The Final Word: Reflections on the Giants 23-10 Win Over Denver

Taking one last look at the story lines that emerged from the Giants 23-10 win over Denver.

The Decision

I’ll talk more about head coach Ben McAdoo’s decision to delegate the play calling in a bit, but first, I want to discuss the job offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan did.

The biggest reason I have been touting a switch to Sullivan as a play caller is because of his longer history in working with Eli Manning.

Sullivan, as I saw it, incorporated a little more play action into the game plan and, above all, he stuck with the running game, the latter being something McAdoo has rarely done since becoming the play caller.

I mentioned on Twitter that Eli Manning had averaged throwing the ball 40.7 times a game this year. Sunday, he attempted 19 passes, a steep drop-off.

There were two things I liked about that approach. First, the Giants cut down on the wear and tear the aging Manning had to take both to his arm and to his body.

The second thing I liked is that Sullivan gave the young receivers, many of whom had limited to no NFL regular-season experience, a chance to experience firsthand the speed of the game, which vastly differs from what they experience in the preseason.

Moving forward, I can’t see the Giants not getting their new receiving trio of Tavarres King, Ed Eagan and Travis Rudolph more involved in the games, but I really liked the “break them in” approach the game plan and play calling set up.

The Decision II

The Giants have an interesting decision to make once center Weston Richburg is out of the concussion protocol: Do they leave him on the bench and stick with Brett Jones at the position?

The most likely answer is Richburg will get his job back once he’s cleared. But should he?

Per Pro Football Focus, Orleans Darkwa, against the league’s No. 1 run defense, averaged 8.4 yards per carry running up the middle. In fact, the Darkwa’s biggest successes came on runs blocked either by the left guard and/or the center.

That raises another point, and something we at Inside Football saw on tape this week when we reviewed the game. We thought John Jerry, at left guard, looked like he’s been playing the position forever, that he was as comfortable at that spot as a man enjoying his Sunday easy chair.

Here’s a snippet of what we wrote in this week’s issue:

We need to see more from Jerry on the left side, but what we saw this week was extremely encouraging. His pass blocking was pristine. We didn’t spot a single glitch, including handling several stunts correctly. You’d think he was playing the left side his entire life.

Even more surprising was the success of his run blocking on that side. Jerry was keeping his balance, he was hitting people face up and keeping his big body between his man and the ball carrier with consistency. He even got out in space on a couple of snaps and got his man at the second level!

The adage is if it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it. This most recent offensive line configuration of, from left to right, Ereck Flowers, Jerry, Jones, D.J. Fluker and Justin Pugh, right now doesn’t appear to be broken.

To be fair, it’s only been one game. But if the same starting five players is on the field against Seattle this weekend and they continue to have the success they had last week, then it would be rather difficult to justify making another change.

And not to look too far ahead, but if ones remains at center and plays well, I’d have to think that will make the Giants decision on Richburg, who will be a free agent after this year, a lot easier.

The Great Media Divide

There were some questions raised about why the Sunday Night Football broadcast team was given access to information not previously made available to the best writers, specifically the four separate incidents (not three) that led to cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie’s suspension and the big fish—the change in play callers.

For those who might have forgotten, the networks pay big bucks to gain the rights to cover the NFL. As part of those rights, their broadcast crews and behind-the-scenes folks get to sit with each team the day before a game in what’s called a production meeting. That’s where information is generally exchanged freely.

Think about it. How else would directors know when to zoom in on a specific player? And do you honestly think the networks have a visual effects wizard who whips up graphics on the fly?


“The Entire Team Needed Me.”

Let’s revisit McAdoo’s decision to delegate the play calling to his offensive coordinator.

First, I have been asked by several readers if the decision was really McAdoo’s or if he was ordered to hand over the duties by either General Manager Jerry Reese and/or team ownership.

I have no inside information regarding how the decision came about, but what I do know about the Giants ownership is that they rarely order a player or coach to do anything—see the flap about the National Anthem as an example—co-owner John Mara reportedly asked his players to stand but added he’d support those who didn’t.

From what I can gather, team management generally likes for its employees to do the right thing. I believe that they believe if they leave the choice in the hands of the employee, 99.9 percent of the time the right decision will be made.

So that bring us to McAdoo, whom I believe did make the right decision in delegating the pay calling. In trying to explain his reason behind the decision, McAdoo twice made a reference to believing that the “entire football team” needed him.

Here is what he said during his conference call Monday.

I felt with the things that were taking place last week, that I needed to delegate play calling duty to Sully (Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan). …I felt like during the course of the week, I need to make sure that I was here for the entire football team and this organization anyway that I could be. We talk about doing what’s best for the team, and what was best for the team last week was for me to give up play calling duties. And yes, the head coach needs to be available for his team each and every week.”

As I noted on the forthcoming new episode of the Big Blue Chat podcast (which should be online later today), my perspective of what was happening inside the Quest Diagnostics Performance Center reminded me of a family on the verge of falling apart because the parent (the head coach) spent far too much time addressing a problematic child (the offense) to get it fixed, only to end up neglecting the other children in the family (defense and special teams).

The result was what we saw last week—a child, or in this case a couple of members on the defense Rodgers-Cromartie and Eli Apple) acting up out of frustration which no doubt got the parent’s (McAdoo’s) attention.

The change was made, and judging from what McAdoo had to say about it during his call, he sounded almost relieved.

“I think what can happen sometimes is, when you call plays your mentality may be a little bit different. Your personality may be a little bit different. So, I felt my personality came out a little bit more last night than maybe it normally has. I was still involved with the offense. I had a chance to buzz around and be around all the players, let my energy come out a little bit more maybe than I have in the past.

You’d like to think, especially given the results, that McAdoo will leave things as they are—and I think for this week at least he will. But what will happen down the line if the Giants should falter? Will he be quick to pull the plug on Sullivan calling the plays?

I would like to think that wouldn’t be the case, that McAdoo learned a very valuable lesson about what it means to be a head coach. But as the old saying goes, “We’ll see.”

The Rodgers-Cromartie Saga is Over…Or Is It?

In case you haven’t heard, cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has been reinstated after serving what turned out to be a one-game suspension.

DRC, a popular teammate in the locker room, will be back at work Wednesday when the Giants return from their days off Monday and Tuesday.

Presumably, both men have committed to letting bygones be bygones and have agreed to leave the past in the past.

But can they really do so? Will, for example, Rodgers-Cromartie be tempted to tell his side of the story if reporters are able to corner him in the locker room this week? Will McAdoo have his antenna up for the slightest sign of dissent?

The point is that once the bond known as trust is broken, it doesn’t repair itself overnight. It takes time to build trust and even more time to rebuild trust once the bond has been broken.

For the sake of the team moving forward, let’s hope that McAdoo and Rodgers-Cromartie are truly committed to expediting the process.