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Packers-Giants Week 5 Preview: McAdoo Returns To Face McCarthy

NFL- McAdoo Rusty Khale via


Ben McAdoo Returns to face his Mentor McCarthy

When the Packers won Super Bowl XLV in 2011 they had a young coaching staff, led by Mike McCarthy, with enormous potential. One of those thought to have the brightest future was tight ends coach Ben McAdoo.

Like McCarthy, McAdoo was born and raised in Pennsylvania. The two had a very close, mentor-student relationship from the beginning. When McCarthy left the 49ers to become the Packers head coach in 2006 he was sure to bring McAdoo along.

After Green Bay’s Super Bowl win, he was able to transition from tight ends coach to quarterbacks coach. McAdoo only held the job for two years, but he oversaw Aaron Rodgers 1st MVP season and perhaps the best offensive year in the history of the Packers franchise.

The Giants saw something in the young coach and hired him away to be their offensive coordinator. Their faith wasn’t misplaced.

In 2014, his first season in charge of the offense, the Giants improved immediately, going from the 28th highest-scoring offense in 2013 under Kevin Gilbride to 13th in 2014 with McAdoo. He was also often credited for helping the sometimes inconsistent Eli Manning to his best years.

Last year saw an even bigger jump. They become the 6th highest-scoring offense in the league despite injuries all around. He earned enough faith that when Tom Coughlin retired last year, he got the nod.

Sunday nights prime-time match-up will be the first time McCarthy and his student will go head-to-head, and the first time McAdoo will be returning to Lambeau.

A Look at the Giants Season Through 4 Games

McAdoo and the Giants enter week 5 with a 2-2 record, most recently experiencing a 24-10 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. To steal a line from my favorite professional wrestling announcer Jim Ross, the Vikings “whipped them like a government mule” for 60 minutes.

Before their Monday Night loss to Minnesota, New York looked as though they may be the cream of the crop in the NFC East beating divisional rival Dallas and the lowly Saints in close outings to start the year 2-0.

The Giants than welcomed the Redskins to MetLife Stadium in week 3 and saw many injuries slow their defense. A secondary that was suppose to be a bright spot for the team, now was left undermanned.

They were primarily without corners Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (groin) and Eli Apple (hamstring), and safeties Nat Berhe (concussion) and rookie Darian Thompson (foot) for most of week 3 and 4 against Minnesota and Washington.

Both Redskins QB Kirk Cousins and Vikings QB Sam Bradford comfortably controlled the game without feeling any heat throughout. Cousins threw for 296 yards and two big touchdown passes of 44 yards to DeSean Jackson and 55 yards to Jamison Crowder. Bradford played a much more conservative game, completing about 66% of his passes and no turnovers.

So far on the season New York has struggled greatly to make quarterbacks leave the pocket. They have only been able to tally 4 sacks overall, and Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul are the only players in the front 7 to record a sack at all.

Without their four injured secondary players the Giants have also provided little production in stopping opposing teams passing attacks. They currently rank 18th overall in pass defense (262.3) and 15th in points allowed (21.3) without even recording an interception, the only team in the league.

However, when people talk about the Giants it rarely involves the defensive side of the ball.

The aforementioned Eli Manning has been able to put up big yardage as always, ranking 5th in the league through 4 weeks (296.5), but as the story has gone so far in 2016 he has been unable to turn that into points. For the year, he has only thrown 4 touchdowns to 4 interceptions.

Led by a trio of explosive receivers, the Giants seem to be built for putting up massive point and yardage totals. So far, only the latter is true.

Odell Beckham Jr., Sterling Shepard, and Victor Cruz create a dangerous three-way of speed and agility for Manning to spread the ball around to. In fact, in 2016 the combination has accumulated the most yardage of any receiving group in the league. Of Manning’s 1,186 yards this season, 811 of them have been to one of the three.

Beckham leads the way in both catches (22) and yards (303), but has yet to reach the end-zone. This is a troubling trend for New York as the first two years of his career (27 games) Beckham recorded the most touchdowns in the league during the stretch (25).

Unfortunately, the Packers struggling secondary may be a bit of a cure-all for the Giants offense.

