Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher
Coming off really, you can say it has been six OTA practices, two mini camp practices or you could say we have been working really seven, eight weeks with this group of guys. However you look at it and slice it up, the thing that has been, for me, really redeeming of all the things is the classroom work. It has been really great for us. Everyone wants to talk about on the field, but the truth is, we are not in pads right now. A lot of that is going to be determined when we put pads on and things start happening live, fast and physical. The things that are going on in the classroom, those are all the building blocks. That is where you address the fundamentals where guys need to improve. That is where you address effort, execution, being on the same page, communication, whatever that might be. That is where all those building blocks happen. I love how this group meets. It might be a crazy thing for you to hear, but I love how they meet. Guys ask questions and are highly engaged. They are not just talking about scheme, but they are talking about what the opponent is going to do to the scheme. We are having some of those conversations right now, which is really important to build those blocks now as we head into the summer and into training camp. Really excited about that. I think these last two days of mini camp have been really competitive. Guys have been jawing, but it has been great conversation. Guys have been challenging each other to get better. I am not talking about offense and defense, I am talking about on the defensive side of the ball. Anything that is coach driven is not going to be nearly as successful as things that are player driven. Our guys are driving it right now. They are the driving force of the work and the driving force of ownership. They are the driving force of accountability on defense and, to me, that is another part that has been exciting. Other than that, we have one more tomorrow and then a week next week of four days. We have to stack good meetings and good practices. When we get back and put pads on, we will really see where we are at.
Q: Are the meetings and the attention to that a product of the youth and trying to soak it all in?
A: I think it is a product of a great mesh of young and old. Wise, smart guys that mesh really well. For the guys that are returning, this is the second year in the system, so it is not really just what to do, it is how to do it. It is young guys asking good questions, coming prepared and being challenged in their position rooms by their coaches to know more than just A, B and C and move past that. That was an emphasis for us as a staff as we went along. We really wanted to push things as much as we could. We knew we were going to have some younger players on the field. We need those guys when they come out of this phase of the season, they need to be further ahead than maybe a year ago or at other places that I have been. I think it is a good combination of both.
Q: Impressions of the young guys up front?
A: They are working extremely hard and doing everything they are asked to do. Very aware of things they need to improve on. I think I said it before, we are really big on writing prescriptions for our players. The thing they individually need to improve on, we include our players in those conversations as well. We need to be on the same page position coach to player. That group is one of the epitomes to that. When you talk about two or three of those guys that are young but not young anymore, they are veteran players. B.J. is a veteran player now. He played a full season and he started games, he is a veteran player now. Those guys are really aware. For D-linemen and front guys, individual fundamentals and techniques are really what you can work on during this phase then just knowing why you are doing what you are doing. The action of it, there is nothing like putting pads on and getting pad on to pad.
Q: Do you think you can be more interchangeable upfront?
A: I think you have to be the way the league is now. I think there is enough motions, adjustments and offensive guys are good enough now. For the most part, they are not going to let a nose just sit there and play nose the whole game. They are going to make him slide and extend the play on guards and edges of guards. They are going to motion and do enough to have to be interchangeable enough to defend what we see from an offensive standpoint. Number two, I think they all have enough position flex to do that. We want guys to have the flexibility to play up and down the line. A really good NFL defensive line room has a great rotation. The four, five and six hole spots, whoever those guys are, gaining reps, 15 snaps, 12 snaps, 20 snaps depending on the game, those are important snaps just like the other snaps.
Q: Progress from Lorenzo Carter?
A: He is rushing with a plan. When you see him rush, a year ago he was trying to get off the ball as quick as he could and use his hands when he could. Now, you see a guy that is aware of how he wants to rush, aware of techniques that he wants to rush with. Guys that get in there as pass rushers, I have been in there and have coached them before personally, you see their best growth in the two and three years. You start to figure out what they are as rushers. Whether you are Chandler Jones and a really bloody rusher or a speed counter guy. He is really starting to figure that out. He is building his pass rush toolbox right now. The second thing, he is practicing as hard as anyone on the field right now. He is running around and has been a great example that we have been able to show defensively of just straining and effort, finish.
Q: Are you confident you will have a pass rush that is good enough to help your back end?
