Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan
Q: How tough is it with the offensive line this week with so many different moving parts?
A: It's always a challenge. You'd love to have the continuity but I think based upon what happened last Monday night with some guys having to step in and make sure they're able to what they're supposed to do and know the assignments; just really pleased with that group being able to respond the way that they did. We're hoping that if different guys are called upon, they're able to perform as well against Chicago.
Q: Based on what you've seen from their linebackers and how they use them, what kind of a unique challenge do they pose?
A: If you're talking about the outside linebackers that become different defensive ends, obviously they're a very talented defensive front. That's not coach speak. You put the tape on and there aren't too many quarterbacks that are back there that either are not getting hit or they're having to reset and move in the pocket or they're getting sacked. Of course with Floyd, he's a young guy that's really coming into his groove. McPhee is a heck of a player, he's been on a pitch count, if you will, because of his injuries. Hicks, of course, is tremendous and young;
that's a great group. You asked about the outside guys, they become defensive ends when we go to our zebra package and so obviously we have to be aware of opportunities that we have and trying to make sure that if we want to push the ball down the field, we account for those guys, trying to help tackles when necessary and do various things because they definitely do present a challenge.
Q: You talked about how when Pugh got hurt and Jones came in, it was such a curve ball that you were looking forward to seeing Jones get a full week. Obviously he goes for a series. Same applies to what you saw from Marshall Newhouse?
A: Absolutely. Marshall is a veteran, he's been around, he knows this scheme. Very pleased with a guy just being able to step in and fill a role that was another one just like Brett Jones the week before. There wasn't a whole lot of preparation and planning in terms of having to be prepared to go to guard, but I think hats off to coach Solari, coach Wells, two guys that work with the offensive line in terms of working fundamentals. Trying to have those, whomever those individuals are that are going to be active, just having the versatility to try and crossover.
It's a challenge but we'll have to wait and see how it unfolds, but really pleased with how they responded and whoever is asked to step in there, we're confident that they'll be able to do good job for us.
Q: What did you see from Marshall Newhouse?
A: From Marshall, there's a versatility as a guy who'd been, for the most part, a tackle since he's been here at least. Just being able to go in and not miss a beat in terms of assignments. There's an athleticism that he has that translates well, particularly pulling in a gap scheme. I think when you look at someone that was pressed into service, that responded and that's expected all of our players at every position, has to be ready.
Q: How difficult is that for Newhouse to play guard and then he has to bounce to tight end and then come off the field and then come back in?
A: Yeah, that was a lot of hats. Again, that's a credit to him and to his preparation. To have the awareness of what was going on and when to report and so on and so forth. You see that from the tight end position inside, but, I think it speaks to what every week we talk about over and over again as coaches is how important it is to prepare and getting mental reps and understanding the big picture.
That all sounds good and then all of the sudden you get called upon, there's no hiding from the fact that those players who are prepared when they're called upon and those who aren't prepared. Fortunately for us, the guys that had opportunities Monday night did a good job for us.
Q: Do you think that you and coach McAdoo sent a positive message to the players by going for it on that 4th down and telling Eli Manning at the end of the 3rd quarter that you're in 4 down territory.
A: I'm not sure that from a message standpoint whether that was a part of the thought process. I think any time that you do that and you come out successful, man, that's great and it put us in a position to win the game. I think we felt very good about the process, about the plan that we had. I think it's one thing when you get any kind of situation when you're thinking about going for it.
Whether it's down close to the goal line and talking about points or midfield or whatever the case may be. When you feel really good about what the play calls are and how well they looked in practice and how well things are falling into place, I think it does make it a little bit easier. You look at how the unit should feel, certainly more confidence based upon that.
But I think also, as was touched upon earlier with a lot of the questions, to be able to run the ball the way we were able to run the ball, that's been a huge source of disappointment for all of us. And to be able to finish, get the first downs that we needed when they knew we had to run and we were able to do that, hopefully, it's something we can build upon.
Q: What do you think the biggest difference was on Monday running wise?
A: Hard to pinpoint exactly one. There's certainly some excellent individual efforts. I think Rashad Jennings did a tremendous job. I think there was some movement, some individual matchups up front where guys did a great job. There were times where we had a scheme which was just right for what they were doing. So really a combination of bunch of factors. Certainly came at a good time for us.
