Head Coach Joe Judge
Q: We talked a lot about Andrew Thomas going up against elite pass rushers, a lot of veterans. Is this a little bit more of a fairer fight for him this week because he's going up against another rookie?
A: I think it's a fair fight every week for everyone in the NFL. You expect talent on both sides of the ball. He's seen really a level of elite pass rushers, that changes nothing this week. Look, (Chase) Young and (Montez) Sweat, these guys are really, really good coming off the edge. They're both explosively fast, they're both athletic and they do a great job instinctively of understanding when you're oversetting of coming underneath, and if you're staying too tight, of running by you with speed. They do a great job of getting to the quarterback, putting pressure on him and forcing bad throws that gives the DBs behind them opportunities. But in terms of Andrew, him and Cam (Fleming) both are going to have a tremendous challenge this week. They're preparing hard right now, and we have to get out on the grass and do it.
Q: Where is Sterling (Shepard) at in his recovery? Is he going to be on the field at all this week?
A: We're going to see him today a little bit because he was with the trainers yesterday during the walkthrough. We weren't going to put him through a walkthrough for no reason. I'll see how he's moving around today and see where that leads into Sunday. But today will be a decision-making day for a lot of our guys.
Q: We've talked a lot about Daniel (Jones) getting more comfortable in this offense. Is this a tough system for a quarterback?
A: I think we just need to give everybody an opportunity to learn the system, get comfortable with it and keep moving forward and making adjustments by game plans. But Daniel's been coming to work hard every day. Look, he's been making a lot of progress. There's a lot of good football to learn from. He's doing a lot of things to help this team. I'm very pleased with his effort, his attitude, his leadership on the team. The guys respond to him. Daniel's our guy and we're going with him.
Q: It wasn't really a Daniel question. I just mean does this offense ask a lot of the quarterback? Maybe some offenses are a little simpler for quarterbacks. Does this one put a lot on the quarterback?
A: I think Jason (Garrett) does a good job of making really everything in this offense friendly to the players in a lot of ways. If there's ever something we have to change and adjust to the players, I think Jason does a good job of doing that.
Q: I'm sure you've heard the expression when you're preparing for a game, 'this team has guys that keep coaches up at night.' What does that mean to you? Then I have a follow-up.
A: Yeah, I don't sleep much anyway, but these guys are very talented.
Q: Just in general, when you prepare for a team and there's a couple of guys that you point out and say, 'we can't let these guys beat us.' That's how good they are.
A: I'll tell you right now, on both sides of the ball, they have a tremendous amount of talent. I think when you talk about their offense, the backs, (Terry) McLaurin, (Dontrelle) Inman in the red area, (Logan) Thomas on third down and the red area, these guys, they've really done a great job of creating plays for them. Really identifying and targeting them in certain packages, and they've really been productive. We need to do a really good job of tackling them in space. They can all do a good job of catching and running with the ball after the catch. Defensively, obviously, we can talk about the front all day. They're all very talented, a ton of first round draft picks, which comes with just being a very talented player. Look, they're a penetrating defensive line. It creates a lot of disruption. To me, the guys who really take opportunities off the front behind are the linebackers, with (Jon) Bostic and (Kevin) Pierre-Louis. Obviously, the DBs on the backend have done a great job. They play a lot of zone. They have great eye control in their zone drops and have vision on the quarterback. When bad throws come out, especially when you're throwing across the field like you've seen a lot with their turnovers, they do a great job of breaking and taking advantage of that ball right there. In terms of keeping you up at night, I think you're just talking about impact players, and this team has a lot of impact players across the board. They've amassed a lot of talent on this roster. They've done a great job of building right there. We have a challenge ahead of us.
Q: Quick follow-up. Do you think your team has guys like that that when teams prepare for you, do they say you have guys that keep guys up at night, impact players like that?
A: Yeah, I'm very confident with everyone on our roster. I think we have a good level of talent. We're moving to make sure that we get on the same wave every week, and that we give each team a chance to succeed. As far as us, look, we're not looking to make this a team full of stars. We're not looking to make this an individuals team. This is a team. We walk in that locker room, everyone is on the same page, take the field with the same attitude. In terms of what someone thinks about our guys individually on the other side, I'm more focused on making them understand that as a team what we're about.
Q: I'm curious if you addressed the losing with your team. I'm not trying to be a bad guy with the question and I'm not suggesting it's a permanent state for you and the Giants. But the idea that you have said you're pleased with the effort, preparation, that kind of thing, but the losses have mounted. Do you address losing?
A: We're very honest with all of the results we have. We talk every week in terms of where we're at as a team, what we've done well, what we've done that needs to be improved on. That ties into obviously tangible results on the field with wins and losses. It's a production business. We're all very conscious and aware of that. It's my job to make sure they understand what we need to do better, what we need to clean up. But then it's also my job to highlight and show them where they've made improvements and where we've made progress as a team, so they understand what we have really to build with.
Q: If I can follow. Particularly because of the organization you came from, do you believe a team has to learn how to win? No matter the talent, no matter who makes the play, a team learns how to win and then it becomes not easier, because I know that's not a word the NFL uses, but it becomes something that can be expected?
