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Mike Sullivan downplays impact of new play-calling role


Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan has remained humble in his new role of offensive play-caller:

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. –Mike Sullivan is clearly in sync with Ben McAdoo, even if the subject is not game-planning or calling the Giants' offensive plays.

In addition to guarding personnel and strategic plans as if state secrets, in his two years as head coach, McAdoo has demonstrated an aversion to personalize anything. Today, Sullivan did the same.

Speaking publicly for the first time since he debuted as the team's play-caller in the 23-10 victory in Denver on Sunday night, Sullivan gave broad answers when reporters sought specifics. Such as when he was asked, "What was it like calling the offensive plays last week against Denver?"

"It was a great night for the organization," Sullivan said. "So proud of the players and appreciative of their efforts and buying into the plan. The assistant coaches did a great job and after all we've been through, for us to be able to go out there in that environment against that defense and to come out on top was something very gratifying and very happy for those guys."

McAdoo had called the plays in every game since his arrival here as the Giants' offensive coordinator in 2014. When he became head coach last year, he elevated Sullivan to that position, and continued to call the plays. Most offensive coordinators call plays, but Sullivan was perfectly happy to do what the head coach deemed best for the team.

"The goal, first and foremost, is always to win," Sullivan said. "And whatever the responsibility that I have, whether it's to call the plays, or to assist Ben and him calling the plays, is what I want to do to the best of my ability. When I'm not calling, it really is more a matter of listening to what's being said, in terms of what he's calling, and then getting some feedback from (quarterback) Eli (Manning), assessing what's happening with my own eyes, talking to the other coaches, communicating with the other coaches, communicating with the players. Kind of the what-ifs and suggestions about what we could do next and so on and so forth. You're involved, it's definitely, a different perspective, from the standpoint of a rhythm because ultimately, what is sent in, is what's sent in and you just do the best you can to, like I said, support that play call."

Before the Denver game, McAdoo believed a number of issues demanded he expend more of his energy and attention as the head coach, so he handed the playcalling duties to Sullivan. And he did so with a characteristic lack of fanfare.

"Early last week, I made a decision that I wasn't going to call it," McAdoo said. "The office next to mine is Mike Sullivan's. I walked into Mike Sullivan's office, I said, 'You're calling it this week.' (General manager) Jerry (Reese) is down the hall. I walked down to Jerry's office. I said, 'Jerry, I'm not calling it this week. Sully is calling it.' Then I walked down to the quarterback room. I said, 'Hey Eli, Sully is calling it this week.' And, that was it."

The game plan was for a ground-heavy attack, largely because the Giants were missing four wide receivers injured the previous week against the Chargers. The Giants rushed for 148 yards on 32 carries, and Manning threw just 19 passes.

Sullivan would not admit to having extra adrenaline because he knew he would be the one communicating the plays to Manning.

"The preparation is something that we talk to our players about, how you trust your training, and you zero in on everything that is going to be required to be ready for the game," Sullivan said. "And I think that, whether it's our players or from a coaching standpoint, the more you can do the same thing over and over and study and prepare and certainly any game, regardless of what I think a coach's role is, there's adrenaline and there's excitement. We're very fortunate and blessed to be able to do this, but once the game starts, it's in that zone and just kind of zero in and not really getting caught up in anything other than that call and then what the potential next call would be."

Sullivan said McAdoo and he communicated "a few times" on the sideline during the game.

"He was excellent throughout the week, very supportive, and certainly on game day as well," Sullivan said. "There were occasions, just in terms of him giving some feedback and a suggestion here or there. But he was very, very good, in terms of, very positive, as I mentioned. We just were able to do everything like we typically do, in terms of trying to get the information from Eli and to Eli, and then to the backs, or then to the offensive line and just kind of go through and bounce ideas off of everybody, in terms of what's the next best approach for the next series."

It worked so well, the Giants earned their first victory of the season. But if you want to hear Mike Sullivan accept some credit for that, it's going to be a long wait.

*Defensive end Olivier Vernon, who has missed the last two games with an ankle injury and went through individual drills on Wednesday, today joined the list of players who did not practice. "He stayed inside to get treatment." McAdoo said.

The other players not practicing were center Weston Richburg (concussion), and linebackers Jonathan Casillas (neck) and Calvin Munson (quad).

Three players were limited: safety Landon Collins (ankle), running back Paul Perkins (ribs), and wide receiver Sterling Shepard (ankle).

Cornerback Eli Apple (not injury related) and guard John Jerry (tooth) returned to practice at full participation. Long snapper Zak DeOssie (wrist/elbow) also practiced fully.

*The Giants lead their series with the Seahawks, 9-8, but Seattle has won the last the last three meetings, in 2011, 2013 and 2014. The first two of those games were played in MetLife Stadium. They met most recently on Nov. 9, 2014 in Seattle, where the Giants held a 17-14 halftime lead on the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks. But Marshawn Lynch ran for two of his four touchdowns as Seattle outscored the Giants in the third and fourth quarters, 24-0, for a 38-17 triumph. The Seahawks won here on Oct. 9, 2011 (36-25) and Dec. 15, 2013 (23-0).

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