Beckham May Find His Joy Versus Packers Secondary

After 3 games the Packers have solidified themselves as one of the worst pass defenses in the league. They currently rank 29th out of 32 teams in pass yardage given up per game (307.3), have given up the 7th most passing touchdowns (6), and have allowed the 4th best QB rating to opposing quarterbacks (105.3).

The Giants will be looking to exploit the Packers corners, who have become a bit of a liability as of late.  All eyes will be on 2nd year man Damarious Randall and if he gets the responsibility of covering Beckham.

In week 2, Randall had the primary coverage on Stefon Diggs of the Vikings who went for 182 yards and completely dominated the game. Then in week 3 he lined up against Marvin Jones of the Lions who went for over 200 yards and 2 touchdowns, albeit one was not his fault.

Under normal circumstances Green Bay’s high paid corner Sam Shields would get the match-up against Beckham, but he remains unavailable due to a concussion. This has somewhat unfairly forced Randall in this position, but this type of “baptism by fire” situation often reveals what a player is really made out of.

If he does end up going head-to-head with the exciting young receiver, it’s clear he will have to use his brain more than his athletic ability. Josh Norman laid out the formula for containing Beckham, and many, like Xavier Rhodes of the Vikings, have used it to perfection.

On Monday night Rhodes and the Vikings held Beckham to 3 catches and a career low 23 yards receiving. They did this by playing physical at the line of scrimmage, doubling him almost exclusively, and making sure to hit him every single chance they got.

Beckham becomes his own worst enemy when he gets frustrated, and Randall who isn’t known as a trash talker, may need to step out of his comfort zone a bit Sunday night.

McCarthy mentioned many times this week they won’t concern themselves with “getting into his head”, but will simply focus on the on-field play. The only problem is that it has been proven that the Giants go as Beckham goes, if he is focused and determined, Randall and the rest of the Packers corners have no chance to stop him or his fellow dynamic wide-outs.

Rodgers and the Packers Offense Look To Build on Week 3

In the last year, the Packers offense has gone from prolific to painful. Despite 9 touchdowns (7 passing, 2 rushing) and only 1 interception from Aaron Rodgers, his efficiency continues to dip. His completion percentage remains under 60% and he is still struggling to connect on passes deeper than 10 yards.

A secondary riddled with injuries like the Giants currently is, would’ve meant huge numbers for Green Bay in the past. It doesn’t seem so certain anymore.

In week 3 against the Lions, Rodgers was able to take advantage of the beat up defense of Detroit and throw for 4 touchdowns in the first half. That may seem impressive on the surface, but most possessions were set up by defensive or special teams plays. They were also helped out by a bad pass interference call resulting in a 66-yard penalty on the Lions, the longest in 15 years.

The Giants rely on a 4-3 defense based on various blitzes, which makes it even more surprising that they have only got to the quarterback 4 times. As with all Steve Spagnuolo defenses, they will bring a lot of zone pressures coupled with a large number of fronts.

So far in 2016, Rodgers has been the second most blitzed quarterback in the league next to Carson Wentz of the Eagles. This means the ball needs to be out of his hand quicker, and in the first half against the Lions, he did just that. The same formula will yield similar results.

Final Thoughts

The Packers enter Sunday night as 7.5 point favorites. However, New York being seen as such an underdog is no problem for them. The last time they were at Lambeau in the 2012 playoffs they were 8.5 point underdogs, and that worked out pretty well for them.

In fact, the last three games between the Packers and Giants have resulted in wins for New York. To reverse this trend McCarthy will need to go back to the basics of the west coast offense he and Giant’s head coach McAdoo excelled at in the past.

It is clear to everyone watching that when Rodgers and the Packers are clicking he relies on quick slants, curl routes, and the running game to set up his patented big plays to Jordy Nelson. I believe Michael Scott of NBC’s The Office said it best with one his favorite acronyms, K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid).

Keeping it simple on offense and aggressive on defense will be what catapults the Packers to a big win Sunday. It will also ultimately get them off to a great 2-0 start on their 4 game home-stand at Lambeau Field. Get your popcorn ready, Green Bay.