I didn’t catch Ben McAdoo’s postgame press conference Sunday afternoon. I was on the other side of Levi’s Stadium, talking to happy, relieved 49ers. But I watched video of his give-and-take.
McAdoo, the New York Giants head coach, looks and sounds like the manager of a not-tidy transmission shop, and he’s really sorry but that clutch pressure plate just isn’t gonna get here by Tuesday. He seemed unprepared for his media Q&A, just as his team had seemed unprepared for the then-0-and-9 49ers.
And as McAdoo was peppered with questions about his defense, his placekicker and his job security, he repeatedly fell back on a coach’s favorite and most time-honored refuge: He couldn’t answer before seeing the game tape.
“We need to go take a long hard look at the tape,” McAdoo said in his opening statement.
“Yeah, again, we need to go take a long hard look at the tape. I’m not going to grade any players up here today. I’m going to make sure we go take a long look at the tape,” he said when asked why his defense had surrendered 31 points to a teetering offense.
His players’ effort? “I’m going to go look at the tape.” Cornerback Janoris Jenkins? “We’re going to go back and take a long look at the tape.” Defensive malfunction? “We’re going to go look at the tape.” Lack of fight? “We’ve got to go take a look at the tape.”
The final question put to McAdoo was: How do you motivate your team at 1-8?
“Again, we have to do one thing first,” he answered. (Can you guess what that thing is? Any wild stabs?) “We have to look at the tape first.”
McAdoo is clearly an aficionado. He was probably watching tape on his tablet during the drive back to the team hotel after that 31-21 loss, more tape in his Silicon Valley hotel room, more on the flight home to New York. McAdoo’s Netflix queue must be remarkable. The company probably had to devise a separate algorithm just for him. I mean, what do you recommend for a consumer who loves both “Boss Baby” and “Chargers 27, Giants 22, Oct. 8, 2017”?
It’s unfair to single out Ben McAdoo, though. He is merely borrowing a page out of the football coach’s (other) playbook. Former 49ers head coach Mike Singletary was a chronic “have to watch the film” guy, maybe the most prolific in history. Samurai Mike couldn’t tell you how much he enjoyed his pastrami sandwich without going to the video first. Chip Kelly used the phrase a lot, too, when coaching the Niners last season.
And really, it’s everywhere. The briefest of Google searches turned up recent examples from Cleveland’s Hue Jackson, Carolina’s Ron Rivera, the Jets’ Todd Bowles, Cincinnati’s Marvin Lewis and the Chargers’ Anthony Lynn. All of those are from 2017. If football didn’t exist, these guys would be the Roger Eberts and Leonard Maltins of their generation.
It trickles down to college coaches, too, and to players. And it’s no recent trend. If Vince Lombardi had been a member of the Warren Commission, he likely would have told his fellow commissioners that he’d have to review the (Zapruder) film before offering an opinion.