Head Coach Joe Judge
Opening Statement: We've turned the page as an organization today from the Rams. We're fully on to the Cowboys right now going forward. Obviously, with divisional play starting, it's a big week for us as a team. This rivalry, with that being said, obviously carries a lot of intensity to it. This is definitely a challenging opponent. This offense is very explosive. The quarterback does a great job extending plays. He's very accurate, he has a big arm, has the ability to stick the ball into tight windows. They have multiple explosive receivers. Their run game is extremely good with Zeke (Ezekiel Elliott) back there and the combination of (Tony) Pollard for a change of pace. Both backs are capable of really having explosive plays and going the distance. I think Kellen's (Moore) done a great job of taking this offense and really adding his own spin to it, mixing in a large combination of misdirection, RPOs and things that really help the quarterback. Obviously, with Mike's (McCarthy) influence, they've put enough changes on it from previous years that it keeps you on your toes.
In terms of the defense, it all starts with the edge rushers right there up front. They've done a good job of really putting pressure on opponents. It starts with really trying to make you one dimensional and let the pass rushers go at your quarterback and try to put pressure on your passing game right there. We have to do a good job of protecting up front and buying time for our quarterback.
Then the kicking game, 'Bones' (John Fassel) does a tremendous job of really creating multiples and running those fakes. Very similar to what we talked about last week with the Rams and Johnny Hekker. Obviously, 'Bones' was the one who started that whole deal out there, and he's carried it over to Dallas. They're not afraid to roll the dice. They really do a great job of keeping you on your toes in terms of playing alert at all times for gimmicks. They have a punter who can throw the ball, they have a kicker who can do onside kicks at any time, and they have athletes on the field in terms of PP (personal protector) sweeps, PP dives, a lot of things to go ahead and extend their drives. Obviously, this will be a challenge for us this week. We're getting after it today in terms of going over the Cowboys. All that being said, I'll open it up to any questions you may have.
Q: Update on the injuries please, and the progress of Sterling Shepard?
A: Sterling's working hard every day right now. I just saw him in the weight room a minute ago. He's with the trainers for the large part. Obviously, he's in the meetings with us and staying on the game plans, staying mentally involved. We hope to get Sterling back as soon as possible. We'll see what that time table is, but he's progressing at a good rate for us every day.
Q: Any other injuries? X (Oshane Ximines) and a few other ones?
A: We're going to check on X today, see where he's at right now. We have a walkthrough practice for our team today, so there's not going to be a ton of exposure in terms of what guys are going to be doing banging around and hitting. We're giving the guys a little bit of time to recover from the west coast trip. This was planned weeks in advance. We'll kind of take a look at a lot of the guys who are banged up from the game the other day and see where they are going into tomorrow when we put pads on.
Q: You see what's going on around the league. What's your message to the players about COVID-19?
A: Listen, our message to the players now is the same as it's been since day one of training camp. There are protocols in place, there are things that we have to respect and follow. We've been diligent as an organization. The players have been very receptive, they've been very obedient to everything going on. As coaches, we have a responsibility to make sure that we kind of keep these guys aware of what's going on around them. They are very aware of what's going on, but we've done a pretty good job as an organization. I'm happy with the progress our players have made.
Q: You guys are averaging like 11.7 points per game. Their defense has given up more points than anybody in the league. It looked like you guys kind of got some balance going into the second half on Sunday. What gives you confidence that this might be the week you guys break out of this?
A: I think just as a team, we have to keep improving in all three phases right now. We saw some progress from our offense. There was definitely some more balance last week. This game plan will be different from the Rams game plan. We're playing against a different team. Their defense is very capable. They have a lot of athletes. One thing about this team is they have a ton of talent, they have a lot of speed, they have explosive players. We have to do a good job of really counting for those guys and giving our skill players a chance to get to the ball and make plays with it in their hands. Our offensive line has to do a good job. They're making progress for us right there. We have to carry over some of the things we did last week and continue making progress.
