EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Giants head coach Ben McAdoo was very clear that "sloppy quarterback play" is what led to a critical delay of game penalty in New York's loss to the Lions on Monday night. And for several days he refused to back down from that assessment.
But on Friday morning, he conceded he might have had a little to do with that penalty, too.
McAdoo finally conceded that the whole operation leading up to that penalty was slower than it should have been, including his own decision to go for it on fourth down. He still blamed quarterback Eli Manning for not snapping the ball, and didn't discuss his own decision to not call a timeout. But he at least admitted that his quarterback's "sloppy" play wasn't the only thing at fault.
"Looking back on it, I can make the decision faster," McAdoo told the team website. "I can get the call in faster. I always look at myself critically. But it is up to Eli to get the ball snapped. That's every quarterback everywhere since the beginning of time, since there was a play clock. That's the case."
McAdoo's reluctance to even take that much responsibility for his own part in the penalty has been an issue for the past few days, when he dropped the "sloppy quarterback play" line after the Giants' 24-10 loss to the Lions. He was referencing a fourth-and-goal play from the 2 with the Giants trailing 17-7 in the third quarter. McAdoo decided to go for it, but the penalty forced the Giants to kick a field goal instead.
When he blamed Manning, it opened the question of why McAdoo was so reluctant to blame other factors in the Giants' loss, like his refusal to single out struggling left tackle Ereck Flowers or to blame his own play calling. On both Tuesday and Wednesday, when he was asked about the controversy his words caused, he doubled down on Manning, focusing on the need "to get the ball snapped."
Obviously he's rethought that at least a little bit, but he won't absolve Manning completely. And he still clearly believes there was nothing wrong with calling out his franchise quarterback publicly -- especially since he knows the veteran can take it.
"I think there's accountability. When you're a two-time winning Super Bowl quarterback, you can be called out and not have hard feelings and understand how to take coaching," McAdoo said in those team-issued quotes. "Because he understands the game and wants to be coached and knows that's how you stay in the game and keep sharp. I think that helps your team from an accountability standpoint."