Head Coach Joe Judge
Q: Have your guys done a good job this week balancing the work commitment with getting ready for Christmas? Do you have any messages for them in general for keeping their focus intact?
A: I'd say when you're at work, come to work. Be present at work and be focused in. When you're home with your family, be present with your family, and don't try to divide the time right there. There's a time for holidays. It's obviously special to us. We do the same thing on Thanksgiving, Christmas, other holidays throughout the year. But we want to make sure that when our guys are anywhere, that they're locked in and present in that situation. It's important for the players and coaches to be with their children tomorrow morning, to be with their loved ones. That's going to be watch them open presents, as well as dinner tomorrow night when we're out of here. We've abbreviated the day. Tomorrow will be like 12 to 3 we're in the building. It'll be kind of a shortened up Friday. We're going to kind of supplement some of the time we're not going to have tomorrow with meetings after practice today to make sure we're not missing any of the material or information. We're just rearranging how it is to give us more time on Friday. But overall, I think they've done a very good job of coming to work, being locked in and being focused. Look, at some point today, we'll take some time to wish them holiday cheer and have a few smiles, and then get out of the building.
Q: Darius Slayton's production this last six, seven games is way down, and that coincides with him being on the injury report for a while. I'm wondering if you see him battling through some things and that's why, or maybe the book is out on him and he has to adjust to defenses after a really good rookie year plus here?
A: Well, I think everyone at this time of year is battling through a lot of things, so that's not unique to any one player. There are some guys that aren't on the injury report that just have bumps and bruises. I'd say once the first day of training camp happens, no one is anymore at 100 percent. This time of year, everyone has a little bit less in the gas tank. We just have to fill it up as much as we can to keep emptying it on a daily basis. That being said, we have to keep doing a good job as coaches of just creating situations for our players to be successful. When the opportunities come their way, we have to make the plays. It's as simple as that. I don't think we can try to force it as players. You have to go out there and play your responsibility. One thing about the receiver position is if there are 70 plays in the game, and you have five catches, that's a great game. I'm more concerned about the other 65 plays, what are you doing? Are you blocking when you don't have the ball? Are you playing with good effort? Are you assignment sound? What are you bringing to the team? Are you covering kicks in the kicking game? To me, in the receiver position, a lot of times it can be skewed in terms of what kind of game you've really had. But look, it's any player's responsibility to make the plays that are in front of him, and it's the job of the coaches to create opportunities for our players.
Q: I have one big picture question. If I'm not mistaken, last game was your first coach's challenge replay flag throw. That's a long time to wait, almost 14 games. Is that something, you're a first-year coach, are you conservative? Do you try to save those for a big moment? Do you have a philosophy there or is that just coincidence it took that long to do one?
A: Look, I rely on the information I get up top from the guys who have the monitors in front of them for the replay. They do a great job of communicating. If it's something we think is worth a challenge based on what they're seeing, then we'll go ahead and use it. Really the information we've gotten this year on a lot of them is that it's not either a clear shot or it's not clear to be overturned. To be honest with you, I'm not looking to waste timeouts. That's a valuable asset in the game that you can't go ahead and burn, especially when you get into the second half. Those things are like gold. The ability to control the clock is something you have to have based on situations. Look, if it's worth it, we're going to always challenge it because I want to help the team and make sure we get the calls in the game right. But at the same time, if it's not something that we know is going to work to our favor, then I'm going to hold onto those assets.
Q: You said yesterday that you made things hard on Daniel (Jones) in a lot of ways. I'm just curious what you meant by that and why that was your approach with him?
A: I think we try to make everything challenging on all of our players. Without going too into detail internally, look, this was something I had to see from all the players this year. Who they really are, how they are as players, how they respond to hard coaching, how they perform under pressure, how they handle situations inside and outside the building, are they a guy who can block out external factors and come in every day and focus? Look, we created a situation with Daniel. I wanted to see how he performed at practice, within games, how he responded to things. Like I said yesterday, he's earned my respect all the way. He's a pleasure to coach, he's a pleasure to have in the locker room, it's even better when you have him on the field. Without going too much into intimate details on what we do in the building, look, I try not to make it easy on these guys as a point of fact. If you go ahead and make everything easy when they come to work, you're not really preparing them for what they do on Sundays. It's a tough league, it's a competitive league, everyone is trying to go ahead and take you out every week. It can't be a country club when you walk in here to work.
Q: I was hoping you could provide a little more clarity, I know you guys were working through logistics with Jason (Garrett) this weekend. If you have him available on Sunday, do you guys have a plan yet or do you still have to kind of go over what he'll be able to do this weekend?
A: From everything we understand, he'll be available at the game to call plays like he has before. There's really more of that timetable from the league of ... We're still waiting on a couple points of clarity, but we are expecting to have him at the game calling plays and being on the sideline.
Q: Obviously, he's not at practice during the week. Have you added additional Zoom calls with him and the offense? Or is it still the same protocols going forward on your end as far as how much influence he's been able to have during the week?
