Transcriptions from Thursday's media hour:
Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan
Q: Is T Chad Wheeler ready to step in there if he needs to?
A: Yeah. We've had a lot of guys working all year at all the positions, so you guys know I can't talk about who's playing, who's starting, anything like that. We'll have a group out there that'll be ready to compete and we'll be ready to go.
Q: Can you comment…
A: There's a bunch of them.
Q: Can you comment on how T Chad Wheeler has come along?
A: He's been a guy since he's been here – very athletic, has the feet that you like that you've seen all through training camp. We saw that in some of his preseason games and there's a, believe it or not, unlike most of the typical southern Californians, too cool, surfer-type, he's got a mean streak to him and you see that at times. He's progressing nicely. He's really had work at various positions to try to mix all those guys up around the offensive line both – not just on one side or the other, but even working some at guard. So, he's been progressing nicely.
Q: What can OL John Greco bring to the offensive line and do you believe he can learn the offense?
A: Well, he's a veteran and someone that has played a lot of football and so, from the standpoint of learning scheme and being able to learn what we do, I certainly think he can do that. Obviously, he's had some success over the years and he just got on board, so it's going to take him a while to get caught up, but he's working hard and he has had some versatility in the past that's been seen and so we're glad he's here with us now.
Q: How much of an issue has it been regarding all of the turnover on the offensive line and all of the different combinations?
A: Well, you know, there's obviously instances where you prefer to have those same five. That consistency. We talked a little bit a couple weeks ago about just the chemistry and what that really means in terms of the communication, in terms of the anticipation. But, I think it's a credit to those guys – the fact that we have had so many moving parts and yet you look at the consistency with which we've been running the football and doing some good things from that standpoint and whoever is called upon will be at their best and they'll be ready to go.
Q: What have you seen from RB Orleans Darkwa?
A: Yeah, Orleans is a tough competitor. He hits the hole hard. He's done a good job in recent weeks at breaking some of those arm tackles or some of those tackles where the defender is coming off a block or in the process of being blocked and instances in the past. You can look at games where – and not just our games, but throughout the league – where the ball carrier goes down or they stumble. He's been able to be very strong through the hole and he presses the hole well, so excited about the things he's been doing and hopefully he can keep it up for us.
Q: What are the chances of WR Sterling Shepard duplicating his play from last week?
A: You hit the nail on the head. Sterling had a monster game. I mean, and I say that just from the standpoint of you look at the production that he had. You look at the competitiveness that he showed, the catches he made. There's some things he did in the run game. Really responded well and it's just a young player, but someone that's called upon that's played some football quite a bit for us in the past and someone that can be a leader for us and is assuming that role. Has also done a great job with the other receivers. The other guys in the room and some of those new faces and he's a guy that I was particularly proud of. His attitude. His competitiveness through that game. Even when it wasn't looking great and there was disappointment as there has been throughout the year, obviously, he responded well and his attitude was attack, attack regardless of the situation and we're real pleased with that.
Q: Do you think the offensive line's play should have changed the narrative?
A: Well, I think the big thing that comes out obviously – people will talk about the turnover. The number of different guys who have been in there. Then early on, there was everybody getting on Ereck Flowers, yet the results are the results. There hasn't been a sack given up, I believe, since Detroit maybe. So, he's continued to improve and he's worked very hard. Really all the guys have just – when they've been called upon or whether they've been moved from one position to the other. I just can't say enough about that group. Just they're a gritty, competitive, you know, they don't to do anything pretty and fancy. It's just about just going after it and competing and like most offensive lineman – they really love when a running play is called. So, they've been in pretty good spirits lately with us trying to do that.
Q: As offensive coordinator, what would you say to people outside this building who say that this team would be better off without WR Odell Beckham Jr.?
A: Would it be better without Odell Beckham Jr.? I want to keep a straight face to that question, but Odell Beckham Jr. is a phenomenal talent. I mean, he's a playmaker. He's a guy that creates and can, as we've all seen, take those slants and take a five-yard catch for an 80-yard touchdown run. He's a guy that really does a lot from a defensive standpoint to dictate coverage and change the game plan. I think if we could continue to do some of the things we're trying to do in the run game and you have some of the development of an Evan Engram, Sterling Shepard continues to be the type of player he is and we're able to get some consistency running the football, I mean that would be just a huge addition. So, I couldn't disagree more with any notion that we're a better offense without him. That's – I wouldn't agree with it. I'll leave it at that.
Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo
Q: What did you think of cornerback Janoris Jenkins' effort last week against San Francisco?
A: Okay, Janoris and I talked, he obviously agreed he didn't have his best game and he realizes that. We had a good talk, really good. He wants to do that, he's ready to go, I love that guy. He's all in, he gives everything he's got. He missed a few tackles, it was more technique than anything, we thought when looking at it and I'm sure he'll be better this week.
Q: Do you think Jenkins gave the effort last week?
A: Yeah. When you're talking about a missed tackle, I mean, I think he was trying to make the tackle there. A guy stiff armed him, he didn't do a good job knocking down the stiff arm. We always talk about, if you get your feet in front of your hips, you've got no balance, you can't make that play. And the one that he missed on the edge, I thought that was part of it. I don't know what other plays you might be talking about, but I've got no problem with – I've got a problem with missing tackles, but I don't have a problem with his effort.
Q: Why sit down and talk with Jenkins if you didn't have a problem with his effort?
A: You're talking about the tackles and the plays and I'm talking about the overall, I think he can play better. And he believes he can play better, he knows he's got to play better. We need him to play better. It's the overall play when you look at it. He knows he needs to play better.
Q: After the past two games, do you still think that your defense is all in?
A: Yeah, I do. The three things I listed was I think we've got to be better at technique and we've got to have better eye discipline and then we've just got to get after it. That's when you play good defensive football. To me, it's that simple.
Q: Are you concerned about your linebackers with all of the injuries?
A: It's been hard and it seems like every time we get one back, we lose one, and especially when it's the person in the middle. We haven't really had the continuity of having the one person in front of the huddle talking to the guys every down, or most of the downs. Really, when you think about it, it's been B.J. [Goodson], it's been Keenan [Robinson], it's been Kelvin [Sheppard], it's been Curtis [Grant], it's been Calvin [Munson], all the K's and C's. But, that's hard and it's hard for our guys because it's easier to have one voice that they listen to all the time. But, we've got to grind through it, there's nothing we can do about injuries.
Q: Is it possible that the constant injuries at linebacker are why there have been miscommunication issues?
A: Little bit, yeah, little bit. It's like anything else, when things are rolling and it's the same people and you hear it the same way and guys are used to hearing that same voice, everything works. It all begins with communication. That does have something to do with it.
Q: How do you think Kelvin Sheppard played in his first game of the season last week and will he be healthy enough to play this week against Kansas City?
A: Really good. I don't know yet on the Kansas City thing, [Head Athletic Trainer] Ronnie [Barnes] will let us know. But, our guys feel really comfortable with Kelvin. I mean, he's a very smart football player, he steps right in. For not having played a lot of football, you run the risk that when you're out there, pushing on people that haven't done that in a while, of injury. Hopefully he's going to be okay, but when he's in front of the huddle, I bet you all the other guys will tell you, everybody feels real comfortable. He knows what he's doing, he does it fast. He's a confident football player, that's what you need in the middle.
Q: What concerns you about the Kansas City offense?
A: [Laughs] Everything. They're as multiple as multiple gets from an offensive standpoint. And they've got really good players doing it and they've had the same players doing it, which is an advantage for them. And the guy in the middle that gets the ball in his hands every down is really good. This is a challenge, a great challenge, great opportunity for us to come out. It'd be a great thing for us to do good against this offensive football team. I've always respected [Kansas City Head Coach] Andy [Reid] and what he's done. It's not the Philadelphia offense, there's more wrinkles to it, there's a lot more to it and they obviously do a really good job and [quarterback] Alex Smith is having a heck of a year.
Q: Do you have to make sure you help lift the defensive players' confidence as much as you can?
