New York Giants HC Ben McAdoo's Most Critical Assistant Coaching Hires
The New York Giants have yet to make new head coach Ben McAdoo’s assistant coaching staff official, but that doesn’t mean that most of the names haven’t already been leaked out.
Still, it’s probably a good thing that nothing has been made official because that means McAdoo is taking his time to make sure he has the right people in place to help lift the Giants back into relevance. As anyone who witnessed the games over the last few seasons knows, there were units that vastly underperformed.
With that said, let’s take a look at McAdoo’s key decisions/hires that have reportedly been made and what those expectations are moving forward.
Safeties: David Merritt
David Merritt, the safeties coach and the lone-remaining original member of former head coach Tom Coughlin’s staff, is being kept on in his current position, per Alex Marvez of Fox Sports.
Merritt’s unit fell on some hard times last year, thanks largely to injuries that wiped out most of the young talent the Giants had hoped to have on the field in 2015.
Instead, Merritt was given over-the-hill veterans like Brandon Meriweather and Craig Dahl to go along with rookie Landon Collins, the latter of whom hit the rookie ceiling, particularly in coverage.
This year, the Giants should have back young safeties, such as Nat Berhe, Bennett Jackson and Mykkele Thompson, to go along with Collins and either another draft pick or perhaps a young free agent.
With more talent to work with, as well as an experienced Collins, Merritt should be able to take this unit to a higher production level.
Linebackers: Bill McGovern
It’s been a while—a long while—since the Giants linebackers have actually been good.
Just look, for example, at the lack of success this unit has had covering opposing tight ends. Per Football Outsiders, the Giants finished the 2015 season ranked 27th against opposing tight ends in coverage.
The team is apparently hoping the Bill McGovern, the Philadelphia Eagles former outside linebackers coach under Chip Kelly, can turn that around.
McGovern, whose hire was reported among others by ESPN’s Dan Graziano, gives the Giants a man who had success at Boston College, working with linebackers like Mark Herzlich of the Giants and Luke Kuechly of the Carolina Panthers.
With the Giants all but certain to renovate their existing unit. Devon Kennard, Jonathan Casillas and J.T. Thomas are all expected back; Uani ‘Unga, Jon Beason and Herzlich are on the bubble, and Jasper Brinkley is a UFA. The hope is that McGovern can finally get this unit back on track.
What’s more, with young players likely headed toward this unit via the draft, they’re going to need someone to help harvest that talent and turn it into production.
Defensive Line: Patrick Graham
A large reason why the Giants defense struggled so much in 2015 is the lack of the front four’s ability to get a pass rush going.
New York discovered that life without a healthy Jason Pierre-Paul was going to be a tough road, as other than Robert Ayers, the Giants had no one who could rush the passer with any regularity.
Overall, New York needs more out of its defensive line, a unit that’s likely to undergo a facelift. Pierre-Paul is a question mark to return.
While the Giants are hoping to get Owa Odighizuwa on the field this year after he lost his rookie season to injuries, at the very least, it seems as though the Giants would add another pass-rusher or two, while also redoing the defensive interior by pairing a new face alongside of Johnathan Hankins.
That’s a lot of change for a critical unit, which is why McAdoo is hoping that former New England Patriots linebackers coach Patrick Graham, who will be the new Giants D-line coach, can get it done, per Ebenezer Samuel of the New York Daily News.
Strength and Conditioning: Aaron Wellman
For three years in a row, the Giants have been at or near the top of the league in injuries, according to annual stats kept by Man-Games Lost.
That’s simply a mind-blowing occurrence if you think about it. But more importantly, it's an alarming trend that, no matter what they try to do, they can’t seem to fix.
Over the last three seasons, the team changed just about everything, including adding recovery days this year, GPS tracking the year prior and adjusting the practice schedule—all tactics that didn’t seem to work.
The one thing they didn’t change was the strength and conditioning coach.
That’s going to change this year, according to Ebenezer Samuel of the New York Daily News, who reported that Aaron Wellman will make the leap from college, where he served as Notre Dame’s strength and conditioning coach, to the NFL for the first time in his career.
Wellman will replace Jerry Palmieri, who had been the team’s strength and conditioning coach since 2004, when Tom Coughlin was hired as the head coach.
According to Notre Dame's website release announcing the hire of Wellman last season, Wellman’s bag of tricks to optimize athletic performance includes “football-specific conditioning” as well as “movement screenings to evaluate mobility and stability deficits along with subsequent programs to mitigate individual injury risk.”
Wellman has also used GPS tracking and made use of psychometric questionnaires, neuromuscular fatigue assessments and salivary testing.
Whether the tactics he brings to the Giants help reduce injuries remains to be seen. Given the Giants’ injury situation of late, it can’t hurt.
Receivers: Adam Henry
Last season, the Giants receivers under now former coach Sean Ryan didn’t really produce as well as hoped.
The numbers, which include the production of All-Pro Odell Beckham Jr., show a drop-off. Per Inside Football, the Giants receivers contributed to 64.4 percent of Eli Manning’s passing yardage in 2015, down from the 71.2 percent they contributed in 2014.
Besides hoping to get more out of the receivers, Adam Henry, reportedly the new receivers coach per James Kratch of NJ Advance Media, coached Beckham in college for a couple of seasons. His history with Beckham and his existing relationship with the still-maturing superstar no doubt gave Henry the edge among the competition.
Patricia Traina covers the Giants for Inside Football, the Journal Inquirer and Sports Xchange. All quotes and information were obtained firsthand unless otherwise sourced.
Follow me on Twitter @Patricia_Traina.