A: I do. I believe we can and that will reveal itself when we get to training camp. When we get pads on and things start happening live and there are 50-50 downs. Everyone wants to rush well on third down. It is all those 50-50 downs that are 50 percent run, 50 percent pass. That makes up the larger portions of the game. That is when you have to find out how good guys are as rushers. You won’t know that until you put pads on. It is run one snap, then it is the play-action pass. The ability to disrupt the pocket on those downs will be important.
Q: DeAndre Baker?
A: Like all those young guys, he is working and coming with good questions. Him, Grant and Beal, all those guys are competing their butts off to be the guy opposite Jack.
Q: Alec Ogletree?
A: This is his second year in the system. You get a guy like AB (Antoine Bethea) who has been in the system before who really can get in the conversations of how we are doing it and what we should expect in certain coverages, that is where Tree is at now. He is in his second year. He is really working on his core fundamentals, but the other side of it, how are we going to attack this coverage? Where is the soft spot in coverage and how can we defend it? I think that is really what happens when guys come into the second year.
Q: Are you managing Markus Golden’s workload?
A: With anyone that has been injured, you find when you push him, pull him back and push him. At the end of the day, all of us are shooting for training camp and everyone being ready to go. That is not to say he is not 100 percent today, but we want all of our guys ready to go when we go to training camp.
Offensive Coordinator Mike Shula
Q: What has impressed you most about Jones at this point in terms of what he is able to do out there as a rookie?
A: I think there is a few things. Again, we’re still in the offseason. He’s got a fast mind, he picks things up pretty well. The things that you ask him to do to maybe make a couple changes, maybe that were different to what he was used to in college, he does pretty quickly. Whether or not its technique in the pocket, everything that we have asked him to do he’s done it pretty quickly. I think the other things is he’s pretty athletic and he’s very serious about his job. We all are but you see that maturity level in him. Which is obviously one of the reasons we got him here.
Q: It looks like his decision making is pretty quick, is it quicker than the typical rookie?
A: It’s hard to say. Rookies are always going to be (thinking) you have to get the ball out quicker. For the most part if it’s not quick enough the first time he runs the play the second time it’s usually pretty quick. I think again back to the learning and kind of how he picks things up. I think it’s kind of on par of what we thought when we drafted him.
Q: Do you think his mobility has been underrated?
A: I think he has that element. With his size, he’s fast. He has straight on speed, he’s fast and he’s got good feet in the pocket. He’s got some good quickness, he’s a good athlete. He’s one of those guys that if you’re playing a pick-up game in any sport you are probably going to pick him pretty close to number one.
Q: During this three-day span what do you think should be his biggest takeaway?
A: I think the biggest thing is to just kind of stay on track with what he’s doing. At this position as we know you want to make the right decision, get the ball to the right receiver on time and accurately. As you continue to do that, the more consistently you do that, the better you are going to be. I think that’s his goal each and every day. I think the other thing, kind of getting back to the first two questions, that has shown out that’s impressive is if he has a bad play an interception or a forced throw, something that’s bad, maybe he has a mental error, at least right now it doesn’t bother him and he goes on to the next play. He really wants to make sure he doesn’t do it again. When we debrief after practice in our meetings he’s really good about that. He takes a lot of pride in not making that same mistake.
Q: I don’t want to compare him to anybody else, but you coached Cam (Newton) you know what a mobile running threat quarterback can bring to an offense. Can you see that dynamic with Daniel moving forward?
A: Probably the difference is Cam is so big. Cam’s 250, we got him at 249 but he probably played at a little more than that after. You did things with Cam that you probably would never do with any other quarterback maybe ever, just the physical part of it. Having a quarterback run power which is an inside power gap scheme that you give to the big fullbacks. Other than that I would say there are some similarities with his feet and his quickness. So, there’s some things that we could possibly look into with him running the ball a little bit.
Q: How has Kyle been – given where he is on the depth chart?
A: He’s been good, Kyle’s been great. We talked before and after the draft. As we all know in football and life whatever we are doing the only thing we can control is yourself. Just keep working on getting better and when you have your opportunity make the best of it. You can see with him, with his comfort level compared to this time last year and where he has come from. He’s got a lot better feel of our offense. He’s throwing the ball pretty well out there. We are just kind of easing him into some to getting some reps.
Q: It didn’t look like Eli was throwing the ball as well as he’s done in the past, did you see anything out of him, what have you thought of his performance?
