Check out the assistant coaches talking to the media
Linebackers Coach Jim Herrmann**
Q: Let's talk about Devon Kennard and his growth from the time you got him in here to where he is now and what you've seen.
A: Early in training camp I saw a lot of good things out of him. Unfortunately, he got a hamstring, which set him back a few weeks. Now that he's healthy, he's contributing on special teams and last week was able to go in the game and did some good things. It was good to see him get out and get some game experience because that is invaluable for a young linebacker. He was able to go in and perform. He did his job. Those are the things you are looking for. You can always help him keep growing as a linebacker. The other guys love him. He's got a great personality and he wants to be great. To me, that's what you want. I think we'll see some really good things out of him. He's what you want.
Q: Where do you want to see him grow the most over the course of the next few weeks?
A: I think the biggest things that he has to learn are the pace of the game, know who he's playing against, the type of runner and the type of passing game. Those are the things that I think more experience will help him and make him more aware. Some of the older guys, they've been in the game, they've been in those situations. Now it's his turn. They'll help him grow because they're all good guys, they all want to see him succeed.
Q: Jacquian Williams looks like he's taken a step forward but the consistency might not always be there. What have you seen from him? **
A: To me, Jacquian has taken a giant step forward because he's a three-down player now. He's very effective on first down, second down and third down. To me, he wants to be as good as he can be and play every down. That was his big goal going into the season, he told me, 'Coach, I want to play every down. I want to be out there every down. I just don't want to be a nickel linebacker, a third down linebacker, I want to play every down.' He's worked hard at studying the run game on first and second down and has done a good job.
Q: Everybody can do something better. What can he do better?
A: I think all of them, as a group, just in terms of the anticipation of certain types of runs and getting there ahead of time, I think all of them can do that. You're always striving to do that. Those are some things as a group that we're looking for – to play the run better. As you know, in this league, if you can't stop the ru,n you're going to have a hard time. That's something that we're always striving to do.
Q: In spite of the versatility and the smartness of your lineabacking corps, what's the dynamic like not knowing what Jon Beason's status is going to be almost every week?
A: The one thing I've learned in this league is that every week's going to be different. It's a physical game and there are going to be guys down. Everybody has roles, everybody has positions that they have to back up at. It's like the game Sunday, after the 17th play he came out, the guys went right in, they knew who was subbing, where we were going, what was up with all of the different personnel groups that we had. We talk about those things in the week. Unfortunately, you can't give everybody reps at the positions they're going to play or back up at. You've got to trust that they're watching and they're learning and they're listening in film sessions and when they go in, they're performing at the level that the position needs to perform at. To me, that's the number one thing.
Q: Should the news not be as good as you'd like it to be on Jon, you'll get extra reps for those guys now at the different positions. Does that potentially help their…?
A: Any time you can get practice reps at a position, it helps you. To me, once we find out what the deal is and then we'll divide the reps up accordingly so that everybody can get a chance to practice what we're going to do.
Q: Is it very reassuring to you that you do have, it seems, more guys that can play multiple positions, all three positions in some cases?
A: I've always… you've got to have guys that play multiple things. To me, in this league, that's what you have to do. Sometimes you only have five guys up, five guys activated for a game, so somebody's going to have to learn dual roles. That's what we do.
Q: Jameel McClain seems like he's walked right in and he's been here forever. How comforting is it to have a guy like that in your room and to know that he brings that experience, that intelligence, that high level of play? It seems to rub off on the guys around him.
A: It's great. You're always looking for those kinds of guys. The thing about him is it's his personality. He has a personality that people just gravitate to. That's the way he is as a player, too. Any time you can have that…
Q: Is that rare?
A: I wouldn't say rare, but it's nice to have.
Q: Because Jon was like that when he came in, too.
A: Same way. It's what you want out of them.
Q: But still, to have two guys like that just walk right in, usually once every so many years you might get one if you're lucky and you've got two in back to back years.
A: It's pretty nice.
Q: Last time we talked to you, you said you liked the physicality of this linebacker group, that you thought it would be a very physical group. Has it played out that way and have you been happy with how physical they have been?
