*Transcriptions from Thursday's practice *
Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo
Opening Statement: Just got done with a good practice. I'll open it up.
Q: How concerned are you about your defensive end situation?
A: Yeah. Well, we have to be concerned. I mean, our two top guys are ailing a little, but this is the NFL. Guys are going to get hurt, so we have to have other people step up.
Q: What have you seen from your other defensive ends so far?
A: We got them in there in these games because we were trying to take the plays off of OV (Olivier Vernon) and JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul). Some solid play. Some guys do need to play better. I think we all need to do that. Everybody needs to play better and coach better. But, whoever is in there has to get it done. They need to do a little bit better job. So, we'll see who ends up playing on Sunday.
Q: Would you use LB Devon Kennard at defensive end if you have to?
A: When you really say that, you're talking about like first and second down? He plays some of that in our sub-packages now. So, that wouldn't really change. When you ask that question, you're really talking about base defense. I don't know that – I think sometimes he does a pretty good job as the SAM in base defense and I really wouldn't want to weaken one spot to try and strengthen another. So, the guys that we have playing defensive end will be the guys that we play.
Q: Have you resigned to not having DE Jason Pierre-Paul and DE Olivier Vernon this week?
A: I don't like to do that on a Thursday. But, I would say this – we have to prepare if we don't have them. I'm hopeful that we get both or if not both, at least one.
Q: Is it possible DE Avery Moss could dress?
A: Yeah. I mean, that's a distinct possibility.
Q: How has DE Avery Moss performed on an increased workload?
A: You know what, I will say this – it must have been last week. There's a number of times during the meetings after practice that I will put things on that I see guys doing really good and it might be an individual drill. It might be – Ross Cockrell had a one-on-one where he got an interception. I saw the whole team there. In the past two weeks, Avery has showed up on those tapes. So, what I'm saying to you is he's done some things, he's progressed and I think he's gotten better as a football player. Now, he hasn't been in a game yet, regular season, so we'll see what happens, but I do think he has gotten better as a player.
Q: What does simplifying mean to you?
A: I feel you. To me, defensive football when it's simplified is simply running to the football and tackling. Running to the football and tackling. Now tackling takes a little bit of talent, but running to the football, being 11 getting there, being hungry and aggressive – that doesn't. That's just desire. So, to me, that would be the simplifying part.
Q: Is there anything you take out of your defense when you simplify?
A: We did a little bit, but we did that two weeks ago. We did do that two weeks ago. It's kind of been getting chopped down and, quite honestly, what we've been doing in the last four weeks is the same. There may be a wrinkle here or there, but I would venture to say 85% of what we do is the same every week. We just have to get better at doing it.
Q: Did we underestimate DE Johnathan Hankins value and ability?
A: It can't be one player. Hank's a good football player, but I mean, one player doesn't make or break a run defense. It's 11 guys, in my opinion. It begins up front. In our situation, it's four because we're a four-down front. Three linebackers behind or two depending on what we're in and it has to start there. Everybody else has to make plays on the back end. The ones that skew things a lot and it's always this way when you start looking at stats is the explosive plays and it only takes one or two explosive runs to all the sudden make the stats look as crappy as they look right now. There are still plenty of good run defensive plays, but in this league, you give up explosive plays, it ends up turning into points and we can't afford to be giving up points.
Q: How do you evaluate S Landon Collins' play so far since he set the bar so high last year?
A: Expectations were certainly higher. You should ask him. But, from my opinion because we talk about it, he's been solid. I think he and I both want him to bet better. I think he will be better. He works at it every day. He doesn't flinch in terms of passion and hunger and how he works at it. The one thing I do talk to him about is, don't press, let the game come to you. And, there might have been a little bit of that early.
Q: Can you explain the missed tackles and how they're almost an epidemic?
A: A little bit of a disease. I was very, very disappointed in our tackling this past game and it's been like that the last three. The guys know that I'm not a believer in block tackling when you try to get a guy on the ground by just blocking him. We believe in wrap tackling. You see us every day. It's called the tackle ring and it makes you wrap and that's the reason for it and when you don't go out there and do that, that's disappointing to me. The guys know I feel that way and they have responded greatly out here on the field. Now, we can't do that here because we don't tackle people. That's what's kind of a lost out in this game right now, but we have to find a way to make sure that we tackle better or the defense won't change.
Q: Talk more about the block tackling and missed tackles?
