Head Coach Pat Shurmur
Opening Statement: So Penny, Elijhaa, was out early with a back. It kind of took us out of some groupings when your fullback goes out, but we made do. Then Pio (Jon Halapio), they are looking at his Achilles. I don't have any information on that. End of a long year. I think you watched all our guys fought and battled. We had a couple of mistakes there in the second half that kind of let the score stretch out, but they continued to battle. I've talked about that all year. We're not a good enough team yet to win those close games, but someday we will be. I'm proud of those guys. I told the young players that by the way that the roster was structured this year, it was a gift. It was a gift to them to be able to, because they were our best players, to be able to play as much football as they did. At some point here in the middle of February, they'll be sitting on their couch and they're going to look back or shake their head and say, 'Holy cow, what happened?' Then they need to use it as motivation to have a great offseason and come back stronger than ever so that in these close games we can find a way to make enough plays to win them. I had no problem with the way they trained. All year long, you didn't get a chance to watch these guys practice. They practiced hard, they practiced intentionally. I had no problem with how hard they play. We've just got to find a way to make more plays and win more in the critical situations in games that are critical to winning. I think this group as we come together and add more pieces will be able to do that. With that, I'll take your questions.
*Q: Have you heard any assurances from ownership that you'll be the head coach next year to see these guys get better? *A: I haven't had those types of conversations. If and when I do, I'm not going to talk to you about it. At some point, what is said will be revealed. If I'm back, I'm looking forward to working with this young talent. If I'm not, whoever is coaching this team has got a great group of young players, the dead money goes away, there's going to be cap space, we've got picks. So, there's ways to improve the team. If I'm not here, that's what the new coach has to look forward to. If I am here, I can't wait to get back to work. That's about as honest and clear as I can make it. But, I will say this— I don't have anything planned to talk to ownership at this point. Typically, that's what you do when the season is over, and I will never share with you what those conversations reveal.
*Q: What would be your strongest defense on why you deserve to continue coaching this group? *A: That's, again, my conversation for ownership when we have those conversations. I think we've, we didn't win enough games, right? I own that. I don't make any excuses for that. But, I do know that there's things that happened this year where this team improved in a lot of ways. I feel like it's only going to get better. The structure of how we're built, we'll be able to improve now, quickly, and you saw a lot of young players out there playing hard that will only improve with time. So, that's where we're at.
*Q: Can you talk about the growth of Daniel Jones? *A: No question, certainly. I think in our tenure here, we took a quarterback in the second year, and he was able to play 12 games against really good competition and battle and do many, many good things; many good things that are only going to help him next year and beyond.
*Q: What's one thing you would work with on Daniel? What would be the top priority in the offseason? *A: Well, I think you work with everything. From his footwork…you know, the fundamentals of playing a position you work on every day. You just continue to do that. I think he'll be able to sit back and look at all of the plays that we called in situations and maybe think about where the ball might go or if it should go someplace quicker or if I should… all of the things that you look at. So, it's a big basket of things I would say.
*Q: You've mentioned often about the young players on the roster and things like that. Very often they are the best players you had. Given the youth of the team and the fact that this was a rebuilding situation, is it fair to just look at the wins and losses and say this is who stays and this is who goes? *A: Because of the wins and losses? Well, we're all part of this and we all own the fact that we didn't win enough games. I think we evaluate what this team looks like moving forward and make the changes necessary and move on. I think that's what any team does. We're one of the 20 teams that aren't in the playoffs. The goal is to next year to be one of the 12 so that you're in the position to compete for it all. There are 19 other teams, 19 other locker rooms, very similar to this. Might've won a couple more games than we did, but the reality of it is just like us, where this was their last game. That's where it's real. The evaluation of who goes and who stays, I don't know. We've got to figure that out. It sounds like by your questioning it might start with me. So, we'll figure that out as we go.
*Q: When John (Mara) spoke before the season, he talked about needing to see progress. What do you say to the progress you've made? *A: I'll talk about what that means when we have a chance to visit. That's what I'll say. I'm really not going to share anymore along those lines at this time publicly.
