*Transcriptions from Wednesday's Practice *
Head Coach Ben McAdoo
Opening Statement: Have an excellent football program coming in here on Sunday afternoon. It'll be a great challenge for our football team. We have to be on point with our preparation, especially our mental preparation this week coming off of a west coast-type trip. Offensively – they're led by one of the best leaders in the ballgame, Russell Wilson. He throws with accuracy, has a great touch on the ball. He does it from inside and outside the pocket. We know he can extend plays. He does a good job creating on the move with his feet. He gets better as the game goes on, which will be a big challenge for us. Surrounded by a lot of playmakers – guys with size, guys with speed and some guys with a combination of both. (Doug) Baldwin and (Jimmy) Graham are two of his favorite targets. They have four very talented backs around him when they're healthy and their offensive line is working to gel as a unit, fixing some injuries there.
Defensively – they're a very good tackling team. They're fast, they're physical, they're a confident unit. You can see that as the series go on, as the game goes on. Very confident in each other and it shows. They've played a lot of football together. (Michael) Bennett, (Cliff) Avril and (Frank) Clark are dynamic defensive ends up front for them and (Sheldon) Richardson and (Jarran) Reed are a strong duo inside. Very physical players and good with their hands. (Bobby) Wagner, (Earl) Thomas, (Kam) Chancellor and (Richard) Sherman – they cover a lot of ground for them on the perimeter in their cover-three scheme and they're playing a lot of man-to-man as well. They're special players indeed.
Special teams – (Tyler) Lockett is a dangerous returner – has been since he got into the league. (Bradley) McDougald is a productive player and a challenge on coverage teams and Jon Ryan can still boom the football as the punter.
With that, we'll open it up.
Q: CB Eli Apple was excused today?
Q: What happened?
A: Personal. Personal reason.
Q: Did you know about it ahead of time?
A: Knew about it ahead of time. Yes.
Q: Do you expect CB Eli Apple back tomorrow?
Q: What was it like to have CB Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie back at practice?
A: It's great to have DRC back. Had a lot of energy. Welcomed him back with open arms.
Q: Why did you decide to welcome him back this week?
A: It was a decision we decided. Welcome back. We're glad to have him back.
Q: Are you confident that any difficulties are in the past?
A: Absolutely. Great day today. It's good to see him back.
Q: Did he need to prove to you or show you anything in the meeting for you to welcome him back?
A: We'll keep our private meetings private and personal meetings personal, but it was great to have him back today.
Q: What's your message to the team right now?
A: Last week was last week. This week – mental preparation is a big part of it. We need to be where our feet are. We need to stay in the moment – focus on our preparation and we know our formula and we need to stick to it.
Q: The Seahawks have had trouble moving the ball. Does anything in particular jump out at you?
A: I think they've used a variety of backs and they have some different combinations up front as well, but it's key each and every week for us. We need to be focused on stopping the run game. We know they have some talented backs. We know they're coming off of a bye week and they probably have worked on the run game and we know the quarterback can pull it at any point in time. So, we need to be ready for it.
Q: Seattle has given up six (explosive?) running plays on defense. Last year they only gave up four. Did anything change back there other than personnel or is it luck?
A: No. I think they faced some pretty good running teams. Tennessee just jumps into my mind, but they look good on defense. They're coming off of a bye week. (Sheldon) Richardson is a guy who's acclimating to the system and seems to be doing so very well. (Jarran) Reed is a guy that's very talented inside. We know their defensive end positions are very talented. (Bobby) Wagner can cover a bunch of ground for them and they're talented. We have our work cut out for us.
Q: What kind of schematic challenges do the Seahawks present after a bye week?
A: I mean, they may have some wrinkles. They may dust some things off. They'll be fresh legged. We have to start fast in the ball game like we did last week. That's important.
Q: What kind of challenges does their secondary present?
