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The McAdoo Report: Back from the bye


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

Q: You said last year you didn't like the bye because you "cherish the grind." Last year, you entered the bye on a two-game winning streak. Did you feel differently about the bye this year?

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McAdoo: "It came at exactly the same time as it did last year. The biggest difference is we were coming off a home game as opposed to coming off a trip overseas. You can always spin it as it comes at a good time for the team. But I feel the same way. I'd rather just keep on going than split it up, but I think it's healthy for the players."

Q: You've said several times that you wanted the players to get away from football a little bit. Did you want to get away?

McAdoo: "It's hard to get away. You may remove yourself from the building a little bit, but your thoughts are always on the team, and you're always looking ahead to the next opponent and looking back, trying to learn a little bit more about your team and how you got to where you were."

Q: Do you watch football during the bye?

McAdoo: "Yeah, I love football. When your passion and your life's work meet, it's hard to get away from it. So whether it's spending time with the family or whatever I'm doing, I have a game on in the background. I may not be dialed into it necessarily, but it's good background noise."

Q: Does (daughter) Larkin still call plays?

McAdoo: "Larkin, she used to do the play by play. (Son) BJ's starting to get into the game a little bit more now. He can follow along pretty good. But the whole family, they're football fans."

Q: Last year, you were 4-3 at the bye. This year, you're 1-6. Does the self-scouting follow a different procedure because of the record?

McAdoo: "We are pretty consistent with what we do. You really have a pretty good idea going in on what you need to spend your time on. Personnel is always a part of it. The difference between this year and last year is a lot of the guys that we are playing with this year is by necessity. Last year, we had to interject some young players into the lineup the second half of the year to get some reps and some experience and those guys are already playing this year. So there's not as much wiggle room there. When you take a look back at last year, B.J Goodson and Paul Perkins and Roger Lewis and guys like that, they didn't get a lot of reps on offense and defense. Darian Thompson is another guy. Those guys are already out there playing a significant amount of snaps for us this year."

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Q: When you self-scout during the season, do you ever find things that surprise you?

McAdoo: "The game has changed that way. You used to not do self-scouting until the bye week. You used to never self-scout. Then you started to self-scout at the bye week. But now, we do it every week. So now you look at it every week and every situation. You really begin every meeting by learning more about yourself and then focusing on your opponent, because you want to be aware of what the opponent is looking at when you play the game. Every part of the game is a situation now. It's broken up that way, so you want to make sure you know who you are first."

Q: When you come back from the bye, are there things you look for from the team to make sure that their minds are focused on the task and they are ready to go?

McAdoo: "Usually the first practice back from the bye, the Monday practice, isn't a good one. Guys have been out, they've been doing different things. It's usually one that's just to get them out there and to get a sweat in. But we actually had a pretty good practice that Monday, and that's really par for the course all year. I think we're a team that practices really well. We practice, in my opinion, better than we did last year. So that's something we show up, we're ready to work. We push each other in practice, we practice hard, we practice with energy. So that's encouraging moving forward."

Q: Last year the defense finished 10th in yards allowed and second in points allowed. This year you're 27th and 17th. Why do you think that's happening?

McAdoo: "It's hard to just point to one thing. We still have a lot of football left to play as well. But I think it's a combination of all three phases. I'm sure if you ask the defensive players and the defensive coaches, they want to take complete ownership for it. But I think as a football team, we're not playing complete football in all three phases. That has a part to do with it. I think impacting the passer has a big part to do with it and being consistent stopping the run. That's where it starts and ends. And getting off the field on third down."

Q: You've allowed many more points in the second and fourth quarters (112) than you have in the first and third (44). Does that baffle you as a coach when you see that differential?

McAdoo: "You go back and you take a look at it, for sure. Two minute, we haven't been very successful on offense or defense. So I think it's pretty evident when you look at the numbers that way, and then you take a look at situations like where we are in two-minute on both sides of the ball. We haven't been very successful there and I think a lot of it points to that."

Q: (Justin) Pugh is not practicing and there is a chance you will start your sixth offensive line combination in eight games. Coaches always talk about continuity and communication on the offensive line - how has that been impacted by so many different combinations?