A: The actual meetings themselves are going very smoothly. It's kind of crazy having the voice come through a speaker in terms of the install and talking through it when the guys are in the building. That's a little bit different. But look, different is really not a challenge for us. We kind of want to thrive in that kind of situation. Today is an install. We did everything through Zoom anyway, so this is kind of just a standard business day today. I think Jason's done a really good job of adjusting how he's had to work, of staying connected with the players, of staying connected with the coaching staff. Even when our coaches are in the building, we're doing a lot of staff meetings and coaches meetings where everybody is in their own office with the doors closed and still communicating through Zoom trying to keep everything as isolated as can be. Really the biggest difference has been just him not being at practice. Freddie's (Kitchens) done a really good job of running everything at practice. But I think it all comes down to our guys understanding the flow of practice, what's expected, what we're doing on a period by period basis, and the execution has been good.
Q: A little bit of injury cleanup here. How did you think Daniel looked yesterday? And three guys with questions about Sunday, (Kyler) Fackrell, (Devonta) Freeman and Golden Tate, who we saw walk over to the side with the trainers early yesterday?
A: Golden is probably going to just stay with the trainers today. We'll see if he can do a little bit of stuff outside. We'll see where he's at. It's kind of standard operating procedure the day after that. We'll see where he's at for the game. I can't give you much of an update until after today on that. I'd say in terms of Kyler, he did some stuff on the field yesterday with the trainers. Today will be a big day for him. We really kept it more yesterday to some light individuals. Today he'll get some more team work if he's moving around at the right pace. If he can't do it this week, we're very hopeful for next week. That being said, I want to make sure you put this guy out there with him being able to set the edge, play with force, play with strike, and then have quick reaction in short areas to burst. Coming off the lower leg with the calf, that's something you have to really make sure he's back and able to do that. Otherwise, you can re-aggravate it and just lose him, period. Did I miss one right there? Devonta. Yeah, we have to check on Devonta again. Today will be a good day for him. He had a good week of practice last week. He was coming off the COVID list and the IR. We started his clock. We'll see where that goes into this week as well. We have to move some numbers around for a lot of things on the roster with a lot of guys possibly coming off. We have to make sure we make the best decision for the entire roster. Then in terms of Daniel, look, I thought he had a good day yesterday. He had a good day yesterday. He went out there, we put him through everything. Today will be a more intensive day. Today will be a higher volume day for him. It will be interesting to see how he responds. We'll see him out there moving around throughout all the team periods. He'll jump right into his normal role and go forward with it. The intention is if he's able to play, we intend to play him.
Q: I was going to follow up on that also. This is the last time we're going to talk to you this week, so how optimistic are you that Daniel's going to be able to make it this week?
A: I was encouraged with how he moved yesterday. I was really encouraged. I think some of the moves we made last week with him, although it was kind of hard for him to kind of sit out on it with the double injuries, but I think that helped resolved some of those issues. All the feedback we've gotten medically is that he's continued to improve and he's at lesser risk of being injured, and that's really the things we're looking for right there as far as positive news. But he moved around nice yesterday. We'll put him through more today. I can't give you a percentage or any kind of a gauge on that. But I would say we came through yesterday's practice feeling like we're on the right track.
Q: Offensively, obviously the points have been lacking. Without getting into specifics for competitive reasons, can you put your finger on what's been missing? Is it just not taking advantage of opportunities, red zone? What's been missing in terms of the point production being so down?
A: I'd say this, look, to me at the end of the day, as coaches, we have to make sure we always put our players in the right position. That's number one. Number two, when the plays are out there to be made, we have to make them. That's our job as coaches, we have to put the players in position and the players have to go out there and play to their strengths and be able to make plays when they have the opportunity. Look, we've gone ahead and we've put ourselves in position several times. Through a multitude of reasons, we have to go ahead and finish drives better. When we've gotten down there, we need to come away with points. There's no secret to that. That's not something we're overlooking internally, that we're not putting our head in the sand and trying to ignore that we don't have to do better as a team collectively all across the board in all three phases. We're working every day on finding better ways to do that, and our guys are working hard. I think there's been a lot of progress made. But like I tell the players all the time, the results are what the results are. We can get better throughout on a weekly basis, we can do a lot of good football within the game. But when you don't win the game, it's going to be the bad football that's highlighted, and that's the way it should be because that's what we're paid for.
Q: Regarding John Harbaugh, what is your respect level for him as kind of a fellow guy with a special teams background? His teams always are very physical. What's the importance of kind of matching that and even setting the tone with that on Sunday in your mind?
A: My respect level for him as a coach is extremely high. I don't care if it's special teams coach, head coach, defensive backs coach, he's just a very good coach. His players are always very well-prepared, they always play with a high urgency, they always play very physical, and that's been a trademark since he's been down there. His teams, you play the Baltimore Ravens, you always know you're going in and you have to go ahead and play a physical brand of football. You can't beat the Ravens with finesse. That's not the way it is. You have to be able to play these guys and try to match them in the run game. You have to be able to make plays in the passing game on both sides of the ball, and you have to be ready to cover kicks because they have dynamic returners, and they can make plays at all points.
