The McAdoo Report, Giants.com's exclusive weekly interview with head coach Ben McAdoo:
A look at the playmakers of the Giants' upcoming opponent
Q: You reviewed the tape from last week's game in San Francisco in a meeting with the players you called hard, tough, and brutally honest. Where did that come from? Were you fed up with what you saw the past couple of weeks?
McAdoo: "It was a reaction based off of the last game. It didn't have anything to do with the games before, it didn't have anything to do with our record, it was some of the things that we saw on tape that we can't have. That is what the reaction was based off of."
Q: When you go through difficult times, you can keep the same message and hope it resonates, or you can change it up. Have you been pretty consistent with how you're dealing with the players, and did you think it was time for a change?
McAdoo: "We've changed up the message quite a bit on how we do things. I think getting back and being more consistent is probably a good thing for us. You have to be yourself, everyone else is already taken. I think that's important. But at the same point in time, when things creep onto your game film that you don't see on the practice field, it's a concern and something that we had to squash right away and make sure that everyone involved - players and coaches - all knew that it wasn't acceptable. And it was a good meeting to be a part of, productive meeting to be a part of."
Q: You've had more than your fair share of disappointing games this year. Did watching the tape from the San Francisco game have a different feel in your mind?
McAdoo: "It had a different feel. Again, it's not every player, it's not every position group, and I want to make sure I don't divide the coaches and the players, because the coaches are a part of it, too. But there were things on the film that we don't want to have anything to do with, and it's the first time that I saw them this year. And I'm going to stick to that, because I believe that. Everything is correctable and everything is fixable. We've had some tough, disappointing losses, but the way we played and what we put on film in some areas, we didn't deserve to win that ballgame."
*Q: You have talked a lot about finishing, you mentioned it several times on Monday in your conference call. Finishing, the first thing that comes to my mind is tackling on defense. Does it encompass a lot more than that to you? *
McAdoo: "It's not just the defense. To me, it's finishing blocks, finishing runs, finishing patterns in the pass game. On the defensive side of the ball, obviously getting a man's hands off of you, even though you aren't part of a play. Tearing off of blocks, getting more than one man to the ball carrier and just that desire to finish the play. That's what the game is about, finishing."
*Q: A quote of yours from Wednesday was, "I'm built for this. A calm doesn't suit me, a storm does." Last year, it seemed like you had no storms – at least nothing like this. The better you do, the fewer storms you have. This year, you have storms, so does that suit you to take these challenges on? *
McAdoo: "I think last year our storms were off the field, not on the field. This year, our storms are on the field. When you go back and you watch us practice and you watch us prepare, we do a tremendous job preparing. Our players, our team, our coaches, they practice well. I'm going to say it again, we practice well and we prepare well. When we get to the game, we need to fight through adversity, we need to run to adversity and we need to run through adversity. When adversity strikes on game day, we haven't handled it as well as we need to handle it. Now, these next seven games, the story hasn't been written yet. We can go out, we can flip the script, I believe we will. I'm very confident, that's never been a problem. But the players have to be that way, they have to play that way. The coaches have to prepare that way, they have to get it done on game day. It's the players and coaches together getting it done."
Q: I think a lot of the questions that you were asked after the game were about the pass defense, but the run defense gave up 186 yards, which is out of character for this team. What happened in San Francisco?
McAdoo: "Well, we have the knowledge, we have the skillsets, the desire to finish is important. That didn't show up on a consistent basis. We didn't build the wall, set the edge and track the hip well enough. So some runs got out on us. And we missed too many tackles. There were times where we would tackle and we would have one man, one defender at the ball. We need more than one defender at the ball. We need to gang tackle, we need to populate the ball. That's a factor for it, it's not rocket science, it's still football. There are some things that we need to do a better job of and I can't wait to watch us on Sunday."
Q: Sterling Shepard had probably his best game as a pro (11 catches for 142 yards). He looked like one of those guys that rose above what was happening with the team. Can you talk about the game and effort he put in?
McAdoo: "Sterling tightened up a couple times in the ballgame. You wouldn't have known it by watching him play. He wasn't very comfortable - he was comfortable being uncomfortable is probably a better way to say it. Sterling is really emerging as a young leader for us. I like that about him. He's a confident player. It's good to see him get in his groove. He's had to fight through so many things in training camp and here in the season with injuries, and before those he was really hitting his stride. So it's good to see him hitting his stride again, and we have a lot of confidence in him. He's one of our better players, and he's willing to block for a receiver that plays in the slot. That has a big impact on our football team."
Q: Evan Engram has scored a touchdown in each of the last four games. Have you seen defenses playing him differently as the season has progressed?
McAdoo: "Evan gets a lot of attention. Evan and Sterling both get a lot of attention. We don't think that will change this week. He's a dynamic player in the pass game, he's coming along as a blocker. He's working on it, it's important to him. There are some things he needs to clean up. But his work ethic, his passion and love for football is refreshing. Evan was named a team captain this week. First time I believe I've named a rookie team captain."
Q: Eli Manning last week had one of his better games this season statistically. But he made one key error in the game, losing a fumble when he pushed the ball forward. Do you think that is an indication at times that he feels he needs to step outside of his comfort zone and do more than he really needs to?
