Tuesday, January 19, 2016

J-Speaks: "Big Blue's" New Headman

In 12 seasons under the guidance of head coach Tom Coughlin, the New York Football Giants won three National Football Conference (NFC) titles (2005, 2008 and 2011) and two Super Bowl titles (XLII and XLVI). The last four seasons however have been ones to forget with now playoff appearances and including this past season going 6-10 three consecutive losing ones. In the minds of the fans and the organization, it was time for a change and both the organization and Coughlin decided it was time to part ways and find a new leading man to run the show. In a 10-day span, the team interviewed six possible candidates and last week they found they found their new man in the guy that made their offense one of the best in the NFL the past two seasons.

Last week, the Giants introduced Ben McAdoo, the team’s offensive coordinator the past two seasons as the new head coach of the team on a four-year deal. Terms of deal were not disclosed.

He is the 17th head coach in their storied history and at age 38 is the second youngest head coach in the NFL, behind Miami Dolphins new head man Adam Gase at 37 years of age and is just 3 ½ years older than the Giants two-time Super Bowl winning signal caller Eli Manning.

Whether the team made the right choice remains to be seen, but McAdoo felt right at home when he was officially introduced by the Giants as their new head coach this past Thursday.

“This job is not for the faint of heart and I’m the right man for the job. I like the pressure. This what you live for,” McAdoo said. “This is the opportunity of a lifetime. It’s the football capital of the world. What could be better?”

The major hope is that this hire by Giants’ president and CEO John Mara does not end like the one his father Wellington made back in 1974.

Back when John was in college, Wellington hired the late great defensive coordinator Bill Arnsparger of the famed “No-Name Defense,” of the back-to-back Super Bowl champion Miami Dolphins, including their perfect 1972 season, where they went 17-0 under the direction of Hall of Fame head coach Don Shula.

Following the 24-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl III, Wellington Mara hired Arnsparger to be the new head coach of the Giants. He lasted just 35 games, going 7-28 before being fired midway through the 1976 NFL campaign.

What should give Giants fans comfort that they made the right decision in who they made their new head man on the sidelines is that in two seasons as the team’s OC, the Giants offensive production has been one of the best in the NFL, just like he helped Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers offense at his prior stop become one of the most prolific in the league.

Prior to the arrival of McAdoo, who the last seven seasons as the tight ends and then the quarterback’s coach of the Green Bay Packers, the Giants averaged 307.5 yards per contest and scored a total of 294 points, an 18.4 average in 2013. In 2014 under the guidance of McAdoo, Giants averaged 367.2 yards per game and scored a total of 380 points, a 23.8 point average and this past season, the Giants averaged 372.3 yards per game and scored a total of 420 points, a 26.3 average.

“He’s been an offensive coordinator for two years and ideally he would have been a coordinator for longer than that,” Mara said this past Thursday. “My instincts told me he’s the right guy.”  

One person happy with the team’s decision is Eli Manning, who has had the two best seasons of his career with McAdoo as the play caller.

His completion percentages of 63.1 and 62.6 over the past two seasons respectably have been the best of his career since four straight seasons of 60.3, 62.3, 62.9 and 61.0 from 2008-11. He has thrown for over 4,000 yards the past two seasons, which includes a career-high of 4,416 this past season. The 2010 season is the only time that Manning had thrown for over 30 touchdowns with 31. The past two seasons, Manning has thrown 30 and 35 touchdowns the past two seasons and after throwing a career-high 27 interceptions two seasons ago, he has thrown just 14 the past two seasons.

“I’m excited. I’m excited for the Giants’ organization and for the team,” Manning said this past Thursday. “I think Coach McAdoo is a great coach, a great teacher, and will be a great leader of this team.”

The only thing that might give people pause about the Giants new hire is the fact that McAdoo has never been a head coach at the high school, collegiate or pro football level.

His journey to being the Giants head coach began in 1996 as an assistant coach for the Homer-Center Junior/Senior High School Wildcats in Homer City, PA for two years. In 1998, McAdoo was an assistant coach at Indiana Area High School for two years.  

In 2001, McAdoo was the special teams and offensive assistant for the Michigan State University Spartans. One year later he became the tight ends and offensive line coach for the Fairfield University Stags in Fairfield, CT before the program was disbanded. In 2003, he served as an offensive assistant at the University of Pittsburgh Panthers.

