Quotes (12/20): Shula, Bettcher, Beckham, Thomas

WR Odell Beckham Jr.

Q: How are you feeling?

A: I’m definitely feeling better. Just kind of taking it day by day. That’s all you can really do at this point. I feel like initially when this happened I didn’t think much of it and it might have been a little more serious than I thought. Just trying to find my way back. You only get 16 opportunities to play games. Missing them is not fun. I feel like I’ve missed enough games already, so I’m just trying to get back as fast as possible.

Q: So everybody who asked are you shutting it down for the year, you have no intention of shutting it down –

A: Who asked that?

Q: Everybody.

A: I didn’t hear that. If I can play, I’m going to play. It’s just the bottom line. You dreamed of being here, you dedicated, gave everything to be here, so you do all this to play games. As much fun as meetings are and all that other stuff, like you do this to play games, so if I can play, I’m in (inaudible).

Q: You know your body pretty well. Can you be ready to play in 10 days?

A: That’s the goal. I want to be able to finish the season as much as possible, but you just got to listen to it. Your body is going to tell you what you need to hear and I feel like times in the past I haven’t listened to it and other things have happened so I’m just trying. Keeping it a day at a time. Not trying to look 10 days ahead. Just trying to look forward to tomorrow and seeing how much more I can do and how fast I can get back out there.

Q: Why would it be worth it to risk further injuries at this point with the team eliminated?

A: Like I said, you work to play these games and to be out there. These same guys, we get up everyday, we go to work, get out there and practice hard. You want to play with your brothers. I want to play with (Sterling) Shep, Saquon (Barkley), finish the season strong. Just don’t know at this point. Like I said, I’m just taking it a day at a time.

Q: So have they told you it could get worse? Is it something that you could aggravate or cause a bigger problem if you play through it or something?

A: There’s risks, but there’s risks to anything. It’s life, so like I said, just taking it a day at a time. There’s not much more I can do than do that and hopefully I feel better tomorrow and then the day after I feel better and day after and day after. I just keep feeling better, that’s the goal.

Q: Any more images taken of it since last week?

A: Yeah. I just don’t – I said what I said. I’m just trying to get better day by day. There’s not much – I’m not going to go into details about injury. That’s more a question for the medical staff. If y’all get a chance to ask Ronnie, holla at him.

Q: In some organizations, there is more give and take with the player or the coach, but here usually medical has the final say. If they put up a red light, you don’t get to play. Does that make it a little bit easier or different for you to swallow knowing that they only have the medical interests at heart and that you don’t have the chance to argue it?

A: I get the question, but I don’t at the same time. It’s like if I could play, I’m going to play. If they say I can go, I can go, but your body is going to tell you and also whether they put a red light up or a green light, if your body can’t go, you can’t go. Like, that’s just the bottom line. I’m working, you know. I got rehab as soon as I leave to go home. Just working on it, just trying to get it better.

Q: What would you gain from playing in a game this year?

A: Like I said, you get to play with your brothers. Like we started back in July and regardless of our record, I always believe in finishing strong. I don’t feel like I’ve got to finish strong being out the last two weeks, but this is why you do it. You play for these people next to you, so like I said, if I could play, I’m going to play.

Q: Are you encouraged by what you’ve seen from this team–

A: About the progress and everything – yeah. Definitely. Like I said, ever since I’ve been here, we lost close games. It’s not many games that we really got blown out or anything like that. We lost close games. Recently we found a way to win these close games, so definitely finding ways to win and kind of changing that culture and back into the winning culture of what the Giants do. That’s just it, keep working to get better, build this momentum up going into next year.

Q: No Pro Bowl, second alternate. How do you take that?

A: You just got to work harder. That’s all I could say. The guys who did make it, these are all very talented people who had incredible seasons, so you just got to tip your hat to them. They made it in and that’s just motivation. Just keep working, work harder to where you can be in that next year, but just got to tip your hat to those guys, really.