McAdoo: "I think that these guys have been around each other. Whoever starts at right tackle has been out at right tackle with (D.J.) Fluker at right guard. Whether they've started or not, it does factor, but the communication has been there and they have worked together in practice really all season long. We've approached practice since we got here in training camp rolling different players in there, because we weren't sure how the lineup was going to shake out. So we wanted to give guys every opportunity to work next to each other, and it just so happens that that's the case this year. I think continuity is important up front, but when you don't have it, it gives guys opportunities to show what they can do."

Q: Landon Collins said he hasn't been as dominant this year as he was last season. He said teams are sliding protections toward him and focusing on him in the run game. Do you see that?

McAdoo: "You have to know where the team's best players are, and Landon is one of our best players. He attracts a lot of attention from the opponent. They have a plan going in on how they want to deal with him. In the box, he is a nightmare in the run game, and he's very good at pressuring the quarterback. So their quarterbacks and their offensive coordinators are always in tune to where he is, and they have to plan on how they are going to handle him."

Q: Do you notice that they're focusing in on him more now than they did last year before he became an elite player?

McAdoo: "I just think that he had such a year last year where he was a very productive player for us, and he's still productive for us. But he was a very productive player for us last year. He was healthy throughout the entire season last year. And when you have a year like he had last year, teams are aware of him going into the ballgame, and they might have spent some time on him in the offseason and they're going to formulate a plan on a guy like that."

Q: From a football standpoint, will the secondary be able to adjust easily without Janoris Jenkins (suspended for Sunday's home game vs. the Rams) because they just played a game without DRC (Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who was suspended for the victory in Denver)? Or is it apples and oranges, because DRC plays so often in the slot?

McAdoo: "Jackrabbit (Jenkins) is one of our best players, but we're very confident in the defensive backs that we have. We have guys that are flexible, that are versatile, play different spots, can play inside, can play outside. So I'm confident we'll put a plan together and put these guys in position to be successful."

Q: Are you confident your kicker (Aldrick Rosas) and punter (Brad Wing) will have better second halves?

McAdoo: "Yes, I'm confident. (Brad) is a weapon for us. Give him opportunities to down the ball inside the 10. I'm confident that he'll get his season turned around. I'm also confident that Aldrick's going to continue to improve. He's a young player who continues to take steps, and he's only going to get better with reps."

Q: (The Rams') Todd Gurley is second in the league in yards from scrimmage. Is his improvement the biggest difference in their offense, or is it the eight new starters?

McAdoo: "He was a good player last year, and he has an opportunity this year playing more plays. They're having some more success on offense, they're getting turnovers, so they're putting him in position where they can get him touches - 30-plus touches a game is what they're doing, running the football, and he's getting a significant number of those touches. The more times you hand the ball to a dynamic player, the more first downs you get, the better he's going to be. The key is you just can't let him get started, because he can beat you in a variety of ways. He has speed, he has power, he has vision and the more he touches the ball, the tougher he gets."

Q: Five of their front seven on defense are former first round picks, but as you look at them on tape, is Aaron Donald clearly the lead dog up there?

McAdoo: "They have a lot of guys that can make a lot of plays in a lot of different ways in their front seven. They are explosive and they are fast. Donald definitely jumps off the film. He can get an edge, he can beat a guard inside. But they have a lot of guys that can make plays. (Robert) Quinn can make plays, (Michael) Brockers doesn't get the recognition that he deserves up front. Their two linebackers (Alec Ogletree and Mark Barron), they run like the wind and have a nose for the ball."

Q: They have (kicker) Greg "The Leg" (Zuerlein), (punter (Johnny) Hekker, (return specialists) (Pharoh) Cooper and (Tavon) Austin. For a punter, kicker, return group, is this about as good as you face this year?

McAdoo: "They're very talented and they're very creative on what they do with them. Hekker, he throws the ball like a quarterback. Very talented. We know Zuerlein can make them all. He's always one of the leading scorers in the league, it seems like. In the return game, you can even add (Cooper) Kupp to the mix. I think he's a pretty good returner right there with Cooper and Austin. They have a variety of guys on special teams that can factor in the outcome of a game. We just can't let them force us to play slow. We have to do our job, we have to know what our assignment is so we can play fast and aggressive and not on our heels."

Q: Can you do that knowing that they like to try tricks on special teams?

McAdoo: "That's the whole point. The threat of the trick stuff sometimes forces opponents to play slow and on their heels. We can't let that happen. We have a job to do. We have to know our job. Trust the man next to us so we can play fast and attack instead of on our heels."

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