Head Coach Joe Judge
Q: I was asking Jason (Garrett) earlier about Wayne Gallman and his ability to get yards. He falls forward all the time and gets tough yards. How much do you value that ability in a running back? How valuable is it to have that, where they're always going to fall forward, they're not going to lose yards if they can't?
A: Wayne's really done a good job running aggressive for us. He's definitely doing that falling forward as you referenced. That really comes to me from just his will and effort at the end of the run to play through contact, keep his legs driving and push for that extra yard. The biggest thing he's really shown improvement on is playing with good pad level and ball security and driving through to make sure he just drives that extra yard. That's something you have a concern with any player early in training camp, especially, of making sure they can go ahead and keep fighting throughout the play without exposing the ball. He's done a good job to this point of really improving on that, and I'm really happy with the way Wayne's playing. That being said, the offensive line has done a tremendous job of opening gaps and getting it downhill. Our tight ends have done a nice job blocking for it. Then, obviously, the way Daniel (Jones) and the passing game has played opens up some of the run game as well, that when they overplay the box, the quick game and the shots down the field have been there as well for us. We've capitalized lately on those.
Q: Just wanted to get a status report or whatever you can give on Daniel Jones. How he came through his work with the trainers yesterday and what he might be able to do, if anything, on the field today?
A: Yeah, so we had positive reports on him yesterday. Obviously, we have to kind of see a little bit more from him today. The plan is to get him out there with the trainers, move him around a little bit, throw a little bit, see where that progresses to and what that allows him to do later in practice today or maybe what that shows what we can do with him tomorrow. Again, there are still a lot of questions more so than answers right now. I know he's doing everything he can to get back and be with the team. He's preparing tirelessly, he's in the building, he's doing everything he can like it would be any other day. I know mentally where he's at. We just have to check physically where he's at and make sure we make the right decision for him.
Q: I know you're completely dialed into Sunday and Seattle, but we spoke to Saquon (Barkley) a little bit earlier this morning. I just was curious in the time that you've gotten to know him, he was very adamant about his confidence in coming back as good or better than ever when we spoke to him. Knowing how you've seen him work, do you have any doubt in that? As a follow up, is there any part of you that feels a little deprived not to have been able to coach him playing this year, as good as you've known him as an opposing coach?
A: I think without question, you want to have any player like Saquon on the field for you at all times. That goes without saying. I would say this, though, watching him go through adversity as a young player in the league this year really has shown me a lot about this guy as a person, and the value he really brings to your team, besides just being on the field and running with the ball. This guy could have easily cashed it out, dropped his head and said 'woe is me.' This guy has come in with a good attitude every day to do his rehab, to stay on track, to be there for his teammates, to continue being the captain and the leader that they selected him to be, and he's done a tremendous job of that. I want to be fair to this guy in terms of long-term. I'm not in his body and physically I don't know how he feels. I don't have any kind of a timetable that I think he should be on. To me, the medical team and the trainers can only work with him and kind of have that step progression going along the way of marks he needs to hit. I just know that when he's ready to come back physically, I want to make sure that we put him in a position that he can go out there and play as aggressive as he wants to safely, and that he can go out there and help himself and help the team. Look, I'm looking forward to getting him back, obviously. But I don't want to go ahead and put some kind of initial timetable on it or kind of give him any kind of external predictions or marks that he feels he has to hit. This guy puts a lot of pressure on himself to be perfect, to be the best player he can be. Obviously, we know what his talent level is. It's very, very high. This guy has been a productive player on the field now throughout his entire lifetime. I just want to let this guy get healthy, come on back and give him the opportunity to, just at his own pace, get back into playing full speed.
Q: In the past, all the time really, a long flight to Seattle means you have to face a good team and a rabid fan base. The 12s are known, you've been there, you know what that deal is. Have you found this year that going on the road in some ways is more difficult because you have to kind of bring your own enthusiasm? Players usually say they love to hear the other team's fans give it to them. There is none of that now. What is your experience with the road now? Will it be very different in Seattle now, which is not going to be the same as it always is?
A: There are a couple of different levels to that question. First off, that is a great place to play. It has a great fan base, it has great energy in that stadium, they do a tremendous job. I think the one thing that really stands out about their team without the fans is they still bring a lot of natural juice themselves. Look, our message to our players is always, hey listen, when we're on the road, it's up to us to stand together and bring our own energy. We're still the only 11 on the field and the same team in the locker room together. We have to go out there and we have to bring our own energy. Obviously, they're going to have a lot of energy, they always do. I'd just say that being said, in terms of the big picture question about no fans in the stadium, look, I'm going to be honest with you, that's something everyone in this league misses. If anyone tells you they don't, they're lying to you boldfaced. Whether it's at home and they got your back, or you're on the road and they're all against you, either way, it's the kind of energy you really feed off of right there. You still do have that tunnel vision when the game gets going where you zone it out and you're locked completely in that you really don't hear a lot of the noise on the outside. But even when you're so zoned in that you don't hear the noise, you still know the energy in the stadium, and the players do too on the field and on the sideline. Look, that's a critical part of the game that we're all looking forward to getting back, hopefully sooner than later. In terms of dealing with fans, hopefully they understand how valuable they are to the game for us.
Q: You've been around the league a long time, but you haven't had much experience needing to prepare a backup quarterback. What kind of challenge does that present during the week and how much do you have to alter your offense to try to get Colt (McCoy) ready while also trying to get Daniel back on the field?
A: We prepare all of our players every week to play the entire game. That's really been our mentality from the start. Every practice squad player, every young guy, everyone who may be in a starting or a backup or situational role, we get everyone ready every week to do everything they may have to do. Colt's been no different. He's done a tremendous job all year. Now while he may have had limited reps in certain weeks, he's done a great job of doing everything he can to get himself mentally and physically ready, whether that's playing against our defense giving the other team's look, or whether that's standing behind Daniel as he runs plays and getting the mental reps of declaring who the mike is, getting his dropback behind the scenes and a lot of things you can't really see without being at practice. But every player for us we have confidence in. We expect anyone who's at the game to give us production and perform at the level to help us have success.
Q: Simple question. If Daniel cannot play, will he travel?
A: I plan for him to travel, yes. The only thing that would ever supersede that right there, to be honest with you, is if there was any issue with COVID where we thought it was a bad measure for Daniel to go or for anyone on the team to have extra players there, or if there was a situation where we thought that the flight out there would impact the injury worse, that it would go ahead and slow the recovery. That would be the only thing. We took Saquon earlier in the year to LA. He's a captain and we wanted him out there with the team. Same with Daniel. He's a captain. Obviously, we're getting him ready to play right now. We have to wait and see where his body is at. But just to give you a solid answer on that, the only thing that would slow that down would be something medically that we didn't think was to his advantage.
Q: Where is Darius Slayton at? We saw him limited obviously on the injury report. Seattle has given up a lot of deep balls. He has kind of been your main deep threat. Can you guys push the ball without Darius in the lineup?
A: Yeah, we have a lot of guys that we can go ahead and go deep to. I think you've seen that throughout the tape of the year. We have a number of guys who caught the ball down the field. Obviously, Darius right now is working on getting back. You're at a point in the year where everyone has some nicks and bruises. He's managing some different things. But look, it's not too different from anything he's dealt with throughout the year. We'll see where he is physically today and see how he's moving around and make the decisions for him for the game going forward. But yeah, we have confidence in all of our receivers and tight ends and running backs.
Q: I'm sure like the rest of us, you'd prefer this to just be a 'normal year.' But is there any part of you that embraces sort of the challenges that have been presented and you have to come up with sort of creative solutions? Then how do you go about coming up with those? Is there someone in the building you've really leaned on? How does that process work?
A: I'd say first off, in terms of who I've leaned on, it's been everyone possible. I think it's important to use all your resources that you trust that's in the building, and it's using some resources outside the building as well. You want to draw on past experiences and try to find creative ways to change it up. I think a lot of it has to do with not just having some preplanned template, but seeing where the flow of the team is, getting feedback from your players and understanding what they need coming up to kind of best help them be prepared. In terms of the whole normal year thing, look, I worked for a guy for a few years that every day I heard him say 'adapt or die.' That's kind of been the mentality. You go into it and you expect it to be one thing. Whatever comes up, you adjust, you get the players to adjust, and you move forward. Sudden change is really a way that we build everything in our program in. We want to make sure that we can play on our toes and we can think on our toes, and whatever comes our way on a daily basis, we're just ready to adjust.
Q: Along those lines, I know you've created a ton of contingency plans for different things throughout this season. But playing a Wednesday game like the Ravens and Steelers just did, is that something that you can create a contingency plan for, how to hold a week of practice and how to conduct yourselves if that were to come to pass, God forbid?
A: Yeah, I think what you have to look at is in terms of when you find out when the game is going to be played. If I know it's going to be on a Wednesday, when do we find out? I think both of those teams did a tremendous job of keeping their players ready and moving and mentally locked in. But obviously, you have to know, there are circumstances around that. When do you find out? Who do you have available? Who's the opponent? Is it home or away? But I think you tie into some of the other things you would do in either a shorter week, like a Thursday game. Can you go ahead and abbreviate the practice week in that nature? Or is it more of a longer week like we came off the Thursday and then went and played Tampa on that Monday night game and had a little bit of a longer week. You want to try to draw from some of the things that you've done with familiarity so it's not too much of a shock to the system of the players. But again, you just want to make sure you adjust and give them whatever they need going forward. I think with those teams, and I don't want to speak for anyone else, but if it was us in that situation, it may not be so much the Wednesday game but the following game that you really have to have a solid plan for of getting your players back, getting them healthy, and how you can have them recover and then go compete in a short window going forward.
Assistant Head Coach / Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham
Q: Is this one of those weeks where you just kind of wrap a picture of (DK) Metcalf in a present and hand it to (James) Bradberry and say your problem?
A: I wish things could be that simple but no. Aside from Metcalf, they have so many different weapons. The backs (Carlos) Hyde and (Chris) Carson these guys are scary. The quarterback (Russell Wilson) obviously he's a scary player, a good player. I've known him since he was a young kid. His brother played for us at Richmond when I was there. They have so many weapons from the receiver spots, 83 (David Moore), 16 (Tyler Lockett), 14 (Metcalf), they are all making plays. We're going to try to figure it out. Do what we can do. See what we can do to try to limit their effectiveness. We're going to need more than just James. We're going to need everybody, all hands-on deck for this one. They have a lot of weapons out there.
Q: With Russell's deep balls, it seems like it's unique with how much air he puts under them. Why is he so effective throwing those?
A: I'm sure you could probably dive into the physics of it. I don't know but I assume it gives those guys the trajectory. It's similar to Aaron (Rodgers) when Aaron throws those deep balls, and everybody is like wow Aaron Rodgers. Everybody makes those catches on those hail mary's. I assume it's from years of practice, timing with the receivers, giving them a chance to get underneath the ball. They're all pretty fast, and he has the arm strength to get it down the field. The O-line is doing a good job of blocking for him and giving him time to get it out there. I would assume it's something to do with the trajectory helps out with it. I'm not smart enough to figure that out.
Q: What's your philosophy on using a spy on a quarterback like Russell and maybe even next week on another mobile quarterback? What do you look for in the qualities of a player that you might use in that role?
A: Each game plan is so different. I can tell you stories of using a spy before and the spy didn't tackle the quarterback and the spy wasn't good enough to get the quarterback. You try to figure the best guys to tackle them. They obviously have to be able to tackle; they have to be able to run. You alternate between the two. You try to teach disciplined pass rush. If you are rushing four or five, just trying to fill up the pass rush lanes. Sometimes you might get specific and have a particular person spy on him. What you're looking for is somebody who can tackle, somebody that has the speed to stay with him. They have to have some savviness about him too. Sometimes when you talk to a player about what spy is, they just sit back there and now you just gave the quarterback more space. The line of scrimmage changes. In terms of just talking football, as the line of scrimmage changes, certain people have the philosophy that the spy or mirror player has to close the line of scrimmage. Some people stay back there. To me, you have to pick your poison. Are you going to have more space so he can have vison, or do you want to close so he can get to him quicker when it declares? Those are some of things you have to look at when you're going through it.
Q: Leonard Williams is on track to have a career high in sacks. What's it been like coaching Leonard and where have you seen him make the most strides since you first got here?
A: I think having watched him from afar, the biggest thing for me any time you are dealing with the big guys, I want to see what he's doing versus the run. I think that Leo has been doing a solid job against the run. He will be the first one to tell you he can do better in both the run and the pass. The thing that stands out for me with Leo is his personality is infectious. The energy, the way he attacks it. Each day is new, he attacks the day. He's pretty diligent working through that. He wants to get better. He's taking the coaching to heart that Spence (Sean Spencer) gives him, that Joe (Judge) gives him. He's just really being a sponge in terms of trying to learn football. Trying to perfect his craft, trying to become the best NFL defensive linemen he can be. Part of that is if you want to be the best, you have to realize that you're not there yet. No matter what year you're in in your career. How many sacks, how many TFL's (Tackles for loss) you're not there yet. He's attacking it like that I believe.
Q: Niko Lalos that came in from the Ivy league like you. What has he done to impress you?
A: (Laughing) Not like me. I did not play.
Q: The other position coaches were talking about how he's been able to bounce between different positions and he's been really diligent and all that. What has impressed you about him.
A: Here is the easiest thing and it's simple. He paid attention when Joe went through the first meeting. The more you can do, the better off you will be. It's not a surprise. He's around here because he listened to what the head coach told him. Yeah, did he change his body in the weight room and nutrition and all that stuff as he worked hard with his skill set. Yeah, absolutely. All that stuff, the football stuff. Simply put, he listened to what the head coach said. The head coach said the more you can do the better off you'll be. Provided value and the chance to stick around. He just listened to Joe, just like I try to listen to Joe. That's what you have to do. When you have a head coach, you have to listen to the head coach. Make his job easier and try to do what's best for the team, that's what he did.
Q: We asked Jerome (Henderson) how you defend DK Metcalf. He basically said you just hope the pass rush gets home. Is it really that simple? Who does Metcalf remind you of in terms of guys you've coached against?
A: Who comes to mind? Again, I'm just going to mention big wide receivers and then I'll go watch the team play and say oh he's not actually that guy. In terms of being able to catch the ball deep. There's so many big receives that I've gone against. Julio (Jones) Calvin Johnson since I have been in the league. Dez Bryant when he was doing it. I can't tell you specifically who he reminds me of exactly. He's such a unique talent in my opinion. The size, the ability to block in the run game. That's one that stands out for me. He's actually a point of attack blocker. Like you would say the left side of the line is the point of attack or right side of the line is a point of attack. He's a point of attack blocker in the run game. That stands out to me. I think what we have to do, we have to make it tough for him. We have to make it tough on him. Whether it's playing off coverage, press coverage. When he goes to block, get our hands on him. He's a unique talent. He's going to find a way to get open. That's the nature of it. These guys are really good. They get coached too and Russ does a good job of finding them. (Brian) Schottenheimer, they do a good job of scheming it up for him. Is it as simple as the pass rush? I wish, I do hope the pass rush gets there. We're going to have to play ball to figure out what's best for that when we get to Sunday.
Q: What's your philosophy on talking to opposing players before games? I know some guys like to chat, some guys don't. Jim Schwartz tried to give Metcalf a compliment last week and Metcalf didn't take it that way. Do you chat up these guys?
A: With the COVID thing, it's a little bit different. If it's guys that I've coached before, usually those are defensive players. They are on the other side; we're not even going against them. I'll say hi and greet them. Usually it starts with a text message before the game or earlier in the week. If you guys were on the field and saw me, I'm not really talking. This is about as much talking as I do all week. I'm not really a talkative person. Before the game I'm barely talking to our guys. I'm not one to chat with the players, that's not me. I'm not going to talk smack, that's not me. I'm not a big talker. I'm pretty quiet.
Q: Did you hear about that interplay between Jim Schwartz and Metcalf?
A: No, I'm sorry. When you're dealing with all these guys we have to deal with, I don't have time. That, and my wife and kids, that's about it.
Q: How did Xavier (McKinney) do? How much progress is he making now that he's back?
A: He's doing a good job. We just have to be careful. His first game last week and now he's got an opportunity this week. We'll see if the role increases. The young man is doing a good job of studying. He's practicing well. The one thing that stands out for me is his ability to tackle and go through the tackling drills and really execute that. That's something I told him that even though without that time, you're doing a good job working on that. He's doing a good job with that.
Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett
Opening Statement: Before we get stared on questions, I just wanted to say one thing. They are actually doing the memorial service for Markus Paul right now, so just an acknowledgment of him and the impact he made on so many of us who were so fortunate to be around him. On a similarly sad note, a teammate of mine from college, a guy by the name of David Rose passed away a couple weeks ago from Covid. We had a memorial for him late last night over zoom as well. A really sad time to lose two special people, but really inspirational people. They will continue to have a tremendous impact on all of us who are so fortunate to know them. Thanks so much.
Q: You've coached a lot of tough running backs that fall forward and gain yards when they are about get tackled. How much do you value that in a running back and how special of a skill is it to have that?
A: I think it's a critical trait. In so many ways, your running backs can be the heartbeat of your team. I was fortunate to be on a Cowboy team in the 90's for eight years and our running back was Emmitt Smith. Every week we would play against defenses who's really number one objective was to slow him down. Somehow, some way, he still made yards. He still made an impact on the defense. A big part of that was falling forward and really controlling the tempo of the game. We had similarly good running backs in Dallas when I was coaching there. Whether it was Marion Barber, DeMarco Murray or Zeke Elliott. I really think in a lot of ways Wayne Gallman has been doing that for our football team for the last month and a half. The O-line has done an excellent job controlling the line of scrimmage. Wayne and the other backs have done a really good job kind of providing that same kind of the physicalness that you're looking for in your team. It starts up front, but it's really everywhere. Tight ends, receivers, fullback and certainly the guy who is running with the football. One of the things about Wayne that's so impressive is he's a really good athlete, quickness, speed, elusiveness. He's also demonstrating that physicalness that you're talking about. His ability to finish runs has really been apparent to us. Certainly helped us a great deal as an offense and as a team.
Q: You're looking at possibly Colt McCoy for your quarterback this weekend. As a coordinator and a play caller, what's the biggest challenge tailoring your scheme and your offense around the backup quarterback?
A: I think the biggest thing you try to do for a backup quarterback is just try to create a comfortable environment for him. That's what you're trying to do every week for your starting quarterback. Typically, your starting quarterback gets a ton of reps with the ones all throughout training camp, all throughout the week. The backup quarterback has fewer opportunities to do that. You just have to be mindful of that and understand that he is going into a game that's being played at full speed by guys who have been playing at that speed all throughout the year. He has to kind of catch up to that speed, if you will. I thought Colt did a really good job last week in the game getting comfortable and allowing us to function as an offense. I thought he handled himself really well. Depending on how this thing plays out this week, we'll try to get him some work and some reps. If he does have to play in the ball game this week, hopefully he'll be comfortable. You look for things in his past he's comfortable with. With you or with somebody else. Just so when that ball is snapped, it's all internalized in him. He's just going out there and playing football.
Q: It seemed like Daniel (Jones) had been able to turn a corner the last couple of games. He was playing at a pretty high level. If he has to miss time, how do you make sure there is no regression there? That he keeps that growth.
A: The best way to grow as a player is to have experience playing in games. Daniel has gotten more and more experience here this year as a starting quarterback in this system. I think he's really grown throughout the season. You said it, I think he's playing at a very high level. He's made a number of plays for us. He's minimized the bad plays. The best way to continue to do that is you stay out on the field and you keep growing from the experiences that you have. One thing I know about Daniel Jones is that he loves football. He's always incredibly prepared for any opportunity that he has. Whether it's a practice opportunity or a game. He'll continue to do that. Whatever his role or status is, he comes to work every day and he's ready to go. He's going to take full advantage of that opportunity. Hopefully, we'll get him back out there soon. He can continue his progression. If he's not able to play, I know he is going to be right in there with it. Trying to take advantage of the opportunity, nonetheless.
Q: As far as the run game, did you guys have to change anything once you lost Saquon? Why have you been able to find success with these other guys coming in?
A: I think they are good players. Back to the point of experience, you have a young offensive line with different guys playing. They are going to have a progression over the course of the year. I think about Andrew Thomas and not having an opportunity to play in the preseason and the first one out of the box you get Pittsburgh and Bud Dupree and (TJ) Watt. The next week you get Robert Quinn and Khalil Mack. Then you get the guys from San Francisco, guys from L.A., the guys from Dallas. That's an indoctrination for a young player like that. Some of the other guys like Nick Gates not really playing center before, the guys he had to block early on in the year. The best thing those guys did is they learned from their experiences. They got knocked around a little bit, there was some adversity. They kept learning and growing individually and collectively as a group. I think they understood more and more what we're asking them to do. They learned from their experiences, the practical experiences blocking NFL defensive linemen. I think they've grown. We all know that we're so far away from where we need to be, but there's no doubt here we've made progress in the last month and a half. Those guys have done a really good job and been a big part of that.
Q: I want to ask you about fourth and third and short situations or goal situations. You guys seem to have a high percentage of efficiency or conversion rate, especially when you have Eli Penny on the field at fullback. What is special about Eli and why are you guys converting these short yardage situations at such a high clip?
A: Well, they are hard situations, there's no doubt about that. There's those nut cutting situations in football that you have to be good at. Eli has been a really good player for us. Whatever we have asked him to do, he goes in and plays and is effective. As a blocker, as a runner, he's just a good football player. He's one of those guys that as a coaching staff you're always saying, we have to find ways to get him more opportunities. Typically, good things happen when he's out there. He had more snaps in the game the other day and again he took advantage of them. They are not easy situations. They are ones that you have to embrace and really you have to convert. I think it starts with the guys up front, and the progress they've made here over the last six or seven weeks. I think that's a big part of it. I think our quarterback has played well. Our runners have played well. Everybody has got a piece of it. Just because we made one yesterday doesn't mean we're going to make one today. They're still hard, they're still hard every week. We try to prepare for them as best we can and put our guys in the best situations we can. They've done a good job executing.
Q: With regard to Saquon, obviously you went up against him a lot. Do you feel a little deprived not to have had him to coach this season? There have been some pretty high-profile running backs that have come back from this kind of thing. Knowing Saquon as much as you do, is there any doubt that he'll be back as the guy that was before he got hurt.
A: My sadness comes from the fact that one of the great players in the league isn't playing. He's such a special person. We absolutely love him as a guy. Obviously, he's a special football player. Just for him to not have the opportunity to play this year, I'm just sad for him, beyond anything for our team. He just goes about it the right way. Like you said, when we went against him in Dallas, he was clearly the focal point of what we were trying to do, trying to stop that guy. We had a few games where we felt like we stopped him for about twenty or twenty-one carries and then they would throw him a screen and he goes 68 yards. He's that kind of a player. He gets so much attention and still is a productive guy. For us, he's such a great person and you love him and he love ball. He wants to be out there. For him to not have that opportunity this year is certainly disappointing for him and everybody who cares so much about him. In regards to him coming back, obviously it's a significant injury. I really have zero doubt in my mind that he is going to come back and play at a really high level. Just because of the kind of person he is, the kind of athlete he is. How important it is to him.
Q: I just want a bit of a clarification. You said making Colt (McCoy) feel comfortable if he plays. Does that mean scale back or cut down?
A: I don't know that it's scale back or cut down. There's nothing mentally or physically that Colt is not capable of doing. I wouldn't look at it that way. You're always trying to create an environment where your players are comfortable with what they're doing. There's a lot of plays in football. Let's run the ones that our quarterback likes to run and they're comfortable running. Let's run the ones that our linemen are good at, our runners are good at. The things our tight ends and our receivers do best. You're always trying to do that regardless of who's playing. Regardless of how many snaps they've played. You're probably a little bit more sensitive to that with a backup quarterback who hasn't had the backlog of reps that the other guys have had. I just think you're trying to customize it. I don't think you're cutting it down in any way.
Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
Opening Statement: Between the last time we talked to now, we lost a good friend here in the organization, Markus Paul. I'd just like to say he was a great man. He was a great friend, a great human being. We're going to miss him. Before we get started. Alright guys.
Q: About that fake punt. just x's and o's wise, I don't know for sure but is Isaac Yiadom supposed to peak into the backfield on that play or is he supposed to just follow that man down field?
A: No. We didn't set the edge. We had a guy on the personal protector, and we let him get outside of us. It was a minimal gain, but nonetheless, they got it on us. But no, we practice it. Carter (Coughlin) just has to set the edge. He knows that, we reviewed it, we've gone over it. We just need to do a better job of just understanding the situation. Where we are on the field, who we're going against at that point in time in the game. Just situationally, understanding that we have a cornered animal, and at any point in time, they can do something to us. We just need to be better there situationally.
Q: Is Nate Ebner so critical that, I think that was the first kickoff or punt that he's missed all season, and it goes back. Is that a direct correlation between one of the leaders of your unit not being on the field and that result?
A: Anytime you lose a player like Nate, Nate does a lot of heavy lifting for us. It's not just all on him. He's not superman. It takes all 11 guys doing their jobs. On that play, we didn't have all 11 doing their jobs. We just have to make sure that we start with the guy that's sitting in this seat, and then everybody else has to do their job.
Q: What did you see on the one play where maybe 10 guys didn't do their job, but Cam Brown was able to reach out and grab that guy's foot and really save the game at the end?
A: We missed a lot of tackles. That's what it is. Again, guys not doing their jobs. We just have to make sure that we're better at our individual jobs. It starts with the kick. We have to protect, and then we have to make sure that we get good direction on the kick. We can't kick it 60 yards down the middle of the field. Riley (Dixon) knows that. It all starts with him. Then we have to make tackles. When we get down there, get the returner in front of us. We knew who we were going against. He's one of the best returners in the league. Just have to get him on the ground. That's it. It's not rocket science. It's football. Just get the guy on the ground. Vice tackle, make the tackle.
Q: What have your meetings been like this week? That was probably, I think you would agree, probably the least productive game of the season for you guys. Coverage wise, anyway.
A: Yeah, of my career. Meetings have been meetings. They're business as usual. We have to get better, and that's the bottom line. I can go in there and raise hell and throw stuff across the room, but it's not going to change what happened. Moving forward, we have to be better. Technically, we have to be better. Schematically, we have to be better. We have to do some things differently to make sure that we're optimizing who we are as a coverage unit.
Q: Hate to stay negative, but what exactly happened on the kickoff return? (Graham) Gano talked about maybe kicking it down the middle, he didn't want that spot. What exactly happened there?
A: That's what happened. You can't kick the ball down the middle of the field to one of the best kickoff returners in the league. That's not what we do anyway. We don't kick the ball down the middle of the field. We're a directional kicking team. Again, it starts with guys doing their jobs. Probably put Graham in a bad spot asking him to do something he hadn't done in three or four days. Being out with the COVID, you just never know how guys will come back and react to it. Looking back at it, probably should have done some things differently, as far as the call schematically on my end. But you live and you learn. Everyone is learning during this COVID environment we're in. When guys come back off of it, it's a little different.
Q: I wanted to kind of jump off of that point. With Graham coming off the COVID, did that affect him as far as his range? Did you see it actually affect him in the game?
A: You see it affect all of these guys. It's just different when they come back. It takes them a few days to get back to who they normally are. I don't know what it does to them, maybe lose a little strength or something. I know sometimes if you're sitting up in a hotel room for three or four days and you don't do anything, you get a little rusty. I'm sure that probably happened to Graham. They're like anybody else. They have to stay in a rhythm. If you lose any strength, it'll show up. Kickers are no different than any other player. Again, moving forward, we just have to be smart with how we handle these guys coming off.
Q: With Jabrill (Peppers), does he need to fair catch some of these balls that he's letting bounce?
A: What ones are you referring to?
Q: There was one where he pointed and the ball bounced and they got a good roll out of it. Would you rather see him just catch that?
A: Anytime you get a chance to field the ball, you want to field it. But if it's a situation where he doesn't feel comfortable fielding the ball, I'm never going to question that. If he feels like something is happening in front of him or maybe the ball might have moved on him in the last second, we trust that guy back there. That's why he's back there, because he's going to make good decisions and we trust him.
Q: Is Joe Webb in here to visit as a kick returner and a punt returner?
A: Joe is here to be a football player. Whenever Joe is going to be here, Joe is a Swiss Army knife. Joe can do a little bit of everything. He's the perfect guy I would say to come in in this COVID environment, because he can do so many different jobs. Not to say that Joe's the end all be all, but when you get a guy that has that type of versatility and position flex, you can play him at a bunch of different spots and he can fill some holes for you.
RB Saquon Barkley
Q: Jabrill (Peppers) spoke to us right after you were injured. He said, 'minor setback for a major comeback.' How are you approaching it?
A: I appreciate the words from Jabrill. But for me right now, my approach right now is just focus on the little things. That's coming in every single day, trusting the medical staff, trusting the trainers and all those guys, just knowing that they're putting me in the right positions to recover as best as I can.
Q: Do you feel you're making some nice progress?
A: That's the goal. Get one percent better every single day, take the little wins. That's what I try to come and do every single day.
Q: In terms of your approach, obviously, you're a competitor so I know you want this thing over yesterday. How do you adjust your mindset? Is that a challenge, if not publicly just privately, of kind of setting yourself up and not getting too far ahead of yourself?
A: Yeah, it's definitely a challenge. Just the fact that the game that I love and been playing since I was seven is taken away from me a little bit. That definitely is challenging. But I'm just trying to be as supportive as I can. I love seeing my guys out there balling, doing their thing, especially the way we're playing right now. That definitely makes life a lot easier. I have a lot of great people in my corner, with my family, my friends staying with me and pushing me through. That's really the focus. Yes, I'm a competitor, and like you said, I would love to have this over yesterday. But that's not the case, so just have to come with that mindset of taking the same approach as I would if I was on the football field, trying to get better every single day, taking that into rehab.
Q: Did you have to go through any kind of levels of grieving in a way? Do you know what I mean? The 'why me?' stage, the 'I can't believe this,' and kind of go through a bunch of maybe dark places to see some light there? Or was it not like that for you? These surgeries and ACLs with athletes can be mind-blowing to people. How did you get through this or have you gotten through this?
A: I think, so far, I've been doing pretty well. But I imagine there are going to be some more dark places coming up. I would say really, probably the darkest time for me was right when it happened. Even though it wasn't diagnosed what it was, I kind of had a feeling what happened. Obviously, that kind of brings you to tears. It's tough in that moment. I know how hard I worked. I know how hard we worked as a team and what I wanted to help this team do this year, and I knew that was all taken away at that moment. But kind of have to suck it up. You can't cry about it too long. You can't complain about it too long. You have to move on. Everything happens for a reason. I have to have that mindset. Like I said, I have amazing people in my life, an amazing team and an amazing staff here and teammates and all those guys who help me and are continuing to help me get through this.
Q: Do you have a target date in mind for when you want to be back 100 percent?
A: No, no target date in mind. Just coming every single day trying to get one percent better, and continuing to trust in the medical staff and the trainers here.
Q: I don't know when the next time we'll talk, so I have to ask you this now. You would have been in line for a big payday this offseason. How does this impact that in your mind?
A: I don't really focus on it. Not really focused on money or anything right now. I'm really focusing on trying to come in every single day and get one percent better. Whatever that day is, I can come back and be ready for my team.
Q: What do you think of the way the Giants are running the ball right now? Does this offensive line remind you at all of the one you had to run behind the first two weeks? And Wayne's (Gallman) performance?
A: Wayne Train, I'm so proud of him. He's playing amazing. Not only him, but Alfred (Morris), EP (Eli Penny), the offensive line, they're playing amazing. I remember after the Steelers game, when obviously, I guess you could say the run game wasn't so pretty, I remember talking to the offensive line right there and saying, 'We know what we have here. We're going to get this thing figured out.' Honestly, I wish I was able to be a part of it. But I'm still part of it to be completely honest. That's my mindset. I'm still part of it in a way. But to see those guys open up those holes and seeing the running backs run in a way that Wayne is running is honestly amazing. It's really helped the team.
Q: There's a lot of ifs involved with this question, but do you think that there's any possibility that you could be back for a game if the Giants play on February 7**th**?
A: I'm just really focusing on coming back and trying to get one percent better every single day.
Q: It'll be three and a half months. That's around when people start to run.
A: That's interesting. I did not know that.
Q: Can you talk about why you waited for the surgery?
A: The surgery, I did my MCL also, too, and it's just smarter to let the MCL heal itself and get sticky. I wasn't in a rush. Have a great medical staff and a great team here, and obviously, working with Dr. (Neal) ElAttrache in LA, all together came up with the idea that I should wait it out. It'll be better for me in the long run. That was the mindset and that's what we did.
Q: Besides your teammates, have any other NFL players, current or past, reached out to you? Players that have had the same ACL/MCL surgery, whether it's just encouraging you or also offering you any advice about your recovery?
A: A lot. A lot of people reached out to me during the day I actually hurt my ACL. But weirdly, the day before, I broke my phone on the plane flight there. I tried to log in or whatever with Apple, the two-step factor whatever. I lost pretty much all my contacts, so a lot of people are probably out there thinking that I didn't respond or I'm going through a tough time. No, it's just my phone didn't really work. I'm still seeing messages now. Someone who's really important to me would be AP (Adrian Peterson). Obviously, when you hear this injury, the first person that comes to your mind is the season that AP had. I forgot but I think I reached out to him or he reached out to me. He put me in contact with his trainer, I was able to ask him a lot of questions. Also, I think the day before surgery, I got to chat with AP for a very long time. I could see myself continuing to chat with him throughout.
Q: I'm curious what the last couple of months have been like for you. Have you been involved at all with the team? Have you been communicating with Wayne and the other backs? What has your role been through all of this as you're going through your rehab?
A: Honestly, I kind of got back a week or two ago. Obviously, I was staying in communication with the guys over text and FaceTime calls. But I was in LA. I was in LA after surgery. I was supposed to stay out there for a month, but I kind of just missed it. It didn't feel the same. It didn't feel like home. I was just happy to be able to come back and be back in the locker room, see those guys' faces and be able to have those conversations with them. But yeah, that's kind of been my role. I try to come in with a smile on my face, and come in and work. The opportunities I do get to interact with the team, obviously, now with everything going into Zoom, just try to do the best I can and cherish those times and those moments.
Q: Obviously there have been guys like AP (Adrian Peterson) who have recovered from ACL surgery and gone on to do great things. There are some who haven't though. How convinced are you and why would you be convinced that when you return from this you will be the same player?
A: That's the mindset. I'm never going to go in it with a negative approach. I feel like you should never go into anything in life with a negative approach. I think a positive mindset is going to be the thing that helps you get through a lot of things in life. That's the mindset I'm going to have. I know that I'm going to be able to come out and be a better player. That's what I'm going to challenge myself with. I know that starts with today. In rehab right now, I had to come by to talk to you guys, but I just go right back into rehab and continue to push myself.
Q: What did they tell you about the likelihood of you getting back to 100 percent? You mentioned the MCL, so they did a full MCL repair as well? What about the meniscus part of it?
A: No, they didn't do an MCL repair, they were able to save my meniscus. My MCL healed on its own. The likelihood of me coming back to 100 percent, what they're saying is it's kind of all on how you attack it. You have to be smart with the first six or seven weeks, obviously because of the meniscus repair. I'm continuing to be smart with it. At the end of the day, they say when you do a ACL reconstruction, the ACL becomes ten times stronger, to be honest. I'm just trying to come in with the mindset of getting one percent better every day. Continuing to trust the training staff, trust Leigh (Weiss) and all those guys. Just take it day by day.
Q: So, when you say meniscus repaired, they didn't take it out? They just sewed it back together kind of deal?
A: Which is a really good thing, to be honest.
Q: Any doubt in your mind that you're going to be the same player, better player?
A: No doubt in my mind.
Q: What would you say to people who see that video of you out with no mask and on the bike who would say that indicates you don't take this virus seriously?
A: That's a good question. I would say I do take the virus seriously. I think that we let our guard down, to be completely honest. We were trying to do it the right way. That little moment wherever that was captured just came off negatively. We actually were trying to do it the right way. I really do take this virus seriously. I was really in the forefront, I guess you could say, of trying to do things. Whether it was working with Campbells and food banks to give food during the Coronavirus. Even if it was doing little videos to help raise awareness, to help raise money for it. I truly want to say I apologize for that. As a leader of this team and being one of the faces of this franchise, I have to be better for us.
Q: Why did you choose Dr. (Neal) ElAttrache rather than having a surgery here with the team doctors. Will you play next season if you don't have a new contract?
A: I would say with the Dr. ElAttrache and Dr. Rodeo, I'm very blessed to be in a position where I can pick from the top in the world. It wasn't I like this one better or I like that one better. It was kind of with my agent Kim (Miale) and my manager Ken (Katz) on what we think we should do. Obviously, I think you guys do know I train in L.A. for the offseason. Most of the time I'm out there, so that did come into play, too. With the contract question, if I'm going to play, like I said, I'm not really focused with that. I'm focusing on getting one percent better and attacking it day to day.
Q: What has your day to day been like? On Sundays when you're not on the sideline, what is Sunday like when you're watching the game almost as a fan, I guess?
A: I'll be honest, Sunday sucks and it's good at the same time, especially when we win. When we win, you still feel that joy even though I'm not on the field. It's also that sitting on the couch watching and you feel helpless. You can't do anything, you can't help your team at all. I would say Sundays are the toughest days, but the last three weeks they have been pretty good.
Q: You referenced some of the dark moments. Have there been some uplifting moments during this stretch? When you see some tangible progress?
A: Yeah, anytime you take a small win. That's what I would say, any time I get a small win. Whether it's one exercise or if I get a degree or two better than what I had the previous day. You have to take those small wins. I would say also even though I do miss football and I would love to be out there, I am getting a lot more quality time with my family and spending more time with my daughter.
Q: This team has been on the rise a little bit with Joe (Judge). How encouraged are you about what you have been seeing in the last month or so? How much does that make you kind of jones to get back there more and more and be a part of it?
A: I wouldn't say it's been in the last month or so. It's been since we have been on the Zoom meetings (in the spring). You're always excited for every year because every year is a new year you get to play the sport that you love. With the energy and the commitment, the leadership and just the standard that Coach Judge and all the coaches were setting from zoom meetings, I knew that this was going to be a year where we could really make some noise. Obviously, I only got to experience one or two games of it. Now we can see this thing is turning and going in the direction we want. That's everything you want. We came in here with the mindset of you want to be able to compete and be able to play in January and play in February. We were given the chance to have that opportunity. It starts off with coming to practice this week, today, and attacking the day and try to win today.
Q: The first year was great, the second year was the ankle and this year was the knee. Do you sit down and say as well as I like playing well, I'm not superman? My body still rules my life.
A: No. I don't say that at all. I'm a big believer in take care of the things you can take care. Control the things you can control. Two injuries so far that happened to me this year is two things I can't control. It was in those cards that way. I'm just going to continue to attack every day. Continue to put my body in shape for however long I continue to play for to have a successful season. Hopefully, it works out for me that way. I don't look it at that way, that I'm not superman. I never viewed myself as superman, I guess you could say. I want to say I put that on myself. I had an injury last year, I was able to overcome that and I had an injury this year. This is another challenge in the way that I have to be ready to face.
Cornerback James Bradberry
Q: How is everything going with the situation you had to deal with and anything you can share about that?
A: I'm going to keep it at it is was a family matter I had to tend to. Everything is fine right now.
Q: You face all the best receivers in the NFL this year, the last couple of years in the NFC South. How good is DK Metcalf? Have you ever seen anybody quite with his set of tools?
A: My past history, I was in the NFC South. I had to deal with a lot of big, physical receivers that could run. I would say he is similar to their skill set. Physical, 6-4, runs a 4.3, he can run. He's definitely a hard matchup. Definitely a challenge for us Sunday.
Q: Do you like getting that number one receiver? I know sometimes you get the number one guy. Then sometimes you maybe get the number two guy and you rotate on the number one guy and you take number two out of it? What do you prefer?
A: It really doesn't matter to me. I just prefer trying to get the football. This game is all about interceptions and turnovers. However I can do that, I take pride in that. I also take pride in guarding the opposing team's number one receiver. If that becomes the case on Sunday, then I'm going to take pride in that as well.
Q: Obviously Metcalf has had some big games like he had on Monday night. Jalen Ramsey did a pretty good job shutting him down. When you watch that tape, was there anything you can take from that? What did you see that he did so well?
A: I think he guarded him well down the field. Especially on the deeper throws, like on the nine routes and stuff. From the past film that I've seen, that's pretty much where all his yardage comes from, on the deep throws, the nine routes. If you take that away from him, the explosive plays, I think you will do a pretty good job against him.
Q: You talk about the deep routes, how good is Russell Wilson at throwing those?
A: When you add the fact that he is playing with an elite quarterback, it makes your job even tougher. Russell Wilson is going to buy time with his legs. Even when he doesn't do that, he's going to put the ball on the money most of the time. It's definitely a challenge facing the receivers and at quarterback.
Q: You sit down on Monday night and watch that game? If so, what did you see from DK?
A: I saw the highlights. He went against an elite cornerback in Darius Slay. I have a lot of respect for him. I just saw a physical guy that was strong, and he pretty much won a lot of 50-50 balls. When you're a physical, big receiver, the quarterback is going to give you leeway and throw it up to you. You have to go up there and make a play.
Q: How much does he resemble Julio Jones to you? It's that or Calvin Johnson when you hear people compare him. Those are three really big body guys with the speed. You've faced Julio and now you've studied DK. Do you see similarities there?
A: They definitely have a similar skill set. They're both 6-3, 6-4, physical receivers and can run. I think both ran 4.3. If Julio didn't run a 4.3 at the combine, he sure enough runs it when he's on the field. Both of them are fast, can run routes.
Q: Julio was drafted pretty high, I'm sure he ran fast.
A: Oh yeah, for sure. (Laughing) It's Julio.
Q: What does it mean to you that Coach Judge gave you a game ball for last week? I think part of that was for your performance in the game. I think it was pretty much the entire week that you went through and how you handled things.
A: It meant a lot. I knew they were going to allow me to go home. I handled the matter that I had at hand. It felt good coming back and being acknowledged for taking time away having to deal with a certain issue and then coming back and performing on Sunday. It always feels good when your coaches show you some attention. I knew I had to come back on Sunday and play ball. That's why I was locked in on Zoom meetings and stuff. It's part of the job. I want to be able to put my best foot forward when I step on the field on Sunday.
Q: Along those same lines, what was it like? It sounded like from what your coaches said, that they encouraged you to not only go home and take care of it but if you don't want to play, then don't play in this game. It sounded like you were the one that pushed and said no, I'm going to stay locked in. I'm going to play. How difficult was that whole process for you?
A: I think it was difficult at first. Coming up with a decision if I was going to play or not. I saw the way Logan Ryan handled his situation. We had other guys that dealt with a similar situation that I was dealing with at the time. They were here every day. The coaches were here every day. I felt like I didn't have an excuse to miss Sunday. I know I had to come back Sunday.
Q: What is it about Russell Wilson's deep ball that's a little different? He gets a lot of talk for it being kind of a floater or a rainbow.
A: When you compare it to a rainbow, the thing about a rainbow is when it comes down and the receiver has the basket, it kind of falls right on top of it. It's hard for a cornerback that's either on the side of the receiver or behind him to make a play because it drops in over their head. Versus if he had a guy who threw a ball short and it came at a different angle straight down. I'm able to get my hand up and knock it down. If it comes over top, even if you're tall, it's hard for you to make a play on that.
Q: You guys have made some strides as a pass defense. Not to disrespect your past opponents, but this is a step up. Are you interested to see how you guys respond to such an explosive offense?
A: Yeah, I think we are going to handle it well. We're a confident defense. We feel like we can go against any offense in this league. We're excited about the matchup, the challenge at hand. We're looking to go out there and dominate, that's our whole goal. To go out there and dominate.
Wide Receiver Golden Tate
Q: I'm wondering if you got a look at Daniel today? If so, what did you see? What do you expect the offense to look like if he isn't able to play?
A: I would just say we're all preparing for whatever happens. Just trying to make sure we know what is expected of us individually, and then we're just trying to put it all together. But as far as, I don't want to discuss the quarterback situation. I'll let Coach Judge take those tough questions.
Q: Does anything change for you? You seemed to be targeted at a higher rate. Obviously, it's a very small sample size with Colt (McCoy), but is there something that he does that would make you a bigger part of the offense maybe?
A: I don't know. I got some work with him over the summer in Austin and then during camp. Then even during scout team throughout the year, so we definitely have had a connection. I don't know what's going to come of it in the future, but I think we're all just working, trying to compete, to go out there and win and get our fourth straight win.
Q: You have the Seahawks this week. Obviously, you won a Super Bowl there. What comes to mind when you talk about your memories there?
A: Definitely a huge appreciation for the organization for drafting me and giving me a chance. Also, letting me experience our first Super Bowl, actually here at MetLife. Forever grateful to be a part of that and make memories with some of those guys. Since being removed there, just trying to focus on where I am. It'll be good to see the guys, but we're going out there to do a job. We're going to go out there and try to get a win. We're preparing this week. I think we do have an advantage that the 12th man won't be there present, so hopefully we can take advantage of that.
Q: What's your relationship like with Russell (Wilson) these days?
A: I see him at Christian conferences and throughout, I live in San Diego and he's in LA so we see each other a fair amount and say hi and bye.
Q: Was there anything you learned about Colt during that week when you were working with the scout team in particular, on those fast Fridays and things like that?
A: Just a veteran guy. He finds the open guy. We connected during that time and made some pretty good completions. I think it helped his confidence and my confidence in each other. Just depending on what happens with the quarterback situation, we'll see.
Q: Do you think it helps that some of the guys that will be on the field Sunday, if Colt has to play, obviously, have spent time on the show teams with him? (Wayne) Gallman wasn't a starter at the start of the season, (Austin) Mack wasn't a starter at the start of the season. These are guys he's sort of been sort of teammates with throughout the year.
A: Yeah, but I think it goes all the way back to camp. We two-spotted a lot of things. All of our quarterbacks were interchangeable at camp, so we've all gotten reps with each of the quarterbacks that were here in camp. Obviously, the scout team guys, I've run scout, I think (Sterling Shepard) Shep has been on scout team, Mack and all the other guys. I think we all get reps with all these guys, especially in routes in the air, we're all rotating. I might catch a pass from DJ or Colt, it doesn't matter. I think we're all comfortable so we'll see what happens.
Q: We spoke to Saquon (Barkley) a little bit earlier this morning. I'm just kind of curious from the level that you've gotten to know him, what your expectation is just knowing how he is in terms of his comeback and coming back to be the guy he was before he got hurt?
A: We certainly miss Saquon, his personality, what he brings to our team as a captain, but also on the field. I've become pretty good friends with Saquon. Watching him grow as a man has been awesome. If I had to imagine what he's going through right now, he has a chip on his shoulder. I can see him kind of obsessing over getting healthy, getting back. Taking an opportunity just to figure out what he needs to do to come back mentally strong, but also physically strong. There's no doubt that when he heals, he's going to be a force. Bigger, faster, and stronger than he already was.
Q: When what happened with the Broncos happened last week happens, a guy like you who's gotten a couple chances to throw the ball, your name gets bandied about in our circles as a guy who may get, in that situation, may have gotten more chances at quarterback. Do you even think of that? Do you guys notice what happened last week? Is that one of those things where in the back of your mind, or even going over to Coach (Jason) Garrett or Coach Judge and saying 'you know what? If this happens, I'm right here'?
A: Yeah, it's one of those things that sounds really cool, like guys just talking about it not thinking it's realistically going to happen. But then once it becomes potentially realistic, you're like 'Oh, oh. This could be scary.' I think I'm one of the candidates that could go out there if something were to happen, God forbid. I'm not sure what any of us emergency quarterbacks need to do to prepare for that big moment. We'll cross that bridge if we get there.
Q: I was actually going to ask a similar question. You said if you had to cross that bridge, you got down to Colt, and he scrambles a couple of times on Sunday. Were you ready if you had to get called on Sunday? Have you taken snaps or anything like that?
A: I would say I was ready but I was not prepared. Hopefully it doesn't get there, but I guess that's part of being resilient. We'll figure something out. We have some great play-callers and some great athletes on our team. We'll figure something out.
Q: Last time we spoke to you was kind of right after all the drama, whatever you want to call it. It seems like things have just kind of gone back to normal. How have you guys been able to just turn the page? You're kind of back and you're contributing. It seems like there's been no residual effect from that.
A: I'm a professional. Ultimately, I don't want to ever draw attention to myself. I was excited just to move forward and get the opportunity to help this team win. We're on a three-game winning streak right now. That's all that matters. That's all it's ever about, is winning collectively. As long as we keep winning, I'm fine with whatever that role may be.
View rare photos of the all-time history between the New York Giants and Seattle Seahawks.