McAdoo teaches offense, learns patience

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Ben McAdoo's "we're-not-in-Green-Bay-anymore" moment came the first time he left the New York Giants' facility at rush hour, turned his car on to Route 3 and stared at four stopped lanes of westbound traffic coming out of Manhattan.

"Lot more people here," the Giants' first-year offensive coordinator said Tuesday.

Not that it's the first time McAdoo has ever seen traffic. He worked on the Packers' coaching staff for eight years before the Giants hired him in January, but he was born and raised in western Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh. New York isn't the first city he's ever lived near, just the biggest one. And the adjustment he's had to make to the relatively simple process of getting around is a good metaphor for the work he's had to do helping the Giants learn and install a new offense this summer.

"I try to stay calm, as calm as I can be," McAdoo said. "I think that helps. I think it helps the players and the coaches around you. It helps you think clearly. I'm not someone who's very patient by nature. That's something I have to work at."

McAdoo is 37 years old and an offensive coordinator for the first time. The Hall of Fame Game against Buffalo two weeks ago was the first time he'd ever called plays in a game. He is embarking upon responsibilities greater than any he's had before in his professional life, and he's doing it on the biggest stage there is. And on top of all of that, he's watching every day as the Giants' offense goes through the painful, mistake-riddled process of learning an entirely new scheme. Staying patient may be difficult, but it's essential.

"Monday night (Sept. 8) in Detroit, we need to be 100 percent ready to go," McAdoo said. "We're not there yet. We're making small strides. You'd like to say you can take two steps forward every day and one step back. We took a couple of steps forward last night. In practice, we had a good day out there. We just need to keep making small strides."

McAdoo's voice is the loudest one on the practice field, and he cuts an unmistakable figure. Even on the hottest days of camp, when all of the other coaches were in shorts and T-shirts, McAdoo went out on the field every day in long gray sweatpants and a long-sleeved gray shirt under his gray T-shirt.

"I like to sweat," he explained. "I like to get out there and work up a sweat. I used to like to get in there and demonstrate stuff and really move around and work up a sweat, but I don't do that anymore."

No, he's basically barking instructions, making sure the right position groups are lined up for the right plays. You don't hear him chastising players loudly after bad plays, though this camp has offered him ample opportunity to do so. But he clearly has a highly organized plan for what the offense is working on at every point in the day. He knows he has a ton of work to do in a short period of time, and he's no-nonsense about how it has to get done.

"The biggest challenge is time," McAdoo said. "Some things happened the other night for the first time for these guys. First time they saw certain looks. You just have to teach off of it and they have to grow and move on."

It's also about more than just getting Eli Manning's footwork to fit into the West Coast scheme or timing things up with his receivers or teaching a rookie running back how to catch the ball. There are details everywhere that McAdoo and the other coaches could advance more quickly than they're allowed to.

"The challenge nowadays is to get the linemen and get them developed," McAdoo said. "Because you have a couple of weeks in the offseason where you're not allowed to put anybody in front of them. And then, when you're allowed to put someone in front of them, they don't have pads on. So we only have a couple of weeks where we have pads on those guys. So you're always chasing that pass protection and getting used to passing off stunts and fitting their pads into protection and being physical. So that's the biggest challenge."

The biggest of the many challenges confronting McAdoo, who takes over an offense that ranked 28th in the league last season and turned the ball over more than any other. He has a huge job, and the hardest part of it is just staying patient and holding to the belief that it'll all be OK in time. He smiled and took a long pause Tuesday when asked if there were aspects of his offense he was itching to unveil but hadn't been able to yet.

"Absolutely," he said. "Absolutely. But at the same point in time, we just need to go out and play sound, smart and tough. Be committed to discipline and poise and execute the way we're capable of executing."

Oh, he sounds like a coach, all right. From the sound bites right on down to the bridled impatience, which -- to his credit -- he appears to have under control.