A: I'll say this. I've heard that a lot lately. Everyone talking about learning how to win, teaching them how to win. This is my belief on that. You don't win in the 60th minute. There is not some magic formula, there's not some grand scheme playbook that you come out with that this is how you win games. The way you win games is playing every play with the best technique, assignment and focus you can, eliminating mistakes and capitalizing on your opponent's mistakes. That's really the secret. It's not easy, but it's simple. I say that to our team a lot. We just try to keep football for what it is. I don't mean to just generalize that right there, but to me, that's the way I address it to our team. I have no problem saying that publicly. But the secret to winning is just doing your job for 60 minutes, and that's what it comes down to.
Q: It seems every month we're talking about COVID. Do you sit there and shake your head when you hear Nick Saban has tested positive?
A: He'll probably beat COVID. He has a pretty good record against every other opponent, so I'm confident Coach will come through there. But look, we need to be conscious on what's going on around the league, to be honest with you. You look at some of the other teams that have shut down. You're very conscious in terms of maybe teams you've had exposure to as opponents. I think you see some of the teams that have popped up after playing other teams with a case here, a case there. The biggest thing we do here is on a daily basis, we just enforce the protocols. We stay on it, we harp it. Look, I'm not going to lie to you and act like it's some magic bubble we live in. Coaches and players all get tired of hearing, 'stay spaced out, make sure your mask is on, stay apart, make sure your tracer is not blinking.' All of that stuff, it's day in, day out of saying the same things over and over. There's a natural just wear on you as a person, but you have to stay committed. As we've addressed it with our team, hey look, not one of us opted out. We all opted into this league. We chose this year at the beginning of the year that we were going to go through this, and we were going to make the necessary sacrifices and adjustments it was going to take to have a successful season. These protocols are all part of it. We didn't think it was going to be easy. We knew there were going to be challenges. It's still early in the season. We're roughly about a third of the way through. There are going to be other things that come up. There is going to be something that happens locally and close by that we have to guard ourselves against. We just have to keep educating our players, educating our coaching staff and our support staff, and make sure we stay on it day by day. But we're definitely not blind to it. We're not putting our head in the sand with it. We're very, very conscious of what's going on. Just like we're educating our players every day on hydrating and stretching and recovering, it's the same thing every day. You go on trips and you may have a group of guys that don't travel. We have a meeting every week where we talk to them and basically remind them, 'look, you have a responsibility and obligation to the team of staying safe and not exposing yourself to something while we're gone.' The guys that come on the trip, they're on the plane with us, they're on a bus with us, in the stadium and then we come back together. When you leave, whether it may be a practice squad guy, an IR guy, whatever it may be, they have to make really tough decisions but important decisions for the team. It's easy for them to say, 'I have 72 hours away from the team until I have to be back at a team function. I can go out' and whatever it may be. Go get something to eat, go to a party, hang out with some girl, whatever it may be. We have to make the right decisions and make sure that we're smart about who we're around and how we conduct ourselves.
Q: I'm not sure if you spoke to Nick, Mike Vrabel, you probably spoke to him sometime in the last few weeks. Are there any tweaks or anything you've learned or things you guys might have changed seeing what's going on in other places?
A: No, I don't think it's any drastic changes. Obviously, the league came out with a lot of revised protocols, so we're obviously following those as they say to. The biggest thing is just reminding each other, 'hey, if you see something, say something.' Look, when I stand in front of the team, they all have these tracers on them. Half of them wear it like on a bracelet. I'm standing up there, if I'm seeing blinking red lights, I have to stop what I'm doing in terms of the football meeting and say, 'hey, you two, spread out.' You just need to be committed to it as the meeting goes on, as the day goes on, enforcing the things that are necessary.
Q: On a separate note for a second, Markus Golden. He's a guy who, he's been a starter in this league, he's been a 10-sack guy. He wasn't playing that much the first four weeks of the season. Did you have to speak to him? How did you have to handle that knowing that, to explain to him that his role was, at least for the first four games, going to be smaller than it was in previous years?
A: I can't speak on previous years. This is my first time coaching him, our first time coaching him. We're very clear explaining to our players really on a weekly basis what their role in the game is, what the game plan may call for and what they have to be ready for. But I'd say this, there hasn't been much talking necessary to get Markus going. He works hard every day. This guy is a tremendous team guy. He's come in with a positive attitude on a daily basis. He does whatever we ask him to. Look, through the game plans, sometimes we may have a bigger focus on something throughout the week, and then you get into action and it just changes. You may think this is more of a sub pass rush game, and all of a sudden you get into it and they're running the ball more and you have to play more base defense to stop the run instead of rushing the passer based on the flow of the game. All of our players, we ask them just to do what's best for the team on a weekly basis. Markus has done a tremendous job with that.
Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham
Q: What do you continue to see from Ryan Lewis? Has he done enough to solidify his spot? He played I think it was pretty much all the snaps at that CB2 spot. Has he done enough to solidify his role there?
A: I couldn't be prouder of how Ry Lew played last weekend. I'm looking forward to this week of practice. He had a pretty good, extensive day yesterday, he was grinding it out. I thought Ry Lew did a good job for us. We always say it's day to day with the competition, but Ryan did a good job on Sunday for us. I'm looking forward to seeing how it plays out. Today will be the first real competitive day, to be honest with you. We'll see how it plays out. I want everybody on edge a little bit to have (them) competing for their spot. I think Ryan did a good job on Sunday.
