Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham
Q: (Defensive Linemen) Leonard (Williams) is not being the disruptive, active player that he was last year in a lot of spots this year. Can you pinpoint what's going on?
A: I think one thing – again, it's early in the season, but okay, whatever. I think there's just some stuff that, whether it's putting him in the right spot more often, I think we've got to take a hard look at that, too. Anytime a player like that – disruptive, the history – when you go back and evaluate especially as the coordinator it's like, alright, I've got to find spots for this guy. I've got to figure it out, put him over the people that you perceive as the weaknesses, so it starts there schematically, doing a better job there from me. And then for him, it's definitely not a lack of effort, I know that. He's playing hard, he's working hard in practice and sometimes you just hope it comes in bunches at some point. I know it's not from a lack of effort and the skill set is still there. I would say it starts with me helping him find better places to put him at, improving that and then hopefully it starts to click at some point, whether it's taking advantage of technique or hitting something a little bit quicker. That's what we're working on today and that's what we're working on this week, but obviously got to do a better job.
Q: Do you need more from him on the field though? I mean, he's your highest-paid player, he was by far your top pass rusher last year in regard to pretty much every number you can come up with. Do you need him to play better or do more even in order for this defense to be where you guys want to take it?
A: I think collectively, honestly, we all have to do better. Obviously, what we're doing right now hasn't been good enough and that's what practice is for and the meetings are for. For Leo in particular, again, because it's not a lack of effort and the skill set is still there – yeah, would you want more production? But the production is going to come. I think one, again, (it starts) with me doing a better job of what I have to do and then really, I think sometimes it comes in waves. I'm not predicting anything, but because it's not a lack of effort and will – because, again, you guys talk to Leo, this is a great kid and he's trying hard. What I don't want him to start doing is pressing. I don't want him to do that. I don't want him to do that, so I think it starts with me and (Defensive Line Coach Sean) Spence (Spencer) getting him in the right spots and then from there hopefully it comes in bunches. Obviously, there's some technique stuff we could work on. Everybody would say that based on where we're at right now, but you need your best players to play well. You need that. That's a true statement.
Q: You understand because of what he gets paid the eyes are going to go instantly to him, right?
A: And it's not even about the money to me. I mean, I don't talk about money. It's our best players have to play well. That's how the league is set up, your best players have to play well. You watch the teams – again, you talk about the Rams in terms of their offense, (Rams Quarterback Matthew) Stafford, he's playing well. He's playing well, he's one of their best players. The backs are playing well. They trade for (Rams Running Back) Sony (Michel), they've got the young guy, they're playing well. The offensive tackles, those guys are big bodies, they're the guys that – I mean, I don't how much money, nor do I care – but they're considered their best players. They're playing well in terms of limiting the sack production for the other teams. Then, on top of that, you've got the receivers. The best players have to play well. That's how the league is set up, whether it's the infusion of youth and the special teams or different spots, but teams pick and choose who they're going to pay and all that stuff like that. But the best players have to play well.
Q: Are you surprised the rushing defense has fallen off the way it has? I mean, you just said your best players have to play well. You have Leonard Williams and you have (Defensive Lineman) Dexter Lawrence (II) on your defensive line.
A: Surprised? I mean, here's the thing, we're not doing enough right now with the rushing defense obviously. That's obvious. Two back-to-back games of poor production in terms of run defense, so I don't want to say 'surprised,' but the thing is I know we have to work on it. I don't expect to give up 200 yards rushing, so that is a surprise. That's the simple answer to that, but we worked pretty hard at it yesterday and then we worked at it hard this morning. We have to find ways to improve it and it has to start fast. We have to start fast because, again, in this league everybody's going to hear from me, you're going to hear from coaches (that) it's a passing league. The issue is this, if you don't minimize the run game or stop the run game early, you're playing right into the coordinator's hand. In this league, it's a recipe for disaster, so that's the message. That's the goal, we have to stop the run, especially with (Rams Head Coach) Sean (McVay) and how he does such a good job running the ball. It's a simple scheme, but those guys know how to play it. Seldom do you see unblocked players. Seldom do you see wide receivers – I mean, they have a wide receiver core that will block anybody, they'll block D-ends, they'll block linebackers, so we've got to fix it and we've got to fix it fast because in this league if you can't minimize that run game especially early you're playing right into (the coordinator's) hands.
Q: One of things you did last season was simplify things. Is that something you've considered just so your guys can play faster?
A: Absolutely. Right now, when you do that self-evaluation and you're leading into the game, you have to start with yourself. That's what I do and I'm sure that's what you guys do in your profession, but we've got to simplify. How can I make it so we're playing faster, we're playing with confidence and everything? To me, the simpler we can make it – I know this, we have good players. We have good players. Let me let them play, does that make sense? So, if that means simplifying or doing a better job of coaching whatever the scheme is – doesn't mean we're going to challenge and ask them to do something, maybe get a check here or there, something like that – but it's definitely part of the process. Again, we're evaluating everything right now when you don't get the results you want. That's the only way I know how to coach and perceive, especially when you're going against an offense like this. They're so simple that you're like, maybe instead of being complicated it's better to be simple against their being simple. Not simple in a bad way, they're just simple and they execute.
