Head Coach Joe Judge
Opening Statement: Today we've kind of started all of our focus on Seattle. Moving forward, we'll work today through Friday, we'll fly out there early on Saturday and stay throughout the weekend, return on Monday. Obviously, this is a very explosive team in all three phases of the ball. Starting on offense, obviously, Russell Wilson is one of the top players in the league. He has a ton of top targets, whether it's throwing it deep down to (D.K.) Metcalf or (Tyler) Lockett or handing the ball off to one of their backs. They all run strong, physical, downhill. It's a big, explosive, size-speed team. Offensively, they pose a number of problems that we have to go ahead and start working on today to give ourselves a chance.
Defensively, this team has been very consistent schematically throughout the year. Obviously, Ken (Norton Jr.) does a great job drawing from his experience throughout the years in this system, really tying together the front with the backend. They've really started to turn it on these last five games. Twenty-two sacks I believe is the number, and they've really been going ahead and making a big difference right there. The backend is very opportunistic. They have those long, size-speed corners, and those safeties come on down. Obviously, (Jamal) Adams is one of the top players in the league. This guy is a headache for whoever he plays against right there. Whether it's making plays on tipped balls in coverage or being a rusher, both off the edge or coming off forward to stop a run in the box down low, this guy poses a number of problems you have to really account for.
The kicking game, look, I see their players playing the way they're coached. You watch Larry Izzo as a player, that's what he is as a coach. His players play keyed in, they're very intentional, they have a great sense of urgency. I think he has a group of guys out there right now who really play the way he played. They're really buying into what he's doing. You can see on tape the identity really jumps out at you. Obviously, there are a lot of things we have to work on this week. We'll get started today. That being said, any questions I can answer, we can open it up right now.
Q: You talked so much about progress. You have a lot of young guys who have never played meaningful December football. Can that accelerate progress for young guys? Can that teach them things that they might not learn otherwise?
A: I think you have to learn from every situation you're in. Whether it's a meaningful game in September, October, November or December, we have to learn from every experience we have. It's our duty not only to learn from when we're on the field, but also learn from making mistakes. We're going to have mistakes. We can't repeat mistakes. We have to make sure we keep moving forward and learn from that. Obviously, going on the road as a young guy and playing in a tough environment like Seattle, with or without fans, you're playing against a great team, coached very well, plays with a high sense of urgency and energy. It's a tough place to go out there and play. It's an experience that these guys will get to learn from and go forward with their careers. I'd just say just in general terms, to me, any time of year you're playing, obviously, the stakes keep getting higher. The competition gets tougher as the year goes on because teams have played together longer, they've created more chemistry, everyone has gotten a little better as a team at this point right here, and the players across the league all have more experience playing next to each other. The competition continues to get tougher, and that's just the nature of the NFL.
Q: What's the plan with Daniel (Jones) this week in terms of easing him back into seeing what he can do or are you going to throw him right out there? Where is he at physically? Just curious where everything stands with Daniel as of today?
A: Really, we're waiting to hear a lot of feedback from the trainers, to be honest with you. He came in today, deep in the playbook and ready to work. We'll see some stuff with the trainers today. Today is going to be kind of a practice work hybrid structure. Some early practice, individual and group periods. Then we're going to have kind of a team walkthrough on the backend today after some conditioning. We'll kind of see what he's able to do, and that will really help us plan out more tomorrow and Friday going forward.
Q: Is he a guy that if the trainers kind of say to limit him, you have to talk him off the ledge and not have him do too much to risk reinjuring it going into the week?
A: I think like a lot of our guys, Daniel is a guy that is very competitive. He has a tremendous work ethic and he's a very tough guy. You have to kind of pull a lot of these guys back because they're coming in wired with the mindset that they're getting ready for a game. As coaches, it's our responsibility sometimes to protect players from themselves.
Q: I have a big picture question and a Seattle question. I'll start with the Seattle question. How do you prepare for a wide receiver like Metcalf in terms of having the cornerbacks go up against a bigger body like that?
