Head Coach Joe Judge
Q: Obviously, Daniel Jones with the MRI, what do you expect?
A: There are actually more question marks than answers right now, to be honest with you. We got some of the information back from the doctors, but a lot of that is we have to wait and see how this guy responds in a couple of days. Can he move around the field and can he do anything? I'd say, listen, my approach on every injury is always the same. It's always number one, can the player hurt it worse by playing? Is it pain tolerance or is there a risk for serious injury? That's number one. Number two, can the player defend himself on the field at a level necessary to do their job effectively? Until we can answer those two questions with absolute certainty, we won't have any answers on what we're going to do in terms of this week. I know Daniel's going to do everything he can to get on the field. But sometimes as coaches, you have to make a decision to maybe protect the player from himself and kind of get through their competitiveness.
Q: Was it a strain? Was it a pull? What exactly was it?
A: I'm not the doctor. I'm not going to go ahead and try to put a label on it, to be honest with you. But it was enough that we had to remove him from the game yesterday. We'll kind of see where he is going forward.
Q: When Daniel came back into the game, who made that decision? What did he tell the trainers that made him feel okay and safe enough to go back in and try again?
A: Well, they examined him on the sideline, and they thought that there was a chance for him to go back in. He was obviously pushing to get back into the game and go out there and be with the team and try to do something to help the team. He pushed to get back in there. He was cleared medically. But once he got out there, he couldn't do what was necessary to play the rest of the game, so he had to take himself out at that point. Obviously, that's something we support him fully with. I talked to him before putting him out there as well.
Q: How much do you factor in that there are four more games after Sunday and hamstring injuries can linger? Does that factor into the equation?
A: Yeah, that's always part of it. Again, I kind of go back to the first two things I said. It's just short-term putting him on the field, can he hurt it any worse? I don't think you want to look at it in terms of this game is not as important as maybe another game coming up. To me, it's always that one game season. You don't want to do anything stupid that's going to risk the player and lose him long-term. But I'll let the doctors kind of decide what the short-term risk is.
Q: Do you have any plans to bring in another quarterback, maybe just to the practice squad to have another arm or someone on deck?
A: Yeah, we are. We're actually talking about that right now as an organization, kind of looking through a list of guys. Obviously, the priority is to get somebody in here as quickly as possible to get him through the protocols and go through that kind of cadence to get him even eligible for Sunday.
Q: Of the guys who were here in training camp, is Alex (Tanney) the only one who is free?
A: It would be him or Cooper (Rush). To be honest with you, I have to check and see where Cooper is exactly right now. I haven't gone through all of those lists yet. We had those conversations. We just wrapped up meetings with the players. I'm going to jump back into some personnel discussions when this call is over.
Q: Message to the team going forward starting this week against Seattle, with or without Daniel, what's your overall focus?
A: Daily improvement. That sounds like a broken record right there, but that's what we have to do every day. We're keeping the focus small in terms of what we have to do individually to help the team collectively. That's it. We have a tough game, a tough opponent this week. We have to get ready. Obviously, it's that quick turnaround to go out there and go out west. We have to do everything we can to get ourselves ready. It's going to be a tough opponent, great challenge going to Seattle.
Q: You've seen around the league and you saw what kind of happened with the Broncos. Would you consider having a quarterback, a third guy, being remote for the time being, just to sort of keep him safe and going that way?
A: Obviously, what happened with the Broncos this week, I think every team in the league had similar conversations. We did as well Saturday night at the hotel. Considering in the future, not only just the quarterback position, but several key positions throughout the team, is it worth keeping those guys isolated and having them Zoom in for the meetings? That's definitely something we're discussing right now. That is something we're considering. Right now, we have two guys, quarterbacks, with live arms at practice. We'll see where Daniel is going forward when we get some more information. Talking about adding a fourth to that group, there's a possibility of that. We still haven't finalized whether or not we want to bring them in or keep them at the hotel. I would think the initial conversation would be whoever it is we bring in, just due to the fact that they haven't been with the team or maybe any team for some period of time, you're going to want to get them around the team at some point, to at least get out there and throw, take snaps, and be around the guys in some capacity.