Q: When you look at your defense through five games big-picture and you're coming off a game where you allowed the most yards this team has allowed since 2015, how disappointed are you by the performance? How unacceptable was that?
A: In terms of the yardage given up and the loss of the game, it's unacceptable. Period. It's unacceptable. We get paid – myself included – we get paid to win games. That's why (President and Chief Executive Officer) Mr. (John) Mara, (Chairman and Executive Vice President) Mr. (Steve) Tisch, (Senior Vice President and General Manager) Mr. (Dave) Gettleman and (Head Coach) Joe (Judge), (put me) in this position, to help win games. When you give up 500-plus yards in terms of offense, that's not usually winning football, so it's completely unacceptable. Completely unacceptable. In terms of that, again, what I have to do and what we have to do collectively as a group is we have to look at ourselves in the mirror and we've got to figure out what can we do better because, again, as you lead into this week – one of the most explosive offenses in the league, they've got players all over the place, the coach is a genius, the quarterback is smart, they can throw the ball, run. It's everything. It's a challenge and I talk to you guys about having a challenge and stuff like that after performances like that and now you've got the Rams coming in here, I mean we're going to find out. We're going to find out. I mean, we're going to find out. So, it's time. Again, myself, I'm starting with me first, we've got to find out. We've got to find out. We've got to get up there, we've got to stop the run, that's the goal for Sunday. We've got to minimize what they do on offense. We've got to find out. We've got to find out. To answer your question, it's unacceptable. It's unacceptable.
Q: What can you do as a coordinator when there are plays and calls you make where the ball goes through (Cornerback) Adoree's (Jackson) hands, the ball is through (Cornerback) James' (Bradberry) hands, they drop it and give the other offense a second chance? Is there anything you can do at a point when your best payers are even almost making the play and just giving it back for the offense? Where do you start to fix that?
A: The thing and how I look at it – it's a good question – how I look at it is the calls really to me don't matter. The calls don't really matter. Again, I try to put them in the right spot in terms of, okay, here's the situation, let me try to put them in the right spot and all that stuff like that. The thing is what I'm trying to do is put the guys in a position to make sure that I'm using their talents to the best in terms of, okay, do I want to have this guy in man-to-man coverage? Do I want to have this guy in zone coverage? What's the situation? Stuff like that. Again, the game is so imperfect all the time. I can't speak on what led up to that play, there's 20 million other things, you know what I mean? And I'm not trying to – this is not coach speak, there's 20 million other things, so to pinpoint that, it's hard for me to do that. I'm not trying to be disrespectful to your question, but, again, to me we all know collectively starting with me we have to coach better, we have to play better. I would just say this, whatever play you want to pinpoint – not in a bad way – there's other plays that lead up to that. I know I have a role in that in terms of whether it's awareness or just the right call, but the players we have – and, again, I'm just being honest – they work really hard out there. Again, for me, like I said, it's unacceptable. It starts with me improving and from there I've got to be a better leader and a better coach for these guys, and it'll come. It'll come.
Q: Do you sense a fire or embarrassment from the players?
A: What I sense is a sense of urgency. I'm not saying it was lacking before. Again, I'm telling you if you come out here for practice – I know you guys aren't out here for the duration of practice, but these guys work extremely hard. They do what we ask them to do. They do what we ask them to do and, again, a sense of urgency. I think they're excited about the challenge. You saw me, I couldn't help but get a little excited about it because it's one of the best offenses in the league, one of the best offensive minds in the league. Then, you've got (Rams Offensive Coordinator) Kevin O'Connell, who's the coordinator along with McVay. It's a challenge. I know these guys; I know these guys. That's why we do this. Again, I'm not trying to get theoretical or philosophical, I'm a competitor at the core of who I am. I played football when I was younger, I'm a competitor. This is going to be a competitive game against a team that's really, really good and you get to gauge and see, okay, where are you at? And right now, we need that. I think we need that. We need that. I know I need that. I'm looking forward to it and we'll find out.
Q: You were fired up talking about that Dallas game. Were your players as disgusted when they went back and watched the film the other day?
A: You would have to ask them. I think—
Q: What did you see from them though?
A: I think they knew we could do better, that we could do better. You're talking about the players? Yeah, they know we could do better, and they need we had to look in the mirror. We had a talk, we knew we had to do better, but the thing is that I appreciate about these guys and that's when you know you're starting to really get them to understand the NFL, they were able to flip the switch and understand we got the Rams next. Regardless of what happened the last (game) – even if we won, was I really going to be happy if we won? Probably not. You guys know my personality, I (would) not. If we gave up whatever many yards and we won, I'd still be upset about that, but I think the guys were able to flip the switch and they understand that we've got a good team coming in here and we're going to have to fight. It's going to be fun. It's a challenge, I'm looking forward to it and they've got good players, they've got a good scheme. Sunday it'll be time to rock and roll.
Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett
Q: How's it looking at quarterback this weekend?
A: We'll see. We'll see. We had kind of a walkthrough-type practice yesterday and (Quarterback) Daniel (Jones) observed most of it. (Quarterback) Mike (Glennon) got a lot of those reps and we'll see what Daniel is able to do today. He seems like he's doing fine, and he seems like himself, so we'll just take it day by day.
Q: On the play that Daniel got hurt on, it seemed like he just had the freedom to check that?
A: I don't want to get into too many details, but we do give him some freedom on plays if he sees something to take advantage of it.
Q: When you put (Wide Receiver) Kadarius (Toney) as a wildcat quarterback, what does he bring? What do you like about that?
A: Well, obviously he's a very dangerous athlete. We've seen him in a short period of time do a lot of different things. He's dynamic with the ball in his hands and he has a quarterback background, so he seems very comfortable doing those things. It's not like, 'Hey, do this because you're a really good athlete.' I mean, he has a feel and an instinct for those things. He has some history with that. I think he's proving that when you get the ball in his hands, he can do some real positive things for you. That's just another way to do that.
Q: And he can throw pretty far too, right?
A: He's got a good arm.
Q: What's the fine line for you guys with wanting to take advantage of Daniel's athleticism but then seeing times like Sunday where he runs and it has a negative result?
A: I think it's that. I think there is a balance there. I think we'd be foolish if we didn't use his ability as a runner. It's been such an asset for us, both him making plays spontaneously by moving in the pocket, but also some design stuff. Those have been good plays for us. But at the same time, you have to be certainly aware of that. You don't want to overdo that and put him in harms way. I think we're understanding more and more, he's understanding more and more the balance between those.
Q: Is there anything he could have done differently on that play to put himself less at risk of getting hurt?
A: I don't know that I can get into detail on that. It's pro football. Guys go out there, he's trying to make a play, they're trying to make a play and unfortunately, it didn't work out for us.
Q: As a coaching point though, do you want to not – in some way, would you rather him run towards the sideline, run out of bounds rather than putting his head down? Knowing that it's your quarterback and such an important position, how do you as a coach, coach that?
A: I think it's important to understand that obviously sliding is important for quarterbacks. But when you're in a situation like that when you're right down by the goal line, you're probably not going to slide and give yourself up unless you have no chance. He thought he had an opportunity to score. He's proven that he can be a tough, competitive player and make some of those plays for us. Again, unfortunately that didn't work out for us.
Q: We're always hearing talk about trusting the process from coaches, but when you have so many injuries, especially on offense, how much does the process have to change or be altered?
A: I think it probably reinforces the process and that probably goes a lot to what we ask of our players every day to come in and be prepared. If you look at our offense this year, like you said, we've had a lot of moving parts. A lot of guys have been in and out of the lineup. The next guy up has to step up and be ready to go and that goes back to his preparation, our belief and confidence in him, and putting him in situations where he can have some success. We have a number of examples of that on our offensive line, the other day in the game, the receiver, the quarterback, the running back, the left tackle, all of that. I thought the guys who went in responded well. They were prepared and ready to go.
Q: I know hindsight is 20-20, but looking at what he's done the last two and a half games, do you wish that you got Kadarius more involved in the first two and a half games? Or was that he was just not ready at that point?
A: I just think it was a function of missing all the time. He missed all the time in the spring and then really virtually all throughout training camp. He practiced for about three days before that first game, so we had talked about it. We're for him and we like him a lot as a guy and as a player. It was just a matter of getting some practice time, getting him comfortable doing some different things and he's responded really well.
Q: What have you learned about him that maybe you didn't know these past two weeks, like when you see him in the game that maybe you couldn't tell until you got him in a game?
A: I think you're optimistic when you draft a player that high that he has everything that you want, but until you see it, see it in a practice setting and in a game setting, it's never really verified. I think we felt good about his athleticism coming out. I mean, the numbers were well documented. The plays he made on tape were obvious to everybody to see. I do think his instincts and his feel and how smart he is as a player just early on in this whole process has been impressive. Again, I go back to the time he missed. He missed virtually all of training camp and to be able to transition as quickly as he has without that much work has been impressive to all of us.
Q: How much easier does it make it on a quarterback and a coordinator when you have a guy who can do that yards after catch-wise? He goes three yards downfield and it's a 20-yard catch.
A: It's such a big part of the game, as we all know. The game has become a lot more about space and when you get a guy in space who can make people miss and make plays for you, that changes your offense. It certainly helps protection, it helps the quarterback – it just helps your team in so many different ways.
Q: Given Daniel's status is iffy, is (Quarterback) Brian (Lewerke) a possibility to move up this weekend off the practice squad?
