Head Coach Pat Shurmur
Q: While you're trying to win games along this stretch here, how much evaluating is going on as you look forward? I speak specifically about the quarterback, and as a follow up, I'm curious how you feel like Eli has been performing this last month or so?
A: Eli has been doing some really good things. I think we as a team, and I think it's fair to say about the quarterback too, we're real close and we've got to find a way to take these wins at the end. I think he's contributing in a really good way, so that's what I would say about Eli. In terms of evaluating, we evaluate everything moving forward, all positions and all position groups. That's nothing new, that starts back in the spring and follows through all the way through the season.
Q: Can I ask you about a play in the fourth quarter before (K Aldrick) Rosas kicked a 27-yd field goal? It was the play in which Eli attempted to hit Evan Engram and the pass fell incomplete. It was the one in which he spun around. In looking at that play, what did you see? That was the one where I think he had some pressure in his face, but it looked like he might have been able to connect with Engram?
A: Yeah, initially he wasn't able to get him the ball, he had a little bit of pressure and that obviously caused a delay in the throw. I thought Eli did an excellent job of getting the ball thrown away so that he didn't take a sack.
Q: What are you going to do with the injured guys this week in terms of, if they're clearly not able to go are you going to put anybody on IR and bring up somebody else?
A: We'll have to see where that goes. We've got guys that didn't play last week that might come back, and then we had a couple guys, Rhett Ellison and you saw Mario Edwards that left the game, so we'll have to see where they're at. But that right now is pretty fluid. I can't tell you exactly what's going to happen there, but just like every game, anybody that's injured is doing everything in their power to get back and play this week.
Q: Defensive players in the locker room after the game kept saying they need to learn to finish games. Is that just a mindset for the defense or is that schematically something you guys need to change?
A: No, I think that's a fair assessment for our team. You've got to go out and take these wins, nobody gives you anything. So when you get to the position like we were at the end of this game, it's safe to say we've been in a handful of these this season where we've won a couple and then we've let a couple get away from us. But nothing's given to you in this league, you've got to go take it, and so when you're close at the end, you've got to find a way to make enough plays at the end and take the victory. That's part of the mindset, certainly. In terms of the tactics, you always look at better ways to do things and better ways for the players to be in better position to win, but for the most part, it comes down to us coaching and playing in a way where go take them.
*Q: Will you close out the season here Sunday with Eli still as the starter? *
A: Yes, he is.
Q: Any chance Kyle (Lauletta) will be the number two and you'll work him into the game somewhere, or not a possibility?
A: We'll just have to see what the week brings.
*Q: You talked about 'we're close and have to find a way to take these wins'. Is that the process of a 3-13 team growing up, and you still need more players? *
A: I don't know about that. Like I said, I'd like to see all of our guys back next year because I think we've learned a lot of things together. A lot of new players, certainly, I think we're down to about 12 guys that were on the roster (last year) and there's a lot of new going on everywhere. I've got a staff of coaches that, there's only one guy on the staff that I ever worked with. So we're battling through it, and we're doing some things that put us in a position to win. We've won some games, but we haven't won enough, and so that's the growth that has to take place and for those of us that aren't very patient, it's a painful process until we get to that point where we're winning all of these games at the end – not just a few of them, but all of them. We all know that it comes down to a drive or two at the end or the critical plays at the end of a game. There's things that we're doing that are good enough, but right is right. We've got to do it throughout the game and we've got to win them.
Q: Some of the players keep on maintaining that the team is very close, super close, things like that. Obviously we've seen so many games are very close, but when you assess this, you know what it takes to win and lose consistently in the league. Do you think your team is very close here?
A: When you say very close, as a team? Or very close to winning? I don't understand the question.
Q: Very close to being a legitimate contender, a playoff team.
A: Yeah, I think we are and I think that's sort of where our conversation is going today is we are very close, but right is right -- you've got to win. And I think as we start building and as the players get better, as we improve, as we understand situations and how to play each situation better, then eventually this thing pushes over the top. So I would agree with their assessment.
*Q: Are you giving yourself a day off for Christmas with the family, or what? *
A: The players are off tomorrow, it's their normal day off. We worked with the players today and they're already gone so we compressed it a little bit. We got the medical information we needed, they all lifted, they all had a chance to watch the tape, so they'll be able to enjoy Christmas Eve and then a full day of Christmas tomorrow – except for the injured guys who will show up for treatment. But in terms of the coaches, we're going to work throughout the day today, and then the coaches will be off in the morning and then we'll come back tomorrow afternoon.
Q: Did Saquon come out of the game ok? He looked like he got a little banged up there late in the third quarter.
A: He's fine.
Q: Do you sense any frustration from him after two games in a row where he's probably not getting the rushing yardage that he's used to?
A: No, I didn't sense it. I thought he was into it, I saw the same Saquon that I always see. I've been made aware of his comments after the game that sort of reflects his mindset. So, no, I don't sense any frustration.
Q: How much of his last two games' rushing totals is not having Odell on the field to open up the field, so to speak?
A: I don't think that's the case. I feel like any time you don't have one of your better players on the field, it affects maybe how they do things, but I thought when we threw the ball the receivers that played got production. They actually played a little bit more two-shell then you might expect, and they moved the front on us which is really kind of contrary to that narrative. We've just got to do a better job doing what we do, and when Odell is healthy, we'll welcome him back.
Q: Contrary to which narrative?
A: That they were loading up on the run.