Tight Ends Coach Freddie Kitchens, Quarterbacks Coach Jerry Schuplinski and Outside Linebackers Coach/Senior Assistant Bret Bielema spoke to reporters Sunday on a video chat press conference. Here is what each one had to say.
Tight Ends Coach Freddie Kitchens
Q: I don't think we asked you this last time. I'm curious if you gave any consideration over the offseason to opting out or anything like that given the heart scare you had a couple years ago?
A: No, I didn't. I never gave it any consideration. Of course, you want to make sure you're safe, take all the precautions and then go live life.
Q: What kind of accountability does it build in a team when a coach has the assistant coaches and coordinators running with the players after mistakes?
A: I think it instills the motto that we're in this together. Of course, in life, in football and in everything, there are consequences for your actions. Doing things to hurt the team is not tolerated. I think it builds accountability throughout the program.
Q: I also wanted to ask you about one of your depth tight ends, Garrett Dickerson. He caught a couple of touchdowns the other day in the scrimmage. What have you seen from him?
A: Garrett's working hard and getting better each day. He's going to continue to do that. He's prepared in meetings, he comes to practice ready to work every day. That's what I expect out of him, to try to get better each and every day.
Q: I don't think we talked about your past with Joe (Judge) when we talked to you last week. I'm just curious, when he was back building your swing set, did you see him have this type of future ahead of him?
A: I always thought Joe was a very bright guy. So much of this has to do with the way we progress in coaching. Joe had just finished playing when I was at Mississippi State. He was there one year as a player and then stayed around and helped as a graduate assistant after that. It's all about going to work every day and kind of building those habits. Joe's done a fantastic job over the course of the years of continuing on that path. So, of course, he's made the best and the most of his opportunities given at every stop. That's a good thing.
Q: Can you give us the scouting report on Joe Judge the player?
A: You have to ask him about that. Ask him about the Alabama game his senior year. I'll tell you this about Joe, he was a hard-nosed, physical kind of player that had everybody's respect on the football field. Offensively, defensively, everything. Joe was a good guy to be around.
Q: Was the Alabama game when he ejected someone from the bench area?
A: Like I said, you have to ask him about that. That's one of those things you don't really celebrate as a coach.
*Q: How is Joe doing, in your mind, as the head coach of the Giants right now? Have you given him any recommendations about being a head coach in this league? *
A: Our conversations stay between Joe and I. I think Joe's doing a fantastic job of getting everybody focused and concentrated effort to moving in the same direction, holding guys accountable, and a very organized person. Joe's done a fantastic job up to this point, and he will continue.
Q: With a guy like Evan Engram, we know the last couple of years, he's been banged up and kind of in and out of the lineup. I'm curious, as a coach, especially at this position, what can you do to help a guy like that stay healthy? Are there things you can do, do you use him differently? How do you go about that?
A: Well, football is a physical game. It's a physical game played by physical people. It's a tough game played by tough people. Evan's in the mindset of he's a tough player, physical player. Evan wants to get better each and every day in all aspects of his game, and that's what we're going to continue to work on. We're not going to live in fear.
Q: So, keeping him out of certain situations isn't something you're probably considering, I can take that from that, right?
A: No, I wouldn't take it from that. I would say what we're going to do every day is we're going to put Evan in situations that's best for the team and organize it that way. Jason's (Garrett) done a good job of that. We're going to continue to do a good job of putting him in a position to help the team win, because ultimately, that's all it's about.
Q: You were on the other side of a pretty big trade between the Giants and the Browns last year. I'm curious what you thought of (Kevin) Zeitler and (Jabrill) Peppers when you had them with the Browns?
A: Kevin Zeitler's a tough, hard-nosed player that comes to work every day and works and works and works. He works good, works hard. Pep is a physical-type player that tries to do things the right way and he plays with a mentality that's physical and good for a football team all the way around. As for the other situation, I'm not going to revert back and talk about anything dealing with Cleveland.
Q: Do you see that first-round potential in Peppers?
A: Pep's a good player. After you're drafted guys, it doesn't matter. Once you're in the league, it doesn't matter where you were drafted. Everybody is evaluated the same. Pep's done a good job of coming to work every day, trying to get better, getting the system down, working hard to be the best player he can be.
Quarterbacks Coach Jerry Schuplinski
Q: I'm curious after you got to see Daniel in a live setting on Friday, what were your takeaways? What turned it around for him in the second half of the scrimmage? Him and the offense seemed to get some momentum going there.