Q: Have you done anything in regards to keeping your guys separated at certain positions? I know you said you mentioned it but have you done anything to date or is that something you might have to alter?
A: I'd say as far as day to day in the building, yeah, it starts with going virtual with the meetings. Then when we're in the building, kind of separating guys throughout the big team meetings, some of the smaller position meetings as well. Everything to when we're traveling, where we put guys on busses, where we put guys on the plane, how we set up the locker room. We're trying to do everything we can to get everybody as spaced out as can be. Now that only goes so far. At some point, they have to be in an individual period standing next to each other throwing balls, catching balls. They have to be in a team setting where it's 11 on 11. You can only do so much for so long, but everything that we can do, we are doing.
Q: Jumping on that a little bit, you guys were down to one quarterback on Sunday. I'm curious is there someone in the building that is kind of like your emergency quarterback? Is that Golden Tate or was there somebody you were ready to throw out there if it came to it?
A: There's always a list of guys that want to be in your ear reminding you they played quarterback in high school. I remind them I did the same thing, and I'm also not playing on Sunday. But we always go ahead and have a few contingency plans, whether it's one of the running backs, one of the tight ends even, or possibly some of the receivers we put together in certain packages. We've already seen Golden throw passes in games. We've also had packages with other guys doing different things. Jason (Garrett) is working with the offense right now and putting everyone's skillset in terms of how we can use different guys in different situations to find an advantage.
Q: What do you like about Clayton Thorson? He's been with you guys, I think you signed him in September, what do you like about him as a quarterback?
A: He's a big, strong dude. He has a big arm. He shows a lot of awareness back there, he's a competitive guy. You can go back to his college tape and see how this guy really plays in the game. He's kind of got that scrappy mentality to him, kind of digs and claws for what he has, and that's kind of showed up at practice as well. He's done a lot of things at practice that have impressed us to this point. He's shown a level of development that we're pleased with where he's moving to.
Q: Can you just talk a little about the difference of maybe expectations for a quarterback like Colt, either coming in cold not having the reps, and then possibly having a week to prep for an upcoming opponent?
A: The expectations are always the same, to be able to go in there and execute whatever we ask you to. Listen, not everyone is going to have every snap throughout the week with practice. That's just the reality of the NFL. Colt has to take advantage of every rep that he does get, and he gets a significant amount working against our defense. We try to keep everything as tied in offensively with what maybe we're working with the opponent and what our own offensive techniques are, so that all of our guys come to work and progress with what we're doing. You may be running a card for what the Bengals are doing, but we can go ahead and associate that with what's our route combination? What's our protection slide for the line? What's Colt's progression on that play, so that way, he's getting work as well as our defense at the same time, and we're all getting a look at what we have to look at. I'd say for Colt, he came in the game and, listen, it was a tough thing coming off cold off the sideline. But he came in, did some really nice things for us, made some tough throws in tough situations, made some good runs for us. Look, he's a vet, he has a lot of experience. He goes out there with a good amount of savvy, can really manage a game. But we'll set the game up however we need to, whether it's Daniel, whether it's Colt, whether it's Clayton, whoever it ends up being, in terms of working to their strong points.
Q: Do you have any update on (Kyler) Fackrell and (Nate) Ebner?
A: Fackrell has the lower leg injury right there. We're going to wait and see how he looks also later in the week. Again, this first day up, everyone is sore, everyone is tight. We'll see how it looks come Wednesday and Thursday. Ebner, again, he looks like he's going to rebound pretty fast. One thing being around Nate for a long time is he's kind of like the girl who has eight kids and can tell you she's pregnant before she's taken a test. He kind of knows what's going on with his body. Walking off at halftime, he was able to kind of relay to me what the injury was kind of similar to and what he was thinking about it. Sure enough, that's exactly what was confirmed by the doctors today. I've been around that guy for a long time. He'll do everything he can to get back this Sunday.
