Running Backs Coach Craig Johnson
Tough right now, but 24-hour rule, you know how that goes.
Q: What's your overall assessment of your running back group here through 10 games?
A: I think it's still a work in progress. Obviously I would like to see them continuously improve. Until we get 4.0 (yards per carry) or more, that's the standard point I'm going to look for, I'm never going to be happy, and they understand that. I think they've done a good job in the passing game and the pass protection game. I still think that we need to be more consistent running the football. We're going to continue to do everything we can to make that happen and I hope that will continue to bring a balance to our offense.
Q: You're running a heavy rotation, four guys, what's the thinking behind that?
A: Well, I think going into the season, obviously Shane [Vereen] with a new group, he obviously has done a really good job and has lifted our pass receiving out of the third down spot. He's done a good job as a player and then Rashad [Jennings] and Andre [Williams] coming back from a year ago had really done a good job. I had seen Orleans Darkwa do quite a bit of stuff in the preseason. He had some injury issues so we let him do more special teams early but as time continued to go on, I just felt like I wanted to give him that opportunity to play. Since I put him on the field, he's been averaging close to five yards a carry, so because of that, I'm going to continue to try and give him reps in all the games and see if we can kind of get our rhythm going with multiple guys doing it.
Q: Would you like at any point to pare it down? Are you fine with it being four guys consistently?
A: I think that obviously it's a hard number to try and get four guys reps because you always want to try and get guys in rhythm and all that. I think all of them have deserved to play. Rashad has done a lot of good things, Andre probably had the best game of all the backs a week ago, Orleans has been consistent, so what I'm trying to do is give them all some opportunities and then the guys that really seem to be in a rhythm within each game, you try and give them a little bit more reps.
Q: What is about Orleans that you saw in the preseason that you were talking about that he sort of deserved that opportunity in your mind?
A: I think he was our leading rusher coming out of the preseason. People don't know that much about him but I got to watch him in practice every day, a very smart player, he's got that good run balance, and he's made the most of his opportunities. As we continue to watch him, he's really done a great job in the special teams, which has gotten him the ability to play every week. I just remember he had played well, and we were okay, but I continued to strive for more, so we just made the decision to give him a chance to play, talked about it a little bit, put him in there, and so far he's rewarded our trust with good, consistent play. I'm going to continue to expect more from him.
Tight Ends Coach Kevin M. Gilbride**
Q: (Will Tye question)
A: He's improving, there's no doubt about it. His consistency needs to improve. That's something I got after him about a little bit today, but as far as his development and understanding the concepts of the offense and how we are going about trying to get our job done, he definitely understands it and he's putting it into action.
Q: Has he surprised you at all? I mean, you cut him at the beginning of the season.
A: It wasn't me (laughs). Really, it hasn't been a surprise. I always felt like he had it in him to be a good player, but he's young, he's green, his development is what still needs to take place and it shows it, it shows it in some of the inconsistencies that he has. But I'll tell you what, he's made some big plays for us, too, and I think down the stretch, he's going to make a lot more.
Q: Inconsistencies? He's dropped a couple of passes, is that what you're talking about or blocks?
A: Both. The ones that are glaring are the drops, but he's also made a couple really good catches. He's run some really good routes and he's had some really good run blocks, but the consistency is not there yet, and it's something that we need him to execute consistently to help our offense.
Q: You had Mark Herzlich at tight end a little bit?
A: Yeah. We got him based on our situation with the guys that have gone down. You need to have a contingency plan. So we had him on the goal line and he ran a really good route. If Eli had some time, he probably would've gotten a touchdown.
Q: You haven't done that in the past?
A: With Mark? No. No, that's something new with the injuries that have come into play.
Q: He was Gronkowski on scout team, right?
A: Yeah and he's done a nice job in giving the look as well.
Q: On the play that Herzlich was in there, you threw it to Will and Will was open on that.
A: He was open. Yeah, he was open and that's one of those plays that I'm talking about. That would've been a hell of a catch because it was out in front of him, but he's got to get to the point where he smells that end zone and when you get those opportunities as a tight end, you don't get that many. So when you get those opportunities, you've got to come down with the play.
Q: I'm sure life would be easier if you had a Tony Gonzalez, but is there a pleasure in getting production out of the Will Tyes and Jerome Cunninghams that a lot of other people never heard of before?
A: Yeah, it is, but it's not necessarily for that reason as far as like an individual satisfaction. I enjoy coaching those guys. They want to get better, they want to improve, so it's more being able to coach the individual person and I've enjoyed those individual people. I've been very fortunate as far as since I've taken over the tight ends. It's a good group. It's a group that wants to get better, that wants to improve, and they understand their deficiencies and they know how to try and improve on them and capitalize on what they do well.
Q: Probably helps them that there are a lot of examples in this organization of guys who came out of nowhere like Larry Donell, Jake Ballard before him. It's kind of the way this organization has operated.
A: Yeah, that's true. There's no doubt and I think they do understand that, but really, to be honest with you, they're more interested in 'what do I need to do to get better' and I like that approach. That's what's made those guys, who nobody's ever heard of, be productive is the fact that they want to get better, they want to develop and help our team.