A: Yeah, I was saying earlier in training camp that I saw some good things out of Kennard and he was finally able to get healthy and play and all of the guys are physical guys. We've just got to keep doing that and getting better.
Secondary Coach /Safties David Merritt Sr.
Q: What have you seen from Quintin Demps?
A: He is doing well. Quintin is doing everything we ask of him to do. He is controlling the coverages. He is very loud and boisterous in his communication with the other guys on the field, so he is doing well.
Q: What does Stevie Brown need to do to get back to where he was a couple years ago?
A: Coming off of the knee injury, Stevie is in a situation right now where he had a couple of things that didn't go his way early in the season and so I think he is back. I don't see any problem with the knee. He just needs to continue to gain confidence.
Q: With Antrel [Rolle], there is always the chance that he can move back to nickel… Is that not a possibility anymore? **
A: Antrel has actually been able to play either position, just as you said. He has played nickel before. He has played safety. It is always a possibility when you have injuries. He is ready to do whatever is needed to do for his team to be successful.
Q: He doesn't hesitate to tell us what his preference is?
A: No question.
Q: What is the major difference between [being a safety and playing the nickel cornerback]?
A: When you are in the slot [playing the nickel], you have more field to cover, especially when you are dealing with man-to-man, two to three yards off of a receiver versus being a safety who is 10-12 yards off of a guy. The major difference is the quickness and the speed that happens. Just as the defensive lineman, it happens so quick whenever their runs schemes are going right or left. Same thing as a nickel back, you are so close to the receiver, so everything happens so quickly. That is the major difference.
Q: How do you evaluate Jayron [Hosley]?
A: We are happy to have him, I will tell you that. The thing is we asked him to go in and do a couple of things last week and Hosley was able to perform the tasks that we asked him to do. The situation for him right now is that he is a starter and he sees himself as a starter. If you are a nickel back, you have to see yourself as a starter because in this league we play so much '11' personnel or three wide receivers on the field. He is doing well. I think his ceiling is unlimited, so hopefully he will continue to grow for us.
Q: Is it a matter of confidence with him because he had a tough preseason?
A: No question. When you haven't played and you are going out and playing against number ones every week, it has to be a matter of confidence. What he did last week in the situation we put him in, he performed it well.
Q: Talk about Prince Amukamara… He has had a pretty solid year so far. What do you see differently in him this year compared to years past?
A: Prince is competing. He pressed Dez Bryant last week. There were a couple of things we talked to him about that he could have done differently, such as not trying to be so aggressive against a receiver who is very aggressive. Maybe play him off from time to time. Prince, in my opinion, has grown tremendously from his first few years here. He started it last year and he is continuing with it this year. Hopefully he will continue to work well for us and play well versus the big receivers.
Q: Is it a matter of more film study, better technique?
A: Yes, that is what every NFL player goes with. Your technique needs to be sharp each week. With Prince, he is in a situation where he is facing the top receivers of the other teams. When you are talking different techniques versus different wide receivers because every wide receiver runs their routes different than others. When you come back to it, his ability to go up and press and be aggressive has been a plus for us.
Q: Can you talk about the development of Nat Berhe?
A: He is developing well. He had an opportunity to go in and play earlier in the year. One of the reasons why he went in that game was because he was the backup safety. Quintin, at that time, was the backup nickel. I didn't feel like it would be fair to Quintin to throw him in the game when he hadn't been practicing safety the entire week. Nat is growing. One of the things I said a little earlier was that in the meeting rooms, while we are going over our install meetings, I make sure to call on him. Even yesterday when we were going through our correction meetings, I called and made corrections through my safeties and directed them right at Nat and made sure he understood exactly the correction and what we need to do differently. He is able to understand it and be able to spit it back to me, which has definitely been a breath of fresh air for a rookie to be able to do that.
Q: Understanding in the classroom is one thing, but being able to do it on the field is another… Do you see the two areas closing the gap a little bit?
