Head Coach Joe Judge
Q: Are you celebrating hard tonight for New Year's?
A: Yeah, it's going to be a wild night, man. Break down some tape, get tomorrow's practice finalized, try to get a little bit of sleep. We're rolling through it. The good news is it's going to be 2021 for an entire year, so if I don't get to tonight, I'll get to catch up later on.
Q: You talk all the time about improvement. You see the improvement and the results will come. When you look back at that first game against the Cowboys 10-11 weeks ago, are there specific things you can look at and share that 'we are better now than we were then' and maybe a couple of things where 'I'm disappointed, we're not a lot better now than we were then'?
A: Obviously, there are a lot of things I look at with a very critical eye. I do see a lot of improvement from the team as a whole. This is far from the team that played the Cowboys the first time. Again, like I said yesterday, they're a much-improved team as well. You can see that very clearly on the tape. There are a lot of things that stand out to me. You watch the tape, look, you kind of flash on back to Daniel's (Jones) play and the offensive line. I've seen a lot of growth and development with the offensive line. It's allowed Daniel to stand back there in the pocket more confidently and not have to escape all the time and extend plays to get it down the field. I saw a lot of good catches from our receivers in that early game on extended plays. I've seen a lot of plays throughout the season that reflect and mirror that we improved from that game going forward in contested catches as well. You look at Sterling (Shepard), you look at Golden (Tate), you look at (Darius) Slayton, you look at those guys down the field with some contested catches. Now we have to be more consistent as a coaching staff. Execution from the players all across the board really raised our level of play. But there are a number of things I look at from that game that you can say, 'ok, we're a lot better.' You turn that tape on from 12 weeks ago and you can look at that, and I've watched it several times this week at least leading into it, and it kind of jumps out at you like, 'man, I can see individual improvement from a lot of players. I can see collective improvement from units, and I can see collective improvement from the entire team as a whole.' There are a lot of encouraging things going forward. Our guys have done a good job this year of working hard and making a lot of improvement. There are a lot of guys who are younger players, a lot of guys who are very new to our program at the point of coming in who didn't go through an entire training camp with us or joined us maybe around the backend of training camp. I see those guys really fitting into the systems well and making a lot of gains.
Q: How tough of a matchup is this for your secondary? What makes their three top receivers so challenging? Because obviously, you guys have (James) Bradberry who's taken away a top receiver quite often this season, but this team has two, it seems like it almost has three number ones.
A: I think it's an accurate statement with what you just said right there in terms of the whole label of number one receivers. I think all three of these guys could fit into that label of being a top receiver for a team and a feature matchup guy. I think the thing that's unique about these guys, you get a lot of receivers throughout the league who maybe are bigger, faster targets who are down the field threats. Then you get other guys who are maybe kind of smaller, quicker that are catch and run threats. These guys all have good size, they have very good speed, they can build their speed and hold their speed down the field, they have good hands to make contested catches, but they do an exceptional job of extending plays. You can look early in the year with the deep shots down the field. Then you can look as recent as last week with Andy (Dalton) hitting a slant to (Amari) Cooper, and he takes it for a huge gain. Hitting the screen to (Michael) Gallup, huge gain. CeeDee Lamb over the middle, huge gains. They learn how to really use these guys in different situations. I think Kellen (Moore) does a great job of creating matchups, isolating defenders, making you play one on one ball. Andy's very smart to understand where he needs to go with the ball, the ball gets out fast, he doesn't hold it very long. Most of his passes are really completed inside of 20 yards. But that doesn't mean it's not an explosive play. We have to do a good job of tackling in space, and these are all very talented runners in space with the ball.
Q: I have sort of a big picture question for you. You've worked with Dave (Gettleman) for a year. How would you describe that working relationship with you two?
