Quarterbacks Coach Sean Ryan**
Q: Do you think that Eli's struggles were mostly because of pressure? Throwing off his back foot?
A: No. I think the early struggles that we talked about are, just like everybody else, everybody wants to find this overlying reason why it happens. It's the same thing we do. We're looking at what's causing this problem and how we can fix it and I think to pinpoint it in one thing is a mistake. Each play, and everybody's talking about the turnovers and the interceptions, it kind of is a play in itself. Was it created by pressure and his reaction to it? Some, yes. Created by a bad decision by him with the ball trying to do more than he should have with the play? Yes. A miscommunication or misunderstanding between two guys, did that happen? Yeah. I think you take each one of them individually and you try to coach that problem and fix that problem so it doesn't happen again. You can't blanket statement the problems like it was this problem overall because that's not the case. You attack each one of them individually, you fix the mistakes that happened there and you do everything you can to not repeat that mistake.
Q: It sounds like a surprising number of things for a guy that's been so good for so long. I would imagine he's never experienced that many things going wrong at once before.
A: I think what happens is you've got some guys in different positions, some guys doing different things, and that contributes to it. It was a combination at different times of breakdowns in different places. I don't want to make it sound like it was constant mistakes going on again and again because that's not the case, either. I thought each play was kind of unique to itself and something might happen, a play being made by the defense. Don't forget, these guys make plays, too, out there defensively that create issues for you. I think our reaction to it has improved as we've played longer together as an offensive unit. That's what's going on right now.
Q: I'm sure you're going to say how Eli's been professional through this, but after the Bears game he looked shaken. What have you seen behind the scenes that you would care to reveal? This has been very difficult for Eli, an 0-6 start and he's leading the league in interceptions.
A: Yeah, the one thing I would say to you is behind the scenes, what he's done in terms of his preparation, and to me this is the key and this is the way to get out of these problems and out of these phases when you're not getting done what you want to get done, what he's done is his preparation has stayed the same. I don't see the word 'shaken,' I wouldn't use that word. Frustrated – I would have used that word, that he was frustrated with the performance. He sets a higher standard for himself and for us. So does everybody in this building. So I would use the word 'frustrated' at that time, not 'shaken.' I would say that behind the scenes the one thing that has stayed consistent and hasn't changed is that this guy comes to work every day, his preparation doesn't change, he believes in his preparation and we believe in it. I think that will be the key and has been the key to turning the thing around. I think he's done that. He's stayed constant with that.
Q: When the pressure was breaking down on him early, some of the analysis was that he looked like he was feeling the pressure a lot and trying to throw the ball quicker than normal, maybe got a little happy feet in the pocket. Did you see any of that from him?
A: Like I said, I think that there were plays where he was trying to make plays, certainly at times under duress, and when you can't set your feet or you don't set your feet, it can lead to inaccurate or throws with not as much on them as you want. I don't think it was a consistent theme with him and I think he's also had plays where he will step up into pressure and step up in the pocket and handle those things. I didn't see it as a consistent, underlying reason for all of them. I didn't see that again and again.
Q: It seemed like the last two games there was a concerted effort to be cautious, careful, control the ball, less risk involved because the turnovers were killing you guys. Do you agree with that and moving forward is that the way this offense is going to have to be until it's proven that you can go to a different level?
A: I think we're running our offense. We always strive to be a balanced team, to not be a team that the defense can say, "Hey, these guys are going to.. This is a run team or a pass team." We're always doing that, we're trying to keep the defense off balance and have some balance in our offense to do that. I don't see that, we're running our offense.
Q: You don't see that he's been more cautious with the ball the last couple of weeks?
A: I think he's doing what he set out to do from the beginning. There's a ceiling to every play. There's a time to know that this play has reached it maximum, whether it was good or it was bad, that's that. His intentions, which are honorable always, of trying to extend the play or make a play are not always going to be beneficial. The one thing I would say about that is you've got to walk that fine line because the other day we had a third down at the plus-28 yard line and he extends the play by getting out of pressure and tries to dump the ball down to Peyton Hillis. He gets out of pressure, makes a play and because of that we stay in field goal range and we're able to kick a 46-yard field goal. We're not going to take that out of his game, that ability to play. I think the difference is he got out of pressure, saw that he had an open view, an open lane to throw a pass to Peyton that was not going to be dangerous, so he took that. I think it's very critical that he continues to take his shots when they're smart and when they won't get us into trouble.