A: Yes. He is going to be a good football player for the New York Football Giants for a long time.
Q: How did Stevie Brown react to the move of Quintin Demps starting?
A: He was fine. No one wants to be demoted, but at the same time, he is a pro and understood the situation. He was fine.
Q: We saw a lot of three-safety looks from you this past week… Is that something you would expect moving forward to continue?
A: I would think so. I can't speak for [Defensive Coordinator Perry] Fewell or the rest of the staff, but the game plan last week was to have Stevie Brown in the game with the three-safety package versus certain personnel groupings, which worked out for us because Stevie went in and did his job and did what we asked him to do. The fact that we used to play the three-safety package a ton back in the days was because of the fact we had three veterans who were able to play. I am talking about Kenny [Phillips], Antrel and you had Deon Grant. Right now we feel like we tested the waters and we have the same right now in our camp here with the Giants. Hopefully with Stevie Brown going down, or Antrel going down in the slot position, it would benefit us.
Q: Is the reason you are able to do that now is that teams are running more out of those looks?
A: No, I wouldn't say that. It is more of the matchups. You want to match up with [the opposing teams] personnel with the best guys that are available for that particular week. That is what we decided to do this week. [Against] the Eagles we decided to play a nickel package. Each week we try to put the best personnel on the field to stop what they do.
Q: How much of it is personnel driven… You signed Walter [Thurmond] to play the nickel and he and Trumaine [McBride] both got hurt… You are stuck having to adjust personnel?
A: Yes. You can't compensate for a guy like a Walter Thurmond, who went down. At the same time, you have to adjust. The adjustment that we are making now will have to be in a position where it is going to benefit the entire defense and team. With Jayron Hosley coming back to us, that was huge and it was the right timing because he is a starter and we treat him like a starter. He knows that and understands that. At the same time, we have to make sure we put him in a position to be successful. With our personnel and with injuries and Coach Coughlin will speak on injuries, but with things of that nature happening to us, we have to adjust as a defense and that is what we are doing.
Q: You have given up more big plays than you would have liked to this year in the back end… What do you attribute that to?
A: Those are things we just have to correct. As far as trying to point a finger to what happened in those particular situations, those are just plays we are going to have to correct.
Secondary/Cornerbacks Coach Peter Guinta
Re: Play of Prince Amukamara
A: He has been very good, he has been tight in coverage. It allows him, when a guy does catch the football, it's tackled. There is not a lot of space between he and the receiver, which makes it easier and he will make the tackle. He has been very, very, good tackling this year and even in the run support stuff he has done a great job coming up, setting the edge when we needed him to, fill in the run gaps, he has done great job tackling.
Q: He said he was expecting to be left one on one with DeMarco Murray this week. Do you see more of an understanding of the game, more of an understanding of the scouting reports that he is getting. **
A: He has a great understanding of the scheme right now and the system. He has been healthy the last couple of years. He has been able to go through OTA's, been able to go through the mini-camps, the training camp, every rep in practice. He has been able to take all of those things, and he has done a great job of accumulating all of that knowledge and assimilating it through what he needs do on the practice field, and on the game field on Sunday. He is taking great strides forward in the last couple of years. Last year I think he missed a little bit of time in the Dallas game when he was friendly fired, knocked out for a little bit, but again he hasn't missed a snap this year due to injury. He has done a great job learning and maturing, and getting better, and better.
Q: Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie, he has been dealing with the leg problem. I remember seeing him catch up to one play with the leg problem. Still looks like he is just as fast.
A: He is very fast. It is just a question of when it kicks in, when it starts to bother him, when he starts to have spasms, then he can't go, he's got to get that straightened out, then he can come back in and play. That is what he did, he toughed through the game against Dallas, and got reps when we needed him during the course of the football game. He has done a great job of trying to fight through it. The training staff is doing a great job, they have been trying to get him back as healthy as they can this bye week so the second half of the season he will be ready to go hopefully without any issues.
Q: How is the nickel situation? Jayron Hosley was in there this past weekend.
