Head Coach Pat Shurmur
Opening Remarks: Last night, certainly we had a good start, we go down and score and you play a half of football, we turned the ball over, they go down. Our defense keeps them out of the end zone, and we're in there at halftime down by one score against a really good football team, and then we came back out and really didn't do enough. Offensively, I think we moved the ball in a two-minute scenario at the end of the game, but when you get penalties and you have minus-yardage plays and get knocked off schedule, that affects you, and we've got to eliminate that. Then you can't turn the ball over like we did early as well, so that's the name of that. Then again, defense, I thought in the bulk of the game battled, kept the score down, and that's really the key to defense is keeping them out of the end zone, a very high-powered offense. We didn't do enough in the end to win the game. On special teams, it's kind of the devil is in the details in the return game, we're a block or two away from making more yardage. We've got a young kick returner back there, probably one questionable decision, and then we dropped the snap on a punt, so those types of things. We've got to get those cleaned up and we move forward and get ready for Carolina. That's what I told the team this morning. We've just got to clean up the details and keep moving, and we believe in our guys, we believe in our team, and we've just got to do what we do better. I'll take your questions.
Q: What do you attribute to not being able to hit a lot of downfield passes?
A: Again, I mentioned it yesterday, we took some shots and they were playing in two-shell, so the ball gets checked down. That's one reason for it.
Q: So you're saying you called them?
A: Yeah, we called them. There were deep routes called that we couldn't get the ball downfield, so you check it down. Then you move on.
Q: A lot of coaches say the best teams dictate on offense. What is the fine line between, you want to dictate on offense and you also have to be cognizant of how they're playing. Moving forward, how can you dictate more on offense?
A: You call plays to be aggressive. If they're there, you take your shots. That's how you dictate. And if they're not there, you check them down, and then the backs catch the ball and run with it. You're talking about seven-eight yard gains, which is fine, so that's how you dictate. Then you make them defend those. That's how you dictate, and then when you choose to run the ball, you make yardage.
Q: Obviously we know (Saquon Barkley) can hit some home runs, but is getting more consistent run production the best way to get a team out of a soft zone defense?
A: Looking back on it, I think Barkley had 18 touches yesterday. I'd like to have a couple more probably, and those being runs certainly. We want to run the ball, we want to run the ball and when we want to throw it, we want to throw it, and we want to be explosive and efficient doing it. That's the reality of it.
*Q: Why do you think you got away from the run, or didn't give him as many runs? *
A: I wish I would've called more runs. That's the reality of that, because I think the ball in Saquon's hands is a good thing.
Q: The quarterback is such a vital position. Your quarterback has four touchdown passes in four games. What is your overall evaluation of him so far?
A: Eli, the quarterback. Let's call him Eli, his name is Eli. He's done some really good things, and each game he's had a handful of plays he wants back, but that's no different than any player on our team.
Q: Having a deep threat like Odell (Beckham), even if they have the coverage, isn't it worth sometimes just taking a shot; he can make spectacular plays?
A: At times, when it's a one on one scenario, sure. Absolutely.
*Q: Is the same true for the red zone? Odell wasn't really involved in your red zone passing. *
A: He was actually. He actually picked on the two-point play, and he was available. What teams do in the red zone typically is they'll double your star and then you move on.
*Q: Understanding that the check-down might sometimes, and perhaps more than sometimes, be a smart play, does your offense though need Eli (Manning) to be a little more of a gunslinger and to take some chances because of the positive upside it could have, not only with the playmakers you have but also the penalties on offense. In Week 1 Odell was able to draw one, which were at the time really big plays in that game? *
A: Sure. I think we had 45 yards of penalties in the first game. It's important to take shots, you need to be aggressive and not reckless. I think that's fair.
Q: Do you think (Eli) has shied away for any particular reason, afraid of an interception, afraid of something like that?
A: No, I don't sense that from Eli.
*Q: Are you happy with his level of aggressiveness? *
A: Yeah, I am. I think if it's there, he'll take a shot. He understands it's important to protect the ball, as well, and we are getting to it with these last couple questions – there's a fine line between being aggressive and reckless with the football. I think that's the line you walk all the time.
Q: How do you keep your defense from becoming frustrated with the offense?
A: Just keep playing, because I think we on all three sides of the ball have things that we need to get better at, and that's what the focus is. It's not becoming frustrated with the other side of the ball, it's about trying to become better at what you do, and I think the way you keep that from happening too is you have a locker room full of guys like (Alec Ogletree) and good guys that are good players that understand you just keep playing, and understand that the first step is to try to win your division, and we're one game out of that right now. We've just got to play our way back into it. That's the reality of it, and that's the world that we live in as coaches and players, and we all have things we need to do better.