Q: Someone like Evan Engram, who had a big second half against the Bears a couple weeks ago when you moved him around the line, is he somebody who you think could be a focal point against the Cowboys?
A: Evan is always a guy we try to get involved. It doesn't matter who we're playing. Obviously, all the guys in the game we're trying to get involved. Evan in his skill roles or whether it's in-line with some of the blocking, he always is a big part of the game plan for us.
Q: Going back to when you were putting your staff together, what was it about Patrick Graham that you thought of when you were picking who your defensive coordinator was going to be? What has it been like seeing him sort of get the guys playing the way they have, especially this last week?
A: I've known Patrick for some time. My experience of working with him gave me a lot of respect for him as a person and as a coach. I know the way he works. He's a very intelligent person, he has a great rapport with his players. His players play very hard for him. He does a great job of really playing with multiples and really game planning to fit each opponent specifically. That's something that's important to us as a team, for everyone to be multiple in what we do and make sure we give our players the best chance to be successful. Pat's a great dude. He's very, very smart, he's a heck of a football coach. I'm excited still that we were able to add him to our staff.
Q: The leader in this division has just one win. Do you focus on that at all? Do you talk to your team about that at all, where one win makes a big difference in everything?
A: I think one win makes a difference every week, and right now, everyone in our division is 0-0 this week. Our focus every week is win one game at a time. We play this game like it's its own season. We play each play like it has a history and a life of its own. That's our only focus this week is the Cowboys.
Q: I just wanted to follow up on the COVID-19 question. Are you thinking of asking players to isolate instead of going home?
A: No. I think the league has already established protocols and rules, and it's just our duty to follow those. I'm not a doctor, although I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. But just right now, make sure we follow what they put in place.
Q: I know the Rams are in the rearview, but you made the decision to bring Saquon (Barkley), Shep and Jabrill (Peppers) out to the west coast. I'm just curious what was behind that thinking? Was there a message presented to the team? Why was it important to have them out there, even though you knew they weren't going to play?
A: Yeah, I'd say it's real simple. Everybody on our team that's in any kind of injury protocols are in a different position. With where Shep was, we thought it would be good for him to kind of stay with the rehab in that multi-day trip. Being the fact that it was more than one day kind of added a little bit of a different curve to it. Saquon and Pep are captains on our team, so that's the reason right there that they were on the trip. We count on those guys for leadership and being involved, and that was it right there.
Q: Just the other thing I wanted to ask you about, when you have Jason (Garrett) running the offense going against his former team, I'm just curious, I know every game is in and of itself. Guys know tendencies, you change the verbiage and stuff like that. But how conscious are you guys of the fact that your bringing an offense that Jason is running into a place that is pretty familiar with what he's run in the past?
A: I think you have to be conscious this year above all. Just the fact that there are no fans with the TV broadcast, you can hear a lot of communication anyway. I think on both sides of the ball, that draws awareness into what you bring in to each stadium. That being said, there are a lot of similarities and crossovers, team to team. Everyone has worked in different places. Players have played in different places, everyone has a lot of shared experiences. The NFL, you can say it's a copycat league, you can say it's a transient league in terms of guys crossing over and carrying over experience from different places. It's no different this week with having guys that were on a previous staff. But it's still a new week. The Cowboys are not the same team they were last year. There are different styles of their offense, there are different curves in what they're doing offensively and defensively. There are similarities with some of our staff experiences in the past, but it's a different and new opponent.
Q: On the flip side of that, how much did you talk to Jason about the Cowboys' offense? You know he knows that personnel backwards and forward. Also, what's the most helpful thing you've learned from him since he's joined your staff?
A: The second part of that question first. I could go into a long dissertation about the conversations I've had with Jason, with Pat, with T-Mac (Thomas McGaughey) and all the coordinators and things that we've learned, and things I've gotten from Bret Bielema and Derek Dooley and their experiences before as well. I try to make sure I gain as much information and knowledge from everybody on our staff. Jason has definitely added a lot and shed a lot of light perspective on things I've had to go through in my first year. That being said, we try to use every resource we have in every single week. Obviously, with Jason's knowledge of personnel within the building, we've talked and discussed different things offensively and defensively with him. He's not the only coach who came from that team as well. We try to use everyone we can in every situation.
