Ben McAdoo threw a Hail Mary, hoping to connect with his players and perhaps retain his job.
The coach of the quickly unraveling Giants gave an impassioned speech to the players during their first full team meeting since Sunday’s 51-17 loss to the Rams and then reiterated his talking points to the media later on Wednesday.
The one that stuck out was by far the most outlandish, so much so that McAdoo himself even prefaced it as such.
Safety Landon Collins says the coach’s message is clear.
“You may think I’m a little bit out there,” he said of his 1-7 team, “but I believe we have a run in us. I believe to the core we have a run in us.”
The objective of that run?
“Win,” he said. “We can start this week. We have a run in us. I like this team. They haven’t flinched, they haven’t blinked … I look forward to playing again on Sunday and I believe we have a run in us.”
It may be too late for even a run to save the Giants, or McAdoo. ESPN on Wednesday quoted an anonymous Giants player saying, “McAdoo has lost the team.” That player cited the number of fines and suspensions he has levied against the players, McAdoo’s public criticism of players, as well as the rigorous Saturday practices McAdoo holds before the team travels to its games. “He run us into the ground and people wonder why we’ve been getting got.”
And that quote reportedly came before the shellacking from the Rams.
So what topics did McAdoo touch on in his wide-ranging speech that was as much pep talk as plea?
He wants the team to return to its identity. “Sound, smart and tough, committed to discipline and poise,” he said. “That’s something I haven’t been talking enough about and I got back to it.”
He wants them to respond to their adversity. “We’re disappointed with where we are but we’re not discouraged with where we are,” he said. “Everything is fixable. We have a lot of pride, a lot of fight in that room, and they responded as well.”
He spoke about getting back to basics, something the team tried to do earlier this season as well. “We talked about doing simple better,” he said. “We made it an increased emphasis this week. Asked the coaches to come up with a sound plan this week, a sound plan doing simple better. To teach and demand that the players study the plan. Prepare this week and be ready to go out and perform at a high level.”
He asked the older players on the team to take control and the younger players to step up. “It’s time for them to grow up and be men,” he said.
And he addressed how hard it is to digest all of that and believe it when the team is 1-7.
“Let’s begin again,” he said. “That was really the message for them. Don’t buy into the lies, the lies that your feelings are telling you. This thing is not about feelings. It’s a decision and let’s make the decision to begin again.”
That covers quite a lot.
“They’re probably thinking a couple of different things, but when I go into a meeting like that if each guy takes one thing then it’s mission accomplished,” McAdoo said.
That won’t be decided until after Sunday’s game, of course. And even if the Giants do come out on top, no one is going to look at their victory over the winless 49ers and suggest it is the start of some great turnaround to the season.
“We don’t want to lose to the worst team in the league and they don’t want to lose to a one-win team,” Giants linebacker and defensive captain Jonathan Casillas said. “That’s just how it is. Something has to give. I hope it’s us coming out with a W.”
If it isn’t, well, the mood and the atmosphere around the team will get even more toxic. McAdoo won’t be able to go back to the “we’ve got a run in us” speech. He’ll be hard-pressed to convince anyone that the Giants can win another game this season.
Amid all of it, the leaders on the team are trying to keep the locker room together.
“It’s a little delayed,” Casillas admitted. “We let it get out of control.”
A loss on Sunday would further that chaos and shake even more their belief in the character of the team. Asked about the perception that the Giants have already quit — on the season, on their coach, on each other — Casillas gave a less than absolute answer.
“Watch us this week,” he said. “If we show up like we did last week, then I might agree with you.”