Q: How do you look at the two catches late that obviously Michael Gallup made? He was the guy in coverage. Pretty good catches, do you grade that against him? How do you look at it?
A: They get paid, too. They have good players. I put it more on me than anything. As the days go by, I'm on to Washington now and really the challenge they present with their players. They have great receivers. I always look at it like this, I could have done a better job putting him in a better spot. I don't hold it against him if you're asking me that. It's just a competitive situation. He's a great player and he's got to get ready for this next one. McLaurin, that guy is pretty good, he's a pretty good player. We have to figure out ways to cover that guy along with the other receivers. (We're) moving forward, but I wouldn't hold it against him. They get paid to play as well.
Q: What have you seen from Cam Brown and Carter Coughlin in terms of their progress and in terms of how ready you think they are to contribute?
A: I think I've said before, with rookies and the whole process of how these guys mature, the first step you really see I think is when they start their study habits and you can see that. They're asking different questions, most of their contribution is on special teams. You can see the transition there. I think part of it is they learn from some of the veterans, which is a good thing. We have a good group of veterans here that help those guys out. The second part of it is that's a little subtle, but you can see it when they start taking care of their bodies. They understand the importance of the commodity of their body, that's how they make their money. It takes a while for those rookies to understand because they were better than (everyone) the whole time. In high school, they were better than (everyone). In college, they were better than (everyone). Now it's like, 'oh no, this guy is just as good as me or more talented. How can I make sure my body is performing at its peak performance on Sunday? How do I get my body right?' Whether it's the nutrition, whether it's the extra stuff in the weight room, whether it's the extra conditioning out there. In terms of the football part of it, the thing that stands out for me is how they're playing like, I don't know the proper term, but just the aggressiveness on special teams. Cam stands out to me in terms of kickoff. We talk about all the time, kickoff, punt coverage, that's really the first play of a defensive possession. The contribution there, I've seen him split double teams making a tackle. You know that tackle counts for defense, alright thanks, you just saved us a first down. That's a big part of it, so I'm happy with those guys and how they are out there competing. Understanding that the coverage units are an extension of the defense. It has nothing to do with me. It has to do with T-Mac and Tom and those guys getting that right and Joe, obviously. I'll take the ball at the 17 any time.
Q: Markus Golden was down to seven or ten defensive snaps a couple weeks ago against the Rams. Now here he is after the Ximines injury and the Carter injury, back in a heavy workload. What did you see from a veteran during that time? Was he still as motivated as ever, more motivated now that he has his shot again? Did he hang his head at all when his playing time was cut like that? Where did you see him then and where do you see him now?
A: I think I said it a few weeks ago, give it time, the process will play out and the reps will come. Right now, he has a great opportunity. It was going to come regardless because he's a good player. I think just getting used to the system. I can't speak for him but getting used to the system, different terminology, getting comfortable with what we ask those guys to do. He's done everything we've asked him to do. He's worked his tail off to get the stuff down that we're asking him to do. You see some of the production coming. The half sack last week, the play on the back side of the run against the Rams. You starting to see, okay here we go. I even said to him before the game, stop playing and let's go. He gives you that look. In terms of being down, I'm sure there is some internal frustration that's setting in, but he doesn't show to me. He comes to work every day and he gives me that look, 'Pat, I'm ready to go.' You guys have met him, I know you can't meet anybody now, but when he gives you that look that he's ready to go, he's looking through your soul, I like that. That let's me know we have a defensive player. Let's roll now, we have to get rolling for this week. We need that.
Q: You knew what Blake Martinez when you brought him here. How valuable has he been to this particular defense? What stands out through the first five weeks?
Q: First five weeks, I think I attribute it to Blake and him maturing. I attribute it to Kevin Sherrer, his coach. Blake is playing the best football I've seen him play. That's just my opinion, he might disagree, Kevin might disagree. I think the way he's approached it this year and really grabbing the scheme of being our signal caller, being the leader of our defense. I think he's really taken hold to that. I think that stands out to me, the fundamentals are showing up. The tackling, the foot work, how he's affecting the pass game, both in the rush and in coverage. I really think he's playing at a high level. It's what we wanted. I've always loved Blake. What I know, Blake is never satisfied. I prefer players like that. Whether you're making every tackle or you make two tackles, you're never satisfied. He's a smart player, you can put a lot on his plate. The thing I have to be careful of is putting too much on his plate because I've got to let him play. He doesn't have to put everything on his shoulders. I have to let him play. So he doesn't have to press, let him play. I have to get that right for him. I love the guy. I love him, I love his wife, I love his kid. I love that guy because of the way he goes about it. I have to do a better job of not putting too much on him, let him play. He's done everything we've asked and I think a lot of the improvement is from Kevin. I always tell Kevin, 'you're a way better coach than I was. I thought I was coaching him but no, not really. Playing a lot better with you than with me.'
Q: With respect to James Bradberry, when he's playing at the level he's played in five weeks, what does that allow you to do as a play caller, as someone who's scheming up game plans week to week? I know the obvious, if you could take (us) behind the scenes a little bit. What does it allow you to do with Bradberry?