A: Again, we just have to get him ready. We'll take these situations day by day. Whatever the player is able to do, we'll let him to do that and then the other guys have to kind of fill in the gaps. Brian's part of our team, he's someone we're excited about having on our team and whatever work he gets here the next few days, he has to take advantage of.
Q: No one can obviously do exactly what (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley) does. What does (Running Back) Devontae Booker do? What can he bring to your offense?
A: Book's just a good football player. He's demonstrated that. I remember evaluating him coming out in the draft and felt really good about him and he had success with the opportunities that he's had up to this point. I think the other day was a good example of it. He showed that he can run inside. He can catch the ball. He's tough. He's competitive. I just think he's been a productive guy. Really impressed with how well he played in the game and how he was prepared for that opportunity and took advantage of it.
Q: What did (Tackle) Matt Peart show you against the Cowboys?
A: Same thing with Matt, he didn't play that much leading up to this game but had an opportunity to play and responded well against a good front. They've got good guys up there and they come off the ball and I thought Matt responded well to that, both in the run game and the pass game. It was far from perfect, but he settled in there and he battled, and he fought, and he scratched and clawed, and he did a good job keeping his guy away from the ball.
Q: You mentioned how Kadarius how didn't practice very much. There was a sense that he needed refinement as a route runner, like where is he in that process? Has he impressed you with how he's run routes?
A: He really has. All receivers, you're constantly working on refining your routes and making them better, particularly young receivers. Again, he's a smart player. He's an instinctive player. You ask him to do something, 'Hey, push that a little bit farther. Take that in a little bit more. Flatten that angle out.' He kind of nods and says, 'All right,' and he does it the next time, which the best players I've been around have been able to do that. He's receptive to coaching and he takes advantage and learns from his experiences.
Q: When your quarterback comes back from a concussion, do you as a play caller have to change the way you approach that with him because you've been calling a lot of designed runs? How do you handle that whenever it is that he can come back?
A: I think the biggest thing is we would never put a player back out there if he wasn't healthy enough to play. Certainly, in a situation with a concussion, we certainly wouldn't do that. As an organization, as a coaching staff, we care too much about these guys to put them in a situation where they weren't right. If he's back and ready to go, we're going to play football. We're going to ask him to do what we need to do. Again, we talked about it earlier, you don't want to constantly put your quarterback in harms way. We have other guys who can make plays for us, but DJ running the ball has been a positive thing for us, so we'll try to find what that balance is.
Q: You wouldn't want to minimize hits, though? Obviously, you can't get rid of them, but is minimizing them coming off something like that –
A: We don't like our quarterback ever getting hit. We really don't, so we'll try to find what that balance is.
Q: What was Sunday like for you in terms of, I know you're calling a game, but your quarterback goes down, your running back goes down, your receiver goes down, your next receiver goes down. Have you ever been a part of that before and is there a point in the game where you're like, 'Is this ever going to stop?'
A: The biggest thing is you just have to respond to the situation. We talk about players being prepared and we have to be prepared as coaches. I believe strongly in the next man up philosophy. We work hard on the practice field to get our guys ready and if these situations happen, boom, you talk about it, who's in? What are we doing? What can't we do? What should we do more of? Again, I thought our coaches responded well and I thought our players really responded well. It just is what it is, and you try your best to make the whole thing work. I was proud of how our guys fought and battled throughout that game.
Q: Did you learn anything about Kadarius in terms of his competitiveness? He just seems to be a guy who has an intensity that kind of gets next level when he has the ball.
A: Again, you like to think that we saw that when we watched the tape and talked to the people down at Florida. We felt like that was in him. You saw that in a lot of his games. But when you're up close with him and you see him in these situations time and time again, it's certainly been impressive. The best players I've been around have that. They have that stuff inside of them. They compete, they scratch, they claw and he's showing that beyond just his playmaking ability.
Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
Q: Why did (Punter) Riley (Dixon) do the onside kick instead of (Kicker) Graham (Gano)?
A: Just something we had game planned. We always are trying to find the best way to get things done, regardless of who it is. It could be a kicker, a wide out or whoever, you know what I mean? It was something we tried, and it didn't work, so we tried something else.
Q: That kick return – you said something to (Fullback Cullen) Gillaspia and he was running around the field telling the guys something. Did you see something that the Cowboys might be trying?
A: Yeah. Yeah, I did (laughs).
Q: When you send a message out like that and he's running around, is it almost to show the Cowboys that you know?
A: Not really. It's just communication. It's more about what we're doing as opposed to what they're doing. Does that make sense? We're adjusting to what they're doing, but we're just trying to communicate what we're trying to do versus what they're doing.
Q: Is there anything with Graham that you're seeing that you have to keep dialing into?
A: No, it's just keep kicking it. You look at Graham and his body of work, I mean just go back and look at the numbers. His numbers speak for themselves. News flash, kickers miss kicks. That's just part of it. He's made a whole lot of them. He'll be fine. He self corrects and we'll keep going.
Q: What do you think about the job that Riley has done this season?
