- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The New York Giants' new offensive coordinator doesn't give away much. Ben McAdoo appears to have been trained in NFL coach-speak to a degree that would make Bill Belichick proud. Listening to him speak, it's easy to forget that he's only 36 years old and entering his first year as a coordinator and game-day playcaller. He projects confidence.
"I've been groomed for the position," McAdoo said Thursday in response to a question about how he will handle the challenges of his new job. "You have to prepare for everything you do to be successful in this business. Calling plays is no different. You have to put the time in. It's the planning. It's the planning with everybody on the staff. It's the planning with the quarterback. Just trying to be one step ahead of the game."
McAdoo has been planning for some time. He spent the past eight years as an assistant coach for the Green Bay Packers under Mike McCarthy -- a head coach who runs his own offense and calls its plays on game day. By the time the Giants hired him in January to replace Kevin Gilbride, McAdoo had spent a good amount of time imagining the way he'd run an offense. After the hiring, he spent a good amount of time talking with Tom Coughlin and the rest of the Giants' coaching staff about how they would all run this one.
"We've put in a lot of time together," McAdoo said. "It's a talented staff, a high-character staff, and we spent a lot of time together before the players got here. It was a little bit of an extended offseason, and that helped us as coaches. We spent a lot of time together and tossed around ideas. We all like football, we all love football and enjoy talking about it, and that goes a long way."
McAdoo insisted, as he has before, that "this is going to be the Giants' offense, not my offense." But no one is pretending there hasn't been a lot of new stuff to learn. McAdoo counted 12 offseason practices the team has had against its own defense, and he seems to think the progress is moving at the speed with which he would expect it to move -- slowly.
"After 12 practices, by no stretch of the imagination do we have everything mastered," McAdoo said. "But they understand the identity that we're looking for. We're making small strides. Our goal is to be sound, smart, tough and committed to discipline and poise. At this point in time, we're not there. But we're getting close."
McAdoo is going to be light on specifics, likely by design. Asked about the tight end situation, he said, "I think we have a nice group right there. We have big men in the room. I like the way they think about the game. I like the way they're moving around on the field. And when we get the pads on, that's when we'll know where we are."
He used "I like the way he thinks about the game" in an answer to a question about quarterback Eli Manning, too. He also said of Manning, "Eli is very humble. He's a guy that is very anxious and very excited to be a part of something. He didn't have the year that he wanted to have last year, and we didn't talk about this, but what I see is a guy who's a consummate pro and is excited to move on."
He said he likes to use a fullback, and that both Henry Hynoski and John Conner have "done a nice job" so far. He praised Rashad Jennings and Rueben Randle when asked about them specifically. He called Trindon Holliday, who was signed as a return man, "a pleasant surprise" for the work he's done so far in the offense. He understands that the Giants turned the ball over 10 more times than any other team in the league last year, and he thinks he can help fix that.
"Watching the film from last year, it's no secret they didn't protect the ball as well as they would have liked to," McAdoo said. "And we've made strides already, I believe, this offseason, in doing that. The fundamentals are a big part of it. Decision-making is a big part of it. And yes, it can be fixed, and yes, I believe it will be fixed."
But whether he agrees with it or not (and it seemed he didn't want), McAdoo's own job performance will be a big part of the story of the Giants' 2014 season. He is well regarded as a smart, talented young coach, but this will be his first experience as a coordinator. He likely will make mistakes, as anyone does when new at something. He likely will have a lot to learn. He's likely to be better at it in 2015 than he is in 2014. He seems to know this.
"Building relationships and having strong relationships is an important part of pro football," he said. "It's difficult in Year 1 to do that. You usually have to go through some things together to have a strong relationship. So that takes time."
McAdoo and the Giants have time -- both to get ready for this season and to grow together to be productive in the seasons to come. His ability to help them all do that together will be watched very closely, starting in training camp a month from now.