Q: You mentioned before that you haven't played in front of fans. You will this weekend. Is that something you have to sort of brace for and re-acclimate to?
A: No. To be honest with you, it's exciting. I think there's a part of football that obviously we all want fans there. There's a different kind of energy home and away, but I think both energies really add to the atmosphere and add to the environment. I'm looking forward to playing Dallas this week. It's a bonus that there are going to be fans there as well. That's just added incentive to it.
Q: Does it bother you that some teams do have fans and some don't? Obviously, the fans that are there aren't going to be rooting for you.
A: No, I don't think we need any pats on the back to be motivated to go out there. But look, there are obviously rules state by state. We respect those rules, and whatever atmosphere we're allowed to play in, we're going to embrace that.
Q: You're a team that's been bringing in a lot of new guys and turning the roster over. What do you think of the NFL's new regulation on taking six days to bring in a free agent just for a tryout?
A: Yeah, obviously, there are reasons put in place for that. I think we just have to respect that. Does it make things a little bit more challenging in terms of planning ahead on the front end? Absolutely. But I would say that with the added practice squad spots this year going up to 16, different from the 10 in the past, that gives you a little bit more flexibility in who you can bring in and out of your program and kind of see players on an extended basis. In terms of the tryouts, we have to be smart in how we do things with players. Number one, six days at a hotel. We have to be realistic about what you're going to ask a guy to do on the field after sitting in a hotel for six days. To me, it's a lot about what you've seen on tape leading up to that and calculating the investment you want to make with the player, and what you're really looking for specifically when you bring him in for a tryout. I don't think it would just be a generic tryout, bring him out there, run him through drills, see how he moves because to be honest, you have to be fair to all the players. Six days sitting in a hotel, you're not going to hit the grass on day one and really wow anyone. Everyone has some rust to knock off. To me, I think you have to make it as much of a mental tryout as you do a physical tryout in how you approach it.
Q: One last thing. Have you communicated with people in the Patriots organization and Titans maybe and just kind of pick their brain about what's going wrong or how they're handling an outbreak? You guys obviously have done a great job so far, but are you reaching out to these people and kind of gaging how these processes are going, or do you just think everything is different?
A: I would say this just in general. It's a small league, so I think everybody uses their own resources and kind of their own network to communicate and get different ideas on how you can handle things. I'd say I have had communication with those teams, although I haven't had communication with them in the last I'd say week or so. Anything specifically that's going on right now in the news, I don't have any light to shed on that. But we have talked continuously throughout in terms of different situations that may have come up, or different things to anticipate, and ask them kind of how maybe they're structuring different things and vice versa, kind of get an influence for what we're doing as well. But we try to use everybody's experiences and learn from them. In a year like this, it's important to make sure you communicate and kind of just find out what's going on around the league so you can anticipate and avoid problems.
Quarterback Daniel Jones
Q: I think one of the popular criticisms if you want to call it that this week is maybe you were locking onto your number one receiver too much Sunday and sort of throughout your career. Do you think that's valid? If so, how do you improve on that?
A: You're always working on getting through your reads, understanding what the defense is doing and getting through it. It's certainly something I work on and continue to improve on.
Q: Logan (Ryan) just got done telling us about this competition that I'm not sure you're aware of, that he was trying to be the first one in the building and you've beaten him pretty much all but two times, including today. I'm just curious for you, has your preparation changed at all over the course of the year until now? How has your game to game focus changed in terms of getting everything ready, putting together your game plan and your approach from that perspective?
A: I'd say I kind of stick to the same general routine as far as when I get in and how I'm working. Each week, it changes a little bit as far as what the game plan is. Trying different things to understand and learn the game plan, get on the right page going forward. I think generally, the routine is pretty similar, but week to week, it can change.