A: I think that's a part of any coach's job. Confidence by working with them during the week, getting them in the right calls. I always try to have the perfect call, it doesn't always work out that way. I always think when a play doesn't work, it's my fault, I didn't call the right thing, I know that's not always the case because the guys have to play. But, confidence will come when we get in a little bit of a groove, have things go real well and we can't let one play deflate us. We talked about that this week and sometimes that happens and that's where we as coaches have to get in there and say, 'Look, forget about it, move on to the next play.' I worked with a guy down in Philadelphia, a longtime D-line coach, Pete Jenkins, who always used to say, 'Don't let a good play or a bad play affect the next play.' And when you do that and you're thinking about the last play, it's not good football. So, I agree with what you're saying.
Q: Can you talk about the number of explosive plays given up the last two games?
A: Yeah, there's been a couple of things there. The one long one was a number of people, there was coverage and pressure, we should've been to him way before he had time to launch the ball up. That's what you do when you bring pressure, you want the quarterback to get it out quick. With the one at the end of the half, it was probably my fault, I probably should've put another substituted group in, taken it easy on 'JC' [linebacker Jonathan Casillas], those are the two that stick out the most. Run plays are all 11 guys and it's make a tackle, set an edge, all those things. The very first play of the game, six plays later was played perfectly and was tackled for a loss, so it was really technique more than anything on that, we talked about that this week.
Q: After saying the loss to Los Angeles two weeks ago was embarrassing, how would you describe last week's loss to San Francisco?
A: Yeah, they kind of add up. We've got a lot of pride. You can use the word, your pride is hurt, you can use embarrassed, you can use whatever you want. But I do know this and I say this every Wednesday: when we go in that meeting room and it's time to get ready for another game, all that's done. There's nothing we can do about that. All we can do is about what we've got going forward and all we've got is one game in front of us and that's what we're going to focus on right now.
Q: Have you seen pride on the defense?
A: I have. I know that we have prideful guys. Do we get discouraged in the course of the game? A little bit, yeah. Do we get a little bit frustrated? Yeah, and that's what we've got to filter out, I think, in the course of the game. And like I said, don't let a bad play or a good play affect the next play. If we do that, I think we'll play much better. Special Teams Coordinator Tom Quinn
Q: How concerned are you with K Aldrick Rosas, his slump and how it's affecting him mentally?
A: I think you're always concerned about their mental state and that's the biggest thing about succeeding in this league as a specialist is your mental toughness. So, it will be tested. He practices well. He's just got to convert that to the game. He kicked two good 40-yarders and then you can't miss from that short. You can't kick that ball off out of bounds.
Q: What have you seen in those misses? Is it consistent?
A: Tempo. Yeah. He's just got to go into a nice, smooth tempo and he's probably thinking too much. So, trying to take the head out best we can.
Q: That's easier said than done, I would think.
A: Sure is. Yeah.
Q: Is Tyreek Hill the most dangerous guy when it comes to special teams this week?
A: Yes. Yeah. I mean, he's the most dangerous. It's on tape. They do a great job blocking. They've got a great core. They're coached very well and he's got that speed that's just electric. So, you got to do the best you can to keep the ball out of his hands and then once he does get it in his hands, you've got to be in the right spots because he can hit you sideline, middle, big field. He's got it all.
Q: Is there anything specific you have to say to Aldrick to keep his confidence up?
A: No. I mean, he's a man. We keep working with him. We're very positive and he's had a good environment here with that, but he knows he's got to make kicks. I mean, it's the job of a kicker. So, he's just got to get it done. He needs to break through with it.
Q: Is this normal for a young kicker to go through something like this?
A: At some point, it is. To start the year, it's kind of hard. Usually, they start off hot and then they get into a lull in the middle or towards the end. He didn't have a PAT the first game and then he's made a couple, missed one, you know, so he's just got to get it to where he's hitting field goals. He'll break through it. I mean, he's got the talent. It's just a little bit between the ears right now, so he's just got to keep pushing through. Just to keep trusting the process and trusting his technique will be the biggest thing.
Quarterback Eli Manning
Q: How did Sterling Shepard get so wide open last week?
A: He just did a good job of getting open on a couple of plays. We moved him around, so it was a combination of a lot of things, but he did a good job of beating his one on one match-ups and made a couple of great catches down the field.
*Q: What were your takeaways from yesterday's meeting? *
A: Yeah, I thought the meeting was great and right to the point, knowing that we got to play better football.
Q: Was it a meeting that had to be had at this point in the season?