A: When you look at each individual player – they're talented. But, their strength is they've been in the same scheme for a long time. They've been in the same scheme a long time together, so they fit together like nuts and bolts and they seem to communicate very well. They challenge each other very well. You see that whether it's seeing them play live or seeing them off of the TV copy. They're a well-led group.
Q: What was the energy like today at practice?
A: The energy today – we brought them in, we had an early start to today. It was a transition-type day for us coming off of the trip we just came off of and we had half-speed, half-mental with our practice today. So, the energy was good initially. We slowed it down a little bit at the end – gave them a chance to cool down, gave them a chance to get some extra mental reps. But, we practiced well. We did practice well.
Q: How hard is it to get everyone on the same page with a dramatically different offensive formula?
A: Well, to me it's the type of integrity we have in our locker room. We have players who aren't selfish. Talented men of integrity who want to win football games, and I believe they all see the best way for us to win football games is to be physical in all three phases, heavy-handed, stop the run, run the ball, get timely conversions and timely stops on third down and play good special teams play.
Q: What adjustments does QB Eli Manning have to make to the formula?
A: Again, Eli wants to win as bad as anybody in that locker room and he's thrown the ball plenty in this league, but wins are tough to come by and we have to do what's best for the team and we will.
Q: Did you take over the play calling last week at the end of the game for the four-minute drill?
Q: What has clicked for the running game?
A: I'll say first thing, you know, the guys up front are playing physical. They're playing with the right mindset. That helps. The tight ends and the receivers are blocking for them. The tight ends are a big part of it and the receivers sticking their nose in there is a big part of it too because it takes – it's the ultimate team game. It takes all 11. Eli (Manning) does a good job directing it. The backs are running big. They're running big. They're running heavy. They're running physical. Sometimes it's not the cleanest picture, it's not the cleanest read, but they're not afraid to hit it and fall forward for a few yards.
Q: Yesterday at the NFL Owner's Meetings Giants' Chairman and Executive Vice President Steve Tisch spoke to us about the play-calling decision. Was that something that you have been moving towards for a while or something after the Chargers game?
A: Early last week, I made a decision that I wasn't going to call it. So, the office next to mine is Mike Sullivan's. I walked into Mike Sullivan's office, I said, 'You're calling it this week.' Jerry (Reese) is down the hall. I walked down to Jerry's office. I said, 'Jerry, I'm not calling it this week. Sully is calling it.' Then I walked down to the quarterback room. I said, 'Hey Eli, Sully is calling it this week.' And, that was it.
Q: What did you see from WR Sterling Shepard today?
A: Practiced well.
Q: Any indication of any hitches?
A: Looked better than he did last week.
QB Eli Manning
Q: How difficult of an adjustment is it to change the formula for the way you have to win, versus the formula you had at the beginning of the season?
A: Well, I don't know if it's difficult, I think you've just got to know how to use some different personnel, using some different formations, just a commitment to the run. And we've got to throw the ball better, we've got to do some other things. But, hey, we've got to run the ball, we've got to be physical up front, try to play field positon, play ball control, those type of things. Still have got to find completions, have to get into good third down situations, convert on those a little bit better. But we've still got to execute and that's what it comes down to.
Q: The offense has a lot less passing now, right?
A: Yeah, a lot less passing and that's just the circumstances of what we were in last week. Had some new receivers, different guys playing some of their first games and first games in a while. So, you had to be careful, it wouldn't be a game we're going to throw it 40 times. So, we still have to throw it, we have to hit some shots, we have to make some plays, but you've just got to be smart about it.
Q: Do you think that at some point the offense is going to need more out of the passing game and the receivers in order to win consistently?
A: Yeah, I think we are. I think it was just a case of how the game was going – had a little lead in the fourth quarter, so I don't know if we threw a pass in the fourth quarter. So, that's the way the game worked out. Defense was playing well, so we didn't have to throw it much there at the very end. But I thought the first half, we were pretty efficient when we did throw the ball. Got some completions, some big plays in the passing game. So, if we can play that way and hit some big plays in the passing game - when we do throw, be effective with it.