Q: You don't have to worry about him, though. Sometimes with a younger quarterback you really have to dictate to them when it's smart and when it's not. With him, do you just sort of trust him?
A: I think, as always, you're coaching him and he wants to be coached. He wants to have opinions, 'Hey, in this situation, in this play, this is what we were looking for.' And sometimes you're commending him like in that play right there that I was talking about. That's a great job by him. And then there will be other examples where you will say, 'Hey, listen, right here, it might be a great job but he threw the ball away or that he took a sack.' So he's going to hear that on both sides. You don't ever just leave it alone. That's why we meet, that's why we discuss, that's why we analyze everything we do is to keep coaching, to keep reinforcing the positives and to help him get rid of the negatives.
Q: Do you think a lack of stability at the offensive line and running back affected Eli at all?
A: I think any time that you have a lot of different moving parts in an offense it's going to affect the flow of the offense. I don't know if it specifically affected him. I can tell you as a professional and as a competitor that I don't think Eli spends a lot of time thinking, 'Hey, I'm worried about this new guy.' He doesn't think about that. But I think, in general, every offense in America, at every level, if you're changing players, there is going to be a growth period. That's what it's going to be. I think in that way, yes, but I don't think it affects him, I don't think it affects his mindset. He prepares and gets himself ready to play like he does every week the same way.
Q: We don't get to see him much now but how is Ryan Nassib coming along?
A: I think what Ryan has done a good job of is he's taken advantage of what he can do. In other words, the mental aspect of it. In the quarterback room and on Fridays, I'll have him put together a tape of opponents' defenses in the red zone and kind of go through that. I think he's done a good job where he can kind of get his mental reps in, of studying film, of doing the things that he can to keep growing. I think just being in the room and going through the meeting and seeing our preparation and seeing the quarterback prepare has made him better. He's done a good job with that.
Q: Is he getting many reps or is Curtis Painter pretty much running the scout team?
A: Curtis does a good amount as the backup because that's where he gets his work, but Ryan will also work himself in. Curtis gets more than Ryan, obviously, as the two, but Ryan does get some reps.
Tight Ends Coach Michael Pope**
Re: performance of Brandon Myers thus far
A: Well, a good bit of that has been the pace of the defenses we've played, we've had to keep in the protection a little bit more. Our number one goal is always to protect the quarterback. We don't want him to be hit by a free rusher. If we've failed to block the guys that we have accounted for, that's one set of encyclopedias. We do a little bit more than they did at Oakland with keeping him in the protection, has been one of the things. The other thing is that our wide receivers have kind of been our nuts and bolts and that's where a good part of our passing game, the reads begin out there. His contributions have been significant though. He's really made some really good progress as a run blocker. They didn't ask him to do a great deal of that at Oakland. That's what this position in our offense has pretty much always been and often times the tight end production has come a little bit later in the game, it's come a little bit more on third down. Because of the trend around the league, there's so much more blitzing now than there ever has been. When that occurs, where do you get your blockers when you have three wide receivers in the game? You have a tight end and you have a back. If you don't involve those guys in the protection, then your quarterback is going to get hit. Sometimes he's a little later getting out, we call it reading his way out, after he accounts for a blitzer. The blitzer doesn't come, which they don't always, but it appears they do, then he's a little bit later getting out in the pattern. It's taken him some time to learn this offense since he just showed up here. I think we're the fifth offense he's had all the way back to college, because when Carson Palmer went out to Oakland, they kind of adapted what he had done in Cincinnati. It's taken him a little bit of time to unlearn offenses he's been in and we have a lot of option route running in our offense, and that's something that just takes a number of reps. He's worked at it and I think he made a couple of significant plays the other day. Had a big third down catch for us and a big first down catch that took the ball across the 50 yard line. He has been productive when we have been able to or selected to put the ball in his direction. He's been a very solid catcher, he hasn't dropped the ball and the chemistry that has to develop when you have an option type offense takes a while between the quarterback and that receiver. Hopefully he'll continue to make progress in that area and that is his long suit coming here, as a receiver, but he has been a very good fundamental blocker for us on the edge. I think their two outside players the other day, who were two of their best players, each of them had one assist and no main tackles. We're responsible on the edge for those kinds of players, so when you look at it from a statistical standpoint, he doesn't have the big pass game production, but when the players that these guys are responsible for are not active in the tackling aspect of the run game or the pass rush, then you have to say they're making some progress and you can feel positive about that.