McAdoo: "Yeah, we call that pressing, and there's no need to press. Anytime you press, you're going to make mistakes and costly mistakes. And that was a costly mistake in the ballgame, that cost us points and that's something that we can't have. He knows we can't have it. When we get down in the green zone, we need points. Turning the ball over can't be an option for us."
Q: Eli is going to make his 209th consecutive start on Sunday, which will place him second among quarterbacks in NFL history. You may be the only person in the building that can shrug his shoulders at that because you worked with the guy who made 297 straight starts. Do you see similar characteristics in Eli and Brett Favre in their ability to stay on the field and be there for their teammates every week?
McAdoo: "Two completely different personalities. Two guys that really love the game. Two of the toughest people you will ever be around. They won't talk tough, ever. Not with the way they talk, not necessarily with the way they communicate with other people, but just the way they carry themselves. You'd never know if they're fighting through things when they're going through them and fighting through them. Whether it's off the field or with their body. I think that iron man stat is a pretty impressive stat. A lot of respect for those two men."
Q: When the receivers went down and you signed (Tavarres) King, (Travis) Rudolph and (Ed) Eagan, you said there was an advantage because they were familiar with the system. Now you're signing guys like (John) Greco and (Akeem) Ayers who are not familiar with the system. How difficult is it to teach these guys on the fly?
McAdoo: "We want to take it slow just as fast as we can. They're in here, they're working hard in the meetings, acquiring the terminology and the knowledge they need to go out and function in our systems. It's not easy, but not many things are in life. But they're two guys that are capable."
Q: Let's talk a little bit about the Chiefs (who the Giants host on Sunday). Their quarterback (Alex Smith) has thrown one interception in 293 attempts. They've got playmakers in each position group, (Tyreek) Hill, (Kareem) Hunt, (Travis) Kelce. How tough is their offense to defend?
McAdoo: "I think Alex is playing at the highest level. You can't say enough positive things about the way he's playing the game. They ask a lot of him. He has a lot of things that he has to orchestrate with the offense. It's not the typical pro-style offense, but he's shown he's capable of running any offense. He's had a ton of coordinators during his career. I think it's refreshing for him, probably, that he's been in the same system now for a few years, so he doesn't have to bang around in a bunch of new systems. So I'm sure that helps him. But he's been tremendous at taking care of the ball in his career. He doesn't turn the ball over a lot, and he's comfortable playing that way. I think it helps his teams win. I've known him since he came into this league. He's a winner. He prepares tremendously and he puts the guys around him in position to be successful, and doesn't get a ton of credit. He doesn't get the credit that he deserves."
Q: You see one interception and 293 passes, sometimes that could be just caution and he might not be taking chances - but you don't see that on tape?
McAdoo: No. I think they're in a system where they essentially have running backs playing wide receiver. So they get them the ball in a variety of different ways. They don't necessarily run the typical pro-style passing game. They're west coast-based, but they have other ways to get their playmakers the ball. They're creative in what they do that way. So he may not have to air it out as much as a typical quarterback in this league has to do because of the system they play. That doesn't mean they don't throw it downfield or don't attack outside the numbers, but they do a lot of things where he throws the ball to get the ball out quickly and into their playmakers' hands and I think that's a part of it. He's a good decision maker when they have to throw on third down, second and long. But in first and second down in normal down and distance, they do things in close proximity quite a bit."
Q: Hill, Hunt, Kelce, to have very productive players in each position group, what kind of challenge does that present for a defense?
McAdoo: "I think it starts with Kelce. They like to post him up in the middle of the field. He's a post-up type player. He's a basketball-type player. And then with the speed that they have around him, it makes it tough to handle because you have a match-up problem with the tight end and then you have speed issues you have to deal with, with Hill and the other players they have out there. So you got to be on top of your preparation. Players got to get out there and recognize the formation, get lined up and you can't have any wasted movement on defense, or you'll be behind."
Q: Their defensive numbers are not good, but (Justin) Houston is a good player, (Bennie) Logan is a good run-stopper, (Marcus) Peters is an outstanding corner, (Daniel) Sorensen has been very productive at safety. When you watch them on tape, what do you see?
McAdoo: "Don't let their numbers fool you. They like to get after the quarterback, and they have a history of being successful doing it. They're coming off of a bye, so they'll have fresh legs. (Derrick) Johnson does a great job calling everything out. There is not a scheme he hasn't seen. He's been playing a long time at that position, very heady. Peters is a highly emotional, highly talented football get-it type guy. He recognizes a lot of things schematically, and he's not afraid to jump it and has the ball skills and skill set to back it up."
Q: They're one of the few teams that really have scary players returning punts and kickoffs (Hill and Hunt). How on point do your coverage teams have to be this week?
McAdoo: "Tough matchup on special teams. They have good coverage specialists as well. Their returners, they put a lump in your throat and they have probably three guys that can do it at a high level (including De'Anthony Thomas). So hang time is important, whether it's punts or kickoffs. Ball placement is important, making sure that we track the flight of the ball as we're covering is important and obviously we got to get them on the ground. It can't just be one man there. It has to be a swarm of blue around these returners, and get them on the ground."