There has never been a day so out of character for the Giants' organization, so impulsive, so seemingly reactionary to the mob building at their gates. There has never been a day like this where the famous Mara patience was completely shredded.
But it's a day that had to happen. Giants ownership had no other choice.
As unseemly and un-Giant-like as it may be to fire a coach and general manager with four games left in a season, and to get rid of a coach before the end of his second season and less than a year after he guided the team to the playoffs with a record of 11-5, the not-so-dynamic duo of Jerry Reese and Ben McAdoo left their bosses no other choice. It was more than just about Reese's poor draft record in recent years, or the 2-10 mess McAdoo was coaching this season.
It was about the chaos around the franchise, the anger from players and fans, the cold, robotic way McAdoo faced the media, and the way Reese remained constantly hidden from view. It was about the way the Giants have been portrayed in recent days -- and really for weeks, now -- as a bumbling, out-of-control franchise that was lacking direction.
In short, the results of the actions -- or lack thereof -- of McAdoo and Reese had embarrassed the franchise. And co-owners John Mara and Steve Tisch knew that simply could not stand.
Still, it couldn't have been easy for the owners to reach this conclusion. They have not changed general managers for any reason other than retirement since Andy Robustelli resigned in 1978 and was replaced by George Young a year later. And they have not changed head coaches in the middle of the season since 1976, when Bill Arnsparger was fired after an 0-7 start and replaced by John McVay.
Mara, in particular, is famously resistant to change even when it seems necessary to everyone around him. But his hand was forced.
The firing of McAdoo really had to feel counterintuitive considering less than a year ago the Giants were celebrating a return to the postseason and McAdoo seemed like a brilliant choice. And Mara had to know that a big part of this 2-10 freefall had nothing to do with McAdoo's coaching. Injuries -- beginning with Odell Beckham, Jr. and running throughout the offensive starters -- have absolutely decimated his team.
There were too many other issues, though. The fact that McAdoo had to suspend two players -- cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins -- and apparently benched cornerback Eli Apple twice was a sign that he had a discipline problem on his hands. Anonymous players ripping him in the media certainly didn't help. Nor did his public persona, where he approached press conferences in a robotic, monotone fashion, refusing to engage or answer even basic questions, and he sometimes even lied.
That was quirky last season when his team was 11-5. But he looked like a clown when winning stopped.
And when the winning stopped, suddenly everything was under scrutiny -- like his penchant for criticizing Eli Manning while refusing to criticize anyone else, his refusal to discipline Beckham for a number of infractions, his unmoved reaction to his players going on their partyboat trip last season on the eve of the playoffs. There were times it looked like players were free to do as they pleased, and that McAdoo had little control.
The benching of Manning, of course, was the final straw. And it wasn't just the miscommunication from McAdoo to Reese to Mara. It was the cold way McAdoo broadcast it to the world. It was a situation that cried out for compassion, and McAdoo seemed to have none.
The same could be said of Reese, whose disdain for the media (and public) came through in all the times he refused to speak (and let others take the heat for him). In some ways, firing Reese was even more surprising given that Mara even resisted that two years ago when he let his beloved coach, Tom Coughlin, go. But as he did, Mara laid down the gauntlet, saying "Jerry knows this is on him" from now on. "He can't hide from his record," Mara added.
And Reese's record is five missed playoff berths in the last six seasons, four of which finished with losing records. His draft record has been spotty at best, and the roster he created was painfully flawed. His inability to build an offensive line in front of Manning was perhaps the fatal flaw in his plan the last five years.
And the way Reese and McAdoo tried to blame Manning behind the scenes -- trying to convince others in the organization that it was time to move on, according to sources -- didn't exactly warm Mara's heart, either. And when that started to spill over into the public, everything started to turn.
Given all that, Mara made the only choice he could -- ushering in the kind of "sweeping changes" he hoped he'd never had to make. His instinct to be patient, to crave stability, is absolutely the correct way to go about building a sports franchise.
But patience is only a virtue when it works. And stability was simply impossible to achieve as the franchise began to crumble underneath Reese and McAdoo's feet.