Quarterbacks Coach Mike Sullivan**
Q: You've now had a chance to see Eli again for half a season, he's having one of his best statistical years. Do you see a difference in him now than the Eli you saw before?
A: You know, I think he's very comfortable in the system. It's his second year in it and with the receivers and with the scheme and so forth, he's healthy and he's still the same tireless worker, the same guy that prepares thoroughly and meticulously and very, very competitive. I think it's just a combination of all of his hard work paying off and being able to be very comfortable and kind of anticipating things a little bit faster and an awareness of what to expect from the defense and what to expect from everyone on the offense. I think he's very, very comfortable.
Q: He's obviously got different pieces around him and with Victor Cruz gone, he's got different receivers. Do you see signs of him making those guys better players?
A: I think he's very focused on trying to improve everyone around him. And he's an excellent communicator even back from when I was a receivers coach in the different system, he was very active in giving feedback to the receivers and to the backs and tight ends about specific things he's looking for and things to trigger the release of the football and things to anticipate. He's an excellent communicator and he gives them some excellent feedback, it helps them to improve. And of course, they know he's the guy who's getting them the ball, so it probably behooves them to listen, so that works out well.
Q: When you were a receivers coach, was Victor here yet?
A: Victor came in the year that I became quarterbacks coach. Victor was 2010.
Q: You didn't have a chance to work directly?
A: Yeah obviously closely from when I was the quarterbacks coach. I remember that first game in Metlife there, number three, against the Jets. So very sad for him. I heard the news and wish him the very, very best and keeping him in the prayers. He's definitely a guy that's going to work his tail off and try to get better. Hopefully things will turn out well for him.
Q: How do you improve in the red zone?
A: That's a great, great question. We're going to spend a lot of time this week as coaches now that the players kind of go their separate ways for the week and really take a hard look at what's gone well, what hasn't gone well, and most importantly, the why. Why hasn't it gone well? Is it a matter of scheme that we just don't have the right ideas and getting out-schemed by the opponents? Or is it the other extreme where we've got some pretty good ideas and putting guys in positions but maybe, whether it's the turnovers, whether it's the penalties, whether it's some poor decision making, or execution, whatever the case may be. But the bottom line is we've got to take a look at that and certainly those areas where Eli feels most comfortable and where he's had the most number of practice reps and he can anticipate things and react and adjust. Because he adjusts so much in this offense, that's really where we're going to need to focus our efforts for the rest of the season.
Q: It looked like you were close on a couple late in the game, too.
A: Yes. Yeah, real close calls there unfortunately didn't go our way. But there's no doubt that's an area of emphasis we need to get better at and play a big part in that.
Secondary/Safeties Coach David Merritt**
Q: What are your emotions of the last play, the interception Landon Collins almost had?
A: We spoke and the thing is that opportunities like that don't come around too often, and so the young man understands that there was an opportunity for him to make a big play for the organization, for his teammates, and he came up short with it. Did he have to jump, did he not have to jump, all of that stuff is going through his head, and I just told him, "Hey those opportunities don't come around too often, so you have to learn from it, and let's move on to the next one."
Q: How would you assess his play the first 10 games?
A: Rookie. In a college season right now, it would probably be over and so he's having to hit that second gear and try to get this thing going. Right now as a rookie, to go through the NFL as a starter, to see all of the concepts, and the speed of the game, he's coming along very slowly right now.
Q: This is probably the most time he's been on the sideline this past game, was that a scheme thing or his level of play?
A: I'll let Spags [Steve Spagnuolo] comment on that, but we have been rotating the guys in.
Q: On a play like the one at the very end, it seemed like he and Dominique [Rodgers-Cromartie] were the closest guys. Is there any way to communicate it's us two and one of us makes a fair catch?
A: I mean you can, you can go to baseball, but in football you don't all of a sudden fold your hands and call everyone off, and you go up and attack the ball and come down with it. If it was baseball, yes, you communicate, but that's something that you practice and you start to look at your DB and say okay, are you going to go catch it or am I going to catch it? Dominique did the right thing, he said okay, the rookie is there to catch it, and the rookie just has to catch it. If Dominique had gone and bumped into him, then it would have been one of those situations, a far question to ask. Right now Dominque said, shoot, he has it, so he just needs to make the play.
Q: Craig [Dahl] did a pretty good job on [Rob] Gronkowski, were you pleased?
A: Yeah, Dahl has been valuable for us because he's played everything. You guys saw him there playing the will linebacker, he's played safety, and I mean he does it all. He's done a great job for us.
Q: What have you seen from Brandon [Meriweather], he kind of came in late and had a bit of a reputation to him.
A: I mean, Brandon has a reputation of being a hitter. Brandon is one of those guys that are going to give you some veteran leadership and he's been good for Landon just trying to teach him how to become a pro. He's a guy who's playing a lot of snaps for us, and so we're just trying to make sure that we can get them all to the end of the year, and make sure these guys are all fresh, trying to rotate these guys as much as we can.