Offensive Coordinator Mike Shula

Q: What have you seen from (QB Kyle) Lauletta after his little demotion last week?

A: You mean in practice? He’s been the same, still working and trying to get better. Unfortunately we can’t give Kyle and (QB) Alex (Tanney) the reps we’d like to during the season, and it’s kind of been that way everywhere I’ve been. But in the drills and everything that we do individually, we do spend a lot of time with all three guys during the special teams part of practices where we’ll work on drills. I think they all have a better comfort level.   

Q: Were you curious to see how he reacted to last week being inactive?

A: Was I curious? No, because I’ve got a good feel for him, I knew how he was going to react -- like most guys do, everybody wants to play, everybody wants to be active and if they’re not, I’m sure they’re disappointed. Just kind of like Alex was, they’ve all got a good look in their eye, they all want to help us win and do whatever they can.

Q: What do you take away from last week? You had so many drops, sort of soiled things.

A: Yeah, didn’t have our best day, for sure, and that’s disappointing. All of us are disappointed, but we’ve got to move on and I think we’ve done a really good job of that. Ultimately, only time tells when you play on Sunday the next week. But, and I think I speak for everybody offensively, we feel like the arrow’s pointing up and last week we didn’t play well enough against a good football team, but we want to turn the page and go out there and compete, and have a chance to go win against a really good football team, one of the hottest teams in the league, and prove to ourselves that we are trending in the right direction, and that last week wasn’t good enough but we can make up for that, we can recover from that, and lay it on the line on Sunday.

Q: The one positive seemed to be that Evan Engram kind of looked like what we saw a lot last year, sort of his old self. What did you see in that regard?

A: Yeah, I think the whole thing with Evan is the consistency of being out on the field and practice. It’s been tough when he’s been limited because of some of the injuries, as it would be for most people. But yeah, it’s exciting – I think all of us would agree. When he gets the ball, it’s exciting because he’s so explosive, so hopefully we’ll have a chance to get him the ball and obviously not just get him the ball when, some of the times this year, it’s been when we’ve been behind. We need to utilize him and some of the other guys, because we have a good complement of guys with he and Shep (Sterling) and Saquon and Rhett, that all have their roles that we’re trying to get all the pieces to fit together at the right time, and that way we keep people off-balance.

Q: When Odell is not on the field, does Evan become more prevalent?

A: Yeah, it does. But again, we don’t want to force the ball to anybody. Whenever you lose a guy, a starter, other guys got to kind of make it up. But ultimately, it’s the quarterback, it’s Eli making the right decisions with the football and going to the right guy and getting the ball there on time and accurately. We feel like with guys like Evan and Shep and Saquon and these other guys that they can give us the weapons that we need where we’re not predictable trying to force the ball.  

Q: Have you been at all surprised based on what you’ve seen of Corey Coleman since he’s been here, and obviously if (Russell) Shepard and Odell can’t go, might he have a bigger role Sunday?

A:  Surprised? Yeah, I don’t like to use the word surprised because I try to not get surprised, but I know what you’re saying. He’s done a nice job and he’s gotten better every week, and he’s made some big plays for us. He’s got a calmness about him, just his personality – I think you guys have talked to him enough now. Even after a negative play, he’s been able to kind of bounce back and things like that, but he’s still learning. He obviously got here late, he’ll be another guy we can hopefully get the ball to.

*Q: Last week seemed like a bit of step back for the offensive line. Did that change anything about the way you felt after those four weeks where they seemed to be trending up and then a good defense pushes them around?    *

A: I wouldn’t just say the offensive line, and I hate to use the words ‘step back’, I just kind of think it was more of a hiccup against a good football team, and I wouldn’t just say the offensive line because there were really some times where there’s really good protection and some good things going on in the run game. I think collectively, and I think Coach (Shurmur) alluded to this, we have a couple things here or there that stand out that all the sudden get you off-schedule and now you can’t run the ball as much or as well maybe as you did earlier. But yeah, if we make a mistake – which, the perfect game is still out there – we just kind of want to limit those and just not make them glaring, whether or not it’s the offensive line, or quarterback, or whatever.    