Q: What about Adrien Robinson, can you expect him back anytime soon?
A: I don't know. The injury he has for a guy his size took a long time to heal, hopefully it has healed. He should be back at practice this week. He's in the bounds of about 280 pounds, so he certainly has the physical structure and as a young player who hasn't played a great deal, when players of this kind miss practice, you don't learn to pilot the space shuttle in a flight simulator. That's the thing he hasn't had the chance to do, actually get in the activity, in the game situations. It seems just when he's ready to make a move and we have plans to get him in the game, he's unfortunately been hit with an injury. Hopefully he'll contribute in the second half here, but being on the sideline has not replaced his game experience. That's what Donnell has had somewhat and Robinson has not.
Q: What does Larry Donnell bring to the room, Coach Coughlin has kind of talked about some of his intangibles before.
A: He's a huge target, he's a big, raw player. The play he made the other day was kind of indefinable, to run out of the back of the end zone when you're wide open. I'm sure when he came here from Grambling, they had the back line of end zones, so I don't think that's the first time he ever saw one. Just in the anxiety that comes from coming from a smaller program to this league, and being able to handle that and to produce, that only comes from playtime. As I said earlier, you can't manufacture that in a player. In some cases it has to be an experience where things don't always go well and you learn from those things. Hopefully it won't be a matter of learning by too much error and not enough trial. Hopefully that will never happen for him again. We do see the talent and he is a huge human being. He and Robinson both, you'd like to think you could get those guys on a 5'10, 5'11 defender down there in the green zone and just play some NBA basketball with them, because they'll have to foul them from getting the ball. We have had those in for Donnell and in certain cases we haven't had the chance to use them. The other day, we did and it would have been nice if he had a good experience the first time he had a chance to do that, because I'm sure that's not what he wants his memoirs to include, if he has some someday. Hopefully that won't happen again for him for the next several times, and after that will be positive. He is somebody that we could create a problem for the defense with. He would be somebody if he becomes productive in some of those roles, it would be very difficult for them to think they can put a smaller defensive back, for instance, out there and think they could climb up to his roof. I don't think they can.
Running Backs Coach Jerald Ingram**
Q: It seems like the running game is going back to the old-school smash-mouth type of football?
A: With the way things have turned out… and it starts with bringing Brandon back and then Andre Brown got hurt. That was the type of player that Brandon was. We wanted him to be that big, smash-mouth kind of guy and Ahmad Bradshaw to be that change up, but the little guy played like the big kind of guy, speed change up as well and quickness. When Brandon came back for the Chicago game it gave us an uplift in physicality as far as a team and how we were going to play as a team as well as the emergence of our fullback in that situation just trying to be more physical. Now Brandon gets hurt and we bring in another big back just like Brandon, a big physical type guy. And then David Wilson gets hurt and now Michael Cox has to be that guy as a rookie who really gives us that same kind of bang speed changeup kind of guy because Michael Cox has that acceleration and speed and Peyton Hillis has that bang that you're looking for because that's what we've been built on around here is physicality, so that's been good. The other thing that's been good about Peyton is he's a smart, bright guy. He's been able to help us out on third down and catches the ball real well out of the backfield and does a fairly decent job of protecting the quarterback.
Q: Do you feel that you still have a guy that could threaten the edge? Peyton and Brandon seem to be downhill runners.
A: They're the downhill type runners and those are the kind of runners they've always been and Michael Cox is that speed changeup kind of guy, who also has the same kind of speed that David has. He really does have good acceleration and he's learning as a young player as we grow and I have not been ashamed of him at all. He's getting better every day. He studies real hard. He's learning how to become a pro. I think we still have that one-two punch that we're looking for and we're just going to get better at. We've been blessed. When Brandon got hurt, we saw some things that we needed and now Peyton comes in here and gives us the same kind of thing, that downhill bang and Michael Cox giving us that speed changeup kind of guy.
Q: How has John Conner fit into the mix?