A: I like this narrative of me scheming up stuff week to week. It's collective, whatever we do. If you take a look at the tape, I'm telling you, what we're trying to do is tackle, get off of blocks, defend the deep part of the field and communicate. It's not going to change, that's the core of what we do. I don't know if that's scheming it up. In terms of James and what he allows us to do, James is a perimeter corner that is held in high regard throughout the league. People respect him because of his play. He allows us to, whether you want to isolate him on a particular receiver or it also might free up for us to helps guys in different places. That's how you have to kind of look at it. It goes into the game plan part. You get suggestions from Joe, suggestions from Jerome, myself, we have input to figure out how we're going to do that. From there, I guess that's where the scheme comes up of how you're going to deploy the guys. For James' unique set of skills, the ball skills are there, the way he breaks up passes. His reaction and his anticipation are there, that helps us in terms of when we're in our zone coverages. In man coverage, his ability to sink his hips and stay with his man and have good eye control. It makes it (so) you're not worried about this side of the field or that guy. Not all the time, but you know you can say, 'we're taking care of that, we can help over here.' That's one thing that comes into play with it. I have to mention this, too, Bradberry tackles, too, that's another thing. People talk about the coverage part, but he's playing cloud corner, crack replace off of four under, three deep. When the guy catches the ball, that play down against Dallas on the bubble screen they threw out there, he got off the block, defeated the block and made a tackle. That's what I appreciate about him. I appreciate that plus his work in the classroom. He's a guy that tackles, I love that about him, too.
Q: Do you think that your pass rush is making opposing quarterbacks uncomfortable enough?
A: You would have to ask them. I know this, what I look for is how we're affecting the pass. Whether it's quarterback hits, pressures, sacks, stuff like that. If I had to guess, I think they feel us. Five weeks, has it been enough? Probably not, because we haven't won a game. It comes down to what's going to happen this week. The O-line for Washington, they're pretty good. They have Moses over there, pretty solid anchor over there on the right side. We have to figure out ways to affect the quarterback, whoever is playing quarterback this week. What I mean by affect, what I would prefer, whether it's sacks, I want to win a game, first and foremost. I want to make sure after the game, did the quarterback feel us? That's what I want to understand, did he feel our presence? Does his body feel us, does he have a hard time picking up his kids the next d? That's how I would feel good. You have to ask those guys. I think we have guys that do a good job putting pressure on the quarterback. Obviously, we have to do some more, along with stopping the run more. I think they feel us, we'll see. You know how it is with the NFL, it's what did you do for me lately. We have to see what we do against Washington at home and give our fans something to cheer about with that. We have to affect these guys because they are going to pass the ball.
Q: End of half, end of game defense shows up in Dallas. Anything that you're drawing from those situations about why it's still an issue?
A: I have to get better. I have to call it better, I have to put the guys in a better spot. Is it keeping me up at night? Yeah, it keeps me up a night, I have to figure it out. It's Week 5 going to Week 6, I have to figure it out. It's no different than when we talk to players, no different than when we talk to kids. I have to figure it out. I have to figure it out, that's the plan.
Q: How much do you have to change the game plan? With Haskins not playing quarterback, does that take a dimension out of their game? In terms of running.
A: The thing is, you talk about Allen and Smith, we all know how he used to run. We'll see, I don't know, he might running this week, who knows. I think you still have to prepare because their offense, it seems like they have an element of it whoever is in there. Where there is a possibility for them to take the ball. They're all different quarterbacks if that answers your question. They're all different quarterbacks, so you have to take into account what you're thinking with Allen, what you're thinking with Haskins, what would you be thinking with Smith. I would say to a certain degree, yes. I don't know if the running part of it, I think they are all capable of pulling it. Allen, he scored a touchdown down in the red zone, it was a scramble, I got it, but he scored a touchdown, he has some athleticism. Even the one sack he had against the Rams, he pump faked on the boot, the guy beat him to the edge, beat another guy and then the ran him out of bounds for the sack. He can move a little bit. As I say, he can boogie a little bit, we have to be ready for him.
Q: Can you talk about Tae Crowder and the evolution he's made during his rookie season. I know you talked a little bit about Cam. Can he be the guy that takes a little bit of that off of Blake Martinez that you were talking about earlier?
A: You know, I don't speak for Blake, but Tae is a smart football player. He's young, so he has a lot to learn but he's very aware. I do appreciate that, it wasn't too big for him, I think I said that the other week. Even this week, you can see he's building in confidence. The question is coming out, 'hey' go over that again?' It's not like he wasn't paying attention, he's trying to register if the back does this, the tight end does this, he's trying to figure it out. He's definitely someone that can handle information. He handled it at Georgia, that's one of the things that drew us to him as a potential prospect. I think he can help, but he's still young, he has to learn. He has some awareness out there, to answer your question, he definitely has some awareness.
Q: What did Blake say about him?
A; You have to ask Blake. I know Blake appreciates the guys in his room. Tae does a good job of talking out there and it's pretty solid.
Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett
Q: There's been a lot of talk about Daniel getting comfortable in this offense and how that's a process. Can you just give an example of something for a quarterback in your system that's challenging? What is something that takes time and he has to get comfortable with?
