Head Coach Brian Daboll
Q: I'd like to talk about, if you will, the offensive line – especially in that second half. In particular, the rookie (Offensive Lineman) Joshua Ezeudu, who looked like he might have had some issues going on the first half. But the second half was phenomenal. A lot of key blocks. What did you see in this offensive line the second half? They seemed to really elevate you in the game.
A: Those guys played, I'd say they played smart, and they played tough. It wasn't always perfect. There's plays that we'd like to have back, I'm sure not just that position. Really every position. But they communicated well. They went against a good front; that front's been good for a long time. And anytime that you're playing with young guys – they've played football their entire life – but this regular season, the speed is a little bit different. The competition's a little bit different. Sometimes that takes some time to get used to, not just from in game. Not just from in-game. Not just from first half to the second half, but really from game to game. So, I think Josh did some good things, and we're looking for him to keep improving. And he'll keep getting opportunities to do that. But he's got the right mindset to work. And he's got good people that are around him up front – veteran-wise.
Q: Your dance moves have been making its rounds around the internet. I was wondering A – what song was playing? And B – what was that like just for you to celebrate with your guys in that moment?
A: It was a Biggie song, and it was a good win. These guys worked hard. They were dancing before I got in there. So, I don't know if I was really dancing very much if you want to call it that. But it's good to celebrate with your guys. They put a lot of work (in). And again, credit to the guys that are out there playing. They had a lot of juice after that game, and rightfully so. They played a tough 60-minute game and had some good plays and had some bad plays that you had to bounce back from. They brought me in the circle there; I don't think I'd call it dancing.
Q: The first one kind of goes with (the first question) on the offensive line. But more about (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley). What is it about this scheme that you and (Offensive Coordinator) Mike (Kafka) have created that really fits his skillset? Because it seemed it, I'm not exaggerating here, it seemed like he had more open space around him yesterday than he had maybe all last season combined. So, what is it about the way you guys have designed this that fits his skillset?
A: Well, he's a really good player. I've said that since I got here and watched him take care of his business both on and off the field. And I don't think there's many runs that you – he looks good in a lot of different runs. And our job up front and on the perimeter is to get a hat on these guys, and it doesn't have to be for a sustained amount of time usually because he is quick and explosive through the hole. But he ran hard like he has all camp. Mike and (Offensive Line Coach) Bobby (Johnson), (Assistant Offensive Line Coach) Tony Sparano (Jr.), (Tight Ends Coach Andy Bischoff) Bisch, (Running Backs Coach) Deandre Smith – those guys work hard and try to come up and develop a run-scheme each week. And that's different week to week based on who we play and matchups, and that's what we need to be. And Saquon just has to trust the blocking and run the way he knows how to run.
Q: I don't know if in all the craziness of the way the game ended, we've given enough credit to the defense – and especially the run defense – and the way that you guys held (Titans Running Back) Derrick Henry to I think it was 82 yards, four yards a carry with not a lot of guys who are Pro Bowlers on their resume on this defense. What about the job your defense did in kind of stepping up to that challenge?
A: I think they did a good job. There was times we played good complementary football, and there were times where one side kind of bailed out the other side and the kicking game. There's a lot of stuff to improve on. Trust me, we're working through that process right now and earlier today. But I thought obviously part of the plan was to go in there and to try to eliminate the big, big runs – the runs that I thought what the defense did was they did a really good job of stopping the run against a very talented player and good scheme. And then, they were hitting on a couple of those play-action passes, but there weren't any that went 60, 70 over our head, easy ones. They got to line up and play again, and those were two of the keys to the game: Don't lose your mind on some of those intermediate passes, just make sure you tackle them well because in years past sometimes that 20-yard cross breaks for 60 or a run by Henry breaks out for 50. I mean, he had a couple of them, and we ended up managing to not give him those 60-yarders. They played well. Two of the biggest plays of the game were those third down stops. It was third and short on the wildcat and then that sweep when they were pretty good heads-up plays by our defense. It gave us a chance to get the ball back.
Q: I want to dig a little deeper on the conversion. Obviously, the guts of it, it's gotten a lot of attention. I'm curious though, did analytics play any factor in deciding to go for that? And the fact that you had three timeouts, did that make you more inclined to go for it because you know if you don't get it, you at least have a chance to get the ball back?