A: John Conner has been doing a fairly decent job for us. He's given us a good, physical uplift on hitting the linebackers and finishing things off. He, again, is also trying to learn the offense as well. We're blessed with those guys coming in here at this late of a date and trying to contribute to the team.
Q: Have you needed to simplify anything with all of the new guys here?
A: I think when Jerry (Reese) brought these guys in, from a standpoint of Peyton Hillis, he was at Tampa. There was some carryover in the schemes and concepts and plus he's a veteran player. Peyton is very conceptual, is very smart, but the terminology and diction is the same as far as what Mike Sullivan has been doing in Tampa. Some things have changed, but he picks things up very well. John Conner… you simplify some things because you're only in two-back in certain situations. His category of learning is very small from that standpoint and obviously we were in three-wides and ran two tight ends in other multiple groups. His group is very small, where the transition of what he's already learned and known. He just has to become more physical. That's all.
Q: How difficult has it been to fit all of these guys with all of the turmoil at the running back position?
A: What you do as a coaching staff is you try to find what they do best and what fits what we're trying to do and once you separate all of those different categories of plays and things like that, it works itself in. You look at the New Orleans Saints a few years ago and they played four running backs and it worked. Once you figure out what they do best and how it works with your quarterback, you can get it done and I think that's what we'll continue to do as these guys come back. They all have a role and there isn't a selfish guy in there. What's great about my room as far as running backs, we all have something to prove and you've got a bunch guys that are trying to prove that they exist in the NFL, they exist on this team, that they have worth to contribute and you couldn't ask for anything more than that; me as well. I tell them all the time, it starts with me. It's going to end with me and it's going to end with them. We're here to motivate this team and we all have something to prove.
Q: How do you see Andre Brown fitting in when he comes back?
A: Andre is definitely going to fit in. We had plans for him before he got hurt. He's very athletic. He catches the ball well out of the backfield and he runs the ball well and he's got good speed. He's that multipurpose back that can do a lot of things in first, second down and third down. Where the other two guys are big, strong, powerful downhill guys and Peyton Hillis is a good pass protector in situations and Eli has relied on him in some third down roles. I think the mixture will be good. I think this week, in thinking about how they're all going to blend together in certain situations, I'm excited about it.
Q: Do you think Andre will be able to come in and pick up a full workload?
A: Yes. I think he will. The hardest transition, just like for Peyton in that first game was, you haven't been hit for weeks. You've got to get back to getting used to getting hit again and hitting people and the physicality of the game and the speed of the game, but you don't ever forget the game after these amount of years. I think once he gets the first few hits in there, then I think he'll be okay.
Q: Are you concerned about the numbers game at running back and how it will play out?
A: No. I'm not concerned in any way. I think things will work out because at this date, who do we know is healthy? That's been the whole issue right now is who is healthy from week to week and we'll know when they get on the field and that's a decision that when it does come to that, they'll have to make that decision, but I think everybody in that room understands and me as well. That's all part of the game. We find the best players to get on the field to play and you go from there from week to week. We've shuffled this before in different groups. This year just happens to be the running backs.
Q: How do you approach David Wilson's situation? In your mind, is he out of the mix until someone tells you otherwise or are you having him in there just in case?
A: We'll always have him in there. We never forget our own. We have Henry (Hynoski). Henry is at every meeting. We don't miss our own and when he's blessed to come back and I'm blessed to have him back, we'll find another role for him to do. In my mind and how I have him in the room, I make sure he's attentive, he's learning and he's ready to go at any time. When they give the green light, let's go David. He trains every week just like he's playing and we'll go from there.
Q: How would you characterize his play before he got injured? How happy were you with his play?
A: I see David just as a young guy that the more he gets fed, the more he gets better, I think you look at his play and his big play ability; he might be more of a Reggie Bush kind of guy that the more you feed him and give him and he gets out there and he gets better and better as he plays the game on the field from that standpoint. He's just one of those guys that gets better as he plays. Playmakers are hard to find and the more he's out there, the better he'll get in his growth.
Q: Is it hard when guys get cut and there is a rotating door at the position? You're attached to some of these guys. It must be hard.
A: That's the one thing Tom has been very good about and it starts from the top. Tom treats everybody the same and he expects us coaches to be the same way. There is no favoritism. You coach everybody the same, like they're a starter. Ever since Michael Cox got here and everybody else, it's just you never know when you've got to step up and play because when the season goes on, we'll need you. You can't wait until all of sudden you're needed to be ready to play. A lot of that, you put on Coach Coughlin. He makes sure everybody is attentive. When your opportunities arise, you're accountable to your job and we need you.
