Ben McAdoo's adjustments have Giants utilizing all their talent

Giants offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan looked like he was about to assume play-calling duties from Ben McAdoo in a massive change when he walked onto the field before Sunday’s game at MetLife Stadium holding a laminated, multi-colored play sheet.

It turned out Sullivan wasn’t taking the reins, but that was also practically the only element of the Giants’ post-bye week approach that remained the same for this 28-23 win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

McAdoo turned his rookie coaching season’s trajectory upside down – or maybe right-side up, rather – with a dramatically new Big Blue game plan, particularly with his personnel on offense to infuse life into what mostly had been a lifeless attack through seven weeks.

“We used a lot of different players today,” McAdoo said of his concerted effort to involve all of his players. “I think most of the guys on the roster played … We talked about using all the 46, rotate as many players as we can and get them some quality reps.”

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Or to put it another way, as undrafted rookie safety Andrew Adams said of the effect of so many players factoring on defense: “We’re basically utilizing all of our talent.”

Victor Cruz (one catch, 46 yards), in the most noticeable change, was phased out of the regular offense prior to his ankle injury in favor of Dwayne Harris and undrafted rookie Roger Lewis Jr. (30-yard touchdown).

Ben McAdoo changes things up with the Giants' attack and it pays off.

Ben McAdoo changes things up with the Giants’ attack and it pays off.

(Al Bello/Getty Images)

Turnover-prone tight end Larry Donnell basically was in the Witness Protection Program with Will Tye (four catches, 33 yards) and rookie sixth-round pick Jerell Adams (three catches, 24 yards) featured instead.

Rookie running back Paul Perkins (11 carries, 32 yards) not only saw more work but McAdoo leaned on the fifth-round pick instead of Rashad Jennings on the Giants’ final fourth-quarter possession for 17 yards and four consecutive carries prior to a poorly-called and executed Eli Manning interception.

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The Giants still can’t run the ball (24 carries, 54 yards, 2.3 yards per carry), but McAdoo even reintroduced the previously-injured Marshall Newhouse by using him as the “big tight end” in packages featuring six offensive linemen to be creative and show the Eagles defense an unfamiliar look.

The result wasn’t just a season-high in points but a constructive message of urgency sent to the entire roster.

“I think it’s always been a part of the NFL and definitely with the Giants,” Newhouse told the Daily News, “but it has definitely become clear that everybody here who shoots up to the 53(-man roster) are competing to be on the 46, competing for reps, and not only will you get to compete to suit up, you’re gonna have to be ready to go and be called upon.

Guys like Roger Lewis Jr. make an impact as Eli Manning spreads the ball around on Sunday.

Guys like Roger Lewis Jr. make an impact as Eli Manning spreads the ball around on Sunday.

(Bill Kostroun/AP)

“That just tells everybody to have their antennae up, and be ready to go whatever their role,” Newhouse added. “I think that just holds us as players to a high level of accountability. That can only be good for us, especially with the kind of talent that we have. You show your depth in games like that.”

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Some changes happened by default, like Brett Jones filling in for Justin Pugh when the starting left guard went down. But McAdoo exacted most of Sunday’s changes himself.

On defense, the coaches benched rookie Eli Apple in the third quarter. Pregame McAdoo also had deactivated healthy veteran corner Leon Hall despite the ninth-year veteran playing the fourth-most snaps among Giants DBs in their previous game in Week 7 in London.

The result of those two decisions was having fifth-year backup corner Trevin Wade guarding top Eagles receiver Jordan Matthews on Carson Wentz’s decisive fourth-down pass to the end zone that fell incomplete.

“They called timeout and I knew they were coming at me,” Wade said with a smile. “I was like, ok the best receiver, I’m guarding him, so they’re coming at me.”

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Andrew Adams was one of several players making their presence felt on defense.

Andrew Adams was one of several players making their presence felt on defense.

(Bill Kostroun/AP)

Adams, however, still the starter even with Nat Berhe back from a concussion, said the Giants are emboldened by the coaches’ determination to match skill sets of talented players to situations.

“You feel more confident when he’s putting guys that make plays on the field in certain situations,” Adams said. “We’re basically utilizing all of our talent. When coaches do that, that brings the best out of the whole unit. Guys are in position to make plays, and that’s better for the unit and the whole team.”

Lewis said the new offense was “a great feeling” as a receiver “because it seemed like Eli is starting to trust us, spread the ball around.” McAdoo even has changed his demeanor and readiness to criticize, with pointed frustration directed at Harris’ unwise decision to take a fourth-quarter kickoff out of the end zone.

“Was I happy we had the ball on the 12-yard line? No, I’m not happy we had the ball at the 12-yard line,” McAdoo huffed.

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The message of Sunday’s new look was clear: McAdoo knows the Giants need to get better. The players who make plays will get on the field to help them do so. And above all, everyone matters.

Tags:
ben mcadoo
new york giants
philadelphia eagles
nfl

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