*Q: Would you say you're surprised that these questions about you being back next year are coming up at all? *A: No, not at all. This is a 'wins' business— I get it, I get it. We've been talking about this for, I think, about six weeks. You've been asking me the same questions for six weeks. So, I don't know if I'm getting good at answering them, but I'm answering them a lot. But, that's the reality of this business. When you don't win, that's the line of questioning. Listen, I get that, I get that.
*Q: Do you have a problem with the fact that you're the only one available to answer those questions? *A: Nope. Not at all. We're playing football now. The way this works is I visit with you five times a week. So, no, that's just the way this goes.
*Q: What did you say to your team after the game? They obviously know that the future is uncertain. *A: Again, I won't share… I'll share bits and pieces of it, but the general message aside from the fact that tomorrow we'll exit, they've done everything, they've tried to do everything right all year. So, let's do tomorrow right as well. Again, I will say this about these settings, including the locker room, there's a lot of faces in there that I don't recognize. Most of my messaging to the team is internal, so when we get back to the building, some of what I want to expound upon, I'll share with them then.
*Q: You've said that before, who are you referring to? *A: Have you ever been in there? You can barely move there are so many people with cameras and microphones and all that. I don't think, I think there should be a little bit of intimacy to a locker room after the game, and it's just not the case. So, if there's something that I really want to share with the team, I do it in private. That's why. They ought to invite you in sometime.
*Q: How much solace do you take from the fact that this group played hard for you—is that something that you can hang your hat on? *A: No, there are no moral victories for me. My thoughts were when we scored, Saquon had the long run, we scored and went 17-17, 'okay, how are we going to win this thing at this point?' That's where I'm at.
*Q: So, you would say that based on what I've heard you say right now, that you left the team better than you found it? *A: I think so, I do. These guys battled. We can talk about the dynamics of how the team was built and where it's going. We're building a team. A lot of dead money this year, a lot of cap space next year, and some prime picks where we can use the draft wisely and make decisions on making this team better with impact players. You need to have a quarterback, you need to be able to play defense, you need to run the ball. On defense, you need to have impact players that when they game is on the line can do things. We have some strung throughout this roster and we'll have a chance to go get more. I think that's exciting.
*Q: As the head coach, why don't you have control over who's in the locker room when you're talking to your team? *A: Because this is the NFL, that's all.
RB Saquon Barkley
*Q: How hard is the reality of 4-12? *A: It sucks. You don't want to be 4-12, but no matter if we were 4-12 or 8-8, at the end of the day, we're not going to the playoffs. That's your whole (goal) of a season. In the offseason, that's what you train for, to compete for a championship. It sucks but you have to let this stuff burn and fuel your fire, learn from it and hopefully it helps build us and helps build character for us to compete next year.
*Q: How much pride do you take in setting the Giant record with 1,000 yards in each of your first two seasons? *A: It doesn't mean anything. We're 5-11 and 4-12, that's the only thing that matters.
*Q: What went well on the 68-yard touchdown play, why did that play work? *A: We were talking about it on the sideline, me and the running backs and all the coaches. You could see they were selling out early to stop the run. They kept diving inside, I felt that, we all felt that. We were able to seal the edge, block it up and get the seam. I just had to do my job, make someone miss and try to take it to the crib. We were able to do that.
*Q: How tough was their defensive front to run against?
*A: They are always tough. I love going against those guys. It's always fun. We are always talking crap to each other out of love and out of respect. They are a hell of a team. Like I said, it's always fun going against those guys, they are a tough match up.
*Q: How would you sum up your season? *A: Disappointing.
*Q: What was the thing that bothered you the most? *A: We didn't make the playoffs. I'm not trying to be rude or short but that's just what it is. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter if you are 4-12, there are 20 teams not making playoffs. Those 20 teams all failed their mission and then there is only going to be one team to win the Super Bowl, so those other 31 teams all failed the mission.