A: You have to find the best guy on your team who can at least kind of simulate some of the size. But listen, this guy is a rare guy. You try to simulate his size and speed and playmaking down the field. You don't have a lot of guys walking the earth like him. The reality is, you have to do everything you can to give your players the right looks from tape, the right looks in practice, the scout teams. We have to work to prepare each other the best possible. But look, we all understand this guy is a tremendous player. He's an elite player in the league. We can't do anything to just flat out replicate it, so we have to do the best we can in practice, and then prepare our guys mentally so when they see him on the field, they understand it's going to be different than what they've necessarily seen in practice.
Q: The big picture question is, you've spoken all year about making progress and working towards a vision. Now you're at the end of the season, and the vision and the playoffs are sort of in reach. What takes precedence if they come into conflict? Any kind of an in-game decision, maybe a roster decision, maybe a starting quarterback.
A: Look, our intention is always to just keep improving as a team every week. I know it looks like we're down in the home stretch, but we still have five games to go. Right now, there is a third of the season pretty much that still has to be played. There's a lot of football left to be played, and we have to keep that in mind. Over the course of the next five weeks, we have to make tremendous improvement as a team. That being said, we're going to always do everything we can to give our players a chance to be successful out there. We're going to always look to put the players in the best position to play to their strengths. We'll use our personnel however we need to to give ourselves an advantage. Whether that's changing somebody in the lineup or changing something schematically by a game plan, we're going to always do what's best for the team.
Q: What do you think has been the key to the run game improvement? Did you have to do anything much different than what you had planned when you had Saquon in the lineup?
A: I think the line has obviously throughout the year worked together and made a lot of improvement. I think there's a reflection of how these guys have been able to compete through games together and how that's improved. It's tough to simulate some of that stuff in practice. We do everything we can. We did everything we could competitively through training camp. The nature of it is you really want to use them in the games. Preseason games are key. We didn't have those. I've seen a tremendous amount of improvement week by week in game action from the line. In terms of scheme, we've changed it a little bit each week based on who we're playing and also who we have available. In terms of what we would do when we had Saquon, I can see a lot of the things we're doing right now, Saquon would have a lot of success doing. Wayne's (Gallman) doing a lot of stuff right now. Alfred's (Morris) doing a lot of stuff right now and Devonta (Freeman) when he was healthy, a lot of the same thing. We may tweak a game plan week by week. Ultimately, we're trying to find an identity each week in what we want to be in that game plan and play physically and aggressively to it.
Q: Will Colt McCoy get all the first team reps?
A: We'll actually vary that a little bit. Colt will take the majority of them. We'll have to see where Daniel is at physically and what he can do with the trainers. Until we have that answer, I can't give you an absolute answer right now. We'll kind of roll (Clayton) Thorson through as well and make sure he gets his share of reps and we'll have everyone prepared to play.
Q: What is your level of confidence with Colt?
A: I have a lot of confidence in Colt. The way this guy comes to work every day and prepares. Every chance he gets to get on the field and compete. I've been able to coach against this guy and now he is with us right now. You can see how competitive this guy is. He's got a lot of instincts, a lot of savvy. He draws from his experience. He's a tough dude, he's mentally tough, he's physically tough. He's a guy that's very well respected on this team, in the locker room and on the field. The guys really like Colt, they rally around him just like they do Daniel. He's a guy that puts a lot of confidence in the players in the huddle. I always talk about you want a quarterback who is going to step in the huddle with 10 sets of eyes looking at him knowing this guy is going to give them the answer. I think Colt is that guy and Daniel is that guy. We have a number of guys on this team that can step in the huddle with command and really go ahead and give guys confidence. I have ton of confidence in Colt and I have a ton of confidence in Daniel.
Q: How is Daniel feeling?
A: I can't speak for specifically on how he's feeling. I know he's here today working very hard, doing everything he can.
Q: How curious are you to gauge the progress that you guys have made since the beginning of the season with the opportunity to do it against one of the conference's best teams?