Q: Seemed like Rashad was more patient on some of his more successful runs. Was that something you stressed?
A: I don't think that was a point of emphasis or was a stress. I know he was very determined, very focused during the week. He had a little bit of an edge to him in a very positive way. He was really locked in and made the most of his opportunities and I think that was reflected in his performance.
Q: Do you find it confusing that you come out at the start of the game, eight plays, 80 yards, up and down the field and then it's not until the end of the first half when the offense got going again?
A: It was a great start; we've always talked about starting fast and there's no doubt about it. Everything was just flowing. You sit there and you wish you could bottle that and carry that for 60 minutes, that would be wonderful. But things change. Whether there's injuries that occur, whether it's just certain particular looks and schemes and things that they do on defense and so on and so forth. I think it does speak to the resilience of the group that you start off well and there's going to be an ebb and flow and you have to respond to setbacks and then try to find a way. Same way we've certainly had our fair share of bad starts and then having to fight through that. It was nice, wish we could start every game like that but then also sustain it.
Q: You've been around here when the offense has kind of been scuffling and just not in sync and then by the end of the season you've won championships. Do you see anything in this year's struggle that leads you to believe that you can go in the same direction?
A: Of course, every year is different, every team is different. I know you guys all heard that, and you're probably tired of hearing that. But it's true and the personalities and the scheme and so forth. But I think for us to be able to have a game where we had more success running the ball, had a little more of the balance because that's going to take pressure off the line.
It seems like every team that we play has a great defensive line and a great pass rusher, so compliments to the pass game to give us that type of balance and confidence and we closed out a game We're continuing to improve but there are so many areas that we need to improve in offensively. In all honesty, we're just so zeroed in on the process and how can we do better in all phases offensively that it's hard to get locked into thinking about big picture, just about how we won the game, we did some good things but there are so many other plays that we left on the field.
Q: How did Victor Cruz look out there today?
A: Victor played well. He was in the mix with things. We'll see where he's at. Again, I can't comment on what his status is going to be or where he's at but he was a full participant and we're excited to see how he's able to progress.
Q: When he wasn't out there on Monday, was there a different sense of what the offense looked like with him versus without him?
A: I think what that speaks to is a little what we talked about with the offensive line; other guys have to be prepared to step up and we have all hands on deck, whatever the cliché you want to use. But guys have to be ready and whether it's a Tavarres King who came up with a big catch for us there in the tight green zone before the fourth down play or Roger Lewis, different guys getting their opportunity. They just all have to be ready. It's something that is preached and it's good to see that it's coming to fruition. Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo
Q: What have you seen from the defensive line in terms of communication?
A: I watch the interaction when they're not in there for a rep. It goes offense then defense. The offense goes out there and I love the way our defensive guys are interacting. They're talking about football but they're having fun with it. That happened today. When you can have that and you're playing decent, that's a good thing. I would like to get more of that. We like to have a little bit of fun. It can't be all work.
Q: How much of an asset was it that you were able to move OV around on Monday night?
A: I think he's getting more and more comfortable with the hand. It allows us to do more things. Pat Graham and Z (Jeff Zgonina) have been doing a great job of that. They get over on the sideline, we make a decision in between series and we go with it. To have that kind of versatility, I think that helps.
Q: What did you think of him in the interior?
A: We're trying to get the right matchups. It'll depend on who they have out there and who we have. It isn't always easy to do but I think Pat and Z have done a nice job getting those guys coordinated on the sidelines so that when they go out for those downs they get it done.
Q: How'd it feel on Monday to finally get some results in sacks?
A: We made a conscious decision going into the game early that we were going to rely on our d-line having success. When you put number 18 out there, A.J. Green, we didn't want to be in a lot of single high or a lot of things that were going to leave someone hanging out there. We had to put it on the shoulders of the d-line and they came through. It was good to see and it was great the way they closed the game. We changed a little bit at the end of the game in the way we pressured more. I thought overall we did a nice job.
Q: Those back-to-back sacks you had on that final drive, that's a tough spot considering JPP has to come out. In that situation, was there any panic taking JPP off?