A: I think analytics always plays a role in key decision makings. I know what we do is we talk about that during the week, myself and (Director of Football Operations & Innovation Ty Siam) Ty and (Offensive Assistant/Game Manager) Cade (Knox), two of the guys that run that department on gameday with myself. And we go through tons of different situations; I mean, there were times on fourth down when I was deciding whether or not to go for it, just thought at the point in the game, regardless of what it said, it was a wise thing to punt. It just felt comfortable. We had conversation with it; defense stopped them. I just felt that the momentum of the game and the way we were playing in the second half, if we got down there to score again, we were going to do that regardless. But you certainly take into factor the three timeouts; we would probably have had an on-side kick if we didn't get it, bring the three timeouts and then have a really long field. But those are conversations that are happening during timeouts or in between series. But I lean heavily on those guys. One of them went to Cornell; another one went to Harvard. So, they're pretty good guys to have.
Q: I want to follow up on (Wide Receiver) Kadarius (Toney). You mentioned something about, 'There's only certain packages,' and that's why he only played seven snaps. So, the question I have: Is there only a limited knowledge of playbook with him that you can't put him out there for 75 percent of the snaps like some of the other receivers? How does that disconnect happen with one of your more talented guys?
A: Kadarius is working his way back. Those are the plays. We had more than just seven plays for him, but they weren't called. And we'll see what happens this week. The guys that were out there, we have confidence in. We have confidence in Kadarius. I think, again, I've mentioned this before a couple of weeks ago with our receiver position: It's a competitive situation. And they'll be evaluated on a week-to-week basis. So, relative to inactives or playtime or amount of plays, everybody's got to earn their role. One week it might be a whole game; one week it might be less. But Kadarius has done a good job of learning our stuff. I have no concerns about him knowing our information.
Q: If that field goal goes through, which obviously it could have, is your job harder or easier last night and today?
A: If they make the field goal?
Q: Yeah. If they make the field goal, it's the same game. And they make the field goal, and you lose.
A: I don't know. I haven't thought about that one. It didn't. So, I'll try to answer your question. Certainly, you want to try to go out there and give yourself a chance to win. But the decision to go for two with a loss, I would feel the same way about it today as I did yesterday. The guys fought it out; they did a great job. And it's a decision we felt right at that particular time. I still feel it was the right thing to do. But hindsight's 20/20 in this business. Fortunately, field goal was missed.
Q: Let me phrase it another way – maybe a better way. You have to correct things no matter what today, right? No matter what.
A: A good amount of it today we got to correct.
Q: And is it healthier to correct coming off a rousing win or a debilitating loss?
A: Absolutely. Again, what I try to do is be as consistent as I can be for the coaching staff and have the coaches be as consistent as they can for the players and then the players be as consistent as they can for one another. So, regardless of the outcome of the game, you're always coaching the things you need to coach. And when you win, it's the players – you have their ear a little bit more because they're happy that the won the game. And they should be. And at the same time, what I told them today is that if it didn't go through, I don't want you guys coming in with your heads held high. Put them down to the ground; you competed hard for 60-minutes. Things didn't always go the way we wanted them to go, but I respect the way you competed and the resiliency you showed. That's what we need every week. We have to be consistent with that regardless of the outcome. But certainly, it's when you win, there's a little bit more juice.
Q: I was wondering if you guys had any update on (Wide Receiver) Wan'Dale (Robinson) at this point?
A: Yeah. It's a knee. He's day-to-day.
Q: So, is it any possible long-term thing with him?
A: Day-to-day right now.
Q: And for you, when you went back and watched the tape, what stood out to you in a positive way? And what do you see now when you look at the team, and you saw it in a game, as sort of the identity of this team?
A: Well, I think we're still forming that identity, but they showed really good competitive spirit and they showed really good resiliency throughout the game when things weren't going the exact way we wanted them to go. They played for 60 minutes. They competed right until the end. And I appreciate this about the guys in the locker room. And that's what they've done since they've been here. I know it's not a game, but in everything weight, competitions, running, practices, two-minute drills, good-on-good stuff, they're competing their tails off. And I really appreciate it about them. And they really worked hard during the week. And that's why after a satisfying victory, you tip your hat to those guys. And you appreciate the effort and the hard work that they put in, but I told them today, 'Our gas tank is empty right now. We've got to fill that up today all the way through the week. And we're going to have to empty it again against a good opponent on Sunday.'
Q: I was just kind of talking about the product on the field. Do you view yourself as a team that's going to be – I guess in today's NFL it's all relative – but a more run heavy team? Or anything like that?
A: No. For us, it's week-to-week. Obviously, what are our strengths? What are the defensive strengths? And again, you adjust throughout the game, too, if one side or if one area of your game is working a little bit better. But you have to be able to do both in today's game. Does one complement the other? I'm not sure. There's games that I've been part of where we've run it a lot; there's games where we've thrown it a lot. I think some of our fundamentals can improve. And that's what we're going to need to do.
