Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell
Q: Is this defense getting the reputation of being one of the most feared units? I mean you've knocked out five quarterbacks in seven games…
A: I don't know if we're…we're trying to be a physical defense, we're trying to punish the runner and punish and destroy the run game and anything that gets in its way, so I hope that we are developing a physical mentality.
Q: Are you just getting to the quarterbacks?
A: Yeah. I think it's a tribute to our front and some of our pressures and the guys playing fast and the guys playing physical. I think that attributes to what we're doing there.
Q: At what point did you see things start to change on defense in terms of the way they played and maybe the way they understood the scheme as well?
A: Well, I thought we had a good outing against Carolina and obviously we took a step back against Indy. I thought we had a good outing against Tennessee – we let the one run out of the game against Tennessee that was not good, but I felt like the Tennessee game, we started to get a feeling for who we are and what we wanted to do.
Q: Since then it's been good?
A: Since then it's taken off. The guys are understanding their roles and they've studied and we've taken off and we've been able to build our package and understand the things that we want to do with the people that we have.
Q: Antrel Rolle said that the Indy game was a wakeup call, especially in terms of the importance of stopping the run. Was it that simple or did you have to do something different since then?
A: No. It was probably poor coaching because Indy was a pass team and we knew that we had to stop the run but we were set up to stop the pass and they did, they went and they were more physical than we were, they ran the football on us, and yeah, it was wakeup call for us to say, hey, we better stick to our fundamentals and our priorities – stop the run first. So, you learn as a coach and you learn as players and that was somewhat of a wakeup call for us.
Q: You have a first and second round pick who aren't really contributing significantly on defense. Why is that?
A: I think that our first rounder is – we're bringing him along the way we would like to bring him along. He is playing with some talented guys that have veteran experience and he is learning how to become a pro and how to play as a pro. Our second round pick, it's just the number 45. It's a shame that you can only dress 45 on game day, because you're talking about a guy that has a good motor and is very talented and again, he's fighting for that job on Sunday in that 45, so if we can stay healthy, we hope to keep it that way, but any time that guy could emerge and become a factor for us.
Q: After your years in Buffalo, where you didn't have a lot of success as a team, what's it like playing with a team that has possibilities?
A: It's really exciting. It's good to be back in the hunt so to speak without being in the hunt for a little while. It's going to go out and compete and have a chance to punch somebody in the mouth on Sundays and win games – win tight and close ball games. It's really fun to know that when you walk into the stadium, you really have a legitimate shot to be one of the top teams in the NFC, so it's really gratifying.
Q: Now that there are several weeks of play on tape, how much do you have left in your closet and how much do you have to tweak what you've already shown?
A: Oh, there are a lot of things in the closet. We continue to tinker with what we have. There are some things that we can do with some other pieces that we have that we haven't done and as long as the guys keep absorbing the material and having fun doing it and studying, then we'll continue to tinker, but there are a lot of things in the package that we really haven't exposed.
Q: Some dramatic stuff?
A: I don't know what you mean by dramatic.
Q: How has Kenny Phillips been?
A: Very solid. I think that the biggest improvement in our defense is the play of our three safeties and Kenny is a big part of that in letting us do what we like to do. Kenny has been very solid in the games that we have played this year and I think that coming back off of that injury, he's tackled well, he's covered well. We would like for him to have more interceptions, but he's getting the flow. He's getting back into the feel of the game also and I think that will come with time.
Q: The interceptions – has it been still working his way back or a lack of opportunities?
A: Some of it is just rep-wise. I can recall a play against Carolina where it was a dig route and I think that he went for the hit and didn't really see the ball and he reacted a step late and that was because of reps. He didn't get a whole lot of reps in camp, you've got to understand, because we had to manage him and his recovery and so I think that it's just a matter of him getting back and playing more and getting the feel of the game. You could see, like against Detroit, he had a chance to intercept the ball when 81 was running up the sideline and he went for the hit. He's trying to do both – he's trying to be a big hitter and plus, he's trying to make plays and I think that he's more or less trying to be a big hitter right now instead of making the plays on the ball.
Q: Would you rather see him try to make the big plays instead of the big hit or is there a balance there that you see?