A: We split the time with Stevie Brown and Jayron Hosley to bring both of those guys along gradually because you need more than one. As you will find out, we are on our third or fourth guy right now. It is just the nature of the business, you are going to have injuries, and we are doing what we can to bring guys along, and get them ready to play. It is a difficult spot to play, sometimes you are a linebacker in run support, sometimes you are in man to man coverage, sometimes you are a zone linebacker cover guy. That is a position that needs some experience and Jayron Hosley has played the positon before for us and has done well in there, so hopefully he will continue to improve and get better. Missing the four weeks really hurt him and now he's back trying to get his football legs back underneath him. Guys come back and they think they are in great shape, they run around with the trainers, or the strength staff, and lifting all that stuff, and then they get back on the field and they are dead after the first couple of days. He is starting to get his football legs back underneath him. He's got some game reps, Sunday against Dallas, he's starting hopefully to come on.
Q: If Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie gets healthy again would Zack Bowman be a guy you would consider in there, or is he just an outside guy?
A: Possibly. Right now we need him on the outside and he has done a great job outside. That is where he has played primarily his whole career. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has had some experience inside so he is a possibility to go in there. You have two big physical guys on the edge, and him as a possibility inside with Jayron Hosley. It depends on the coverage, what we want to play, and who we have to match up against in the slot.
Q: One of the things that has been different this year is the number of big plays. Is it just simple mental mistakes?
A: No, it is a combination of things. We have been studying other teams and ourselves. What it is sometimes, it is a technique issue. I will give you an example, Prince Amukamara is playing Dez Bryant one on one, he caught a 24-yard pass on him, set up a touchdown. Prince Amukamara in press coverage had an interception against him. Sometimes you've got a great receiver and quarterback and it is one on one out there, sometimes they are going to win some battles, but you try to play the best technique and leverage you can. Monday, you critique what you did, what you could've done better to improve on that play. Sometimes it is technique, sometimes it is missed assignments, sometimes it missed tackles, sometimes it is avoiding the zone between the underneath coverage and the deep coverage. You try to address those problems every Monday, correct them and move on, but it is an issue that you continually address and try to minimize the number of big plays that we allowed.
Q: For Prince Amukamara, has everything just sunk in for him this year? He looks like he is really playing well.
A: It has. It has been accumulation of him working hard the past few years and staying healthy. He has been healthy the last two seasons, and hasn't missed any time. When you don't miss any time and you are able to go out and practice and get better every week, that is what happens. As a tribute to him, he has worked very, very hard in the offseason, in the classroom, on the practice field, to get better. We said, "Hey Prince, you've got to improve your hands, try juggling in the offseason" and he did. He learned how to juggle, he is doing everything he can to make himself a better football player to become one of the top corners in the league.
A: All of our guys can play, we will put them out there. We talked earlier about putting Prince Amukamara….."say hey listen you guys have got to go make plays." We are going to put our best. We made a couple, they made a couple more than we did unfortunately. He competed, he was right there every snap with Dez Bryant, and the catches were contested, challenged throws, and that is what we want. We don't want a guy wide open, he was all over him, he catches the ball, he's trying to rip the ball out. That is what we want to do.
Q: Is Prince Amukamara really owning that role of the guy who covers the top receiver every game?
A: No, we will match him up based on how they are and what their skill set is compared to ours. We sometimes will match Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie on guys. I will give you an example, last year we played the Eagles, we put Trumaine McBride on DeSean Jackson, we put Prince Amukamara on Riley Cooper because Trumaine McBride is smaller, quicker, Prince Amukamara is bigger, stronger, more physical. If Trumaine McBride goes out on Riley Cooper, Riley Cooper will push him around because of his size and the quickness. You've got to match them up, not only because he's their number one. What is their physical talent, what do they have, how do we match up against their talent. That is what it comes down to, it's not just he is the number one so we put our number one. It' got to be based on the skill set.
Q: Is Prince better more from a confidence standpoint?
A: They do, most of them do, the really good ones, they want to get matched up. I want to take their best out the game, and they are like that. He has done a great job of coming to the point where he feels very confident in his ability this year.