A: Riley has done a good job. I know it's not what he would want to be his best, but some of the stuff – when we're in a game and we're going through some of these returners that we're playing, sometimes the ugly punt is a good punt. When you're playing a guy like (Saints Wide Receiver) Deonte Harris, go ahead, go hit a 55-yard, 4.8 (seconds) ball to him outside the numbers and see what happens to you. You don't want those kinds of punts. Sometimes the 38-yard ball out of bounds or ball on the bounce, you're a high, short fair catch, that's the one you want. Because if you look at these guys and how explosive they are, especially if you give them space, it can get ugly in a hurry. We want to make sure that each game plan we go into we have a prescribed way we want to play and punt, and we don't want to just line up and just shoot a ball out of a Jugs machine and just let these guys catch it and do work.
Q: Sometimes those shorter, uglier punts are by design?
A: Oh, absolutely, yeah.
Q: Is (Linebacker) Cam (Brown) back this week or was he just on the field?
A: Yeah. Cam coming back – Cam is Cam. He's long, he's explosive, he makes plays for us, he gives us versatility on defense and special teams. Having a guy back like that with that kind of length, that type of explosiveness and production. It's big for us.
Q: Did you guys see the punt in the Seahawks game where the guy punted it, it got blocked and he punted it again?
A: Yeah, that was an outstanding punt, but that's what that kid does. (Seahawks Punter) Michael Dickson is a ridiculous athlete. I worked him out when he came out of school and it was a day kind of like this, but it was about 20 miles an hour, 25 miles an hour wind and he hit two punts into the wind about 60 yards and it was one of the most impressive things I'd ever seen. Those guys, those Australian guys, especially guys like Mike, it's…how we grew up throwing the ball, they grow up kicking the ball. That's just what they do. It's just the foot talent that he has and being able to make plays on the fly like that, picking up that ball with one hand off the ground and just being able to react is something he's been doing his whole life. That was just a pass to him, that's part of the game of Australian football. Seriously, if you go and you look at the game, that's what the game is. He was right in his element in that part. (Head Coach) Joe (Judge) said it the other day, it's like once in every 75 years you might see a play like that. It just never happens. It just doesn't, and it's literally like hitting the lottery.
Q: Do your guys know about it? Do they know about that rule? (Former Vice President of Officiating for the NFL and Current FOX Sports Rules Analyst) Mike Pereira had no idea.
A: It's an obscure rule. Again, it's one of those deals where you think one thing and all of a sudden you hear from the officials, 'Oh, that's legal.' You'd like to think you know everything, you don't.
Q: He mentioned that scooping it like that is something that he learned as a kid. Is that something that you would coach up with a guy who grew up in the United States and never learned that as a kid? Is that a valuable skill to try to teach?
A: At that point in time, when the ball has been blocked, you get the ball however the hell you get it. Just get it. I'm not over coaching the technique on picking up a freaking blocked punt (laughs). Now when you tell them that behind the line of scrimmage, you can pick it up and you can advance and get a first down, but he had the wherewithal just to kick the ball. It's obvious he has big enough hands where he can scoop it up with one of them. That was pretty impressive.
Q: (Former Giants Kicker) Aldrick (Rosas) came in for a workout last week. How is he doing and how did he look?
A: He's good. Aldrick is good. I'll share this with you, he'll kill me for this. So, I'm walking out on the field and I see this guy in the distance, so I thought we're working out an offensive lineman today. The closer I get to him, I said, 'Oh, that's Aldrick' (laughs). He's just a big man, Aldrick is a big man. He's got to be 255-60 pounds. He's just a big man and he can hit the ball a long way. He's doing well and I wish him the best of luck. He's a great kid and he did a great job for us while he was here.
Q: Around the league over this past weekend, there were a lot of miskicks. Do you review all of those? Do you see anything or any trends on why this is happening?
A: I have my speculation, but it's just weird. It all happened all in one weekend. It's weird, but you know, kickers miss kicks. It happens, it happens. It's a weird deal, it is. It's a weird deal. Hopefully we can kind of get through this as a league. Hopefully LA can come in here and miss a couple kicks and go on from there.
Q: Are you glad they changed the rule for extra points?
A: Does it make the game a little harder for special teams coaches? Absolutely it does. Every year is always a couple – you always have somebody miss the old extra point. I think when I was here, (Former Giants Kicker) Lawrence (Tynes) missed a few, two, three maybe a year. I don't know, they adapt. They're like anybody else, they just adapt to it. It's a 33-yard field goal. You just get used to hitting it. It's like anything else. Whatever the standard is, the standard is that, and you just hit the ball.
Running Back Saquon Barkley
Q: When you first rolled your ankle, what was your first thought?
A: When I first rolled my ankle, I kind of thought it was like just a little roll. It's happened before. I didn't expect it to swell up like that. Obviously, you guys probably all saw the TV copy or the picture that was out there. I didn't expect it to swell up that fast. Obviously, just frustrated. I knew that I had to sit out the rest of the game and I feel like I just started getting my stride back and started feeling good. But everything happens for a reason and a little setback and just got to go back to work.