Q: What kind of progress have you seen from Landon from when he showed up here to where he is today?
A: Right now, he's moving along slowly. The game is fast mentally for him still, hopefully he can continue to progress, and move toward the player that we all know that we have in him. You hit that little, whatever you call it, rookie wall or whatever it may be. I don't see him doing that, but at the same time having a new scheme and trying to make sure every week there's a little tweak here and there, he has to be able to pick those things up. Recall is very big in the NFL, you have to recall something that you may have done two or three weeks ago, and all of a sudden we put it in on the sideline, you have to be able to go in and perform.
Q: Earlier in the season, he seemed to have adapted pretty quickly and then in the last few weeks maybe that has not been the case?
A: You guys are evaluating him and seeing his play, but I see him every day. I think the thing that's happening with Landon is again he's moving along just like most rookies do, especially at a safety position, where you have to not only see formations, but you have to control everything when it comes to the cause. You have to get your linebackers and corners all on the same page, so the thing is to ask any rookie to come into the league and be top notch at that position would be pretty tough. He's moving along just as I said before, as most rookies have done. Kenny Phillips came in, I always refer back to that, and he sat the bench his rookie year. He came in only in sub packages but Landon is moving along and hopefully for us, last six games that he can pick it up, and just be able to make those calls a little quicker for us.
Q: Do you think that'll pay off for him down the road?
A: Oh yeah, absolutely. There's cloudy or clear. If it's cloudy at all in his mind, then he's going to move a little slower, but if it's clear, he's going to be able to go forth and go fast. When these offenses are shifting in motion and adjustments, and the things that you have to take care of in your own defense, it will definitely pay off for him in the future. Hopefully the future is in two weeks from now.
Q: What's made Dahl valuable? What has he done well?
A: The fact that he can go in and play the dime WIL linebacker for us, and go cover a tight end, and also go back and play a half-field, or play a middle of the field. Dahl is everywhere. I mean, you cannot pinpoint him down at one position, so he's very valuable and being able to communicate, he sees formations, he recognizes splits, he understands the game and his study habits are tremendous. He's able to help Landon in that area.
Q: Did you know that before he came?
A: Oh yeah. I had him as a rookie nine years ago. I had him for two years and to be able to reconnect with Dahl, and I knew exactly what I was getting. A smart player, headsy, and he's a guy that's going to go out and give you all he has every time.
Q: If he's that valuable, how's a guy like that then available to be had?
A: To be honest with you, again, a situation like that, he's played since he's been here with us, we've had him on the field. Dahl again is a very valuable player for us.
Q: What does Cooper [Taylor] have to do to get back on the active roster?
A: No comment. I will have to leave that to Coach [Tom] Coughlin and Jerry Reese. I would love to just talk about the players who are actually playing right now.
Q: Just to go back to Dahl, is he different than he was when you had him as a rookie?
A: Oh yeah, he's smarter, so he understands the game, it's clearer to him. It's not as cloudy and so again, I had him as a rookie and it was very cloudy just trying to understand the NFL system as well as playing fast, but now it's very clear for him.
Offensive Line Coach Pat Flaherty**
Q: You had to move some guys around last night, how did you think the guys that came in did?
A: The guys that stepped in did their job and as you well know, that's our attitude in the offensive line room, next guy's got to be ready.
Q: Are you hopeful that Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg will be able to be back for you when you get back?
A: You're always hopeful of that. I don't know what the situation is. I think throughout this week, the bye week helps. If we were playing next week, that would be a concern of mine, but we have a week to see how things go and I hope both of them get healthy and ready to go.
Q: How concerning was Justin with not just his loss but it seemed like he was doing better and then all of a sudden he wasn't?
A: Justin has been playing well. Played very well down in Tampa, played hard down there and it took a great effort from everyone to win that game. Then the complications he had afterwards, I know it was disappointing to him.
Q: Was he back in here this morning? Was he feeling better?
A: Yeah, he was in all the meetings and I had a little bit of an opportunity to ask him how it's going and he said better, whatever that means. I didn't go into great detail with it. Tonight in the staff meeting we'll get a little bit more information from Coach Coughlin.
Q: You've had a couple of months now with Ereck Flowers, what's your assessment of him?
A: As I said in training camp, working with him a little bit in the spring, then we get a chance in the summer, I really like his attitude, his play strength, he wants to be a tackle in the NFL. His technique was something that we knew needed to get better. I think you see flashes of his technique. As a coach, I don't see enough of it yet, but that's coaching more than playing and he's got to learn to trust the NFL technique. It's really difficult for young player when he gets in—he'll do it in practice, he works hard at it in practice, he's the kind of guy you love to coach, but when you get into a game situation, a lot of times the young players revert back to what they've been doing and that's the thing we're—going into game 11 here against the Redskins coming up, that's where we have to show more than flashes, we have to see the improvement.
Q: Is it his footwork, his handwork?
A: It's a combination and, really, most of it becomes one thing on top of the other, it happens when he's very technique-conscious in the beginning of the game and then something happens that gets him out of whack because he's playing against good players that have been playing a long time. Then I have to settle him and we talk on the sideline and we settle down a little bit and then it's gone almost series by series from that standpoint.