Defensive Line Coach Robert Nunn
Q: Talk about the kind of season JPP [Jason Pierre-Paul] is having? What do you think is different about him this year?
A: He has always been an outstanding run player. He has been as good as there has been in the league. When he is healthy, he is as good of a run player that I have been around. With the pass rush, [if] he continues to stay healthy, it will show up. I think he has a better [pass rush] plan than he has ever had. He was able to come into training camp and the offseason and it developed for him. There were a lot of factors for him not being able to develop a plan and he has done that. He is doing a good job of attacking offensive tackles. We are going to move him around. At times, like last week, he didn't want to move. He wanted to stay over there. He is comfortable over there. With the success I could see he was having, I wasn't going to move him. He was comfortable. He was having a great game. He had an outstanding game, but sometimes that gets hidden when you don't win. He is off to a good start if he stays healthy. He has to continue and I am confident he will.
Q: You talked about him having a plan… Is that a matter of studying more film, knowing which move to use on which tackles…?
A: Yes. All those things. He is doing a better job than he has ever done of attacking guys and knowing on Wednesday and Thursday what he sees and how to attack them. He goes out to practice and trying to go through the one-on-one drills and work on those things that he sees will help him during that game.
Q: The pass rush in general hasn't been where you want it to be at this point in the season… What do you see that needs to be done to get your guys going? **
A: Certainly the last two weeks, we need to stop the run. You are not going to get those pass rush opportunities [if you don't stop the run]. If you go back and look at the teams we stopped the run on, we got hits on the quarterback and pressures on the quarterback. Even going back to Arizona, we didn't win the game, but we had a lot of hits, double-digit hits on the quarterback. Those are the things we have to do and create those situations. Last two weeks we haven't been able to. That opens up a lot of play-action pass. Philly and Dallas have as good a play-action pass as anybody in the league. Tony Romo is as good at it as anybody. When you can't stop [DeMarco] Murray and [LeSean] McCoy, your numbers are going to be limited in how many true pass rushing situations you are in. That is the number one thing we have to do is play the run better. Those opportunities will show up. We have guys that can rush the passer. I hope [opposing teams] don't think we can rush the passer and let us get in those situations. We have to create more opportunities.
Q: How do you stop the run better?
A: It is a combination of things. Number one, LeSean McCoy and DeMarco Murray are the number one issue we faced the last two weeks. This is the NFL, so you have to go out there and improve in those areas. Our guys have to do their part in stopping the run and creating those situations for pass rushers.
Q: Is part of the problem staying in your gap or are you being overpowered?
A: It has been a lot of things. We have missed a few tackles in the Philly game. We missed some in the Dallas game. We have been out of our gaps some. The entire defense has to make sure it is doing its part. I am responsible for the [defensive] linemen. We have to make sure we are doing our part. Everyone can improve in that area and the pass rush opportunities are not going to be there unless we get that corrected.
Q: [Coach Coughlin] was saying if this team is going to get to the playoffs, it has to stop the run… That puts the pressure on you guys up front?
A: Yes, no doubt. We have to do our part and if we do that, then we are going to create more opportunities to get true rush opportunities.
Q: Are you seeing the old JPP or is it still, as [Defensive Coordinator] Perry [Fewell] would say, flashes of him?
A: I am seeing a solid JPP. To be honest, I am seeing someone that is in a better place now than he has ever been, even back in the year when he had the monster year of sacks. The guy is playing the run as well as anybody that I have been around. Then he is starting to have a better plan rushing the passer. For a lot of reasons, he has never been able to do that because of injuries and if you go back to when we had the lock-out. He had a full offseason to work at it this year. You see a different JPP on Wednesday and Thursday than you did before. If he stays healthy, I only see it improving. The guy had a great game last week. It gets hidden when you don't win, but he has been solid, especially against the run. I see him continuing to improve as a pass rusher. Now the last three weeks he has been going against the top three tackles in the league. We have moved him some, but last week he didn't want to move. He wanted to stay over there on the [right] side against Dallas. He did a good job. I saw him from the sideline and I wasn't going to fight with him. I said, 'You stay right there if you are comfortable and keep firing your gun,' and he was and he had a good game.
