With Giants quarterback Eli Manning struggling again, some are suggesting that former Giants coach Ben McAdoo had something positive cooking under that head full of Brylcreem. (And/or something up the sleeve of that giant suit jacket.)
Yes, some are saying McAdoo was right last year when he abruptly benched Manning for Geno Smith. The voices making that argument include, you guessed it, current Chargers backup Geno Smith.
“Y’all owe my boy Mac an apology,” Smith declared Friday morning on Twitter.
It’s not a surprising take, but it’s incorrect. McAdoo was not a good head coach. He wasn’t a good head coach in part because he didn’t understand that the job is about much more than Xs and Os. The slicked-back hair and the David Byrne blazer became obvious evidence of a deeper failure to understand the importance of appearances for NFL head coaches.
And it’s much more than how a guy combs his hair or wears his clothes. McAdoo never understood the importance of properly selling big decisions, like the sudden benching Manning for a journeyman who had no more of a chance to be part of the solution for the team than I did. McAdoo should have spent time building a clear consensus inside the building. He (or someone else) should have been talking to local and national media members in advance of the move, nudging them toward writing and talking about a benching with the promise of being proven right becoming the lure. He should have been working with team P.R. employees to come up with other ideas for planting the seed that the time had come for Eli to take a back seat, and for getting the fans to get behind it.
So while McAdoo may have been right about Eli’s performance, McAdoo was wrong in every way he handled it. He was so wrong that it feels like the new regime may have no choice but to wait for Eli to retire — or to wait for enough of a groundswell to emerge among a fanbase that is willing to keep giving him the benefit of the doubt to reach the conclusion that he needs to go.
As an already-lost season continues to unfold, the proof may continue to emerge that Manning needs to make his exit. Maybe he’ll do it on his own. Or maybe the Giants will simply make the decision and live with the consequences.
They should have made the decision in the offseason, either by taking a quarterback with the second overall pick in the draft or by signing one of the various free-agent options (Case Keenum thrived under new coach Pat Shurmur in Minnesota) and still taking running back Saquon Barkley at No. 2. But the bungling of the situation by Ben McAdoo last year took that option off the table and forced Shurmur and Dave Gettleman to renew the franchise’s vows with Eli.
Now, they have to decide between waiting for Eli to pack up his things and leave, or doing it for him.