*Q: When things like this happen, there are consequences, like people losing their jobs. What are your thoughts on what this could mean for the coaching staff? *A: You asked me this question already. I believe in the coaching staff. Obviously, it's a results-based sport and business, but you can't point the finger at one person. There are a lot of things in this game that I could have done better or this person or that person could have done better. At the end of the day, it's a team sport, we all have to find ways to win games. At the end of the day, whatever decision does happen, that's above me, I don't get paid for that. My mindset is to come in here every single day and try to get better.
*Q: How did the touchdown run feel? *A: It felt good. It felt good because at the time we needed a big play and we were able to make that play. I begged for it on the sideline. The offensive line did a great job blocking it up and springing me to the second level. I was able to use my speed to get into the endzone.
*Q: It seems like this team has played off of each other. The offense plays off the defense's success, the defense plays off the offense's success. How much does that speak to how close this group has been throughout this season? *A: I would disagree, I would say that's the problem. We have to be better next year, or whenever football starts again for us. We have to play complementary football, that's what we haven't been doing this year. Going to what you were saying, with the energy and how we are as a team and the friendships we have are amazing. We all respect one another, we all hang out outside of football, we have that mindset. Complementary football is something we haven't been doing this year. Special teams is playing here, offense is playing here, defense is playing here and vice versa, vice versa, vice versa. When you look at the teams that are in the playoffs or going to be competing for the playoffs, I would say they do that really well. That's what we didn't do, in my opinion, well all season.
*Q: How frustrating is to have the season end like this? *A: Definitely frustrating. It doesn't matter how it ended, doesn't matter if we lost or we won, I was going to sit here and tell you the same thing. Yes, it would have felt better to get a win and finish the season off strong. That was the mindset, that was the goal. At the end of the day, we're not going to the playoffs. No matter what, there was nothing we could have done to change that. The only thing we were able to do is finish the season off strong and spoil someone else's playoffs and we weren't able to do that. No matter what, I don't care if we were 9-7, I don't care if we were 1-15, we didn't make the playoffs. At the end of the day, it's going to be a frustrating and disappointing season.
*Q: What did you see in the growth of Daniel Jones? *A: He is a heck of a player. He is going to be one of the best quarterbacks in the league, that's a fact, I know that for sure. Not because of his talent, he is very talented. Put his talent aside, his worth ethic. The way he comes to work, he is one of the first people in and one of the last people to leave. You can see how passionate he is and he actually cares about this sport. He's rare, he's very rare. He is going to be very special. For all the ones that doubted him or didn't think he was the right draft pick, it doesn't even matter because he doesn't have to prove that to you guys. You guys will see that, I think you saw flashes this year. As time comes, you will see more of that.
*Q: Did you get to talk to Eli at all? *A: I'm going to see him tomorrow, I will talk to him tomorrow. I was able to get one of his jerseys, I gave him my last jersey of the season this year. I have always been a big fan of Eli, much respect. He helped me, not only as a player but as a person. Helped develop my game to another level. Seeing the field differently and just how he comes to work through the ups and downs, you respect that. Not only as a player and a person but as a man. I'm really thankful to have Eli in my life. I'm going to see him tomorrow, we are friends, I have his number. I'm pretty sure we will talk in the offseason.
*Q: Do you think this team is building something? If so, will that building be interrupted if there is a new coaching regime? *A: That is a great question. Yes, I do think we have something here. I don't think, I know. We have something special here. We just have to continue to stick to the process and believe in it. With the coaching staff, I already said what I had to say. I believe in those guys, I respect those guys. They helped turn me into a better player. That decision is above me. Just have to continue to come to work every day, that's all we can do as players.
*Q: Have you talked to guys in league that have had coaching changes? *A: Nope. That's not our focus. Our focus is not whether we are getting a new coach or not. You heard me say it, you heard DJ (Daniel Jones) say it, everybody that has talked has said we believe in the coaching staff here.
QB Daniel Jones
*Q: What's your main takeaway from this season? First-year starter, ups and downs. What's your big picture takeaway? *A: Overall, personally, as a team, just being more consistent to win in this league. I'm still very young and I'm still learning, but to win in this league, you need to be able to produce every game. You need to be able to produce every quarter, really every time you get the ball, you need to expect to produce. As a team, we made plays throughout the year at times and did some good things, but we didn't do enough of it at key points of the game, and I think that goes for me as well. Just being more consistent and executing more consistently.
*Q: In college, you were part of a veteran group, and then you were also part of a younger group. Looking at this team here, it's a young group that's trying to figure out ways to win. How did you find that balance? Or how do guys find that balance, where you have a young group, you're trying to build, you're also trying to win. Is that tough to do at this level?
*A: We certainly can't use being young or being inexperienced as an excuse. When you look at the league, there are plenty of young teams who are winning, who are finding ways to win. We need to do that. We'll continue to improve with every game. Like you said, myself, the younger guys who played a lot this year will benefit from that and hopefully improve going forward. That's the challenge, is to make sure we do that. But at the same time, we can't use that as an excuse or use that to look over a lot of the mistakes that were made. We need to correct those, work on those and make sure they don't happen again.
*Q: Can you take us through what happened on that play with two fumbles, the low snap and… *A: Just dropped the snap and then, yeah, fumbled. Costly mistake at a key point of the game.
*Q: Everyone harps on fumbles. Do you think that's one of the biggest things that needs to go better for you as you move forward into your second season? *A: Yeah, I think so. That's certainly clear to me that it's something I need to work on and improve. Holding onto the ball, making good decisions when I am throwing the ball, all of that stuff is key to our success and something I need to improve on.
*Q: What do you think you proved to people this first season, especially the people who might have doubted you, six overall, all of that? *A: I don't know. Not sure I've thought about that a whole lot. I think it's just as a team, we weren't able to prove much. As a team, like I said, we flashed at times but we weren't consistent enough, and I think I'm certainly included in that.
*Q: How much do you feel you progressed from Week One, well your first start, to where you are standing today? *A: I feel like I've learned a lot. I feel like I've progressed a lot and improved a lot in a lot of ways. But at the same time, there are things to work on, things to continue to improve on, and I understand that. But looking back to Week One, or I guess it was Week Three, I feel like I've come a long way.
*Q: How valuable was it to have Eli (Manning) as your support, your backup, whatever you want to call it? *A: Yeah, Eli was huge for my growth, my development. Obviously, he's a legendary player, and there's a reason, because he understands the game. He's done it for a long time, he's seen a lot. I'm lucky to be able to learn from him and just spend time with him. I've been fortunate with that.
*Q: What's the biggest lesson you've learned from Head Coach Pat Shurmur? *A: I think a number of things. Since I've gotten here, Coach Shurmur has supported me and worked with me. He's been instrumental for my growth and development. Whether it was a good performance or a bad performance, I felt like he has always been supportive of me this season. I certainly support him and believe in him as a coach. I think he's a tremendous football coach.
WR Golden Tate III
*Q: Could you talk about your touchdown and how it looked like it was going to spur momentum? *A: Yeah. It kind of worked out not how we planned. That was just a great ball by DJ. He kind of just trusted it and put it, the placement, in the corner of the end zone. Him getting outside the pocket, a great throw and just a competitive catch. Right there, it becomes what, tied up? We take the momentum right in that moment and we're feeling pretty good.
*Q: How hard is it to reflect on the positives when the season finishes like this? *A: For me, being on my tenth season, going into, hopefully, my eleventh, a lot of positives stand out. Obviously, record-wise and production-wise, it's not where we want to be. Just looking at the personnel, all the young guys that have stepped in and worked hard really encourages me. We're all excited to get back in here next year after some rest and recovery and build something. I think we have a lot of amazing talent. I expect guys to make some huge jumps, including myself, and just come back with a positive attitude [and] ready to work, but, our record doesn't speak for how good I thought we were. It's easy to crumble, it's easy to have a locker room that's full of blaming and turning on coaches and turning on each other. But, I feel like, for the 12 games that I played, everybody showed up with a positive attitude, ready to work. I feel like we always believed that we could win the game. You give us, probably, two-dozen plays back this season and I think we're above .500. So, I'm just expecting guys to grow and come back ready.
*Q: As someone who's been a pro in this league for so long and seeing what Eli Manning has done in this league, to play with him in what's potentially his last season here, what does that mean to you? *A: It was truly my honor just to be around Eli. I admired him from afar for a long time and who he is as a person is an outstanding person: a very caring, very funny guy. What he did for this organization will always and forever be remembered, I think. So, it was truly my honor to be around him and I don't know what the future holds for him here, there, but I feel like, being around him, he truly has no regrets. He played the game the right way and did his best, no matter what the situation was, so, I commend him for that.
*Q: You've been around long enough to know that when you only win four games, sometimes there are changes. I mean, are you interested to see what happens? *A: I mean, I'm not sure what to expect and thankfully, that's not a decision I have to make. But, my job is to show up and work my tail off and keep this locker room together. And, whatever happens, but regardless if we're 16-0 or where we are now, this locker room is never going to be the same, ever, ever. So, that's something that, you know, this is always a tough night for me because some of these guys I'm never going to see again. Some of these guys are never going to play football again. The dynamic of the team is going to change. But also, the high point about it, the good thing about football is: no matter how bad statistically, or how bad you think you played this year, you get a new start. It's almost like whatever happened last year does not matter. That's encouraging. So, top-to-bottom, expecting guys to come back bigger, better, stronger, faster, smarter, and try to build something great.
*Q: What's one thing you've learned from Pat Shurmur? *A: Coach Shurmur is a very, very positive guy and, to me, he's been consistent from the moment I've stepped in this building and I really appreciate that. Like I said a little bit earlier, it's easy to start blaming and pointing fingers and throwing in the towel. He's been awesome to be around. He cares about his players [and] his coaches from top-to-bottom. I'm sure you guys have spent some time with him and have seen him up and down the hallways. He's just a very calm, cool, collected guy and I really enjoyed it. I hope I have a chance to work with him again.
*Q: You mentioned that you guys were just a couple plays away from potentially having a winning record. If your close-game record was flipped, you would've been right outside the NFC East or first place. How do you get over that hump and make those close games wins for you guys next year? *A: I just think we understand our jobs a little bit better. We just go out there and make that extra play, not wait on plays to be made, go make that play. But, athletically and all that, I think we're right there. We just need to, and I'm not making this into an excuse, but we are a young team. Guys are trying to figure out pro football and I expect our year one guys to make a huge jump and help us win. I think those guys did a good job. I think they studied their tails off and I think they got better each and every week. But, we've just got to be a little bit better and I think that's just the difference between a bad team and a good team is not much. So, keep working, be excited to come back in here in April or whenever it may be and see if we could build something great. That's the whole point of showing up in April is to be playing for the division or in the playoffs come late December, early January, and going into February. So I take this very serious, because our years are limited, you never know when it's going to be taken away from you. So, you've got to make the best of each situation and each year that you have.
WR Darius Slayton
*Q: What, would you say, is your personal highlight of your rookie season? *A: I don't know. I mean, I was able to make some plays, obviously, I wish I could have made more in winning efforts and things of that nature, but it was a pretty decent year all the way around.
*Q: Is there one specific play that you wish you could've 'had back'? *A: No, none that come to mind, specifically.
*Q: What was your rookie year like, Darius, compared to the expectations you had coming in: was it much different, was it similar? *A: I definitely expected to come in; I knew I could be a good player for this franchise. I wanted to come in and make plays for this team, so for me, this is what I expected to do.
*Q: What are your off-season goals heading into year number 2? *A: To get better, to build on this. You know, you talk about a lot of guys that come in and have successful rookie seasons and some fall off the map or lose focus, but, I plan to get better and come back stronger next year.
*Q: Is it exciting that you get to come back with a QB also heading into his second year so you guys have something to build on together? *A: Yeah, definitely. I look forward to playing with Dan. He's a really good player. I know he's only going to get better in the off-season.