PHOENIX -- New York Giants coach Ben McAdoo met with the media for a little less than an hour on Tuesday at the NFL's annual meetings. He talked about, well, a little bit of everything.
Some observations and thoughts on the Giants after listening to his comments:
Clarity on middle linebacker
McAdoo was asked who will man the middle of the defense this season. The first two names he mentioned were Keenan Robinson and B.J. Goodson. He also said a “variety of players could factor into that equation.”
It sure sounds as if the plan is for the Giants to use multiple players to fill the spot, with Goodson in the role that Kelvin Sheppard (still unsigned) played last year in base packages and Robinson in sub packages. Robinson played the second-most snaps among all linebackers behind only Jonathan Casillas. Sheppard handled typical run downs and short-yardage situations.
McAdoo described Robinson, who re-signed last week, as having a role that has a lot of value to the team, especially “in the sub game." Goodson was a rookie fourth-round pick out of Clemson this past season who played little as a reserve, even as the Giants wanted to use him more as the season progressed. They seem to like what he brings to the table with his size and speed combination.
Handling success/boat trip
What’s a McAdoo news conference without a mention or veiled reference to the Miami boat trip? It had to happen, and this time it sure seemed as if the coach wanted to get a message across that he didn't immediately address after the season.
Just as the session was about to wrap, this was part of his answer about handling success:
“When we’re in the building, we say yes to football. When we’re not in the building, we need to do a better job of saying no to the things that don’t align with our goal, reaching our goal.”
McAdoo reiterated this message three times in a 20-second stretch. When told this was going to be interpreted as referencing the boat trip, he wasn't deterred.
“You can interpret that any way you want,” he said. “It doesn’t matter to me one bit.”
Message (to the wide receivers involved) received?
The plan at offensive line
Where do we even start here? Newcomer D.J. Fluker can play left guard, right guard or right tackle, McAdoo said. He adds depth and competition to the line.
Ereck Flowers is still the left tackle. The Giants went hard this week at the meetings (from owner John Mara to McAdoo) propping him up as much as possible. But listening to McAdoo, he did leave open the possibility of moving left guard Justin Pugh to tackle if things go poorly.
“Too early to say,” McAdoo said, when asked about moving Pugh.
That’s interesting to say the least, especially knowing that they think Fluker can play left guard. The Giants believe Pugh is best suited as a guard and moved him from tackle full time two years ago. Moving him to guard should be a last resort.
McAdoo did say it's still "early in the process" and suggested there could be more pieces added to the offensive-line mix.
Rhett Ellison is a TE
It seems the Giants still technically don't have a fullback. Even though the plan is to use the newly-signed Ellison at fullback and H-back at times, he’s being viewed as more of a “tight end who has fullback qualities to him.”
Ellison will spend a majority of his time in the tight ends room, McAdoo said. He also dispelled the notion that he didn’t want a fullback last year.
“It adds an element anytime you have a fullback type in the backfield; it adds an element of physicality. It’s tough to replace when you don’t have it. It just didn’t work out last year,” McAdoo said. “It’s not by design. I hear that I don’t want to have a fullback on the roster. That is news to me. I think you want the best team you can put out there.
"But that position needs to have special-teams value. I don’t think you just have someone on your roster that plays seven plays a game, because they’re not going to play a ton of plays. But the plays they do play are impactful-type plays in a ballgame.”
The Giants wanted a fullback last year, but season-ending injuries to Nikita Whitlock and Will Johnson foiled that plan. Ellison is apparently the answer this season, to both the lack of a fullback and blocking tight end positions.
Beckham as a punt returner
Star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. saw an increase in his usage as a punt returner last season. Expect to see it again this year. McAdoo likes the idea that it provides his best playmaker with extra touches, especially with his ability to produce points in a flash.
The Pro Bowl receiver returned 10 punts last year, not including one he returned for a touchdown in Cleveland that was negated by penalty.
The kicker update
Right now the Giants have Aldrick Rosas. He’s going to get a shot this spring and summer to impress. The Giants appear high on him.
Rosas is young and they like his big leg, but McAdoo also kept open the possibility of adding a veteran for competition.
“Never say never,” he said, the second time during the session he unleashed that McAdooism.