Q: I'm just curious, we saw you right after last night, how the win has sunk in for you and how the last 18 to 20 hours have been like for you?
A: Well, it was good to share that moment with the players. And then you're on a flight home. You're watching the tape. I finished watching it this morning; there's not a lot of sleep when you have road games or later road games. It's standard operating procedure. What we've been doing up to this point is meeting as a staff for a few hours. I meet with (General Manager) Joe (Schoen). I meet with the players, and I do this media session and then really get going on Carolina here. So again, pleased with the result. But proud of what they've done up to this point relative to getting ready for that game. And now turning the page as quick as we can to go against Carolina.
Q: I wanted to ask you about (Outside Linebacker) Oshane Ximines. He's a guy (that) things haven't always gone well for him here his first three years, and I know you weren't here, but he had to really fight to make this roster. He came up big for you guys yesterday. Can you just talk about what he's done, even to make this team, and how he played yesterday?
A: Yeah, well he earned his spot. He had a good camp. I know that (Defensive Coordinator) Wink (Martindale) and (Outside Linebackers Coach) Drew (Wilkins) the rest of the coaches have a lot of confidence in him on defense and when the other guys that we had at those spots couldn't play, like I said the guys on the team are here for a reason. He's been a great teammate. I think he's gotten better and better each day. I love his personality. He's a really good guy. And I think he's improving every day as a player on our defense. And sometimes you just need a fresh start.
Q: Did you like the Gatorade bath?
A: I guess. I didn't even feel it. I looked up at him and yeah, that was a cool thing that he did. Sometimes you just need a fresh start. I think that we have him a fresh start, and I think he made the most of it up to this point. He doesn't say a whole lot, works really hard. I think he's taking to the coaching and I'm glad he's on our team.
Q: The missed extra point – was that a high snap or he didn't have it?
A: It was a low snap that hit the ground and rolled under. (Punter) Jamie (Gillian) made a nice play, at least, saving the attempt to get it back.
Q: Have you gotten any texts today or phone calls or anything like that? I'm wondering is it hard to keep your head the same size today after a win like that?
A: Again, don't take this the wrong way – I'm happy we won but it's one game. If it was the other way around, it's one game. We got to get ready to go on to the next week. It's the first week of the regular season so we got a long way to go. You can watch the tape, there's a lot of corrections that need to be made in this early part of the season and we got to be on top of it. That's the mindset that we need to make. In terms of texts and phone calls – my wife was in Nashville, and she was with five of the kids, one of them is at Penn State working on the coaching staff, so he wasn't there. Our youngest's birthday was the 10th, the day before the game and our 19-year old's birthday is today. She's calling me a lot making sure I'm wishing happy birthdays. But yeah, I got a lot of friends that I grew up with, some family. That's usually the way it is after most games. You win, you get more texts. You lose, you don't get very many.
Inside Linebacker Tae Crowder
Q: Have you been on social media yet, and have you seen yet how much buzz the video of you de-cleating (Titans Running Back) Derrick Henry is getting?
A: I'm aware of it.
Q: What's your reaction to that going everywhere, and what do you remember about that play? He's not an easy guy to get off his feet.
A: I don't really pay too much attention to it. I just try to prepare the right way, and it ended up being a good play.
Q: Anything specific you remember about that play like how hard you were charging, the angle, anything you remember about that specific play?
A: I just know the D-line did a good job; everybody did a good job around me of flying to the ball.
Q: If you could just talk about the job you guys did against Derrick Henry. How did this defense who, obviously has gotten its share of criticism for not having big-name players, how did this defense shut down Derrick Henry to four yards a carry, not allow him to have a big one – what was it you guys were doing? And have you guys kind of embraced that idea of people doubting you guys as a defense?
A: It's just coming to work every day and the coaches pushing us to be the best we can. We just want to keep on getting better and preparing the right way.
Q: You guys were around last year, obviously. Didn't have a lot of locker rooms like that. What was the locker room like after the game?
A: It was very exciting. One of the best feelings I've had in a while and I'm just looking forward to having many more.
Q: What did you think of your head coach and the moves he showed?
A: (Laughs). I'll tell you I didn't know he had moves like that, but he did a good job.
Q: He said he wouldn't' know if anyone would describe it as dancing. What would you describe it as?
A: He had some good moves though. Got to give it to him.
Q: Not all head coaches do that. You've been around head coaches. You were here last year, even in college. Some guys just don't want to give themselves up like that. Maybe they'll look funny or something like that. Did that surprise you, and what does it say about (head Coach) Brian Daboll?