Assistant Head Coach / Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham
Q: Xavier McKinney has been progressively getting more playing time the last few weeks. What have you seen from him? How have you liked his progress as you have given him more to work with?
A: Zay is working really hard to improve. I think the thing that has shown up the most is his angles to the ball in terms of tackling. He's working that being a safety, star, or whatever it's been. He's really working on that. Until you do it live, you don't really get a chance to really practice, it's a little different out there. I'm real happy with that. Not have a lot of ME's (mental errors) or anything like that. He's doing a good job. It's been good.
Q: Julian Love, it was the first time he played exclusively on the outside. What did you think of him last week?
A: Julian Love is growing on me day by day, week by week. This guy, his toughness is showing up. The tackling, his versatility, he was competitive on a bunch of balls. They did a good job of catching the ball, they have good receivers. I was pleased with his effort on Sunday. I know he's working hard. Yesterday he had a good day of practice. I know he's geared up this week to get ready for Baltimore. Julian, he just keeps growing on me more and more as a smart football player, as a versatile player. I really like that guy.
Q: I don't think it's a secret you guys sold out to stop the run against the Browns. At least that's how Logan Ryan put it. Can that carry over now that you're facing the number one rushing attack? Are there some similarities in the game plan? Does Lamar Jackson make that impossible with his legs?
A: I can't speak about selling out, that was Logan and what he said. Are there similarities? I think the fundamental part comes into play. Getting off of blocks, setting the edge. You're dealing with such a dynamic player back there with Jackson. You can have the edge, he'll test the edge. I talked about it the other day, having a proper edge. Outside arm and leg free, making contact with your near leg, controlling it with your near hand. The problem is you can do all that stuff right and this guy will test it. Because you're dealing with true speed out there, it can be an issue. It's going to be tough sledding, but the fundamentals part of the run game is there. Get off blocks, set the edge, play with power inside. We have to tackle these guys. There's definitely carry over to a certain degree.
Q: How much were you guys limited the other day? For you as a play caller, for what you wanted to call, did you have to narrow the playbook?
A: What we do, we try to do what's best for that week. Unfortunately, it wasn't good enough on my part and I have to do a better job. Thankfully, we have an opportunity this weekend to get that bad taste out of our mouth. Baltimore presents a bunch of challenges both in the run game and in the passing game. Everybody is going to talk about Lamar, but you have to talk about the offensive line, who's solid. The backs are good. The tight end (Mark) Andrews, who's dynamic. You got the receivers, too. Including the young kid in his second year, good player, number 15. You have Dez (Bryant) coming back. Limited, no, we try to do what's best that week. It wasn't good enough and that's on me. I have to do a better job calling it. I have to do a better job with the game plan. Thankfully, we have another week to try to right those wrongs.
Q: With Lamar, is he even comparable to anyone else you've faced? Is he such a different quarterback that it's his own beast kind of deal?
A: He's different, he's very different. We talked about (Kyler) Murray and true speed. I don't know if there is truer speed, I don't know if I want to coin that term. This guy is so fast, he's so big, he's so dynamic with the ball. When you sell out for the run game, he will throw the ball over your head and it will be a touchdown with the targets they have. With Hollywood (Marquise Brown) and Andrews. It's a unique challenge. I'm looking forward to it. The guys are geared up for it. We have another day of practice today. See what the scout team quarterbacks (can do), hopefully we won't be hitting him up too much. Guys have to get ready for it. It's going to be fun. We just have to see if we can execute.
Q: Is the best way to contain Jackson to turn him into a pocket passer somehow?
A: You can try. You can try to turn him into a pocket passer. He's faster than everybody else on the field. You have to start there. He's faster than everybody else on the field. You want to take away what he does best, that's what we're going to try to do. Whether it's keeping him in the pocket, making him roll to the right, left, whatever it may be. We have to take away what he does best. If he is going to beat us, have him beat us left-handed. He's so dynamic, if I say okay let's keep him in the pocket, if he decides he wants to go back 20 yards and get around our pocket, he can do that. You've seen it on tape. We just have to try and make him play left-handed and figure out the best way to do that. Whether it's contain him in the pocket, force him one way or another, have somebody spy mirror him. We're still working through that. Third down is a big day there. That's where you get some of the passing game showing up a little bit more consistently. We're working through that today. Unfortunately for you guys, I'll have a better idea tonight than now. We're going to try our best to limit what he does best. That's what we're going to try to do.
Q: Kyler Fackrell, how ready is he? How badly do you guys need a veteran presence like him on the edge? Especially in a game like this?
