2016 started out for the New York Giants with Tom Coughlin ending his 12-year tenure as Giants head coach. Coughlin’s career in New York was a roller coaster as Big Blue won two Super Bowls but missed the playoffs for four consecutive seasons. While several were brought in to interview to replace Coughlin the decision was made to promote Ben McAdoo from offensive coordinator to head coach. And while there were negative remarks about McAdoo’s suit at his introductory press conference McAdoo was hired to be a football coach not a fashion plate.
In the win column, Big Blue had a tremendous improvement as the 2016 Giants were 11-5 and a major improvement from 6-10. Yet was that improvement from coaching or an overhauled roster by general manager Jerry Reese? The defense was improved via free agency as Janoris Jenkins, Damon Harris, and Olivier Vernon helped transform the Giants defense. The defensive unit that surrendered five 4th quarter leads in 2015 did not squander one 4th quarter lead in 2016. Steve Spagnuolo was the guru calling the defensive plays not McAdoo as Spags earned his reputation as a great defensive mind when Spagnuolo devised the game plan that stopped and prevented Tom Brady winning Super Bowl XLII and finishing an undefeated season.
And when it came to an offense that had a two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback and dynamic wide receiver the offense did not perform anywhere near as well in 2016 as they did in 2015. In 2015 the Giants offense scored 20 plus points 13 times but in 2016 only scored over 20 plus points 7 times and failed to score over 20 points in the entire month of December and in their playoff game against Green Bay. What is most alarming is the offense was McAdoo’s responsibility and McAdoo was calling plays for the offense. Big Blue’s offense was incapable of finishing drives towards the 2nd half of the season and had to rely on the big play to score.
There was one trademark that McAdoo developed in his first year as head coach and that was going for it on 4th down. Big Blue went for it on 4th down 19 times which ties them for fourth in the NFL and converted 9 on those opportunities. Two of those conversions were the game-winning score with the first being week 6 against Baltimore and the second being week 10 against the Bengals.
Another positive for McAdoo in 2016 was that at the close of games there was no clock mismanagement. One of the major critiques on Tom Coughlin’s 2015 performance was the Giants clock management at the end of games especially in week one against the Dallas Cowboys. McAdoo calling for run plays would lead to the Giants gaining a first down to close out the game or the bare minimum have the opponent use their time-outs so when the opponent got the ball back the opposition could not use time-outs to stop the clock.
McAdoo and the Giants had a satisfactory 2016 but McAdoo’s legacy as a head coach is still to be written. Will McAdoo be the director of a Giant resurgence that leads to Big Blue becoming a powerful force in the NFL or will McAdoo stay as a head coach be short-lived? If McAdoo wins a Super Bowl he could be an honored hero such as Bill Parcells and if the Giants falter McAdoo stay will be short-lived and 2016 will be the only bright spot in McAdoo’s tenure with the Giants.