A: I was really happy with what I saw from him and all the quarterbacks. I thought they did a good job. We always want to try to get off to a fast start. It wasn't great but it wasn't horrible. We just kept plugging away and sticking with it. I thought he did a good job of that. We kind of really let them go and let them play, to see how they would answer a lot of the momentum swings throughout the scrimmage, if you will. He did a good job of sticking to it and sticking to the plan and kept doing the right things. I like what I saw from him and like I said, all the guys. The 11 on 11, Joe made a good emphasis on let these guys play. Let's treat it like a scrimmage. We don't have any preseason games so we're trying to let that go. They did a good job handling everything from communication, certain checks and adjustments and all that stuff. Happy with what I saw, and the way it eventually settled down.
Q: Do you think pocket presence is something that can be developed? If so, how do you go about doing so?
A: I do. There is a natural feel to that for sure, with pocket presence. I do think it can be developed. We're working hard on developing a lot of that right now with some of the drills we do. We're trying to do the best we can up front with building a good wall up front, creating a good pocket and trying to get those guys to force them to step up in the pocket. We do a lot of drills for that with all the guys. Working on getting transfers, stepping up in the pocket and giving ourselves a clear throwing lane.
Q: It seems like Colt McCoy has gotten all the number two reps so far. I'm curious if you think he has solidified there above Cooper and Tanney. What is the value of what he brings as a guy who has been around the league and started games?
A: The rep thing is a little bit of a challenge with camp right now with a new offense and stuff going in for all these guys. We are trying to do the best we can with all those guys with the reps. We're still definitely competing with everybody and everyone has a fair shot to compete. He has been taking most of those reps with those guys, but we are trying to switch those guys up a little bit. I think the thing that Colt brings a lot of is his experience. He's seen the game from a couple different systems. He understands what he sees, he's got good anticipation and he's got good ball placement. He can read coverages pretty well, he brings a lot of that stuff to the room with his opinions but also as you can see out on the field, he does a good job of that.
Q: I think we only saw it on the first day, but we saw coaches running with the players after a mistake was made on the field. What kind of accountability does that build when a head coach instills that expectation in the staff and everybody buys in?
A: Joe's point is well taken, there are consequences for mistakes that we make as coaches and as players. Sometimes it's not only the players, sometimes it's us. We have the wrong personnel in the huddle, we might call the wrong play or the wrong whatever and screw up the substitution. I think we're all accountable for the effort, coaches and players. Who doesn't like a little extra conditioning? I like to stay in shape myself, so I have to run, I have to run. That's okay by me. I think the big thing we are trying to get across is being accountable for your mistakes.
Q: What about Daniel has surprised you? Anything that you didn't know before you started working with him?
A: I don't know if I'm really surprised by a lot. I have noticed his arm looks strong to me. I did some work with him when he was coming out in the draft when I was at a different place and it looked good. It looks even stronger now. I don't know if that's a testament to his work in the offseason and what he's been doing. That's one thing that jumped out to me, I guess.
Q: Is that something you believe that guys can increase their arm strength as they go along throughout their career?
A: I haven't seen a whole lot of that. It's usually quicken their release. I think as they continue to build good fundamentals, get their hips and their lower body involved, that could increase it a little bit. That's something that's been a little eye opening to me, working with him on the field.
Q: As quarterbacks coach, what numbers do you look at to analyze where a quarterback is? Completion percentage, yards per pass, what are the first numbers you look at after every game?
A: I'm not a huge statistics guy and I mean that wholeheartedly. I think the first thing we are looking at, as we do at every position, is how fundamentally sound are we. With our footwork, with our depth in the pocket, with stepping up in the pocket. The question before about pocket presence. Can we see the coverage, can we go to the right spot with the ball? Completion percentage is important. I think the accuracy part of that that is involved with the completion percentage, sometimes you can't go totally off of that. A throw could be a good throw and it's a drop. Sometimes it's a catch but it's a crappy throw behind him. I think the main thing we're probably looking at is are we going to the right spot with the ball based on what the coverage is giving us. Are we getting the ball out of our hands quick enough? Sacks play a role in that, pressures, it's not always on the line or the backs, or whatever the protection is. It's up to us to get the ball out quick, too.
Q: Just one about this developing thing today with a bunch of teams getting a lot of positive tests back. It sounds like a lot of them are false positives. I didn't know if you had talked to people around the league. Being a coach yourself and wondering if this happens in the fall, a game could get cancelled, a game could get postponed.