A: I'd say the entire building since I've been here has really had one vision going forward. I've enjoyed working with Dave the entire year. We've done a lot of good things together. I really enjoyed the process through free agency and the draft. Obviously, went through training camp, there was a lot of logistical work we had to cooperate with throughout the spring and summer in terms of getting the setups ready for when the team came back. There was a lot of cooperation work throughout the building. I think everyone's doing a good job right now in terms of just understanding where we want to go and pushing in that direction. There's been a lot of really good communication with Dave, Kevin (Abrams), Mark (Koncz), Tim (McDonnell), all the guys working in personnel in terms of the kinds of players that we're really looking for that fit into our systems, and looking around the league and who's available on the street as well as building in the draft with Chris (Pettit) and his staff in terms of who's going to fit what we're looking for. I'm very pleased how we came into last spring with free agency and the draft. I think all those guys we brought in have contributed to this team, have developed in time and have helped lay a foundation for this team. We have to keep drafting well, we have to keep signing free agents that will build not only within our culture but our schemes and give us versatility. But I'd say the cooperation on both aspects, the building has been working as one and that's been a very positive thing.
Q: Quick question. In the last 24 hours, you guys have been very open about Daniel being limited as far as his mobility. As an older guy, would you ever sandbag an opponent?
A: Can you say that one more time?
Q: Would you ever deceive an opponent? We used the word sandbag when I was growing up.
A: Look, I read Daniel's comments yesterday. Probably a little more forthcoming than I would have been with it right there. But as I said yesterday, we'll do whatever it takes to win the game. But again, I can't stress it enough, I'm going to always put the players' health in consideration on how we call the game. I can't turn around, as you said yesterday, and 'take the gloves off.' Well, the gloves come off and you expose someone to long-term injury, that's not always the most opportune thing. We're going to make sure that we always put our players in a position of strength, and that includes their health.
Q: Do you view this as sort of a playoff game? The way it works out, it's essentially an elimination game. You've been in a lot of these games. As a coach, do you handle them differently? Do you need to make sure your players stay within themselves or approach it any differently knowing that the intensity might be at a different level?
A: Look, our approach has been the same all year in terms of putting everything we have into every game. We have 16 opportunities a year to go out there and perform and execute. This is one of the 16. Look, they all add up collectively. It's not the 16th game that means something more than the first 15. You have to take advantage of all of your opportunities. There are times this year we had to play better and take advantage of it. There were times that we played good games and came out with the results we were looking for. But we need to make them all count along the way if you want to go ahead and talk about anything past those 16 games. But in terms of us, our players have come to work every week this season, worked tirelessly, they've done what we've asked them to do, they prepared well. We have to do a good job as coaches making sure these last 72 hours or so leading into the game, we do the best job possible preparing our players. Then on game day, make the necessary adjustments when they come up and stay ahead of them.
Q: You've been pretty clear about Daniel being your long-term quarterback. Where is your level of confidence in the offensive system that he's running? What kind of changes do you have to implement whenever the offseason starts? Obviously, there's only so much you can do week to week. What do you want to see from this offense when it takes the field for the 2021 season?
A: Well, I'm always going to look for our offense to evolve with the players we have in it. To me, the priority is getting good players in here, which I think we have, and then put them in positions where they can make plays. We just need to keep evolving as we go with the level of experience and the strengths of the players as they increase, and we get some young players in here as well. We have to make sure that we put them in positions they can execute without having to slow down mentally with how they play. But the vision of the offense to me is always going to be the same, to be a multiple team who can adjust on the fly, who can put our players in positions of strength so we can make adjustments when we need to.
Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham
Q: Obviously you go week to week with your scheme and your plan. The last three weeks with a quarterback like Kyler (Murray) and especially Lamar (Jackson), I would imagine you have to approach it differently in all three levels on how things come together. Logan Ryan was talking about it yesterday, the idea that now the challenges are different at all three levels. How do you approach it? He kind of said you throw last week in the trash. Whatever you tried to do against Baltimore is not necessarily going to be the plan to go against Dallas. How do you approach doing into this week and trying to stop this offense as opposed to what you've done the last couple of weeks?