A: We had the package that we went with in that particular time in the game. The two-minute drill. I think it was a one-for-one. I believe what we did was put Snacks in to get a middle push. We had a big guy inside. Someone went out to replace JPP. It worked out fine. What we were looking for in that particular time was a middle push and we got it. We got it in a different call and then we got it with the four guys. I didn't feel that and I think the assistant coaches did a really great job getting guys in and out.
Q: Would it be fair to say that OV's hand is better now than it was weeks ago?
A: I know you keep asking about his hand and the right and left. Here's what I would say, you have to ask OV. I don't ask him everyday how his hand is. I don't do it. He got tired of that early on. I don't even have that conversation. I don't know how he's feeling. He's able to do more so that tells me that it must be feeling a little better.
Q: Are the new guys finally starting to click in the defense?
A: We've been a little bit healthier and a little bit more consistently healthier the last couple of weeks. Believe it or not, the guys getting hurt, being down and out, you struggle with that as much as anything. The continuity comes when you have the same people talking and the same people communicating with each other. I think in the last couple of weeks, we've had that. What is different from this team than say the '07 team is that Antonio Peirce was out there for all downs.
You only heard one voice. Now, Kelvin (Sheppard) and Keenan (Robinson) have done a nice job. That was a little bit of an up and down. I think it's smoothing out a little bit. We have a long way to go. You don't win anything after nine games. We have to keep doing this. There were enough mistakes that we made this past week that we have to clean up. But I think it feels more comfortable and thank God for that.
Q: Success in the red zone, what is it?
A: A little bit of everything. I think the character of the guys we have and the competitiveness of the guys we have out there make a huge difference. I see it in their eyes. They don't flinch when they get out there. I hope that's confidence in what we're doing but I think it really resonates because of the guys that we have. The quality of guys.
Q: How does losing Alshon Jeffery affect their offense?
A: We have a couple of guys here that were with Chicago and this is an interesting statement. When you have a Jeffery, as a quarterback, you tend to throw to him. When you don't have him, you tend to spread the ball. The statement that was made was that Jay Cutler is really good when he spreads the ball. I think we have to be careful. Just because an elite player isn't playing for them doesn't mean they're going to miss a beat. The beat might go up. I thought that was an interesting statement.
Q: Where does DRC stand?
A: He was dealing with a little bit of a back issue in the last game. He looks okay right now. All those guys are going to be in and out. We're not going to change that. We'll keep it fresh. Part of that is they have to play special teams, too. DRC does a little bit of that. I think it helps the whole team when we get a number of guys through. That's not going to change.
Q: Was JPP's last game his most visible of the season so far? It seemed like he was making plays all over?
A: Yeah. I noticed the one where he gets that long body up there and knocks the passes down. I think that people feel him. That's a good thing for us. When you have to worry about one guy, you can do some other things. I think he's steadily gotten more comfortable. We all realize, as you get further and further into the season, it gets really important. We want it to continue to be important.
Q: Odell called you a Super Bowl level defense. Would you agree with that?
A: We have a ways to go. To me, there's no such thing as perfection but we chase perfection. Our motto is 'we chase perfection and rely on relentless.' That's what you need to do. If you start thinking that way, that's when you go backwards, in my opinion. Let's talk about the next game, the next play. All the stuff you hear from coaches, that's what we're focused on. If you do that, the success will come.
Q: Eli Apple had a nice bounce-back game?
A: Yes, he did. Thanks for saying that. Anytime you're a corner out there pressing as much as we do, there's some unnoticed really good plays. There were some really good snaps in there where both him and Rabbit took away the wide outs. It was good to see.
Q: Is the deep-play potential that the Bears have the biggest concern?
A: Yeah. They're one of the top teams in the NFL in explosive plays. That running back is as good as I've seen all year. Jay Cutler is a good quarterback. Every offense we play, you're going to hear me say it's a scary offense. They're NFL players. They can do anything. We back off that much, we will have a problem. We're not going to do that. WR Victor Cruz
Q: How is the injury?
A: The injury is doing well. I practiced today and everything feels good. I was running around, making some plays, so everything is feeling good.
Q: Is Sunday looking good?
A: Absolutely. Sunday at one o'clock, I plan to be out there helping my team win.
Q: Sunday is a chance to win five straight. What does that mean to the Giants and what does that mean to you personally?
