TONIGHT, McADOO GAVE UP PLAYCALLING DUTIES. The Giants won their first game of the season.
Coincidence? Of course not.
Sunday morning I wrote a blogpost called McAdoolusional, giving the Giants Head Coach great criticism. This was echoed by Steve Smith on NFL Network. Both criticisms focused on McAdoo’s unsuccessful playcalling and his reluctance to give up those duties. All the evidence pointed to his failure as a playcaller once he became Head Coach. Worse, we argued that this prevented McAdoo from doing his true job, managing the team. Beyond that, we also pointed out how McAdoo did not hold himself accountable, undermining his authority.
McAdoo finally fired himself. Or did he? He said he turned over the playcalling because “the entire team needed me this week.” My goodness, is that an ego-filled lame backout or what? Whatever. He did it. He quit for the better of the team. And you could see the difference.
It started with a revamped OL. Pugh is back at RT. Fluker can run block. Eli didn’t have to fear the reaper from the right side of his line. Sullivan stuck with the run against an excellent run Defense. Darkwa committed to his run assignments. Sullivan used Engram early and often in the passing game to take the pressure off the new WRs.
JPP had a good matchup against a weaker RT. He doubled his sacks in one game vs the first five, getting 3 this evening.
The Giants forced 3 turnovers, including a pick 6. The Giants played a lot better but the Offense is still a work in progress. It will improve when Shepard returns.
Naysayers can point out that the Giants only got 276 yds from scrimmage (148 run, 128 pass). The difference was that they didn’t turn the ball over, they didn’t kill themselves with penalties, they played against the #1 Defense, they did it with no WRs, and they showed up in the first quarter.
McAdoo, by whatever means, was held accountable. This is perhaps most significant. The players can put their bodies out there for a cause, knowing that the Head Coach (ultimately?) is going to be held to the same standard of performance that they are. The shame of it is that it happened 5 games too late. The season is still effectively over. At least they can grow and move forward. New players will gain experience. There is no playoff drive. But we can see Engram develop and salvage something from this OL.
Where does this leave McAdoo and Reese? If McAdoo’s change was purposeful and sincere, it is a start. If his lame spin, which logically would be true a long time ago, is part of his continued denial that he was the obstacle, then this will be just a blip. If he realizes that change is necessary when called for, even if he is the culprit, then that is progress. Let’s hope it’s the latter.
Change does matter, even for breaking predictability. Players break down film and spend many hours each week going over tendencies. The Broncos were aware of McAdoo’s tendencies and got thrown a curve. If nothing else, this move to Sullivan kept a strong defense off balance. At a maximum, it is part of an indictment of how 0-5 was underachievement. After the game, Tony Dungy was asked if this unexpected result was due to the Giants playing well or the Broncos playing poorly. His answer was quick and unequivocal- the Giants played well. While there was a “trap” nature to this game, the Giants earned this win from top to bottom. How can an 0-5 team play so well vs a credible opponent on the road? Desperation? Attention? Or all of the above? Regular readers know that this NY Giants blog has argued that McAdoo has underachieved. He schemed horribly the first two games and continued to make many mistakes thereafter. Even Collinsworth speculated that giving up the playcalling reins perhaps liberated McAdoo to become… THE HEAD COACH! In this light, we have to believe that if the Giants have enough talent to win vs Denver, they have enough talent to be more than 0-5. That is the waste we have railed against. That is the frustration of fans, who know that so much was left on the table. The season is gone because of hubris. So many changes were needed much faster to fix this weeks ago. “The entire team needed me this week.” How about “I wasn’t getting it done, so I needed to hold myself accountable.” 4 weeks ago.
For Reese, maybe he was paying attention to what kind of architecture won tonight: better OL play, a commitment to running the ball, and no WR fireworks. Reese is WR happy. He loves those toys. Tonight the Giants were without OBJ, Marshall and Shepard. Yet they won. Memo to Reese: build your team inside out.
For OBJ, your team was 0-4 with you in the lineup and it is 1-1 without you. OBJ is not bigger than the team. The peeing unsportsmanlike celebrations and other activities do not help the team win titles. Of course the star attributes are important but this win is a reminder that this player is only a part of a solution, not the solution. Collinsworth speculated fairly that maybe we had a Shockey moment… without OBJ in the huddle the Giants could do their job. When OBJ scores a TD and acknowledges his OL, that’s when a team is born. Instead, he’s too busy peeing or performing some new self-centered celebration. It’s old school, but I know the OL will play better when the star acknowledges their role.
Let’s see what McAdoo says about the playcalling questions posited by the media in the wake of the win. We don’t want to see ego involved with this. Team first.