A: I don’t know if I agree with that. I think he is throwing it pretty good. I think there’s been some really good connections down the field with both Shep and Golden Tate and really with some of those other guys, Cody (Latimer) and Bennie (Fowler). I said a month ago, he looks in better shape than he was last year, I still think that. I think he’s really dialed in. We have a really good room, we have some really smart quarterbacks. We just have to continue getting the most out of all of them, getting them all ready. That’s our job as coaches, getting them all ready to go win on Sunday.
Q: A couple young guys seem to be open quite a bit today. Conrad and Darius Slayton seem to be coming on. What have they shown you?
A: They both had good days today. I think Slayton has been pretty consistent. He’s been a really good pick for us. As long as he stays on track he’s got good speed, he uses his hands you can see. He’s got more confidence in his hands, he’s catching the ball more consistently. I think he’s a good route runner, that was one thing kind of coming out of the draft I was anxious to see how he did with maybe our routes, which were maybe a little bit different that the routes he ran at Auburn. He does a good job at the top end of those routes. I think we are going to continue finding out as much as we can and want to keep giving them more and more. Those young guys too, you start them out learning one position then kind of want to grow them. Because at that position they have to learn more than one position. At the receiver position they have to know all three spots, we are starting to ease him into that as well.
Q: With Saquon’s involvement in the offense do you have to plan to give him breaks in games?
A: I think Coach Johnson does a really good of keeping those guys fresh throughout the game. Selfishly as a coordinator and probably all the Giants fans, you want him in there every single play because you don’t ever want him to miss out on an opportunity. I think there is a happy medium to make sure he’s fresh throughout and don’t just kill him. We’ve got to keep that in mind as we put together our game plans. We’ve got other guys, Wayne Gallman has another year in our system. We are going to be looking at Paul Perkins, he was hurt all of last year so we have to find out when he’s not in there we have to make sure that we can still operate our offense the way we would for the most part.
Q: What has Paul Perkins done to impress you to earn another opportunity?
A: I remember him coming out of college and I really liked him coming out of college. Last year obviously he got hurt, he spent the whole year on IR. Now he’s getting a lot of reps. He’s a guy that can do a lot of things, he can pass protect, he can run the football obviously, he’s pretty good out of the backfield. We want to have him continue getting better at all those things. You guys saw last year we don’t dress a lot of backs so the guys that are dressing have to be able to do all those things. We want them to be able to be productive on first and second down but also on third down and that would involve pass protection and catching the football.
Q: How has the gelling process come along with the offensive line?
A: I think the guys that we’ve added over the course of last season and this season have brought a lot of character, intelligence, competitiveness, integrity to that room. I think it didn’t show as early as we wanted it to last year. I think it showed pretty well at the end of the year. I think we’ve kind of picked up, in fact improved since then. We are going to be leaning on them, they are going to be the starting point of our offense. Everyone knows we have Saquon, we want to run the football, we are going to be balanced. To do that it’s got to start with the offensive line. We want to run the ball, when we want to run it, we want to throw that ball when we want to throw it. To do that it starts up front. We are going to lean heavy on those guys.
Q: Coach Shurmur said early in the offseason that if your offensive line is the strength of your team you can compete for a championship, do you feel at this point the offensive line is the strength of your team?
A: I think they are getting there, I think we’ve got a lot of strengths. You want those guys to be your leaders. As we continue through the offseason and once we get into training camp and get everybody back healthy I think we are going to see more and more of that. Hopefully you have 11 leaders out there, and they all feed off each other. Whether it’s the offensive line and Saquon so to speak and the receivers and quarterbacks and all that stuff. All 11 parts working together to keep us balanced and moving the ball and scoring points.
QB Eli Manning
Q: How’s it going for you so far?
A: I think it is going well. Made some good plays and we are throwing the deep ball well. Always room for improvement. Missed a couple throws here and there getting back on the timing of things with the receivers. Throwing live action and some one on ones. There is always things you want to improve on and that you wish you had back but I think for the most part, I feel good. I’m comfortable within the offense and with the protections. Just getting everything lined up and the plays called. Just different from last year at this time when we were trying to figure out what was coming in. I think guys are playing well. Off to a good start.
Q: What went well for you in that red zone series?