A: It is a big deal. Obviously for us, we want to continue this path that we are on and continue the execution level that we have been performing at and continue to take it one game at a time, but to get this fifth one would be pretty huge for us getting to where we want to go.
Q: You have been here in this locker room for a while. Is there something in the air this year?
A: You would like to think so, but you would like to just continue to not look outside and stay within this locker room and stay locked in with what we have here and take it from there. But we do feel like this team is a special team and we just want to make sure that we are doing what we need to do to continue that trend.
Q: You have seen teams develop into winning and championship teams. Do you kind of have the same feeling with this team?
A: A little bit. Obviously you see some of the same feeling and emotions from those teams, but you just want to take it one week at a time. You don't want to look too far ahead, but you just want to keep your goals intact and focus on each game as it comes.
Q: As a 30-year-old, do you have to remind your younger teammates that there are no gimmies?
A: (Laughs) I am reminded about a lot of things at 30. But absolutely, obviously being in this league the number of years that I have and seeing the best of the best and the worst of the worst, you have to remind everybody that you need to continue to keep it one week at a time and continue to keep your eye on the prize and not get comfortable or complacent with wherever we are in the season.
Q: JPP has talked about being proud about being on the field after what he went through. Did you ever lean on each other or did you ever speak with him on what he was going through?
A: Not necessarily. At least not while he was going through the meat of it, when he was going through that process, but I always understood it. JPP is a guy that I came into this game with, into this league with, and I understand him and I think he understands and we both do that this game isn't for granted, not to take it for granted because it can be taken from you in the blink of an eye.
So you just want to make sure that you are staying ahead of the curve and that you are appreciating every moment that you have out there on this field and in this locker room while you are part of this organization because you do not know what tomorrow has in store.
Q: Was it tough to miss Monday?
A: It was. It was. I mean, obviously you want to play Monday night and go out there with your team and help them win, but it was coach's decision and it probably worked out for the better in the long run.
Q: Do you think they were being a little extra cautious?
A: Yeah, I assume so and he had every right to do so and I respect his decision.
Q: If it was a playoff game, do you think you would have played?
A: I would have begged and pleaded a little bit more than what I did. But that is all hypothetical, but obviously if it was a playoff game, I would have tried to go a little bit more.
Q: What did you see from your guys? How did you try and help them?
A: Just by talking to them and making sure, first off, what they are seeing out there, trying to communicate that with them and telling them how to combat certain routes and certain coverages as the game wore on, but I feel like they did a great job of maintaining their composure when things might have been going up and down. For those guys, Shep and Roger, to be young guys and maintain their composure, it is not the easiest thing to do.
Q: What did you specifically say to Roger after his struggles?
A: Just told him to take a deep breath. You are going to have ups and downs in this league. I have been through it and it happens, so you just want to make sure that he takes his time, takes a deep breath and goes out there to perform.
Q: (Crowd of reporters turns to Shepard and Roger Lewis who are singing and dancing)
A: This is what goes on in case you were wondering.
Q: The young guys.
A: So today I had the high white socks on. I was doing my best Keith Van Horn impression. I was like, 'Shep, do you know who Keith Van Horn is.' He was like, 'Nope.' I am just like, 'Man, get away from me.'
Q: That is a fineable offense.
A: 1,000 percent.
Q: Shepard has a Ewing backpack, does he know who Ewing is?
A: I hope he knows who Ewing is. If he doesn't know who Ewing is, we have a whole different set of problems.
Q: You are lucky he knows who Victor Cruz is.
A: Yeah. It is a good thing I am still out here, out and about for him know who I am.
DE Jason Pierre-Paul
Q: How important is it to stay focused and look at this football team and say, 'Hey, I know the Bears are coming and they don't have a good record, but we still have to play football.'?
A: We have both been on that side of the stick, so we can't take them lightly. Coach McAdoo has been preaching that all week. We had a short game Monday night, had a quick turnaround, but we can't take them lightly. They are going to come in here and they are going to give us all that they have got. We are going to give them all that we have got, so it is going to be a tough, physical game. They are striving for a win, they are hungry for a win, things just don't turn out the way they planned, but they are going to come in here and we are going to give them all that we have got and they are going to give us all that they have got.
Q: A chance for the first time since 2010 to win five straight ball games. What do you think?