A: There were a number of guys. There were a number of guys that did it and they would tell you. They know, look it, they know. And, I have all the faith in the world they'll get it ironed out, squared away.
Q: Why did you let the guys run the film review?
A: It's just like I told them. I told them what I saw on film. I shared that with them, but I told them how I felt we could fix it and I was willing to do anything to fix it. The important thing wasn't what I saw or what I was willing to do. It was what they saw and what they were willing to do and the only way I knew whether we were on the same page or not was to let them run it and hear what they said. It was a great meeting and I think we got a lot out of it.
Q: What did you take from the film review meeting?
A: Exactly that. That I know that they see things exactly like I do, which is a good thing. It's a good thing. I took it as a positive.
Q: Have you ever let the guys run the film review before?
A: In different ways. In different ways. It's not a bad idea to change it up once in a while anyway. They get sick of me talking. I'd get sick of me talking. I mean, look it, that's human nature, right? The same person telling you over and over. So, I think sometimes it's good to change it up.
Q: How surprised are you with how honest the guys were after running the film review?
A: It was great. I wasn't that surprised because I know we have those kinds of men.
Q: Did you expect the honestly from the guys after the film review?
A: Yeah, because I believe in the men we have and the character they have and I think they're accountable guys. I hope it pays off. We don't know that. Still have to show up on Sunday and play.
Q: Is block tackling an effort thing?
A: No. It's not effort. Just a technique thing. In my opinion, it's just the technique.
Q: Can the problem be guys just trying to make big plays as opposed to just tackling?
A: That's a good point. That's a good point. And, I think there is a little bit of that and look, we allow them – allow is not a good word – but I can see it on the sideline if you knock a guy out. But, for the most part, running backs in this league, wide receivers in this league, if you don't wrap they're getting extra yards that leads to the leaky yardage and our guys understand that. I just wish we could do it for real in practice, but it doesn't make a lot of sense right now.
Q: What's your take on CB Eli Apple?
A: Eli has had some up and down plays. I say it all the time, there's plays in there that people probably don't notice that he does real well and he knows on the ones that they get a big play on, he has to play better. That's the life of a corner in the NFL, really.
DT Damon Harrison
Q: What did you see in the defensive players' review session and what do you think came out of it?
A: Who told you about that? It's just a good opportunity to see what other guys are thinking and being able to hold yourself accountable – to stand up and tell your teammates I messed up on this play or I could have done something better on this play. That means the world. It means you know that you're doing something wrong and you're going to try and correct it.
Q: Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo thought the positive was that you guys are seeing the same thing he sees.
A: Yeah. Nobody is crazy in that room. We all can see the mistakes. It's just different if somebody can actually tell you, 'Look, I know what I did wrong on this play.' So, it's better than having Spags go up there and say one thing.
Q: DE Jason Pierre-Paul said that he doesn't think other teams fear you guys. Does that bother you?
A: No. I mean, why should they? They've been able to run the ball with some consistency and until we stop the run, I don't think anybody will fear us.
Q: Do you think that was the case last year – teams not fearing you?
A: They tried to run the ball on us last year, too. We just did a good job of stopping it on first and second, which we're not doing now.
Q: Was Johnathan Hankins really that big of a loss since you have the same personnel as last year besides him?
A: I mean, of course. Anytime you lose a player like Hankins. But, it's not any one person. It's a collective group effort. I think guys are just thinking too much, myself included. We just have to get back to playing relentless football – flying around and making plays and having fun.
Q: Was it weird practicing without music today?
A: No. I don't pay attention to the music. I'm not much of a dancer anymore.
Q: Do you feel like this is the perfect opportunity for a win at home after losing three on the road?
A: I don't know what you're talking about, boss. We feel like we can win every game we're in. Winless or not.
Special Teams Coordinator Tom Quinn
*Q: When both your kicker and punter had bad kicks last week, are you more of a tactician or psychologist for them? *
A: You always have to be a little bit of both. [Punter] Brad [Wing's] – obviously that punt, it's something we addressed the week before, we addressed it again and now he's got to go out and he's got to do it in the game. He's had a very good week of practice, so we'll see. [Kicker] Aldrick [Rosas] just pushed his kick down there. So, we've been pleased with his progress.
Q: What kind of things do you say to Wing to get him back on track?
A: Well, you look at the fundamentals and we review that and then he's got to trust it. He's got to trust what he does and go out there and perform. So, that's kind of where we're at. Again, you've got to practice well and then you've got to go out and compete and you've got to have thick skin. So, he's mentally tough, he's got thick skin and so now he's got to step up and perform.