A: I just heard about it as I came up the steps for this. We've been in meetings all morning. I feel bad, I haven't even facetimed my kids this morning, I have to get to that when I'm done here. I heard about that literally within five seconds. I hate to see it. It's a bad deal. Overall, as coaches, I guess I'm not overly concerned by it. I think it's just going to work every day, doing our job and hoping and praying for the best for everyone's health. Hoping we get the chance to do it. I haven't seen much of what's going on, I just heard there was a bunch of them today.
Outside Linebackers Coach/Senior Assistant Bret Bielema
Q: With Markus Golden, obviously, we talked about OTAs being virtual was a disadvantage for guys from what they're used to doing on the field. But he was even further behind because he didn't get to do the virtual offseason. How far behind did he fall by not being on the team at that point? How quickly has he caught up to guys who did have the virtual meetings?
A: First, it's been awesome for me. I've been a fan of Markus for a long time. Unfortunately, I had to play against him in college, and then saw his career grow and got to know a little bit about him over the last few months. He's been awesome in the room. His voice, he's got that personality. He's been a really nice addition to our room. I think because nobody was allowed on the field, it really wasn't that far of a catchup factor. MG, really, the thing I appreciate about him, he just wants more and more and more and more. So, I kept feeding it to him. I've been able to have some individual meetings as well, so he's been a real pleasure to be around.
Q: As a former head coach yourself, I'm curious what you think what kind of accountability does it build on a team when a head coach has not only players running for mistakes made but also coaches and coordinators?
A: As you can tell, I probably am not excited about that opportunity. It's probably good for me in the long run. What it does do is it builds accountability. Without question, everybody has a responsibility on the field. If you don't do your job, everyone in this program knows the value there is placed on that, walking in the door to the time you walk out. I can't say it's something I would carry forward if I'm ever fortunate to be a head coach again, but I definitely see the merit.
Q: What do you think of Cam Brown, a young guy you're trying to coach up?
A: Every day has been a better day for Cam. Obviously, during the evaluation process going back to the combine, getting a chance to be around him and see him grow, he's doing some things here he's never really done before. He played a little bit more in space off of the line of scrimmage. Here at the New York Giants, we put him on the line of scrimmage and doing some things, and he's been awesome. Every day, he moves forward. Again, he's another guy that just keeps stacking these days together like everybody in our program. Hopefully, he'll be able to benefit in the future.
Q: The Giants have two guys in Oshane (Ximines) and Lorenzo (Carter) who they brought in with a lot of potential in the draft and haven't really produced and put up the numbers I think that anybody would want from them right now. How do you get them to the next level? How do you get a young player who hasn't necessarily had great success to kind of get to that next step in their career at this point?
A: I think the part that's been fun to work with those two, and really the room in general, is they've bought into everything Joe (Judge) has talked about since day one. As a positional coach, we go in there, we talk about specific things that pertain to outside linebacker play. It's easy to see that both of them have a lot of talent, a lot of physical, raw skills that they've been able to hone and kind of be specific. But now to fit into our scheme, they're going to work every day. They're doing their daily grind, they keep stacking days together, and then hopefully the results will start to show up on Sundays the way they envision, the way we envision them, and hopefully everybody alike on the outside world as well.
Q: I just wanted to go back to Cam Brown. It was hard to miss a couple days ago that you weren't too happy with him. How did he react to that and what can you tell us about that situation on the field?
A: Cam has been awesome to work with. I think because we're asking him to do some new things or some things he hasn't had to experience yet, you don't know what you don't know, and Cam has bought into that 100 percent. It's really fun to see him grow, especially this past Friday, to take the things he learned in practice, apply them to what he saw during the game, or as game-like as we can make it. We're not getting preseason games. Especially for these rookies, these practices are so crucial to their success, their growth, because when you have the preseason, you're able to adjust and adapt and kind of teach them what it's like. Because we don't have that same opportunity with these rookies in particular, you have to put as much stress on them as you physically can, emotionally and physically, in practice. Cam's been an upward tick on every day. Every day isn't maybe where you want it, but he works his tail off to get there. He's been really fun to work with.
Q: Patrick Graham obviously spent a lot of time in New England before you got there, but I'm just curious being with him now, how similar are the schemes he brought here with what you were around the last two years?