A: The game plan is going to be different, it's a different offense, different people. That's the obvious part of it. In terms of last week or the previous weeks, here's the thing I try to do, I try to learn from everything, whether it's the specifics of a game plan or not, there's fundamental stuff that has to improve. You try to take inventory of that and just try to make sure that as we get to practice, yesterday, today and tomorrow, we work on the stuff that showed up in the previous weeks that we know we have to get better at. Here's the bottom line as people talk about it, Dallas is the focus. Our daily focus is to get better every day. We have to do a better job tackling. I have to do a better job coaching it up. Whether it's the tackling, the scheme or whatever. That's what I take from any other previous week. I'm just trying to learn from that week and what we can do better. For me, I can speak for myself. I'm trying to learn from my past experiences and see how it could play into the game. Do you throw away the game plan? I mean you can say that, but we do that every week. Every week is new in the NFL. It's definitely going to be different. You're dealing with a different animal with the skill players, the offensive line is different, the scheme is different. It's still football. We have to tackle. We have to play our leverage in coverage. We have to defend the deep part of the field. A lot of stuff. There's still carry over no matter what you do, there's still carry over.
Q: One of the things that was talked a lot about when you guys were playing at a high level and winning games was disguising coverages. Being able to jump from one scheme to another. Have you gotten away from that recently? Have quarterbacks caught up to it? Can you get back to it?
A: In my experience in 12 years in the league, if you're really, really good at what you do, then you might not disguise. Most defenses disguise no matter who they are. I think that's always a part of what we do. Whether it's third down or early down, we're going to try to disguise. I can't speak for what the other offenses are doing in terms whether we're not doing a good job, what have you. I know this, we haven't done enough to win, so that's not a good enough job. Here's the thing and the beauty of this league, it's Week 17. We have another opportunity playing Dallas. That stuff is behind us, the win-loss part of it is. The lessons learned from it are stuff we can carry over to help us improve for this week. If disguise is part of it, then disguise will be part of it. I know this, we're going to go out there at practice today and try to improve. Disguise will be part of it, in terms of trying to get better at that. That's just one facet of what we're trying to do in terms of our improvement.
Q: When people think of Dallas, they think of Ezekiel Elliott. How much of a challenge is this receiving corps.? Is it the best one you guys have faced top to bottom this year?
A: I hate doing that because I'm trying to get ready for practice, I don't want to dismiss. They're good, they have some skill guys. The thing that shows up to me is the guys that go in there and block. I'm always fascinated by that. Here they are, they're getting all these accolades, are they blocking? When you see that, you know, one, it's being coached. You know I have a lot of respect for coach McCarthy. Adam Henry is a good friend of mine, the wide receivers coach. I know his toughness and what he's trying to instill in those guys. It's a challenge. Are they the best group we've seen? Just so I'm not dismissive of other groups, I would say they are one of the best. We have a big challenge in front of us. You know how it is with Dallas. It starts with the run game. Practice today is an opportunity for us to get back to what we have to do stopping the run. It starts with the run game and the backs they have back there, (Tony) Pollard, (Ezekiel) Elliott. Also, you tie into (Andy) Dalton when he gets the checks in there. They're pretty good.
Q: Do you think opposing offenses sort of figured out your zone? It just feels like those intermediate throws the last few weeks, they have really been hitting those with frequency.
A: I can't speak for the other team. I have to do a better job of coaching. I have to do a better job of coaching and laying out the plan. I have to do a better job of calling it, mixing in zone and man and stuff like that. I don't know if they're figuring it out. It's football, these guys get paid too, and they have good players, so they execute. It's just a matter of I have to coach better, I have to do a better job. I'm working on it every day just trying to get better. Hopefully I have a good day at practice just trying to get the guys in the right spots. All leading towards Sunday where we can execute.
Q: Blake Martinez said the other day that a lot of defensive players were not aligned properly when the Ravens motioned or shifted before the snap. I was wondering why that would be when guys were, I assume, coached to prepare for that and it wasn't anything different than what they normally did.
