Head Coach Joe Judge
Opening Statement: I appreciate your patience. I wanted to check on a few of the players after the game. Like always, I wanted to make sure I make my rounds to guys before they get out of here. Look, before we get going, I'd like to give credit to the Cleveland Browns. They played a good game tonight. They have a talented football team - it was well coached. They were able to take advantage of a lot of situations and opportunities. You have to give them credit. There were a lot of things that we did well in the game. We didn't do enough well, obviously. We have to capitalize and finish drives. We have to make sure we do a better job of getting off the field and taking advantage of field position we created right there. With that said, it's obviously all three phases and all coaches involved. We all have to do a better job. With that being said, I'll open it up to any questions you may have.
Q: You were more aggressive than usual on those fourth downs in the red area. How much was that impacted by Cleveland has a very explosive offense, you guys were short handed, you felt like you needed to maximize those opportunities?
A: Field goals weren't going to win this game. I'm not afraid to call things aggressively. I'm not afraid if I think we have a good scheme in the kicking game to call a fake. I'm not afraid to run the ball on fourth-and-one. We'll play to our defense at times. If we don't get that, we have to go out there and stand up defensely. Our defense has done that consistently throughout the year. We're going to play to the strengths of our team. Look, I'm not afraid to call it aggressively. We went into that game with that mindset. We have to do a better job of making sure that we coach the right way, execute it the right way and come out with the results we want. With that being said, we're going to call this game aggressively and we're going to play it aggressively. When you make calls like that, you let your players understand that you have confidence in them and that they can play the game aggressively. We have confidence in our players. I want them to go out and play aggressively. I can't tell them all week that they have to go into this game with an aggressive mindset and then hold them back at some point where we feel like we have a chance to make a play.
Q: Can you explain what you saw and what happened on the fake?
A: Look, they did a good job. They obviously fell off and made the coverage. Mike (Priefer) does a real good job of coaching those guys. They were situational - there was a little confusion at first, but they settled on down. We thought we had a chance at it. It was worth rolling the dice right there and playing to our defense. They made a play, we didn't. That's all right. I thought the scheme was sound going in and if we have something else, we'll always look to use it in the right opportunity.
Q: How would you say the operation was with Freddie (Kitchens) as opposed to Jason (Garrett) and how'd you feel like the offense performed tonight? I know you only scored six points obviously.
A: I'm not going to make any type of comparisons here with one or the other. I thought the offense did a good job tonight working together. I think there was good communication. Obviously, everything was cooperative this week with the offense and how they had to do it. I thought they did a good job as a staff in terms of communication through different mediums. Obviously, Jason through a lot of Zoom stuff and then Freddie getting ready to call the game. I felt Freddie called the game in the right way. He kind of moved the target on them a little bit. We had some opportunities down the field to make some plays. We called it aggressively. We just have to make sure that we put ourselves in better positions to execute and finish drives more often.
Q: How much did James Bradberry's absence impact what you guys had to do on defense? How difficult is it defending a team that runs the ball well but also can kind of find those windows in the zone when it has time?
A: I think they did a really good job tonight of using the run game to set up the pass. I think our defense did a good job, for the most part, of really limiting an explosive run game. These two backs are two of the best in the league. Look, they were able to go and find some open windows and take advantage of them and keep drives moving. It's our responsibility to have the players that are in the game coached up and ready to go. We focus on the players that are at the game. We never make any excuses or explanations for anyone who is not at the game and we're focused on the guys that we have tonight.
Q: This is now the fourth straight game where you've scored under 20 points. How would you describe the state of your offense at this point?
A: We just have to come back in here on Wednesday and get focused on Baltimore - find the best opportunity for our team to go down there and make plays. We have to go ahead and finish drives right there.
Q: Tell me about the decision about going with Colt (McCoy) over Daniel (Jones). What do you think of where Daniel is physically for next week?