Q: At what point do opposing defenses have to start respecting your run game and you'll see a difference in how they play you because of it?
A: Well, all the teams we've played, it's not because they've had two safeties deep, that's why we run the ball. Last week was all one-high, for the most part. Previous weeks, versus the Chargers, was one-high safety. So, it's going to be the same this week. Seattle's not a two-high team, you're going to get one-high. They're going to want to slow down the run, I'm sure, so we've still got to run it and we're going to throw it.
Q: Is it much different having Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan calling the plays?
A: No, it's not that much different. He calls them in practice every day, he has for the year, during training camp, during practices. So, I'm used to hearing them in the ear, it's just his rhythm of how he's calling things. We kind of have a lot of things scoped out, so you kind of know what plays are coming. So, I think he had good rhythm and mixed up his play calling.
Q: Does it make a difference that you've known Sullivan a lot longer than Head Coach Ben McAdoo?
A: I don't know if it makes a difference. We have a great communication always during the week in our meetings and what we like and being on the same page. I have great confidence in Sully, we have been around each other. It's the first time that he's called a game that I've played in, but I think he's done a good job.
Q: Is Seattle safety Earl Thomas a guy that you have to keep your eye on, even more so than most safeties?
A: Yeah, he's just all over the field. He does a good job just kind of disregarding maybe his responsibilities and kind of just seeing something and running. So, I think he does a great job. If he sees your eyes, he's a instinctive player and he runs fast and seems to get near spots. So, he's either breaking up passes – so, you do have to be aware of him. He might be the middle of the field safety and he sees something and he's running up and he's at six or seven yards, so you've just got to watch. He can disrupt some reads.
Q: Is manipulating the safety more important against Seattle than most teams?
A: Well, you've got to be careful. Trying to do too much and it's throwing off your timing. So, I think you still have to go through your reads and just understand if you're staring too long at something, you've got to expect him to be in the area.
Q: When a team is coming off of a bye week, do you have to be wary of new wrinkles they might be throwing in?
A: I mean, teams are always going to have a game plan, so you can't overthink too much and start predicting what they might do. So, you've got to go with what you're seeing, what you're seeing them do. They're not a team that changes up too much, but yeah, they'll have some new stuff, third down or different scenarios, they'll have some new things.
Q: How did wide receiver Sterling Shepard look today, and what would his return do to this offense?
A: Yeah, I thought Sterling looked good today and yeah, just to have a guy who's been in the offense. I've thrown all the routes with him and just have confidence in his abilities and those reps that we've had over the last two years.
Q: As a team, is it good to get a guy like cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie back?
A: Yeah, I think it's always good to get a veteran guy back, get a playmaker like DRC. So, we welcome him right back and saw him today and just come back to work.
Q: Did Rodgers-Cromartie speak to you or the team as a whole today?
A: No, not that I know of, no.
Q: Do you get the sense that the young wide receivers are practicing a little faster this week?
A: Yeah, I think so. Just understanding the rhythm of things and concepts and just playing that much faster, being on the same page. We've still got some work to do, just getting in rhythm and practice will help. But I think every rep, even watching the game film, how they're running certain routes, will help us get that much better.
Q: Are you working more with the receivers on rhythm than you normally would?
A: You're always in communication, just talking about certain things, different reads and just how you expect the route to be run.
Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Q: How good is it to be back and to put all of that stuff behind you?
A: It feels great to be back, especially after a team win. The guys really went out there and they fought hard, I watched the whole game. I decided it felt like a little kid out there watching my brothers go to work. Hurt not to be out there, but at the end of the day we got the win.
*Q: How difficult was it to watch from home? *
A: Very difficult, very difficult. You can contribute a little bit. Any time the guys go out there to battle, you want to be out there with them. So to not be a part of that feeling that just means we have to go out there and get another one this week.
Q: How much crap did you get this week when you walked into the locker room?