A: I think when you want to compete, you want to compete against the best. We're going to get an opportunity this week to go against one of the best teams in the league. Through the course of Pete (Carroll) being there, they've always been very competitive. Been very successful, they get after you on defense. They play very physical on offense in the run game. They can also get downfield, they are very explosive. One of the top quarterbacks in the league year in and year out, if not the top. They obviously have a couple receivers that are among the top in the league. In the kicking game, this team can really flip the field. They've got good specialists. You've got to get ready to play on a long field with (Michael) Dickson punting the ball. He puts that thing on down there a pinch inside the 10-yard line. Your offense has to be ready for backed-up series and moving the ball down the field. This team is definitely going to give us everything we can handle. We've got a long week of preparing. Make sure we're crossing our T's and dotting our I's. You can't go out there half (inaudible) against this team.
Q: I know you're aware of everything. You weren't with the Giants when Wellington Mara was still with us. His goal was always for his Giants to play meaningful games in December. I'm just curious if John Mara has said anything to you about that at any point? Are you aware that for this franchise, you are realizing one of its long standing goals and something it hasn't done a lot of lately.
A: I've had a lot of conversations with John throughout the season. I'll keep that between us. I think everyone's goal at some point in the season is to make sure that you're relevant and meaningful down the stretch. That being said, we've really kept the focus week by week this year. We're going to keep it right there right now. Just weekly improvement.
Q: What impressed about how Niko Lalos came in there and made some big plays? It was his first real NFL action. What has he shown you behind the scenes to build up to the point where in Week 12 you were confident throwing him out there like you did?
A: Any time someone shows in practice they can make plays on a consistent basis, we have no problem putting him in the game. That's really it. If you show it to us in practice, we'll do it in the game. That's kind of always been our attitude. He's a guy that week by week has made constant improvement. This guy plays on special teams for us, he plays on the defense for us. He also plays on the scout team as a fullback and a tight end. This guy has shown a lot of improvement throughout the year. I think the one thing that's very impressive about this guy is whether it's in training camp where he's the last out of the building and he's knocking on T-Mac (Thomas McGaughey) and Tom's (Quinn) door wanting to talk about the kicking game with them or it's the bye week and he's asking Pat Graham can we zoom and talk about some of the scheme stuff. This is a guy that works really, really tirelessly. We saw him do things like you saw on Sunday. We've seen it throughout the year in practice. The opportunity came up for him. I think what will impress you about any player is when the opportunity arises, does the preparation show up. I think it did with Niko. I'm proud of how he played. We're excited to see him going forward. I think he's got a lot of growth left in him. I think he has an opportunity to be a very good player in this league. He works hard every day to give himself the opportunity to improve.
Quarterback Daniel Jones
Q: How are you feeling and what have you been able to do and not do so far?
A: I'm feeling good and it's healing, recovering, so just trying to take it day by day, do what the trainers and doctors are telling me to do and follow their guidance on all that stuff. It's feeling better and certainly working hard to make sure it keeps going that way.
Q: How do you view how realistic it is to be back this week? And how do you balance that between short-term obviously for this week and then long-term trying to win the division here and this is a key final five games?
A: I think as far as my approach, I certainly want to play and I want to be out there and doing everything I can to get out there. Where that puts me or how I recover depends on what I do day to day and that's what my focus is, on what I'm doing and focusing on healing up.
Q: The traditional question to ask players in your situation is 'If there was a game today, would you be able to go?' I know you didn't practice today, but do you feel like you're close enough that you'd be able to gut something out today?
A: I'm not sure. I think, luckily, there's not a game today and to think of a hypothetical here, I'm sure we all use the week to prepare our bodies to play on Sundays. That's part of the schedule and the way it works for all of us, so I'm not sure. My goal is to continue to improve throughout the week.
Q: Was there any relief for you that this doesn't seem to be something that's going to cost you the rest of the season?
A: Yeah, I think as far as where it puts me and how I recover, that's up to me, up to how I approach this process and I'm doing everything I can to get back as soon as possible.
