Head Coach Joe Judge
Opening Statement: I appreciate your time today. I'll start out real quick just offering our thoughts and prayers to Coach (Ray) Perkins' family. Coach was a guy who touched a lot of lives in the National Football League as well as college football. There are a lot of relationships around this country with him. Personally, I've had some crossover with Coach through his time coming through Tuscaloosa when I was down there, as well as some contact early in my tenure here. But I appreciate everything he did for me, the time he shared with me, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.
That being said, we've moved on all of our focus today past Seattle. We're on to the Cardinals now. This is a team that's very explosive. This is a very talented team. There are a lot of people on this team that can make a difference on all sides of the ball. I think it starts right away with the way the team is built. That starts with the head coach and how he calls it and how he gets the offense moving. Kliff (Kingsbury) does a great job in terms of scheme, using tempo, really creating matchups for his players and letting them play to their strengths. This quarterback (Kyler Murray) is obviously a dynamic player. I've been asked a lot of questions relative to how is he similar to Russell Wilson. I think these are very different players, but both are very good with similar skillsets in terms of being able to run and throw. But he's totally his own player. This guy does a great job improvising on his feet, extending plays, keeping his eyes down field and making big throws. He has a rocket for an arm, and this guy can be as aggressive as he wants to because he's very, very accurate with the ball. You put that along with the receivers he has to throw to. This is a group of weapons that's very explosive. Offensively though, it really starts with the running game with them. (Kenyan) Drake and (Chase) Edmonds, these guys are both having good seasons. They do a very good job of getting the ball downhill at you. They have a very good zone run game. They'll also mix up some game plan runs and pulls and gap schemes. Kliff does a good job of mixing that in with the tempo and keeping you on your toes.
Vance (Joseph) on the defensive side, he really coordinates it from the backend aspect of it. He's done a very good job mixing looks. This is a blitz heavy team. We have to be alert for a lot of movement, a lot of pressure throughout the game plan. They do a very good job of changing up on you. They'll blitz linebackers, DBs, whoever's involved, everyone is going to get a turn. He keeps it very multiple and will spin it on you.
Then jumping over to special teams, Jeff Rodgers is one of the more aggressive coaches in the league. He does a very good job. His units are always very well prepared, and he calls a game to make big plays, so we have to be on our toes in all three phases. We have a lot to prepare for this week. We have a lot of ground to cover on this opponent. That being said, I'll open it up to any questions you may have.
Q: You probably saw on the tape that the Cardinals were rotating some interior offensive linemen last week, and they've done that a few times. I'm wondering just in your opinion why you think it's so prevalent for teams to rotate on the defensive line, but why it's so rare to see that on the offensive line?
A: I think the old-school school of thought is you want to have five guys operating as one unit on the offensive line, whereas the defensive line you're trying to keep guys fresh. For us, we're in a similar situation. We're rotating a lot of our offensive linemen right now. We've taken that approach in terms of number one, developing as many players as we can. Number two, keeping guys as fresh as we can so that throughout the course of the game, we feel that we're better prepared. I don't know if that's their reason for it. It's working for them, they're doing a good job, they're developing a lot of players, and they've been effective. These guys protect the quarterback as well as anybody in the league.
Q: The question is about Kyler Murray and bottling him up. Some teams have been able to do that successfully, a lot of them lately. What are your thoughts about how he's looked and if he's looked a little different? How much of a threat is he still, despite maybe having going through some pains right now?
A: This dude is a threat every time he's got the ball, which is basically every play. Obviously, we're going to talk to our team about trying to limit his extended plays and trying to keep him from really making explosive plays with his feet. That's a lot easier said than done. There are a lot of things we're going to have to do in practice this week to get us prepared for that. I think the thing that's, I don't want to say unique, but very special about him is he throws the ball equally as well when he rolls to his right or his left. A lot of quarterbacks are very heavy to roll out to their dominant hand so they can throw on the run. This guy does a tremendous job of throwing back across his body. He can throw at different arm angles, whether he's throwing it sidearm or over the top. The ball comes at you so quick with this guy, and he's just ridiculously accurate. You can see that baseball background how this guy just gets that thing in there. He's very accurate, puts you in tight windows, he's very aggressive with it, and he has very sure-handed receivers that are used to catching balls in tight spaces. They make big plays as a result.