A: Some days you get the right plays at the right time and you execute it. We were able to hit that today. Hit a couple of nice plays. Guys were getting open and winning their one-on-one battles. Defense was bringing pressure on most of the stuff. The ball was coming out fast and guys were able to win it so it was a good day for us.
Q: Is it conceptual for you or is it production?
A: Production is important. I think it is a combination of things. You have guys open and you want to hit them. Sometimes, the defense has a great call and you might not have many places to go. Just making good decisions in those things. You want to give some young guys and some new guys a chance to make plays and see what they can do. Try and give them opportunities to make the plays and see if they can. Just try and make good decisions and do everything that you can do to have a successful play each and every play.
Q: Are you excited with the offensive potential?
A: Yes. I like the guys we have, the way the guys have approached each practice and have tried to get better. They have a great concept. The way the coaches have coached and made adjustments from last year. We are off to a good start but we have to make improvements. We have to make that next step and be more consistent all the way through practices and games. There is still a lot to work on and improve on.
Q: You got banged around a lot last year. When you look at the offensive line do you think you should be on my feet more?
A: I have great confidence in the offensive line and the way they are doing things. I think they made strides as the season went along last year. I have great confidence that they are going to do their job, protect people and get the ball out. I’ll be able to make my reads and progressions. I am excited with the guys we have and the guys we got back.
Q: Corey Coleman is competing for that third spot, what difference have you seen in him?
A: It was a tough situation for him last year coming in in the middle of the season just trying to learn this offense. When you don’t have a whole lot of time to practice and you just have a game week. I thought last year we did a good job of sprinkling him in there and just kind of making sure he’s doing the things that he was comfortable doing and kind of expanding his role each and every week. I think he’s come in in the off-season, we worked out this offseason a few times. Knowing this is a great opportunity for him, he’s in a place where he had some success last year. He’s going to come in with an off-season and a chance to make the team and be impactful for us. I think he I determined to make this happen and make this work. He kind of knew his problems and he told me when I know what I’m doing I can be really good. It’s just getting to that point, getting to where he’s confident in exactly what his routes are, what his assignments are, getting lined up where he can play fast.
Q: Is there any part of this offense that you feel noticeably better grasp on than a year ago?
A: I think the second year makes a difference. It’s not just me, it’s more just everybody. You know how receive are going to run their routes, you know how the line is going to protect. I think the coaches kind of know what concepts we’ve had success with, what we like. Coach Shula knows the plays Coach Shurmur likes so you are working on those things. I think it’s just a little bit more everybody having a better feel for things. That always makes the quarterback’s job easier when everybody is doing kind of what you expect.
Q: Are you driven at all by the competitiveness of (Daniel) Jones being here?
A: I think you are driven because it’s football and you have a job to do and you want to win games. That’s what drives you, going out there and winning. You work hard to do that and you deserve to win games and for the team to win games. That’s what driving you to work hard in the off-season and compete every day in practice.
Q: What have you thought about Daniel Jones so far and how fast he’s picked things up?
A: I think Daniel’s done a good job. He throws the ball well. I think he’s learning the offense, it’s a lot thrown at you. Especially going against NFL defenses. A lot more looks, a lot more blitzes, a lot more protection adjustments and different things. You are going to make every mistake there is, I think at that stage it’s just trying not to repeat the same mistakes. I think he’s done a good job of just getting a little bit more comfortable each day. Not trying to do too much but just knowing your assignments and trying to do your job.
Q: Do you look at it as you are in a competition?
A: Mindset is I have to go do my job, I have to compete and make plays. That’s what you are trying to do. Every day at practice, just trying to make good decisions and make the plays that are there to be made. Be focused and ready to do that and also help out everybody else in the quarterback room, receiver room. Get everybody else prepared to play as well.
Q: Are practices feeling different with a guy like Daniel Jones on the field with you?
A: No, practices are the same. Always competitive, always want to go out there and perform well and make the throws that need to be made.
Q: Did you make him watch your seven rushing TD’s after yesterday?
A: No, I did not.
Q: After the second day of mandatory minicamp are you anxious to get the pads on?
A: I think honestly, we have a while until that happens. I think just right now it’s a great opportunity to work on the fundamentals. Work on getting everybody on the same page, with Golden Tate and new guys that you have, just make sure that they are dialed in. Don’t look too far forward, take advantage of this opportunity that we have right here. This is where teams can make strides and make jumps. Obviously training camp will be here eventually, the mindset changes because you have to start getting ready to play some games soon.
