For the first time since 2003, the Giants are not led by Tom Coughlin. Ben McAdoo was promoted from offensive coordinator to head coach, and Big Blue is hoping the transition is more like Ray Perkins to Bill Parcells than Parcells to Ray Handley. While McAdoo is in charge, he does not plan to rule with an iron fist.
“Accountability is something that obviously starts with me and ends with me, but it’s something that we want to build throughout the locker room as well,” McAdoo said. “We want to have guys hold each other accountable for their actions. It’s good to have a solid locker room there and we think we’re off to a good start.”
For the returning players, it can take a little while to get used to a new coach, especially when the predecessor was there for 12 seasons.
“It’s kinda weird because something’s changed,” said wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. “Coach Coughlin leaving is huge. He’s the first NFL head coach I’ve had and will always be my first memory. But McAdoo is stepping in and he looks prepared and anxious for the season. He’s licking his chops. There’s something so exciting this year for the Giants and I can’t wait to be a part of it.”
Fans shouldn’t expect McAdoo to dramatically change his personality because of the promotion.
“I haven’t changed at all,” McAdoo said. “I’m going to be myself. I’m comfortable in my own skin and that’s how I approach it.”
While the fans enjoy highlight reel plays, such as Beckham Jr.’s circus catches, it’s the basics that will determine if the Giants can avoid a third straight 6-10 season.
“We want to train the way we play and that’s key,” McAdoo said. “We’re going to start each day working on fundamentals, whether it’s taking care of the Duke…We’ll have a period of blocking and tackling every day and we’ll have a period of taking care of the football.”
Now that he oversees the entire team, the first year head coach will have a chance to make the rounds with some players that he may not have communicated with before.
“When practice started, I was looking for something to do,” McAdoo said. “But I think that’s pretty natural in the grand scheme of things. I have a chance to get around the defense a little more and really the positions other than the quarterback a little bit more than I have in the past two years. That’s exciting for me.”
McAdoo oversaw an offense led by Eli Manning which was playoff caliber. Manning quietly threw 35 touchdowns but was let down by a defense that blew five games in the final two minutes. The defense will have to be the Big Blue Wrecking Crew if the Giants will play in the postseason for the first time since winning Super Bowl XLVI.
Having Jason Pierre-Paul for a full season instead of eight games should make a big difference. The two-time Pro Bowler missed half of 2015 because of his infamous fireworks accident.
“Yeah, the key is for every guy to stay healthy this yea,” Pierre-Paul said. “They brought in some help and that was a good move. That’s a big key: for me and my teammates to stay healthy this year and get after the quarterback.”
The defensive end expects to get back to the level he played at in 2011 when he was a First-team All-Pro and a Super Bowl champion.
“I am the player I used to be,” Pierre-Paul said. “There are just a couple of injuries here and there, but I’m okay. I want to be better than the player I was.”
One of the things that made the 6-10 record so frustrating was that the division was right there for the Giants to have. Washington won the NFC East with a 9-7 record and were quickly dismissed from the postseason by Green Bay.
All four teams in the division are looking for a 10-win season, but the Giants are looking in the mirror as opposed to Dallas or Philadelphia.
“Honestly, I’m just focused on the Giants and what we need to do and the changes we’ve made,” Beckham Jr. said. “We have had two very good, bad years; losing games by three points, little mistakes that cost us the game. Looking at the things that we need to correct and seeing all the new faces, that will definitely be able to help us out, I’m really excited about this season.”