Coach Pat Shurmur
Opening Statement: I think you were made aware of the injury report. We still have Rhett (Ellison) and Evan (Engram), and then Jabrill (Peppers) and Golden (Tate) from last week’s game. Those guys, we’ll see if they can make it back and we’ll move on. Getting ready for the Packers. They’re an outstanding team and it’s going to be a big challenge. I’ll take your questions.
Q: How’s Evan doing?
A: He’s still on the report, so we’ll just see. We’ll just have to see.
Q: Is he running and cutting?
A: Yeah, I mean he’s making progress. But we’ll see if we have enough time with regard to this game.
Q: We’ve talked a lot about (Aldrick) Rosas, but what about (Zak) DeOssie? It seems like a lot of Aldrick’s misses are off rolling snaps or off-center snaps. Where is he at right now?
A: Well, you know, snap, hold, kick. It’s a coordinated effort. I think there are areas this year where we could have been better in. Obviously, the snap and then the kick. But we’re working on being consistent. It’s just like anything that you do in football. You just have to keep working on it.
Q: What was the thinking in bringing in a bunch of kickers yesterday?
A: Just kicking the tires on guys, just to see what’s available, guys that are out there. That’s all.
Q: If Peppers can’t go, do you figure (Julian) Love will be back there, like he was in Sunday’s game?
A: Yeah. We’ll have a combination with Love back there, Michael Thomas. We’ll fill in. I thought Love did a good job with his first extended action last week. He’s displayed a lot of the things that we thought he might have. We’ll just try to build on that if for some reason Jabrill can’t make it.
Q: You’ve said a couple times that it was pre-planned to do the (DeAndre) Baker (Sam) Beal thing. What did you like about that when you actually saw it?
A: Well, it was good to see Beal on the field. His first action, so to speak, playing defense. He played the week before, but extended and planned. He did a good job. What I liked about it? I liked seeing… they’re young players, and if we add Love, we have another rookie out there. You can make the case that really Sam is a rookie. Last year was like year zero for him, because he didn’t get a chance to compete at all. But he competed. First, he got lined up properly. He knew, generally speaking, what to do and he competed. It’s always good to see a young player get out there and get something done.
Q: Do you expect to stick with that rotation?
A: Yeah, they’re both going to play. So, probably we’ll stick with it.
Q: Kareem Martin, he was out there today. Is he somebody that you’re thinking about…
A: Yeah, we started his clock in terms of getting him ready to go. He’s out there practicing for the first time. We’ll see how he responded. Certainly, Ronnie (Barnes) and these guys will see how he did physically from that. Then we’ll just kind of keep him going. He’ll be available to us, I think, in the next three weeks.
Q: With the Beal and Baker rotation, obviously, there’s a benefit to get Beal on the field. Did you gain any benefit with DeAndre, maybe having his snaps decrease in a sense? Did you see anything different from him?
A: No. I think it was good to get Beal on the field. DeAndre… It’s always good when there’s a competitive setting, too. I think I mentioned it earlier in the week on the conference call, but when he was out there, he competed hard. When he wasn’t in there, he was standing there, watching and in-tune with what was going on. Hey, they’re young players. There’s a lot to learn for all of them. We’ll keep them all going.
Q: We’ve talked a lot about the running game, or the lack of it moving as well as it can. I’ve talked to the linemen before and they said, ‘Eli (Manning) always put us in the right spot to get us going.’ Does Daniel (Jones) not do that as well, or is he learning that?
A: No. We have run plays and adjustments. Daniel’s done what those guys said Eli did for them. I don’t think that’s the issue.
Q: We obviously know Aaron Rodgers is a great player. But when you look at him, what is it that he does that sort of separates him and makes him so difficult to defend?
A: It always starts with these guys that have those off-schedule plays that end up becoming explosive gains. I often refer to them as ’60-yard check-downs,’ and they have ways of getting them. They get you offsides and they all take off, and he’ll throw it deep. He does a really good job if the rush goes beyond him of sliding up, staying alive and then finding somebody downfield. Those off-schedule plays, guys that can do that, that’s hard on a defense because you have to play defense all over the field the full down. Then he also does a really good job at times of getting the ball and dealing the ball quickly so that you can’t get to him. Then he’s obviously really good at all of the other elements of playing quarterback.