Q: Sterling Shepard said your training has been more intense than what you used to do, is that accurate and what did you do differently?
A: I feel like I always work hard every off-season and try to change up your workouts or change up your scheme of things a little bit. Obviously, you’re working in a sense to get ready and prevent injury and not to do anything that’s too different as you get older that puts you in harm’s way. I think I’ve done a good job of staying on top of things and makings sure that I’m physically ready and sharp to go out there stay strong for the whole season.
Q: What do you think of the overall attitude around here?
A: I think the attitude has been good. The enthusiasm has been great, I think the practices have been competitive. Guys on both sides, it’s not one side dominating over the other. Both sides have had periods where they make plays and its good when you have competitive practices. Being smart with things, guys getting after it and guys treating this as important days to make improvements, I think it’s a good start.
Q: Have you noticed a culture change?
A: I think that’s something that comes with games. I think it’s a start with the practices, I think the practices have been good, the participation has been good. Guys are dialed in and determined and focused. Guys rallying around each other has been good. We’ve got to keep it going. We’ve got to keep pushing ourselves every day and we’ve got a long way to go.
Q: Do you feel physically better as your career goes on, or is it about maintaining?
A: It’s maintaining, I still feel good. Some years you have things that are nagging you. I think I’ve tried to attack those things that have nagged me in the past and kind of have a plan to try to prevent those things from coming back. I feel good right now and now it’s just a matter of making sure you keep it that way.
Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
Q: You’ve got a great mix of rookies, young guys, and veterans out there returning kicks. Has anyone stood out to you in particular so far?
A: We’re in shorts, nobody is covering punts, and we haven’t played a game yet, but all those guys are over there working, and that’s the most important thing when you’re trying to develop some guys. Some of the older guys, just keeping them fresh, but it’s a good group. We got a lot of options. Just look forward to getting better, working at it, and making that one of our strengths this year.
Q: Since you are in shorts, how much can you gauge from just watching punt returns and kick returns?
A: It’s more fundamentals and techniques for us in the spring. We do a lot of drill work. We do a ton of little small detail things that are going to help us schematically once we move forward. So, it’s whole, part, whole. We’ll work the parts of it right now, and then eventually as we move forward, we’ll put the whole piece together, and just keep working from there.
Q: Why has (RB) Rod Smith been such an importance piece to your group?
A: Big, strong, athletic, smart, playmaker – whenever you can get a guy like that on your roster to provide depth, and having value as a running back. (General Manager Dave Gettleman) Mr. Gettleman always talks about having value on offense and defense, not just on special teams. He punches all the tickets. He’s a hard worker, he’s a pro, and he does everything you ask him to do. He’s 6’3”, 235 pounds, and has a skillset. He’s one of those guys if you’re sitting in a room, you won’t even know he’s there. He’s quiet, he comes in, and he works, and he does his job.
Q: Do you ever hesitate when you have a starter returning punts and kicks?
A: Nope, not at all. It’s a playmaking position. When you think about it over the years and you watch punt returners that have had success that have played on defense – the Deion Sanders, and all those guys. That’s a playmaking position. That’s one of those positions where you can change the game just like that. I have no reservation by putting any kind of starter back there, because that’s a play that can change the game. We know 75 percent of game in the NFL comes down to the last possession. Any time you could gain an advantage on your opponent, you want to get that advantage.
Q: Do you view the return job as a job that someone can land and hold until they lose it? Or, since you have so much depth, do you like to fit people in different locations, different situations?
A: You never know how it shakes out. It can be a situation where Jabrill might have just went on a ‘nine route’ and he’s tired, he’s blowing. I’ll be like ‘Hey, come off the field’, and throw Corey (Coleman) out there. Or, it could be a situation where Jabrill is fresh, he’ll stay in there, alright Corey you stay right here. Who knows – (WR) Darius Slayton, or it’s a plus area, throw (WR) Golden Tate there and make sure we catch the ball. It’s a lot of different scenarios, and it’s good to have options. Last year, we didn’t have a lot of options. Now, we’ve got a bunch of options, and we look forward to be able to execute at a high level, and do those things. Once we get put in those situations, we’ll work them, but it’s good to have those options.