A: We are just trying to win games one by one. We don't care how we win them. Our goal here is to get to the playoffs. We have to take each game one by one and that is what we are doing.
Q: Jordan Howard is a rookie, but he has over 600 yards rushing. He is making a pretty big impact for them. What do you see when you look at him?
A: He is a good running back. Fast cuts, quick decision making in that backfield, downhill runner. He runs a lot on the outside. You have to be patient with him. We face some good running backs and we have seen some good running backs this year, so I don't think it is something that we can't handle. We are just playing our part and doing what we have to do – setting the edge and playing the run up the middle should take care of that.
Q: Is this defense starting to be like a Giants defense again? The way it was in the old days.
A: I think we have room for improvement. There is always room for improvement. I just think guys are getting it. We are all getting it. It is a one game winning streak basically. You win one game and it is on to the next one and that is what every guy out here is doing. We have that mentality and on defense we are just hunting. It is all 11 men to the ball, it could be one person on the other side. If they have a blue jersey or a white jersey, they will be running to the ball and that is what you will see on film.
Q: What does it mean taking Alshon Jeffery out of their offense for you guys?
A: It doesn't mean anything. We are all professional athletes and we know that each week you can probably go down, so the next person needs to be ready. So I am pretty sure that they have something in backup. You can't depend on one guy on the team, one guy does not make the team.
Q: Do you feel like this defense is starting to get it?
A: It isn't the system. I am just saying that we are starting to get each other chemistry wise. It is not the whole system. Coach Spags does a great job of calling the plays. It may not be the best play, but he calls the plays. Guys want to make them right and if we are not in the best position, he calls plays to make us right. But he is doing a great job and guys are getting it and guys are communicating with each other. That is the biggest part when it comes down to defense, it is getting the communication right and that is what guys are getting.
Q: Odell said that this is a championship defense. Do you agree with that?
A: I agree, but let's slow down for a minute. Like I said, our job this year is to just get in the playoffs, take it one game at a time and hopefully at the end of this run in the regular season we will be in the playoffs. That is the whole goal here.
Q: Cutler is not afraid to throw it long. That means that he may hold on to the ball longer. Are you aware of that?
A: Hopefully he holds the ball a little bit longer. Then he has me and OV to deal with and the two tackles, maybe, but if he does – I am pretty sure that Cutler is a smart quarterback and once he gets rolling, he is rolling. You can't let that fool you. I know that their record doesn't say it, but they are a good team. But we know what we have to do – get to the quarterback, play the run first, can't forget about the run because they have good running backs back there and that is all we are going to be doing. We are not too worried about Cutler. We have to be, but our job is to play the run first and get to the pass second. But as long as we keep playing good ball, we will be alright.
Q: It looked like the old JPP swatting those passes on Monday.
A: No, that is just me playing football. It is no old JPP, it is just me playing football. I know it is coming, so why not get your hands up. Most guys don't do that, but I would rather get a batted pass or something than not getting to the quarterback at all, or a tip or something. Anything can happen when the ball is in the air like that.
Q: Do you feel like you are close to what you were?
A: I am close to where I am. You look on film and I am all over the field, man. That is something that you can't coach. You have to have a heart and nobody can give me that. I guarantee you that if you pop in the film, you will see me running to the ball more than any player. I feel that as long as I can do that, I am good.
Q: You were a little shaken up at the end of the game. Are you all good physically?
A: I am going to be okay, man. I have been through worse. It is going to take a lot of injuries to hold me back. One or two I can deal with, it is nothing.
Q: What was it.
A: Nothing. (Laughs) There you go. For the 2016 season to 17 I am going to be on the field no matter what, so you will probably hear that JPP is not going to practice, but I will be out there on Sunday.
Q: In the past you have been very confident of this defense and now you are responding to Odell saying that this is a Super Bowl defense with, 'let's slow down for a minute.'
A: We are just not rushing it. I am not saying we should dial it back. It is just that we know what we have here, we don't need the hype. Odell sees it, we all see it. There is no need to speak about it. I think that one game at a time is the best way to go about the situation. I don't see Super Bowl and I don't see not getting to the playoffs. I see one game at a time and I think that will decide for us.