A: Joe (Judge) handles all the injury stuff. Kyler got his clock started, I believe. He's out there practicing, we'll see. He'll work through it. He's working hard. He'll be ready when he's ready, that's the best way I can say it. I'll defer that to Joe. Veteran presence? Here's the thing, we're in Week 15 now. It's about execution. We need rookies to execute, we need vets to execute. To me, if you have a rookie that's executing better than a veteran, then he's a better player to have there. I can't sum it up by saying we need veteran leadership or veteran presence right there. I just want guys that are going to come out there on Sunday and execute. Play a physical brand of football the way the Giants play, not to be cliché or anything, but that's what we need. We need this to be the most physical game of the year. We need to set the edge in the run game, we need to play with power inside. We have to play our leverage and defend the deep part of the field in the passing game. That's what we need. If it's a rookie, if it's a second-year, if it's a vet, I don't care. I have to call a good game on Sunday. We have to do our contribution on special teams on the coverage units. That's what has to happen. I could care less who's out there in terms or veteran or rookie. It's got to be that type of game. That's how Baltimore wants it. That's what you want to have happen when you go down to Baltimore. I've been there. It's a fun place to play. I know we don't have fans and all that stuff, but that's how you want it to be. Let's go get physical. Let's see who can win. Everybody is going to come out a little bumped and bruised. Let's go see who is standing at the end, that's what you want. That's how they play the game, that's why I respect coach (John) Harbaugh. I respect their whole organization. I respect (Greg) Roman. He is one of the best coordinators in the league. Just the way he schemes up the run game and capitalizes off the pass game. It's going to be fun. We just have to play physical and see if we can match their physicality.
Q: Last game against the Browns, when they came out and were picking apart those holes in the back end of the zone because Mayfield had time to throw, how much do you debate on the sideline whether to change the game plan immediately versus this will work but we need to get to the quarterback more. How do you gauge that in your mind? When is the cutoff point between sticking with what you planned for versus we're not getting to him, so we have to switch it up?
A; Every week is different. Like this week, do we want to get to the quarterback? We want to affect the quarterback. It depends on what you're trying to do. It's my job to adjust throughout the game and my adjustments have to happen immediately. Sometimes unfortunately, you don't make the right adjustments and you lose the game. That's what happens. I don't sit here waiting for a time like, 'okay, let's wait until the second quarter.' The discussions constantly evolve and constantly adjust throughout the game. That's what we'll have to do on Sunday. I guess that answers your question. It's always a discussion about adjusting. From play to play, series to series. That's what you have to do in this league because they will figure you out. The biggest thing for me is affect the quarterback. Whether that's pressure, sacks, I don't know. Bring more people, who knows. Obviously, I have to do a better job this week.
Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
Q: Kick returner, you think Dante Pettis can get a swing of the bat this week? Are you guys content with Dion Lewis despite some of the ball security issues?
A: We always have options there. Dion has been our guy. He's done a good job. We just have to make sure we take care of the football. He's always been a dependable guy that way. We've had a couple issues the last couple weeks. He understands that and it's something we have to keep working on. We're always trying to find a way to get better. We're harping on ball security and making sure that in traffic, we take care of the football.
Q: Two special teams coordinators are head coaches here. Obviously John (Harbaugh) has had a tremendous amount of success. Joe, the early returns are positive. How much do you think that might help open the door for other guys moving forward?
A: Any time you can take that stigma away from special teams coaches not being able to be head coaches, that's always good. John was an outstanding coach while he was here. When I say here, in the division in Philly. Obviously, Joe has done a great job so far this year. These two guys are kind of breaking that stereotype, the sigma. Over the history of the game, you look at the Dick Vermeil's of the world, the Marv Levy's of the world. All the guys have been head coaches, Bill Belichick. That have had backgrounds in special teams. Bill Cowher, just understanding the game and how it all fits together and having a vision and a purpose for what you want to do. When you get an opportunity to do that, you take advantage of it, that's always a good thing.
Q: Both these guys, the path they traveled, they did go be position coach in kind of a join role. Is that necessary? Why does that seem to be the path to getting to be a head coach?
A: You'd have to ask somebody else that question. I don't think it's necessary. You think about over the years, Frank Gansz Sr. being the first one to ever do it. Making that transition from a regular special teams coach straight to head coach. I don't think it's necessary. What your experiences are, are what they are. If Joe had the opportunity here to before he coached wide receivers for six months and if John Harbaugh would've had the same opportunity after he coached DB's for six months, I don't think it would've been any different. They were still prepared to do the job. I don't think coaching a wide receiver position or coaching a DB position would've changed who they are as coaches.
Q: Do you have aspirations to kind of follow that footstep? I'm not talking about taking another position coach job. To go from special teams coordinator to head coach somewhere eventually?
A: Absolutely, that's always been my goal as a coach. To eventually become a head coach. I'm just enjoying where I am now and learning as much as I can from Joe. He's been awesome. As far as learning all the different situational things and just the preparation part. Learning the different system. I have been in a bunch of them. Leaning another way to do it. Obviously, him coming from where he's come from, being a part of the Belichick tree and being with Nick Saban down in Alabama. It's been really good for me.
Q: The fake field goal last week, was that your call, was that Freddie's (Kitchens)? Is that predetermined because it's the first series? Is that predetermined going in, like scripted for the first series? Can you tell us anything about how that came about?