Q: When (Colts) Darius Leonard says, ‘I’m miffed I didn’t make the Pro Bowl and I want to make 40 tackles this week’, can you use that against him in the sense of, we can suck him in on this play? Or is that just words?

A: It’s hard for me to answer that question because I really don’t read other players’ quotes. Our concern is just about us, and that’s how it has to be. We want to focus on each guy doing their job the best they can. We know they’ve got a good football team, we know he’s a good player, and he’s going to bring his best, but in general though, they are a very aggressive defense, fast flow, they’re playing at a high level, their backers get to the ball quickly and their D-line tries to disrupt, whether or not they’re slanting one way or the other, or getting up the field. It’s a good challenge for us.  

Q: No trash talk?

A: I don’t know how to do that. (Laughter)

Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher

Bettcher: Coming off a game where we really didn’t tackle as well as we need to tackle and you can talk about a lot of things in the game and maybe some particular plays, but just overall we have to tackle better. Something we knew going into the game, it was going to be important and that’s execution in the moment and we got to coach it better, we got to tackle better. There’s over 100 yards rushing in last week’s game after the missed tackles and if you take those plays into consideration and you just cut it in half, then you just really change the situations we’re able to put them in on defense and we’re able to force them into doing some things that maybe we wanted them to do and to use some other tools in our box. That being said about last week, the thing that’s great about this group of guys on defense is they’re tough, they’re resilient, they play hard, they work exceptionally hard, they run to things, they own their tape, they own their mistakes, they take great ownership in their jobs and you love working with guys like that because that’s the kind of guys that you build something that is, what I’ve said before, that stands the test of time that you can put a solid foundation on and you can build from there. These guys have had two really good days of practice this week, good meetings, they’re engaged, and they’re excited to go to Indianapolis and play. Really for us, defense, it’s like a playoff game. This is a team that’s playing to get into playoffs and we’re playing and it’ll be a playoff atmosphere for us. Hopefully we’ll be able to get two of those these next two weeks. We’re going to try to go to Indy and take care of this one.

Q: Off a performance like that in practice this week, do you go back to basics as far as tackling is concerned? Like do you re-teach some things to reinforce them or do you just say no, these guys are professionals, we show them on tape, it’ll come after that?

A: Some of the core beliefs we have on defense here, one of those core beliefs that the game is won based on playing fundamentals. Every day in individual – I should say every Wednesday in individual, we do specific tackling drills in each individual period and we do that whether we miss four tackles in a game or 20 tackles, that’s part of the process to build a good tackling team. You certainly show those plays and you teach off of tape, but you have to take the teaching from the tape onto the field and work the fundamentals it takes to correct those things.

Q: I think Andrew Luck’s only been sacked 16 times so far, which is the lowest in his career. Is there something that he’s doing with Frank Reich in terms of his mechanics or is it just a product of their improved offensive line?

A: I think it’s two things. I think their O-Line is improved from a year ago. We played them a year ago in Arizona and they have improved, and I think the other thing you see with Andrew is getting the ball out of his hand. Those first and second down throwing opportunities, the pass game matches that kind of philosophy where the ball’s going to come out quick, they’re going to find ways to get the ball to their guys in space and rely on yards after catch, as I would assume extra added rush yards, so to speak.

Q: If Alec (Ogletree) isn’t available on Sunday, I know you’ve been moving guys in and out at linebacker, but does it put more on B.J.’s (Goodson) plate as the guy who’s going to call the defense or you kind of put someone else in that spot?

