From afar, Ben McAdoo nodded in approval as his former team went about the process of rebuilding after the 3-13 disaster of a season that cost McAdoo his coveted job as the head coach of the New York Giants.
“I think they’ve made a lot of the moves I wanted to make,” McAdoo said Thursday morning.
As free agency gave way to the NFL draft and a new and improved roster was assembled, McAdoo assessed what was handed to new coach Pat Shurmur and came away with a strong feeling as to what is next for the Giants.
“I think they’re gonna win the division,” McAdoo told The Post, his first public comments since he was fired, along with general manager Jerry Reese, Dec. 4, with four games remaining in the season — the first time in 41 years the Giants dismissed a head coach in-season.
“I think Philly, how much success has Philly had?” McAdoo said. “I think they’re gonna have hard time handling success. Dallas, I like their offensive line, but how long have we been saying that? Their defense, they got a bunch of young guys playing DB, Sean Lee is banged up a lot, and their D-line, they got a bunch of guys getting in trouble all the time. And Washington is Washington, right?”
With his Franklin Lakes, N.J., house on the market, McAdoo recently relocated, moving with his wife and two children to a spot between St. Augustine and Daytona on the east coast of Florida. For the first time since he was in graduate school at Michigan State in 2000, McAdoo — who respectfully wanted to look ahead and not focus on last season and the events that led to his firing — is not gearing up for a training camp. He is getting paid by the Giants and will sit out the 2018 season, looking to get back on the coaching carousel in 2019.
He did his own evaluations of the quarterbacks in the draft. He attended spring practice at Penn State and watched Bengals organized team activity workouts in Cincinnati. On Monday, he turned 41 and is keeping busy, reading and writing, trying as best as he can to prepare for his next chapter in football.
“Keep it between the ditches, you know?” he said.
Shurmur and new general manager Dave Gettleman carved up the roster, and this may come as a surprise, but McAdoo — more analytically than wistfully — affixed his stamp on the many moves, including sticking with Eli Manning, selecting Saquon Barkley rather than a quarterback in the draft and the near-total rebuild of the offensive line.
“They made the moves to get better in the offensive line, they let the right guys leave, they had to do that with Weston [Richburg] and [Justin] Pugh — I think that was smart,’’ McAdoo said. “Getting the guard [Will Hernandez] in there, I don’t know him, but if he’s half as good as they say, he can fight. That will help them, having that tough guy inside, because the depth of the pocket is very important with Eli. He can’t have pressure up the middle and be successful. I’d be worried about center. I think Brett Jones is probably going to be the center. I have a hard time seeing the other guy [Jon Halapio] doing it.”
The signing of left tackle Nate Solder was needed and made out of desperation, but the high price tag ($62 million) shows the flaw in acquiring talent in free agency, McAdoo said. And relying on Ereck Flowers to transition from left to right tackle is risky business.
“Getting a left tackle in there will help them in a lot of ways,” McAdoo said of Solder. “I don’t think he’s a very good player, but I think it will help them in a lot of ways where they needed help in that room in the past and they haven’t had anyone to do that.
Ereck FlowersJoseph E. Amaturo“It was good they could get rid of [defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul’s] salary. I guess you kind of just flipped JPP for Solder, and I think that’s a good move, really.”
McAdoo endured Flowers as the left tackle and does not envision a career awakening on the right side.
“He can’t bend, you got to be able to bend,” McAdoo said. “You can run around him on that side just like you can on the other side, Eli just gets to see it, which may help Eli. It’s not the blind side, it’s in his vision, so if he’s comfortable with what’s going on over on the left side, it can help him move in the pocket a little bit better.”
If he was still part of the decision-making, McAdoo would have advised against taking a quarterback in the first round of the draft.
“With the guys that came out this year, I’m not surprised they went the route they went by not drafting a guy,” McAdoo said. “I wouldn’t have stood on the table to draft any quarterback No. 2 either.”
As for Barkley, McAdoo understands the reluctance to take a running back so high but believes the Giants made “a solid move” to add him to the backfield.
“I know this: If you can just turn around and hand the ball to a player and he’s a helluva player and he’s a threat to take it to the house each time, that really helps,” he said.
Barkley will be helping Shurmur ascend to the top of the NFC East, according to the former Giants head coach.
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