A: I can't speak for Blake, Blake speaks for himself. I know this, going into the Cowboys game, starting today, we have a walkthrough here momentarily. I have to do a good job of explaining based on formation, based on personnel, where we have to align. I have to do a good job with that. I have to get guys with their eyes in the right place, so they are able to execute, that's my job as a coach. That's a big part of what my job description is. Put them in the right place. Get their eyes in the right place so they can play ball. I can't speak for what Blake said. To me, I'm worried about Dallas right now. I know this, they give you formations and they leverage you. We have to get lined up to that stuff. I'm going to do my best to prepare the guys for that today.
Q: You obviously watched plenty of that Dallas game the first time. What do you think when you're watching your defense at that time?
A: It's funny, you watch it. I'm sure a lot of you guys have kids and I'm not trying to compare the guys to kids, I'm just talking about the growth that happens over a certain period of time. You see guys, some plays that were there to make and now they are making those plays. To me, not even the plays, let's not talk about it, let's talk about just awareness. Some of the situational awareness, formational awareness. Stuff like that, that's what shows up over time. I think I mentioned it earlier in the year. It takes time to build a defense and to build all those things that are intertwined within starting to play good football. You can be the most physical. You can have the right call. I don't know how many calls coordinators are calling around the league to be unsound. It's about the guys knowing how to execute, when to execute and some recognition of the people and the situation. When you look at games earlier in the year, you see the growth as it goes. You can really see that. It jumps off the tape in terms of when you're watching that. That's one thing I did notice when I'm looking at it. These guys have improved as football players. That usually happens. Especially when you're dealing with a young group. They get better with experience.
Q: That's kind of why I asked you. This is year one of your defense.
A: Our defense.
Q: Where are you in the overall progression of this defense? Is it still in its infantile stages in your mind? Are you there? Is there still a lot more that you see you can add and can grow?
A: Infantile, I do like the word. When I hear good words, I can incorporate them later on, so be ready. Where are we at? I want to be playing our best football post-Thanksgiving. That's how you look at it when you start the season when the league starts in April or what have you. Here's the thing, we have an opportunity. We need our best game on Sunday, I know that. So where are we at? There's so much room for growth in terms of whether it's the scheme, whether it's us getting more comfortable with one another. I can't tell you what stage we're in, but I know this, in terms of how I have talked to you guys the whole time. We have to be playing our best ball post-Thanksgiving. We need our best game on Sunday. We need our best game on Sunday, our most physical game. Our most sound execution. We have to start fast. We can't be worried about anything other than the Cowboys and trying to execute. I would say in terms of the process, I know this, the guys try to get better every day. Work to get better every day. That's a big part of my evaluation at the end of the year when I'm looking at it. Did we try to achieve that goal? I can't tell you what stage of the process, to be honest with you. We do need our best effort this week.
Q: You spent a year with Mike McCarthy. Do you have any insight into him as far as what did to help you and keep your career going? Do you see things in this Cowboy offense that maybe in the back of your head or the front of your head, you say, okay I recognize that, maybe I can do something with that?
A: Coach McCarthy, I had a great time with him in Green Bay. We didn't win a lot of games, but I had a lot of respect for him. He's a very smart man, good football man. The big thing for me is how he sees the run game in terms of the necessities of the run game. The necessity of a certain amount of carries. Seeing the correlation between the run game and success. You think about, all those years from afar, Aaron Rodgers, Mike McCarthy. You're thinking pass game, pass game. You can go back to 2016 when we lost in the playoff game. It was because the run game when they got in 20 personnel, it was the third quarter. They hit a couple runs, they were backed up. It's the run game where I really think he stands out. Not to discredit what he knows about the passing game, that's obvious. I think you see the influence there. Dallas has always been able to run the ball. The timing of it, that's what stands out to me.
Q: Your head coach said after the game on Sunday that you guys made defensive adjustments in the second half that worked, and he wished that guys had gone to them earlier. What is the challenge in making adjustments early in a game? If what you've worked on all week, maybe the other team has countered it and it's not working. How do you feel like you've done that?