Q: Justin Tuck said that he reached out to you and talked about building chemistry with OV. How much have you taken that to heart?
A: Those guys I always talk to. Tuck knows that. I had a private conversation before the game, not before the game, but the day before and he told me a lot of things. It is good to see all those guys. Just seeing Tuck out there, it brings me chills a little bit because I used to play with that guy and he is retiring now. I remember in year seven, he used to be like, 'Man, my ankle is hurting.' Now I am in year seven and I am saying the same thing, so I know.
I used to be that young cat. Who knows how much time I got left to play this game called football, but at the same time he just told me to enjoy it and that is what I have been doing. Same thing goes for (Kiwanuka); he was out there on the sidelines. Just seeing those guys gives you the chills because you know that you have been through a Super Bowl with them and what it took that year to get there. So many memories, so it is basically play the game and let loose. That is basically what he said and chemistry, too.
Q: How proud are you that you have been on the field and are making an impact?
A: I think that when you play the New York Giants defense, you have to game plan against me and just knowing that guys are game planning against me, it is just a wonderful feeling because if they don't, bad things are going to happen. Bad things are going to happen, regardless, but it just makes me feel good and I always had that confidence of just playing football no matter what. Even with my hand injury, I still had that mentality. You could have taken the whole thing and I would have been out there with a nub just doing it. That is just the mentality that I have got, man. That is basically it. DE Olivier Vernon
Q: How much is your improved play in correlation with your health?
A: I'm just happy we're winning games. That's all I'm glad about. All I'm worried about, just winning games and getting to the postseason.
Q: Spags has given you some different opportunities inside. Is that something that you've ever done at this level and how much are you enjoying it?
A: Yeah, I've done it plenty of times back in Miami. Whatever coach tells you to do, you have to be able to fulfill what he wants you to do. We have a lot of guys on the team that can do that.
Q: Are you starting to smell playoffs a little bit?
A: Still taking it one game at a time, one week at a time. That's the goal.
Q: How good is it to see this defense closing out games like you have done?
A: We still have a lot of work to do. We still have to play more of a solid game. I think everyone feels that way on the defensive side of the ball. Just one game at a time.
Q: What is the mentality of your red zone defense?
A: It's just defending our territory, basically. You never want to have it fall on us where you give up points. We take a lot of pride in that, our defense as a whole. It's still something we have to work on. We gave up a touchdown this past game in the red zone. That's not up to our standards.
Q: Is this scheme for you personally more of a rugged, tough physical deal like it was in Miami?
A: I am not taking anything away from them in Miami. We had a good defense as well. It might not have shown it on the stats paper but we had a lot of guys out there that played their hearts out. It comes like that. Over here, we just played solid defense. Not give up the big plays.
Q: Since you've been here, what have you learned about JPP?
A: That's one hell of a teammate right there. Just as far as his preparation. He never complains about anything despite everything he's had to battle. He goes out there and makes plays. All you could do is respect that. He comes in the building and works hard. He works hard in practice each and every day.
Q: Do you feel like you two guys are providing what people envisioned?
A: Well, I don't know what they envisioned. I just know as far as being cohesive as a unit, everyone on the defensive line is just trying to feel each other out. Just play off each other and build that chemistry.
Q: Have you felt that chemistry grow?
A: I think so, most definitely. The whole defense as well. That's what you need to build good defenses. To build a good team you need that type of good chemistry. All the guys, they make it easy. I'm still a new guy in the building. As far as all the guys, they've welcomed us with open arms.
Q: Odell believes this is a Super Bowl defense. Do you agree with that?
A: I didn't know that. All we can do is prove it on Sunday's. That's all we can do.
Q: What did it mean to have the back-to-back sacks on Monday night?
A: Just making plays. I think a lot of guys on the team know that they can make plays. The opportunity presented itself. We were able to make a play.
Q: Is playing opposite JPP part of the reason you signed here?
A: That and Eli had a thing to do with that as well. I spoke with JPP before coming here. He had a lot to prove. I'm with that. I can be a help to him. Let's do it. It's great being in the building with guys like that. Not only just him, it's everyone else. Damon Harrison, he's trying to do what he has to do to make a name for himself. Prove his name worthy again. Rabbit, as well. Being able to be on the same defense with those guys, it's a blessing.