A: It's just a play that we've practiced all year. We felt good about it going in. We wanted to make sure that we were being aggressive. That was our mindset going in all week. We talked about it in our team meetings. We talked about it in the special teams meetings. That was a call that we knew that could possibly be up. We made the call and it just didn't work out. We're going to always err on the side of being aggressive. Especially now, with our group and our team. We're trying to make plays and that's football. Football happens.
Q: How are (Nick) Gates' hands?
A: You know what, you guys would be blown away, absolutely blown away if you saw him. He's caught every ball that we've thrown him. Since training camp we've been working this thing. I promise you. Everybody laughs now because he's a center. He has the best pair of hands I have ever seen on a center.
Q: You've been a while now and you've had successful special teams units. There are head coaching jobs open and there's going to be more open on black Monday as you know. Will you be disappointed if you don't get a head coach interview?
A: My thing is I take care of the job I have. I try and do the best possible job with the job that I have. The one thing that I've always learned in this coaching profession, all the jobs you ever chase, you never get. You take care of the one that you have and the next one will jump in your lap. I'm not worried about trying to chase a head coaching position. In god's time, I will get what I want. I'll just take care of the one I have now. Take care of the job that I have. Try to do the best that I can every day helping this team get better. If that opportunity comes, then it comes. If it doesn't come, I'll just keep doing what I'm doing.
Q: Are you ready to go coach? Is it your time? Are you ready to go if you're called upon?
A: We'll see. I feel like I've been around for a long time. I've had opportunities to be around a lot of good head coaches that have had success and that have done some good things in their career. We'll see. When those opportunities come up, we'll see what happens.
Tight Ends Coach Freddie Kitchens
Q: You have a Pro Bowler in your room. What have you learned about Evan (Engram) this year? What have you seen that's allowed him to achieve that goal, that honor?
A: Well, I think line one with Evan is he's a competitor, he works hard every day, comes to work every day, he's never had a bad day from a standpoint of effort and enthusiasm for the game and stuff like that. Evan loves football, and that allows him to put his best foot forward each and every day, and that enables him to get better each and every day in all aspects of his game.
Q: Should I read into the fact that we're talking to you again this week? Does this mean you're calling plays on Sunday?
A: No, it doesn't mean that at all. It just means that Jason (Garrett) is still in the whatever the protocol is.
Q: Secondly, how did it feel to be sending the plays in on Sunday? What did you think went well? What did you think didn't? Just curious about how you felt the flow of the offense went?
A: I thought the flow was fine. This game is all about winning, and we didn't win the game. That's what matters the most.
Q: It seemed like you guys were more aggressive throwing the ball down the field than in other games this season. What do you attribute that to?
A: I don't know that we were. It's just we had a plan against Cleveland, and I thought we went out and tried to execute that plan. That was just part of our plan that we put together collectively.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about the importance of being physical on Sunday? Baltimore is traditionally a team that kind of thrives that way. Can you beat them at their own game that way to a degree?
A: The way we try to be offensively, defensively, special teams, everything, we try to be physical in our own right. I think there are certainly examples of that on tape throughout the year. This game is not like any other from the standpoint of we're going to try to be physical. The game of football is a tough game played by tough people. Tough people usually have a good chance to win if you're physical, you know what to do, you know how to do it, and then you make the plays when it's necessary to make the plays. That doesn't change. It doesn't matter who we play.
Q: Just to clarify your answer to the earlier question about the play calling on Sunday. Is the plan to have Jason do it or is that still up in the air? What's going on?
A: Jason's our play caller, our offensive coordinator. I would direct all of those questions to Joe (Judge). We're looking forward to getting Jason back. He's been in every Zoom meeting with us. We don't have a meeting without him. He's kind of our leader on offense. I would direct all those speculative questions, not to dismiss it by any chance, to Joe. But we're looking forward to Jason coming back.
Q: For Christmas, does this offense need a little bit of help from Santa? You have like 13 points in the last two games. What is missing?
A: I guess Santa, I don't know. You said it. That's a pretty good analogy you made there, that's in the Christmas spirit, I guess. Offensive football is about trying to get these guys in position to make plays, and then making plays. I think overall, we need to do a better job as a coaching staff getting them in a position to make plays. Then when they have the opportunities, we need to make the plays. That's what it comes down to. Each and every week, it doesn't change. It's the same. You try to get them in position, and then they have to do it. This game is about the player. The player has to make the play. The coach has to put him in a position to make the play. That's what we try to do on a weekly basis. Sometimes we do a better job than others. We try to do a great job each and every week.
Q: Is it consistency in making those plays, though, that's missing?
A: I think we're all about the end result, and if you don't get the result that you want, which is a W, then undoubtedly you didn't make enough of those plays. I hope that answers your question.
Q: Any nostalgia for you going against the Browns? What was that like for you personally?