Q: We were told you worked with the trainers today. What were you doing with the trainers? What were you able to do? Are you at the point where you can even run on the leg at this point?
A: Just working with them in the training room doing treatment and certain exercises just to try to help it heal. Exactly what we did, I'm not sure we're going to talk about that, but it was good. It was feeling better and I'm working to progress it every day.
Q: Do you think in hindsight you made it any worse by coming back into the game for a couple plays?
A: I don't think so. I think at that point I was obviously wanting to be back in the game and thought I could and wanted to give it a shot, so I don't think I made it any worse. I thought I could go back out there.
Q: Talking to some people who have had hamstring injuries, a lot of what they say is the only thing that helps it is rest. Is it fair to say that the only thing that's going to make it better is you not doing much?
A: Like I said, rest and recovery through the week is a big part of getting healthy and playing games on Sundays for everyone in the NFL. Certainly use the week to recover. I think rest is a piece of it, but there's also a number of other things that go into the healing process and just making sure I recover as quickly as I can.
Q: I know this isn't the same as injuries you've had in the past, but what experience are you drawing from those injuries you've had in the past as far as balancing being patient versus pushing yourself to get back on the field as quickly as possible?
A: Yeah, I think my approach has always been to try to get back as soon as possible and I think you understand where your body is, what you can do and I think every injury is different. You've got to listen to your body, but at the end of the day, as soon as I can get back on the field and recover, I want to be out there, so that's my goal.
Q: We know what the physical toll and the recovery needs to be this week. Are you keeping the mental side – the preparation – the same as you would if you weren't dealing with this injury? And as far as the meetings go and stuff like that, I would imagine your role hasn't changed much in terms of you guys getting together and putting this game plan together for Sunday?
A: Certainly preparing the way I always do to play and making sure that while I'm not in practice today, still getting those reps and making sure I understand what exactly we're doing and prepare myself to play. That's certainly my approach this week as it would be any.
Q: You talked a lot at the beginning of the season about your relationship with [Quarterback] Colt [McCoy] and how he's helped you in that respect. I'm just curious, if the roles reverse this week, how do you approach that relationship with him if he's the one who ends up getting the start on Sunday?
A: The approach we've both taken throughout this year is to prepare to play and I know every week that he hasn't played, he's been prepared to play. He does a great job watching tape and understanding the game plan, knowing what we're doing and preparing to play. That's certainly the approach that we both take every week and I certainly wouldn't skip doing that this week.
Quarterback Colt McCoy
Q: We've been hearing from some of your defensive teammates about these fast Friday periods, that you're going out there and kind of putting on a show. I was just curious if you could tell us a little bit about that. What's your mentality when you go out there and, I don't know, no-look passes? It sounds like they're describing a pretty crazy quarterback.
A: No, I'll tell you what, going against our defense week to week, you get to see a lot of different looks, a lot of different coverages, a lot of different pressures. They do a tremendous job. That's actually been really good for me to see all of those looks. I try to give them the best look I can each week. Those guys play at a high level, so any time you go out there, you better be prepared. It's been a great conversation talking to Logan (Ryan), talking to James (Bradberry), really the linebackers, anybody who 'hey, where was that guy going to be? Was he wrapping behind me? What did you think the coverage was?' Those sorts of things. That's part of my job, to give those guys good looks.
Q: They're exaggerating a little bit?
A: I guess. I don't know what all they've told you. But at the same time, it's also about developing our receivers, the guys that are rookies, the undrafted guys. Making sure that they know the depths of their routes, where I think they're supposed to be in zone versus man. We go out there and we work really hard. Again, our defense is playing at a high level right now, which has been really nice.
Q: I would assume that your preparation for this week has not changed at all other than you might not be running fast Friday this week?
A: Yeah, that's exactly right. Not a whole lot has changed.
Q: The only question I have is, I guess you've had one start since December of 2018. Do you have to knock some rust off?
