the football ,and we can't have some of those negative runs that we had this most recent game. We've been running the ball better, and that ability to do that, be successful, that's given us a chance to have a chance in recent weeks and can help open up things in the pass game. So we got to get that on track."
That remains the same no matter who is in charge.