Q: The original plan was to start him at right tackle?
Q: Would some of this have been mitigated a little bit if he got the start there?
A: I don't think so. I don't think that's the reason at all. I think that it's more of the getting the experience in the NFL, learning on the job type of thing. He's going to get better and as I said, I want to see as a coach and I want to do a better job of getting him better each week.
Q: He had some struggles yesterday going against a very good player, but how much did not having Justin Pugh next him affect that do you think?
A: I don't think that affects him. I really don't. I mean Justin is a good football player, John Jerry is a good football player and these struggles that happen with Ereck, as it did happen with other guys throughout the game, was more of a one-on-one situation.
Q: Do you have to grade his performance on a curve because he is going to have the ups and downs of a rookie, but you also know who he is playing against?
A: That's a great question and a curve probably has to be handled by a smarter offensive line coach then me (laughs). The only curve I know is you get the job done or you don't get the job done. What I tell the players is if your job isn't getting done, I look to myself first and then they have to trust the technique I'm teaching them and then go out and do it. It's learning on the job that we all understand. He brings energy to the game, he loves playing the game and a lot of times when he goes out and plays, he'll play out of his technique more so than with good technique.
Q: If Will Beatty had come back, would he have gone to right tackle?
A: That's a great question. When he was practicing, as I told him and the offensive line when he was practicing and first started out on the scout team, I said that he has the right to play any position but center. So we used him on the right side and it looked like he was progressing fairly well there, even some at the right guard position. Just kind of to see where he might fit best and be able to handle the injury that he had.
Q: How has Weston Richburg progressed in your mind?
A: Weston, in 10 games at center, is progressing well. He's going to be a very, very good center here for a long time, I really do believe that. He's got some growing pains, as they all do when they're playing a new position. It's totally different. Although he was inside last year, he's got more responsibility now, but he's handling it. He works hard at it.
Q: With the running game, you guys have had a couple strong games but last night wasn't good, especially in the red zone. Do you guys have to put that on the offensive line now?
A: The running game is a combination and Eli does a great job in putting us in the right situations. We have to execute better and to execute, it starts with the offensive line and then the tight end position and the running back position. As I mentioned to the offense this morning because we showed some clips, I said that it really starts with the offensive line because it starts with me. The next few days, when they're healing their bruises and everything, I'll be dissecting the run game and find out what we can do better and how. I really believe our techniques, the scheme that we go in against each week are going to benefit our offense to run the ball. It has not worked out that way. So when it doesn't work out that way, I first evaluate what we're doing and what formations we're using and who we're using at the point of attack. When you see an effective running game and you see flashes of it, but when you do the consistent part of it is the offensive line are straining through their techniques and we have not been as consistent with that.
Q: Have you had consistency issues due to the fact you guys are using four running backs?
A: No, no it really isn't. I think that from the outside looking in, it that may be something that people believe. I don't think that has because all the running backs and all the linemen and all the tight ends are being taught the same thing. So it's just a matter of them fitting together. I don't think it has anything to do with the running backs. Our running backs, we have quality running backs. To have four quality running backs, we're fortunate that any of them at any time will execute any run that we have as long as we block for them.
Linebackers Coach Jim Herrmann**
Q: (question about Jasper Brinkley)
A: There for a while when he first came in because we had some other injuries, we played him behind DK (Devon Kennard) and then we had the problems with the MIKE and it's hard coming in and learning the entire system, but he's done a great job encompassing it all. He does a great job for us.
Q: You mentioned moving him around here and there, you've had to move a lot of guys around with player injuries. How has that been a challenge for you to have these guys ready at all these different spots because they've had to play a lot of different spots?
A: I think it's the nature of the position. You have to do it in this League, you've got to be ready for injuries at any given time, so guys have to double up duty. They're learning. Some will play WILL linebacker in base, some may have to back up the MIKE, some may have to back up the SAM. When we get into the sub-packages, that's where the guys have really got to know, okay what's my role, where am I going to be playing, who am I backing up, and they do a good job. They're all smart men and it's a help for me, because I can say, 'Okay, here's your double duty this week, here's your double duty this week' and they all understand. A lot of times they don't get reps at the second position, but they've got to know what's going on and all my guys are very scheme-conscious. They have an idea of what we're trying to get done from each of the positions, so it makes it a lot easier for me as a coach to be able to have smart guys that know how to do that.
Q: All that movement, especially at MIKE, has that made it difficult to do a lot of the pre-snap adjustments Spagnuolo likes to do?
A: No, I think the guys are all in tune to that. The more we go, the more we do. I think from the standpoint of having the same guy do it week in, week out is a toll possibly, but they've all taken that role and they all understand the things that have to be done.
Q: I know Uani 'Unga is banged up now, but his ability to come along as quickly as he did and step in to play a prominent role earlier in the year, what can you say about his progress and how quickly he came along?