A: Yeah, I felt like I was a little rusty last week, to be honest. A couple plays I wish I could have back. But we'll see what happens this week. I know DJ (Daniel Jones) is extremely tough. He's the leader of this football team. He's going to do everything he can to be out there. But I'm sure I'll get some reps in practice this week. I have to take advantage of those I do get.
Q: You've been around. You're not some young guy who's running in there for the first time. If you play on Sunday in Seattle, what do you know about this offense and what you can bring to this Giants team?
A: First of all, I just have to go out there and do my best to execute the plays that are called. I think we definitely need to continue to run the football. We've been doing that well over the last four or five weeks. Ball security has been great for us. Just those two things right off the bat come to mind. I'll do my best if I happen to be out there to make that happen.
Q: Is there any reason why a lot of people when they think about a backup quarterback they say 'oh boy this is going to be a problem. He's a liability.' Do you look at yourself like that in any way?
A: No, you can't ever look at yourself that way. I think that's why scout team is valuable. You're not necessarily getting your team's offensive reps, but you're getting reps. You're working on footwork and you're working on IDs, you're working on seeing coverages, different protection looks. But you're right, running our offense, executing our offense and what we do is all mental for me. At least up to this point it has been. DJ and I spend a lot of time together studying. 'How are we going to play this if they do this? How are we going to see it if they do this?' The communication has been great. But again, there's nothing like reps. You're right.
Q: A lot of people look at this game and say Colt McCoy might be starting for the Giants. He's a guy who has been around a long time but doesn't have a lot of wins. Do you think you have been given a fair shake in the NFL? You've been on some pretty bad teams. I'm sure I don't have to remind you. There were some good ones. too. I think you went pretty deep with the 49ers one year.
A: You're right, I've been around the league for a long time. Any time you get to go out as a starter, if that happens this week, you're one of 32 guys that get to do that in the whole world. I certainly don't take that for granted. I choose to look forward and not look backward. A lot of things that have happened to me in the past have been a lot of good learning experiences. There's a lot of valuable things I can take from my career so far. My focus right now is really on this team and what we've got going. If I'm called on, how I can be my best out there for us.
Q: If you do get the opportunity, what do you need to do to replace Daniel?
A: I just need to go out there execute and be myself. Daniel has played at a really high level the last three weeks. I think that's why it's so frustrating for him. You could see the growth that he's made. He's playing at a really high level. I think for me, it's communication. Working with wideouts, working with running backs. We're doing a lot of stuff on the line. Who knows what we'll do this week? Just being prepared, that's the name of the game. That's why the Giants brought me here. I think that's the expectation. If your number is called, whether it's quarterback, receiver, on the other side of the ball on defense, when you have to step up, you have to step up. I just have to be mentally prepared for whatever happens.
Q: You said you haven't had many opportunities. I think it's three starts since 2014. That's also your last win as a starter. Has it felt like a long time for you?
A: Yeah, you have to figure out ways to compete with yourself, whether that's at practice, whether that's in the meeting room. Everything I do or any backup quarterback does is mostly mental. I don't look at it as how long it's been since I started. Last year was hard, I was injured. First time I had really dealt with something like that. That made last year feel like many years. I'm really counting my blessings to be back out here. I had a good training camp. We have an awesome QB room and great coaches. I've been very proud to be a part of this football team. Part of the expectation for me is to be prepared to play. If that happens, it happens. I'll do my best.
Linebacker Blake Martinez
Q: Obviously, Russell Wilson this week. What makes this guy so good?
A: I don't know if the media session is long enough. But I think he's just able to do it all. He's able to extend plays, make the deep ball passes, get the guys in the right check at the right time, make the big plays when they're needed to be made, knows how to get his team back in the game. I can keep going on and on. He's just an incredible player.
Q: I know in this situation, a lot of times players when a backup quarterback might play, they always say 'I have confidence in whoever it is.' You go against Colt McCoy in practice almost every day, and we hear about the exploits and how he does against the first team defense. Is there any reason why other than the normal you saying you have confidence in him, why you really might have confidence in him?
