A season of disappointment and a week of controversy led the New York Giants to get an early start Monday on an organizational housecleaning, as they fired coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese.
The moves were confirmed by multiple people familiar with the situation and came a day after the Giants lost in Oakland, California, to drop their record to 2-10. Geno Smith was the team's quarterback for that game after the franchise drew the scorn of fans, former Giants players and others around the NFL for the decision last week to bench Eli Manning.
The Giants planned to elevate defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo to interim head coach and assistant GM Kevin Abrams to interim general manager, according to a person close to the situation. According to another person with knowledge of the Giants' deliberations, there is a "strong chance" that Manning could be back in the lineup and start Sunday's game against the Dallas Cowboys at MetLife Stadium.
Manning had started 210 consecutive regular season games before his benching. He declined McAdoo's proposal that he would remain in place as the starter but give way at halftime to Smith or rookie quarterback Davis Webb. Manning said he was not interested in being a token starter merely for the sake of keeping his streak intact.
McAdoo was elevated from offensive coordinator to head coach before last season to replace Tom Coughlin, the Giants' two-time Super Bowl-winning coach. McAdoo took the team to the NFC playoffs as a wild-card team last season as a rookie coach, but things unraveled this season.
Manning struggled while playing behind a suspect offensive line and with an injury-depleted receiving corps that lost wideouts Odell Beckham Jr. and Brandon Marshall to injuries. McAdoo suspended two players for violating team rules, leading to questions about whether he'd lost the locker room. The effort level of Giants players in some games was questioned by observers in the media.
Co-owner John Mara said the Giants would wait until after the season to evaluate McAdoo's status. Mara and fellow owner Steve Tisch are known for their patience, and the Giants had not made an in-season head coaching change since 1976. But as the Giants dealt with the fallout last week of the Manning decision, Mara backed off that guarantee that McAdoo would remain in place all season.
Former Giants players expressed their support publicly for Manning - who led the team to two Super Bowl victories in memorable upsets over the New England Patriots - and criticized the Giants' handling of the matter. A group of former players reportedly was making plans to show up for Sunday's game wearing Manning jerseys. But McAdoo stuck to his decision and said he didn't regret how the matter was handled.
"I think a lot of Hall of Fame quarterbacks who have done a lot for a lot of teams haven't been able to choose the way that they get to move on," McAdoo said last week. "And I'm not saying that we're moving on. But at some point in time, you have to make hard, tough decisions for the best for the franchise. That's what I have to do here."
Reese had served as the Giants' general manager since 2007, when he succeeded Ernie Accorsi.