PLAYERS, COACHES HOPE WIN WILL HELP GIANTS SOUR LOCKER ROOM
EAST RUTHERFORD: It’s hard to imagine someone in the NFL outside of Ezekiel Elliott having a worse week than Giants head coach Ben McAdoo.
His team is 1-7 heading into their road game against the 0-9 San Francisco 49ers who announced Friday they plan to start rookie C.J. Beathard at quarterback again and also plan to have Pro Bowl tackle Joe Staley back.
McAdoo, though, has a depleted roster, player descension rarely seen at this level, player suspensions, players effort being questioned and on Wednesday, a television report that may have been the lowest blow this season.
Two Giants player anonymously ripped head coach Ben McAdoo, with one saying he’s lost the team and another saying that the players don’t care anymore.
The ESPN report was rebuked by the coach and with anger and disappointment by the players.
At his Friday press conference it only took until the second question for the venom to to surface from McAdoo.
The second-year coach was asked where he thinks the team is mentally and emotionally after the last two weeks.
“I think they’re excited to go play,” McAdoo said. “Excited to go get back on the field. When you have a setback like we did last week and some fake news, I guess you could all it, like we had this week, some drama, I think it’s good to go out and play the game you love to play.”
Why do you say fake news?
“It’s anonymous quotes.”
By saying fake news, do you doubt that the anonymous quotes are real?
“No,” McAdoo quipped back. ” I’m saying it’s anonymous. No names behind it.”
But, anonymous is different than fake.
“I’ll let you define it for me, then. It’s anonymous.”
If there are players in the locker room that feel that way, it is still an issue, right?
“Not an issue,” McAdoo said. “I’d like to help the players that have issues. It’s not an issue for the team. We can handle it, we’re strong. You saw how the players responded in the locker room yesterday, I thought they did a great job.”
You mean as far as what the players said publicly yesterday?
On Thursday, players pretty much had his back. But McAdoo may have been talking about players like offensive linemen Justin Pugh and Brett Jones plus safety Landon Collins.
Pugh, who is from Holland, PA kept it simple about players who speak about their coach but don’t give their name.
“If you’re going to say it, say it,” Pugh said. “Don’t hide behind somebody else.”
Does Pugh feel there any players who aren’t behind their coach?
“I haven’t got that sense,” Pugh said at his locker. “Yesterday when I saw that (report) I was upset about it. But that happens. You’re going to have disagreements. You’re going to work with people that you’re not that fondest of. And you may not like. But you still have to go out there and do your job. You’ve stil got to make it happen. That’s how you build relationships. That’s how you build working relationships. My whole thing is let’s air it it out, let’s get it out there. The way to move on and get past this for us is to talk about it.”
Has the team and or players gotten a chance to talk since the story broke?
“We really haven’t had a chance to,” Pugh said. “We’ve been practicing and haven’t the time with ourselves.”
Pugh stopped and laughed…”I don’t know, I’m sure …after today, after you guys get in here and get everyone riled there’ll be people talking about it.”
Does it need to be addressed?
“Definitely, it’s going to have to be addressed,” Pugh said. “I mean you just can’t have ghosts or whatever you want to call them…anonymous-es running around in here.”
Pugh said the team should always work like family even though it is a business.
“In the workplace, outside of the workplace, if you’re going to have a problem with anybody, even my brother, we’re to have a conversation about it,” the five-year veteran said. “I consider these guys in here as my brothers and if someone’s feeling a certain way, let’s talk about it. At the end of the day we all want to win and the only way we’re going to win games is if we’ve got everyone on the same page. We all know we’re fighting for one cause and that’s to help each other win a football game on Sunday.”
Is this one of those weeks that the game can’t come soon enough? Is playing and having control of what’s in from of you the best tonic for what ails this team?
“Obviously, I think winning helps everything,” Pugh said. “If we were here 7-1, not 1-7, I think there’d be a lot of different conversations going on, there wouldn’t be ‘anonymous’ statements. We didn’t have any of them last year. Same coach, same same everything. So we’ve got to get tighter as a unit and a team.”
Pugh said a quick start Sunday would be best.
“A quick start would be huge for us,” Pugh said. “That hasn’t been the case in some of these games this year. We’re going out to the west coast, we’re playing a team that’s hungrym they’ve had some close games. Obviously they’re 0-9 but the NFL is very, very close so we have to go out there and handle business.”
Jones said right now, they want all the talk to stop and just play.
“Any week, that’s what you want to do, just go out and play,” Jones said. “All the talking during the week is nothing by the time it gets to Sunday. For we’re just preparing, getting ready to play and try to get the win this week.”
Out on the field there are no reporters, no questions, isn’t that where players can feel at home?
“Definitely,” Jones said. “When it comes time to just play football that’s all we want to do.”
The secondary has been where most of the dust ups with McAdoo have occurred. Janoris Jenkins and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie were the players suspended by the coach. Eli Apple visibly appeared to give up on plays during the Giants humiliating 51-17 loss to the Los Angeles Rams.
Apple declined to speak to reporters Thursday. Collins, who did at length, said his group met that morning and urged the parties to come forward. As of Thursday after, none had.
“If the person wants to come forward, they’ll come forward,” Collins said. “If not, it’s just going to stay behind close doors.”
McAdoo was asked if he thinks this is an important game that could answer a lot of questions about the effort this team has shown?
“It’s the only one we have this week,” the coach said. “They’re all big. We have an opportunity to play a team that is going to be hungry. They’re going to be scrapping. They’re going to see a one-win team get off the plane and we’re going to have to go out there and give it everything we got.”
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Head coach Ben McAdoo