Ben McAdoo doesn’t need a warmup. He’s not going to pace himself or take baby steps in his first training camp as a head coach, or enjoy a honeymoon season. Instead, when he spoke to the players who reported to Giants training camp Thursday in their first meeting together, he made it very clear what the expectation is for the upcoming season.
“Our goal,” he said, “is to put the fifth trophy in the case.”
That same objective, of course, is being laid out in 31 other training camps around the league this week. In reality, most of them don’t have much of a chance to win the Super Bowl.
So where do the Giants fit into that optimism spectrum that runs from flagrantly false to definitely deserved?
The Giants believe their aim is within a realistic reach because most of the high-powered offense is returning and many of the issues on defense have been addressed through free agency.
“I think,” running back Rashad Jennings said, “we have a little bit more validity behind it this year.”
McAdoo was quick to point out that his quest, at this point, is “just words.” And he said it is a “loser’s mentality” to think anyone — especially the offense — can just pick up where it left off last season.
“It’s time for us to go out there and put the work in and earn it,” he said.
And McAdoo certainly has shown no trepidation when it comes to setting the bar.
“It puts crystal-clear high expectations on the team,” he said. “That’s what we want. That’s what we’re here for . . . When you coach and you play this game, there’s only one reason you do it. There is only one happy team at the end of the year. I’d like to be that team.”
It’s a team, though, that has not been to the playoffs since the 2011 season, when the Giants won Super Bowl XLVI. Most of the players on the roster have never been to the postseason, with the Giants or any other team. They didn’t change head coaches because they won too many games.
And yet, when the Giants look in the mirror, they see potential and not past disappointments.
“This team can be really good, by paper and by talent that we actually have on this team,” Jennings said. “Speaking especially from the offense’s standpoint, going into year three [of this offense], we’ve got high expectations and it will be a disappointment if we don’t complete what we’re looking for.”
McAdoo said his biggest challenge as a first-time head coach will be showing patience. “I’m ready to go,” he said, promising a tough, physical camp in his first go-round as the director of summer activities. He’s already circled Tuesday on the calendar in front of the players. That’s the Giants’ first full-padded practice.
“It’ll be important when we get the pads on, not just for the big guys but for the perimeter as well,” he said. “Football looks a little different than it has in the past, but still, the teams that are standing at the end are the heavy-handed, tough teams. That part hasn’t changed and it never will.”
Neither, apparently, will NFL coaches and players brimming with confidence in the summer sun. Even rookies such as McAdoo, who already has charted the finish line for the team. As detailed as he is, he likely already has plans in place for a travel itinerary to Houston for the Super Bowl in February and knows which floats players will ride through the Canyon of Heroes.
It’s just words now, though, as he said. They haven’t done anything yet. They haven’t even practiced. But still . . .
“I like the look in their eye,” McAdoo said of the team he helped assemble. “They were hungry to get going, chomping at the bit just like I am. It’s a good place to start.”