Q: What do you see from Damontré Moore this year?
A: Again, the last two games we have not created a lot of pass rush situations, so his numbers have been limited. Damontré needs to continue to improve and continue to stay focused on what we are doing on first and second down. He can do it. He is a lighter body, not ideal, but he can play it. He has to stay focused and continue to improve in that area and he will get more at-bats. He is going to get more opportunities on third down and so he just has to keep coming along and improve on first and second down. If he does that, then he is going to get those opportunities in pass rush situations.
Q: Is it tough for a player to break out of that mindset [of being solely a pass rusher] and realize the need to be an every-down player?
A: It is. Saying that, [Moore] knows where he has to improve. I see it at times. He has to be consistent and be focused on first and second down and knowing what we are doing. He has made improvement in that area. If he continues to do that, he is going to get more reps. Especially with Cullen [Jenkins] going down, he is going to have those opportunities with our pass rush and when he does, he has to produce. Your production is going to determine how much playing time you are going to get.
Q: Johnathan [Hankins] was a high draft pick, so I assume you expected big things… With what he has done this year, has it been a bit of a surprise?
A: Not really. You felt it at the end of last year. You saw him start to come along. You saw it in training camp with his pass rush showing up in one-on-ones continuing to push the pocket. Is it a surprise? Not too big of a surprise. He has shown that. I have been impressed with Johnathan as far as being a professional. What he did in the offseason – he went away and came back in here in great shape. He went home and finished some school up and you could tell he was focused when he came back in here. He is off to an outstanding start and I look for big things from Johnathan.
Q: Can you talk about the development of Jay Bromley?
A: He has shown steady improvement. Now he is going to get some opportunities with Cullen being down. He has shown the ability to rush the passer. He has to continue to improve on first and second down run and pass stuff. If he does that, he is going to be on the field more and more. He is going to have his opportunities now. When he gets in there, production is going to determine his playing time. He has shown the ability to rush the passer inside. It is kind of a numbers thing up to this point. Now his number is going to be dialed and he needs to answer it.
Q: When you lose someone like Cullen [Jenkins], how big is it?
A: The Philadelphia game he had an outstanding game. Of course, it gets hidden because we lost, but he was pushing the pocket. He was beating his guy as fast as he could beat him, but the ball was out. We didn't create a lot of true pass rush situations, but he was disruptive. He has been disruptive all year in the pass rush. It is a factor when you lose him, but next man up. You have to move on. Until he gets back, someone has to fill that role.
Q: Do you believe Markus [Kuhn] is all the way back to where he was prior to the knee injury?
A: Yes, no doubt. I didn't think he was as effective against the run last week as he has been. He has been very effective in the run game. He has to continue to improve his pass rush and try to get push in the pocket. He has been an outstanding asset for us as far as the run game.
Q: When [Kuhn] subs in it is typically later in the game… Is that trying to catch the offensive line at a weaker moment because suddenly there is a great athlete in front of them?
A: We have rotated him for different parts of the game. He has gone in key situations in the Philly game. He went in the week before that. He played well. He has played very well against the run. Markus has been strong in the run game. I didn't think he was as effective this week in the Dallas game, but other than that, he has been very effective in the run game.
Q: Against Philadelphia was the first time [Mathias Kiwanuka] didn't have a pressure for 22 straight games… How rare is that level of consistency at the defensive end position?
A: The last two games we have not created many pass rush situations, but if you ask Kiwi, he missed some opportunities. We have to produce. We have to produce in the passing game and there are no excuses. He has to improve in that area and we have to, as a whole, create those situations. We have not created many true pass rush situations in the last two weeks. I said earlier, a lot of it is because of LeSean McCoy and DeMarco Murray. We have to do our part in making sure we get the run contained, so we can create some pass rush situations. I do feel like we have a very good group that can rush the passer, but we have to create those situations.