A: When you're in this business long enough, you understand that you always have relationships and things like that on the other sideline. It's no different from that standpoint. I'm glad I'm here with the New York Giants. I'm glad I coach the guys that I coach, and I'm glad I'm a part of this staff, first and foremost. I love coming to work every day here. For me, every week you can kind of put your emotions aside, your personal emotions aside, and you try to do what's best for the team. That's what I try to do.
Q: How close were you? Offensively I'm talking about. You guys, it looked like you had a chance to hit some big plays there. Maybe the ball hung up a little long or it was a pressure. But it seemed like you were close. Is that sort of the way you felt, that you had opportunities there?
A: As an offensive staff, I think we did a good job of… I think we tried to execute the plan that we had in place. I thought at the end of the day, we were close. But close doesn't matter. Close doesn't matter. It's all about the end result, and that's all I have to say about that.
Defensive Lineman Leonard Williams
Q: Were you at all disappointed with the Pro Bowl voting and not being honored?
A: I don't really want to say too much about it, but I just feel like I had a pretty good season this year. But I think it is what it is. It's all a fan voting popularity thing. I'm just excited for the guys who made it on our team, James (Bradberry) and Evan (Engram).
Q: Playing Baltimore this weekend, and we know what kind of an athlete Lamar Jackson is. Does it make it even more difficult because they use him so much on runs up the middle? Most quarterbacks do the zone read stuff to the outside. Just the variety of ways they run with him, does that make it even more complicated?
A: Yeah, I think it does make it a little more difficult. But also, if you just play discipline football, which is what we're really focused on this week is just playing old school, disciplined football, like gap for a gap, if you're on the backside, stay on the backside type of thing, because what makes it difficult is they'll give you the same block, but run three different directions out of that because of the way they run the option out of the backfield. If I start to get nosy and I feel like they're running it to my left over and over with the same blocking scheme, now all of a sudden I try to jump my guy and go to the left gap, then Lamar keeps it and he comes to my right, that's when we can get all out of whack. I think it's just a really disciplined type of football game.
Q: Along those same lines, for the mindset, I know your mindset doesn't necessarily change every week, but knowing that one mistake and this is a quarterback who can make you miss and make you miss badly, does that make you approach the game any differently in terms of assignments, responsibilities, but also just the idea of look, you're an instinctive football player, too. Does he make you fight your instincts I guess a little bit?
A: Sometimes I think it's just knowing your opponent. You're obviously going to have your own football instincts and be a football player and try to make plays, but all within the framework of the defense and what we're being taught through that week. We just have to trust the rush plan, trust the run plan and how we're going to get after him. Just trusting the game plan and trusting each other up front is going to be able to contain him, get after him a little bit. What you mean about the trusting your athletic ability, sometimes if I'm going against a different guy who can't make a play on his feet, I'm more willing to try a bunch of different stuff. Where with this guy, I have to really focus on staying on my right keys and playing a little bit differently.
Q: With Baltimore, they're traditionally a pretty physical team. Do you like that kind of game? Do you feel like you guys have to out physical them on Sunday?
A: Yeah, I do like those types of games, especially around this time of year, it gets even more physical. Just last week was pretty much the same. We knew that they were going to try to run the ball, and we knew that it was going to be a physical game. We're basically treating it like we have to… this is a big, physical game. Everyone just has to be ready for that.
Q: Just as a follow up, two weeks ago, you guys were very much in the driver's seat for the division, which had everybody pretty fired up. Now you're facing potentially elimination this weekend. How disappointing would that be if you cannot stay alive this weekend given where you were two weeks ago?
A: It'll be a little disappointing. Not looking in the past or looking in the future, but obviously, we want to have a winning season. Not to think about the playoffs or anything like that, but we're basically treating it like the playoffs right now. We know what's at stake and we know that we have to win these last two games basically to go to the playoffs. Starting now is basically our playoffs. That's kind of how we're treating this game.
Q: I don't know when we're going to talk to you next, but what have you thought about your time here with New York? Is this a place you want to stay? Have there been any conversations about keeping you here past this season?
A: So far, there haven't been any conversations that I know of. I just try to control what I can control. I've been enjoying my time here so far. I love the guys on this team. I love playing with these guys. I've built a relationship with a lot of the players on this team. I love the direction of where it's going with this new coaching staff. I've been proud to be a Giant for however long it's been. If it ends this year, then it ends this year. But either way, I've been happy to wear these colors and play this season. It's been fun being a part of this defense and this team.
Q: They can tag you again if they wanted to I guess?
A: Yeah, I think so.
Q: What would be your thoughts if that happened again?
A: I'm not sure. I think I just have to focus on that when it comes around. I still have two more games to play, and then a while with the offseason until anything like that plays out. I don't know. I really haven't been thinking about any contract stuff to be honest.
Q: I was wondering this is the first full season you, Dalvin (Tomlinson) and Dexter (Lawrence) have played together since you came halfway through last year. How do you feel you guys have grown together? How do you feel as a group you've played, especially recently? How has that bond grown between the three of you?