A: (Jokingly) I'm trying to dissect it. I think that was three questions, let's try to figure this out. We have to make adjustments as soon as possible. That's what we have to do. When we don't do that, that's on me. The Baltimore game is the Baltimore game. Obviously, we didn't win, so obviously I didn't do a good enough job adjusting. I can't speak for Joe (Judge). For me, my thing is it's a constant game of adjustment. That's what we get paid to do. The pressure of being in the NFL, those guys are one of 32. Whether it's the coordinator or the quarterback, however you look at it. It's my job to adjust and I have to do a better job this week. I know this, Mike McCarthy , the OC (Kellen Moore), Adam Henry, all these guys over there, they are going to do a good job of seeing what we do, adjusting to it. Then we have to play the game back with them. I just have to do a better job. Get that information to players and hopefully we execute at a high level and play our best game on Sunday.
Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett
Q: I was curious do you have any idea about the circumstances behind what caused you to test positive for the virus? What was your experience like with it?
A: I have no idea, to be honest with you. Like most of us, we're pretty much reclusive all during the season, so I haven't really seen anybody. I don't know how it happened. The people that are close to me have not tested positive. For whatever reason, it popped positive so I had to deal with that the last week and a half or so. But I'm feeling fine, ready to go. I thought our guys did a good job in my absence, but it's fun to be back.
Q: What was kind of the challenge of putting a game plan together remotely and not being around the guys and not being at practice?
A: Well, this has been an unconventional year for everybody, in and out of football. Certainly during the football season, we've had to do things differently this year than we have in past years. We've all learned how to live and communicate through Zoom, so I had to do that. I was in the hotel room and was involved in the staff meetings and the meetings with the players and the game plan meetings all over Zoom. I was not able to go to practice and be a part of it that way. You certainly feel detached, but it's just the world we're living in right now.
Q: It's interesting, this has been such a bizarre year. Do you find the coincidence even more bizarre that playoffs are at stake and here you are facing Dallas of all teams?
A: We play them twice a year, and obviously, they're a division opponent. Certainly, it's interesting. The circumstances are what they are, but we're just excited to have this opportunity to be playing for potentially the division on Sunday. It's been a funny year in the NFL, in the NFC East, all of that. You just keep trying to bang away and take advantage of your opportunities, and we certainly have a good one on Sunday.
Q: Daniel Jones told us yesterday that he's going to have to play from the pocket, that he really is not physically able to run. Now either he's doing a great con job to try to convince the Cowboys of that, or he's going to have to play from the pocket on Sunday. In that case, do you take all of the RPO stuff and everything you have for him, and kind of put it over here and say, 'ok, I have to deal with Daniel Jones, the pocket quarterback, this week'?
A: Daniel has done such a great job working back from this injury. He's an incredibly mentally tough guy, incredibly physically tough guy. I think we've seen that throughout this season. He's doing everything he can to play his best and have all aspects of his game available. He's working a tremendous amount of time, energy and effort with our training staff to be healthy and be ready to go, and he's made great strides here the last few weeks. There's no question he's not 100 percent in terms of his mobility. We recognize that, he recognizes that. But you certainly want him to be functional. He's a very good pocket quarterback, and that's probably where we'll spend most of the day.
Q: We don't know when the next time we'll talk to you will be, so I have to ask. There's been a lot of speculation about your future. Do you expect to be back here next season?
A: I'm just excited about the opportunity we have this week. Really, I've just tried to stay in the moment in any position I've had as a player or coach in the NFL. That's typically when you play your best and coach your best. That's really what I'm focused on.
Q: We don't know how this is going to play out, so we don't really know if we're going to talk to you again this year. I'm curious what have you thought about the offense and the strides that it has made? What do you say to the idea that you're 31st in the league in points?