A: I think that there's a balance. I think that the young man is very talented. He can do both. I think that when he gets more comfortable and he gets more reps, you'll see all of it come together for him.
Q: Are the three safeties because Deon is forcing you to play him because of the way he plays or just because you like that scheme?
A: That's a package that I like. I think that there are pieces of our defense and there is talent in our defense that you want to use in certain ways and so we just choose to use them in that way.
Q: To get Keith on the field though you'll have to be in a 4-3?
A: No. We have certain packages where he's on the field and I think that Keith is coming off of an injury and there are a number of ways we can use him also.
Q: Do you see him in there on the 4-2-5?
A: That's to come.
Q: When you chose this job, how much did the personnel here play into it?
A: Well, not really. I knew about the guys up front and I knew some of the guys in the secondary, but that really didn't play a factor.
Q: It was Chad Jones at first in this scheme right?
A: That is correct. Really after Chad's accident, that really got me thinking about what to do and where to go and how I wanted to use the different pieces because this was a role that Chad Jones was going to be taking care of.
Q: So this was in place when Chad was here?
A: The idea was in place. The thought process was in place – how to use that young man, etc. When he suffered that car accident, then that really changed and so we started to think in different ways about how to use the personnel.
Q: How much has changed in terms of what you envisioned for Chad and what Deon has been able to bring to it?
A: Not a whole lot. Because Deon has a lot more experience, we're able to do a lot more than what I foresaw doing with Chad, but not a whole lot. I think that we've grown as we've developed the package and we've developed roles that the different players can play.
Q: These guys talk so much about how much they like playing with each other and the chemistry. Is that something that you know or see?
A: Oh yeah. When they're in the meetings, when they're on the field, the way they communicate, the way they talk, they want to be good, they want to do something special, so that's unique and that's really fun to be around. When you have that type of commitment and they're committed to each other and they're going to try not to let each other down, that's really fun to coach.
Q: What about this group is different from other groups you've had?
A: They're really together and you can see it. They hold each other accountable. They get on each other's butt when the other guy makes a mistake. That peer pressure is there. You don't always have that with a defensive group or groups period and so they know how to do it in a way that they're not chastising each other, but they want to do something really special.
Re: how much of an impact does last season, starting 5-0 and then kind of falling apart, have on this group?
A: I can't answer that because I've never heard them talk about that in the setting with me. They wanted to regain the pride that they lost a year ago, I know that. That was a big emphasis in the offseason and going into the season, but they have not talked about that openly with me.
Q: How much have you had to change the defense with Kiwi out and are you surprised that the production has continued without him on the field?
A: Yeah, we had to change a little bit when Kiwi went out. Some of the things that we foresaw to do and were going to do – Kiwi is a special kind of guy, so we looked around and we searched for some guys to take over those roles and we have some guys that can assume that role, but not play it like Kiwi plays it, so that's a special little deal. We continue to learn each other. We're still in the growing process, believe me. I'm still learning a lot more about them and they're still learning a lot more about me and there are more things that we can do and that we will do with them based on their talent level.
Q: How much more involved to do you want to get Jason Pierre-Paul?
A: He is making progress for us and we want to get him more involved and he will become more involved. It just depends on how much more he can handle and execute. He's making a significant contribution on special teams and that's a lot for a young man that's a rookie that's coming in and doing that and then we're asking him to do things other than just put his hand in the dirt and rush the passer and play the run or rush the passer and play the run, so the more he can take on and execute, the more we'll give him. It's up to him.
Q: Barry Cofield has been saying that he wants to play on a defense with an identity or a brand. Are you on your way there and what makes a branded defense?
A: I think that if you punish the runner, if you stop the run and you're able to punish the runner, if you keep people from scoring – I think that's one area that we've really got to improve on, our red zone defense. I'm not too pleased with that. Going into the Dallas game I think we were 19.6. I know it's above that right now. So if we can do that and then if we can create more turnovers and really to be a known defense, you don't play a whole lot. You go three and out and then you watch your offense from the sideline, so if we can do all of those things then we will be well known.
Q: Are you on your way?
A: We're making strides. It's a journey. It's a process for us.
Q: What's the most heartening thing that you've seen?