A: I think all meetings have to be had, so that's just part of football.
Q: Can you talk about Evan Engram's development and especially what you're seeing from him as a blocker?
A: I think Evan has done a good job of doing everything we've asked him to do. I think he takes the coaching very well, he wants to get better. He's hungry, eager to do whatever we ask him to do, so there's always room for improvement. Each and every game, he's learning a lot each week. I think he's done a good job of extending his knowledge of this offense. We've put him in a lot of different spots and moved him around a bunch and just understanding the timing of the offense. He's done a good job.
*Q: What is your role in helping the offensive line become acclimated to the offense with all of the different line combinations and bringing in a new guy in John Greco? *
A: Yeah, I mean I think a lot of it is practice. You want to practice the things you're going to do in the game so you don't throw any surprises at them on game day. Get a lot of reps at it and make sure for communication you're on the same page on how we're declaring things. Sometimes nowadays, you get linebackers with new numbers and different dime personnel and sometimes you got three safeties or three DB's in there. Who's a linebacker, who's a safety, how are we calling things? Just make sure everybody is on the same page.
*Q: What unique challenges does Kansas City present this week? *
A: Well, I think they've got good players. A good front seven, experience and good DB's. So I think they do a great job playing disciplined football on defense. They do a good job of getting turnovers, so we've got to make sure we control the ball, be smart with it and try to have some long drives, be patient.
Q: What's the mentality of the team right now?
A: Go win the next game. So same mindset as every week. We're hungry to get that win.
Q: Do you think everyone on the team is giving full effort?
A: Yeah, preparation has been good. Guys are flying around and we'll go out there and give good effort and go win the game.
*Q: What did you think of the team meeting yesterday? *
A: I thought it was good. I thought it was a good meeting.
*Q: How different was it from what you're used to? *
A: We've had those meetings. You have meetings where you watch the film, watch the tape and make corrections. So it didn't seem much different than any other meeting.
Q: How much do you think that meeting stressed accountability?
A: Yeah, I mean, I think everyone knows we've got to play better. So it's up to guys to give great effort on every play and finish and have a desire to go out there and do your job well.
DT Damon Harrison
Q: Has the mood changed for you guys at all?
A: What do you mean?
Q: In terms of the last couple weeks, losing some tough games and coming home to this game. Has the mindset changed?
A: Not at all. We know what we have to do. It's just a matter of going out there and executing the game plan on Sundays. We've been having some great weeks of practice and it hasn't translated to the stadiums yet on Sunday, so hopefully we get an opportunity to do that this week. But, the mindset is still the same, to go out and win. We just got to tweak a few things.
Q: Do you suspect that guys are too competitive in that they want to do more than what they're supposed to do and maybe that's what's leading to some of those issues?
A: Yeah. Most definitely. You see it a lot when you watch the film. Somebody who doesn't know exactly what's going on, they see it as a bad angle and it may be that way, but it may be a guy just trying to do more than he should be doing. You have that at times in a game. We just got to limit them. I stress a lot in the game trying to make plays and end up not with the result that we need, but we just got to trust that each other is doing what we're supposed to be doing.
Q: How do you rebuild that trust if it's been broken?
A: It hasn't been broken. We just have to do it. We just have to do it. We've had some mistakes and when you have that, you have guys that kind of lose trust in the other guy to do his job, but we just have to get back to believing he'll be where he said he's going to be.
Q: Who does Kareem Hunt remind you of as a running back?
A: It's easy to say Jamaal Charles because he has the same body type and similar build as him. But, like you said, he's explosive. I don't think his 40 time does it any justice. If he gets to the second and third level, I mean, the guy can move. Explosive off the first cut. He can get to the sideline in a hurry, so we just got to do a good job with limiting.
Q: Does the fact that their offensive linemen were basketball players make it more challenging to defend against?
A: No. I was a basketball player myself, so I don't think any of them could go at me one-on-one. That's just a credit to them and their athletic ability to have a big guy to be able to play basketball and play on the offensive line. I'd like to challenge a couple of them in a game of one-on-one.
Q: Do you think you would win?
A: Oh, most definitely. I don't think Kobe (Bryant) could beat me.
Q: Is that right?
A: No. Not at all.