Q: You mentioned Ray Perkins before. Are you able to share maybe one or two things he has told you and helped you with as a coach? Are you familiar with his legacy with the Giants, though it was many years ago?
A: I am familiar with it, yes I am. I've had a lot of conversations with both coaches who have worked under him as well as coaches to come after him, both here and down in Tuscaloosa as well. Actually, the first time I met Coach Perkins, I was actually working at Southern Miss. for a spring and he was at a junior college down the road. He came up and watched us practice one day and we just spent some time talking. I had just come from Alabama, he had been at Alabama obviously through his time. We shared some stories about Tuscaloosa. But he spent a lot of time with me that day actually talking about being a young coach and really working with players and developing the players. That was the biggest thing that he really shared with me, and that's a message that's been echoed to me by a lot of people I've been around that have been very successful. The development of the players is what he really hammered me with, and that really came after a spring practice and watching a lot of young guys out there trying to plug guys around and find the right spot for them. He was just sharing some wisdom along 'hey listen, give everybody an opportunity to improve and don't make your mind up too early from what you think someone can do.'
Q: Joe, when you look back at when you came here, what was the most crucial thing you installed in this team to change the culture?
A: You know, I think with me I've always had a big belief in just discipline and accountability. I think the accountability to your teammates – and that's coach to coach, coach to player, player to player, player to coach – we all have to be accountable to one another and that's in how we work, in how we prepare and that's in whatever the result of our preparation is. Don't make any excuses, just call it what it is, be honest with each other. If we're transparent and we're honest, we can all go ahead and improve and move on. But to me, it's just about being accountable to each other and that discipline comes with that as well because if you know you have to own up to the man next to you, if they're counting on you, then you have to do everything it takes to be successful.
Q: Hey Joe, what has turned around the running game? I think you have seven in a row now with at least 100 yards rushing. And did you have a [Quarterback] Daniel [Jones] update?
A: As far as Daniel, we're going to give him an opportunity today to move around the field. We're still in that point of the week where I haven't seen him do anything physical yet this week since the last week really. We'll see him move around today. We're optimistic, I know he's going to tell us everything we want to hear, we've got to again use our eyes instead of our ears with Daniel, so we're going to put him out there today and make sure we give him a chance to progress. Today's a walkthrough, tomorrow we'll be on the field moving around and then Friday will be a big day for us to kind of make a final decision hopefully going into the weekend. In terms of the run game, I don't think 'turn around' is probably the right phrase for it. I think what I just see is consistent improvement and these guys have worked hard day in and day out. Look, we've adjusted schematically based on what we do well and how we can have an advantage over certain opponents. Our guys have been very fluid in what we've asked them to do. They've really bought into the techniques we're teaching and they've done everything they can to master them, so to me I think it's just the cumulative work they're putting throughout the season and just seeing one day stack on top of the other.
Q: Hey Joe, I know you're not looking at this in any way, shape or form yet, but I'm going to ask you about it. Your game was flexed in Week 15, the Browns game. I'm sure you'll play them at 1 a.m. or 1 p.m., whenever they tell you to play, but the fact that that is a national sign that your team is now relevant, your team is in a playoff chase. You know what's coming with your team as far as the pressure with that, the outside noise with that. How do you keep that away – you were in it for every year you were with the Patriots – but also really embrace it maybe?