A: I can't speak to Pat and his prior time or any relationship because we didn't really have one. We met a few times just through our circles, but I had never really been with him on a daily basis. He's been awesome for me to be around. Just to sponge off him, what he's talked about, what he's applied from his time there. But also, Pat's been in this league for a long time now. Obviously, last year's experiences as well. It's just fun to be around him, absorb, process, try to do everything we can as an outside linebackers group and me as a positional coach to try to help him as best we can and hopefully get to a great spot in the end.
Q: My question is more like does this feel familiar? Does it seem similar to what you were around the last two years?
A: I get the comparison and I understand why the question comes, but on the same account, it's the New York Football Giants. It's establishing how we do things. It's not the same scheme, it's not the same personnel, it's not the same environment. There's a lot of similarities that will carry forward. Obviously, everybody will tie it to that. But I think everybody here is trying to establish what Joe wants, defensively what Pat has put in, and we'll just try to grind it out on a daily basis.
Q: I'm just curious, you mentioned your one on one, your individual time with Markus. I assume you do that with everyone at your position. Specifically with the younger pass rushers, how much do you break down their game and how much is it a work on this, this and this, a checklist of sorts, every practice and every time you get out there with them?
A: Great question. MG, because of the timing of it… During the spring we were able to have one on one Zoom calls. Even though we were meeting as a group, you were able to keep certain guys, by league policy, and work individual time with them. I think any time you're around players, the run game is kind of a universal thing. How do we play, what do we do, how do we do certain things. But the pass game, in particular pass rush, is very unique to each player. You can't teach a player who maybe doesn't feel comfortable with a club rip or a grab and go or a stab and jab or whatever it is. Some guys just feel better in different roles. As a pass rusher, if you don't have confidence before the ball is snapped, you're not going to play well at all. It's been fun. You see Markus on film, what he brings to the table. But each one of these guys has been really good for me to now be around them for a couple of weeks and see what their strengths are. All I try to do, we have a giant tool box sitting there. Everybody's tool box is different. The more tools we can add for them, the more things we can do. Maybe it's how they do a certain look, how they place their hands, a countermove. Most natural pass rushers, it's not their first move, it's their second move. To build a little bit of a repertoire with each one of those guys on what their strengths, minimize their weaknesses then hopefully having great results on game days.
Q: I'm just curious, I don't know how much you knew Joe before you got to New England, but when you got there, I was wondering if you remember what your first impressions were of him? Was there anything that kind of stood out when you first got there to be like, 'Wow, I can see this guy being a head coach'?
A: Yeah, actually the first time I had a chance to shake his hand and sit down with him was at the combine.
Q: This was when you first took the New England job?
A: Yeah. I had talked a little bit with Bill (Belichick), but I hadn't had a chance to be around the staff. I knew coming people between Joe and I, but we sat down at the combine together and we ended up sitting right by each other at a Patriots function. I began to see and understand what everybody talked about. But then when I got into the building and I saw him get in front of the team, the presence he had, the awareness, the overall football IQ was pretty unique and easy to see. Then to come here now and be around him on a daily basis, I think anybody in our program would tell you that there's no falseness to it. There's no just trying to put a certain look. It's just him being real, and that's when you truly get a great gauge on people.
Q: Getting to the quarterbacks has been a problem for this team in recent years. Do you think this group can generate a pass rush this season?
A: Appreciate the question. I wasn't here previous seasons. I'm here now. What we're going to try to do is put together a plan that allows these guys daily to keep grinding out the details. You can't have a magic call, you can't have a magic scheme. It's a lot on execution. We'll educate our guys on what the details are. Let's start off with how we get a call, how we get aligned, how we get into our stance, how we keep our responsibilities and how we react after that. But it's been a lot of fun to be around these guys. Whatever happened before us, we weren't a part of. All we can do is try to concentrate on today and keep stacking these days together.
Q: Do you like the talent you have in your group? Do you like the energy and the enthusiasm?
A: I can say from the moment I came on board, to the first time we got a chance to meet with them, a couple of times I was able to run into these guys before COVID hit and you're able to be around them a little bit, but it was so unusual to get to know them through Zoom calls. As much as you have a perception of reality, there's nothing like being with someone in person. I know the willingness is there, I know they've been able to listen. They've been able to, for me, to listen. I've learned just as much from them as hopefully they have from me. When you kind of have a common ground there that you're working together to provide the best opportunity for everybody involved, hopefully good things happen. They've been a pleasure in that regard.