A: I know when it first happened, and obviously, going into this week, the first thing I told him was 'I'm happy I don't have to go against you on Friday.' We have a fast Friday. He does kind of the whole two-minute drill, all that type of stuff. He tries to do certain plays, no-look passes, all these types of things. I've had confidence in him every single time we've had practice, every single day he's been here. I'm excited for him to get the opportunity come Sunday.
Q: Is there an onus on the defense maybe to kind of look and say 'look, our starting quarterback might not be there. We have to even do more to protect our offense because Daniel is not there'?
A: No, I think overall just as a defense, our biggest thing is improving each and every week. Any guy we put out there, whether it's on offense, defense or special teams, you know that they're out there for a reason. Everybody here knows they can get the job done. When we go out there, we know we have to do better than we did last week and just make every play that comes to us. Like I said, just keep improving.
Q: I don't think I'm talking out of school when I say that the level of competition is going to go up this week and probably the next couple of weeks. What does that mean for the team? Are you looking forward to this challenge? Do you see this as a good way to measure yourself against the top teams in the conference and the league?
A: Definitely. I think as a competitor, you want to have these opportunities to play teams like this. I think every week, it's hard to win no matter who you're playing. I think for us throughout this season, it's always been a play here, a play there at least at the beginning of the season. Now you're starting to see everything kind of come together for us across the board. I think this is just another test for us to show that and like I said earlier, show that improvement each and every week and go and make those plays to win the game.
Q: The Seahawks have twice as many wins as you. I'm guessing that you don't feel that they're twice as good a team as you?
A: No, definitely not. I think especially us as a team, we have full confidence in us. We know throughout the season, it's always been certain things that we've done that have hurt us. I know that us as a team, when we go out there and play the way we can play, we know we can hang with anyone and we're a really good team.
Q: When you look at the standings, you lead the NFC East based on the technicality of beating Washington twice. Do you feel like a first place team?
A: I don't think we really think about that. I think we look at ourselves as a team that's getting better each and every week. That's a really… Coach Judge always talks about it, that we're a team going like this (hand gesture 'up'). That's really all we're focused on each and every week. As long as we're doing that, as long as we're improving each and every week as individuals and then as a team, things are going to go in our favor. We're going to keep showing that every single Sunday.
Q: Do you even think about things like you control your own destiny now?
A: Yeah, I think overall throughout the whole season, I think you think that way. Everybody started 0-0, so as long as you go out every single week and go out and win and improve, you're going to control your own destiny. Especially once you come to this November, December football, that's the best time to play your best ball and I think that's where we want to be moving forward.
Q: To sort of build off those questions they just asked, I'm curious I know you guys believe it, but how much do you think this team needs to beat one of these top teams or these winning teams that you're playing in these next four-game stretch to prove to everyone outside the building that you're a good team and a serious contender?
A: To be honest, I don't think we care too much about the outside opinion. For us in general, we want to go out there and show our own improvement and show ourselves that we can go and finish those types of games. Kind of going back to earlier in the season, we kind of shot ourselves in the foot multiple times where we could have won multiple games early on. We want to show that we're that winning type of team and go finish those, like I said, that November and December football.
Q: Obviously, you said how physically talented Russell is. From the pre-snap, post-snap chess match that you guys have with essentially the quarterback every week, I'm just curious is that chess match different with a guy like Russell? Do you look forward to going up against a quarterback like that? What does that look like? What is that preparation like for you guys?
A: Whenever you go up against that type of caliber player, especially at the quarterback position, it makes it a really fun week, especially for me, to go in and kind of dissect what he does and how he kind of adapts throughout the game, what he does to get his team back into it, certain plays, certain formations, all these types of things that go into it. I think it's going to be a great challenge. It's going to be something that we have to keep going. Obviously, they're a great team and they're going to make plays. But being able to, like you said, make that adjustment during the game and kind of get certain looks that he's not going to recognize, and kind of get him two steps behind if you can.
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