A: Yeah, I think just the focus has to always be on what we're doing right now and the process of getting ready for the Cardinals. The fact that the game was flexed, to be completely transparent and honest with you, we'll play whenever. We're so fortunate to be able to go out there – and we talked about it as a team today – we're fortunate to be able to go out there and play football. There was a period this summer where we're all sitting there on phone calls and talking to each other of 'Are we going to have a season? Is it going to start late? How are we going to get this thing going?' To be at the point we are in the season right now, we're just very fortunate to be playing. But in terms of the pressure and the noise outside, you just have to keep your focus on what you're doing immediately. Today's Wednesday, we're working on early downs, working on the kicking game, working on fundamentals. Tomorrow's Thursday, we're working a lot of situational football, third down, red zone, two-minute. Friday's going to be a red zone day for us, it's going to be a lot of review for us from throughout the week. If we just keep our focus on what we have to do that day to improve and get ready for Sunday, that's all that really matters. Right now, there's a lot of talk about hypothetical games. We can't sit here and live in some imaginary world and think about things that don't exist yet. The Cardinals are very real, they're getting on a plane, they're coming to play us at MetLife and that's what we have to get ready for.
Q: Joe, there was a stat that the last time the Giants had a defense that has been as productive as you've been over the last four games were the two Super Bowl years. Do you feel like this defense is playing at a championship level and is good enough to bring you through the rest of the season and beyond?
A: I like the way they're improving, I love the way they're working every day. I think this team is really playing as what we say is a 'team'. This unit's really coming together nicely, they're building on their ability to play with a lot of multiples, they're building on their positional versatility, which allows [Defensive Coordinator] Pat [Graham] to put together creative game plans and allow us to go ahead and use some disguise. And also, it ultimately comes down to the fundamentals, being able to play straight ahead and beat the man across from you. I think our guys have really improved fundamentally as well as schematically. You know, in terms of everything else, we're trying to get this team good enough to play against the Cardinals this week. Anything after that, we haven't discussed or thought or talked about. We have a ways to go as an organization, we have a lot of improvement we have to make, there's a lot of things I have to do better, there's a lot of things we all have to do better playing and coaching-wise, so today's going to be a good focus on getting a step forward and we have to focus on that every day.
Q: And just on the defense, [Linebacker] Blake [Martinez] will be back this week?
A: Again, I have to be fair to Blake and see where he's at. I hope so. He was in meetings with us today, had a smile on his face and laughing, so you can always cut it with Blake. But obviously, guys are coming out of games, they're banged up, they're sore. Today being a walkthrough day is really part of the recovery from our trip going out west, so that should allow some guys with some nicks and bumps to do some things in practice, but when we get out there tomorrow it'll kind of give us a better look in terms of guys that are dinged and bumped up in terms of how they can move around.
Q: You know things are going well where I don't think you've had a question since Sunday about special teams, so I'll be that guy. What's kind of been going wrong in that phase the last two weeks and how do you fix it?
A: Look, we just go back to working on the fundamentals and making sure we're communicating as a unit moving forward. Again, that's obviously a phase that we put a large emphasis on here, we have good players on there, we have good coaches working with it. Playing against good teams, they're going to have a chance to make plays. It's our duty and our responsibility to make sure they don't make plays, so we've got to do a better job of coaching it and playing it and it starts with me.
Quarterback Daniel Jones
Q: How do you feel?
A: I'm feeling good. I'm feeling better. Just trying to get this thing healed up and hopefully back out there.
Q: How close do you think you are to being back where you were before?
A: I don't know. I think it's a daily process. I'm' working every day to get better and to heal it up so I can get back out there. I'm not sure a percentage. Just working every day to improve.
Q: What's your expectation for Sunday?
A: We have a little bit of time here at the end of the week. My job is to do everything I can to get it ready to play. Listen to what the trainers are telling me. Follow the program that's been laid out. Just try to take every day and work to get it better and see where we are.
Q: Have you opened it up to really test it? Joe (Judge) keeps saying he's not going to put you out there if you can't protect yourself. As a quarterback, what does being able to protect yourself mean? What do you have to show them you can do? Do you feel you are getting close to that?
A: I've been able to do some drills and some movement drills with the trainers. Like I said, kind of following their program and what they've outlined for me. I'll continue to work through that. I think coach is talking about being able to move in the game in situations you can't predict. When you are getting pressure and have to make sudden movements. Whether that's getting up field or moving to get the ball out and situations like that. Like I said, I will continue to follow the trainers' program and keep working with them on that.