Q: It looked like you didn't want to get on the cart for a while, was that just because you didn't want to believe that you had to?
A: Yeah. I didn't want to get on the cart because the last time I was on the cart I was out for the season. I didn't want to have that mentality, but as clear as you guys saw my ankle, it was kind of hard to walk on that even though I wanted to tough it out. Yeah, that was kind of just the mentality I had behind it.
Q: Was there any point where you thought it was worse than it is, like where you thought it was broken?
A: You never know. You never know until you get the X-rays and MRIs. Going into it, obviously you want to have a positive thinking, positive thoughts. But obviously just coming from a major knee injury then an ankle sprain from taking your eyes off and stepping on someone's foot, that is definitely frustrating. That was the mindset, just try to come in positive and thank God it wasn't worse than what it could've been.
Q: Where are you now?....
A: I'm taking it day by day. Just listening to the trainers, just going to attack the rehab process. Whenever I'll be able to get back out there on the field, I'll go out there and try to contribute.
Q: Obviously every situation is different, but in '19 you had the high ankle in Week 3, last year was the bad one obviously in Week 2 and then this one now. How maddening, frustrating is it that these things keep popping up early in the season and kind of impacting slash last year it wrecked your year?
A: Yeah, I'll be honest, it's frustrating. It doesn't make sense why it's happening, but obviously when you get hurt you have those one or two days when it's an ankle sprain. Obviously, when it's a knee injury, it's probably a little longer. You have those days to reflect and feel bad for yourself and have that 'why me?' mentality, but you can't keep that mindset. Having that mindset, you're not going to get anywhere with it. You've just got to look on the brighter side. Everything happens for a reason. This could slow me down to help me out in other ways to get myself ready and whenever I'm going to get back on the field, just get back to playing the sport that I love and to get back to contributing to help the team.
Q: Is it realistic for you to be back next week?
A: I don't plan to put any expectations on the day or the game that I'm going to come back. I'm just going to listen to my body, listen to the trainers and take it day by day. Whenever I'm able to get back out there, I'll be grateful again and take advantage of it.
Q: We've seen you play on a bad ankle before. Would you be any more cautious to try to heal it more this time just because you had just gotten back healthy with the other injury? Would you take a moment or time to make sure you're close to 100 percent rather than playing on a bad ankle?
A: I would never put myself out on a football field if I don't think that I can contribute, or I don't think that I can protect myself. No matter if this was an injury before the major injury or it was an injury after a major injury, that's going to be my mindset. I'm going to come in, I'm going to attack rehab, listen to the trainers, listen to my body and whenever I'm ready to go, I'm going to go.
Q: You said you think this might be able to help you in other ways. I've seen some medical people that say this will be good for you knee to get some rest at this point. Do you feel like your knee needed that?
A: That's a good question. I don't know. I wouldn't say my knee needed that because – I don't know. Before the Dallas game, you just know like when you're going to have a good game, I guess you can say, when you feel right, and I felt pretty good before the Dallas game. But yeah, this could be a blessing in disguise. It is going to be a blessing in disguise and I'm going to create it to be a blessing in disguise. From that medical standpoint that I guess you're saying, it slowed me down a little bit, but just a little bump and going to take advantage of just continuing to rehab my knee, get better throughout the season and continue to rehab this and when I'm able to go back out there, I'll be full go when I'm back.
Q: In the immediate aftermath of when you got hurt, I saw you sitting on the bench with your helmet off and kind of looking up, hitting your thighs in frustration, what was going through your mind?
A: Very observant. I don't mean to send like a you know what, but what would go through your guys' minds if you just rehabbed for 10 or 11 months to get back on the field and then you got hurt by rolling your ankle by stepping on someone else's foot? You're going to be frustrated. You're going to be exhausted. You're human. I'm human. So obviously, you have those thoughts and those negative thoughts creep in. But like I said, you have a day or two to reflect and have that 'why me?' mentality, but it's not going to get you anywhere. Looking back on it and the way that I reacted, or I acted on the sideline, I was kind of disappointed in myself. But like I said, I'm human and I feel, I care about this sport a lot. I care about this game a lot. I care about my teammates a lot. That's another reason why I'm frustrated that I feel like that I'm letting them down. Yeah, I guess just to sum it up, I was frustrated. I was angry at myself. Now, I'm just ready to go back to work and continue to get better.
Q: Obviously, you want to have long-term financial security in this league. Everyone knows most guys don't want to play on the fifth-year option and you have to show the team you can be durable. Obviously, I know they all want you to do that, so does this concern you that this is yet another thing where through no fault of your own, your body kind of is betraying you a little bit to the point where that might affect something down the road in terms of getting that long-term security?
A: I only control what I can control, and right now the only thing I can control is to find a way to get back on the field by taking care of my body and getting my body ready and getting my body healthy. All those other things are out of my control, so I can't even focus on that. To be completely honest, that's the last thing that's crossing my mind is financial security or contract talks or any other talks. My only focus is going home, rehabbing, still trying to be the best dad I can be, be the best brother, be the best friend I can be, and getting back on the football field and doing what I love and playing the sport that I love since I was a little kid.