A: The guys having fun playing the game and their resiliency. Like in the Dallas game, when we were down in points, we were just itching to get on the field. They wanted to go out and they wanted that challenge. I like their mental makeup and their attitude about wanting to go out and stop people. They feel like they can create turnovers and get turnovers. I just like their whole demeanor and their approach to the game, especially on Monday night's game.
Q: As an opposing head coach, what are you thinking when you come up against this defense?
A: Protect my quarterback.
Q: Would this really impact the way you feel about your offense knowing that this defense is ferocious?
A: Yes. I would stay up at night thinking about, "Wow, am I next?"
Defensive Line Coach Robert Nunn
Q: Osi has turned from a pretty unhappy player into a much more focused player.
A: When I first got here, I didn't know what all had happened up to that point, but from my first meeting with Osi until now, everything has been outstanding. From our first meeting, he said what he was going to do. He was going to focus on himself and how he played and how he prepared and he's done that and like I said, he's off to a great start.
Q: During the game on Monday it looked like when you were talking to the defensive line, everyone had a big smile on their face. Has this been more fun than you expected?
A: Yeah, I would say that it's been more fun than I expected at first, but the thing that they've done a great job of is stopping the run and creating those situations. That's what we talked about from our first meeting. The challenges they've had in the past or I'll say last year is that they were in so many situations where they couldn't rush the passer and that's what these guys do well. They've created those situations. In Dallas the other day, all of them were third and long situations, so those are the things that as a group they've done a great job of. When they create those kinds of situations, it is a lot of fun.
Q: Between JPP and Linval, you have a first and second round pick that aren't significant contributors on defense. What do you see from them?
A: Both of them have outstanding talent. They've got a ways to go, they're a little bit green. Linval just hasn't had a chance to be on the field that much, but they're off to a great start. Both of them have done an outstanding job of coming in here from Monday through Saturday and preparing and getting ready to go. They've just both got to be more consistent. Once that happens, both of those two have an outstanding future ahead of them.
Q: Athletically, where do they rank among the players coming into this league?
A: They're up there. JPP has got outstanding athletic ability and once he learns to turn it on every snap and prepare every week and every day, he's got a bright future ahead of him. Linval is off to a great start, it's a situation where there are some pretty good players out there. There's nothing that he's not doing. He's doing a great job. He's just got to wait because at some point this year we're going to have to lean on him. He's got to be ready to go when that happens.
Q: You guys have been really good at getting to the quarterback. Why have you been so successful with that?
A: Again, I said it earlier, you create the situations that we've created. You get guys and teams in long down and distance and that puts their quarterback in the situation where if he holds it, we're going to get to him, so I think that's it. We certainly have not tried to go into a game and knock a quarterback out. That's not even been discussed in our meeting room, but it has happened because of the down and distance situations and plus, when we get up on someone two scores, they have to take some chances and when they do, we've been able to capitalize on it.
Q: Osi has played the run better this year than in the past. Is it more mentally or physical and technique?
A: I think his mental approach has affected his whole entire game. I think he came in here with the right mindset, just like I said earlier, from our first meeting, he talked about getting his mind right and I think that's affected everything he's done. Physically, he has played the run well. You plug the tape in from Monday night against Dallas, he's going against big offensive tackles, taking them on, shedding them, and making tackles. He's in a good place right now with his mindset and it's showing on the field.
Q: He just told us that he's getting more reps and more rhythm, but I just see a different player.
A: Well, he hasn't played every snap, but we've had him in there for most of the snaps, but the guy has just been outstanding in the meeting rooms and on the practice field and preparing for the games and being mentally prepared to go out and play every Sunday.
Linebackers Coach Jim Herrmann
Q: How is Clint Sintim developing?
A: Clint is learning the game, he has great older guys around them. He is going to become comfortable with the game just like the older guys did at some point in his career.
Q: How about Jonathan Goff, it's surprising how quickly he has come along:
A: Like I was saying before, with Jon, it's really his first season that he's fully healthy. He came into training camp healthy, went through training camp healthy. Any time you can do that, that helps. His first two years, he had injuries here and there. He had to sit out, and when you're trying to learn a game and you're sitting out, you can take the mental reps but they ain't the same as being out there, taking the reps, seeing it, getting hit and being knocked on your butt and getting up and saying that you won't let that happen again. You just can't simulate that watching. You have to do it, especially at a linebacker position. He went through training camp and the offseason training camp, stayed healthy, and I think that was the contributing factor to doing what he has done this season.