A: Hopefully, he's doing better. We'll have to look at him again on the grass this week in practice. But, the decision for me was simple. He obviously had two injuries this week. He was worse off than he was before. I say all the time that I want to put guys out there in a position to defend themselves. This team does a really good job of rushing the passer, good flow, and aggressive calls. I want to make sure that I put this guy in a position to defend himself. I didn't think that at the state of where I saw him at practice this week that I was doing the best thing by Daniel long-term. Everybody understand that? I have to make decisions from 30,000 ft. I have to look at what's best for this team in a short term. I also have to consider our players long-term. I have to consider the safety of the guy going forward.
Q: This is a Browns team that has scored over 40 points these last two games. You held them to 20. My question is, had you known they were only going to score 20 points, would that have changed your earlier decisions to be that aggressive?
A: No, you don't go in with some sort of crystal ball and say they're only going to score 20 points. We knew when we got down there that we were going to have an aggressive mindset to go ahead and finish it. Then defensively, we're going to have confidence in our players to go out there and hold them to field position and make a play in the return game with a punt return. That's how we have to gear this game up. My thinking has to be that if I take a chance here, that we have to play to our defense and give ourselves a chance to establish field position in special teams and then put our offense back in field position. That really happened the first try. They stopped the fake. Our defense was able to stand up on a fourth-down right there. We had field position. We were able to get on down there and get a field goal. Look, that's the way that you have to go ahead and play it sometimes. We have to go ahead and make the decision to be aggressive. Obviously, their team scored a lot of points throughout the year, with an explosive offense that does a very good job of moving it, sustaining it - they've really been on a hot streak lately. We knew coming in what type of team they were and we had to call the game a certain way.
Q: Why did you run the fake instead of keeping the offense on the field for that fourth-down play?
A: Just real simple. I thought it was a well-designed fake. We've executed and practiced that consistently throughout the year. I thought the timing was right. You look to go ahead and just roll the dice sometimes and take a chance. You hit that thing, you're the guru. You don't hit that thing, everyone wants to second-guess your decision. I understand that completely. But when the coaches come up with a good scheme and we think it's got a chance to be successful, we're going to go ahead and play that right there.
Q: You had a chance to go back into first place and now you've got two games left. Do you get the sense that time is running out or how do you approach it?
A: Look, our approach is still going to be the same. It's going to be come back to work on Wednesday and put everything into it. We have two weeks left, but the reality is, the only thing we can do anything about is this week right here. So, we have to show back up on Wednesday. We'll have our best week of work as a team. We're going to need our best performance as a team next Sunday. We have to go down there and play a Ravens team who is well coached and they have a lot of talent and are a physical team. Obviously, there are a lot of multiples they can create on offense with the skill players they have along with the physical offensive line. Again, we have to clean up mistakes from tonight before we move forward, but this has to be a game that we make sure we improve on consistently as a team throughout the week and put it together next Sunday.
Q: Are you getting enough play in your pass rush right now? How difficult is it to win a game when the opposing quarterback completes 84 percent of his passes and Dexter Lawrence is the only guy who can get a sack?
A: Obviously, if the other team has that kind of success, they're going to be able to move the ball on you. This team did a good job tonight with the time of possession. Look, we have to go ahead and play the hand of whoever it is. You can't call everything as an all out blitz or fire. You have to play a lot of things based on what their offense is. We just have to consistently do a good job of playing zone defense, matchup in man and win our leverage when we do play man defense, tackle in the space and getting off the field when you get a chance to.
Q: Did the fact that you guys were down Bradberry and (Darnay) Holmes impact how aggressive you guys were with the front seven at all?
A: No. We're always going to go ahead and call it based on the people we have and how we can play it. A lot of times, it's based on who the opponent is and how they play their offense as well. One thing this team does a really good job of is the run game, which sets up the move the pocket plays - the boots, the sprint outs, and things of that nature. If you get caught too much in being too overly aggressive without reason and you're not sound on the back end in terms of closing on space, you can really take advantage of defenses like that who just guard you willy nilly with blitzes and boot away from it, get Baker (Mayfield) in space and make plays when it's clear in front of him right there. But look, that's a talented team. They have a lot of really good players. They have good scheme. They have good coaches. They did a good job tonight. You have to give credit to them. We have to do better as an organization.