A: No, since they first arrived, they showed us we can be ourselves. They preach that a lot: Just be yourself and have fun with it. It's something they do, too.
Q: How does the mindset change? Now you go from Derrick Henry to (Panthers Running Back) Christian McCaffery? Does that change the way you attack a running back?
A: I really don't think it's about whoever it is. It's just about us and what we do this week.
Q: So, having a sort of a shiftier guy as opposed to the big Derrick Henry coming down the hole at you, that's not a difference to you?
A: Obviously, it'll be a difference, but it's not really about what they're going to do. It's about what we're going to do.
Q: Do you expect the game plan to be a little bit different? Personnel maybe?
A: Probably so.
Q: Both of their touchdowns yesterday came on the passes where the guy came out of the backfield. The second one, it seemed like you got chipped a little bit coming across; but is it hard for the linebackers to cover a guy that fast coming out of the backfield?
A: No. I just think we got to do a better job with our techniques and stuff like that. We'll get it corrected this week.
Q: The other question I have is everybody's talking about Daboll's moves. I looked at a camera, and there was (Inside Linebacker) Micah McFadden. He looked like he was having his problems with the dance moves. What would you call his moves?
A: I really don't know. I just feel like it was a lot of joy in that moment. A lot of people were doing a lot of different things. I really don't know.
Q: How are your moves?
A: I got a little something in me.
Wide Receiver Richie James
Q: Did you know that (Head Coach Brian) Daboll was going to go for 2 there at the end or was that a surprise?
A: We knew that. We stay aggressive.
Q: Take me back to the start of training camp. You were a guy who I felt like had to earn your spot, nothing given, and there you are playing the most snaps, I think you had the most catches. What has the journey been like?
A: It's been a good one. Just trying to become part of a good team, trying to build a culture around here, and we're doing pretty good right now.
Q: Did you know you were going to play as much as you did, or did that surprise you like it surprised some people on the outside?
A: I had no clue.
Q: What was the mindset coming in here? Did you feel like you had to earn your spot? Did you feel like, 'Hey I'm a proven NFL player, I belong on the Giants'?
A: The same as it's been for the last four years of my career – just go in and do what I do. Whatever happens from there happens.
Q: Is your hair half red?
A: No, it's like a burnt orange.
A: I don't know. I mean, I shouldn't ask you why you do your hair like that, right? (Laughs)
Q: I ask because (Safety Xavier) McKinney once told us his hair is two different colors because there are two different sides to his personality. I didn't know if there was an interesting story with you as to why you keep yours two different colors?
A: I change my hair a lot. Over the years I've had three or four different colors.
Q: Nothing specific to the burnt orange?
A: Yeah, nothing crazy.
Q: You've been in a lot of winning and losing locker rooms. What was last nights like? What was maybe different about it than other locker rooms you've been in?
A: We're just trying to build our culture over here. A winning locker room's a winning locker room, everybody's kind of different. But this is a really good locker room and like I said we're just trying to build a culture.
Q: What does, 'a really good locker room,' mean?
A: Everybody's happy, everybody's smiling, you know? We're winning. That's a really good locker room.
Q: Did you know your coach had – he said you really couldn't call them dance moves – but he was moving right? How do you describe that?
A: We're going to work on that. But we'll be alright.
Q: He's a first-time head coach. Does it say anything that he would do that? Sometimes guys don't want to put themselves out there because you may not look so good.
A: No, he's true to him. That's who is. He's a jokester, a good dude. That's him.
Q: You mentioned that you're trying to build a culture here, you weren't here before, they brought you in. What does that mean as far as, do you they look at you and say, 'We think he's a good player, but we think he's a guy that who can help us build that culture,' and that's one of the reasons you're here?
A: I'm pretty sure that's the reason why I'm here. I don't think they would bring anybody over here that they don't want to build a future with or help out.
Q: What do you have to do other than play well to help with that culture building?
A: Be me, play well.
Q: You had a really productive night last night returning punts. I'm just wondering what is it about the schemes that (Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey) T-Mac put in place that really kind of complemented what you do well or is it just a matter of your guys just getting the right blocks and what not?
A: I think it's both. That punter, he's a really good punter but he was shooting some rockets last night so that helped out a lot.
Q: Can you talk about this wide receiver room? Is there something you feel like maybe you do a little better than some of the other guys and vice versa?
A: I think everyone is different, that's one, no one's the same. A couple guys do some similar things but as far as what I do better than everyone else, I can't really say. I don't compare myself to the next guy. I just kind of do what I need to do and then go on from there.