Q: Obviously with Antonio Pierce gone, and then Keith Bulluck coming in, that he was able to stick out after being buried a little bit:
A: Well, that's the thing. As the position coach, the defense calls for me to have the best three linebackers on the field. I'm going to make sure that I put out the best three guys I have, they are going to know because this is the best three linebackers that play for the New York Giants, these are the decisions that you make. Regardless of the mike, sam, jack, bob, whatever you want to call them, the three best guys are going to be on the football field in one of those three spots and that gives you the best chance to win. If I have a guy standing next to me on the sidelines that is better or maybe knows the game better than someone else on the field because of their spot, you're not going to do that.
Q: Was Goff always going to be the mike or was there a moment when you saw something:
A: I don't think anybody passed anybody by, no. He knew all season and in workouts that he's the mike, and that's the best position for him, and he's one of the best three guys. So, he's playing there.
Q: He just seems so soft spoken, does he seem that way to you?
A: I wish you could be on the sideline and listen. He's very vocal and has a very good mike linebacker voice. He is deep and loud, and when he speaks, like that old commercial, people listen. When he speaks, it's so distinct that when he calls out the call, there is no mistake as to what the call is. Really, I think Michael Boley went through that because he plays the mike in the nickel, he had to learn to have that voice command. It's just something about a guy who makes the call, you're a guy that has your hand in the dirt and you're lining up against 300 pounders, you want to hear that call and there can't be any mistake about it. That's the call and that's what you do. Both of those guys have done a great job with that. We have the benefit for us where you can cut down the mistakes with "I thought I heard" or "I didn't hear" or "What was that" and the guy turns around and gets the crap kicked out of him. You can limit that and you're in great shape.
Secondary/Safeties Coach Dave Merritt
Q: What has impressed you about these guys so far?
A: Like I told you guys before, it's like Christmas to me back in training camp. All of these guys have football instincts and they love each other. So when we're out there and we see the guys communicating with one another, it's something I haven't had since when (James) Butler was here. Butler was able to talk to Sam Madison and a lot of the other guys. Now, we have it back again on each level. The athleticism is the number one thing that stands out for Antrel Rolle, Deon (Grant), and Kenny Phillips, who is continuing to come back and play well for us.
Q: One of other things Antrel said is that communication is excellent:
A: Unbelievable. I mean just the fact that the players are understanding that if you communicate, you can pick up your cell phones and call your mommies and girlfriends, you can do the same thing out on the field, communicate. That's all you have to do. If you talk about things before the play happens, it's going to be that much easier once the play starts. The communication has been on a high level, and I'm going to give a lot of credit to that fact that all of the guys, not just the safeties, I'm talking the corners, linebackers, d-linemen, everyone is communicating.
Q: Does that come from experience?
A: Yes, experience. Let's put it on that. Give them all the credit, it comes from experience and the fact that, again, they love one another and they understand that if we talk about it before it happens, hey, we can play this particular technique this way or that way.
Q: Did you anticipate using three safety packages as much?
A: Yes, yes. You guys remember back when we won it all in 2007, we had three safeties on the field. Now, we've created a package where we can have them on the field first, second, and third down whereas a couple of years ago it was just on third down when we put the three safeties on the field. We had Chad Jones in that plan, and we wanted to talk about it in the spring, so to come in here and see Deon step in at that same position and play as well as he's playing is phenomenal.
Q: There is always a risk bringing in new players like Rolle and Grant, have they exceeded your expectations?
A: To be honest with you, I know you guys may think I'm lying here, but this is exactly the way I thought it would go, to be honest with you, due to the fact that their character is at such a high level. Like we said here earlier, the communication factor, they started doing that back in the spring. Deon and Antrel, even though Kenny wasn't able to go, but it's going exactly the way that I thought it would go.
Q: Does Deon give you more than you planned originally though?
A: Yeah, his leadership…Tim Lewis and I spoke before we signed Deon, and everything that Tim said about him as a leader has all come to pass. I had a blueprint before he came to the Giants organization and just talking to him and being able to see it instead of having a guy tell you "Hey, this is how he is." Being able to see it, it's really clear.