Q: You can confirm that he actually beat you into the building today?
A: He got me today, yeah.
Q: The Cowboys obviously have had some struggles on defense all season really. What do you see there that you can take advantage of? Does having Jason (Garrett) on your side with his knowledge of their personnel, does that help more this week than maybe other weeks?
A: Yeah. Obviously, Coach Garrett is very familiar with their personnel. They've had some injuries and some turnover just in terms of the personnel, but his familiarity with a lot of the guys is certainly helpful when we scout them and look at them on tape. The system is different. They're running a different defense with a different coordinator. But like you said, a lot of the personnel is similar and Coach is very familiar with those guys. So yeah, that's helpful. As far as the plan, we'll look to do what we do. Run the ball effectively and use that to open up things in the passing game. The defense has faced a lot of good offenses so far through the season. We'll certainly look to come in and execute on Sunday.
Q: Do you look at this as a defense that can help get your offense right, or do you think it's just the offense that can get it right?
A: I think we have to focus on us, and that's certainly our mindset going in. We'll look at what they do and understand their scheme, but it's about how we prepare and what we do on offense going into the game.
Q: You have 16 starts, the equivalent of what would be a full NFL season. I'm wondering how do you view your progression, and where would you say you've kind of made the biggest strides?
A: I've learned a lot of football and feel like I've improved as a player as far as my understanding of the game, my understanding of situational football and when you want to take advantage of certain opportunities, when to get the ball out of my hand. It's something I'm continuing to work on and improve. But I certainly feel like I've improved and made a lot of progress up to this point.
Q: When you look around the league, one of your classmates, Dwayne Haskins, got benched this week. Your birth certificate says you're a young quarterback. That's what your resume says with 16 starts. Do you still look at yourself as a young quarterback, a developing quarterback, or are you impatient and want to fast forward this whole thing?
A: I realize this is my second year and I do have a lot to learn. I'm always learning and improving. But I don't think you use that ever as an excuse. I'm expected to play well, understand what we're trying to do and execute it. I'm certainly learning, always learning, and trying to improve. But you can't see it as an excuse, and I certainly don't.
Q: I think I've asked you this in a previous week, but do you think this offense is aggressive enough? Do you guys push the ball down the field enough? Are you guys giving yourselves every opportunity to have an explosive passing game, or do you agree that it should be a conservative style? That you should run the ball to open up the pass?
A: I think we are aggressive. When we certainly have the shots, it's up to us to execute those. Like you said, it all kind of hinges off each other. Every part of our offense, every piece of it is complementary in that we need each piece to help the others out. I think this offense has the capability of being explosive. Through these first four weeks, we haven't executed that part of the offense to the level that we're capable of doing it. Like I said, we're capable of it and it's certainly in the system. We'll work to execute it.
Defensive Back Logan Ryan
Q: What's been your impression of Patrick Graham since you signed with the Giants? What do you think about him as a coach? How would you describe his style and what has it been like playing for him?
A: It's been great. He's really intellectual. He moves his players around, he moves me around a lot to help the defense to the best of my abilities and my skill set. I think last week was, although not a win, I think it was the players executing his vision a little bit. It was very creative in our game plan and very different than what we've done to stop the Rams. I believe that he's a coordinator that's not afraid to change from week to week in order to take away the opponent's strengths. I think a good example of that was the Rams game and I think it's up to the players to execute it. I think last week was our best job for the most part, all but two drives, of executing his vision. I love playing for him.
Q: Do you find yourself knocking on the offensive coordinator's door maybe a little more this week because of the knowledge he has of the opponent?
A: Oh, yeah, definitely. I'll be talking to Jason a little bit more and will continue to do that. They have a new offense, coordinator, new head coach over there, a little bit of a different system. We'll just learn the tendencies of Dak. We have to do something, he's playing extremely well, as well as any quarterback in the league right now. The best offense in football in terms of explosive plays, points and all that stuff. Obviously 500 yards passing, I have to ask a couple questions to figure out how to slow that up. I have my work cut out for me. Any hint and tip I can get, I'm one known to take it and see if it applies. I definitely will be asking him, buy him some lunch this week. Maybe dinner, we'll be staying late.