Q: How important is that to instill that message for the long term?
A: It's a constant conversation. We talk about that all the time. It goes back to establishing what your team is all about.
Q: We haven't asked you about Jonathan Stewart since he went on IR. It didn't seem like at this time last week you were that concerned, did his injury get significantly worse? And if his season is over, he has six carries for 17 yards. How much does that hurt the cause when a big free agent signing doesn't really produce much?
A: Once a player is a player on your team, what he signed for or where he was drafted doesn't matter. In the case of Jonathan last week, he came in after the game with some foot soreness and then we were going to try to let it play out to see what could happen throughout the week, and it didn't improve, and that's why we put him down.
*Q: Does he need surgery? Is his season over? Can you bring him back? *
A: He's a potential to bring back. I think that's an eight-week thing.
Q: You mentioned after the game the idea of maybe doing some things differently offensively.
A: Keep looking for that right combination of things that gets us in the end zone. Again, it showed up in sections of the game during certain drives and you've just got to keep getting back to those things. We're constantly looking for and trying to do the things that our players are good at. Eli is not a zone read quarterback, that's just an example. Our receivers are a little different than some of the receivers on other teams. We have a running back that can make yardage when we run it. As I mentioned earlier, I will always wish that a good player like Saquon, he's got to touch the ball. That's the reality of it.
Q: Can you understand from the outside where those of us who do look at even without (Evan Engram), you have (Sterling Shepard), Odell, Saquon and others, and say how is this offense not scoring?
A: They've had their production. We got down and scored twice yesterday. It's not enough, I get that. I get it.
Q: When you look at all the plays, you had a fumble and a return, but your quarterback saved a touchdown. Do you mention that to the players?
A: Absolutely. That kind of goes without comment outside the building, but those are things we comment on, we hit all those points, we obviously are able to see the details of the full game from the coach's copy and that's what we go through today.
Q: Did you think on that play (Eli Manning) had a chance to run him out of bounds there?
A: We stopped him from getting in the end zone, that's typically what a quarterback should do.
Q: How did you feel the pass protection held up yesterday?
A: I thought we made progress in that regard in terms of pass protection. Again, Chad Wheeler drew a tough draw with number 94 (Cameron Jordan) and he made progress. He played better than he did the week previous, and then a couple other guys. Again, I say that knowing we didn't win, but there were some things that we made progress on and we just need to build on that.
Q: A couple of Saints defenders said that they felt there were opportunities to be had downfield but Eli didn't take them. When you're watching film back, did you see any of that?
A: I don't know. It's easy for a defender to say that, but again, there's a handful of things we should've done better.
Q: Did you have any meaningful injuries coming out of the game? Significant?
A: Meaningful – they're all meaningful. Especially if you're the guy that got hurt. Nothing really we haven't talked about yet, just normal wear and tear.
Q: Is Josh (Mauro) back this week?
A: He will be back. He'll be out there. We'll get him out there practicing, and I think we have a week before we have to put him back on the roster. We'll see how that goes. I think we've got to make the official move by next Monday.
Q: (inaudible) quoted James Bettcher saying he's optimistic (Olivier Vernon) returns this week. Are you?
A: I'm optimistic, yes.
Q: Were you aware an official apparently told (Alec Ogletree) that 'I wouldn't have made that call if it was in the Super Bowl'?
A: I was made aware of that. Mr. Hanlon over here told me that about 15 minutes ago. That's a unique comment. I have no comment.
Q: Are there any calls you guys are going to look for an explanation from the league on?
A: Oh yeah. There's a handful of things, but that's typical of any week. I have a bigger handful this week.
Q: Was that rule changed where that was a horse collar, because it wasn't a horse collar unless they changed the rule?
A: We're going to inquire and try to get an answer.
Q: Will you let us know?
A: Oh, I can't. I think it's silly. When we start talking about the O word – officiating – then that's excuse-making. We don't do that.
QB Eli Manning
Q: What do you see when you look back at yesterday's game?
A: You see a lot of good things. I thought our first drive of the game was great. In that drive, nothing spectacular, but just ran the ball, find completions. We didn't have a third down until the very end, and converted when it was third-and-goal. I thought that was a good way to play the game. We tried to hit some play-action. They weren't going to give us some deep plays, so we were throwing it underneath. Fortunately, we just had a couple of plays where we had a penalty, or had a sack, or had something that kind of disrupted the drive. We got into a couple of third-and-longs we didn't covert on. Had a turnover early on in the first half when we were driving. I think there's good production on first and second down, and good down and distance, and things like that. It's always a few plays you wish you had back that we missed on. We got to do a better job on some third downs.
