Game Ball Goes to Coach McAdoo
for demanding the New York Football Giants take better care of
WEEK TWO FINAL
New York Football Giants: Coach McAdoo's reinvestment in the run, and Doing It For The Duke will get him far.
After two games head coach Ben McAdoo is undefeated.
Make no mistake, there's great value starting 2-0 in a 16 game season. After all, you can't win division titles in September, but you certainly can lose them. So, give the man his due.
But what Coach McAdoo has actually accomplished in two short weeks as first time head coach of the Giants needs more context.
Passing Aggressive Personality Disorder: Eli, Gilbride, and Coughlin.
For better and for worse, Eli Manning and former offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride spent years routinely leading the NFL in most yards attempted per pass - all with Tom Coughlin's blessings, of course.
Their system was good enough to win a pair of Super Bowls. But on a year-in-year-out basis, such high risk/high reward down field passing would certainly increase Manning's odds of getting intercepted.
Sure enough, in 2007 Eli led the league in interceptions during his first season under Gilbride. In 2010, Eli attempted his most passes under Gilbride to that point of his career, and wound up topping the league for a second time with 25 interceptions. By 2013, times grew considerably more dire for both Kevin Gilbride and Tom Coughlin. In his final season under Gilbride, Eli Manning led the league in interceptions for a third time in his career, which perhaps more than anything, spoke about the Giants depleted running capabilities, poor defense, and overall mounting desperation.
With the Giants disappointing 7-9 record requiring a sacrificial lamb, Kevin Gilbride took the hit for his friend Tom Coughlin by notifying the organization of his retirement from football.
Say what you will about Kevin Gilbride (I do), he still maintained a balanced attack. Although he often drew the ire of Giants fans (myself included) for what I called his endless search for the perfect pass play, he knew how and when, and did utilize his running game effectively (creativity withstanding) ... back when the Giants could. But once center Shaun O'Hara retired, the rest of the offensive line and running game deteriorated in kind shortly thereafter.
That's a main reason why by 2014-15 Tom Coughlin had become an exponentially desperate head coach, who perhaps limited much of new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo's play calling autonomy.
Coughlin all but abandoned his already inconsequential running game that now featured an untenable, counter-productive four back rotation. At the same time, Eli was setting career highs with 600+ pass attempts in consecutive seasons as the Giants began incorporating a more west coast style system.
But after two straight 6-10 seasons and 12 seasons overall as head coach of the New York Giants, Tom Coughlin unavoidably gave way last year for the promotion of Ben McAdoo.
Meet the New Boss
Jerry Reese arguably dealt Coughlin a losing hand in his latter years as head coach. For the moment, that remains another matter.
Today, after just two weeks of play, there's little debating how much more head coach McAdoo is benefiting from better quality personnel, particularly on defense.
As offensive coordinator, he noticeably shortened up Manning's passing game, thus making him a more efficient quarterback. Eli limited himself to 14 INT's in each of his two seasons under OC McAdoo.
But the most welcome change from one regime to the next has been head coach McAdoo's reinvestment in the running game.
Last year, the Giants threw the ball 76 times, and only rushed 42 times through the first two games of the season against Dallas and Atlanta. The Giants utilized four different backs against Dallas, while three rushed in week two against Atlanta.
This season, first year head coach McAdoo and first year offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan have elected to pass 69 times, and rush 52 times. Rashad Jennings and Shane Vereen have been the lone ball carriers, with the exception of Orleans Darkwa making his first and only rush of the season against the Saints.
All this sort of confirms Tom Coughlin's operational level of desperation. The change is proving refreshing.
All that being said, once is an event, twice is a coincidence, and three times is a trend. So let's see how things play out in Week Three.
Tugging at Big Blue's Heartstrings
Ben McAdoo spent ten years working under Mike McCarthy in New Orleans, San Francisco, and of course in Green Bay, prior to his arrival in New York. With a credible resume, hiring McAdoo as offensive coordinator in 2014 was viewed, then, as somewhat of a layup - easily chalked up to career progression.
Instead, the general apprehension lay in having a 39 year old head coach.
Anyone savvy enough to invoke The Duke is wise beyond his years. Perhaps a calculated move on McAdoo's part, but one that should have some members of the media feeling embarrassed of themselves for not catching it.
Starting the season 2-0 is nice too.
I'm sure Wellington would approve.