Q: How has the season aged you in the sense of how many starters you have had so far?
A: I've never been through anything like this before in my position, but other positions have been through this before. I've never been through this position before, but I'm just blessed with the way things are and just making sure we have a tightknit group and they're all eager and hungry. They all want the ball in their hands. They all want to have a chance to win and contribute. We all coach each other. There's one thing I've always believed in a happy player is a great player and we have that unity in that room to help each other out. We're trying to create no doubt whoever has to get in that game we're behind them 100 percent.
Q: Andre Brown said he'd be ready for the Raiders game. Are you as confident?
A: I'm very confident. I think he's practiced well in the last few weeks. He's eager to get out there. He's a competitor and he's gone through an awful lot and he has a lot of pain in his heart and I think he'll be ready to go.
Wide Receivers Coach Kevin M. Gilbride
A: I don't think it's a lack of effort, I don't think it's a lack of desire, but it is inconsistent and needs to improve.
Q: It seems like everybody is contributing in some way. Was Randle hurt last week at all?
Q: Okay, because I didn't see him as much as Jernigan. But a young kid like him, did he take advantage of the extended time in the training camp? Randle.
A: What do you mean the extended time?
Q: Well Hakeem was not…
A: In the offseason he certainly took advantage and he showed tremendous growth in the offseason. Training camp Hakeem was back so it was back to the normal reps and things like that, but he had a good training camp as well.
Q: On the outside a lot of people talked about Louis Murphy being a deep threat. Is he just a victim of a numbers game?
A: I would say so. That sounds bad, but basically we try to get the best player for a particular role on the field, the guy that we feel can take advantage of the defense, whether it's schematically or physically. At certain points in the game we might keep someone in even if Louis was the guy that we would like to get in, maybe it's just a rhythm type thing where we leave the other receiver on the field. There's nothing that he's done negative to the point where we say, 'No, we can't play him at all.' He really has been more of a victim of a numbers game type of thing.
Q: Has he been itching to get out there?
A: Yes. Let me say this, too, when he has gotten out on the field he's done a good job in the limited reps that he's had.
Q: How would you assess Hakeem Nicks thus far?
A: I think that he's continuing to grow and get better as far as getting his body back into position. When you come off of an injury like that and you can't play full-speed for almost a year, when you get your body physically healed, which it is now, it still takes you a while to get your body back into those positions that you're used to getting yourself into. That's what he's improving on. He's continuing to get his body into those positions that he used to whether it's on an in cut, being able to dig and lean and rip out of it to create the separation, come back and stick his foot in the ground to come out of the break. He's improving in those areas. The plays have been there to be made and they haven't quite been made yet so that's where be continues to… but he's right there. It's very close to him hopefully erupting and helping our team and being able to make those huge plays. How would I assess him? I think he's getting himself back to where he needs to be but the opportunities have been there to make the plays and I think moving forward he's going to make them.
Q: Was there one play maybe where you saw, it looked like maybe the Eagles game he was pretty strong, was there one play you saw that made you feel like this was coming sooner rather than later?
A: No, not really. It's been a gradual continued process of improvement as far as getting himself to the point where he is now starting to make some of the plays but not all of them. And we need to him make all of them. Re: how dislocated finger Nicks suffered early in the season has affected him
A: That will affect you. Just physically, it will affect you. I don't think it affects him mentally in the least. He's a tough, competitive guy. But physically, it could affect you. That's just reality.
Q: Do you think that explains why we're seen him drop a couple of passes?
A: I don't have any idea if that's the reason for it or not. I think that it's still his process of getting his body back into those positions to make those plays. And again, he's right there. That might have been a play that would have gone off his hands this year that last year he wouldn't have been able to get his body into that position. Again, I think it's a growth process with him physically that he's now getting his body in these positions and he's very close to making some of these huge plays.
Q: Has Victor turned out to be Mr. Reliable?
A: He has been tremendous. He has been tremendous and I'm not just talking about the passing game. In the running game he is blocking his butt off and coming down and blocking safeties to the point where he never used to do these things last season for me although I would push him and push him and push him towards it. Now he's been very competitive and tough getting his nose dirty in there and its helped our team.