A: Like you said, coming in like he did, probably no one in the NFL world even knew who he was. He was a kid in college who made plays and was always around the ball and understands the game. He did a great job coming in this year and going in the first Dallas game and making plays. He's one of our most productive guys. I like where he's at, we've got to get him fixed up in terms of his injury, but he'll add great depth to whoever we put out there.
Q: Devon Kennard, where has he made the biggest jump from year 1 to year 2?
A: I think just now he's more involved in all the packages and we can use him in multiple positions; on the ball, setting the edge, we can put him as a roam-around kind of guy in sub, we can stick him back off the ball in a four-man front as an inside backer. To me, his overall understanding of the game has gone up tremendously. I think from year one to year two, that's probably the biggest improvement that he's made is being able to go in and do all of that and feel comfortable and taking the role of taking the defensive signal and getting guys lined up. I like where he's at.
Q: Do you anticipate Uani 'Unga being able to play against Washington?
A: That's a medical thing. I have no idea.
Q: Kennard, did he have the radio again this week?
Q: How do you like him in that role?
A: It helps us because in most of our personnel packages, he's out there, so that always helps. There are times when he's not out there, then the other guys have to do it, but in terms of having the radio, it just helps us communicate faster. So that helps and he does a great job of it.
Defensive Line Coach Robert Nunn**
Q: Now that [JPP] is here you look back --- I know you communicated with him while he was in Miami. Did you ever realistically think he would be back and be able to be a presence?
A: As time went on, yeah, I did. At first, no one knew and he didn't know and there was concern about a lot of things; his career, his life and everything from the very beginning the guy had --- the first thing he was wondering was if he was going to live when it first happened. As time went on, I felt comfortable that he was going to get back in here and we are back now and are started and we will keep adjusting to what is best for him.
Q: What can you do as a coach with techniques and things? Is this uncharted territory for you also to help him?
A: Yeah, this thing did not come with a set of instructions of how to do it and how to fight through it so, we are working each day. He is working with Ronnie Barnes each day trying to adjust his glove and get comfortable with it, so we are going through each practice by practice and keep trying to adjust to get him comfortable and he continues to get better.
Q: As far as techniques you can help him with, is it one handed techniques and how to use that in different ways?
A: Well yeah, how to use his hand as much as we can is the biggest thing we have tried to work on. It would have been nice to have training camp to work on those techniques --- you really don't have a lot of time to work on technique with the way practices are structured during the season, so we [have been using] a little bit of trial and error but his attitude could not be better. He has come in here with the right frame of mind and he is working through everything we have put out, so he has done a good job with that.
Q: The pass rush has obviously looked better in the last five quarters. It seems like a lot of it has to do with his presence. Is that accurate or are their other factors?
A: Yes. When he is out there, they know he is out there and it helps everyone else, so he has had some really good pressures and he had the sack that was taken away yesterday on a tough call, but if he continues to do what he is doing right now, things are going to work out.
Q: If you look at the statistics, one of the things I've noticed is there haven't been a lot of tackles. Is it that he is learning how to tackle [with the injury]?
A: I wouldn't say that. He hasn't had a whole lot of opportunities. There have been a couple of plays in each game where it really was a factor of him not making the tackle, which he had an assist on one, but the old JPP would have shed the tight end and come off and made the play, but for the most part there have not been that many opportunities. He just needs to continue to work, using that thing and he does --- you see him every once in a while shy away from it and I ask him if it hurts, and no it doesn't hurt. It is just hard to get used to using. We just have to continue to work on blow delivery and things that we work on in practice until he gets more and more comfortable. There were a couple times yesterday where he used both hands and just shocked people at the line of scrimmage, but he was inconsistent.
Q: Since he has been on the field, you have been using Ayers in tandem with him at tackle and it seems like it has really ignited Ayers as well. Is that kind of the idea that his presence is not only helping himself but now you are able to do things off of that? Is that kind of thing just going to progress in your mind over the next couple of weeks?
A: We hope so. That is what we are trying to do. He does help everyone else, there is no doubt --- it opens some things up for Robert, Robert can move inside more, which is what he does best is rush inside, so having [JPP] back certainly opens up other opportunities for everybody else.
Q: You get JPP back about the same time you lose Johnathan Hankins off the line. How big a blow was that?
A: That was tough one. In our meeting room, Jonathan is such a big part of our group and he is such a solid player. He is one of those guys that is not going to show up every day on the stat sheet but he is another one that causes people to make plays and that was tough loss for us. Yesterday I thought Markus Kuhn had probably his best game as a Giant, Jay Bromley is doing some good things and then (Montori) Hughes came in and had some good reps for us. He probably had about a dozen reps, so they have some big shoes to fill with Hank.
Q: How is Bromley coming along?
A: Jay is coming along. He had a good game a couple weeks ago. I thought yesterday he could have played a little bit better, but I thought he had a couple opportunities to make a couple plays yesterday but he has got to continue to get better. We lost Hankins and it is a great opportunity for him and the guy works every day, does exactly what you ask him to do and I love coaching him and he has got to continue to improve.
Q: Did you run Kerry Wynn into the ground a little bit too much earlier in the year because it has seemed like he has slowed down a little bit?
