With many calling for wholesale changes on the New York Giants in the wake of a dismal first half to the season, a relaxed coach Ben McAdoo took a very positive approach with his team heading into this week, telling the players he still believes in them.
McAdoo, who has been curt with the media in recent weeks as his team slipped to 1-7. He opened up a little and showed some personality in discussing this weekend’s game against the winless 49ers in San Francisco.
That was surprising with the Giants coming off a 51-17 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, the team’s worst margin of defeat at home since a 37-3 defeat to Green Bay in 1998. It led many to label the players as quitters; others called for the firing of general manager Jerry Reese and McAdoo, who last year led the Giants to the playoffs in his first season.
“Talked about let’s begin again,” McAdoo said after practice Wednesday. “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. We talked about, you know, you may think I’m a little bit out there, but I believe we have a run in us. I believe to the core we have a run in us.”
The key, McAdoo told the players, was being hungry in the final eight games, and playing simple, sound football.
McAdoo said everything the Giants did wrong against the Rams — and there was a lot — was correctable. The 40-year-old coach said the players were receptive to criticism going over the game film, and they worked hard at practice Wednesday.
The coach also realizes his team is fragile.
“They need to believe in themselves. They need to trust themselves,” he said. “The players know what works. Players know what got them seats in the room.”
Safety Landon Collins, who was beaten on two deep passes last Sunday, said the team is sticking together through all this. All it needs is to have some fun and win a game.
“If we do that, yeah, we can definitely make that run,” Collins said.
The Giants should get some players back this week. Linebacker Jonathan Casillas (neck) and offensive lineman Justin Pugh (back) practiced on a limited basis, and both were optimistic about playing Sunday. There is an outside chance defensive end Olivier Vernon (ankle) can play.
Pugh said the Giants have talent, noting everyone is talking about the Eagles (7-1) being the best team in the league. He then pointed out Philadelphia needed a last-second 61-yard field goal to beat New York earlier this season.
“We’ve shown flashes of doing some really good things, but we’ve lost and we’ve turned the ball over at crucial times and had plays that have really hurt us,” Pugh said. “We got to go out there and we got to change those things. We’re going to go out there and play hard for him, play hard for each other, and try to get this thing turned around.”
Casillas stated the obvious when he noted the Giants will not win any more games if they continue to play like they did in the loss to the Rams (6-2).
“Everybody looking at us now: ‘We’re the losers,'” Casillas said. “We’re the worst team in the league, we’re No. 31. So be it, I am going to take it for what it is. People don’t expect too much from us, so we can surprise teams.”