Q: Why was Love ready to play last week but not before that?
A: He was ready to play. He was ready to play, and we just made a decision coming off the bye week that it was time. That’s all.
Q: You mentioned offsides. That’s obviously something Rodgers likes to do. He had three of them last week. What do you do… How do you practice that?
A: You practice it, so we try to get them to jump offsides until they don’t.
Q: You can’t just have a special period for that, right, because then obviously they know it’s coming? Do you sprinkle them in throughout practice, maybe more during that week?
A: Yeah. Anytime you work on anything, you’re always trying to fix the mistakes from the week before because teams will try to exploit that. Obviously, that’s something that they do anyway. That’s always part of the training, is making sure that we’re not affected by the quarterback’s cadence.
Q: When you drafted Saquon (Barkley), you guys liked him as a player. But there was more to that, too. You talked last year a lot about his spirit. With all of this losing, do you have any concern that that spirit is taking a hit, that he might be diminished a little bit from all the losing?
A: No, because I think he’s a young player, and he’s grinding through the season. A lot of things went well for him last year, and he’s grinding through this season. I think there’s a lot to be learned from that. We all grind through it. At times, it’s about perseverance and trying to get it right until you can push it over the top and win consistently. That’s where we’re at right now. I think we all understand that. I think that’s something that we can be thankful for, and this is the time of year… By the way, Happy Thanksgiving. I guess we’re not going to be meeting tomorrow, so make sure I get that out. These guys know how to persevere. We’re young and we’ve lost a couple of close games because of critical errors that we need to eliminate. They get that. They see that. But they understand the perseverance part of pushing through it, and I think Saquon is learning that as well. I don’t think he’s any different than any young player that’s out there.
Q: We’ve talked a lot about Markus Golden as a pass-rusher. The play he made against the run on that third down to get you guys the ball back, maybe we don’t appreciate that enough. Is he a really complete edge rusher in terms of playing the run, too?
A: We feel like he’s a three-down player if that’s what you mean. He’s very active. He’s very tough. He has good instincts. He’s not as big as some of the guys, but he has a way of having an impact on the run game like he did there. If you don’t know him, as you get to know him, you’ll know he’s a very tough, competitive, spirited guy. I think he’s been a really good addition to our team.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge you see out of this Packers defense?
A: They tend to be a little bit multiple in how they line up. They play just about every coverage concept. They have some talent, especially on the edges. They added the Smith’s (Preston, Za’Darius), and those guys can wreck a game if we don’t block them properly. I think they’re a very good defense and I think they’re… they can sneak up on you and make a play. But they can also do a good job of getting you off the field on third down. The longer the yardage on third down, the more it plays into their hands.
Q: Kaden Smith, what did you see from him?
A: I thought his first outing was pretty good. We liked him from the get-go. He was a guy we liked last year in the draft. The 49ers picked him up, and then when he was available, we wanted to make him a part of our team. He has good instincts, he’s tough. It wasn’t too big for him. Anytime you put a rookie in there for the first time, you wonder… You have all these things you think about a young man. Then you put him in there, you wonder if it’s going to be too big for him and it wasn’t. You walk away from that and say, ‘He did a lot of really good things. There are some things he could do better. But his involvement in the game, he handled it really well so you can build on that.’
Q: When you look at their game on (Sunday) night, do you sit there and say, ‘They got beat by a good margin, their confidence maybe took a little hit’? Or do you say, ‘They’re going to come in here angry’? Or you just throw out the game totally?
A: No. I think you look at the game for what it is, to decide what your tactics are going to be to beat them. Listen, everybody in this league is prideful. Everybody in this league fights every week to win a game. I think outside, everyone tries to kind of characterize what their demeanor is going to be coming into the game. They’re going to come in and try to beat us and do everything in their power to do that. That’s what our mindset is, and so you have at it.
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RB Saquon Barkley
Q: Coach Shurmur said you are like a lot of other guys on this team, a young guy grinding trying to work through things and learn. Do you look at yourself that way expectation wise or do you not look at yourself as a young guy that is learning?