Q: For you to be able to play, do you think you have to be able to do everything you normally can? Would you feel comfortable if they scale it back and you can do some things but not some of the things you really need like leg heavy stuff?
A: It's tough to say now. Luckily, it's Wednesday so I have some time to continue to get better and heal it up. As far as what the plan will be, what I'll be asked to do when I'm able to get back out there, that's somewhat of a hypothetical situation. I'm trying to improve day to day and make sure I'm doing everything I can to heal it up.
Q: Colt told us last week you went up to him early and said, 'I think I'm a longshot for this week, be ready.' You haven't done that this week, have you?
A: I'm not sure I remember exactly how that conversation went last week or when that was communicated. Last week, I prepared to play and prepared to get out there on the field. We decided that wasn't going to happen. I'll take the same approach this week.
Q: When you look at this team, what is different this year compared to last year?
A: Throughout the year, we've grown together. Been able to learn each other and get on the same page. Improve week to week. I think that's the strength of this year's team. Not necessarily comparing it to last year. I think last year we certainly improved and worked hard through the year as well. I think we've done a lot of good things towards the end of the season as far as understanding how to play with each other and working to improve as a unit, both offensively, defensively and the kicking game. Kind of across the board, I think our improvement week to week has been a big factor in our recent success.
Q: One thing Joe has said is he can't really take you at your word because you're always going to say you want to play. Did you lobby to try to play Sunday or did you know you weren't ready?
A: Yeah, I always want to play. I'll continue to communicate that. My goal is to play every week. I think it was a decision we made together with the trainers, the medical staff, the coaches and myself that I wouldn't play last week. Like I said, the goal every day is to improve, to get healthy and hopefully get back out there soon.
Q: One thing Joe has said a lot and past teammates and coaches have said is how tough you are. Where does that toughness come from?
A: I don't know. Just wanting to compete, wanting to be out there, play with my teammates. I take a lot of pride in that part of the game. I think it's important at any position, particularly the quarterback position, to be someone who can withstand physical or mental, whatever it is, and show toughness across the board. I think that's something I try to do.
Q: Colt said this is killing you not being able to play. Is that pretty close to accurate?
A: Yeah, it's tough not playing, It's tough missing time. I've got to focus on healing up. I've got to focus on what I can do. Right now, that's working every day to get back out there. Continue to study like I'm playing, like I did last week. That's what I've got to focus on. It's tough not playing. I think anyone would agree with me there. I think you want to be out there, you want to be out there with your teammates.
Q: Does the status of the team right now, first place vying for a playoff spot, does that add to the urgency in your mind? Obviously, last year you missed some games, but they were pretty meaningless in terms of the standings.
A: In the position I'm in, it's important to kind of focus on what I'm doing, getting my hamstring better and working every day to heal it up. I want to be out there. Doing everything I can to do that.
Q: I wanted to ask you about the Cardinals defense. Are they very deceptive? Does that defense kind of flow through Budda Baker or is it evenly distributed?
A: Yeah, they can be a deceptive defense and try to disguise coverages, disguise pressures. Like you said, Baker does a good job with that stuff. Showing you one thing and then something else is coming. He's a good football player for sure. He's an active guy around the ball and blitzing. He's a good cover guy as well. They've got a lot of good players. They've got guys who can make plays and disrupt a game at every level. We'll have to be ready for it and we'll have a plan to account for it.
Quarterback Colt McCoy
Q: Coach (Judge) was telling us before practice, he sounded pretty optimistic that Daniel (Jones) could play this week, but obviously, it's not definite. Does that change anything for you this week?
A: No, not really. We have another tough opponent with the Cardinals coming into town. On Monday and Tuesday, we started on our preparation the exact same way, and had our practice today. Nothing changes a whole lot.
Q: Do you find out that morning or right before practice how many reps you're going to get, if you're going to be with the ones, or how does that work?