Q: If the defense is taking away those deep routes, is it worth it at all to take a shot anyway, even though the coverage isn't ideal for that?
A: That usually leads to bad plays. There's ways to get explosive plays without throwing it deep. It's not like they all have to be go-routes or post-routes. Hitting guys on the move when they do play man, in zones you can still hit plays. In breaking routes and buying time. You can still hit explosive plays when teams are trying to take away the deep shots.
Q: Pat Shurmur said today looking back, he wished he had called more runs for (RB) Saquon Barkley. How would that have helped?
A: It's tough to say. I think when teams are playing soft and they're playing too high, those are good opportunities to run the ball, but also, we were calling things when they were playing soft or playing too high, we were hitting stuff that got out quickly, and you're getting seven or eight yards a completion, which is what you want to do on first and second down. That gets you in good down and distance. With Saquon, you want to find ways to put the ball in his hands.
Q: Are you happy with the way you're playing so far this season?
A: Obviously, I can play better, need to play better. I feel like I have a good feel of the offense. We're getting completions. Not turning the ball and making mistakes. I think I can do a better job of just feeling the rush or feeling when you have time to maybe push the ball down the field, but I think I do a good job of keeping us in good down and distances and giving us opportunities to make plays.
Q: How do you find that balance?
A: Risks are not what you want to take. You throw the ball down the field when it's not risky, and then there's forcing things and that leads to turnovers that leads to mistakes. I'm not having shots down the field that I'm not taking. It's just a matter of whether you want to scramble around, whether you want to buy time and kind of let things, or have a guy open not the way you drew it up. Can guys move around and find areas in the zone to get open on scramble drills. So, just kind of weighing those options sometimes. You can look at it and say, oh, I had time here. Then you can look at other ones and say, you know I wouldn't have had time there to do that. Then, that leads to sacks and fumbles. It's just kind of having that feel, and feeling the rush and having a good understanding of when you can do it and when you can't.
Q: In the past, you've had short throws go for long distance? Why is that not working so far?
A: We didn't throw many slants and stuff the other night, just because they were playing some two and stuff. It's not really what we wanted. We didn't hit them on any slants and different things. We just kind of hit them on a couple short passes when they were playing their zone just to try to get five and six yards a pop. If they were playing man, you have other options to go to different places. It's just a matter of finding ways to get them the ball. When teams do play man or do come after us, throw accurate balls and keep them moving.
Q: Is it demoralizing to you when these types of games happen? It felt like last year's struggles when teams are playing Cover 2 and Cover 3 and you guys just keep everything underneath.
A: It didn't feel like a struggle for whatever reason. I think in the first half, we had four drives. The first one was great. Like I said, you don't have to have big plays to have good drives. You're getting completions and you're getting 10 yards, you're running the ball, you're getting four or five yards, and you just don't have third downs. You go first down, second down, first down. That's what you want to do. You want to get a couple of shots or where you get some plays down the field, and those happen, and you want to take them, and we took some. We just didn't hit any. I tried to hit (WR) Russell Shepard on a go-route down the left sideline, didn't hit it. Threw one to Saquon down the right side, didn't hit it. It's not like we're not throwing the ball down the field. When you are playing that way and teams are kind of giving you underneath stuff, you got to stay in good rhythm and you can't have a penalty on first down. Now you have first-and-20. You can't have a sack on second down, now you got third-and-14. Those are the things that you just have to stay in good down-and-distance and play that way. We called shots. Sometimes you call play-action, they took away some of the over routes, they took away some of the post routes, we checked it down. You're still getting seven yards, on second-and-six, you're getting a first down. Those are good plays. You just got to have that great combination. Credit to them. A few times, they did blitz. We picked it up, we hit guys running, and hit some big plays. Hit Odell on an in-breaking route, and we got 30 yards. Hit Odell on a crossing-route, on a little shallow-route, he gets 15 yards. Sterling Shepard on the first drive gets 10 yards. We had some good things, we just got to do a little bit better, and continue to do it throughout the game.
Q: Why was the first drive so effective?
A: Just like I said, no penalties, no drops, no sacks, and just took what the defense gave us. That's kind of what they were willing to give up. They were willing to give up completions for seven and eight yards, and you just got to be patient and take them. I thought we did a good job of doing that. A few times, they did bring some pressure. We couldn't get the ball out quick enough. We got a sack and just go into some third-and-long situations where we had some negative plays. For the most part, first and second down was very productive, but we had a few drives where you just had the negative plays. The incompletions and the runs for one or two yards are not the problems. It's the penalties, it's the sacks that hurt you.
