EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The New York Giants made a rare in-season house cleaning, firing coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese on Monday, less than a year after the team made the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
Giants co-owner John Mara confirmed the moves at a hastily called news conference on Monday, saying no one incident led to the changes but that something had to be done with the team mired with a 2-10 record in a season where they expected to compete for a Super Bowl.
“This has been the perfect storm this season,” Mara said, who said he informed Reese and McAdoo of the decisions on Monday morning. “Everything that could have gone wrong this season has gone wrong.”
The dismissals came a day after the Giants lost in Oakland, with quarterback Eli Manning benched and the offensively inept team performing badly again. The firings cap an injury-marred season highlighted by the loss of catalyst wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. on Oct. 8.
Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will take over as interim coach for the final four games. He coached the St. Louis Rams from 2009-11.
Mara did not know whether Manning will return as the starter this weekend against Dallas.
Assistant general manager Kevin Abrams will take over on an interim basis for Reese, who became general manager in 2007 and had two Super Bowl wins on his resume. But the Giants missed the playoffs four times in the last five years, and this year his failure to address offensive line problems played a major role in a horrible season.
Mara said Abrams and Spagnuolo will be offered the chance to be candidates for the head coaching and GM jobs. Former general manager Ernie Accorsi will be a consultant in hiring a new general manager which Mara wants in place before a coach.
The moves came less than a week after the 40-year-old McAdoo made one of his biggest mistakes of his short tenure, mishandling the decision to bench Manning, a two-time Super Bowl MVP. Mara was forced to address the matter the following day and said he wished the decision had been dealt with better.
McAdoo had a 13-16 record, and his firing is the first mid-season head coaching move by the Giants since Bill Arnsparger was replaced seven games into the 1976 season by John McVay.
The 2-10 mark is the Giants’ worst 12-game record since they were 2-10 in 1976, and their worst since the advent of the 16-game schedule in 1978.
A team that traces its NFL origins to 1925, the Giants have been an organization that for decades rarely shakes things up until after the season. Coaches get fired, but it’s at the end of a bad run and usually they get an extra season to fix things.
The general’s manager’s job has proceeded with orderly succession. The late George Young turned the team around in the 1980s and was replaced by Accorsi, who eventually gave way to Reese, who joined the team as a scout and worked his way to director of player personnel before getting the GM position.
Going into this season, no one could have expected that the Giants would be replacing a coach before it finished, coming off an 11-6 record in McAdoo’s first season.
Those expectations ended quickly. The Giants lost their first five games, the last three after the defense failed to hold fourth-quarter leads.
With the losses, word started to emerge that McAdoo was losing the team. His one-game suspensions of popular cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins heightened the problem. According to several reports, some players also griped anonymously about having workouts on Saturdays, something the team also did last season.
Mara and co-owner Steve Tisch had come to McAdoo’s defense after an embarrassing loss to the then-winless 49ers on Nov. 12, saying his job was safe until the end of the season. His handling of the Manning benching seemed to seal his fate.
The Giants hired McAdoo away from Green Bay in 2014 to serve as Tom Coughlin’s offensive coordinator. He was elevated to head coach on Jan. 14, 2016, less than two weeks after Coughlin was forced out after missing the playoffs for the fourth straight season.
McAdoo had all the ingredients to succeed. He was young, ran an up-tempo West Coast offense, had worked well with Manning and he seemed to be a coach the players would like. His practices were filled with music and marked by short-interval segments.
McAdoo’s first season was exceptional. Led by a revived defense, the team seemingly won every close game in a season in which most of the players stayed healthy. The only problem was the offense, which struggled to score playing with a poor offensive line, no running back and a lack of receivers other than Beckham.
Reese’s failure to address the line in the offseason was a major gaffe that led to McAdoo’s demise.
The line, which lost center Weston Richburg and guard D.J. Fluker to season-ending injuries and has seen guard-tackle Justin Pugh’s time limited by back issues, wasn’t the only problem. The receiving corps was decimated by season-ending injuries to Beckham and Brandon Marshall, who never lived up to the hype of his signing, and return man/receiver Dwayne Harris. Sterling Shepard has also been limited by ankle problems and migraines.
Before this move, the shortest stay by a Giants’ head coach in recent years was that of Ray Handley — he was fired after the 1992 season. He lasted two years after replacing Bill Parcells. The only other time the team fired a head coach in midseason was in 1930 when LeRoy Andrews was replaced by Benny Friedman and Steve Owen.