A: We want to play better offensively, there's no question about that. I do think we made strides in different areas over the course of the season. I think the biggest area that we tried to emphasize with your players is playing winning football. You can't do the things that cause losing. A lot of that has to do with the ball and taking care of the football, and not doing the things that put your team in a bad situation, a situation that you can't overcome and you lose the game. Ultimately, your job on offense, defense and the kicking game is to try to contribute to winning. One of the ways that we believe as a coaching staff to do that is prevent yourself from losing first. That's where it starts, taking care of the football. Having said that, I think we've made strides in that area as the season has gone on, but we have to play better. We have to run it better, we have to throw it better, we have to score more points, and we have to contribute to winning in other ways too by being more productive. Guys have worked very hard to do that. At different times, we've played better than others. The last few weeks, we haven't played as well as we need to play. We have to do a better job this week against Dallas.
Q: The idea that you guys haven't scored enough points per game, do you feel like the offense has done it's job overall this season when you just look back at how these first 15 games have gone?
A: No, we have to play much better offensively. There's no question about that. But the biggest thing you try to do is you focus on the individual improvement of the players, the overall unit. Again, I think we made strides from the start. We've had a lot of different combinations of players playing. We've had young guys playing. I think if you look at them individually, they've grown over the course of the season. At different times, we've done some good things that really helped our team win. At other times, it hasn't been good enough. But you keep learning from your experiences. You try to build on the good stuff, you learn from the stuff that wasn't quite good enough. You try to grow as coaches and as players and as a unit. That's what we're trying to do. The effort and the attitude and the energy and the juice by everybody has been really outstanding. I think that's helped us grow. But we certainly have a long way to go. But our focus right now is doing everything we can to help our team win on Sunday against Dallas.
Q: Have you been contacted for any head coaching interviews? And while you were quarantined, what was your experience with the virus symptom wise? I think it's noteworthy just hearing what everyone's experience was with it uniquely physically.
A: In regards to head coaching opportunities, again, we're focused on what we need to do Thursday to have a great practice to get ourselves ready for Sunday. That's really been where my attention is. Again, excited for this opportunity against Dallas on Sunday. We want to put our best foot forward. In regards to the virus, I don't know that I had many symptoms, to be honest with you. When you're sitting in a hotel room for 10 days by yourself, I think you get a little sluggish. But beyond that, I really didn't have any symptoms. It's just one of those things that we all have to kind of deal with. I had to deal with it individually, but thankfully, there weren't a lot of physical symptoms that really dragged me down.
Q: In terms of Daniel Jones, what do you make of his season? You guys lost Saquon (Barkley), who's your most explosive player. If I look across the way, I see Zeke (Elliott) and CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup. I see a lot of explosive players. How much of Daniel's struggles this season are there's a little bit of a lack of explosion in this offense?
A: Again, the biggest thing we try to do is focus on ourselves and the opportunities we have. As a coaching staff, you're trying to help your players play as well as they can, individually and collectively. That's where our attention is. We're not comparing our group to anybody else's group. It's our group and what we think we can be each day and each week. Like I said, at different times this year, I think we've done a good job offensively. Other times, it hasn't been good enough. But our intention is to come to work and do everything we can to play our best. As a coaching staff, to try to put our players in position to play their best. DJ has done some really good things, the skill guys around him have done some really good things at different times. Again, we're just trying to help them play their best individually and us collectively to help our team win games.
Q: Have you seen enough from him where you know he's a long-time NFL starter? Having worked with him, having played against him last year, have you seen enough from Daniel to know he's a long-time NFL starter?
A: We think Daniel has a chance to be a really good player. There's no question about that. He has all the attributes that you want in a quarterback. He'll grow from his experiences that he's had. There are a lot of positive things he can build on over the last couple of years. There are certainly some things that he has to improve upon. But he's absolutely the right kind of guy. He'll focus his energy and attention on those things. Hopefully we'll continue to grow around him and continue to create a better environment for him to play his best football.
Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
Q: One of the things coach Judge said yesterday about Bones (John Fassel) and coach McCarthy was that at the end of the year they tend to rile up a lot of trick plays and gadget plays. Is there a temptation in a game like this, a sort of all or nothing game, to empty the playbook? Throw out everything that you've been working on all year? Throw it all at these guys?