Q: Kobe who?
A: Kobe Bryant. What do you mean? I'm on my LaVar Ball right now.
Q: McAdoo said that you guys had an honest…
A: I don't speak on in-house business, boss. I know some other people have, but that's just not me. Anything said in-house, I like to keep it in.
Q: Do you think the way that the team has assessed the last two weeks…
A: I don't speak on anything that's said in-house, boss. I'm sorry.
Q: When you look at Alex Smith, what's been the biggest difference about his play?
A: The deep ball. He's throwing the deep ball with some accuracy. Better than he has in the past and he's still athletic and mobile, so he's a dual threat and he has some great weapons on the outside as well as in the backfield and at every position. So, they've just done a great job of utilizing everybody.
Q: Is he very elusive to track in the pocket?
A: Yeah. He's one of those guys you have to stay on the up field shoulder.
Q: So, you're going to have to chase him around a little bit?
A: I'm going to let JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul) do that, man. I'm just going to be right there to try to clean up.
Q: Is he sneaky elusive?
A: No. It's not sneaky at all. I mean, he is what you see. The guy has great straight ahead speed and he also can move similar to maybe like an older Carson Wentz.
Safety Landon Collins
Q: What was your take on yesterday's team meeting?
A: I don't know, [Head Coach Ben McAdoo] was just trying to be honest with people and get people, just to push them a little bit more. That's what I took from it. Not really too much from a big time meeting or an aggressive meeting [standpoint], just trying to get people a good little push.
Q: Do you think that the meeting would have been helpful a few weeks ago?
A: I don't know, that's a good question.
Q: How do you think the defense is going to play this week?
A: We're going to come out strong, we usually do. We definitely take on every opportunity that we get when we step on the field and try to be the best team, the best defense that we can be. And come out strong. We're looking forward to it, we're looking forward to the challenge.
Q: How do you explain the defensive performances the past two weeks?
A: A lot of injuries, that's what I'll say. Injuries, and the not being on the same page with the guys that we've been playing with. So, that's about the biggest thing on that that I can give to you.
Q: Is there a simple answer on how to stop all of the recent explosive plays?
A: It's just eyes with that. It's just more of people being on the same page and that's what I mean by communication and being on the same page with guys we haven't been on the field with.
Q: How disappointing has the defensive performance been?
A: Very disappointing. We know the caliber of defense that we have, the caliber players that we have and the game changers that we have on defense. It messes with our head a little, but at the same time, we should be better than what we are, but we're just not being how we are and how we were last year.
Q: Could the defense play harder?
A: I don't know, I mean we play hard every down.
Q: How can the defense not be on the same page, when so many guys were here last year?
A: A lot of guys have been injured, so we've been playing with guys that have been, either here and there, linebackers that haven't played a lot of downs, guys are switching in and out from the front, just different guys all the time.
Q: What were some other players' reaction from yesterday's film review?
A: I don't know, I mean, I didn't ask other guys how they felt about the reaction from what was going on. We split up into our groups and we talked about it. I can only talk about what the safeties went through.
Q: Do you think the team meeting was a smart thing for Coach McAdoo to do, to motivate guys?
A: Yeah, of course. You try to get on top of guys, you try to push them as much as you can. You know the kind of guys you've got, all these guys up in here, it's tough. So, we can take criticism.
Q: Do you trust that cornerback Janoris Jenkins can put last week's game behind him and be better?
A: Yeah, Janoris is able to do that anytime, come out and play way better football. He knows what he can do, he knows what he wants to do and what he wants to be. So, definitely he'll come out and be better.
Q: Do you think that the criticism that Jenkins has received after last week's game bothers him?
A: No, you have to ask him that question. I doubt it bothers him, I know what kind of effort he puts out onto the field, what kind of caliber player he is and what he can do.
Q: Why do you think people are questioning Jenkins' effort from last week's game?
A: I couldn't tell you. I mean, the only one you could really question is the one he missed the tackle against [San Francisco tight end Garrett] Celek. The one with [San Francisco wide receiver Marquise] Goodwin, that's a deep ball. It's kind of hard from chasing from behind to try to catch somebody like that.
Q: How does giving up so many points the last two games mess with your head?
