Giants head coach Ben McAdoo has not had a good week. He suspended Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie indefinitely, and his decision was questioned by Giants fans, the local media and several of his players. He was forced to give up his play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan by ownership.
To make it worse, the winless Giants were 12-point underdogs by the bookmakers in their game against the Denver Broncos on Sunday night at Sports Authority Field at Mile High for three factors: Brandon Marshall, Dwayne Harris and Odell Beckham Jr. had season-ending surgery, not to mention Olivier Vernon (ankle), defensive captain Jonathan Casillas (neck), Weston Richburg (concussion), Paul Perkins (ribs), Romeo Okwara (sprained MCL) and Sterling Shepard (ankle) were out with injuries, the Broncos defensive line would have its way with the Giants offensive line and the Broncos always play well at home.
There was no time for McAdoo to feel sorry for himself. A football game had to be played, and he had to prepare them to the best of his ability. He went to work all week and despite all this turmoil, the Giants managed to put on their most complete game of their season, and it was good enough for them to earn a 23-10 victory over the Broncos.
McAdoo needed this win more than anyone in the Giants locker room. He is basically being evaluated by his bosses from now until the rest of the season to show he can lead the Giants now and beyond. He had to show his bosses that his players had not quit on him, and for one game, they played for him along for themselves.
For a day or two, he could enjoy life and get a good night’s sleep. He hasn’t had that in awhile. That’s the way it goes when a coach is not getting it done with his team having Super Bowl expectations. He has been under scrutiny for his coaching and for his leadership. This week did not help matters for him.
It remains to be seen where the Giants go from here, but for one week, he could talk about the Giants’ next opponent (Seattle Seahawks) instead of answering questions whether he lost the locker room or if his bosses have faith in him. Of course, don’t expect him to be evasive in talking about the Seahawks.
The Giants received contributions from the defense, the running back and special teams in this win. Jason Pierre-Paul led the Giants defense with five sacks, and Janoris Jenkins picked up an interception and forced Demaryius Thomas to fumble the ball. Orleans Darkwa ran for 117 yards on 21 carries. Special teams made sure Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian could not operate from a good field position.
The offensive line did a great job for a change in making Eli Manning comfortable on offense by protecting him well, and Darkwa was able to run with some holes available to him.
Watching this performance by the Giants should make John Mara, Steve Tisch, Jerry Reese and McAdoo wonder where was this from the start of the season. This is the type of performance the Giants envisioned Sundays during the fall. It hasn’t happened for whatever reason this year. Maybe it was overconfidence or poor coaching or lack of effort that contributed to better play.
For McAdoo, it was better late than never. What last night meant was it would have been hard for the Giants to be winless. Their talent is good enough for them to win at least four or five games. It should be good enough to win 12 games.
This season doesn’t have to be a lost cause. In this year’s NFL, an NFL team is only as good as last week. The Giants are capable of making a run. They can run the table, even though the schedule is not going to be easy. Still, if the Giants can play a game like Sunday night, anything can happen.
McAdoo has been blamed for everything that has gone wrong for the Giants, and it’s well-deserved. But he also deserves credit for navigating his own crisis by having his team ready to play from start to finish against the Broncos.
He knows there’s more work to do. A win was nice, but it’s not going to mean anything until the Giants built a five-game winning streak. This isn’t any Eureka moment by any means.
McAdoo could use another great performance out of his team next week and beyond.