The Giants’ 1-7 start is the team’s worst since 1980. They’re winless at home, and it’s wearing on fans. MetLife Stadium was nearly empty by the time the Rams’ beatdown of the Giants mercifully ended Sunday. When there were still enough people in the seats to be heard, fans chanted “We want (Tom) Coughlin,” asking for the former Super Bowl-winning head coach who stepped down after finishing both the 2014 and 2015 seasons with six wins.
Those are the kind of things that may concern owner John Mara. McAdoo? Not so much.
“I’m focused on the team,” McAdoo said, via Gary Myers of the New York Daily News. “Focused on the players. Trying to put them in a position to be successful. I’m not focused on the stands.”
That’s a fine philosophy. But he’s not getting it done — especially when there are reports that Giants players have stopped caring.
What happened against the Rams?
The defense looked like they absolutely quit against the Rams.
Not only did Jared Goff torch the secondary for a career-high 311 yards and four touchdowns with no turnovers, but the Rams ran all over the Giants. They put up 162 yards on the ground, with Todd Gurley reaching the end zone twice.
The Giants’ defense was the backbone of the team last season when they finished 11-5 and landed in the playoffs. Last year they finished the season ranked second in the NFL with 17.8 points allowed per game. They’re at the opposite end of the rankings this season. They’re No. 29 in the league for points allowed with 25.9 and have given up more yards per game than all but two teams.
The defense’s regression was unexpected, and the offense’s inability to improve is partly to blame. They’re 29th in the league for time of possession with 27:49 per game and their average drives lasts just 2:21. Their mediocre offense last year averaged 19.4 points per game; this year, that number is down to 16.1, ahead of only the winless Browns and 49ers, as well as the Dolphins.
The offense was just as ineffective against the Rams. Eli Manning was sacked twice, hit four times, threw a pick, and lost a fumble. Running back Wayne Gallman fumbled, too.
With McAdoo’s offensive background, there’s no reason this unit should be so inept. He built his reputation in Green Bay as the quarterbacks coach to Aaron Rodgers. He spent two years as the Giants’ offensive coordinator before taking over as the head coach after Coughlin stepped down. But New York’s offense can’t protect Manning, can’t run the ball, and can’t stay on the field long enough to score points this season.
To be fair, the Giants have been bit hard by the injury bug. They placed wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall on injured reserve. Another wideout, Sterling Shepard, has missed time with an ankle injury. Even worse for Manning? Starting center Weston Richburg is also on injured reserve. But those injuries don’t make McAdoo’s seat any cooler.
McAdoo relinquished play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan in Week 6 following the Giants’ 0-5 start. For that one game, a 23-10 win over the Denver Broncos, the offense looked revitalized. But that was short-lived — the team has lost its last two games by the combined score of 75-24.
McAdoo thinks there’s plenty of time for the team to rebound.
Coach McAdoo: We're only halfway through the season. We have a lot of football left to play. Everything is fixable. #NYGiants— New York Giants (@Giants) November 6, 2017
But the Giants have a whole lot to fix.
Has McAdoo lost the team?
Publicly, the players say no.
“I wouldn't say he lost the team. I have the utmost respect for him,” safety Landon Collins told ESPN’s Josina Anderson. “He's been doing a great job. Just trying to figure it out like we all are.”
Privately is another story.
"McAdoo has lost this team," an unnamed player told Anderson. "He's got us going 80 percent on Saturdays before we get on a plane to play a game. It's wild. Changed our off day. He's dishing out fines like crazy. Suspended two of our stars when we need them the most. Throws us under the bus all the time. He's ran us into the ground and people wonder why we've been getting got."
McAdoo has suspended his two top cornerbacks so far this season. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was suspended “indefinitely” after he left the team facility during a meeting with McAdoo. He ended up sitting out one game.
Janoris Jenkins was also suspended for what ended up being one game because he didn’t make it back in time for a practice. Weather delayed Jenkins’ flight, but he didn’t let the coaching staff know. Eli Apple and Paul Perkins both missed the same practice for the same reason, but they let coaches know why they wouldn’t be at practice.
Rodgers-Cromartie and Jenkins both broke team rules deserved to be disciplined. But suspending them doesn’t answer the bigger question: Do players have enough respect for McAdoo to do what’s expected of them?
It depends who you ask. Rodgers-Cromartie has backed McAdoo.
"It's everybody's fault,” he told Anderson. “It's not just one person to blame. Can't just blame Coach McAdoo. Can't blame [general manager] Mr. [Jerry] Reese. Can't blame the offensive staff. It's everybody."
However, another player said, "I feel like we really don't got a leader in Coach McAdoo."
His less-than-inspiring halftime speech apparently didn’t impress the team, either. According Anderson, one player said, “he didn't really have anything for us when we came back in the locker room.”
Still, McAdoo maintains the players didn’t give up, even in Sunday’s embarrassing loss.
Coach McAdoo: At the end of the day, the players did not quit. They had fight in them...we're going to stick together. #NYGiants— New York Giants (@Giants) November 6, 2017
Coach McAdoo: I talked to the team about getting back to our identity...we have a lot of pride and a lot of fight in that room. #NYGiants— New York Giants (@Giants) November 8, 2017
Are changes coming?
McAdoo hasn’t ruled out making changes to the lineup — including at quarterback.
“[Manning’s] our quarterback. But that doesn’t mean at some point in time, we won’t throw another guy in there to get a look at him. Every position needs to be held accountable and every position needs to play to a high standard. Same thing with the coaches. And obviously, when you lose in the fashion that we lost yesterday, it’s not good enough. Anywhere. Coaching or playing.”
Manning later waved off the comments, saying “My goal is to prepare every week and do my job.”
But Manning is almost 37 and this season is a bust. It’s not out of the question the Giants would want to see what rookie third-round pick Davis Webb could do.
And then there’s McAdoo himself.
Gary Myers from the New York Daily News caught up with Mara after he watched his team get thumped by the Rams.
“I think [the performance] speaks for itself, doesn’t it?” Mara said.
Mara stuck with Coughlin although the Giants missed the playoffs in each of the last four years of his tenure with the Giants. Earlier this season, when Giants finally got a win over the Broncos, he gave McAdoo and general manager John Reese a vote of confidence.
"I do hear what (fans) have to say, but at the end of the day, we're still in the middle of the season. We're trying to win games and do the best we can," Mara said, via Dan Duggan of NJ Advance Media. "I support both of them. You have to.
“It's hard enough to win in this league. But if the general manager and the head coach don't have the support of ownership, it makes it almost impossible."
The loss to the Rams, and the Giants’ 1-7 record, speak loud and clear. Barring a miraculous turnaround, Mara may have no choice but to move on from McAdoo after the season — or maybe even during.