A: I don't know about that --- the thing Kerry needs to improve on is the pass rush and the last couple of games they have been winging the ball all over the yard and so --- no, I felt like yesterday when he was in there he did a good job. He is another one that in these next six games has to come through big for us and he does an outstanding job in the run game. He just has to continue to work on his pass rush technique and triggering the pass off play action pass and things like that and he is a solid young player.
Q: We talked about JPP before and you said you might have left him in a little too long yesterday. Going forward, do you think you have to limit him a little bit and be cautious with that?
A: No, I just have to keep an eye on it. Yesterday there were a couple times I wish I would have pulled him out and rested him just a minute and throughout his career, it has always been good to get him over and talk to him a little bit and when he goes back in, it just seems to clear up a little bit and he plays faster. Yesterday I thought at times he wasn't playing as fast, not necessarily loafing, he just wasn't playing fast mentally and when he is playing fast, he is hard to deal with.
Q: When JPP first came back nobody was really sure how much he was going to work in and once you got a look at him, did the expectation levels kind of shoot up a little bit?
A: Yeah, we went into the Tampa game and I told him that I was going to keep him about 15 reps the first half and at halftime he felt good and I felt his presence out there and he ended up playing probably a little more than I expected from him to in that first game, too, but the quarterback and the left tackle knew he was out there and when you feel that, it opens up opportunity for everyone else.
Q: Is he getting doubled as much as he used to?
A: He got a lot of chips yesterday and even in Tampa he was getting chipped and they were helping out there and once again that opened up some things for Robert and Cullen inside and when that happens, then they have to step up to the plate.
Q: He is about 10 pounds lighter. How has that affected him strength wise?
A: I like where his weight is. The thing that we have to do is keep working on his technique with his hand and he is going to keep --- Ronnie is going to keep altering his glove until he gets more and more comfortable, which will only help, and getting more comfortable of putting his hand in there and he does it at times and he doesn't at times, so we just have to keep working through that.
Q: What is the end game with the equipment?
A: We are hoping to get to a softer glove where he can grip a little bit, but it is what he is comfortable with and we keep adjusting and like I said, this whole thing we are using a little bit of trial and error, we don't have any instructions to go by, so we will keep letting him --- he and Ronnie are constantly working on it and what he likes and constantly working on it, so we will keep adjusting.
Wide Receivers Coach Sean Ryan
Q: How much do you feel for Victor Cruz with all the work he has put in?
A: I feel awful for him, to be honest with you. I had a chance to see him yesterday before the game quickly and we just talked about it. Obviously he is a little down about it, which I understand, but like we talked about. It is not always going to go to your plan and he knows that and I think he understands it. It is not his plan but now there is a new plan. He will attack it, he will go back to work and I don't have any doubt in that and as long as you have that mentality, you will be all right coming back from it.
Q: Did he assure you that he would be back?
A: Yeah, his mindset was good, it was positive, it was kind of like, alright here are the cards that have been dealt and here is how I want to do it. We are going to see a couple more doctors and then go from there. [We] want to see what they want to do and how they want to handle it, but his mindset was positive and it was pretty much whatever they throw at me, I'm going to take on and get this thing right.
Q: Have you ever worked with a receiver who has missed as much time as Victor? How do you approach a guy like that? How hard is that?
A: I think the good part about it is that in terms of football, he has been in all of our meetings, he has been watching practice for the most part, involved in the play calls, so from a mental standpoint, that part of it has been there for him. There is no question that the move back on to the field is --- you have to get used to playing at that speed and doing that thing so I think the key is when we work closely and communicate with your training staff as to what you can handle and how much of it and kind of implement him that way and get him going and get his feet underneath him and build as you go. The football part of it will be a little bit better because he has been in meetings, he has been locked in and has done a good job of that and that will help him.
Q: Back in August, had you guys ever gotten to point where you kind of took the kid gloves off and kind of unleashed him? It seemed like it never got that far.
A: No, it didn't really. There was a play or two here or there when we went out to Cincinnati, but it wasn't much. I think we split two reps out of two, so we never really got going with the whole thing. It never really got to that, so certainly not to the extent that we had hoped for.
Q: How about the job that Dwayne Harris has done stepping in? What kind of progress and play have you seen from him?
A: The more he plays, the more comfortable he gets in the role. Especially inside in the slot, it takes a little bit just kind of seeing things because they happen a little bit quicker for you inside there. The more you play, the more comfortable you get --- I think that is very evident with him. He does a good job, he has good ball skills catching the ball in terms of that and the little nuances of playing in there. I think he is coming along nicely, so he is a veteran, he knows what he is doing, I don't think bigger stages affect him whatsoever, so I have been happy with what he has done so far.
Q: He helps in the running game out there, too, right?
A: He is a physical player and he was coming out of college. Nothing has changed about that. When he came out of ECU, he was the same way, he would get after people in the run game, you could tell he took a lot of pride in it and still does and he plays the game with a physical aspect and that is why he is such a good special teams player, too.
Q: What were your thoughts on Odell with that touchdown catch yesterday?
A: Finish the play with the ball in your hands and it is never an issue, so the ball is caught at the highest point, brought down to your body, keep it within the framework of your body against your stomach using the third hand protecting it from the defender and it is a non-issue.
Q: Tom Coughlin said that the fact that he put it out there contributed. Is that a habit that he is starting to develop?
A: No, he felt that the defender was behind him and in his mind he was bringing it down and then had to get it farther away from [Butler]. [Butler] reached around this side and got his hand on it. At the end of the day, just bring it down, put it in the third hand, keep it within the framework of your body and it is protected and we will be good. He knows it, we talked about it. He came off the sideline and acknowledged the fact that the ball should have ended up in his hands and it would not have been an issue.
Q: It seemed like going into the last series I had not seen Dwayne Harris out there that much because it seemed like you had Myles White out there. Was that just a planned thing or was he hurt?
A: No. If Dwayne needed a blow because he does obviously handle a lot for us on special teams, and if he needed a blow, then we do that. At the end of the day, Dwayne ended up with 51 snaps and Myles ended up with 14, so it really wasn't as much as it seemed but when Dwayne needed a blow, we got him out and put Myles in. We trust Myles and it is the next man up type of mentality and we went with it.
Assistant Special Teams Coach Larry Izzo
Re: versatility of Nikita Whitlock
A:…He's [Nikita Whitlock] going right from offense, special teams, defense, so that's challenging for him and I think he's learning what it takes to kind of put his body in the condition that it needs to be to be able to withstand that type of grind. That's one thing I think in the offseason he'll have to address. You don't want him to wear down too much.
Q: What happened with the punt return yesterday with [Danny] Amendola making the call? Dwayne [Harris] said he was looking for the ball instead of looking at the man, is that common for guys to do that?
A: Yeah, that particular area of the field, Dwayne was kind of in a pickle because he is the guy that has to keep it out of the end zone. You look pretty foolish if you stopped right in front and the ball bounces on the five [yard-line] and rolls into the end zone. From that standpoint, the peter signal that he got from the returner might of kind of, not distracted him, but just given him a dirty read on the play, but at the end of the day, I know that he'd like to have played that better, but in no way was not related just to him. Overall the coverage was very poor in general, especially from the backside players, poor angles, and poor adjustments. A peter return, whenever you see them, it's like they're giving, Amendola is an experienced returner, he knows what he's doing, he's done it on tape, we've seen him do it on tape, he did it in Miami, he'll take his chances if he feels there's cheap yards he can get instead of letting the ball hit and roll. He's an aggressive player and an experienced returner from that standpoint. Give him credit for making that happen, but I felt that overall there were missed tackles, bad angles, not well played at all.
Q: That isn't something most returners do, is it?
A: I mean, we did it, Dwayne did it in the same game, I mean he did it yesterday. Sometimes returners will see where their coverage is, and the ball is bouncing around, and then they'll field the mishit. The fake peter, you see that, it's not as uncommon as you think.
Q: Would you coach your guys to do it?
A: We have an experienced returner. We're not going to tell him do this and this, but he knows from experience when the opportunity to take advantage of maybe being somewhat deceptive. It was a pressure, so the coverage, there was a lot of separation between the first wave, the gunners, and then the rest of the coverage, and then the rest of the coverage took poor angles and were caught off guard a little bit themselves. At the end of the day, we have to get him tackled. We had opportunities to get him down and we've got to get him tackled.
Q: What happened to [Mark] Herzlich on that play?
A: I believe that was the play where he got a quad injury for the rest of the game, so he was not available to us most of the remaining part of the game.
Q: He was on the return though?
A: He was. What happened to him was he got blocked. He got blocked in what looked like potentially a low block, so someone above my paygrade would have to determine if that was a legal block or not. At the end of the day, he could have done a better job of leveraging the ball, he was in position to make the tackle, ball got outside of him, and bad things happen when you do that. Again it's not one person you could say, it was a group failure, and it was a big play. Unfortunately it cost a lot of momentum, field position, led to the points, and we have to get it corrected.
Q: Can I just go back to Whitlock for one moment? In today's NFL, is a guy like that incredibly valuable if he can do a lot of things well?
A: Absolutely. Talking about Whitlock, we were talking about [Dan] Klecko earlier. Dan Klecko is a guy that when we were looking at Whitlock, I saw a lot of similarities to Dan Klecko, who played with New England, and he was a versatile player who played fullback, d-line, had good pass rush skills, and he could contribute in the kicking game. Anytime you can add a versatile player that can wear many hats when you're building your roster, I think that adds value, and can help you in a number of ways. When you combine that with looking for hardnosed, tough football players, he fits the mold. Those things are valuable and I'll take more like him.
Secondary/Cornerbacks Coach Tim Walton
Q: Has DRC exceeded or met your expectations?
A: I always try to hold him to a higher standard to anything he's done so far. I think he has elite ability, you know what I mean? We've just got to get that every day and week in and week out. So I push him, even times when he'll have a solid game, I think he has the ability to do more, to give us more. I always try to push that and he's doing a solid job for us so far. I'm just trying to keep pushing because his limit is high. Just trying to make sure every game we work hard to try to get that out of him.