Q: Wing has a long resume to fall back on, right?
A: Yeah, I mean last year we had [successful] punts in the fourth quarter – against the Rams we put one 45 yards out of bounds, against Detroit, Dallas. So, he's done it before, it's a point of just getting him back on the horse and getting him some confidence going.
Q: How do you make sure Rosas keeps his confidence, when he doesn't have a resume to fall back on?
A: Kickers are going to miss them, they have to be able to bounce back. So, that's really the difference between guys in the NFL and the guys that aren't in the NFL. You can't let one kick pull you down, you've got to step back up and stay true to your form and nail the next one.
Q: How much does it help Wing to have a guy like former Giants punter Jeff Feagles constantly around the building?
A: I don't think Jeff's around that much with him. He's more doing media stuff like you guys. It's nice to have someone in the building that understands what you're going through, which Jeff does. So, that's where the big help comes.
Q: Is this a big week for Rosas, being the first chance for you to see how he bounces back from adversity?
A: I don't think necessarily. I mean, he missed one kick. His kickoffs were excellent, he did everything we wanted there, the other kicks he made. So, every kick's a big kick in this league because every game's so close. They come down to the fourth quarter, that's what we've been stressing. You've got to kick, punt late and you've got to perform.
Q: How do you think Rosas responded, mentally, in practice this week?
A: He's been good. Been good, yeah.
Q: When a team is 0-4, is there more pressure on the special teams units to make something happen?
A: I think there's pressure on everybody. But that's what you've got to watch about. You've got to just do your job and not try to do too much because that's when you get into problems. So, just focus in and do what we do, do what we can handle. It's been hard to get kickoff returns going because I think, 70, 60 percent of them are touchbacks. So you can't make an impact there with [wide receiver] Dwayne [Harris]. Sixty percent of the punts have been fair caught, so it's hard to make an impact there. So you hope as the weather starts to change and you can get some returnable balls that you do get a momentum-changing play. We've not been very good with that. We missed a couple last week, with the punt inside the five. That would've been a great way to kind of kick start, get some momentum for everyone. Gives the defense momentum, gives the team momentum, gives the punter momentum. So, we've got to make sure when we're in a position to make the plays that we're supposed to make, that we do.
DE Olivier Vernon
*Q: Do you have your potion there? *
A: Yeah. It's going to help me heal right.
Q: You've never missed a game in your career. How concerned are you about this week?
A: My main concern is just trying to get healthy. Be healthy and win a game, basically.
Q: How important is never missing a game to you?
A: I mean, honestly, football is football. Just a competitor. I don't want to miss a game and not be out there for my teammates and everything like that, but main thing is getting healthy so I can be out there longevity wise and help contribute.
Q: Did the last game bring the longevity concern up to you since you started but couldn't finish?
A: Yeah. I mean, those are the factors leading to it. It was a little slippery out there, but it's football. I'm just doing the best I can right now to get back right.
Q: Talk about the defensive players' film review and what you think came out of it.
A: Basically everybody just taking responsibility of their jobs, of basically what they need to do, what they need to do better. Basically, calling themselves out, self-critiquing themselves and basically owning up. Owning up to whatever mistakes that we all did out there and making it known.
Q: When looking at the film, did it show you something that you didn't see or was it everything you already knew and did it disappoint you?
A: It's disappointing when you lose four straight games. That's not what you ever want to do, but seeing the game film from the past several weeks is just something that we can fix and that's the part that just guys are seeing and it can be a little frustrating at times, but it's just being able to bounce back and play Giant football. So, that's basically what we're going to do.
Q: DE Jason Pierre-Paul said that he doesn't think teams fear you guys. Does that bother you to think about?
A: Honestly, I mean, how we played last year put a target on our back and you know other teams want to prove something against us and we like that and we want that to happen. We want to prove how good we are and that last year wasn't a fluke, but we just have to get our stuff together. Once we get our stuff together and focus on the team we have ahead of us, then we'll be alright.
Q: Do you feel like the defense has been pressing?
A: No. Honestly, I think when you start falling into that, that's when you're not making anything happen. I feel like if you just be calm, sound, then you're going to be alright. I think that's basically everybody in the locker room. We know we're going to be alright. We're just not playing good ball right now.
Q: Do you sense the defense might be a little tentative and not flying around as much as last year?