A: I don’t look at it that way, but he’s not lying. I’m only 22, in my second year. You have to hold yourself to a standard and hold yourself to higher expectations. That’s how I am and that’s how I’m going to continue to be. Even though you face adversity or the season isn’t going how you want, as a team you have to keep working.
Q: What’s the biggest difference from this time last year to now in terms of the vibe and where you think the season is heading? Are you guys building on something here?
A: I still think we believe we are building on something. We know that you are what your record says you are, as the great Bill Parcells would say, he’s exactly right. We understand that we have been in a lot of tough, close games this year. We have been inconsistent all around, in all phases of the game. We are not as far as everyone thinks, that’s the belief we have in this locker room. I think that’s where it needs to start, you have to believe in it first. If we continue to believe in it and continue believing in each other, which I think we are doing a great job, those losses will turn into wins. It’s not happening for us right now, but you have to persevere and keep doing it.
Q: Why would you say you are not as far as everyone thinks? What makes you believe that?
A: I know what we have in this locker room. I’m actually on the field playing. When we break down the film, we are in a lot of these games. It’s the same thing as last year, last year we were in a lot of those games, too. We lost seven or eight games by seven points, I don’t know how many games we have lost this year by that close. Those are the things that we have to fix. We are inconsistent in those areas. Yes, you could give the excuse that we are a young team. That’s the nature of it, but that can’t be our excuse. We have to find a way to fix that and correct it. Once we do, I think the sky is going to be the limit. I know I have said it before, but I truly believe that and I know everyone in this locker room believes in that. We just have to keep grinding and keep sticking with each other.
Q: Eli always got a lot of credit from the old offensive linemen saying he put us in the right position to block the running game. Is Daniel still learning that?
A: Yeah, I don’t think he has played more than 10 or 11 games yet. He’s still learning, but I think he has done a really good job so far. Even though he’s a rookie and a young quarterback, he puts a lot of hard work in. He’s one of the last guys to leave this building, if not the last guy. You can tell he really cares and he’s passionate about the game. As his career continues to go, he is going to get a lot better. No one expects him to be at the level of recognizing defenses and putting us in positions how Eli would. Eli has been doing it for 15 years, it’s impossible for them to be on the same level. He’s going to continue to work and he’s been doing a great job for us, a tremendous job for us and helping us be in a position to win games. We as a team have to do a better job of being consistent in all areas of the game and all phases of the game to find a way to grind out some of these wins.
Q: What has impressed you most about Daniel?
A: Just his grit. He gets drafted here, he gets booed when he gets drafted here. All you guys said we shouldn’t have drafted him, he puts that aside and the only thing he cares about is this sport and this team and the guys in the locker room. If he continues to have that, I think he is going to be one of the best quarterbacks, if not the best quarterback, in the league and I truly believe that.
Q: You said before the last game you wanted to get back to being you, to having fun, to running the way you know how to run. Did you do that the way that you intended in that game?
A: Yeah, I had fun, I had fun. I went out there, I was flying around, in the warmups having a smile on my face with those guys. Obviously, the game didn’t go the way we wanted, but I had fun. That’s what I’m going to continue to do. Just continue to go out there and have fun, play the game that I love, understand how fortunate and blessed I am. Try to create more plays and make more plays to help my team win. That’s what I just have to do a better job of.
Q: That 22-yard run you had on the last scoring drive, the move you put on the second…
A: Did I look hurt? I know that’s what you’re going towards. Did I look hurt? No. So, let’s stop making excuses that I’m hurt. I’m not hurt. Let’s stop making excuses that I’m not 100%. No one is 100%. Like I told him before, we had a conversation two weeks ago. I could pull up multiple clips, multiple clips, where you can look back and you can see I’m doing the same thing that I did in college or I did in my first year. This season is not going the way I would like it. No, I’m not going to point blame on anyone else, you have to point the fingers at yourself first. You got to be better, I got to be better. I’m going to keep working. I wrote in my notes today, ‘The great ones figure it out.’ I want to be great and I’m going to figure it out.