A: I think as much as anything else, you're trying to make it a quarterback friendly system. I think everybody is trying to do that. Quarterbacks, like all the players, it's just a matter of repetition. Being in different situations, running plays against different looks. It just takes time to do that, it takes some experience to do that. I think there have been a lot of positive things over the course of the first five games for Daniel and for our offense. Obviously, there is plenty of areas we need to improve upon. Hopefully, over time there will be more positives and few negatives. I think we have improved, I think we have made strides. I think everybody is getting more comfortable. I think we have played against good defenses and I think we'll learn and be better from those experiences. Across our offensive line with our tight ends and receivers, our quarterbacks and our backs. Hopefully we'll grow week-by-week.
Q: Between the end around to Evan for a touchdown, the two-point conversion to Andrew Thomas, we saw a lot of what outside people would call creative play calling. I'm wondering if that is Dallas specific last week based on matchups you saw or was that stuff that was in there the first four weeks that you just didn't have a chance to use? Did it take a while to get to it because of the limited offseason, you just couldn't get to that next level stuff? Why break all that out last week?
A: I think you're always trying to find ways to make plays. Plays like that are typically in game plans week after week and you're looking for the right opportunity to call those kinds of things. Some weeks you might be more apt to call them based upon where you are or what the defense is doing. Other weeks, you might have them in but a little bit less likely to call them. Sometimes just situations in the game dictate those kinds of things. You always want to attack the defense different ways. It starts with run and pass, using tempo, formations, movements. What you try to do to compliment your base stuff. Hopefully in those situations, you call them, and you can execute them.
Q: You've called Evan Engram your most explosive offensive player. Why do you think it hasn't worked out into deep passing usage and overall significant frequent touches for him?
A: Evan has done a really nice job for us. There have been some really positive plays that he's made over the course of the first five games. Certainly, areas where he can get better and we can get better. Offensive football is a collaborative thing, it's everybody. The success you have running the ball, blocking them up front, protecting with your offensive line will impact all your skill players. At times we've done a really good job in our run game protecting in our run game and in our protections. Again, that will impact how we can get the skill guys involved. I think Evan has done a good job taking advantage of some opportunities we've given him and certainly we are trying to create more and more for him and for all our guys.
Q: What was your Dallas return like for you emotionally? I'm sure you have communicated with Dak, obviously a player that means a lot you. What was that like seeing that and being there for that?
A: I thought it was important going into the game to be focused on what we needed to do to play our best football. That's what we tried to do last week leading up to the game. It was certainly fun being back there seeing a lot of people that I had been around. I think the games for all us are a little bit odd and different not having the normal game day atmosphere that you would have with fans and everybody around. I did get a chance to visit with some of the players, some of the coaches and other people in the organization and I had great visits with those guys, that was a fun experience for me. In regard to Dak, obviously very sad that he had the injury. One thing I know about him, he's as tough as they come. His mentally tough, he's physically tough. Surgery seemed to have gone well. Our communication over the last few days have been positive, it seems like he is in good spirits. Wish him nothing but the best, he's a special guy.
Q: I wanted to ask you about Darius Slayton and your thoughts on him throughout the first five weeks and how you see his role kind of evolving down the stretch?
A: Darius has done an excellent job for us. Talk about a guy who has taken advantage of opportunities. It seems like any time we go in his direction, he's able to make plays for us. Whether they are little plays or big plays. He's continued to do that week after week. He had a big game the other day in the ball game against Dallas. He continues to grow as a young player that's not played that much football as this level. Really doing some positive things. His approach is outstanding as a professional, he really wants to know all the details. He works very hard in practice. He's been able to carry that to the game. He's certainly off to a very good start for us.
Q: How big challenge does Andrew Thomas face when he's up against Chase Young? How do you make sure his confidence remains high?
A: Andrew has faced really the elite rushers of the NFL in his first five games. If you think about the guys in Pittsburgh, then you go see Mack and Quinn in Chicago. They guys in San Francisco, their a little banged up but still pretty stout up front. The Rams, obviously the best defensive lineman in football. They have really good defensive ends that he had to block in that game. You go to Dallas and you're going against two really elite defensive linemen play in and play out in DeMarcus Lawrence and Aldon Smith. He's certainly gotten his indoctrination to the National Football League by playing against really good players. That's really the nature of his position. The biggest challenge that he'll have and that all offensive tackles in this league have is, you're not going always going to win. The other guys are good too. They are going to have success pushing the pocket, getting around the quarterback. You just have to keep coming back and learn from the experiences. I think about a guy like Tyron Smith who we had in Dallas. When we first got him there, he was going against DeMarcus Ware in practice every day. To be honest with you, right at the start he didn't do very well. DeMarcus Ware really got after him. As it went along in training camp and is it went along when they competed against each other, Tyron started to win some. Then he started to win some more of them and then it would be back and forth and then it was 50/50. Then he started to win more than half. That's really what these guys have to do. They have to keep battling, keep learning from their experiences. Be mentally tough, be physically tough. Technically, become better and you'll grow and improve as a player over time. There's no questions it's one of the most challenging positions in football. To block these elite rushers every week – Andrew has done a nice job so far. He's going to get better and better as we go.
Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
Q: Would you be able to tell us kind of what happened on the fake field goal where it seemed like most of the execution was spot on, but something went wrong?
A: It was a few things that went wrong. But ultimately, at the end of the day, we didn't get it done. That's the disappointing part of it. When you get a chance to make a play like that, you have to execute the play. That's really disappointing.
Q: Was it something about how Cam (Fleming) was communicating to the rest of the line that he was set?