Q: You said it twice that you were mad at yourself, why were you mad at yourself? Were you blaming yourself?
A: I mean, yeah, I guess so. I mean, who else can I be mad at in that situation?
Q: (Cowboys Cornerback) Jourdan Lewis.
A: No, I can't be mad at Jourdan Lewis. Actually, Jordan reached out to me and I guess some people were saying that it might have been intentional. I just happened to land on his ankle. If it was a second later or different, he could have landed on my foot and it could have been his ankle. People could have looked at me and made it seem like that I did it on purpose, so no. I've played Jourdan in college. I've played him since I've been in the NFL. He's not that type of guy. He's a heck of a player. So, me being mad at myself, that's the only thing that I could be right there – mad at myself, mad at the world, mad at everybody. You just got hurt again. You know you're going to be out. For how long, you don't know, so you're frustrated. That's what I meant by saying that.
Defensive Back Logan Ryan
Q: (Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator) Pat Graham was pretty passionate today talking about how you guys need to show up this weekend. Has it been a little bit of a heightened sense that it's time for you guys to step up?
A: I think the word I read, or he used, was, 'unacceptable,' which I agree. It just hasn't been good enough to our standard. The execution just hasn't been good enough. I think we know that as players as well, that's the same message. We've got to be better on defense.
Q: You guys come out of a game where you allow 515 yards. What's the mood in the defensive meeting room earlier in the week?
A: We've got to improve, for sure. Got to improve. Just too many mental errors, didn't execute our game plan. You play anybody like that, you're not going to beat anyone in the league. The league's too good, too much parity – and Dallas is a pretty good team. You don't play well against them (then) you're going to lose like that. It just shows you how you've got to be on your game every game.
Q: Pat said one thing he might do is simplify things. Do you think that has been part of the problem, too many checks and guys not playing fast because of that?
A: I just think that's what he feels is best, so I think his job as D-coordinator is to put us in a position to play fast and play well. If he felt like we weren't playing fast enough or didn't play well enough, simplifying is always the quickest fix, the best fix, to just allow our players to play. I think that if Pat says that then I agree that that could help.
Q: You guys obviously lost (Linebacker) Blake (Martinez), but other than that – I mean, (Safety Jabrill) Peppers a little bit now – but there haven't been any significant injuries. You have this personnel that was supposed to be better than last year. When you look at it – other than the broad definition of execution – why are you guys not performing well enough?
A: Blake's is a significant injury for sure.
Q: But I mean, your offense is decimated and they're performing better than people expected. You guys are a better group talent-wise than last year and you're performing a lot worse than you did last year with less talent. Why is that happening? You say execution and we all know that, but why beyond that?
A: Execution, that's all I have. Every game, every play is different. Why? It's not like the same play. We have different calls versus different people, versus different quarterbacks, different strategies and regardless – I said this before – whether you lose by one or lose by 100, you go out trying to win the game. So, if the game plan or you're not executing that play… it ends up a touchdown to a good team, to a bad team it might end up a five-yard gain. Regardless, to me it all comes down to execution. We have talent, so we're just not executing cohesively as a unit. Defensively, if you're an individual or a 'me' guy, you shouldn't play defense. Defense is the ultimate team. There's a difference between offensive guys and defensive guys and (for) defensive guys you don't know when your play is getting called because you don't know what the offense is going to run, so you've got to execute the defense, and everyone shares the glory. You don't really call your own plays, you've got to react to what the offense is doing, so it's the ultimate team sport, ultimate team side of the ball. I think it does come down to execution.
Q: Is there a sense of anger from the defense? Are you guys ticked off about what's been going on?
A: I mean, yeah, there's urgency. But anger – I mean, there's disappointment, but at the same time this is football, it's competition. Win, lose or draw you've got to go out the next week. A lot of guys have played a lot of games in their career and it's all about the next week in the NFL, so I definitely think guys aren't proud of the performance in the past, but you've still got to get ready to put your best foot forward this week. However you want to put it, however the words may be, I think that there's some sense of urgency over here.
Q: With the way you guys have been playing, now you get don't get slouches this week against the Rams. How much of a step up is there going to have to be to not just play better than you've been playing, but play well enough to go against these guys with (Rams Quarterback Matthew) Stafford and (Rams Wide Receiver Cooper) Kupp and all these guys?
A: I don't think you're ever going to hear me up here calling any team a slouch. Every week you've got to bring it. It's the National Football League. Everybody's got first-round picks, everyone's got college All-Americans, everyone's got Pro Bowlers. Back in the day, you used to play the Lions, the worst team in the league, and you still had to matchup with Megatron (Calvin Johnson Jr.). That's the NFL. There are guys at every position. We know the guys they have on their team. Their team is filled with stars. They have some really highly-paid star-studded talent, a really good receiving core, they're good at running the ball, really good quarterback, good offensive scheme. That's just the challenge, but that's what you sign up for and we've got to go be ready to embrace that and attack that.