A: It’ll be similar to what we saw earlier in the season when Alec missed a game. B.J. will be our core guy in there, but there’s going to be a collective group. There’s going to be a lot of guys getting the opportunity to get on the field and play if Tree doesn’t play.

Q: Since Frank Reich took over, are they more balanced than they were under the previous coach?

A: I don’t know if they’re more balanced. I think they have their philosophy and their scheme and the way they are attacking people in the passing game. Might be a little bit different, but I wouldn’t say they’re more or less balanced. I didn’t look at it that way.

Q: (Tae) Davis was a free agent linebacker coming here, didn’t have a lot of experience at the position. What was it that kind of caught your eye to give him a shot?

A: I think when you put his college tape on, you saw a guy that ran around and could tackle in space and such an important part of this league right now is how horizontal formations are and how open field tackling, how important it is to tackle in space and really to be able to match in coverage space whether you want to play zone defenses or man defenses. That is really a premium right now with kind of the way people put two tight ends on the field, but really spread you out, put one tight end on the field and make it look like four wides and I think that’s one of the things that really stuck out to me is this a guy that can run around a little bit and hit. He was a raw player and you have really seen each and every week with Tae is just a guy that as he’s learning to play the position, little things like being in a great stance on every play and you can stand behind, you can watch where his eyes are and how his eyes progress during a down as a linebackers eyes need to so he can play as fast as his foot speed is and those are the things he’s grown at.

Q: What is it about Josh Mauro that he’s really seemed to make a much bigger impact the second half of the season?

A: I think one thing is being out for a little while, like he was to begin the season, to be able to get back in and start playing, that really was a big part of those four weeks that he was gone and just snaps playing the game. I love Josh. I love how tough he is, I love how physical he is, I love how he loves to play the game and if you’re going to go somewhere and build something, he’s a guy that when I came here and found out he was going to be available, he’s someone you want with you building something. Whatever you’re building, whatever you’re doing in life, you want a guy like Josh Mauro with you.

Q: Are you guys heavy enough up front as far as – I know they’re young like (RJ) McIntosh, B.J. (Hill), but do you have the personnel to be able to kind of plug those holes and not get pushed out of gaps or are you just watching guys who are kind of learning on the job?

A: I hadn’t thought about it from the standpoint of heavy enough, but I will say this – I hear what you’re saying. I think with those guys is you see snaps where they’re playing really good football and as young players grow, consistency is like one of the key words that would come to all of our minds and as those guys grow, whether it’s RJ or whether it’s B.J., even Dalvin (Tomlinson) is still a young player in this league, and consistency is the word for those guys. The more snaps they play, the more we get to approach them, the more we get to push them, the more they improve themselves, the more tape they watch, all those things collective – it’s just a consistency of the game that will come for those guys. The second thing is just awareness that they’ll build formationally. What I’m going to get in this formation, what I’m going to get recognizing what’s coming before it comes. Just like you would talk to a safety at a different level, you talk to those guys about backfield sets, quarterback underneath center, splits of offensive linemen, three-point, two-point stance, heavy stance. Like all those things, they become kind of second nature the more snaps they play, which helps them play more consistent and better in certain spurts of the game.

Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey

Re: punter Riley Dixon’s rushing attempt last week

A: I guess you can call it fake. It was just one of those days. Everybody was struggling to catch the ball. You look at their guy (Titans P) Brett Kern, he had a couple of them that hit him right in the hands, hit him in the chest, but he caught them and got it off. It was just one of those days. It’s hard to catch the ball, that’s the thing we talked a little bit about before the game. A couple of guys that are receivers of the ball, we’re saying you got to catch it first on one of these wet, nasty days like that. It is what it is. It just worked out for the best.

Q: (P) Riley (Dixon) said when he looked up, he saw everyone had their back to him. Is it ever risky to give the punter the option to read that?