A: No, no. It was a bunch of different things. But at the end of the day, we all have to get up there and get set. That's the most important thing. Get up there and get set, and we didn't. They threw the flag and it cost us a touchdown.
Q: A few things. Just to follow up, how good of a job did Evan Engram do faking everybody out that he was coming off the sideline?
A: Pretty good. He's pretty good. He's going to get an Academy Award for that. No, he did a good job of setting himself up. He really did.
Q: What is Graham Gano's range at this point? Could you put him out there for 60 at this point? It seems like, I think he became the first Giants kicker ever with three 50+ yarders in a game.
A: In ideal situations, you can put him out there. Obviously, a couple years ago he hit a 62-yarder to beat us when he was in Carolina. The guy is very talented. He has an extremely strong leg. He has a lot left in the tank.
Q: Is part of the frustration from the fake field goal that you kind of burned it? Because I'm sure every team now is certainly going to be on guard.
A: Yeah, a lot of that. Plays like that, you don't want to have very many… It's a one and done type of deal. You probably have to put it in the bank for about another year and a half before you can break it out. It is what it is.
Q: Then on the other side, how do you, if some team was trying to do that to you, is someone responsible to count 11 guys? How are you supposed to be on guard for something like that?
A: Yeah, it's just checking the sideline every time. Every time you do a field goal, a field goal block situation, you always check the sideline.
Q: In the past, players have described playing on special teams as 'organized chaos.' I'm just wondering, what is it about playing special teams that helps a young defensive player kind of take that next step and get ready to play on defense?
A: That's a great question. They get a chance to play in space, to be able to run full speed and negotiate space. That's probably the hardest skill to have as a football player, to be able to negotiate space, and to be able to take on blockers full speed, to be able to be disciplined and understanding leverage and angles and all of the base fundamentals that you need to be a good offensive and defensive player. All of those attributes and all of those skills are developed on special teams daily. You have a frontline blocker on kickoff return, you have to be able to bend your knees, play with leverage, get your eyes in the right spot. As a protector on punts, you have to keep your pad level down. You need to make sure you get depth off the ball. You have to understand schemes and concepts. As a punt returning guy, you have to be physical at the line of scrimmage. You have to play with great leverage, knee bend, hat placement, hands. All of those things, those basic core fundamentals that you have to have as a defensive or offensive player, all of those skills are being honed as you play on special teams.
Q: Then if I can just follow-up, does that tend to benefit more the defensive players or the offensive players? Because I notice you're using offensive linemen and they're basically doing the same role. They're lining up, they're being protectors. Is it more of a benefit to defensive players?
A: I think it's a benefit to all players because they just learn how to play the game, the basic fundamentals of the game. Just learning how, like I just said, just playing with great knee bend, being in a proper position, just understanding schematics and what you're trying to do and what you're trying to accomplish, whether you are an offensive or defensive player. Again, just those overall fundamental football skills, because I have to block as an offensive player. I have to defeat a block as a defensive player. Just understanding why a guy would attack me in a certain situation, and just understanding both sides of it. When I get a chance as a blocker on the frontline of the kickoff return, I've been on the other side where I've covered. Now, I understand what he's trying to do to me.
Q: Did you expect Graham Gano to be as consistent as he has been so far this year coming off of a year without playing?
A: Every time I've had Graham, he's been the same way. When I had him in Carolina, I want to say the first year, he missed a couple, maybe three or four, maybe five, kicks that he should have made and that he had made in the previous years. I think that might have been the outlier. But the next year, I want to say he was 94 percent, 93 percent, went to the Pro Bowl. That's kind of what I expect from Graham. He's super consistent in how he prepares and what he does in his daily routine, so it just manifests itself on the field.
Q: Last year, you obviously had a different kicker. I think you tried only one 50-yarder last year. Has the kicker changed that philosophy or did the coaching staff change that philosophy?
A: The coaching staff changed that philosophy. I think it was more of having confidence in Graham. It's not like we didn't have confidence in Aldrick (Rosas) because we did. But just having confidence in Graham and just knowing that he's been there and he's done it, take the points.
Q: I'm curious, when you have a play like that with Evan Engram, obviously, he's on the field on offense at that time. You can't tell him in the moment, 'ok, we're doing it now.' At what point do you have to say 'ok, we might use this here'? Is it before the game? Is it in the middle of the drive? How does that work?
A: It's just kind of a feel thing. Just understanding what moment that you're in, understanding the flow of the game and the situation. Then as a coach, we play through those situations and scenarios all the time. We understand that there are certain times in a game, just how the game is flowing, depending on the score, depending on just the situation, when to make the call.
Q: So, he knew before the game that you were going to use that and it was his job to sort of know when it would make sense during the game?
A: We have ways of communicating it.
Q: Also, we heard a lot of people say Cam Brown's been a huge contributor on special teams, he's done a really good job. What makes him a good special teams player?
A: Cam is smart, first of all. He's 6-foot-5, he's 235, 240 pounds and he can run like a deer. He has great length and speed, he's smart, he's physical. He's very physical. He plays every snap full speed. He is wide open every single time down the field. He's a high-energy kid, he loves football, and he wants to learn. Those things, those attributes, just having that size and length and being physical. Then couple it with being able to run like he can, that's just God-given.