A: It wasn't communicated that well really, to be honest. And it was snowing. First time practicing in the snow in a while. But it was a good practice. Again, I'm treating this just like I would any other week, and preparing and just getting ready to go. These guys are really good. They're playing for a lot just like we are, so we have to be ready to go.
Q: Quarterbacks can have a long tenure in this league, but running backs don't always. I'm curious what you think of Alfred Morris, who was one of the best running backs in the league when you were with him in Washington, and people kind of forgot about him. Then there he was scoring two touchdowns the other day, catching his first ever receiving touchdown from you.
A: Yeah, how about that? I had no idea that was the case. He kind of double-caught it, too, I don't know if he told you that. Alfred is a true pro. I had the pleasure of playing with him in Washington for a couple of years, and he looks just the exact same to me right now as he did in Washington. I think that just shows you what kind of guy he is. He's a hard-worker, great guy in the locker room, very consistent in his approach to the game, loves to play and has been a huge asset for our football team.
Q: I'm wondering if you have any Kliff Kingsbury stories? I know he played before you. I don't know if he coached against you, if he was at (Texas) Tech when you were at Texas. But I'm wondering if you have any stories as two guys who played quarterback in that state?
A: Obviously, every quarterback that grew up in Texas knows Kliff Kingsbury. He was the first guy to really be throwing for thousands of yards every season and lots of touchdowns. They spread it out there at Tech. I grew up a couple of hours outside of Lubbock, so I knew all the Texas Tech quarterbacks, and Kliff was one of the very first to do it. He's a really bright offensive mind, he's a good friend, and they've done really nice things out there in Arizona.
Q: You've been around for a long time. I'm just kind of curious, particularly with prior to you starting and maybe you dealing with the scout team, on Patrick Graham. What do you see out of him in terms of as a coordinator and what he's done with this defense of yours this year?
A: I love Coach Graham. I didn't really know him before I got here. First off the top of my head, I would say he's just passionate. He works so hard to put his guys in a position to be successful and to make plays. He's a great coach, guys listen to him, respect him. One thing about Coach Graham is you're going to get his best, whether you're at a walkthrough during training camp or in a game in Seattle. He's a true pro and I know the guys love playing for him.
Q: Just as a follow up on that side of the ball, Leonard Williams is coming off obviously a big game this past week. I'm just curious what your impression of him is as a pass rusher? He's been criticized over the years for not accumulating enough sacks. But he seems to have turned that around this year a little bit.
A: Yeah, he's having an outstanding season. I've played against Leonard in the past. He's always a guy that we circle. You say, 'don't let this guy wreck the game,' because he has the ability to do that. I'm happy to be on his team. He's playing at a really high level. He's setting the tone up front for those guys, and it's impressive to watch.
Q: After the game, we talked about the offensive line and the defense. When you got home and you had a couple of hours to relax, how much did you sit back and say, 'that was fun. That's what football should feel like'?
A: Yeah, that was fun. It had been a long road to get back out on the field. You never know when you're going to get an opportunity to go play. I would like to tell you that I went home and enjoyed it and was happy. Unfortunately, I was just thinking about some of the plays that I wish I could have back. But I think that's always how it's been. That's how it's always been for me. But to go there and get a win is huge for our football team. As Coach Judge said, that was a great team win. The offensive line played tremendous, the running backs ran the ball well, the defense kept us in it early in the game, and we made enough plays in the end.
Q: Kind of a big picture question. You look at what's happening in Philadelphia with Carson Wentz, does that just illustrate how small the window is for quarterbacks in the NFL to get things done and to win championships?
A: Listen, I have nothing but respect for Carson. I've played a lot of games with him and I've seen a lot of incredible plays by him. I can't speak on what's going on there, but I know Carson is a great quarterback. Everybody in this league knows he can play at a high level.
Q: I was just wondering, you were talking before about the quarterback situation. Other than reps, how much really changes inside the meeting room? Is it like one guy is leading it or is it a collaborative effort? How does that work exactly?
