New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo, who at least outwardly has been the picture of patience in terms of defending his 1-8 football Giants when others have criticized the lackluster effort sabotaging the pride in McAdoo’s “Tough, sound, smart football committed to discipline and poise” mantra, has finally had enough.
McAdoo, the Giants second-year head coach, has on several occasions, tried to reach his players through poems, outdated pop culture, and probably a lot of pleading and encouragement.
With those approaches apparently not reaching every nook and cranny of the locker room, the head coach took off the kid gloves and hit his players this week with a big and rather harsh dose of reality: identifying those players whose efforts just haven’t been good enough, in front of their teammates.
Did this message, perhaps the best and likely most effective that McAdoo has crafted in this lost season of broken expectations, finally resonate?
“I think it would put guys in a different attention span, put us on alert,” said cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. “Nobody wants to get caught, I don’t care what you say. Ain’t nobody want to have a play up there where you got to come back in the locker room and everybody is looking at you like you’re that guy.”
“Every man responds to that differently,” added linebacker Devon Kennard. “So, I guess we’ll see how everyone responds, but it’s definitely something that I would respond to, if that was me.”
“We needed to get snapped at a little bit,” said offensive lineman D.J. Fluker. “That’s part of being a coach, part of being a player, you need some fire to you. If you don’t get guys going, there’s no point, you’re losing everybody. If you get guys fired up, pissed off about the things they did, it will make them want to play better.”
But even McAdoo, a man who has taken pride in saying he has his finger on the pulse of this team, admitted that only time would tell if the message truly hit home.
“Until we get to Sunday,” he said, referencing the upcoming home game against the Kansas City Chiefs, “we won’t know.”
If it has indeed hit home and the Giants prove they can at least be consistently competitive than they’ve been the last couple of weeks, then McAdoo might very well have taken the first steps necessary toward saving a locker room that in some corners has spit on the face of what he’s been trying to preach in his efforts to build on last year’s 11-5 record.
If his message hasn’t hit home and the Giants continue to flop around like a fish out of water, then McAdoo’s next action should be to remove the repeat offenders from the lineup, regardless of who they are.
Despite what athletes will have us think, there are no friendly camp fire gatherings featuring Kumbaya. Guys in locker rooms are going to be cordial to each other, but like any workplace, you have smaller clusters of guys who are friendlier with some guys and not so much so with others.
Similarly, there are always going to be guys who don’t like the head coach for whatever the reason, but who still have an obligation more so to themselves to consistently bring their best and who have to understand that they have to find a way to put any personal feelings aside for the greater good of the organization, for the cause, and find a way to work together.
These are players who also need to understand that their poor efforts are not so much part of a plan to get rid of a coach they might not like, but rather are an effort that is sabotaging their own reputation.
As for McAdoo, yes, his roster is his roster. He’s not about to get an influx of new players to replace those he would no doubt have jettisoned yesterday if it were his call.
But you know what? If a player who was called out in that meeting continues to play like he doesn’t give a damn, that player needs to be removed from the lineup—permanently.
Because while in the end, this sport is all about wins and losses and any coach in his right mind would be foolish to remove those players who give them the best chance at winning, the coach who sacrifices his integrity and continues to allow unacceptable performances by star players who may or may not give a damn are, in reality, not doing themselves or the team any favors.