A: Nah, nah. They just started. Snacks (Damon Harrison) can say what he wants to say. When I first walked in, he was the first one to jump up and down and hug me. So them boys definitely welcomed me back with open arms and that definitely, definitely made me feel good.
Q: What happened?
A: To be honest, coach called me up and he said some things and I kind of didn't agree with it and I handled it the wrong way. At the end of the day, that's on me. So the suspension, I take that. All I can do is try to work back to get in good grace with the guys. I'm just glad that they didn't let this turn them from me and they accepted me and I'm just back working, man.
Q: How was your conversation with him (Ben McAdoo) yesterday?
A: That was good man. It probably went good because we got the win. He had a big smile on his face. He just said, "hey, stuff happens. you know, I get it. But from this forward on, you just got to come back, work your way back in and get back in good grace." And I understand that.
Q: Did you talk to the team at all? The defense?
A: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I talked to my guys. I tell them, man, I'm just glad you didn't let my distraction make y'all get unfocused. I know a lot of y'all reaching out to me. The main thing, even more Sunday, I still texted them, "see ball, get ball" and that's what they went out there and did, man. So I was very proud.
Q: Was there any part of you that was scared you wouldn't get welcomed back with open arms?
A: No, no, no, no, no, no. One thing about this locker room, man, when I come in here, I light it up, man. I'm an animated guy. I'm not saying that I can't be replaced, but what I did was wrong and I admit that. As long as I admit that, I ain't running from it, I'm good.
Q: What happened last Sunday?
A: I get mad. I'm a competitor. I like to be out there with my guys out there. I did get tweaked and there was a misunderstanding, but as I'm trying to tell as we're going back and forth, like are you hurt? Are you good coming in and out? I'm like, I'm good, but the decision was for me not to be in there. I should have accepted that, but at the time, we were winning, they were driving, I'm thinking I need to go on that field. So when I come off, I got mad.
*Q: So they pulled you off and that's why you went to the locker room? *
A: Yeah, I got a tweak and they thought that was it, but I'm like I'm good. Just miscommunication. At the end of the day, I still can't react the way I did. Did I wear my emotions on my sleeve? Yeah, because at the end of the day man, I just want to play ball.
*Q: On the play you went off it seemed like you were barely running on it. Were you hurting at that point? *
A: Yeah, it was tweaked, but at the end of the day, if I feel like I can run with you, I can run with you. I didn't feel no threat of nobody running past me.
Q: Was it a foot?
A: Yes sir.
Q: How did you feel seeing Donte Deayon on Sunday?
A: That felt great. Ask him what I texted him. It was like a father watching his son for him to go out there. He's energetic just like me. He brings a lot of fun to the game and to see him out there, I told him, man, don't let up. Stay out there. You know what I mean? Regardless of what happened with me, stay out there and keep going. Keep doing what you're doing.
*Q: Did you consider requesting a trade? *
A: Hell nah. No, not at all. Why would I? I love these guys. I'm chilling, baby. You act like I'm in my third year.
*Q: There was a report that you emptied out your locker. *
A: I'm dramatic, man. I'm crazy. I can't help that. I do stuff over the top, man. I apologized. I handled it wrong, but I'm good, baby. I'm back, baby, that's all that matters.
Q: How do you think the team did on Sunday?
A: I think you go into a hostile environment in Denver, man. To do what we did going against one of the best run defenses, to put up over 100 yards and to hold them to 10 points with the guys that they have in (Emmanuel) Sanders, Demaryius Thomas and C.J. Anderson in the backfield, even Jamaal Charles. So to go out there, put that kind of show on and you have limited guys, next man mentality. That just lets you know that the guys that stepped up, they deserve to go out there and do it again.
Q: Do you respect McAdoo with the way he handled the situation?
A: Definitely, definitely. I told him at the end of the day, you're going to know if I'm mad. I'm going to come back in here and let you know. I wear my emotions on my sleeves, man. But I told him, I messed up and I understand that, and as a coach, you got to do what you got to do. Whatever the consequence is, I have to accept that and go on from there.