A: Well, we're still six feet apart, we're still wearing masks. Nothing changes meeting wise. I think what we do a good job of is trying our best to stay on the same routine, watching tape and studying and asking questions. Last week really didn't change much. This week is not going to change much. We go into this thing doing it together. So far, it's been a routine week.
Q: So it's not like one guy, whoever the starter is going to be or whoever they think the starter is going to be, leads the discussion or the meeting or the film breakdowns?
A: No. Our coaches are in there. Jerry (Schuplinski) is in there, Jason's (Garrett) in there. We talk through the game plan together. We'll, as quarterbacks, watch tape together on our own and kind of go through the game plan and see what looks are out there, what we need to do, maybe some checks we need to make. We'll collectively spend a lot of time together each week for sure.
Q: You just said just before when you were asked about the first team reps and everything, you said 'it wasn't really communicated that well, to be honest with you.' What did you mean by that?
A: I think it's all based on how DJ feels, right? I think he's feeling better. We'll see how it goes throughout the week. But today, today is unusual. It's a Wednesday, it's not full speed, we're not in pads. We're getting a lot of mental reps and walkthroughs. I thought today was business as usual and it was good.
Q: There's a lot of talk about any quarterback, Daniel now, if he can't protect himself, he can't play. You're back there a lot, you need to protect yourself. What does that exactly mean from a quarterback's point of view? Have you ever played with a bad hamstring or a hamstring that might be impairing you? What do you have to do to protect yourself?
A: We play a violent sport, so the amount of times you can go into a football game feeling 100 percent is not very often. I think that's up to DJ and up to the doctors. That would be a good question to ask him. But I feel like if he can move around, if he feels like he can go do it, he knows what it takes, then he'll go do it. We'll see how it goes this week.
Q: When you play, it's the same thing with you, obviously. You played a bunch of games. If you don't feel you can escape, you can't play. Or do you say, 'no, I just have to play regardless'?
A: Exactly. Some injuries are worse than others. We've all played through a lot of things. DJ's dealing with a hamstring, obviously. I think if he feels like he can go, he'll go. He's a competitor, he's a captain. He wants to be out there so bad. This is killing him. I think he'll just see how he feels.
Defensive Back Logan Ryan
Q: We see you a lot kind of playing games with the quarterback in the middle of the field. I'm just curious, it's not something I'm sure you always did, you didn't play safety most of your career, so how different is it? How do you prepare for it? How do you get ready for that and what's that like?
A: I think it's a lot of fun disguising. I mean, I didn't play safety my entire career, but I was a slot, a nickel, a star player. If you ask a lot of quarterbacks, like [QB] Colt [McCoy], if he can't figure out what I'm doing at practice, he might look at [CB] Darnay [Holmes] to tell what our defenses might be. I know for sure in Tennessee I was doing a lot of fake blitzing, blitzing, lining up in a blitz – there's no way he's going to blitz if he shows it and actually blitz. It's a way to show pressure and stuff, so I kind of got used to that. In Tennessee, we had Dean Pees come over out of retirement from Baltimore and I watched a lot of Eric Weddle film and I was like, 'Man, if I play free safety again, I'm going to be all over the place like Eric Weddle.' And in New England we had a lot of complex disguises, so I just really wanted to bring that here. I really had a lot of freedom to play against the quarterback. I don't even know if I was on the screen last game. I was so deep and doing so many different things to make [Seahawks QB Russell Wilson] hold the ball an extra second, to make him confused on what we were doing, give our pass rush extra time, give our coverage a little extra time, so sometimes that's what you've got to do for the betterment of the team and I think I've become pretty good at it and want to continue to do it.
Q: When you do the fake blitzing stuff and going back and forth, do you pre-plan that? Do you just kind of go with the flow?