A: I'm not worried about the points, it's more about the yardage. We've been giving over 400 yards of total offense the past two, three weeks. And it bothers me because we don't do that, we haven't done that since last year and now, we're doing it again and we haven't done that since my rookie year. That bothers me a lot. I don't like to condone stuff like that.
Cornerback Janoris Jenkins
*Q: How can you describe your performance on Sunday? *
A: It's football. I played to the best of my ability. It wasn't a lack of effort, I just think it was lack of technique and just stay focused.
*Q: What was your conversation with coach (Steve) Spagnuolo like? *
A: It was a private conversation. It was nothing overboard. It was just being direct with each other. That was it.
Q: It was just a bad day at the office for you last week?
A: I mean I'm a DB. Every game is not going to be perfect. I know that, y'all know that. He came out, he took me deep. Nice caught ball. Just move on and keep playing football.
Q: Some of the missed tackles weren't due to a lack of effort?
A: No, I think it was lack of technique. Like when he broke the long one, I was really thinking try to strip the ball, but it turned out to be the other way around. And then the one where the running back stuck me out, I think my feet got caught up under me too much and I just reached with my left arm.
*Q: What do you say to the fans questioning your effort? *
A: They question one game? Question the other 36. Question the other 36 games. Out of one question the other 36 games.
*Q: So is that admitting that your effort wasn't as good as the other 36 games? *
A: It's going to be like that. Sometimes you aren't going to have the best game. Everybody knows that. One out of 36 games, I don't care what they say.
Q: What was it like to watch the film yesterday?
A: It was just like every other week. You come in, call out your mistakes, admit to them, fix them and just move forward.
Q: Were you supposed to have help on the deep 83-yarder?
A: Hey man, I got beat. I can't put it on nobody else. I got beat. I understand when I play good, things are going good on the other end. So I just put that on me.
*Q: Does it bother you when your effort gets questioned? *
A: Nah, man. Like I said, people don't know football, so they don't understand. They just go off of what they see. So I just go out there and play football every day.
*Q: What don't they understand? *
A: It's football. Things are going to happen. Things aren't going to be perfect.
Q: Are you extra motivated to show something this week?
A: No. I'm coming out to play my same game, baby. I've been here, what, a year and a half? I'm going to go out there and play like I've been for the past year and a half.
Q: Was it tough in that meeting watching the clips of some of these plays?
A: It's always tough, but as a pro, you got to own up to it. Got to man up to it, understand it. That's part of football, like I said, and just move forward.
*Q: If you could do that game over again, would you play it any differently? *
A: That's the crazy part about it. There ain't no ifs in people, baby. It happened, it's gone. I'm on to the next game.
*Q: Do you regret any of those plays? *
A: If I do, then they might happen this week, right? So no, I don't regret them. It happened. I can't take it back. In a game, that will happen. I'm not going to play great every game. Just move forward.
Q: Is it fair to say you weren't happy with last week so you're going to put more effort in this week?
A: Nobody is happy when you play that kind of football, but at the end of the day you got to understand it's football. Mistakes are made. They get paid, I got paid. It's going to happen, so it is what it is.
Q: Are you now even more motivated than usual?
A: Nah, I stay motivated. I'm self-motivated, baby. I'm self-motivated.
*Q: Coming off of the suspension, you had to know that these questions would be more intense. *
A: I mean it's going to be like that sometimes. Just got to keep moving forward.
*Q: Did you happen to know what was going on with Marquis Goodwin personally? *
A: No, I don't know that dude at all.
Q: His wife lost his child before the game.
A: Oh, I'm sorry for that. I'm sorry to hear that. I think I read about it after the game, but I didn't know too much.
Q: Do you think it's extra important to give it your all knowing this could be your coach's last season?
A: We're going to stick with him, man. Whatever decision they make, we're going to go out each and every day and week and just work and just prepare to stay focused.
*Q: Do you understand why people have been questioning your effort? *
A: Because they're critics. It's life. It's part of being an athlete.
*Q: Is the important part of being a cornerback forgetting the last play? *
A: You got to, real fast. DB, you're going to be out there on the island by yourself a lot. You're going to win some, you're going to lose some. You're going to win some. Hopefully you win more than you lose and just continue to play.