Q: Did he come in stronger? It looked like he was a little bit stronger.
A: He looked great coming in. When we saw him when he came in to sign last year he looked tremendous and then he came in and he was running great. Is he stronger? I don't know if he was stronger.
Q: What was your feeling when you saw him on crutches?
A: That's always a worry. But it's a worry when any of your guys goes down.
Q: Do you think that the slow start is frustrating Hakeem?
A: I think when a guy as competitive as he is isn't making the plays that he feels that he should be making that its frustrating. I don't think it's going to effect him moving on. In fact, I think it drives him to make sure he makes the play the next time.
Q: Do you have any sense that today, you know, there has been a lot of talk about Hakeem? Today is the trading deadline. Do you sense that in your room at all?
A: No, not at all. I haven't seen anything at all.
Offensive Line Coach Pat Flaherty**
Q: Tell me about Justin Pugh. We'll start from there.
A: You know, Justin's progressing along fairly well. In the last few weeks I've seen his technique and fundamentals become better. In the beginning, with learning the offense, one, and then learning the techniques that you need to protect in the pass protection, some things were very challenging to him because he was playing against some savvy veterans there in the beginning of the season but in the last couple of weeks he's settled down. The game is slowing down for him, I think it's still fast. When you're going into your ninth game it should slow down for you as a rookie but he's still a rookie so he's going to learn each and every game.
Q: How much of a challenge has this been? A different group most of the time and the two guys you were counting on to play 16 games are gone.
A: Well yeah. With Chris Snee and David Baas, I feel for those guys because they are two guys that worked extremely hard coming off the surgeries. Each and every day that we were here at work, they worked as hard as anyone with their rehabbing and also in the meeting room and studying the tape and getting ready, preparation to play. So, you know, you feel for those guys because, foremost, they are two guys that really helped the younger guys. And they continue to help even though they're on IR so that just says a lot about them.
Q: But the fact, I'm sure early in the season the sense that you guys couldn't get a lot accomplished, I'm sure was very difficult.
A: Well, it is. But, you know, it's a challenge. We've always approached it in our offensive linemen room that you have to get ready. The reason that you're on this team is this New York Giants organization signs you to a contract to play. There's no redshirt in the NFL so if you're going to be here, my job as a coach is to get them ready to play, no matter who we're playing at what time because you never know. We've all been in experiences where you have, even a few years ago, in a 12-hour span we had two linemen from a Saturday to a Sunday, we find out they can't play. So some guys that didn't get that many reps during that season or during that week and ended up starting against Green Bay. That's the expectations that we have and they have to do it. Now, do you have challenges with that? Sure because they haven't been executing your offense through that week but it's their job and it's my job to make sure they prepare.
Q: They guys you have in there now, you've had that group for a couple of weeks. Do you see their chemistry building?
A: You do. They're working better together. We have a guy like David Diehl at right guard and he hasn't played right guard in a while and then he's coming back off an injury. I see his technique getting better each and every week. And you say, "Well, he's a veteran and he should," but, you know, it's a different position and he missed all that time early in the season so he's just getting back into the swing of things himself. And then being able to play beside a rookie right tackle presents different challenges for him. Kevin Boothe has been a solid performer for us this year. He's a guy that has been in there each and every play. That helps a lot. Jim Cordle coming in there and filling in for David Baas with guys like David Diehl on one side and Kevin Boothe on the other. That's helped Jim. Jim has always been a guy that knows the offense, he works extremely hard on and off the field and he looks forward to an opportunity to play. Just like you guys were saying earlier, what do you do when a guy is not able to play. Well, Jim has always been one of those guys that would say, "Hey, I'll do anything. I'll be the backup long snapper. I'll go in there and I'll play center, I'll play guard." He runs on the field when a guy comes off. He's done that for two years now.
Q: Mosley and Brewer are kind of the next guys up now. What have you seen from their development this season and would they be ready to step in if they were called?
A: Well, they have to be ready to step in. A guy like James Brewer played 16 snaps for us against Philadelphia this past weekend and he played the big tight end for us. He has to continue to be able to fill that role and then if somebody comes out with a tweaked ankle or whatever, he's the next guy in and we expect him to be prepared and play guard or tackle, whatever position we need.