Q: With Seattle being your next opponent, have you guys set the research for tonight? Have you assigned guys different things to be looking for to pick up tendencies since it's something that is unfolding live for you?
A: We haven't had to assign anything special, but everyone already has their areas of what they have to research. We do use a lot of the TV games anyway to try to find different views of things. There's things you can pick up on TV you can't on a coaches' copy. This obviously being a division game, we've already played Philly twice though. Being Seattle, it kind of sets up pretty nice. It's kind of a little bit different. The entire league is shut down, we're all working from home today. I'm home right now. We're already grading the tape, meeting the players via zoom. Tonight, we'll be able to sit down. We're watching Monday Night Football, but you're actually working ahead. It's not a bad change up and a break in how we're doing it. It would be good for our guys to listen to communication. It will be good for the guys who are looking for certain things that may be coming up on their sideline or substitution patterns. A lot of times you get from the TV view different angles of guys. Seeing different views and clearer shots that may apply to how you're going to coach the technique of your team.
Q: As far as the schedule, are you using the same philosophy that you did when you went to L.A.?
A: Yeah, we are. We talked to the captains and some of the older players when we got back from L.A. I wanted immediate feedback on what they thought about it. The immediate feedback tied into also the next week. It really is a week-long process. We got back from L.A. on Monday. I talked to them on Wednesday morning on how they felt about it. I checked with them the following Monday and kind of saw if they thought it was beneficial, the way the previous week went. They all did, they liked it a lot. We're going to go back with the same mentality. We'll go out to Seattle early on Saturday morning. We'll land, we'll have a walk-thru at a local high school to get the guys up and moving. Get some blood pumping through their legs. We'll go to the hotel, we'll have some quick meetings. Get them off their feet and get them some sleep. After the game on Sunday, we'll go back to the hotel and stay overnight. We'll wake up on Monday morning and fly back. What we found last time that helped more than anything, instead of taking kind of almost that red eye type of flight coming back. You are worn down, you're tired. You get a short night of sleep Sunday into Monday. You're tired on Monday, and it catches up to you on Tuesday. All of the sudden, by the time you hit Thursday, you get that reciprocal wear and tear on your body where it sets you back a little bit. We saw with this, getting a good night's sleep on Sunday, waking up fresh on Monday. Everyone got home by call it 8 o'clock. We're actually going to get home a little bit earlier this time, we're going to leave a little earlier. We'll get everyone home, get a good night's sleep. Wake up fresh on Tuesday and get rolling forward. It worked out well for us last time, so we're going to use the same schedule for the most part.
Q: You mentioned that the Daniel Jones' MRI provided more questions than answers. Was there a sigh of relief that it was not a significant hamstring tear? Are you confident that if this is a one-week thing, it's not more than a one-week thing?
A: I couldn't give an answer on if it's one week or more than one week right now. I'm not qualified and, to be honest, the doctors I talked to today don't have a crystal ball to look through either. I would say this, this is a tough dude. He is a tough guy. He is a very competitive guy and he wants to be out there. If we gave him the option today, he would jump out there, I'm sure, with duct tape on his leg and try to go at it. That being said, we have to give this guy a few days to get out there on the field and see if he can move around, see if he can do something. The time will tell based on when he can get out there and properly defend himself and execute the game plan effectively. I can't give you any definite answer on that. There's not much to really hide on this. To be honest with you, with these types of injuries, we just have to give the player a few days to get out there and see what it really is. The day after, there's going to be some swelling. It's going to be tight, there's going to be issues that show up. We have to see how he reacts from a couple days of treatment and what we can do to get him going on the grass.
Q: You mentioned a few times you want to make sure the injury doesn't worsen if you play him. Hamstrings are notorious that they can get worse. With a guy like Daniel Jones, who uses his legs so often, is that a different framework for him versus maybe more of a pocket quarterback?