Quarterback Colt McCoy
Q: Hey Colt, I was wondering what did you think about that early play call when you guys went for it on fourth down with [Punter] Riley [Dixon] throwing the ball? Obviously, you got taken off the field for it, but what'd you think of that? I'm sure you guys have been practicing that, so what was kind of the thought process behind that?
A: I didn't know it was coming, to be honest. You know, I take responsibility because we should've punched it in on third down. We had lots of trips down there in the red zone and it was frustrating to only come out with three points in the first half. That was sort of my frustration.
Q: Hey Colt, how did the operation go with [Tight Ends Coach] Freddie [Kitchens] being the one in your ear calling plays?
A: Yeah, it was good. You know, there were some ups and downs there, but I think Freddie did a really nice job there. It didn't change much as far as the plays we would've run with [Offensive Coordinator] Jason [Garrett]. The communication was good. I think my frustration lies in we just have to be better in the red zone. That's the bottom line and I think I can do a much better job, but I think collectively as a group we've got to figure it out when we get down there.
Q: When you say, 'ups and downs,' is that what you're referring to, just felt like you didn't finish drives?
A: Yeah, just didn't finish drives. First half, I felt like we didn't even punt, so we were moving the ball, we just shot ourselves in the foot. You know, we went for it on fourth down down and came up a half [yard] short, so those are huge plays in a game like this that we've got to make. If we want to go for it on fourth down with a fake field goal, we've got to convert it. You want to win football games, that's what you've got to do.
Q: Hey Colt, why is it such a trouble for this team to score points right now? This is the fourth straight game you guys as a whole scored under 20 points.
A: I agree. I think when our defense holds an offense like that to 20 points we've got to pull our side of the ball, we've got to score some points. Like I mentioned, coming out of this game that's my frustration is we didn't do enough down in the red zone. A lot of that's on me and I've got to be more detailed, I've got to be better down there. Again, I think all of us can really be better in what we do. It's tough. That's frustrating, not scoring in the red zone is frustrating. That's where we have to be better and if we were better in that area today things would've been different.
Q: How much was trying to hit a big play and get some big plays out of the offense part of the game plan? It seemed like earlier you guys were trying to hit some deep shots.
A: Yeah, we tried, we tried. I think that was a part of it, getting heavy personnel and running the ball and in the second half we just didn't run the ball that well. And some of our adjustments, some of the things we wanted to do in the second half as far as play-action, we never got to it.
Q: Colt, there was a stretch there where this team was getting better every week, winning four straight. Because we can't be in the locker room right now, what is the mood in the locker room after two straight losses right now and at a point where you had a chance to jump back into first place with a win today, but now you're in third and time may be running out?
A: I don't think anyone is down, I think everyone is just fine. We know what's at stake, we knew this was a big game and we just didn't get it done. That's frustrating. I think frustration is probably the way everyone feels in there because we're well-coached, we work really hard each week, we had a lot of things go on this week that could've been a distraction and I felt like as a group and as an offense we really pushed through that. We moved the ball up and down the field and we just have to figure out how to score touchdowns, that's the bottom line. Our defense is playing well, they only gave up 20 points. I think if you want to point the finger at anybody you can point it at me, I need to be better, I need to get us lined up right, I need to make sure I'm pinpoint with my throws down in the red zone and we've got to score more points.
Q: Colt, do you leave the stadium tonight assuming that you're going to be starting next week? What's your thought process with where [Quarterback] Daniel [Jones] is?
A: I think you guys are going to have to talk to Daniel. I'm not sure. I know he pushed really hard to play this week. The trainers are with him everyday and he's working hard, he's a competitor. If he can be out there he's going to be out there, I know that.
Defensive Back Logan Ryan
Q: How much did not having James (Bradberry) affect the secondary tonight?
A: It definitely changed some things. I think you can't replace James Bradberry, but I think everyone has to step up in a different way by doing a little more. Honestly, our hats off to the Browns. I think our coverage was tight; they made some contested catches. We really loaded up to stop the run game which we did, but we really weren't good in third down or in the red area which is, situationally, how you win football games. I think James (Bradberry) would've helped, but him missing wasn't the only problem tonight. Obviously, James affects things, but I don't think it's the reason we lost tonight, and it's definitely not an excuse you'll hear me make.
Q: You haven't been a part of a team with a losing record since you're freshman year at Rutgers, and you guys just clinched that. How do you feel about where this team is at as you go into these last two games?
A: I love where the team is at. I've never been 1-7 before either, but we've fought, and we've fought, and we've fought. We've been counted out, left for dead, we won some games, surprised some people who didn't believe in us, then everyone believed in us, now people don't believe again. It doesn't matter, we are where we are, we've got two games in front of us, we got to go out there and win. And that's all that matters. I've been a leader since my days at Rutgers, and all of our games were hard fought. If you watched Rutgers games they were hard fought, and a lot of the games in my career have been hard fought. I was never a front-runner, I'm not a front-runner now, so I have no problem with the position we're in as long as we believe we can win next week. We've got to watch this film, and get our attitude to be there.
Q: Did you like the fact that (Coach) Joe (Judge) was aggressive the whole game?
A: Yeah, I loved it. Joe is an aggressive head coach. When you're like that, you can do that when you have a really good defense, and you believe in your defense. We have to back our head coach when he does make aggressive calls, when he goes for more points, when he goes for the win, when he goes for the big plays that were close to being made but weren't. Defensively, we have to come on the field and defend the grass a little better than we did. Hats off to them, hats off to Baker (Mayfield); he played really efficiently today, and if we didn't have respect for him before, we definitely have it now. He was one of the most efficient quarterbacks we have gone against this year.
*Q: When a coach tests positive, and you have to have a practice canceled, and a teammate who's very valuable can't play because of a mistake he's made away from the facility, does any part of you feel frustrated that the mistake of one person affects the whole group? *
A: Not at all. I don't know how it's a mistake. My wife can go pick my kids up from preschool or she can go get COVID and give it to me and I've done everything I can to avoid everyone I could… it's something that I don't know is 100% avoidable, I think we predicted that this year. It wasn't our first time missing a practice, it wasn't our first time having someone test positive for COVID, it wasn't our first time having to fill things in. We're not the only team dealing with this, so that's definitely not an excuse. In these situations, I expect myself, and my team to step up and win. I think the opportunity was there. I think the story was written to have every excuse we could make and not make an excuse and go win the game. I think the opportunity was there to win the game tonight, to rewrite the story, to come back just like we did in Seattle with a backup quarterback and upset this and that. I thought we had the opportunity to do that again. And we didn't play well enough to do that. You're not going to find one mistake or one excuse in this franchise, I know you guys are going to try, but I don't think we're making that. They did a better job on third down, in the red area, and we didn't get any turnovers tonight, and that's a recipe for losing football.
Q: How much were you forced to play zone because of personnel?
A: Just as much as we do any other game. Look at the Seattle game, how much man did we play? I don't know what the analytics say, we can look it up on PFF or NextGen stats, but look, we're calling the game to win the game. Cleveland is a team that runs the ball the third best in the league. We sold out to stop the run, we made Baker Mayfield be a pocket quarterback, he was extremely efficient at that. They were in third and managables, which we don't want. They got a bunch of third downs, and in the red area we were 0/3. So man or zone, whatever you want to call it, when you're not good in the red area or on third down, you're not going to play great scoring defense. Is 20 a whole lot of points given up? Of course not. But we had to give up less in order to win the game. That's our job, to give the ball back to the offense, get them more opportunities, force turnovers, and make it hard on the quarterback. I felt like he was extremely efficient today, I felt like he was extremely prepared today, and he played a good game. We have to take that on the chin, and get ready to go against the former MVP in Lamar Jackson next week.