A: I absolutely love playing with these guys. We're all pretty much on the younger side. Dex is the youngest one in the group. But I feel like we definitely built a bond together, have a pretty solid d-line upfront. We all have different attributes, which we know now knowing each other we can play off of each other's attributes. I think it's a great thing when you can build some type of chemistry like that with the guys up front. With any group, honestly. But it's been fun playing with them.
Wide Receiver Darius Slayton
Q: The last couple games, what do you make of your numbers not being where they traditionally are? We've seen you on the injury report. Have you been dealing with something for five or six weeks that's slowing you down? Are teams playing you differently than they were earlier this season?
A: I don't think anybody is 100 percent in Week 15 in the NFL. Everybody is a little banged up. I wouldn't necessarily say it has anything to do with that. For whatever reason, the numbers haven't been there. Over the past month or so, we've played some of the best ball we've played all season. At the end of the day, I go out there and I'm trying to win. Whether I have a million yards or two yards, at the end of the day I'm trying to get a win. As long as our team comes away with a W, I'm okay.
Q: Do you feel like you've been finding other ways to contribute? I can't say I'm an expert on wide receiver blocking. Do you feel like you have been finding other ways to contribute or has there been any frustration that you guys are winning and you're not having as big a role?
A: You try to block. If you have a route, not every route you run, you're the primary receiver. Sometimes you pull attention away from other guys for them to get the ball. Just kind of taking my role as the weeks go.
Q: Did you think the way you were putting up touchdowns was sustainable? Did you know something like this was going to balance out?
A: I didn't know, it's only my second year. Obviously last year, I felt like it was kind of one of those things where I did it once so I can do it again. Obviously, I'm not on that kind of pace this year. Like I said, we also have more wins this year. At the of the day, if you ask what I would rather have the touchdowns or the wins, I'll go with the wins.
Q: Can you put your finger on what's been missing in terms of putting the points up. I think eight out of your 14 games, you haven't scored 20 points. As you look at it, can you put your finger on it? Freddie Kitchens says he feels like you're close right now. Obviously, the results aren't showing that.
A: I would echo what he said. We are close. If you watch the games, like last game, we got down in the red area. The reality of football is sometimes you're right there and just a couple inches here, a couple inches there is the difference between us throwing for three or four touchdowns and throwing for zero or one. I would definitely agree with coach Kitchens saying we're close. We just have to execute a little bit better.
Q: You came in with Daniel (Jones) and kind of worked your way up together. What do you see from him? You're seeing a side of him not playing, struggling through injury, trying to get back. How much of a lift would it be for this team if he gets to play? What are you seeing from him through this very difficult period for him?
A: I definitely think it's shown his toughness. It's 100 percent shown his toughness to us. We know he's fighting his hardest to get back out there. He's fighting his hardest to play. At the end of the day, when you go out there on game day, you're trying to be as effective as possible. It's been unfortunate that he's been banged up over these last couple of weeks. If they put him out there on Sunday, I look forward to playing with him.
Q: The fact that the last time he played he did not run with the football. Can you guys win that way?
A: Yeah, I think we can win however we need to win. At the end of the day, in football, just in general, people say the good teams find ways to win. There's no magical one way to win every single football game. At the end of the day, if we go out there and we execute at a high level then we'll have a chance to win the game.
Q: No disrespect to Colt McCoy, but if Daniel can play this Sunday. Do you think that can give a lift to everybody? He is your starting quarterback.
A: Either way, I think Colt or Daniel have both played full games this year and in games that we have won. I know everybody on this team has a tremendous amount of faith in both of them. Either of them that they put out there on Sunday, we'll be comfortable with and be ready to roll.
Q: Two weeks ago, you guys were in the driver's seat to win the division. Now this Sunday, if you guys don't beat Baltimore and Washington wins, you're eliminated. Can you speak to that? Would you view that as a blown opportunity even though this is a young group and a first-year coach? Given the fact that you were where you were two weeks ago, how would you view that if it doesn't work out?
A: Well I can't see the future so I wouldn't say it's a blown opportunity because we haven't blown it yet. I think that we're still in a position to win the division. All we have to do is go out there and win our last two games and take care of business. In any scenario, as long as you hold the cards, you can control your own destiny. I think that's any situation you want to be in because it's something you can directly affect.
Quarterback Colt McCoy
Q: It sounds like and seems like Daniel (Jones) is doing a lot more this week than he was last week. How has he looked to you? What's your practice week been like in terms of reps? Probably less than last week I would think.
A: I think Daniel's moving around better. You'd have to talk to him, and the trainers, and Joe (Judge) and kind of see where we are with that. But we've had a good start to the week. Good walkthrough yesterday, good third down day getting ready for the Ravens. They obviously present a lot of problems with their pass rush and with their blitz packages. I think that's going to be our main focus on how to handle those, how to protect those. That's kind of where we are.
Q: You told us and a couple of other places too how close you were about thinking about retirement during last offseason before you came here. Has this season rejuvenated you? Has this season made you want to stick around a lot longer? Maybe shown you that you can play a little longer or are you still going to go into this offseason with that as an option?
