As new Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo stood in full a sweatsuit counting down in the July heat, Eli Manning and the offense scrambled to speed up their pace.
It’s not a comfortable feeling for an offense which, under former offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride, seemed to enjoy an almost languid pace.
But that’s why McAdoo was hired—to spark the offense and shake things up.
Nobody was sure why McAdoo was wearing a sweatsuit—not even his players.
“I don’t know, man,” receiver Victor Cruz said when I asked what he thought that was about.
“That’s just him I guess.”
For many it was a surprise to see McAdoo get the nod. Even many Green Bay Packers fans don’t know all that much about him. While he filled some important roles for the Packers as quarterbacks and tight end coach, those aren’t positions many fans think much about.
The 37-year old Pennsylvania native has never held a post higher than assistant coach and never more than a position coach at the pro level, but as Dan Graziano of ESPN New York reported back in June, the Packers had been grooming him for this shot, although we can assume it wasn’t necessarily to call plays for another team.
So far, he has impressed his players, despite his inexperience.
“He’s a technician,” running back Rashad Jennings told me at one practice. “He’s very dialed into how he wants this offense run. He’s great at communicating and relaying all the information and we’re progressively seeing us grow on film.”
Technician, detail oriented, sharp—these are the words they use to describe him whenever the subject comes up.
Challenging would be another good adjective. McAdoo isn’t willing to take it easy on his veteran players. While the premise of the offense is to speed things up, thereby taking some pressure off quarterback Eli Manning, it’s taking him out of his comfort zone.
When I asked Manning how it felt to be installing a new offense for the first time since he entered the league he told me it made him nervous, but also was enjoyable.
“We still got a lot of work to do, a lot to improve on to get comfortable with myself, to get comfortable with my teammates and everything that comes along to be successful in an offense,” Manning said.
“I know we have a lot of work to do but am excited about that challenge.”
At this point in Manning’s career, a little shakeup isn’t a bad thing and his new offensive coordinator isn’t afraid to be the cause of it. McAdoo is also working hard to give his players the tools they need to succeed, though, and while progress can be slow, it’s still taking place.
Still, even when there is improvement, McAdoo isn’t satisfied with “good enough.”
Jennings said McAdoo wants things executed cleanly, even down to the smallest detail.
“That’s one thing he harps on, making the tape look like we want it. So, we work on the offense bit by bit, growing every day.”
There is a lot of talk about ownership and “our offense” and “our scheme.” The Giants offense very much has the feel of a combined effort—everyone has their role to be sure, but also are aware that they aren’t working in a vacuum.
The receivers know about what is going on with the running backs, who are up on events among the linemen. They know they need to rely on each other to succeed and improve upon a dismal 2013.
And that may be the biggest thing McAdoo has brought to this offense—a sense of ownership the team has in their own scheme that goes beyond the energy a new challenge and the potential production it could bring on a personal level.
Jennings—one of the best interviews at Giants camp, incidentally—put the vibe perfectly into words.
“Coming in here when it’s a brand new offense, every single guy in that locker room, we are taking ownership over it,” he told reporters. “This is our offense. This isn’t an offense we’re coming into that was here, we’re coming into an offense that is becoming ours. We’re learning it together, making mistakes together, growing together and we’re going to be successful together.”
While Ben McAdoo may not have the “on paper” experience that some other coordinators have when they get a coordinators job, he definitely has the plan and the preparation. By all accounts, he also has the backing of his players.
The Mike McCarthy tree may not have many branches right now, but it looks like it might be off to a good start in East Rutherford, New Jersey as Ben McAdoo tries to get the New York Giants back on track.
Even if we’re still not sure why he’s wearing long sleeves in 95 degree heat and 100 percent humidity.
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