Q: You guys faced them last year. How much different are they with Stafford at quarterback?
A: There are similarities, but he definitely adds a deep ball element to them. Him and (Rams Wide Receiver) DeSean Jackson add a whole third level to their game. You saw me catching balls off the Jugs anticipating how deep some of these balls may go, just trying to track them in the air. He adds a whole downfield passing game that they didn't have, a little more spread that they didn't do as much. They still have their boots and condensed offense, but they have an added game with his arm strength. It keeps that safety a little deeper, keeps you a little more honest in the deep part of the field.
Q: Does your guys' run defense fall apart if the edge doesn't get set in your scheme? Like if they can get outside, is that the key?
A: Your little league defense will fall apart if you don't set an edge. That's 101. You've got to set the edge and stop the run at any level. You watch little league, they toss the ball to their best player, he runs outside to the edge. You can do that in high school, you can do that in college. You've got to get that edge set in order to control the run game and we need to do a better job of that. People are putting pullers on our corners and our safeties and our secondary, and you can't cut those guys anymore, so it's tough. Obviously, (with) the rule change you can't cut these pullers and that really puts some of these DBs at a disadvantage. So, I think you're going to see a lot more perimeter run game in the NFL in general, just how the rules change.
Q: You guys still have 12 games to fix this defense. What gives you confidence that it will get fixed?
A: The time the alarm goes off every morning, the work ethic, the process. I've been in the league long enough to understand, and been in wins and losses enough, how hard the group is working. Sometimes the result doesn't always come right away when you want it or whatever, but I do believe that that work ethic does lead to execution. Obviously, you only get one test a week, that's on Sundays, but seeing the process out here, having a great day of practice like today, being really clean is a good first step.
Q: We did notice that Jugs machine work. Is that something that you ordinarily don't do, but it's important this week?
A: I don't know how many – I'm not a punt returner, so I don't normally catch off the Jugs a lot. Watching film I saw them throw the ball up on a couple safeties, them losing the ball in the air and whatnot, so I just wanted to track the ball 50, 60 yards in the air. You don't get that a lot in practice, so I just try to simulate that in my post-practice work just to simulate some of these balls going down the field.
Q: How did (Quarterback) Daniel (Jones) look today?
A: I was focused on defense. I didn't see.
Running Back Devontae Booker
Q: What have the last couple of weeks been like for you? You went from healthy scratch to now you're the guy, for this week at least.
A: I just prepare every week as myself being the guy and just being out there to play and help this team. Nothing changed for me, obviously, it's just going out there and just being prepared for my opportunity.
Q: This is why you were brought here because (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley) went down so you could step in…
A: Even if he wasn't in this situation right now, I would go out there and be prepared for my opportunities and help do whatever I can to help this team win.
Q: How did you feel after the game?
A: I felt good. It was a tough loss, but overall, I feel good and can't wait for this week.
Q: How did you feel when you heard the news of (Former Raiders Head Coach) Jon Gruden?
A: I don't know, honestly. I heard it and I just felt like I don't think that was him, just me personally. I don't think that was him as a person and everything. I was only there with him a year, but that's just my take on it. Everybody else can do whatever or say whatever about him, but I didn't get that from him when I was there.
Q: Did you enjoy playing for him?
A: Absolutely. He gave me an opportunity there. I probably wouldn't be here right now without the opportunity he gave me.
Q: Have you spoken to any of your former teammates?
A: I haven't.
Q: What do you want to accomplish on Sunday? This will be you carrying the load, and it's hard to say if you'll get another chance this year. What do you want to show everybody on this team? What do you want to show?
A: Really, I just want to be out there and help this team win. There's no way else we can put it. We've been losing from the beginning, we went 0-3, won against New Orleans, lost last week, so it's up and down. Really at this point we just, everybody as a whole, wants to win. Just me being out there doing what I need to do, running and pass catching and stuff like that, pass blocking. All the stuff on my end would help the team win.
Q: Are you a better running back now than you were before you got here?
A: I'm the same person. I'm the same running back (that I was) when I was coming out of college and everything. It's just you get put in the certain systems and guys come in and you get mixed around, but that's just the way this business is and it's just continuing to motivate me.
Q: What's the key to igniting a spark in this run game for the Giants?
A: We've just got to get on guys and really just play our ball. There's no other way to put it. Just go out there and execute the plays that are being called and run hard and play hard.
Q: How did (Quarterback) Daniel (Jones) look out there today?
A: Daniel looked really good. Daniel is a smart guy, he goes out there, works his butt off every day and does what he needs to do.
Q: Were you surprised or disappointed that you didn't get to play for Gruden again this year?
A: Not at all. Like I said, at the end of the day it's a business and I had to come here.
View photos from Thursday's practice as the Giants prepare for their Week 6 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams.