No matter how bad this Giants season gets, it is reasonable to believe that Ben McAdoo would stick around for a third season as head coach, even as they stand at 0-4 entering Sunday’s “0-4 Bowl” with the winless L.A. Chargers. This seemingly near-consensus view is based on several factors.
McAdoo led the Giants to an 11-5 record and their first playoff berth in five years as a rookie last season. He is only in year two of a four-year contract. The Giants rarely move on from a coach this quickly. And while Odell Beckham has criticized McAdoo’s offense, there is no mounting evidence the coach has lost his locker room.
And yet, still, isn’t it impossible to conclude that McAdoo is 100 percent safe?
Imagine if the Giants lose to the Chargers on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, falling to 0-5 after losing to an 0-4 team.
“We need to win a damn game,” a tense McAdoo said after last week’s loss in Tampa.
It would be just as accurate for him to say it this way: “I need to win a damn game.”
If the Giants lose on Sunday, they will be 0-5 going on the road to Denver, followed by a home game against the Seahawks before a Week 8 bye. The bottom easily could fall out. And while that seems like an unlikely doomsday hypothetical scenario, so did an 0-4 start until the Giants made it their miserable reality.
Think of this, too: If this season spirals out of control on McAdoo, and owners John Mara and Steve Tisch finally fire GM Jerry Reese for missing the playoffs an incredible five of the last six seasons, isn’t there a reasonable argument for firing both the GM and coach at once and starting fresh from top to bottom?
Although loss to 0-4 Chargers Sunday would be crushing, Ben McAdoo’s job status shouldn’t be in question based on Giants’ history of patience with coaches as well as fact that he took Big Blue to postseason in his rookie campaign last season.
(Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
That would require this season to get way worse than it already is. But remember what the wise man Eli Manning said when the Giants were just 0-1 after scoring three points in Dallas: “It can always get worse.”
Plus, it wouldn’t be unprecedented of the Giants to fire a coach after two seasons, even though it’s rare.
George Young fired Bill Parcells’ successor Ray Handley after he went just 14-18 (.438) in the 1991 and ’92 seasons and missed the playoffs both years. Handley is the only one of 11 Giants coaches since 1931 to have lost his job before year three.
But think of the symmetry: Handley succeeded a two-time Super Bowl winner and lost his job after two years. McAdoo also succeeded a two-time Super Bowl winner in Tom Coughlin. Could they share a similar fate?
A major difference, in fairness, is that McAdoo led the Giants to the playoffs in year one while Handley never got there. Handley, who had been Parcells’ running backs coach, started 7-5 his first season but lost three of the last four to fall to 8-8. Then in 1992, he started 5-4 before the bottom fell out, losing six of his last seven.
It feels safer to say that McAdoo at least would coach out the rest of this season no matter how poorly it spirals.
A Giants coach has been fired midseason before: Bill Arnsparger was canned seven weeks into his third season of 1976, with a forgettable 7-28 record (.200) with the Giants. But even now McAdoo’s career record still is above .500 at 11-9.
(Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
And funny enough, in a much smaller sample size, that puts McAdoo’s career win percentage at .550, just ahead of Coughlin’s .545 (58-53-1) in 11 years. That is why Coughlin grew so familiar with the hot seat that McAdoo now sits in when he dissects game film.
Vegas odds have re-opened, though, on the possibility that McAdoo could be fired this year.
The sports book Bovada lists odds for McAdoo being fired before Week 17 at +110 Yes (11/10) vs. -150 No (2/3). While yes is still the clear underdog, the possibility is most definitely on the board.
BookMaker Sportsbook says McAdoo’s odds to be fired plummeted from +1000 to +470 before last Sunday’s kickoff in Tampa. And after reopening this Monday, at one point the odds dipped as low as +175.
Another reason McAdoo, 40, could be in trouble if this gets worse is that four of the next five head coaches he will face are rookies, with even less experience than he has: the Chargers’ Anthony Lynn, the Denver Broncos’ Vance Joseph, the St. Louis Rams’ Sean McVay and the San Francisco 49ers’ Kyle Shanahan.
Losing even just two of those four would send McAdoo and the Giants on the path to a 6-10 finish, which is how they will end up if they went .500 with a 6-6 record in their remaining 12 games.
Now, 6-10 alone probably wouldn’t get McAdoo fired, since he could make an argument to ownership that his players never gave up on him and that they were a couple close early finishes from 8-8.
But if it’s worse than that, if McAdoo’s players “go numb” – as he is admittedly concerned could happen – and if his offense continues to sputter and fail to score in first quarters, a 3-13 or 4-12 finish surely could force Mara and Tisch to hit the reset button.
The point is, for the Giants, canning this coach after year two would be uncommon, but it’s not impossible.