A: That's a great question. I think a lot of where I was at last offseason had to do with my health, and if I could recover from that injury and play the way I want to play. I feel pretty confident in the way that I've played this year. First time being out there in a while and it kind of rejuvenated myself. I've enjoyed it, I've had fun, I really enjoy being part of this team and this group of guys and these coaches. Obviously, you'd like to come out with a win last week. I felt like we did some really good things offensively. But talking individually, talking about myself, I feel very confident that I'll keep going, yeah.
Q: What are your impressions now that you've been around him for a year of Darius Slayton? He's still a young receiver but what kind of weapon could he be? He put up a lot of touchdowns here as a rookie, then got off to a fast start here. He's kind of quieted down. I'm wondering you've been around a lot of young receivers. What have you seen from him?
A: I've been very impressed with Darius. He's fast, he runs crisp routes, he understands what we're trying to do offensively, you can count on him being in the right spot all the time, he's smart. I think with this group of guys on this team, everybody needs experience. He's getting some valuable reps last year and this year. He's good to throw to. He makes tough catches; he works hard in practice. If I was to say anything about our group, whether it's the receiver room, the running back room, just the skill positions in general, this is just a hardworking group of guys. I think Slayton fits that mold. For me, that's fun to come to work to. It's knowing that when we step out on the practice field, it's work time and we're going to figure out ways to get better, and nobody's shying away from that. That part has been fun. Specifically, to Darius, I think he's right in that group with everybody.
Q: Does he remind you of anybody you've been around in your career? His skillset or his length or anything remind you of a receiver you've played with?
A: That's a good question. No one off the top of my head. He fits what you want from an X receiver. He can beat you deep, he runs really nice slants and in cuts, and he tries to get open every time. A lot of the things that we do have an X receiver on the backside of all your progressions and all of your plays. Knowing that he's going to win, that's a nice thing to have. We're certainly lucky to have him.
Q: Can you put your finger on why the point production hasn't been there. We were talking to Freddie Kitchens a little earlier and he said the offense was close but at the end of the day, it's about the results. What are you seeing there that's missing?
A: When I think of the red zone, I think of tight windows. I think of being accurate with the football. I think of making contested catches. I think of protecting well. Sometimes you have to get outside the pocket and make play. We just didn't do any of that last week. All the things I just mentioned. We can be better as a whole unit, on all of those. That's what you have to do in the red zone. It's its own entity. I've played a long time in this league. When you make the plays down there, you win games. When you don't, you come up short. I have no doubt that our team can accomplish those things. We've done them throughout year. We just have to do it more consistently.
Q: Two weeks ago, you guys were in the driver's seat to win the division. Now on Sunday, you're facing potentially elimination if you don't win and Washington does. If that comes to fruition, do you view that as a blown opportunity, given where you guys were just a couple weeks ago?'
A: I see our entire teams' focus on this week. This is a game that we just have to go out and perform and compete and play. If we do our job, we're right where we want to be. I don't want to think too far away from that. What I will say is, the feeling in here at practice, in the locker room, is the same feeling I feel every week. Guys are walking around, we're working hard. This game matters. We have to go out there and execute what our game plan is. Take what we do out here to the field and convert when we have to convert. Make the big plays when the big plays present themselves. Hopefully, we collectively as a team play well together, complimentary football. Go out there and give it our best shot. That's sort of where we are and sort of where my focus is.
Q: We talk about offense with you guys. Getting up and down the field is a grind for you guys. You've been talking a lot about the red zone. The other thing that's been missing when you look at the stats, is explosive plays. Is that lack of opportunity? Is it game situation? Is there something that you guys can do to sort of unlock some of those big plays?
A: One example is we had a play action called during the second half. We had run and run and run. We wanted to take a shot. Protection broke down a little bit. I had to get out of the pocket. None of the routes developed. To me, we as an offense can do a better job. When we take shots, when those things present themselves, some of the big plays present themselves. We have to take advantage of them. We have to do the little things the right way. I felt like last week, we moved the ball very efficiently. Up and down the field. We only punted once. However, our offense takes shape every week, it's going to be different. Defenses play us differently. Games are different. You only have 53 plays in a game or whatever we had, it's hard to come up with a bunch of explosive plays. Every game is different. For us, I think most importantly, when there's opportunities within the play calls to make big plays and to make explosive plays, nobody needs to feel like I've got to go make this play. As a unit, as an offense, we just have to make the play. I know that sounds kind of simple but there's been times where big play opportunities are there and we didn't make them. We hurt ourselves. Whether that's a breakdown in a route, a missed throw or breakdown in protection, little things. I've played for a long time. You can't just call a play in this league and say oh this is going to be a big play. Most of the big plays in my career, have come on plays that you didn't really know if it was going to be a big play or not, it just turned out to be a big play. To me, I don't stress out about that. I let the play call come in and let's all as 11 guys execute this play. We put enough of those good plays together and several of them are going to be big plays then we're going to score a lot of points. I think like Freddie said, I do believe that we're really close.
View rare photos of the history between the Giants and Ravens ahead of their Week 16 matchup.