Q: He was never known as a very physical player. It seems like you've been able to get a little more out of him in that regard, is that something you stressed to him?
A: We talk about being complete football players. Nowadays, you're going to have to tackle. Even in the pass game, when they throw bubble screens, the quick game out there, that's part of teams' run games now, so you've got to be able to come up and make tackles and do things like that and get them on the ground. I think he's taken a step forward with that, he's making an effort to tackle and try to get guys on the ground. Like I said, every day we try to push that because he has the size and strength to be good at all that stuff. So we've just got to keep pushing him.
Q: The flip side is he seems to be coming off a play or two here or there every game. Does that just sort of come with the territory when you have to play more physical on the edges?
A: Well, there's different reasons for stuff, sometime he gets nicked up a little bit.
Q: He got poked in the eye?
A: Little stuff that happens that he has to take a play here or there. Just try to push through it and he comes back in and does a good job with it. Those little things happen, he may miss a play here or there with a little nag here or there.
Q: How has Trumaine McBride done? He's been in and out of the lineup and in different roles? Has he handled that well?
A: He's handled it well. Like I said, he's been around for a long time. We play him sometimes inside at nickel, and played outside. You go through a stretch in the year he got dinged up a little bit with his body and couldn't move around as much because he was hurting a little bit, trying to get him back going. He's a smart guy, so try to use him in a lot of utility places.
Q: Just getting Prince back, how does that sort of solidify the group?
A: That helps us a lot. It just gives us some numbers and gives us some depth and that's what we need going forward. It gives us an extra DB out there so when we see these teams that love to spread us out and they're in 11 personnel or they like to use it almost as a fourth wide out with some of these tight ends. Now it just gives us an extra body to be in better position to cover for when we're spaced out.
Q: It almost looked like you were pleading with DRC to stay on the field on the last drive.
A: He was hurting and he gutted it out. He gutted it out and stayed. He was hurting at the end but that's what it takes. He's got to be in there for crunch time to try to pull the game out.
Q: I know you weren't here last year but Jayron Hosley was not in a good way when this year began. What have you seen from him?
A: He's trying to just take some accountability of being consistent and he's improved some. Like I tell him, really in the game, he had a good game with the exception of one play. You can't take that play away because that's part of your complete body of work. But he's having growth, he's matured a little bit. And like I said, he had two nice pass breakups in the game, he had some nice tackles, and he did a good job of covering outside. Some of the stuff that doesn't show up in the stat book but he had guys covered well outside. You need to make the play on the one deep ball, get his head around and get his hands on the ball. Should have been an interception; worst case scenario, it should have been a pass breakup. He would have had a solid football game with that.
Q: It looked like he had his head turned around though?
A: Yeah but he's got to find the flight of the ball, got to adjust to the flight of the ball. It's like he lost his hands in trying to find the flight of it, but you've got to make that play on it.
Q: At that position, you can't have one bad play right?
A: Yeah because if Trumaine doesn't come in a couple plays later and make a great stop, it's a game changing type play. They're down in the red zone and Trumaine made a great play to keep points off the board, but they're in a position now to score or at minimum get a field goal on not finding the flight of the football. So you can't take those plays away, you've got to make those plays. That's the nature of playing outside, they're going to throw the ball down the field. We've got to make those plays.
Q: They had tried to use Hosley in the slot here a little bit. Do you think moving outside permanently is a better fit for him?
A: That helps him a little bit, outside. He gets to lock in a little bit more and play to his strengths out there. He does a good job in man coverage and things like that. We have to just keep making progress with him, but he's definitely taken steps forward from where he was.
Q: Trumaine has made a couple plays this year that, had you guys ended up winning the game, he'd be up for awards. Is it as simple as he's in the right place at the right time or do you sense something about him?
A: He's a football player, he has some football savvy about him. He has some football instincts and he understands the game. He plays obviously inside in nickel for us and he plays some dime, he plays outside at corner. And like I said, he prepares well and when the opportunities come, he's been able to capitalize on them.
Q: There aren't many guys who are driving on a route like that and picking Brady on the goal line.
A: It was a nice play. Like you said, he did a great job of driving on it and finishing the catch. It was a good instinctive play by him. He has that type of awareness and instincts that he's been able to do. Like I said, he's a football player, so he understands the game.
Q: He said he knew he had inside help there so he played the back shoulder. Formation recognition?
A: Yeah and knowing where your help is coming from, knowing what leverage you have to win. And that's the stuff, he's been around long enough, he understands that. So he puts himself in the right position to give himself a chance to make plays.
Q: What has Trevin Wade showed you in his time on the field?
A: He's a good, solid competitor. He's a young guy that knows how to compete, has good awareness, has solid cover skills. Same way, he has a solid feel for the game. He's done a good job the last couple weeks blitzing. He has some quarterback hits and things like that. Like I said, he has a good feel for it inside and just continue to try to get him to grow and continue to develop. Got to get better so that it's good enough to get Ws on the board.