A: We're going to be who we are. That's the only way we can be. We can't try to be something that we're not. We're going to go out, we're going to try to play fast, play physical, play downhill. We know who they are. We just have to be aware, situational awareness. Understand who we're going against and what they like to do in those types of moments. You look at Bones over the years, he does a heck of a job. He's a heck of a coach. He does a good job of preparing his team schematically and they play hard for him. You can see the growth from the beginning of the year to now. It's a different group. We just have to go out and be who we are, and we have to make plays. We have to be our best when our best is needed. That's going to be this Sunday. We have to play our best game, period.
Q: We haven't really seen much from Jabrill (Peppers) in the return game a lot lately. How much of that is just circumstances and how much do you want him to be more aggressive? Offensively, you haven't scored a lot of points this year. Do you want to try and have him be able to make some plays? I don't know if force is the right word. Push it in that direction a little bit.
A: I've told to guys this before, as returners, I tell our guys not to chase plays. We're going to let the plays come to us. When we get those opportunities, we just have to take advantage. That's the thing. As a punt returner, kick returner, we're never going to press. When you press, you make mistakes and mistakes will get you beat. We just have to make sure we're smart in how we handle the situations as they come along. Once they come along, we take advantage of it.
Q: Graham Gano was a free agent and it seemed like such a natural, easy pick, but nothing is natural or easy in the NFL. The fact that you have him and all the things you need to worry about on a daily basis, he's probably very low on the list, I would think.
A: Absolutely, it's been a joy to have Graham. Obviously, we've had a history before. He's doing exactly what he's done before. He's the consummate professional. He comes out every day to work and he's been a bonus for us, definitely. Hopefully, we can put ourselves in a situation where we can have more success in the future.
Q: That last game against the Cowboys, have you ever seen a guy hit three 50-yarders?
A: I'd have to really go back and search. That's a heck of a feat. I don't think I have. I'm sure it's some kind of record or close to one anyway. That's a pretty incredible feat.
Q: When he gets signed to an extension…
A: Any time you can secure that style of player, a Pro Bowl kicker like Graham Gano who has been in the 90th percentile and above two out of the last three years, anytime you can secure a guy like that, that's what you want.
Tight End Evan Engram
Q: Congratulations on the Pro Bowl. We haven't spoken to you since then. How's your ankle feeling? How important is it for you to play a 16th game this season?
A: I'm feeling good. Making progress, working, doing everything I can with the trainers and on the field. That's not really in my mind, the me playing 16. I'm just focused on just trying to win this game. That's the main thing right now.
Q: What happened to the ankle in the last game?
A: Pretty much not allowed to talk about details. But just had a little tweak at the end. Just kind of working through it right now.
Q: Simple question. In your fourth year, what would it mean to you to make the playoffs?
A: It would mean a lot, just everything. The last three years here is obviously not up to standard. Just the progress and all the work we've put in this year and everything we've been through. Obviously, we have to go out and execute and win this game for that to be a possibility. But it would mean a lot.
Q: There hasn't been a lot of talk about that from you guys and especially from your head coach. But do you sense it in the building and on the practice field that you guys can be in the playoffs? You have never been in this position before.
A: Yeah, the energy is through the roof. We've approached yesterday and today really well. I think the work we're putting in is really good. Our attention to detail has been good, too. I definitely feel like we are taking this as serious as we can.
Q: The offense is ranked 31st in points and 31st in yards per game. You've played in a lot of offenses. Now that you've played in Jason Garrett's offense, was this not a fair showing of what this offense is capable of? Did you feel like it didn't fit you guys? Is it better than what those numbers say and we're just not seeing it show up on game days? How do you feel about the offense?
A: I have the utmost confidence in our offense. I think that the past couple games and some of the outings that we've had definitely aren't up to our standard. We have to be better at execution, we have to be better at communication, we have to be better at making plays, making one on one plays. There are a lot of things that go into us as players that we haven't been doing lately to make the offense roll. We've shown that we can get rolling. We've shown what we can do in the run game. We've shown what we can do in the pass game. We just have to get back to the basics and execute on those small things that we've done in the past.
Q: But it sounds like you're putting at least some of it on the players, not just on the scheme or the coaches.