A: I think it's a feel throughout the game. You try to switch it up throughout the series. I think it would be similar to a quarterback switching up his cadence to get people to jump offsides or switching up his code words – I know Peyton Manning made a living out of switching up his signals, where this signal might mean something one series and the next series it doesn't mean that. I know, for instance, on [S Jabrill] Peppers' sack last game, I told him, 'You do so much fake blitzing and bluffing, just line up in the blitz. They're not going to believe if you just line up that you're actually coming because who would do that?' And he lined up and he went and he destroyed everybody in the backfield and it worked out. And he was like, 'Man, you're a genius.' Sometimes, if you're going to play Poker and bluff, sometimes you've got to actually have the cards, sometimes you've got to show what you have. I think it's a combination. We do it based on the quarterback, we do it based on series, we just do whatever we feel like is going to make him struggle from series to series.
Q: [Defensive Lineman] Leonard Williams has obviously had a great season on the field, but [Head Coach] Joe [Judge] and [Defensive Coordinator] Patrick Graham both have talked about how his personality off of it is infectious and he has a really big impact on the locker room. Have you noticed that since you've gotten here?
A: Yeah, I think Leonard's a great soul. Leonard will go out there, if we touch down in L.A., he's going to take his shoes off and he's going to ground a little bit, get some grounding in. I practice my mindfulness, so me and Leonard do a lot of this right here and he's a Zen master. I just feel like Leonard has a really good soul, he's a really good human being in person off the field. He's huge and people would think he's just this fierce, ferocious personality, but he's not and I just think he does a good job turning it on and off on the field and having a good mindset and being a good person. Our defense couldn't work without Leonard, especially the way he's doing.
Q: Just as a little follow on Leonard there, you saw him on the other side of the field with the Patriots and Jets for a long stretch. He got a lot of flack for not sacking the quarterback enough, but he always got close and did a lot of disruption. I'm curious what you're seeing this year of him with you guys. He's finishing, he seems to be finishing more. Is it scheme? What are you seeing out of him?
A: I don't think sacks always tell the story. Like I tell you, this is the ultimate sacrificial sport. If Leonard causes a lot of disruption and his job is to flush the quarterback and make the quarterback get off the spot so that someone else can run him down – [LB] Tae Crowder, [LB] Carter Coughlin – then Leonard did his job. In the meeting room, he got a plus and at the end of the game we held them to 12 points, 17 points, whatever it may be. I know we look at sacks and we look at interceptions and we look at these stats that say, 'Oh, this guy is a great player. His PFF is through the roof and he had an interception,' that could've been a tipped ball that came right to him. But a lot of guys make an impact on the field because it's a team sport. I know Leonard's disruptive, I think [DL] Dalvin [Tomlinson] is having as good of a year as anybody on our defense. He's the nose guard getting double-teamed every play, but he's taking up two blocks, causing disruption, getting interior push so [Buccaneers QB] Tom Brady and these quarterbacks can't step up against us. He might not get credited with a sack every game, but he's just as important. To us, the stats, we don't chase them. Like I said, last game I was off the camera half the game, but we won and I would do that every game if they asked me to. Honestly, it's a team sport and we can't run our defense without our defensive line. Leonard's having a great year statistically, but he's having a better year for our team and what we ask him to do. I just think he's doing a good job of buying into what we're asking him to do and they're a great front that allows us to do a lot of things.
Q: Just as a quick follow-up, a guy that you're very familiar with, Patrick Graham. Can you talk about what makes him special from where you've gotten to know him? What stands out about him to you?
A: He's a great human being. I think that he's outworking everybody. He's staying up late, he's drawing up more defenses, he has the willingness to call the defenses, he has the willingness to change people's positions from game to game. What we ran last week isn't necessarily what we're going to run this week because it might not give us the best chance to beat the Arizona Cardinals, which is all we care about. I just think his willingness to keep working, not to say, 'Ah, I've got it. I'm the best coordinator. I'm up for a head coaching job. I'm going to just run what I ran last week, it was a masterpiece.' No, he's going to go back to the lab, come out with 25 new defenses and we're going to try to run them and see what looks good and what doesn't. He's not afraid to call them in a game and he's not afraid to ask my feedback. He's not afraid to ask my feedback, [LB] Blake Martinez's feedback, Leo, Dalvin, [CB James Bradberry] – 'James, are you comfortable with this? Are you comfortable covering this guy this way? Are you good with this coverage? Let's call stuff to our strengths.' So, he's not afraid to have his players' input on the game plan. I feel like it's a cooperative effort, but at the same time he's up in the lab drawing up defenses giving us ways to win.
Q: You mentioned Jabrill earlier. Is he a unique player and why do you guys seem to fit so well together?
A: Jabrill's a really good football player and we fit well together because we both love ball. Like, Jabrill loves ball. Now I understand why he played three positions in college, or more. Now I understand why he played offense and didn't want to come off the field and returned punts. He just loves playing football. He has that joy of when you start playing the game, a 6-, 7-, 8-year-old kid who plays offense, defense, the punt returner, the kick returner. That's Jabrill. He loves having the ball in his hands, he loves physical play, he plays multiple positions in our defense. We get moved around a lot and we love making plays and we love helping our teammates make plays. I'm excited for him, I feel like he's playing the best ball of his career and so I like a lot of things that he does because of the versatility in our defense. I just think he's willing and able and selfless to do everything he does for the team, put his body on the line every week, put his heart and soul, match whoever on the other team. How much energy [Seahawks S] Jamal Adams is bringing, I think Jabrill's going to match that and beat it and be our energy plug in a sense. So, I just think it's really good for him, happy he's playing good ball.
Q: I know this is kind of down the road, it's not right on the radar, but the Brown game was flexed. Now you've been on teams that are in the playoff push your whole career and that's what happens, everyone wants to see your team play. How do you and your teammates embrace that because you always want to be noticed as being a good team in the playoffs, but also keep it away? This is what comes with the territory when you start winning, right? What does it mean about how this team is now being noticed? You guys are in first place and fighting for first place against the Cardinals. People are noticing the Giants now, nobody was noticing the Giants the last three years.
A: It means nothing, to answer your question. It means absolutely nothing. Look, the Arizona Cardinals have the number one red area offense, they have the number four rushing offense, [Cardinals QB] Kyler Murray is the top rushing quarterback, [Cardinals WR] DeAndre Hopkins is the best receiver we've seen all year, [Cardinals WR] Larry Fitzgerald is a Hall of Fame receiver. They run the most tempo in the NFL, number one tempo offense, we haven't seen an offense that runs as much tempo as them. So, the Browns being flexed, it means absolutely nothing because I've got to worry about this tempo these guys are about to give us, I've got to worry about DeAndre Hopkins, I've got to worry about Larry Fitzgerald, I've got to worry about Kyler Murray, so that's 100 percent of what my worries and concerns are and they turn to non-worries and non-concerns during the game when I prepare all week.
Q: We talked a lot last week about the offense having its backup quarterback, but you guys had to finish with your backup quarterback with Blake out on the final drive. How do things change if he's not able to play and how were you able to come up with that stop at the end without him on the field?
A: Yeah, I mean, I'm the backup quarterback, I get the green dot when Blake goes down, so I'm always excited a little bit. I hope he's well, but anytime I get the green dot, get to call the huddle a little bit, it takes you back to my quarterback days, so it's fun. Look, I told him, 'Hey, don't worry about it, buddy. Don't kill yourself to come back here, we need you and we're going to win this game.' I told you our mindset and it's been beautiful this season losing those games early, learning how to win, losing the tight games, not finishing in two-minute, not finishing games the right way we should be, we've been finishing them. And when we play good in the red area, we play good in two-minute, we play good on third down, we get more turnovers, we tend to win, so we've found a little formula here and that's the formula for everybody obviously to play good football. We're learning, we learn from doing it right, we learn from doing it wrong, we learn from not getting deep enough at the end of the game, not making the right plays, not tackling. I think we have confidence that if we're in the end of the game, we have some prior bads and goods to learn from to give us the experience to handle those situations better than we have in the past.
View rare photos from the all-time series between the Giants and Cardinals, which dates back to 1926.