A: It’s very risky. They took a chance of doubling our gunners in the plus area, because we’ve been doing a good job of downing the ball inside the 10 (-yard line). So, they wanted to take those two guys out and didn’t bring a force-rusher. When I was at LSU, (former Giants P) Brad Wing had a really big play based on that. He just took off, and saw the defense. Same exact thing happened.

Q: Can you explain the play with (LB Ukeme) Eligwe where he downed the ball but it went through the end zone?

A: I wish I had an explanation for that (laughter). I’ve heard a couple different things. It worked out in our favor. I like to think he was going to stop before he went in. The ball squirted out of his hands. The good thing, we had a precedent Arizona versus Detroit a couple years ago where the guy possessed the ball, kind of did the same exact thing, the football moved – one, two possession, and it worked out.

Q: Who knew that? You? Shurmur?

A: We talked about it on the sideline. (Assistant Special Teams Coordinator Tom) Quinn was the first one to point it out. We went to talk to the official about it. They were like, “Yeah, we remember that,” and kind of went from there. It was good to have that knowledge on the sideline.  

Q: If the ball goes through the end zone, that’s not always a touchback?

A: Not always. We catch it, possess it, one, two, you got possession of the ball – I think it’s a football act. If you possess if before it goes in, then they blow it dead.

Q: But if he carried it in…

A: If he carried it in, it would’ve been a touchback, absolutely.

Q: Did you know what was going on during the delay of game penalties?

A: Yeah, a lot of times when you get down in that area, fourth-and-short, trying to draw them offside, and you’re trying to give yourself a little bit more room to down the ball inside the 10 (-yard line). We didn’t want to give them that opportunity, and they kept insisting that we do. It just slows deals. That’s the rules. If you do it twice, they call unsportsmanlike conduct, and move them back. You can’t decline that.

Q: Have you ever seen anything like that?

A: No, I haven’t. It was a smart play by them. Just trying to give themselves some room. They got probably a little bit more leg than they wanted. They created space for themselves.

Q: Can you actually literally not decline that penalty? Or, you just wouldn’t take it because it would be 15 yards?

A: You wouldn’t take it.

Q: In college, the way they line up for punts is so much different.

A: It’s the rules. In college, as soon as the ball is snapped, you can just take off and run. So, nobody has to wait until the ball is punted. The rules are set to where there’s no sense of moving backwards when you can go forward immediately. You don’t have as many returns in the college game, because when that ball is snapped, everybody just takes off.

Q: At what point in the season did you believe Aldrick Rosas had the chance to be a Pro Bowl kicker?

A: Probably midway through. When you look at him and what he was doing, he was super consistent. The misses that he had in practice, which is like small misses, and he was just consistent. You just saw the consistency every day, and then he was doing it in the games. His warmups, he was just super, super consistent. Once I saw that, kind of midway through, you knew he had the potential and he had a chance to just keep it rolling, and he’s done a great job, he really has.

Q: Does he look like a totally different kicker to you this year?

A: Yeah, he’s a lot more confident. You can tell from – last year, he was all over the place. Last year, he was a young guy. It was his first year in the league. That’s the one thing I talked about with you guys earlier this year – young guys are young guys. They make mistakes, they’re all over the place, they’re inconsistent. It’s just like how we all were when we were young. We made mistakes and we did things that weren’t good for us, but eventually, you learn from those mistakes, and you don’t become a repeat offender. Aldrick has done a really good job in his career early, and hopefully he can keep this thing moving.

Q: How much of it was the physical adjustments and the mechanics?

A: There’s some subtle things. There’s some tweaks, because last year, a lot of his misses last year weren’t bad misses. They were just kind of leaky, off to the right, or just leaky off to the left. It wasn’t horrible. When I came in last year and saw him, I just knew we needed to make a couple of tweaks, and he did that this year, and you’re seeing the results of them.

Q: How valuable has (S) Michael Thomas been to you all year?