His first NFL opportunity came for the New Orleans Saints in 2004 as an offensive assistant coach/quality control coach. He moved on the next year to the San Francisco 49ers as an assistant offensive line coach/quality control coach.

Prior to joining the Saints in 2004, McAdoo was hired by the University of Akron as an assistant coach, but left after the recruiting process.

In early 2005, McAdoo was hired to coach the offensive tackles and tight ends at Stanford University in early 2005, but left the Cardinal after the spring to join the 49ers.

While he may be young, McAdoo from his track record has been around football a long time and has been a part of some solid college football programs and some solid NFL teams. On top of that he learned from two of the best in the aforementioned Coughlin and Super Bowl winning head coach of the Packers Mike McCarthy. More than anything he brings a familiarity and a presence something that co-owner John Mara said the Giants were looking for in their search for a replacement of Tom Coughlin.

“We wanted to find somebody who had the intelligence. The determination and the work ethic and the leadership skills to be a successful head coach in the National Football League,” Mara said this past Thursday.

While McAdoo was very mum about who will be on his coaching staff, it is expected according to reports that defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will remain in his position.

Sources also say that “Big Blue” quarterback’s coach Mike Sullivan will be promoted to offensive coordinator and former Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin, who worked with McAdoo in Green Bay will join the Giants as their new quarterback’s coach and possibly their new assistant coach.

What will not change for the Giants under McAdoo is that the clocks at the Giants training facility in New Jersey will always be five minutes ahead. It was something that Coughlin did in his time with the Giants saying that if you were five minutes early you were on time.

One thing that McAdoo did make clear is the philosophy that he wants his team to be at all times when the 2016 season begins and that this new era of Giants football is an evolution, not a revolution.

“Our offense. Our defense and special teams must play as one and our identity will be sound, smart and tough. Committed to discipline and poise,” he said this past Thursday.

For the Giants to get back to the playoffs though, the roster must be improved on all sides, especially at the defensive end where the Giants to put it bluntly were God awful. That responsibility of reshaping the roster via the NFL draft this April and free agency falls in the lap of the aforementioned Mara and General Manager Jerry Reese, if you had a chance to check out CBS Sports Network’s “Time to Schein” with Adam Schein has been calling for the firing of Reese the past couple of months.

“We’ll make tough decisions together and we’ll build a football team with a winning tradition that we’ve always had around here,” Reese said this past Thursday.

McAdoo echoed the sense of urgency of this upcoming off-season saying that he “looks forward to working with the Giants’ GM.

“We have a lot of work to do, and it will take a collaborative effort for Jerry and I to achieve what is always the goal for this franchise: another Lombardi Trophy.” 

When the New York Football Giants and Tom Coughlin, who should be in the Hall of Fame when his moment comes decided to part ways after 12 seasons, the organization needed a new voice to get them back to the top of the NBA mountain. They hope that McAdoo is that guy and that voice to do that.

Whether he has the kind of career like some former NFL assistants who went on to become Hall of Fame or future Hall of Fame head coaches with multiple Super Bowl victories like Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Joe Gibbs or Bill Walsh remains to be seen.

The hope is that he is not a former great assistant who flamed out as the head man on the sidelines like Romeo Crennel, Todd Haley or most recently Jim Tomsula or Mike Pettine, who were fired at the end of this past season by the 49ers and Cleveland Browns respectably.

Information, statistics and quotations are courtesy of 1/16/16 6 a.m. edition of WABC 7 “Eyewitness News This Morning,” with Michelle Charlesworth, Rob Nelson and Amy Freeze, report from weekday sports anchor Rob Powers; 1/17/16 5 p.m. edition of WABC 7 “Eyewitness News,” with Sandra Bookman, Joe Torres, Jeff Smith and Laura Behnke, report from weekday sports anchor Rob Powers; 1/15/16 Newsday article “Big Ben Officially Big Blue Boss,” by Tom Rock; 1/16/16 Newsday column “Owner: Much Ado About Mac,” by Bob Glauber; http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Arnsparger; http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_McAdoo; www.espn.go.com/nfl/player/stats/_/id/5526/eli-manning; http://en.m.wikpedia.org/wiki/List_of_New_York_Giants_head_coaches; http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairfield_University.

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