EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Coach’s Corner, Giants.com’s exclusive weekly interview with head coach Pat Shurmur:
Q: When you looked at the tape of the Minnesota game, did you say, “We played hard. We just got beat by a better team.” Or did you see opportunities that you had that if you had taken advantage of, you would have been right there?
Shurmur: “Yes to both parts. We did play hard and we didn’t take advantage of our opportunities. We lost the game, and I’m disappointed that we lost, because we had opportunities that against a good football team, you have to take advantage of.”
Q: The O-line had some issues the other day. Nate Solder said after the game, “I haven’t been playing this whole season very well.” What do you think about a veteran player saying that and shouldering that kind of responsibility?
Shurmur: “We all have to be responsible. We have to coach better. When we don’t win, there are obviously some things that we can all do better. I’ve been impressed by Nate Solder, not only how he’s played, but how he has led behind the scenes. It doesn’t surprise me that he’s trying to do everything in his power to play at a high level.”
Q: Did you feel at all after (Wayne) Gallman went out that Minnesota ramped up the pass rush and didn’t pay as much attention to stopping the run?
Shurmur: “No, I didn’t feel that way.”
Q: Daniel (Jones) was sacked four times. He was hit eight times. But the way he stood in the pocket and kept throwing the ball, kept getting up after the hits, what does that say not only to you, but as an example of his toughness for his teammates to see?
Shurmur: “I think he’s tough and poised, and he’s pretty valiant in his style of play. We have to continue to find ways to protect him better. There are times when if he can avoid a sack, he needs to do that. One comes to mind, when he was outside of the pocket, just throw the ball away. Those are things you learn as you play.”
Q: The most obvious plays were the missed connections to (Sterling) Shepard, which are tough. But are those things that Daniel can learn from for next time?
Shurmur: “No. We have to just connect on them. I don’t know what there is to learn from. The first one, he gets hit when he throws it and the ball is still almost on the money. What you learn from the other one is he hit the guy right in the chest, and he has to catch it. I don’t know what there is to learn from.”
Q: Shepard and (Golden) Tate can do a lot of the same things. You’ve talked about they can both play in the slot and outside. Is it too simplistic to say that with Shepard sidelined Tate can come in and do what Shepard does?
Shurmur: “He’s a very veteran receiver. We feel like he can play in the slot as well as outside. We’re looking forward to getting him in the mix.”
Q: The defense sacked (Kirk) Cousins three times, but he completed 85% of his passes. What were the issues? Was it pressure, coverage, what did you see there?
Shurmur: “They did a good job. They did a good job blocking us, and we didn’t do a very good job of covering the route concepts.”
Q: If Alec Ogletree returns, he is a defensive captain, the players are accustomed to hearing him call the signals. Do you think one player coming back like that can make a big difference?
Shurmur: “I think that when you get your starting players back, it can help you be more successful. We’re looking forward to having him back if, in fact, he is back.”
Q: One play you weren’t asked about because it was kind of obscured by what happened next, but the play that (Jabrill) Peppers made running down and forcing the fumble by Dalvin Cook. What were your thoughts about that play?
Shurmur: “The fact that he was able to finish (the play), it’s an example of finishing all the way to the whistle. Knocking the ball out, that was good on his part.”
Q: X-Man (Oshane Ximines) was the fifth draft choice from this year’s class to start, and that doesn’t count (Darius) Slayton, who’s really coming on. Then you had contributions from (Jon) Hilliman and (Josiah) Tauaefa the other day. The way this rookie class is developing, is this about as promising a group as you’ve seen?
Shurmur: “They’ve done a good job. We’ll just continue to develop them. As everybody in the world knows, we have a young team. We have so many second-year and first-year players out there that because they’re so new to the game, and because they’re good players, they have a chance to get better each week.”
Q: You talked about looking for players to not get discouraged after a loss. In your opinion, are young players more apt to get discouraged in a situation like that or less?
Shurmur: “It doesn’t matter how old you are. The point I was making was that they just have to keep fighting. By all accounts and all of the evidence that I have, they’re doing that.”
Q: The challenges of getting ready on a short week, as far as how you unveil your game plan, first and second down, third down, do you usually do it at different times? Do you have to condense or accelerate all of that on a short week like this?
Shurmur: “It speaks to the obvious. You only have four days instead of seven, so everything you do is compressed. There’s always a balance trying to get them physically and mentally prepared with the time allotted. Every NFL team has a four-day turnaround once a year, and this just happens to be our week.”
Q: You said yesterday again, you’ve played good defenses every week. New England has the NFL’s number one defense statistically. What do you see as you study that unit?
Shurmur: “I think they have the hallmarks of an outstanding defense. They’re sturdy against the run. They have effective pressure packages. They’re willing to pressure you in different ways, whether they leave one safety in the middle or no safeties, which means they have an extra rusher. Then they’re good at rushing with just four and covering in zone. They have the hallmarks of what makes for a great defense.“
Q: You were asked about Tom Brady yesterday and the fact that what impressed you the most was that he wins games.
Shurmur: “It goes without saying. He’s helped his team win multiple Super Bowls. He’s played the quarterback position at a very high level. That’s what you’re looking for from your quarterback.”
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