Q: You just answered most of my question about Cam Brown. In terms of in the past, I remember you always saying when you get a young defensive player, there was a time in the season when he was with you that you kind of knew, 'you know what, he's probably not going to be with me much longer.' Does Cam Brown fall into that realm? If not, just in general, how do you know?
A: You know, and it's coming. He is what he is. He's a big, strong, physical kid who has a special skillset. I think the more plays he makes, the more confident he'll get. The game will slow down for him. Once the game starts to slow down for him, it's already starting to slow down on special teams. Once it starts to slow down on defense, I think the sky is the limit for the kid. The kid has a big upside. He's a good kid and he works his tail off. I tell him all the time, I think he has $7 million walking around inside of him. It's up to him to tap it.
Q: Just a last quick one. Joe (Judge) said even though if a guy emerges on specials and then needs to be used, either on defense or offense, he has no problem keeping him. He won't take him away from you. Is the philosophy different from maybe what you've had in the past?
A: When I was here with Coach (Tom) Coughlin, he was the same way. Coach Coughlin had the same philosophy. I've been in other places where it's been, 'no, that guy is not playing on special teams anymore.' I've been on both sides of it. But when you look at Joe and his past and where he's come from, Tedy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel were the wings on the punt team when we played them in the Super Bowl. That's always going to be, you're going to play your best players, and that's what we're doing here.
Guard Will Hernandez
Q: Andrew Thomas has struggled at times this season. You're next to him every play. Do you see him pressing at times during games? Are there ways you can communicate to him, maybe ease him?
A: Andrew's doing a great job. He's improving every single week. He's taking every single coaching point that he's given after every week. Of course, just like everybody else, you have mistakes, you mess up on things, you don't execute things at times. Everybody has that. Every single body that's ever on the field has those problems. What's cool about him is that he learns from them every week. He corrects his mistakes, he corrects the technique and he gets better at it. That's something we really like about Andrew, is he takes coaching very well.
Q: One third of your wins since you came in the NFL have come against Washington. What is it about that team that you guys have been able to find success against them, and really not anybody else in the league?
A: That starts with them being somebody in our division. We play every game to win. We've had success, and all we want to do now is just focus on keeping that success, getting our first win and piling them on top of that.
Q: Does it help now that you have a little confidence, you have a little history beating these guys, maybe more than last week's opponent, which you've never beaten?
A: Every year is a new year. Every game is a new game, even if it's the same team. You're not playing the exact same team every week. It's going to change. Any team can come out the next week and win. We're not taking anything from the past into consideration. Every game is a new game, we just have to come out and play to win.
Q: How comfortable are you with the way you guys are running a lot of these counters and powers where you get to pull?
A: I think they're great. We run great plays. We need to focus better on the execution, but I'm extremely well with anything that they put out there for us to do. Any kind of play, we'll run it. I'm comfortable with anything, really.
Q: (Marc) Colombo said he thinks you're one of the best pullers in the league. What do you think makes you good at that?
A: Colombo has played for so long in this league. That's awesome coming from him. I respect him a lot. We're just going to keep trying to get better. Just trying to get better at everything, from the things we struggle with to the things that we do well to whatever. We just want to get better at it.
Q: I know they have a new defensive scheme on the other side in Washington, but you are familiar with the personnel up front. I know those guys are good, I know you have a lot of respect for them. I'm curious if familiarity helps with the preparation for this week? Maybe since you guys have seen them, that familiarity on both sides kind of makes for an interesting matchup.
A: Obviously, every year guys get better, guys improve, guys learn new things and new techniques, whatever. But it definitely helps. They can only change so much. They're not going to completely change their game, so yeah, we are definitely going to see things we've seen before. They're going to make moves that we've seen before, so yeah, that's definitely going to help. We're just going to try to use that to our advantage.
Linebacker Markus Golden
Q: Obviously we saw you play a lot last week and you're going to play a lot going forward here with Lorenzo and X-man out. What were your emotions a couple weeks ago when we weren't talking to you? You're playing seven, ten, twelve snaps a game after being a guy who has had 10-sack seasons in this league. Were you frustrated?
A: No, not frustrated at all. I've been in the league for awhile, so I know some weeks you can get a lot of plays, other weeks you can't get lot of plays. My focus every week is the same no matter what. Whether I'm starting, whether I'm backing up. It's go hard in practice, learn the game plan and prepare like I'm starting. I don't allow that stuff to get me frustrated. I just try to focus and take it one day at a time and be ready when my name is called.
Q: Why do you think it wasn't getting called? Was it because as a free agent you weren't in the zoom meetings in the spring? Did you have a harder time playing catch up in the summer than we realized? Why do you think it wasn't getting called earlier?
A: Football is football. You have to be able to prepare and learn the plays and everything. That's what I focused on, making sure I learned everything and stayed focus. Like I said, it just goes back to the same thing I said. Some weeks, you get your number called a lot and some weeks you don't get called up that much. That's really what was going on. I just make sure I do my part and work hard no matter what, not matter what's going on. Just work hard, grind and be ready when my name is called.
Q: I'm curious what you would have thought if I said to you in mid-March if I had said that you would be back here. You would be starting again, it would be a totally different defense, but you would be playing 90 percent of the snaps again.