A: No. I wouldn't say that. Just some things, certain mistakes happen at the wrong time and it's not benefitting us at all. So, we just have to tighten up and get right.
Q: Have you played Philip Rivers before?
A: Yeah. I played him a few times in Miami and then, yeah, that's it.
Q: What challenges does Philip Rivers bring?
A: I mean, he's a premier quarterback. He's been doing it for a while. He can make big plays and he's going to get out there and he's going to lead his team and try to get a win and really, honestly, we just have to get pressure on him and get in his face and try to knock him off the spot. Can't let him get in a rhythm. Once he gets in a rhythm, that's something we don't want.
Q: Philip Rivers is thought of as being a stationary player, which is different than Jameis Winston and other quarterbacks.
A: Most definitely. So, you have to get back there. But, they haven't given up that many sacks, so it's on us to make that happen.
Defensive End Jason Pierre-Paul
Q: What happened to your shoulder?
A: A guy needs a break, a guy needs a break, you know what I'm saying? It's just a simple break. That's it. It's something that I'm taking lightly. A sprained shoulder, but it's okay.
Q: Were you playing well below 100 percent last week in Tampa? Was that something that happened during the game?
A: I guess during the game. Me personally, I don't think I played my best game in Tampa. What I put on film wasn't me. That will never happen again though.
Q: Did that have a lot to do with it or do you not think that's an excuse?
A: Nah, this has been battling with me a long time ago. For a long time. It ain't have nothing to do with it. I just know from my play, what I put on film in Tampa, it wasn't me.
Q: What do you think you have to do better from analyzing the film?
A: A whole lot, a whole lot. To be honest, I am not playing my best ball. We haven't won a game yet. So I got to step up big time and I'm pretty sure other guys are going to step up as well.
*Q: How do you explain all of the missed tackles? *
A: I can't really explain that, man. You got to tackle. We've practiced it in practice and I guess that's something that comes from within. I can't really tell a guy how to tackle. You're in the NFL, so you should be able to know how to tackle.
*Q: Do you inted to play on Sunday? *
A: Of course. I'll play on Sunday, man. That's no question.
Q: Spags (Steve Spagnuolo) told us that you guys had a player film review session. In your opinion, what good can come out of that?
A: I think a whole lot of good, man. We came in, we watched the tape, the coaches were in the room. A guy like me, I already know my mistakes. When I come in, I already know what mistakes I did and what needs to be corrected. So he just let the film run and all the guys were just talking. We were just looking at film and saying, "hey, I need to set the edge more, I need to make that tackle." That's why I'm back there, it shouldn't go through a second level. And guys know what they did wrong. I think at this point we just need to come out and execute and win a game.
Q: Do you think a lot of guys were disappointed and surprised when they saw the film?
A: I mean, honestly, that's a game we should have won. There's a lot of close games that we should have won, but they outplayed us. They outplayed us, they outcoached us. You can say what you want, it's on film. So we got to do a better job, starting with the players. We got to come together and be one. We've been preaching that all year starting through the OTA's and preseason. Somewhere, somehow it got lost, but we got to gain that confidence back and go out and play because we are still in this thing. Anything can happen, man.
*Q: Do you expect to practice Saturday? *
A: Yeah, definitely expect to practice on Saturday and be playing Sunday. It's not a secret. Everybody that knows me knows I'm going to play.
*Q: Do you have to wear a harness or something? *
A: I don't have to wear anything, no. That's what y'all been waiting for? That's all of the questions you got for me?
Q: To get the confidence back on defense, do you have to get a critical fourth quarter stop?
A: Me personally, I don't think other teams when they play the New York Giants, I don't think they fear us. What we put on film is what we put on film and the only way to change that is going out and winning the game. Obviously, we're both 0-4, but it is what it is. You just got to go out there and put what we need to put on film and starting this week.
Q: Does that fact that other teams don't seem to be scared by you guys anger you?
A: Not necessarily. Like I said, what you put on film is what you put on film. We've been putting bad tackling on film. Offense and defense and special teams. I think everybody is in the right frame of mind that we need to go out there and we are desperate for a win. Once we win that game, everything will start rolling around because when you're winning, you feel good. You feel good, you look good, you play good. That's just a part of winning. I just think those wins will come in bunches, they'll come in bunches. Right now, nobody is panicking in this locker room. We're still capable of winning games and going out and playing our best ball. That's what we're going to do Sunday and we're going to go out and play our best ball. Leave it all on the table. I'll be out there flying around.