Leave it to the moribund Cleveland Browns to set the pace and start the head-coaching domino effect.
Once the ill-fated franchise hired former Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson as its next head coach, the Giants lost another strong contender to be Tom Coughlin’s successor. And with reports surfacing that the Philadelphia Eagles were very interested in hiring Ben McAdoo, 38, as their next head coach, Big Blue had to act fast to retain – and promote – their offensive coordinator.
Jackson was reportedly scheduled to interview for the Giants spot this week, which meant that when Cleveland scooped him up, and Philadelphia showed its hand, McAdoo was the guy Big Blue had to have.
Many within the organization had always thought the hiring of McAdoo two years ago was the greasing of the skid for eventually making him Coughlin’s successor. Thanks to back-to-back 6-10 seasons, the process was expedited, culminating with Coughlin "stepping down" from his post.
McAdoo’s hiring will be a popular one for at least two Giants – quarterback Eli Manning and wideout Odell Beckham Jr., as the duo has risen to prominence under McAdoo’s tutelage over the last two years. Besides Pittsburgh’s dynamic duo of Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown, there might not have been a better 1-2 combo in the NFL than Manning to Beckham.
When Big Blue’s potent battery publicly came out to support McAdoo as a viable candidate, it effectively sealed the deal. Beckham has had the greatest start of any wideout in his first two seasons, while Manning has enjoyed the best two-year stint of his career as well. Despite the successive 6-10 seasons, the duo cannot be at fault. Manning’s 2015 season was his best, as he completed 62 percent of his passes for 4,432 yards, 35 touchdown passes, and 14 interceptions.
McAdoo not only had his fingerprints all over that duo’s success, but on the offense as a whole, as Big Blue ranked eighth offensively in the league in total offense. It’s still uncertain who McAdoo would hire to man his former position, but there are murmurs that he may kick the tires on former Miami Dolphins’ head coach Joe Philbin. The two have working history together, dating back to their days in Green Bay under current head coach Mike McCarthy. Philbin was the team’s offensive coordinator, while McAdoo was the quarterbacks coach in the 2012 and 2013, and the tight ends coach prior to that in 2006.
If Philbin is brought aboard, it plays into the Giants’ desire for continuity - - specifically on offense. Philbin obviously knows the offense, as he tutored both Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay and Ryan Tannehill in Miami. He shouldn’t have any problem meshing with Manning.
The offense was never the problem for the Giants, though, which means the franchise’s brass is banking on the chance that their neophyte coach can also inspire a defense that’s been among the league’s dregs. New York ranked 30th this past season in yards allowed per game. It’s unknown if McAdoo will retain defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who also interviewed for the Giants’ head coaching position.
But it now seems like the Spagnuolo interview was a courtesy call, because McAdoo might’ve been their primary target all along. This was ultimately all about Manning, 35, and the final years of his career, as the Giants didn’t want to waste the quarterback’s twilight by adjusting to a new system and coaching staff. The search for Coughlin’s replacement was conducted at break-neck speed by co-owner John Mara and general manager Jerry Reese, because of the way the dominoes fell recently – and because McAdoo was likely the guy they wanted all along to be the franchise’s 17th head coach.
Somewhere, those tears for Coughlin that Manning shed at the stepping down press conference have now dried and a tiny smile is likely creasing the franchise’s signal caller’s face.