A: No, we have to execute as players. We have to go out and make those plays.
Safety Xavier McKinney
Q: How different is what you're being asked to do now compared to what you were doing in the summer? How much are you itching to get sort of a big play before the season ends?
A: In the summer it was definitely a different role. I think now, I've been getting an increased amount of snaps. Obviously, I have been asked to do different things and I've been prepared and ready to do so. It's definitely been different, definitely been more on my plate. I'm always staying prepared, making sure that I'm ready to go, whatever position they ask me to play. As far as making that play, I know it will come. I'm not trying to force anything. Just trying to make sure I do my job and make sure I execute for the team.
Q: [Defensive Backs] Coach [Jerome] Henderson seemed to think you were close to one last week. Can you just talk about that play?
A: Yeah, I knew it was coming actually before it was snapped. Me and Logan [Ryan] actually talked about it before that play was actually played. I was a step behind. I should've went a little earlier. I definitely would've made a play on that. It's been a couple plays where I feel like I was really close to it that I didn't get. Like I said, the plays are going to come. For me, I'm just going to keep making sure I execute my job and doing what I have to do for the team.
A: How are you feeling? Do you feel like you're 100 percent when you're moving around on the field? Are you still battling through it?
A: I feel good. I think as far as getting back into my rhythm, I'm still progressing to get there. Especially the first couple games where I got an increased amount of snaps. I was still trying to find my rhythm and get back to the way I play. I think I'm still getting there. As far as how I feel, I feel good. I'm ready to go.
Q: Did you ever play against CeeDee Lamb in college? If so, what were your thoughts? What are your thoughts on the Cowboy trio as a whole? It seems like it's one of the more dangerous trios in the league. What does that put on your secondary?
A: I played CeeDee in college. We played in the semi-final Orange Bowl. I always thought he was a great receiver. He can do a lot of things well. He was really talented. He had a really good game against us. That's when they had Kyler [Murray] too. That was definitely a problem to deal with in college. For their receivers, they are a really talented group. We're coming in ready and prepared for this game. We know they're talented. We know they can do a lot of things. This is a special group. There's a lot of talented receivers in this league that we've gone against that I have gotten to face in these couple of games that I've played. We're definitely going into the game prepared and ready for a dog fight.
Q: The Giants signed Logan Ryan recently. Now you know he's going to be here for a while. Jabrill [Peppers] is still under contract. What do you think that means for you and your role moving forward, and sort of how do you view that trio?
A: I think it's great. I can't really say much about it. I love playing with Logan for the couple games that I've gotten to actually play with him and be out there with him. And I love playing with Pep. All three of us, we just stay in communication during the game. We make sure that we're out there on the same page, because we play different roles on the defense. A lot of the times, we have to talk about who's at what position doing what. I think it's going to be a really fun ride, to be honest, especially when we do get in the offseason and we get to build that chemistry. I'll have a longer process just being with them, and we'll be all together for a longer amount of time and we'll be able to build that chemistry throughout the offseason. I think it's going to be really fun. I think we're going to do a lot of special things. We're going to be ready and prepared to go.
Q: What do you view your role as, as part of that trio?
A: For me, it's always whatever I'm asked to do. I think we can all do different things; we can all play in different spots. We can all do similar things, whether that's playing low or that's playing in the slot, playing in the box, playing half field, playing the middle field. Whatever I'm asked to do, I'm able to move around wherever, whenever, and do whatever at a high level. I think that will be my role.
Q: You come from a program where making the College Football Playoff is expected every year. What would it mean to make the NFL playoffs, the NFC playoffs, with this team this year?
A: It'll be good. Obviously, I would love to be there. But for me, my main goal has always been just focusing on the game that was in front, because obviously, we have to take care of business this Sunday in order to even have a chance to get there. Even still, it might not happen. I don't really think too much down the line as far as making the playoffs. I'm just really worried about this game and making sure that we can win this game. That's my mindset going into it.
View photos of Wednesday's practice at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center as the Giants gear up for the Cowboys.