A: I wouldn't say that necessarily. Would it maybe change some of the things we would call in the game plan? Possibly. If we felt this wasn't something he could hurt worse, or something he can go out there and still defend himself but just playing a little bit different with the play calling, I would have no issue putting him out there with that. There's going to be guys rushing at him to try and take his head off. I want to make sure I don't put a guy out there in a position where he can't defend himself. That's just not fair to him. He's going to go out there with a lot of courage and he is going to want to stand back there. We've got to evaluate and make sure we do the right thing by him.
Q: Do you expect to have the three guys on the COVID Reserve List available this week? Does the fact that you're remote the first couple of days impede your ability to evaluate them early?
A: It really won't affect our evaluations as coaches. Tomorrow will actually be their third day of the ramp up period. They will be on the field. They were on it today, they will be on the field again tomorrow with our trainers and the medical staff. Wednesday, when we're all back, we should have a chance to possibly see them. We'll get more answers on where they're at. They have to go through a series of cardiac testing, some other standard procedures to make sure they are clear on everything. I know all the guys are getting stir crazy being isolated right now, and they are anxious to get back. The one thing we've got to really make sure with these guys is they have missed a significant amount of time as far as being out there training, being on the field. We had the bye week, that kind of carried over into last week of them not being in the building. This isn't just like they missed one week of practice and they came on back. These guys have been dealing with something physically for over a week now. They have been sitting in a position where they have been out, they haven't been active. We can't just bring these guys back in the facility and, okay, they are full go. We have to see these guys move around, make sure their condition level is up. Make sure we're not putting them at a risk of soft tissue injuries and things of that nature because they haven't been out there moving around. Our training staff will put them through a series of things tomorrow to kind of gauge where they're at. Also, see if they are clear to practice with the team. Assuming everything goes well, we do look forward to getting them back this week, if that's possible. As soon as we can have them back, we're going to look to incorporate them moving the forward as best we can.
Q: James Bradberry, whatever he was tending to last week, is that something that you consider now behind him and that's not a concern as far as his availability for Seattle and other games?
A: I really couldn't answer that. It's a family matter with him. I don't want to go into his personal business. If anyone on this call was dealing with the same thing, we would encourage them, go take care of your family and make sure everything is good. James did a great job last week for us of staying engaged. He was in all the meetings through zoom. He showed up and had a good practice on Friday. He played a good game for us. He's a guy who is getting a game ball for the way he had to handle last week. He really made a lot of sacrifices and was able to combine personal adversity and some sacrifices to make sure he was still there for the team. He did a really nice job for us in that. I'm really proud of the way he handled that. To be honest with you, I hope for his family's sake and for everyone's sake that he doesn't have to deal with it again. If it comes back up and he does, same as last week, we'll support him. Make sure we're in a position to help with whatever he needs.
Q: Can Colt McCoy run the same game plan you normally would and just put Colt in there with the same kind of plays? Do you guys have to adapt your game plan to Colt? Kind of like the way you have run the ball differently with Wayne (Gallman) than with Saquon (Barkley)?
A: The first part of the question is no. We don't have to change the offense. We can put him in there and we can run our offense. If Colt is taking the snaps, maybe there will be a few different things that Jason (Garrett) determines are good to run with Colt, yeah, absolutely. It doesn't matter exactly what it is. It's based on the opponent and what our players do well. We're going to try to find the best way to use their strengths. As the guys put the game plan together for this week, as we talk through different scenarios, I'm sure there may be a different wrinkle here or there at some point. That's not just because of what there is a limit of. We ran our offense yesterday with Colt and Jason called it off the same play sheet and the same way. Colt went out there and executed and did a good job for us.
Q: Is he capable of doing the RPO's? I saw Jason called a couple of those yesterday?
A: Yeah, Colt's got a history of running the ball. He's an athletic quarterback. He's a tough dude, he's a gritty dude. Just yesterday, he was running the ball. You go back earlier in his career, he did the same thing. Through college, high school and all that stuff. Colt is a gritty dude. Put the ball in his hand, put him on the edge and let him run around, throw the ball from the pocket. Run some RPO's, some zone reads. There's not much we have to change in the offense. Colt is very good as far as adapting to new schemes and different things. He goes out there and he has a very clear vision of what's going on with the opponent. He does a great job through practice with us and during the week of giving input back to me and Pat Graham in terms of what the defense is doing against him and how he sees it and what's tough. Maybe something he sees as a tendency or tip that we go ahead, and we adjust going into the game plan. Colt is a very smart player. He uses a lot of his experience as a strength. We plan on him doing that going forward.
Wide Receiver Sterling Shepard
Q: How much work have you had with Colt McCoy if you have to go into Sunday's game with him as your starting quarterback?
A: We've gotten a lot of work done in practice and after practice as well. I've been with him since camp. Then obviously, we went to work a little bit in the offseason as well. I've got a lot of work with him and have a lot of confidence in him.
Q: It seemed like you guys had pretty good timing there on the route where you fell and kind of turned around and the ball was right there. Is that promising to you if that's the direction that things have to go?
A: Yeah like I said, I have a lot of confidence in Colt. He's a veteran guy. He's been in games, he's played this game for a long time. Like I said, my confidence is through the roof with him.
Q: What's it like sitting there at 4-7 and being in first place, at least for the moment?
A: It's pretty wild. It started off kind of shaky at the beginning of the season, but I feel like the identity of the team is really coming to light. We just have to keep doing our part, and that's coming to work every day with the right mindset and trying to get better every week.
Q: Being a receiver, making a living with your legs certainly, hands and legs. What advice would you give to Daniel? He's going to try to gut through this. Joe Judge keeps saying what a tough dude he is, hamstring, having a chance to maybe reinjure that, those kinds of things. A guy who likes to run. You've had to deal with these kinds of things. What advice have you given him about protecting himself and maybe not coming back too soon?
A: He has to listen to his body. I think that's what it all comes down to. This is football. This is a physical sport. You have to be able to make sure you're ready to endure those hits and ready to run away from people if you have to. It all comes down to how he feels and whenever he feels like he's ready.
Q: Obviously, you guys have won three in a row but the competition steps up here with Seattle and the games after Seattle. Are you interested to see if you guys are really ready to take on the top level of competition? How confident do you feel that you are? Because it's a step up from Washington, Philly and Cincy now.
A: I don't really care who we're playing. I'm confident in our abilities and what we can do. We're going to attack the week just like we attack every week, and that's what it is.
Q: I can't be the only one curious. Who made the wall behind you there? What jerseys are those?
A: I got Michael Thomas, Dede Westbrook, Jared Goff, Trent Williams. I got a whole bunch. Eli Manning.
Q: What do you lose if Daniel isn't able to play and you have to make that switch to Colt? How much maybe would you think the offense would change?
A: I think the only thing you lose is Daniel is the one that was taking all of the first team reps. He's really familiar with the guys, but that's something that Colt really paid attention to. He prepared like he was the number one every week. He's going to step in, he's going to do his thing, and that's what world we're living in right now. I feel like he'll execute, step up and make plays.
Safety Jabrill Peppers
Q: Assuming Colt McCoy has to play on Sunday, what does he bring to the offense? As somebody who practices against him I assume pretty often.
A: He's very experienced, very savvy. He's a guy who can make all the throws. I definitely have the utmost confidence.
Q: Joe (Judge) said something yesterday that nobody takes it to the first team defense quite like Colt McCoy does. He gives you guys a big challenge every week. What makes him so special as a backup that gives you guys confidence?
A: His experience. He diagnoses coverages really well; very fast, he gets through his progressions really well. He has some tricks that he likes to throw at us. Whether it's his no look passes or looking off the safety, throwing it back side. He definitely does a lot of things to help us prepare for what we're going to see on Sundays.
Q: Do you feel like you are playing the best that you have played in your career right now?
A: I feel like I'm playing pretty good ball. I definitely still have a ways to go. I just think I'm making the plays that come to me.
Q: Why do you think that is?
A: I'm just trusting what I'm seeing. PG (Patrick Graham) does a great job week in and week out with different schemes, different looks for the opposing offenses. I think a lot of the guys on the defense are definitely reaping the benefits of that.
Q: It seems like the secondary as a whole is playing your best ball together? How much better do you feel like this group is than when you started? Why have you guys been able to grow?
A: When we started out the season, we still had a lot of guys who hadn't went through summer camp with us. We still had to gel. Guys still had to learn the system to feel comfortable and confident out there. Now, I just think our understanding of the system. PG does a great job of explaining to us how he sees it and what he sees. He wants us actually putting in some input. I just think it's all coming ten-fold now. Like I said, I definitely still think we have a long way to go. It's definitely starting to get rolling.
Q: How big of an impact has Logan (Ryan) had on the locker room and your group in general? It seems like he has really become a leader pretty quickly. He's a guy who joined the team pretty late too.
A: Absolutely, Logan is a Super Bowl champion. He's been a part of a lot of winning programs and he works hard. I always look at how a guy works before he talks. He works hard and he brings the maturation. Playing in so many systems as well as playing in this system before. A lot of the guys have bounced things off of him. How would you play this? How would you play that? I think that was definitely vital to a lot of the young guys that we have in the secondary for sure.
Q: There will be people who look at this team and say they haven't beaten a winning team yet, right now they are tied for first. Do you have to start beating teams with winning records to be considered a contender?
A: I just think we have to beat whoever we play. We don't really care about the record. Whoever we see that Sunday or whenever the gameday is, that's our mindset. Try to go in there and play the best ball we can.
Q: Have you done much research on Seattle yet? Are you going to watch the game tonight?
A: I've done a brief introduction to them. I'm definitely looking forward to watching the game tonight.
Q: (Xavier) McKinney got a couple snaps on Sunday. What can he bring to this defense once he gets more integrated into the playing rotation?
A: That's just another guy who can pretty much do everything. Whether it's covering in the deep half, man to man, blitzing, or dropping underneath into zone coverages. That's just going to be another toy for PG to have in his back pocket.
Q: You talked before about the progress the defense has made this season. How much is this sort of like the next test? You get to face Russell Wilson this week, Kyler Murray next week. What are your thoughts on facing that caliber of quarterback?
A: My main concern is the Seattle Seahawks and Russell Wilson and the threat they pose. Obviously, his resume speaks for itself. He's having a hell of a year. A lot of guys are starting to emerge for him. He has a lot of weapons over there. We definitely have to be on our p's and q's. Play sound, discipline football and go up there and do what we do.
Q: How much does he allow this defense to find out how much progress you have made?
A: I don't really think about it like that. It's just the next test the next week.
Q: Joe Judge told us James Bradberry is getting a game ball for the sacrifice he made personally and staying engaged professionally. What kind of player and defensive leader is Bradberry?
A: That just speaks to the guy he is, and the caliber guy he is. He's great player, but he's a great dude off the field as well. He's a quiet guy, but when he speaks everybody listens. His play speaks for itself as well. We all prayed for him. He did what he had to do but he stayed engaged so when game day comes, he was still able to go out there and be locked in and perform the way we need him to.
Q: When you see (Jabaal) Sheard and Niko Lalos and Ike (Isaac) Yiadom making big plays for you, what's the feeling among the defense of some of the guys who are maybe not as heralded making big contributions?
A: It's expected. We don't really look at big names or whatever the case may be. We're all apart of the same defense and we all put in the same work. Guys have seen those guys working hard day in and day out. It was only a matter of time. I'm happy for Niko, that's just what Jabaal does.
Q: Is there any part of you that looks back and says I wish I had a chance at those five losses we have in the last meeting of the game? Is there any part of you that says if we had those teams again maybe we would have a much different record?
A: Hindsight is 20/20. We made the mistakes we made and weren't able to close out those games. You move on, you learn from it and you don't allow history to repeat itself.
View photos from the Week 12 matchup between the Giants and Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium.