By Jason Keidel
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The molars of Big Apple media have chewed up a few sports celebrities over the decades, spitting out stars of all stripes.
And had someone told you that Ben McAdoo was 13-15 in nearly two years as head coach of the New York Giants, you’d understand why they fired him after the second season. But then you would have no idea what really happened.
What makes Monday’s Big Blue purge so surprising was the fact that McAdoo led the club to an 11-5 record last year. But even then, perhaps we should have read some signs in the playoffs, when Odell Beckham Jr. led that “Love Boat” trip to Florida, which spawned a rap album-type cover photo and surreal scrutiny for the Giants who posed for it.
The media and masses conceded that Beckham broke no rules or laws by taking the trip but warned that the mercurial wideout better produce at Green Bay that Sunday — or else. Beckham bombed, as did his Giants. And perhaps that was a precursor to this season, which went wrong in just about every way possible.
Sure, the G-Men suffered a biblical swarm of injuries, more than any team west of New England could overcome. So that explains why the Giants can’t repeat their 2016 season. But it doesn’t explain the implosion of the 2017 season. Ever since that playoff game, the Giants felt like they could walk off the field, walk all over McAdoo, flout the rules and play like part-time players.
During his WFAN show Monday, Mike Francesa was asked by one of his callers if McAdoo “messed things up so bad” that he just had to be fired so quickly, profoundly and publicly.
“Yes,” Francesa answered. McAdoo fouled things up that badly. It’s a writer’s job to provide context or logic or perspective, but it’s hard to convey how far the Giants fell from just 11 months ago. McAdoo lost his way, and the locker room. At times, he looked like he not only wasn’t the coach just last year, but never had coached a football club at any level. His preteen doppleganger in the stands, the boy who’s mimicked McAdoo so well the last two years, seemed more qualified to coach the New York “Football” Giants.
In a season of equal parts turmoil and toxicity, McAdoo turned an 11-5 club into a lazy, mutinous bunch that all but boycotted the season on the head coach. McAdoo looked bewildered or befuddled, sounded lost and coached lost. During postgame pressers, he stuttered and stammered his way past basic questions. And the year, the team, the job became so colossal or complex that he decided to bench the one player who could handle it all.
And that’s what’s so weird about the timing. Why now? Not because McAdoo or general manager Jerry Reese deserves to finish the season. But why wait until they humiliate iconic quarterback Eli Manning? The moment benching Manning in favor of Geno Smith sounded like the most palatable option, co-owner John Mara should have taken a giant broom to Giants management.
This season was a wholesale failure, on all levels, from the ball boy to the owner, from the guy who washes the jock straps to the man who cuts the checks. Shame on McAdoo for blowing it. But you could argue he was never the right man for the job. Shame, shame, shame on Reese, who follows McAdoo out the door and onto the unemployment line. He knows better.
The only reason Reese has been here for a decade is because of two Super Bowl victories, won by the very same man he benched. Maybe it’s equally telling that Reese wasn’t the man who drafted Manning, but rather it was Ernie Accorsi. Now both McAdoo and Reese can stew on that when they apply for their next job, whatever, wherever, whenever that is.
Please follow Jason on Twitter at @JasonKeidel