A: I probably wouldn't have believed you. That's just how I am anyway. You have to understand, I have been through free agency. I have been playing this game my whole life. It usually never works out how you think it's going to work out in your head, that's just me being honest. I keep my head ready for whatever, anything can happen. I honestly know that anything can happen when you're playing football. That's the mindset. I try not to take anything personal and be about business. Making sure I'm preparing and doing my job. At the end of the day, the only thing I want for the team is really to win. That's all I want. Whether I get one play or whether I get 100 plays, I want to get a win at the end of the day. That's truly what I'm about, and I'm always going to be like that no matter what.
Q: This is obviously a way different scheme, right? They ask something different from their linebackers in general here than probably they did the past couple of years. Have they asked you to do a lot different? I know you were in a pass rush role originally, but do you expect to be asked to do different things than maybe you have ever done?
A: No, I have really been playing linebacker my whole life. I have been playing linebacker since I have been in this league. I have dropped, I have rushed the passer, I have done it all. I try to make sure I stay prepared and work on everything. Like I said, whatever the coaches ask me to do, I will be prepared and ready to do it. I'm going to always work my best to be able to prepare and be able to do whatever the coaches ask me to do. On top of that, like I said, whatever I have to do to win, to win the game, to help my team win.
Q: Every week obviously it's a different opponent, the opponent presents different challenges. I know you say football is football. Are you finding more so this year, you have to kind of change up what you were doing as opposed to what you were doing last year? To the naked eye, it seemed like you were in that hunter role and did it so well.
A: I understand that part. You have different schemes, you have teams that do different things. Each week you're asked to do different stuff. That's how it's been for me since I have been in the league. You might see me rushing a lot since I am able to get after the passer. That might make people think that's all I do is rush the passer. I've played Sam linebacker since I have been in the league. I did a lot of dropping, a lot of different things in the NFL. That's what I go by. Like you said, there's a lot of different roles that you have to play. It goes back to what I said, football is still football to me, no matter what. It might be a little different with coverage and everything. Once you lock in and understand what you have to do, football is still football at the end of the day.
Q: Are there different techniques that you're asked to play? I know you say football is football, you've been playing linebacker all your life. Do different coaches ask you to maybe tweak the techniques you are using to be more effective in the schemes that they're calling?
A: Of course. Maybe in one defense you have to get off the edge real quick and get down the line if the tackle blocks down. In another defense, you might have to get across the line and be a little more patient and wait for the guy to come to you instead of trying to run through him. It switches up the tempo as far as being more patient and relaxing a little bit instead of running with your hair on fire, see ball-get ball type of defensive scheme. Yeah, it's different. Like I always say, once you put it in your head and learn what you have to do, it takes you back to football is football. I feel like as long as you know what to do and you know your job, you can go ahead with the mindset of football is football. That's how I'm going to keep it forever. I'm going to always learn what I have to do and go back to football is football.
Q: You are coming off a 10-sack season, and in only 124 snaps this year, you have 10 pressures, which is leading the team. What makes you such a good pass rusher?
A: Rushing the passer is a team role. The guys in the middle are working real hard this year. They got way better. You have (Kyler) Fack(rell) working hard, you have Zo (Carter), when Zo was in there, he was working hard. It's a team role. Then after that, in my mind, I'm going to always want to go get after the quarterback and make some plays for my team and try to get a sack or two. Just try to make plays in general to help the team win. I would really say just my mindset of wanting to compete, wanting to get out there and get after the quarterback. Of course, studying film during the week and knowing what I have to do. Coaches putting together a good game plan and making sure I learn and have everything down pat as far as the game plan. After that, it's that hunt mentality. You have to be able to hunt. At the end of the day, you have to be able to put your ears back and hunt. Just getting out there, using technique and getting after it with my teammates.
Q: Coach (Patrick) Graham was talking about the look you have when you're going to play. He said you kind of look through a person's soul. Do you feel a change in your own attitude when you know you're going to be on the field as opposed to previous weeks when maybe you were just kind of hoping for it?
A: Like I said, I prepare every week no matter what because you never know what could happen in this league. You have to be prepared. I never want to be somebody that goes to a game, 'Oh, I might not play this week.' Then all of a sudden, I have to play and I'm not ready, I don't know what's going on out there. I've been the same I've been since I got here last year. Just locking in and being overly focused on my job I have to do, because at the end of the day, yeah this is a game and everything, but this is my job. I'm expected to know what I have to do on the field, and like I said, I have to be able to do my job to help this team win. I would say my mindset is the same whether I feel like I'm not playing or I feel like I'm going to get a lot of plays. I'm going to come out ready and prepared. I know my family is watching, so I have to be ready to play at a high level for my family.
Q: Was it hard not to feel like the team was jerking you around a little bit with the contract stuff, and then they go through all of those machinations to kind of bring you in and then they're not using you right away? Was it hard to get past that?
A: No. No, it wasn't hard because like I said, I try not to take stuff personally. I've been like that for a long time, a long time. Don't take it personally. Come in, work hard every day no matter what. Make sure that I'm being the same person no matter what, and that's what I focus on the most. Make sure I'm being myself. If I'm worried about other stuff and not working as hard as I can because of other stuff that's going on, then I'm not being myself. At the end of the day, I want to be able to come here and be as best of a teammate as I can be for my teammates and do whatever I can do to help this team win. That's just how I am and that's just how I'll always be.