Q: You tend to check down to the receiver on third-and-long plays almost knowing it's not going to pick up a first down. Is that hard to handle?
A: Yeah, sometimes it just depends on the play that's called, and how they're playing it. Sometimes when you want to keep a tight end in or you're expecting some sort of one-high zone, or expecting pressure and they're showing that, and all of a sudden they play zone or they play two-high, you only got three guys in route, that's where you got to weigh those odds. Do I want to buy time and scramble around and try to get someone that based on this play and their coverage which is not designed to get open, you can maybe move around and create something. We had a third-and-six, called a man play, I threw a check down to (RB) Wayne Gallman (Jr.), we get the first down. It just kind of depends on the check down, it depends on how everything looks and how the protection is holding up where you just kind of weigh the odds of trying to buy time and create something, or try to get a completion and see if we can get a guy to miss or make something happen.
Q: Did you say anything to Odell at halftime? He seemed frustrated going into halftime.
A: Yeah, I talked to him. Nothing specific. Just make sure everybody was ready. We're down one score, we're getting the ball first. They weren't doing anything we weren't prepared for, doing anything we couldn't handle, and just say hey, we got to go out there and get a scoring drive, and we'll be back on track.
Q: At 1-3, is there frustration?
A: Obviously, not where we want to be, but I see a team with a lot of new guys and new things going on. I feel like we're getting close. We've played some close games. We've played in the fourth quarters and have tight games. Against Houston, we were able to do our jobs and get the win. Some, we've been right there, had opportunities. We're a pass interference from getting the ball back with two and a half minutes yesterday. I see an offensive line, I see an offense that's making improvements. There's not mistakes. We're not going the wrong way. We've worked hard. I see a team that prepares very hard, they practice hard, they're doing all the right things, and we got to keep doing those things. Keep our head up and just find ways to put it all together and find ways to win.
RB Saquon Barkley
Q: Coach said you should've touched the ball more in hindsight. He was kind of doing some self coaching.
A: If he said that, then that's something he believes and my mindset is do whatever it takes to help the team win and if that's touch the ball 10, 15 times or touch the ball 30 times, then whatever it takes. I'm never really in the 'I need the ball in my hands more and more.' Obviously I would like to touch the ball more, especially if that's the way the game is going, but I am aware that there are going to be games where sometimes the ball's not supposed to be in my hands and sometimes we're supposed to throw the ball. Whatever helps the team win, I'm more than ready to do.
Q: It seems like the first drive there was a lot of balance on the offense. You moved the ball well, went down and scored the touchdown. Then there was that huge gap until the fourth quarter until you really got it going again. What do you think went wrong during that span?
A: We lost momentum. Football is a momentum game and that's something that we lost. We came out great, that's something we really focused on, having a fast start, and we've done that in the last two weeks. Now it's get that fast start and keep the momentum going, stick with it, step on the gas, put your foot on the pedal and finish the game out strong. You got to give credit to the Saints. The Saints played an amazing game, too. It's the NFL, it was a great game. We still had a chance to win that game, but we didn't find a way to win it and that's where we have to get better and put that game in the past, just watch film on it. That game is in the past now and it's time to move on to Carolina.
Q: The Cowboys and the Saints played you guys similarly: soft zone. What is the best way for an offense to beat a soft zone?
A: Personally, run the ball. That's something where I step in, where the offensive line steps in, and that's something that we've got to take personal. When we see a team playing cover two and playing soft zone, that has to be disrespectful to us and that's something we are really aware of and we hope to solve that problem really soon.
Q: Do you look at yourself and the guys around you and say we're better than 1-3? Assuming you say that, why hasn't it clicked with a more consistent basis?
A: We are better than 1-3, but coach (Craig) Johnson put up a quote from Bill Parcells saying you are what your record says you are, so we've got to prove that wrong, we've got to come out and start to find a way to win games and it's not that it didn't click yet. We showed signs and we have sparks and we have great momentum drives sometimes on the offensive side of the ball. Defense, we're playing great, but we just got to believe in each other. Continue to believe in each other, continue to believe in the system. It's a long grind season, but you can't have that mindset the whole time and we got to get things rolling and we got to come one day at a time. Take the day off tomorrow, come in, watch film, get a extra workout in if you can and then attack the week and you're ready for Carolina.
