Ben McAdoo asserts himself with Super Bowl goal for Giants when still paying homage to Tom Coughlin

Tom Coughlin could command a room. Matter of fact, Coughlin could be so intimidating and so in charge, it often felt like he wanted to run you out of the room. His two Super Bowl rings hardly hurt the amount of respect players had for him, and when he spoke, everyone listened, or cowered, or both.

Ben McAdoo, 39, comes off differently, as a mild-mannered and steady personality, but one that borders on dry and emotionless, with a steely gaze at no one in particular as he rattles off coach-speak. He looks like a man who clearly eats, sleeps and breathes football, a Super Bowl XLV champ from his days as a Green Bay assistant, but more a humble product of Homer City, Pa., than a bully built for the Big Apple.

Perhaps McAdoo’s first training camp as Giants head coach will reshape that unassuming image quickly. Because he backed down from nothing on Thursday, asserting himself his own man and paying homage to Coughlin’s 12-year tenure, and most importantly receiving the strong backing of some key players.

“The way he commands attention in a room, how meticulous he is and the respect level he has for every single person, he’s definitely the guy for the job,” RB Rashad Jennings said of McAdoo. “Not every single person is able to have that type of authority in front of men.

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“I’m sure everybody has a job and everybody has a boss,” Jennings added. “Sometimes you have a boss and when they speak, it’s like, ‘Uhhh.’ Then sometimes there’s a boss you listen to (Jennings stands at attention). He can command a room full of men, and that’s huge when you talk about being a coach in the NFL.”

McAdoo told his players in the Giants’ first team meeting of camp that “our goal is still to put the fifth trophy in the case.” He said that already in January, sure, but it mattered and meant more on Thursday that at this time of year, McAdoo still believes that this team can accomplish that lofty goal.

He didn’t have to talk Super Bowl on day one, but he did, and he put more pressure on himself by doing it.

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Tom Coughlin and Ben McAdoo in 2014.

(Howard Simmons/New York Daily News)

“The other thing we addressed is those are just words right now,” McAdoo added. “It’s time for us to go out there, put the work in and earn it. It absolutely puts crystal clear, high expectations on the team, and that’s what we want. That’s what we’re here for.”

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Maybe Coughlin’s shadow then won’t hover too ominously over the McAdoo era for too long if he is this confident, this focused on affecting the future rather than dwelling on the past, this eager to win a championship this quickly.

He’ll have to deliver results, but maybe the thumping, upbeat music McAdoo blasted in mini-camp was more a reflection of his attitude and makeup than anyone realized. Maybe his energy will be contagious.

“I’m ready to go,” McAdoo said before heading out to the sweltering Quest Diagnostics Training Center fields for player conditioning tests. “I went in and circled the first day we’re gonna get the pads on, practice four (next Tuesday). Can’t wait for it … (We) can’t start fast enough. (What I have to work on most is) patience.”

McAdoo’s hiring is clearly related to Eli Manning’s comfort in the offense nearing the final stage of his career. Still, NFL.com ranked McAdoo sixth in a list of the seven new NFL coaching hires this offseason.

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McAdoo’s decision to keep the clocks on “Coughlin Time,” with every one permanently five minutes fast, was about as mature and encouraging a sign as there could be for the start of his Giants coaching tenure. So was the reason McAdoo gave for why he did it.

Feb. 5, 2012: Another Giants-Patriots meeting with the Lombardi Trophy on the line, and once again Coughlin gets the best of Belichick and Co., winning a Super Bowl for the second time in five years, matching the two Super Bowls his former mentor Bill Parc 1 photos view gallery Tom Coughlin Timeline: His 12 years with the Giants

“I like having a five-minute head start on everybody else,” he said. “We’re an east coast team. You never know when those five minutes are going to make a difference. I like the discipline part of things. I think being committed to discipline and being committed to poise goes hand in hand, and I didn’t know why we did it when I got here but now I do, and I appreciate it.”

Here was a proud coach, intent on establishing his own identity, admitting to being taught a lesson by his forced-out predecessor, whom McAdoo called “a tremendous leader.” McAdoo is also preaching his own mantra for the team’s identity as “silent, smart and tough, committed to discipline and poise,” but the players notice and appreciate his embrace of Coughlin’s positive past, too.

“I think it’s respect to somebody who is a Hall of Fame coach who has done so much for this organization and really exemplifies what Giant pride looks like,” Jennings said, “and to carry that over I think is an honor to him, and it keeps us on track, too. We had that moment collectively as a team … back in spring (when he hesitated to remember Coughlin was no longer the coach), but it’s a new era.”

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It is difficult to predict how McAdoo will fare in this job because no one really knows who he is or what he can do. For now, all we have to go on are McAdoo’s forceful declaration that this Giants team is gunning for a championship, and glowing comments from players like guard Justin Pugh.

“Ah, I love Coach Mac,” Pugh said.

There was assurance on day one of camp at least that McAdoo knows the stakes, and that he does not fear them. He embraces them.