Q: What did you think of the way Baker (Mayfield) performed out of the pocket?
A: He played well. We didn't want him to extend plays. We didn't want him to get out of the pocket, we think he's really great at that. My guys play adamantly tonight. The defensive backfield played spot duty, they came in and we knew it was going to be the most physical game of the year, and we went toe to toe with those guys. Situationally, they executed better. No matter how physical you are, how tough you are, if you're not good situationally, you're not going to keep them off the board. We have to go back and clean up our third down, get back to being one of the top defenses in football where we were for a little bit, we got to clean up our red area, and get that fixed. I think you'll see a better performance next week since we have to have a better performance next week.
Wide Receiver Sterling Shepard
Q: Shep, you guys got it into the red zone several times early on, but you only come out with three points on those three drives. What did you think was going well early and what does it do for the rest of the game when you don't get the points there?
A: Yeah, I thought we were moving the ball great, we've just got to capitalize whenever we get down into the red zone. You're not going to win many games if you don't come away with points and that's just the bottom line, so we've got to capitalize when we get down there and really lock in.
Q: Hey Sterling, in total it seemed like you guys pushed it downfield a little bit more than you have in recent weeks. What was the biggest difference between [Tight Ends Coach] Freddie [Kitchens] calling plays versus [Offensive Coordinator] Jason [Garrett]?
A: No real big difference. We have our staple plays and that's what we did. I mean, we were able to execute them and get those chances to get down and get some points. Like I said, we've got to do a better job with that.
Q: Sterling, you had the four-game winning streak capped by that upset win in Seattle and then these last two weeks the team has just not played the kind of football that you did during that one month of winning. How disappointing is that and is it surprising to you that it's happened this quickly?
A: To be honest, I throw that stuff underneath the rug and I'm really focused on what we've got next week. We have a big challenge ahead of us and we've got to get our eyes on Baltimore. We're not totally out of this thing, so we've got to prepare and that's honestly where my focus is.
Q: Is there any level of disappointment just for tonight that things didn't go better?
A: No. I mean, you have to have a short memory here, you've got to be able to correct what you have to correct and we have to move on, and we have to get ready for this big game that we have and this big challenge that we have going into Baltimore.
Q: Hey Shep, you said that you guys aren't totally out of this, but how much do you see it kind of slipping away these last few weeks?
A: Like I said, my focus is on this next game. We have to control what we can control and at this point that's what we can control is how we prepare for this next game and the attention to detail that we come to this week with.
Q: That's four straight games now with under 20 points scored. Why is it such a struggle for you guys to score points now?
A: We've just got to execute. I love the fact that [Head] Coach [Joe Judge] has the confidence in us to go for those situations that we got into. We've just got to execute and come away with points, it's as simple as that.
Q: Shep, what'd you think of [Quarterback] Colt [McCoy] and how hard is it for an offense when you miss a whole day of practice because of situations and then have to play with your backup quarterback?
A: Yeah, we're not big into making excuses. I thought Colt played great. I felt like we could've done a better job for him making some of those tough catches, but I feel like he played great. And we're not going to use that as an excuse that we didn't get an extra day of practice – we used Saturday as an extra day of practice and got out there on the grass. We've just got to execute better.
Q: Shep, you've been a pretty slippery, elusive receiver in your career. Why are you guys as a group having so much trouble creating separation right now? Is it because of the run game?
A: I don't know where people are getting that from, to be honest. Is that what you're saying? That we're getting, what, two yards of separation? In the NFL, that's open. I don't know what the analytics say, but you can go off that if you want to. I know what I see on film and for those of them who think that way, go look at the film.
View photos from the Week 15 matchup between the Giants and Browns in primetime at MetLife Stadium.