Q: Does that make it more frustrating? You know that those abilities are there, those drives are there, they're showing up, but they're just not consistent. Does that make it more frustrating to know that the possibility is there?
A: It will be frustrating no matter what when you're not moving the ball, you're not winning no matter if you got the skill, you don't have the skill, but we know we have the skill, we know we have the talent, the leadership on this team and the great coaching staff on this team and we know it's there and we got to continue to believe it's there and we got to continue to work. We got to get that urgency of it's time now, we got to continue to work, come in here, push each other. We got to start stepping up. I got to step up, it's no more time to be a rookie and be quiet on the sideline if I feel something's wrong. I got to bring the team up together. Odell (Beckham Jr.), Eli (Manning), Shep (Sterling Shepard), we all have the right and even Evan (Engram) have the right in that aspect and that's where we have to grow and be ready to take on the season.
Q: You think you've done a better job as you acclimate in the NFL of accepting the two, three, four yards? That's something that you said you have to get used to. Everyone wants the homeruns. You think you've done a better job at that?
A: Personally, yes. Personally, I think I have. I used to do some crazy stuff in college where I would try to make anything happen, but that's something that I realized that I got to be focused on the two and three yard runs and take what the defense give you, but also got to be who I am.
Q: When you get up after a four-yard gain, let's say, how do you feel?
A: That's a great football play. A four-yard gain, a five-yard gain is a great football play, but when there's nothing there, I have the talent to make something happen and we have the offensive line to make something happen and that's something I got to believe in myself and we got to believe in that as a team and we have so many people on this team that can make plays. It's literally crazy that we're down by two touchdowns at one point and within two minutes it was a one score game again and then defense went out there and played their butts off and the Saints capitalized on that moment, but just like that, that's how close we are as a team and that's how special we are as a team that we're down two touchdowns and out of nowhere everybody thinks the game's over and within two minutes it's a one score possession game and we have a chance to go back down to score if we ever get the ball back again. That's something that we have to continue to realize and we got to continue to get better at.
Q: Because of the respect you have for Odell, do you look at him and say he should be unstoppable?
A: Definitely. Odell is unstoppable. If you watch film or if you watch him play, I don't know if there's a cornerback that has checked him, that has covered him one-on-one to be completely honest and that's something that I love about Odell. He's a great leader, he's passionate, he's a passionate player and you thrive off that, especially me. When I see that, that makes me get emotional too, that makes me want to play ten times harder and that's something we all got to do. We all got to be passionate about this game, we got to love the game, we got to love each other, we got to believe in each other and I think if we're able to do that, the sky is the limit.
DL Josh Mauro
Q: Are you excited to be back?
A: Excited to be back around the guys, get around like-minded people. All I want to do is just help contribute, get wins. It's a lot different watching than actually being out there, so a good lesson, you learn through everything, ups and downs. I'm just grateful to be back here and I just want to help contribute to win football games.
*Q: What do you hope to bring to the defense once you get back out there? *
A: Energy, just the mindset. It's contagious. Flying around, celebrating with your teammates, being physical, flying around – that's very contagious. People see that and you can build off that, so I just want to do my job at the highest level I can and contribute as much as I can and help bring wins to this football team.
Q: Where were you and what have you been doing?
A: I've been up here training, just staying low key. Training five to six times a week, watching a lot of football, which I'm about sick of watching football – it's a lot better playing than having the view. Just trying to stay sharp, stay mentally sharp watching the games, seeing what we're doing on film, just trying to pick it up and go from there. Just excited to be back.
Q: What was the training like – physical working out, or football stuff?
A: Like I said before I left, you try to balance out and try to do as much football-simulated stuff that you can, but I can't find 300-pound dudes and put pads on and say come and attack me. There's just not guys out there like that. That's why the guys in this locker room are in this locker room, so it's rare to find people that can keep you sharp on that level but as far as running, trying to do football movements, weights and everything, just tried to stay as sharp as I can. Really excited to get back out Wednesday and really just fly around.
Q: Do you think you'd be ready to play on Sunday?
A: Physically, yes. Mentally, I'll be there. I know four weeks seems like a long time, but it's really not that long in the grand scheme of things. It's keeping your body sharp, so I'm just excited to be back and if I get my number called I'll be ready to go.
Q: Minute after the game ends last night, were you kind of revved up and had to come in here?
A: Obviously the loss sucked. It's always a team perspective on things, but yeah as soon as the game was over, I got that feeling again. It feels really good, I'm glad to be back. I just want to help contribute.
Q: Were you here especially early this morning?
A: I didn't get here too early because things started a little later, but yeah I got here with time to get everything settled.