Q: You guys were without (Sterling) Shepard for so many weeks, and now you lose (Golden) Tate again. Losing other guys in the skill positions, especially starters like that, do you ever feel the burden on you?
A: No, it’s not that I feel the burden on me to do more. That’s just our season. We’re doing this well, then there’s something here. We have these guys healthy, then this guy’s not healthy. It’s just up and down, up and down, up and down. Those are the things that every team faces and we’ve been facing this year. Hopefully Tate can get back as quick as he can because he’s a tremendous player. Just been playing great for us this season. I don’t feel the burden on myself to pick it up. It’s not just a one-man sport. That’s why it’s the greatest team sport ever. It takes all guys on the field. We’ve just got to click better, to mesh better, to win these games.
Q: How important is it to you to keep your optimism in the face of all of this losing and how hard is that? You always talk about how things are going to change and everything’s going to get better, and I believe that you believe that, but just how important is that to getting there?
A: That’s where it starts. You’ve got to believe in it first. If you don’t believe in it, it’s not going to happen. Obviously, it hasn’t turned around in two years like we would’ve liked it. Unfortunately, I wish I was here when we were competing for a Super Bowl. I wish we were playoff contenders this year, and it’s not. It’s just the case that it’s not. It’s the adversity that we’re going through and the adversity that we’re facing. But you’ve got to believe it first for it to actually happen. If you don’t believe in it, it will never happen. That’s why it’s important because it starts there. Not only myself but everyone in this locker room, we believe, we’re going to continue to believe, going to continue to work and try to finish this season off as strong as we can— starting off with the Packers, who are a great team. They’ve got a great offense over there, one of the best quarterbacks to ever play, a great defense, two amazing pass rushers. A competitor over there, too, (Green Bay Packers Cornerback) Jaire (Alexander), very familiar with him, one of my good friends. He’s a heck of a player. But we’ve got to go and go out there and attack and try to get a win at home. For our fans, that would be a great place to start. But just keep working.
Q: ‘The great ones figure it out,’ is that a quote from somebody?
A: Probably, I don’t know.
Q: It was just you?
A: I just wrote it down myself. It’s probably somewhere. If you Google it, it’s probably somewhere.
Q: It’s you now.
A: Or it’s me, I guess. But yes, I don’t know who made that quote, I just wrote it down in my notes.
Q: Outside of Daniel’s grit that you talk about, what excites you that gives you the most hope for him to be an elite quarterback?
A: What excites me— we’re fourth and 14, the game is on the line, pressure in his face from two guys, he’s falling, and he throws a dime to Golden Tate. You can see the plays that he makes, he’s a special player, a talented player. Today I got caught just watching, I should’ve finished the route, but just watching him throw a post ball. It was beautiful. He’s a talented player. I know, like you said, beside the grit, he’s got that. He’s a talented player, he’s got the work ethic, he’s a smart player. Like I said, I know, I don’t think, I know. God willing, he stays healthy, but if he keeps that same attitude, he’s going to be a special player.
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QB Daniel Jones
Q: What are your plans for Thanksgiving?
A: I think I’m going to hang around here. I think I’m going to go over a teammate’s house and have a meal, so I’m looking forward to it.
Q: What are you thankful for this year?
A: I’m thankful to be here. I think just the opportunity to play football, continue to do it, to be here, to be part of this organization and with these teammates.
Q: Green Bay next. As you’re preparing, what do you see in their defense that will be a challenge?
A: They’re a good defense. They’ve got a few guys who can rush the passer. They like to mix up the looks and personnel in the back end, so we’ll be ready for that, but it’s a good unit and we’ll have a good plan.
Q: Now with (Golden) Tate in the concussion protocol, once again you lose a skill position player. It seems to happen each week. Do you ever feel that the burden is on you to either carry the offense or perform better? What do you sense as you go into a game with losing another player to injury?
A: I think we’re confident in the guys to step up. We’ve had guys go down, but I think every time someone’s gone down, someone’s stepped up and played well. So, I have a lot of confidence in those guys and I think we have chemistry across the board with a lot of different people. So, I have confidence in them and I know the team does, too, so we’ll be ready.
Q: Just four games left to go, and obviously the season will end with a losing record regardless, but what are you personally playing for?
A: I mean, we’re playing to win every game. I think that’s going to be our mindset. That’s been our mindset, so we’re going to continue to compete as hard as we can. Our goal is to win every game.
Q: Who’s hosting tomorrow?
A: I think I might go over to (Alex) Tanney’s spot.
Q: Any special requests that you want him to make?
A: I don’t think I’m in the position to make any requests (laughter). I’m just happy to be invited.
Q: Are you going to bake, cook, bring something over, bring it in?
A: I don’t know, I’m probably better off buying something (laughter). I don’t know, I probably need to think about that.
Q: Over the last four games, 11 touchdowns and only one interception. Those are very impressive numbers. What’s going right for you over the last month that allows you to put those kinds of numbers up?
A: I think it’s part of what we’re doing on offense, especially in the red zone. I think we’ve had a good plan for it and we’ve been able to get open, and you’re just trying to find the open guy. But I think we’ve got to continue to work on that and I think, like I said, guys have stepped up and made plays and gotten open, gotten behind people. I think kind of across the board, we’ve done a good job of preparing for it and then executing.
Q: What’s been the most challenging part of this losing streak?
A: I think, as a team, we’ve done a good job of coming to work every day. I think, through it, we’ve had good practices, we’ve had guys staying focused, we’ve had guys continue to work through things and improve, so I think that’s been good. But I think there’s a lot to learn and there’s a lot to improve on and that’s what we’ve got to stay focused on, that’s what I’m focused on, but like I said, I think we have the right guys, and I think the way we’ve responded to it has been the right way, and I think that’s going to give us an opportunity to bounce back.
Q: As a team, what can you guys do to get the running game going?
A: I think, like I’ve said, every area of our offense is going to complement the other. So, if we’re able to throw the ball more effectively, run lanes are going to open up and we’ve got to make sure I’m putting them in the best position to run the ball, the best looks. I think we’ll be able to do it. I thought we were more efficient on Sunday running the ball and had a few nice runs, so I think that’ll come and I think it’s continued to improve.
Q: Is it something that’s hard to develop? I remember offensive linemen used to say about Eli (Manning) that he really puts us in good positions to run the ball. Is that, as a rookie, something you’ve had to learn a lot?
A: Yeah, I think like anything, I’m still learning a lot. I think that’s a big part of it, is making sure that we’re in the right looks and the guys that need to be blocked are blocked and accounted for. So, yeah, I’ve got to continue to work on that.
Q: Are you free to make any checks at the line, or sometimes is the play called and you guys just run it the way it’s called?
A: Yeah, I mean, we have certain kinds of checks that are understood in practice, kind of options with the play. But yeah, I think that’s kind of the extent to which we’re checking.
Q: How much more are you seeing eight guys in the box, or bringing more attention since obviously Saquon (Barkley) is back getting healthy over the last five games?
A: I think teams are certainly accounting for him and I don’t know, they’re trying to do it different ways. I’m not seeing just a full-on stacked box every time. I think teams will be smart in how they do that, but you see a lot of respect for him. In the run game and the pass game, people are aware of what he can do, so we’ve got to make sure we’re putting him in the best position to make a play.
Q: In theory, though, it should open up more big plays for you down the field. In theory, if you bring guys up, it creates opportunities on the back end. Have you seen that? Does it work like that?
A: I think it’s specific to the team and their scheme. Teams will mix it up. I don’t think everyone’s going to play it the same way, but yeah, we’ve got to use him to create opportunities kind of across the field. Like I said, teams will account for him and he’s a big weapon for us.
Q: How difficult emotionally has the losing been for you?
A: It’s tough. It’s tough on everyone. I mean, tough on me, you don’t like to lose, no one likes to lose, no one on this team likes to lose, but like I said, I think we’ve responded well. We’ve had good practices, we’ve had people attacking the next opportunity and we’ve got to continue to do that and continue to improve. But yeah, I think that’s our mindset and if we’re consistent with that, we’ll get back on track.
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