Q: What are the challenges of a "game plan specific" defense. I don't know if you have played in different ones. I think it was that way in New England, I don't know about Tennessee.
A: Pat Graham is a huge reason I'm here. I talked to him before signing and I just loved the vision he had for me and this defense. It takes smart players, it takes good players and I think we are becoming better every week. You definitely need some intellectual players back there to manage it. It takes players without too big of an ego. 'Oh, I'm only a 4-3 guy, I'm only a 3-4 guy, I'm only a strong safety, I only like to tackle, I don't cover, I don't cover tight ends.' You have to take the 'me' guys out of it. You have to be a team first guy. Some game plans, your numbers might be called to blitz. I love to blitz. Some games, I blitz 30 times. Other games, I don't blitz once. I don't know if I blitzed last week and I love to blitz, but it was the best game plan to get our defense to stop what the Rams did and it worked for most of the game. I think you have to be selfless, I think you have to be pretty smart and I think you have to put the team first in order to play in it. I think we have a bunch of guys that are like that here, that like working hard and like playing gritty, hard-nosed defense.
Q: What's it going to be like or do you have any feeling about playing in front of fans?
A: I'm excited. Even though I do not like the Cowboys personally. Growing up in New Jersey, no matter what team you root for, you root against the Cowboys. I love the energy the fans bring, the good and bad. Nothing is (better) than quieting a road stadium. I think it will be fun. I wish we had fans here in New Jersey, they bring a lot of energy to the game. I'm excited for it, but we have to do something to quiet those fans. We have to play well and that's the best thing we have to do. I'm focused on playing, first and foremost. I never mind the crowd, the bigger the better. I feel like that's when I perform my best.
Q: Do you guys feel like you're any closer after last week?
A: Yeah, I think so, but 'close but no cigar', right? I feel like we're getting closer. Like I said, I feel like we're executing the vision, we just have to find a way to pull it out. I told you this time last week, no better challenge than McVay and the best offensive coordinator in football. This week we have the best passer in football, the most explosive offense. Three great receivers, maybe the best running back in football with Saquon down. We have a tall task at hand. I think there's nothing better to see how we stack up than a division opponent, a rival with an explosive offense. I think that puts a lot on our plate, but I think we'll perform to the best of our abilities. Our preparation is really high, and I think it has to continue to be that.
Q: I know it's a little bit of a repeat to keep going down this road of the Patrick Graham system and game plan week to week. One thing I thought of as you were talking about this. When you have young players, I think Pat talked about it last week. The idea that you look at them and you try to convince them just listen to us, trust us. When you have a game that played out almost exactly how it was laid out for you guys defensively on Sunday, how much different is it in the meetings this morning when you guys get together and you start rolling out that game plan? Are guys more bought in than they were? Is there more validation for the guys? Maybe not for you because you knew what you were getting into? For guys to look at it and say you know what, maybe they're onto something here? Maybe this is ready to work.
A: I wouldn't say more bought in. I think Joe Judge is going to make sure you are bought in or you're not going to be here. I think everyone is bought in. I was a young player before, you need reps. When I was in New England my rookie year, led all defensive snaps played in the preseason. I played like 80 snaps a game every preseason game. They started me and kept me in every snap. I had so much reps going into the season. These guys are just getting done with their fourth NFL game and there's no preseason. I think what they're starting to see is their execution, see what it looks like when they do it well. They're having some success in the games. Darnay Holmes is starting to have some success in the games. He's like, 'wow, okay, I can actually do it at this level.' He's got four games under his belt and unfortunately in a normal year, that's just the preseason, those games don't count. This year, they count. Every rookie I'm sure is going through the same thing, every young guy, every first-year-in-a-system guy is going through it. You don't have practice reps that you normally would have. You don't have the preseason reps that you would normally have. Those are live game reps against good offenses, good offensive coordinators who are looking to take advantage of young players. Looking to take advantage of new players. We've had a lot of turnover here, new players, some young players but, hey, there's no excuses being made. We're trying to learn and build. I think last week was a good building block for us. I'm excited to take on the Cowboys with the group I have, because we have a group of fighters. We have group of guys who are believing, a group of guys that will do whatever it takes. Whatever I say out there, I believe these guys are starting to do it and put it on for the team. I think we're starting to see what good defense actually looks like, actually performing it. I think we believe it, but we're starting to execute it.
Q: First off, you endeared yourself to Giants fans when you said you don't like the Cowboys. Just to get away from football for a bit, you have an animal rescue foundation and if that's true, can you talk about it a little bit? How you got into it and all that?
A: We can talk for hours about it. My wife and I started the Ryan Animal Rescue Foundation three years ago. My wife, who I met at Rutgers, softball player, she's a stud, I got lucky. When I moved to New England and we were dating, she started working at an animal shelter. I saw her actually work, I saw her make minimum wage. I saw her sweep up kennels, I saw the issues in the shelter. I wanted to start to use my platform to start getting dogs adopted and kids adopted. Help out and take pictures, throw them on my Instagram seven, eight years ago. Fast forward to a great foundation. We've raised over $250,000 for animal welfare. I've donated over $100,000 of my own money, my own earnings, to education reform, actually income to fix up shelters, to pay for spade-neuter clinics, for vaccines. I'm partnering with My Pitbull is Family right now talking about the struggles of me looking for a rental with my Pitbull and any large breed dog. It's been tough in this area, it's been tough around the country to rent with a large breed dog. I'm partnering with them, they have the world's largest database for rentals that allow pets of any size, that don't discriminate against breeds. Started a campaign, Breed Restriction Is Wrong. You can follow that on my Instagram and all that information there. I'm always looking out for my four-legged friends, and I just love people. I love animal lovers, I grew up with animals. Usually people that have animals are good people. Usually people that don't, I'm not saying they're bad people, but serial killers are people that torture animals. I'm on the opposite side of that, I love animals. I love my animal community and it transcends my jersey color. I have fans from Tennessee, I have fans from New England because they know what I do with these animals. My wife, like I said, worked in the industry. She's a licensed dog trainer, she runs the foundation with me. Ryan Animal Rescue Foundation, three years running, and we'll continue to go for a long time.
Q: What's a better feeling, an interception or saving a dog?
A: I can save dogs every day of my life. I can't get an interception every day of my life. The interception is better at the moment, but I can't pick one dog that I saved that's the best, they all feel great. That is a tough one but, hey, the interceptions come few and far between, so I'm going with the interception at the moment to answer the question.
Q: What do you think of Daniel Jones as a young quarterback and as a leader? Even though you are playing on defense. As a veteran who sees the game as well as you do, do you ever go over to a guy who either he's struggling or the unit is struggling and talk to him a little bit? Assure him of the process.
A: I've been on quote about this. I pride myself on learning from Tom Brady and being the first one to the building. Today, I beat Daniel, that's on record. Maybe two days this entire season I beat Daniel Jones to the building. We're the first two in here. We talk a lot, he asks me questions about defense, I ask him a lot of questions about offense. I'm trying to make it hard on the quarterback, I'm trying to make it hard on him every day. He makes it hard on me. We do talk a lot. I was a high school quarterback, I couldn't even play in college. I don't dip my toe in it too much. Anything he needs, he knows I'm an open book. Like I said, he's a hard worker. He's in the building well before anybody else, me and him are. I believe in him, I have full faith in him. However it's going right now, it's four games. However many starts he has in his career, it's a young career. He has to keep his confidence and keep growing. He has no problem being a leader, he has no problem working hard. He has no problem putting the time in, I think the Giants have the right guy when it comes to that. What he does in the games, that's on him, I'm just doing my best to be an open book to prepare him the best I can for every Sunday.
View rare photos from the historic rivalry between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys.