Giants Coordinators and Position Coaches meet the media Wednesday before the offseason training program gets underway next week:
Offensive Coordinator Mike Shula
Q: What has it been like working with Head Coach Pat Shurmur?
A: Well, it's been great so far. We've known each other a long time and we've had mutual friends. I did speak with him a few years back regarding a quarterback position when he was at Cleveland and I'm really looking forward to it. I've got a lot of respect for him and what he's done on the field as a coach, and then as a person now that I've gotten to know him.
Q: What is your vision for this offense?
A: Well, we're still working through all that and I know you guys have talked to Coach about that and, basically, my vision is going to be Coach's vision and I want to be an extension of what he does for the offense. And without getting into specifics, we want to use multiple personnel and make the defense defend the whole field and like a lot of other offenses, get the most out of the guys that you have, put them on the field and find out who can do what and put them in positions to make plays for us. So, obviously we want to be productive and we want to be balanced and be as unpredictable as we can be.
Q: What can you learn about quarterback Davis Webb and his development based off of his practice tape from last season?
A: Yeah, it's been a little bit harder for me to evaluate Davis. Just getting here so late and then as soon as I got here, we've been at the Combine, we've been on the road. I've looked at him, I got a chance to meet him in the cafeteria and I'm looking forward to finding out what he's about. And I think coming up next here in the next few weeks with our veteran minicamp will help us gather more information on him.
Q: Have you spoken to wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and how do you envision using him?
A: Yeah, he came up to the room, we had a nice visit. This was probably about three days into the job for me. You know, God, he's such an explosive player. We've watched what everyone else has seen what he can do on the field and I'm really looking forward to being able to work with a guy like that. Again, what you see on the field and talking to the guys that have had to defend him at Carolina and just how explosive he is and how he can get the ball in the end zone. So, we're going to try to continue to build on that.
Q: Do you build an offense around Beckham, or do you build an offense nonspecific to the players?
A: Well, again, as we still work through this with Coach Shurmur, I think that he's obviously a vital part of our offense and when you have guys that can make plays and put points on the board, you want to try to feature them as much as you can. But, you also have to realize that you've got other components and hopefully some more as we more forward into the offseason and the draft, where we can put players on the field and we're not going to be predictable. And if teams want to try to take Odell away, then we've got other answers, and good answers.
Q: As the Odell Beckham Jr. trade rumors began to swirl around the last couple of weeks, were you paying attention and worried about losing a weapon on your offense?
A: Yeah, I kind of learned over the years to try to avoid the swirls and just kind of focus in on the things that I'm responsible for and at the time, I'm responsible for doing that. And right now, it's just helping the Giants to get ready for the draft and learning the offense and coming together as an offensive staff and then together as a full staff. So, we really don't have as much time – I hate to say it like that, but right now we've been focused in on those things in the immediate future.
Q: Is it unsettling for you that the offensive line still may not be a done product?
A: No, not unsettling at all. In fact, to me, it's exciting. I think we've got so far since I've been here and I'm one of the last guys to get here. It's exciting, some of the things that we've done. I've been around [General Manager] Dave [Gettleman] and Dave's done a great job, did a great job in Carolina and I think he's done some exciting things for our organization already and again, being around Coach Shurmur here for the last month, in and out of the office and the vision that he has for not just us offensively, but for this organization, with the players and the staff. There's a lot of good communication going on. It's an exciting time, not an unsettling time.
Q: How much did you study quarterback Eli Manning last year? Did you go game-by-game, snap-by-snap?
A: No, not really. Again, I have looked at him obviously and I've watched him from game tape, whether or not it was last year when I was coaching at Carolina or other years, but I've seen a little bit of him.
Q: Is it a different dynamic as a coordinator coming to a team that has a quarterback entering his 15th year as opposed to a quarterback entering his first or second year?
A: Well, yeah, it's a different dynamic. I'm getting ready to coach a guy that has great experience, that physically is in great shape, that has won two Super Bowls, won a bunch of playoff games. I've watched him stand at this podium here and answer questions and be able to handle all of those things. I can remember going back to a few years back and admiring him for the way he is handling questions, not ever getting too high and too low. We talk to our players about that all the time. Whether or not it's in the game, with the media, when you walk into the building, when you're out of the building, and I think he does that probably better than anybody and that's one of the many reasons why he's had the success that he's had.
Q: How big of a change is it going to be from last year's offense to this year?
A: I'm not sure to what degree as far as the players that have been here.
Q: What about Eli (Manning) in particular?
A: I think there are going to be some things terminology-wise that are going to be different, but he's been around and seen a lot and been exposed to a lot. So it's just going to be a matter of he may have called things differently, but it's really the same thing. Or maybe he's been taught to read it a little bit differently, so little things like that that it's just going to take some getting used to. That's why it's important once we get going that we're really clear on exactly what we want to do and I know he's going to pick things up well and lead us in that aspect as far as understanding the whole offense.
Q: What were your impressions of (Sam) Darnold and (Josh) Rosen?
A: I think both of those guys are going to be really good quarterbacks. I think they're talented, they're a little different in the way they go about things, but I think it's an exciting time in the draft because of the guys that are coming out. It's exciting to have an early pick, but hopefully this will be the last time we have an early pick.
Q: How much is also being the quarterbacks coach going to impact your time with everyone else?
A: I've done it before, I haven't done it in a while. It's just a matter of managing your time and Coach (Pat) Shurmur is obviously very involved in the offense. Like I said in the beginning, I want to be an extension of what he wants us to do and make sure that everything that comes out of his mouth is echoed by me and if I have questions or if other coaches have questions or if players have questions, I can be the guy that says, 'hey, let's make sure we get this and that we're all on the same page here.' In regards to coaching quarterbacks as well, time wise you're going to spend a lot of time together with other positions and then you break off individually and detail it out by position. Again, since Coach Shurmur is involved, it's just a matter of getting back and getting used to it.
Q: What do you try to get accomplished when you bring in the quarterbacks for visits next week?
A: It's about what you think. You just keep gathering information in every aspect. What's their personality? What's their demeanor like? You can talk a little football. We've seen them workout now. Just re-establish that relationship. Those guys have been pulled in every different direction by a lot of different teams from the end of the season, obviously, especially since the combine, physically and mentally. So it's like anything else, when you're looking and getting ready to invest a lot in somebody, you want to find out as much as you can in every aspect of their life.
Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher
Opening Statement:I'd like to first say it's an honor to work for the New York Football Giants. I get goose bumps standing here talking to you right now about having the chance to work for this franchise and this organization -- best ownership in the National Football League, great general manager, a head coach that I have so much respect for and who is going to get us going in the right direction. We've got a staff full of coaches on defense that I jumped at the chance to have to work with some of these guys. You can probably hear it in my voice, I'm pretty excited about it and really look forward to next week to getting in and getting to work with our players and that's really what it's about. I know we're going to talk about scheme; we're going to talk about whether we're a 3-4 or a 4-3 or what we're going to look like on defense. I'll just tell you this, what it's about, it's about playing relentless. The game is about playing hard, the game is about playing physical and the game is about playing smart. Those are things that our guys are going to do whether we're bringing five, bringing six, bringing four, dropping eight, whatever we're doing, whatever the field position is, down and distance, all that stuff. The thing our fans are going to see, you're going to see a defense that is going to run around, play hard, play fast, play smart, play physical and that's what playing defense is about. I've been really fortunate and blessed that I've worked around some really, really good football coaches and had a chance to learn from those guys and I've been around some really good football players. I had a chance to learn from those players as well, and hanging your hat on scheme, you don't win that way. You hang your hat on the things that mean the most and those things are, again, being relentless, playing hard, playing smart and playing physical in the game. I'm excited to get to work on Monday with our guys when we get in here and start laying our foundation for this coming season.
Q: So are you saying that your scheme is going to be some of everything?
A: I think it will be. Really, what you do in the offseason is you start to determine who you are because, right now, if you ask me who we are on defense, I have no clue. We're going to get to work day one and we're going to stack a great meeting on Monday and we're going to do some instillation of scheme and we're going to start to build our foundation for who we're going to be as a defense and then as we get through OTAs, we're going to be a little closer to determining who we are, and then as we get through training camp, by the end of training camp, we'll know who we are as a defense and what that looks like. Whether it's a five, six-man pressure team or whether it's a four-man rush team playing coverage -- whatever those things look like, that's what we need to be in terms of scheme.
Q: How do you coach that relentlessness?
A: Number one, it's about what the players believe and what I mean by that is I can talk until I'm blue in the face about playing hard, playing fast, playing smart, playing physical. But in our room, the accountability our players hold to each other, that's what will determine whether we play hard, whether we play smart or whether we play physical. That was something that was really exciting about coming here, is the core group of players we have here and guys that you've seen on tape running around, striking people, playing hard and playing smart. So how do you coach it? You get your core players in the room to believe in it and then from there it's the ownership factor.
Q: It seems like that from the personnel moves that you guys have made that at least the base of your defense is going to look like a 3-4. Is that something that has to be declared or decided?
A: I think each and every down we might look different on defense. But again, I'll tell you what -- I can't tell you today who we're going to be on defense and really what we're going to look like until we get through training camp, until we get into meetings, until we actually get on the field, until we don't just play some basketball on grass in the offseason program. Until we get to training camp and we have helmets and pads on and we're striking and separating and playing off of blocks and what we're really going to look like. But yeah, there are certainly some 3-4 principles if that's a term we want to use. There are certainly some 4-3 principles if that's a term you want to use. At the end of the day, it's about playing hard with a relentless mindset, playing fast, playing physical and being a smart football team.
Q: What does Alec Ogletree bring to the team in terms of playing relentless?
A: Yeah, I saw him up close and personal in Arizona during our time there. Did him when he came out in the draft and was a guy that was always, we always thought he was a smart player, we always thought he was a guy you could see during a course of a game that was leading other players on the field and they had a bunch of talent on that defense and for you to be a guy that is leading a defense that's that talented says something about you and your character. You watch his play and I'm not just talking about his ability to make tackles or run down things on the sideline, I'm talking about his play, his mindset, his physicality at which he plays the game, how hard and passionate he plays the game. Those were some of the first things that jumped off the charts for me when we had a chance to get him here. Certainly excited about him as a leader and a guy that is going to bring a ton of energy to our room.
Q: What have you seen from Olivier Vernon and his potential as an outside linebacker?
A: OV is going to be a guy -- I've had Chandler Jones, Marcus Golden, shoot even when you talk about older players, a John Abraham, a Dwight Freeney that's played in this system who have been 4-3 if you want to classify them as 4-3 defensive ends playing in this same system. Guys that have had a ton of success, guys that have been double-digit sack guys in this system. His versatility, his ability to rush from different angles. We've all seen him drop in space and flip his hips and do some of those things. If you went and looked at our tape in Arizona and you saw Chandler Jones, we didn't make our money in Arizona on defense with Chandler Jones dropping and playing in space a bunch. It's things that you do as great changeups, things that you do to allow you to attack offenses in different ways, and I think that's how he'll fit in.
Q: You're not committed to exactly what you're going to do with this team, but you do know what guys have done in the past. Is this going to be a big change for a lot of guys based on what they've previously done in their careers?
A: No, I don't think so. I think if you're a three technique, a defensive tackle, and you line up over a guard and your job is to get off the ball and strike the guy in the V of the neck and press and separate and win in your gap, that's what you do if you're a 4-3 defensive tackle or a 3-4 defensive tackle. That job doesn't change and that job description won't change for our guys. (Damon) "Snacks" (Harrison) up front, a guy that can play off of blocks, can occupy space, can command double teams, can change, really the line scrimmage -- he's going to do those same kind of things in this scheme, that's not going to change for him.
Q: Does Landon Collins stay at strong safety or does he become that money backer position that you had with (Deone) Bucannon?
A: I look at him as a guy -- we had some guys in Arizona, Tyvon Branch and before Tyvon we had Tony Jefferson who played strong safety for us who could play both high, could play down in the box, could cover tight ends, could blitz off the edge. That's what I see with Landon, a guy who is very versatile in what he can do. You might see a snap where he's down covering a tight end in the box, you might see a snap where he's in the half field playing deep or in the middle of the field playing deep or you might see snaps where he's blitzing off the edge. I think that's the versatility a guy like him lends and that's something that as you look and study defenses across the league and you talk to offensive guys of what gives them trouble, it's players that have that versatility -- that one snap they're down in the box and the next snap they're playing high. That kind of versatility gives offenses trouble and I'm excited to have a chance to work with him.
Q: How important was it to bring in people who knew you and knew your scheme?
A: Sure. I think the first thing with those kind of guys you have a chance to acquire and bring in -- number one is they check the character box. Those guys that we brought in, they love to play football and they play it the right way, both of those two guys. They play hard, they play fast, they play smart and physical and that was the number one thing. Number two is certainly knowing the scheme, having some awareness, Josh (Mauro) being in the D-line room, that's certainly going to be something for those guys. Then Kareem (Martin) in the linebacker room in giving the guys someone, 'Hey, what is this?' Or some of that side conversation or some of the conversation that happens outside of the building when those guys are kind of building the core of who we are as a defense and having conversations. So, the first thing was the character, football character, defensive football character was the thing that both of those guys checked and the second thing is certainly to have some smarts in the room.
Q: What do you make of Eli Apple?
A: Very talented player. I did him when he was coming out in the draft, really liked his skill set. He's a guy who can play man, who can press, who can play zone defense in space, who can break on the ball and very excited next week to get him here and get to work and have a chance to work with these guys this offseason. He's a guy that -- I think it's a guy that has expectations for himself and that's the most important thing. I think any player that I've ever been around, whether it's Patrick Peterson or you want to talk about Kareem Martin in guys who have improved from the first day that I met them until where they're at right now. A guy like Kareem, one of the most improved players that I've ever been around in the four years that I was around Kareem so far to Patrick Peterson -- these guys have expectations of themself that supersede my expectations, that supersede yours, that supersede anyone within the organization. If guys don't have those kinds of expectations for themselves, they generally will fall short of anything we had hoped they could be as a player and that expectation as an individual player is kind of their motivating factor and I believe he has that and I'm excited for him and we're going to get this thing going for him and for other guys on this defense.
Q: He was one of the three players suspended last year. Do you feel like that has to be something that you have to address and how do you plan on handling that?
A: Day one is Monday. Day one is Monday. That is how I will answer that. Day one is Monday and every guy that walks in that room, day one is Monday. So, whatever happened before, whether it was here or whether it was with a different team, guys that we draft, whether it was in college, whatever it was that has happened with guys, day one is Monday, day one is the first day those guys walk in the building and we're going to build from there.
Q: You mentioned the opportunity in coming to the Giants. Can you describe the process of rolling out a new defense with a new team?
A: Number one is it's exciting. It's exciting to sit down when you're a guy that just loves the game. I just love football, I love watching football, I love talking about it, I love being around it. I probably tire my wife out very much when we watch football. We're home and it's in-season and it's a Saturday afternoon when we have some time and we have college football in the house and we're watching ball, so it's an exciting time. It's a time where you have to be very planned out and thorough. I've had some great conversations with Coach Shurmur about some of the direction, some of the things we want to do here on defense. Great conversations with this group of defensive coaches we have, who are a bunch of outstanding coaches and had some great dialogue about building our defense. I'm not trying to correct you in any way, but this is going to be the New York Football Giants defense. This isn't going to be James Bettcher's defense. This is going to be our players' defense, this is going to be these assistant coaches' defense, this is going to be our defense. As we sit through and go through putting it together as a staff, we've had some great conversations and great pieces have been added from other guys in the room, so that's what I love about it -- when you kind of start from scratch and that's really what we've done. We've taken some of the things we've done in Arizona and we've kind of thrown it in a pot and we've went through it day-by-day, piece-by-piece and started to build some of the structure of what we would like to do here. Then as we kind of talked about before, that's just a starting point because really the work gets done when we get on the field and see what our guys do best. Then the work gets done when we come in the meeting room after that practice and hear feedback from our players and also feedback from the coaches in the room and kind of determine what's next or what's going to be best for us as a defense as we build. But, I'm excited about that and it's really an ongoing process and that's one of the reasons I love coaching.
Q: Does your wife like football?
A: She loves it.
Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
Q: What do you do for a punter and a placekicker?
A: You go find one. No, we have some guys in the building that are already on the roster. Obviously we're going to create some competition there, add a piece or two. We'll see what happens.
Q: What kind of message does it send to the special teams coordinator, but also the team, when it seems like every free agent that you guys signed besides Nate Solder has that special teams background and not just the background, but they've excelled in that role? Do you see all those pieces coming together before you even get these guys in the building?
A: Absolutely. I think that obviously from the top down we understand the importance of special teams and field position in being able to impact the game. I think that obviously with the moves that we've made we're making strides in that direction and we look forward to getting better.
Q: Do you view Mike Thomas as one of the best in the league at special teams?
A: Absolutely. Mike is the ultimate competitor, he does an outstanding job in the coverage game, he's a smart player. I'm kind of biased towards Mike, he's a Houston guy and a good friend of mine. David Suggs was his high school coach who gave me my first job, so there's some background there. But Mike is a high impact player and we look forward to him making big plays.
Q: You hear sometimes special teams coaches say we'll see what the 53 is on game day and then we'll kind of maneuver guys around. But when the resumes of guys that you've signed are good on special teams, you're not hiding the intent here, right?
A: Oh, absolutely. You always want to be the best and I think that when you look at building a roster from the top down, the bottom up, yeah you've got to have those pieces and I think those pieces are extremely important for us to move forward as a unit and as a team to get back to where we want to be.
Q: Aldrick Rosas was really inconsistent last year. What do you see as far as his opportunity here still?
A: I see a kid that was a rookie last year and like most rookies in this league, they're inconsistent. It's rare where you see a rookie that just comes in and just rips it up just walking through the door. He's young and like Dave Gettleman always says, we're not going to give up on talent. He's a talented guy and there's some things that he can do that a lot of people can't do and I think there's some talent there and we're going to work with that talent.
Q: What's it like coming back for you?
A: It's great. It's like coming back home. I mean, it really is. When you walk in this building, you spent so many hours in this building and being in this indoor facility now and seeing the banners and being able to see the view of the city from the practice field, there are very few places on this earth like the New York Giants and it's really good to be back.
Defensive Line Coach Gary Emanuel
Q: With what you guys are going to try and do up front, do you view a guy like (Damon) "Snacks" (Harrison) as that centerpiece, that anchor up front?
A: Well, we're going to look at everybody, but obviously Snacks is one of the better players in the league, not only on the team. So, we anticipate him doing a great job there and in the defensive line area, whether it's over the center, over the guard as the three-technique or playing nose guard, it really doesn't make any difference.
Q: Do you view a guy like Tomlinson or Snacks as guys that can bounce around up front depending on what you want to do?
A: Absolutely. We think they both are phenomenal football players and great young men. I haven't had a chance to talk much football with them because you can't based on the rules, but they're guys we're looking forward to working with and to see where they are and then they should be able to help us out in all areas, whether it's playing three-technique or nose guard or whatever the case might be.
Q: You've had some experience with the Colts with converting defensive ends from the 4-3 into the 3-4; can you just talk about some of the challenges with that?
A: Well, the biggest challenge is probably the guys themselves because when I was with the Colts, the biggest part was with (Dwight) Freeney and (Robert) Mathis. All their whole careers they were going forward chasing the quarterback and now you're asking them to drop back in coverage from time-to-time and do their jobs here, so that's the biggest challenge of those guys and learning and being more involved in coverages than what they were. Usually the front guys are just involved in going forward, attacking the line of scrimmage, playing in man and now they have to drop back, now they might have to pick up some combination routes, whether it's one or two, chasing number one, they're chasing number two whether he's dropping to the seam or dropping to the flat. That is the biggest challenge for them.
Q: Coach Bettcher mentioned that Kareem Martin will be in the linebacker room, but watching a lot of tape on the Cardinals from last year his linebackers will then go play defensive line on third down and put their hands in the dirt. Do you guys cross coach those guys?
A: Usually what happens is, they would be working with the outside linebackers during the week doing first and second down stuff and then usually on a Thursday or something like that you have a sub-day, which is third down. Everybody in the league has a third down day, so when you have third down days you go to all the guys that are going to be rushing the quarterback, they are usually in the same room together and the guys that are going to be in coverage, they're in a room together, so you kind of build things together there. So yeah, you have the defensive tackles and the outside linebackers there in that one room.
Q: What are some of the things you would need to drill with a guy like an OV who is going to go from a DE to an OLB? Would it be get off, speed, angles?
A: Well you said all the things there that is playing football. All those things -- get off, speed, angles, dropping into coverage, using their hands, just working their footwork. All those things they're still playing football. Everyone gets so confused with 3-4, 4-3. It's still playing football because when they run block you've still got to do your feet to run, when they pass you've got to cover the pass whether you're rushing the quarterback or dropping into coverage.
Q: Do you think a guy like OV will be able to make the adjustment?
A: He's an outstanding football player and a great young man who is willing to work hard, so I think you have no problem making the transition. He will learn the coverages and learn all the fronts and everything we need to do, so he'll be fine.
Linebackers Coach Bill McGovern
Q: What are your challenges moving forward? Have to put what you had here last year behind you, and how do you attack this new defense?
A: It's an exciting time. We're getting a little bit of new blood in and obviously, some guys will be playing some different positions, but it's the same scheme that I've dealt with in the past. But obviously, [Defensive Coordinator] James [Bettcher] has been around it a long time and understands it better and we're looking to just kind of move forward with the guys that we have.
Q: What do you see from linebacker Alec Ogletree on tape?
A: I see a guy who's a playmaker. You can tell he takes the lead out on the field on the defensive side of the ball. He can run and hit, he shows up, he flashes on the pass rush game too. So, we're excited to have him.
Q: How important is that leadership element after last year?
A: It doesn't matter any year, you always want the leadership out there. And again, every position would like to have it come from their position, but in particular, it's naturally expected to come from a linebacker group and we're excited to have Alec.
Q: Is it an unusual dynamic, being a part of last year's staff and sticking around to be a part of the new coaching staff?
A: No, I don't think so. I think being in the profession a long time, you get to know a lot of guys. And obviously, I've worked with Shurm [Head Coach Pat Shurmur], I've known Bettch [Bettcher], we've talked way back when I was at Boston College, we'd spend time together, talking ball. [Defensive Line Coach] Gary Emanuel and myself worked together at UMass. So, there's a lot of connections there. It's just an exciting time to get with them all. Each year you never know who you're going to be working with, but you're excited to have some guys that you've been around and have the same general beliefs with.
Q: Will you have more bodies in your linebacker room now?
A: Yes. As we start out with a 3-4 [defense], so we'll have a Sam, a Will, and a Mike and a Moe. But [Assistant Linebackers Coach] Robbie Leonard will also be working with me with the linebackers too.
Q: You would probably have a guy like defensive end Olivier Vernon in the linebackers room, right?
A: Right. We would expect to have OV [Olivier Vernon] there, yeah.
Q: Is it interesting for you to now have the chance to work with Vernon?
A: Right, you're excited to work with a guy like him. OV not only is a real professional, he's a guy that's obviously got a great deal of talent that we're looking to kind of get him on the field and kind of let his talents kind of take over.
Q: How difficult is that transition for Vernon?
A: He's had some work at it in the past in Miami a little bit way back when. But, it's going to be one of those things; initially it's always a little bit different if you get your hand down, when you're standing up. Or your eye level, your eyes, it's different right from that point. But it won't be a long adjustment. That's what the offseason program is hopefully for and preseason camp, give the guys enough chances to get familiar with it.
Q: How does linebacker B.J. Goodson fit into this defense?
A: We're looking for B.J. to come back, we're excited for him. Obviously we thought a lot of him last year, but unfortunately he got injured. So, excited to see him when he gets back and see how he is after the injury and the rehab.
Assistant Offensive Line Coach Ben Wilkerson
Q: I'm trying to wrap my head around the transition in going from left tackle to right tackle and what's involved. I know we talk about footwork, I've heard about landmarks. Can you shed a little bit more light on exactly what goes into that kind of a transition?
A: Well, when you have a person that has played left tackle for a while, there's a lot of mechanics that are kind of set in place and to make that transition, it takes a little time, it takes a little transition, but it's more so about your willingness to make the transition and willingness to push through some of the hard times. It's not going to be as seamless for some as it is to others, but it can be done. It's been done throughout the league and throughout the history of this game. It's just about your mentality and your approach to making that transition. So, of course the technique is involved, the body mechanics, footwork, all the way up to hand placement. It's not different than any other position and all those things have to be continued to be taught and reinforced and it can be done.
Q: Is it easier to go from left guard to right guard?
A: Sometimes it can be, I'll say that and again, it's all about the player and what they're able to do and what their mindset is when it comes to making that transition. Again, it's been shown that it's been easier for some and harder for others, so I don't want to sit here and say that it's easier from a guard position compared to a tackle position, it all depends on the player at the end of the day.
Q: Do you look at the talent and say, 'Okay, you know what? Based on what we're seeing and what we've been drilling, maybe this is going to be a better zone block team as opposed to a power block team.' Do you have that kind of input and do you base what you're going to contribute to the overall plan based on what you see or do you go in with a set mindset?
A: Well, at the end of the day you always want to try to establish an identity from a scheme, from an offensive line room as far as what you're good at and what you want to hang your hat on from a game plan standpoint. We won't know that for certain until we get the players in and find out exactly what we're able to do, whether it be a zone scheme, gap scheme, more power stuff, more outside zone stuff. All of those things play a part and our approach is to evaluate the guys once they step into the building, and see what we have, and what they're able to do and we'll put together the best game plan possible with the players that we do have.
Q: You were a former offensive lineman. Do you feel like you have a perspective that you can bring to these guys as you coach them?
A: It definitely does help. In my short experience that I've had coaching in this league, I've had a great relationship and great rapport with the players that I've worked with. My playing experience did help as far as building a bridge between the player and coach relationship and they would always come to me with questions, 'What did you do here? How did you see this when you did it?' Having that experience to draw from definitely helps and it helps to build the relationship that you need to be a successful O-line coach and to help develop a successful offensive line room.
Offensive Line Coach Hal Hunter
Q: What did you do last year?
A: I took the year off. I've been coaching for 35 straight years, so when I parted ways with the Cleveland Browns, I had some opportunities, but I wanted to get in the right opportunity and the right opportunity didn't present itself, so I decided to take some time off. Went and visited some colleges, watched what they were doing in college because basically what they're doing in college, we eventually get here in the NFL, So, I visited some colleges. Then I went down with some people that I knew in the NFL, went down and spent some time with some NFL programs. You never get a chance to see how other people do things. You're only on the staff that you're on. So, I spent some time with some other people. Watched a lot of video tapes, and then just basically prepared myself to get back in the NFL this year. So, I knew I'd be back in. So, when it rolled around about December/January and everything starts, the musical chairs start again, I had a couple different opportunities and this opportunity presented itself and I jumped at it.
Q: Have you defined what kind of scheme you're going to be running with the offensive line?
A: No, I mean it's an NFL-type scheme. It'll be just a mix of everything. It'll be power offense, it'll be zone offense, it'll be drop back passing, it'll be a variety of different things. You have a lot of different coaches with a lot of different backgrounds, they bring a lot of different things. We have a lot of coaches with a lot of experience. So, I think you bring the experience from all those different things, where we've been and all those different places and then you try to pick and choose to put the best thing. I think the most important thing for an offensive line, for an offense, is to fit what you do to the personnel that you have. It's square peg, square hole. That's kind of what you need to be.
Q: What did you see when you went over the film of tackle Ereck Flowers?
A: I've looked at some tape. I've had a couple conversations with him on the phone, I'm looking forward to seeing him here in the near future. Anything that I've talked about him, it's kind of private. It's like when you have a conversation with somebody, I like to keep it private because if it's not private, if he reads about it in the paper or on the internet, then he'll never have a conversation with me again. So, I'd like to keep what I've seen him do in the past, I've discussed with the head coach and the personnel people, but I'd like to keep that just between them and us. And then basically when I've had a chance to work with him - you can't do anything in phase one except meet him, but phase two, and then minicamp, then OTAs, I'll have a better understanding of being able to say, 'Hey, this is what I see now working with him.' So, I'd kind of like to hold off on that. I've had a lot of players that have come into my office and visited with me and I've talked with a lot of guys on the phone. I've been really encouraged by them reaching out to me and wanting to visit and we've had a lot of conversations. But like that, I've told them that I wanted them to be honest with me. And so, with that honesty comes having some confidentially with that so that they'll continue to be honest with me. But I can say one thing: they've been very positive and very enthusiastic and I'm looking forward to getting them in the room and working with them.
Q: Can you talk about the transition from the left side to the right side for Flowers?
A: Yeah, the left side or the right side, I don't think the assignments are that tough. It might not be quite as hard, but it would be like, I golf right-handed, if all of a sudden I have to golf left-handed, it's going to be awhile. He's been playing left tackle for a long time. He's been playing it in college and I remember we had a pre-draft visit with him, I met him at the Combine a few years ago. Good, solid left tackle. So, the footwork is going to be different. Everything is going to be just the opposite and he's a good enough athlete that he's going to be able to adjust to all of that, but it's like anything. You're writing and all of a sudden you guys all have to write left-handed. You can do it, but it takes some time to adjust. So, there has to be a patience on the learning curve. Like again, the better the athlete, the easier the transition and he is a good athlete.
Q: Does Flowers' age make him a bit of blank slate, or does his experience cancel that out?
A: Well, it depends. Until you actually get your hands on somebody and work with them. Nobody is a real blank slate. He's had a high school coach, he's had a college coach, I believe he's had two coaches here since he's been here at the Giants. So, everybody has different ways, so sometimes you have to erase the tape. Sometimes you can't just re-record over it. So, it'll take some time to get him doing some things that we want him to do then, but I know both his offensive line coaches that he's had in the past. I've known them for a long time and they were very experienced, very highly though of coaches in this league. And I know things that they teach are fundamentally sound.
Defensive Backs Coach Lou Anarumo
Q: How do you go forward with Eli Apple?
A: At the end of the day, the guy is still a very, very young guy and a very young player. I liked him coming out of Ohio State. When he walks in the room and you don't know anything, you see a big, tall, long, athletic guy and in this league, there's just not a ton of those guys. So with a guy that's that young and going to be in a position to make plays, I can't wait to start working with him on Monday.
Q: Has Janoris (Jenkins) come back?
A: Yeah, yeah. I've met with most of the guys. I've spoke to really all of the players and stuff and they're all excited to be back and he's in particular rehabbing and doing things like that so he's anxious and ready to go.
Q: The scheme is just about the same in the back in any defense I would assume, right?
A: Well I mean every defense is unique. You're going to play a different brand of football and different styles. I know [Defensive Coordinator James] Bettcher's system is going to be multiple and it will give the offenses different things to look at so I don't think it will be exactly the same of what we've done. There will be certain tweaks that his scheme brings and how we like to play so I think everybody is a little bit different.
Q: The room that you inherited had a bunch of problems in it last year.
A: The DB [defensive backs] room is always full of characters.
Q: Have you had a chance to talk to any of the guys already?
A: Yeah. As soon as I got the job I called them on the phone and got a chance to meet these guys and get to know them and then on Monday, obviously it will be the first time face to face and get to work with them so I'm looking forward to it.
Q: Do you have any idea how you're going to approach the issues from last year?
A: I have zero concerns. I wasn't here so I just look at everything going forward and I think every coach has probably said it so far that we're starting with a clean slate. It's a 0-0 record and let's go. We'll start from there so that's all we can do, that's all I can control and I think the guys will appreciate that as well. Good, bad or indifferent. Even if they had a great year last year, it doesn't matter. Everybody starts 0-0 this time. So Super Bowl champs or 3-13, everybody is the same right now and you got to put that in the past and move forward.
Q: Have you had a chance to speak with Eli Apple?
A: Yeah and again, I wasn't here so the only thing I can say is my conversations with him have been very positive. I know he wants to get back on the field as fast as he can and he's ready to move forward with all of that stuff and so am I. Again, all positive stuff.
Q: Do you have any depth concerns? Obviously losing Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is a pretty big blow.
A: I think this league, especially at the corner position, it's such a high quality that when you lose a guy or two - and inevitably that happens, guys get injured, so I think that the guys that we're going to bring in, whether it be through free agency and coming here through the draft, we'll build the depth and work on it from there. So today, I'm not worried about it.
Q: What do you look for in your defensive backs? Is it simple coverage? Is it smarts?
A: Yeah, it's a combination of all of that. The great players that I've had and that I've been able to coach, the guys that have made Pro Bowls and have been pro bowl type players and all pros, they've had those things that you've mentioned whether it be one of those qualities or all of them. You want guys that can obviously run and that can cover and that are smart and can see the field. Different positions require different athletic techniques and responsibilities, but overall the more of those things they have, the better chance they have to be good players. So we're looking for guys that can at the end of the day cover and that's what this league is about. Get in front of a guy and cover the guy in front of you. It's as simple as that.
Q: How much hitting is involved?
A: A lot. We've got the challenges of the new rules these days and how that's going to come into play, but those guys all have to be physical players and get guys on the ground, especially at the safety position. Everybody that we look for that way will have to be able to do those things.
Assistant Defensive Backs Coach Deshea Townsend
Q: Do you feel like you have enough defensive backs here?
A: Yeah, we're just starting that process. [Head] Coach [Pat [Shurmur], they'll do a good job of getting what we need in the room. But the one thing that we'll have to have is the mindset that we're going to compete.
Q: How much does it help having played in the NFL for as long as you did?
A: I think it just gives them another side of perspective of what it takes to be a pro. That's one thing that I always share with the guys, is what it took for me to make it this long. But also, give them some insight on what is going to happen to them on the field. If I can help you from making the pitfall or the mistake that I made, that's my job. And I think being a player, it gives me a little insight to help them.
Q: Have you been able to talk to cornerback Eli Apple about off the field things?
A: Well, you know, for him we haven't really had the opportunity to sit down and do all that. But, my job as a coach is to be as transparent with my guys as I can. Like I said, whatever mistake I made, my job is to make sure they don't make it. And if I can help you be a better pro, I can only give you what helped me. And that's the thing about our unit – we're going to be one, we're going to be close, but we're going to work. That has to be the mindset of our room.
Q: When you look at the off the field issues of the defensive backs from season, how do you go about getting them to be together and close?
A: Well, the good thing is it's a new year and the mindset of Coach Shurmur, of Coach Bettcher, is we're going to be a unit. We can only get it done when we get to work, when we get out here on the field and we start to talk about our message, start to talk about what it takes for the Giants to be successful and that's what we'll do.
Q: Do you think your playing experience will help get that message across?
A: Well, the one thing we know, it'll be said. The one thing I know from the groups that I've played in, the good defenses that I've been on, the good units that you see in the NFL, it's only done one way. It's done right. If it's not right, it's wrong and that has to be the message we have to have in the building.
Q: From a talent perspective, what do you see in Eli Apple?
A: Well, you know, there's a reason you went in the first round. He's a big guy, he can run, he'll tackle and that's the thing it takes to be a good corner, if you can get close in coverage. Everybody, every day, the one thing you can always control is your technique. We'll work that daily. Tackling, you'll work that. But he has God-given ability that most people don't have. He's 6'1", runs a 4.4 and he'll hit you. So, that's something good to work with.
Q: What is your initial impression of cornerback Janoris Jenkins?
A: I love him. Same thing. Those guys, they're professional corners. They've got a skillset that most people don't have. They can cover. For him, he can get really sticky, he can piece. And that's the one thing that you love to see when you watch him on tape. You love the way that he goes out and he applies himself, he's emotional. The life of a corner is different. We have to have a different mentality out there than most people have and he has it.
Q: What will you tell these cornerbacks about blitzing and coaching them up there?
A: Well, the one thing I've always believed is, when you do get the opportunity to blitz, think about what it feels like when you're covering. So, that has to be your mindset. Think about the other guys out there with their life on the line, to say. But, think about it when you're going in there, with your attack, your plan that you have, to go to the quarterback. And that's the urgency that you have to have. Your brothers holding on back there for as long as they can, let's go get the quarterback.
Q: Why was Curtis Riley a guy that you wanted?
A: Well for one, he's a guy that, he has some NFL experience. He's a smart guy. He'll be able to pick up the defense, he'll be able to line some guys up and he has some athletic ability. I think he's a good player, he's a player that's played in the NFL and he'll be a good pickup for us.
Tight Ends Coach Lunda Wells
Q: Can you talk about making the transition from offensive line to tight ends coach?
A: It's been pretty smooth so far. Embracing the role of learning a new offense, starting at ground zero just like everybody else in the offense. I'm understanding that with the position of coaching the tight ends, your extension of the offensive line coach in the run game and your extension of the quarterback and the receiving coach in the pass game, so understanding that and embracing those two areas, it's been pretty smooth so far.
Q: Did you ever play tight end?
A: Never played tight end. I should have. I've got some gloves. (Laughs)
Q: What kind of potential do you think (Evan) Engram has?
A: Just like all the other guys in the room, we all understand that he has a unique skillset that allows him to be a pretty good athlete, pretty good player in the pass game. Potential wise, his ceiling is real high. He's a high character guy, he's a guy that comes in and works hard, so he has a lot of potential in year two. He understands just like anything that he has to approach it as doing his job to the best of his ability better than it has been done before and I think that's the role that every guy in that room is going to have to embrace to continue to reach the potential that they can possibly reach.
Q: You were on the line last year, so did you go back and watch last year and focus on the tight ends?
A: Absolutely. The biggest thing that stood out is it's a group that really did a nice job of competing and playing hard. Again, each individual has a unique skillset and you can see that on the tape. Like all things, each guy has things that they need to improve on and obviously you were able to see that on tape, but overall the group did a great job of competing, embracing the role that they had last year and they've got a lot of upside in that room.
Q: Do you see Evan as a type of player that you can move around? Or do you see him as strictly a tight end?
A: Honestly again, he's a guy that we all understand he has a unique skillset in terms of the pass game, but he's a very sharp kid and he can do a little bit of it all. I can't say that I can see him as just a guy that is split out because I think we'd be doing an injustice to him because he is a very sharp kid and a willing blocker and a guy that's willing to do everything that goes into it. He's a guy that we can play at the Y-tight end, we can split him out. I think you're going to see some of that this year in terms of him being able to play in a lot of different spots.
Q: Is it a priority for you guys to have him improve as a blocker?
A: Me being a tight ends coach, I look at it as the characteristics and the traits of the tight end room. So, for him personally I don't want to just focus in on him getting better at the blocking. I want him to talk about in terms of the whole room understanding, 'Hey, the characteristics of being a tight end for the New York Football Giants you have to embrace and be a willing blocker.' That means mentally being tough, that means in the classroom and on the field understanding the different techniques that go into blocking and then you have to understand the details of the pass game and the different routes and how we can be more effective as pass catching tight ends for all the guys, not just Evan or Rhett (Ellison) or Jerell (Adams) or Kyle (Carter). I think it's collective as a group with everybody understanding all that goes into us producing to the best of our abilities, so that we can in turn give the team a good opportunity to be successful.