- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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New York Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo held a conference call Thursday, the first time he's spoken publicly since the Giants hired him Jan. 14 to replace Kevin Gilbride. McAdoo is no Rob or Rex Ryan -- he didn't make any headlines with his initial remarks to the media. There were a lot of "at the end of the day's" and "first and foremost's" and a lot of platitudes about the importance of fundamentals. One of my first impressions was that he sounded, in tone and delivery, almost exactly like Packers coach Mike McCarthy. Which is no surprise, since the 36-year-old McAdoo has spent the past decade working for and training under McCarthy.
"I’m confident. I’ve been groomed for this position," said McAdoo, who has never been a coordinator or called plays on game day, as he will with the Giants. "It’s something that we train our coaches and our quarterbacks for. We’ve done it in Green Bay and it’s something that I feel very confident about. I’m excited for the opportunity, but at the end of the day, play-calling isn’t just about one guy pulling plays out of a hat. It’s the process that you go through during the week. A lot of it has to do with game-planning, and has to do with ranking plays in the plan. Everyone’s involved with it, not just coaches, not just the head coach, but the players as well. "
McAdoo was asked about some specifics, and here's what he had to say about them:
On whether he's a "West Coast offense guy": "Most teams in the league have West Coast principles built into their offense, and we’ll be one of them. We’re going to be an offense that has an identity, first and foremost. We’re going to be sound, smart, and tough. We’re going to be committed to discipline and poise, and at the end of the day, we’re going to hang our hat on the fundamentals."
My take: Every coach says the same stuff about fundamentals and about tailoring your system to your personnel. I look at McAdoo as a guy who has been thinking about this opportunity for a long time and is likely to incorporate some of what he's been trained in, some of what is already present and some of his own ideas. You don't hire a coach because you like his system. You hire a coach because you think he's smart and has good ideas and can communicate them to players in effective ways. That is what the Giants see in young McAdoo. His "system," such as it is, has yet to develop itself.
On what needs to be done to help Eli Manning recover from his 27-interception season: "Taking care of the football is the biggest factor in winning and losing games. Fundamentals can help you there. At the same point in time, everybody on the offensive side of the ball needs to play better. With that being said, everyone comes in with a clean slate. This is going to be a new operation on offense. There are some new coaches in place, there are some coaches who have been here who have been in different spots, but at the end of the day everyone has a clean slate. That’s how we’re going to start, and that’s important for the players to know. Also, winning in this league, the quarterback gets a lot of credit and gets too much credit. When you don’t play so well and you lose in this league, the quarterback gets a lot of blame and probably too much blame. But that is the nature of the beast."
My take: McAdoo's is a new voice in Manning's ear after 10 years of the same one. I think Manning will be energized by the change.
The importance of the screen game in the offense: "We’re definitely going to spend time in the screen game. It’s something that will be a focal point, and needs to be installed. We’ll have different types of screens, whether they’re sidewalk screens or half screens, so fourth and so on, just like everybody else in the league. At the end of the day, it comes down to fundamentals and guys getting enough repetitions where they’re productive."
My take: The deterioration of the screen game because of the injuries to and eventual departure of Ahmad Bradshaw was a huge part of why the Giants' offense went downhill the past two years. They absolutely need a running back or two who can help in the pass game as a blocker and a receiver.
What kinds of players the Giants have who might fit his system: "Well, first things first, it’s not my system. It’s our system here, and we’re building it right now. I’ve had a chance to meet different guys going through the building. It’ll be exciting. A lot of guys are in and out right now, so I haven’t had a chance to meet all of them. Victor [Cruz], we had over at the Pro Bowl, and Eli, it’ll obviously be exciting to get going with those guys. Henry Hynoski, I’m familiar with, he played at Pitt and Southern Columbia High School. I’ve followed him since he was in high school really. A lot of other guys. Rueben Randle, I had a chance to meet yesterday, he’s excited to get going. Just to name a few that I had a chance to talk to. Chris Snee has been in the weight room a ton, I’ve run into him and [Kevin] Boothe and all of those guys, so it’s been great seeing them and I look forward to getting going."
My take: I think Cruz is going to be huge for McAdoo as a guy who can make plays once he gets the ball in his hands, and I don't think it's a coincidence he's the first player he mentioned in this answer.