A: Oh, Mike T. is huge. He’s big for the room. Not only does he bring the production on the field, the energy and the effort and the professionalism, it’s the leadership in the special teams room. He does an outstanding job of leading. There’s a reason why he has that “C” on his chest. He had done a really good job. He’s been great for us, and we look forward to having him.

Q: How much does his role change now if he’s asked to do more defensively? Does his workload on special teams change?

A: Definitely. Obviously, you can’t do a full load and play as much defense as he’s playing. So, we’ve taken him off a couple of things so he can get his wind. He knows where his bread is buttered. You have to fight him to get him off all of the stuff. We got him on a couple of teams. He’s excited about it. He’s always busting my chops about putting him back on certain things. He’s done a great job. He is a tremendous asset to our team.

Q: Who is the next man up for (CB) Antonio Hamilton?

A: It’ll be a bunch of different guys. It’s hard to replace Antonio. He’s done such a good job. He’s been so consistent for us. (CB) Tony Lippett will come up and do some things. Antonio’s spot, we’ll kind of mix and match different guys and try to use their skillset to maximize their performance. Lipp will be up, and we’ll move some guys around. Just move the chess pieces around. That’s what we do, juggle balls and see where we end up.

Q: What about (WR) Cody (Latimer)?

A: Cody will be back. He’ll be playing on offense, and again, that’s a part of the juggling act. We’ll move him around and put him in different spots where they can be effective and maximize their reps on game day.

S Michael Thomas

Q: Do you feel as if (Colts QB) Andrew Luck is back to the old Andrew Luck you were used to seeing for so many years?

A: Just from seeing him play this year, comparing it to when he first came in the league, college and all that stuff, it looks like he’s finally moving well again. It looks like the arm doesn’t hurt to throw. It looks like he’s back to that All Pro, Pro Bowl level, like one of the best quarterbacks in the league. I can tell, just because that’s my guy. I can tell he’s having fun again, he’s enjoying playing football. He’s one of the best quarterbacks in the game. So, I’m looking forward to this challenge.

Q: (Colts WR) T.Y. Hilton has over 1,000 yards, but he’s really their only deep threat and their big play guy. How does he keep doing it when everybody knows that he’s the go-to guy?

A: I think they have a lot of weapons on that team, but the fact that he’s just fast. You can’t coach that. It doesn’t matter if you game plan for it or not, he has a unique ability that you can’t coach. He’s using that to the best of his ability. He has a quarterback that can get him the ball, no matter if he’s got people covering him or not.

Q: Do you guys feel like there’s any extra pressure on you? Coach (James) Bettcher said last week, there was about 100 yards of rushing after missed tackles. Is there any extra pressure on the defense?

A: No, we just got to go out there and tackle, that’s it. Every single one of us, we watched that film, and we’re not proud of it. We played hard. Nobody felt like we were just giving up, like we were turning down. It wasn’t the result we wanted. We’re going to go out there and put our best effort out there. All of our names are on this tape. It’s going to be with us forever. So, we’re going to go out there and try to win this football game, that’s it.

Q: Why has (Colts TE Eric) Ebron has been so deadly in the red zone this year?

A: Big body, looks like his confidence level is at an all-time high, it’s definitely up. He’s playing with a quarterback that can get him the ball, can put it on him. He can use his body to box out guys. He is athletic. He can run good routes and stuff, crisp routes. It looks like he’s moving well. They got it rolling right now. It’s our job to stop him.

Q: Third-down conversions, they’re at 48%, leads the league. There’s got to be a secret to that, too.

A: Really no secrets. They got a great quarterback. He’s mobile, his arm is feeling well. He’s been hurt these past couple of years. Even when guys do strap their first read, second read, and third read, he can extend the play with using his legs. He’s a very athletic quarterback. Got some good weapons. It’s going to be our job to stop it. We’re just going to work our game plan that Bettch asks of us, (Secondary Coach Lou Anarumo) Coach Lou coaching us up. We’re going to do what we do.

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