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Quotes (9/17): Shurmur, Manning, Harrison

Head Coach Pat Shurmur

Opening Remarks: After watching the tape, I don’t have really anything new to add aside from the fact that we’ve just got to play better in some areas, and we’ve got to make more plays and give ourselves a chance to win. I’d like to see us get a faster start and basically continue to play hard through the game like we did, but we’ve just got to find a way to make the plays necessary to win. I’ll take your questions.

Q: What can you do as a head coach and especially as a play caller to try to get those fast starts? Obviously you’re trying to start fast every game, but seeing what went on the first two games, what could you do to change things up to maybe force feed a faster start?

A: Certainly we want to stay on the field, see if you can get some big plays in there, that’s important. We had one third down that we missed by inches and I chose to punt it the first time. At times, to be able to drive the ball and get big chunks – that’s what you want to try to do on every drive, we’ve just got to try to it better, sooner. We’ve got to get in the end zone, quite frankly.

Q: After watching the film and looking what the Cowboys did on defense with the twists and all that stuff, how much of that caused confusion with the offensive line, and were they prepared for what was thrown at them?

A: I think our guys were prepared. We were well aware of the fact they have been a defensive front that moves quite a bit. They have done it for years, that’s their style. We were aware of it and some of the pressures we practiced. I think we had a hat for them in most occasions, one time we had it picked up and we just didn’t slide through it. We’ve just got to do a better job, I don’t think we faced anything we hadn’t seen. We’ve just got to be cleaner with our blocks. They got on our edges a little bit too much.

Q: We know that Jon Halapio broke his leg and ankle and is out for the year, where do you go at center now?

A: We have guys on the roster who have played center, John Greco went in there and played and then we brought in Spencer Pulley on the roster who played all last season at center, so we’ve got guys that have done it and they’ll just slide up and get ready to go.   

Q: Is Greco the first option or were you just going with the guy who was active last night?  

A: We’ll start with John and then obviously get Spencer ready to go.     

Q: Do you have an update on the severity of Eli Apple’s injury?

A: I have no updates other than he had to leave the game with a groin, I guess it was. We’ll see where it’s at. We’ll know more tomorrow.   

Q: Back to the stunts and blitzes. If you were prepared, why do you think you didn’t handle the pressure well? Was it a communication issue, there’s a lot of former players out there turned analysts today saying that it was a schematic thing – do you not see it that way?

A: I don’t know, I’d have to ask whoever those former players are what it was. There are times when we had a hat for them, you’ve got to pick it up. We had one certainly on the fumble where it was a full slide, we just didn’t slide through, it was communicated. I don’t know. Whoever made those comments, they’d have to ask me.    

Q: Is it too early in the season to make any kind of drastic personnel changes? Would you prefer to remain consistent whether it’s a player on the offensive line or wherever else – would you prefer to try and remain consistent or do you think with an 0-2 start, some consistency struggles with something like that could be necessary for week 3?

A: We look at everything all the time. I think what’s important is we stay the course, get the players that we have playing better, and try to make more plays to do what’s necessary to win the game.   

Q: When you look at the first game against Jacksonville, really good team you played well – was this past Sunday a step back?

A:  No. Absolutely not. We didn’t win the first game and we didn’t win the second game. That goes back into that thinking you did good when you didn’t win. We’ve got to do what we have to do to do the things necessary to win the game, period. We really don’t worry about all of that stuff.

Q: Through two games, considering the personnel you do have on offense, why has it been so difficult to sustain drives, to get into the end zone, to score points?  

A: I think I’ve been answering the same question over and over in different ways, but we’ve got to do more to stay on the field instead of ending six inches short, just keep the drive alive. We’ve got to do better in all areas, we just have to play better.  

Q: On your third downs this year, an inordinate number of those plays the ball has been thrown short of the sticks. What do you think of that?

A: First of all, I don’t think that’s correct, but go ahead.

Q: All seven of your third downs in the first half, you didn’t throw the ball to the sticks. Is that not inordinate to you? The second half of the last game, too, I think it was six of seven. I’m just wondering what you think of it? Is that what you’re trying to do on offense, is that just circumstance?

A: Obviously, the plays are designed to get the first down, and there’s times when you’re playing against man coverage where you get catch-and-run scenarios, and then there’s other times when you have layered passes where you have a downfield throw and then kind of a shorter throw that requires a run to get the first. Depending on how all that plays out, really doesn’t matter as long as you get the first. Then if you didn’t get it, you didn’t get it.

Q: Did you see opportunities yesterday where (Eli Manning) could have hit (Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard), or was the pass rush such that you didn’t have a chance on those kinds of plays?

A: There are times when you have to move slightly or dependent on what’s happening, you don’t have the ability to get the ball down the field. Certainly we’re always trying to do that and we didn’t get the chance to do that as much as we wanted to.

Q: I know you’re aware of what happened last year. Do you feel like you have to be cognizant of where this team is mentally right now more so because of that or do you just view it as everyone has a clean slate and it’s still the second week of the season?

A: We’re trying to grow away from that the best we can, and put all our efforts into beating Houston. That’s where we’re at. A question like this just kind of brings it into focus when that’s not something that we think about.  

Q: When you look at the number of hits (Eli Manning) has taken, obviously you worry about him physically, but do you worry about him getting a little bit of whiplash from those hits and maybe speeding things up knowing that he’s going to take another big hit?

A: Eli is a competitor. We’re going to do everything we can to protect him. There was times last night where he wasn’t protected well enough, and we just keep playing and try to get better in all areas.  

Q: On the defense’s performance – what did you see in the handling of Dak Prescott, especially when he was on the run? It looked like there wasn’t a lot contain on the edges.

A: I thought the general part of their running game, I thought our guys did a pretty good job. There were a couple times in the zone read situations where we could have done a little bit better job.

Q: When you look at the tape and look at that game yesterday, can you single out some players who you thought played well?

A: We lost the game. There are certainly some guys that behind the scenes will be told that this was good, but here still are your mistakes. Ultimately, we didn’t play well enough to win.

QB Eli Manning

Q: When you look back especially at the early part of the game when you had a little more protection, were there more opportunities to push the ball further down the field than you did in hindsight, going back and watching the film?

A: I don’t think so. We kind of had some play actions and different things called, they did a good job taking away some things. I went through my progressions and saw things clearly, had to take some check downs a few times and we had some other opportunities when we didn’t have some guys open, some of the pressures, and everybody’s just got to play a little bit better and we’ve got to hang in there and make some plays. 

Q: With (Jon Halapio) having gone down for the season with the injury, do you do anything extra in practice this week to get up to speed with whoever is the new center, or are you confident the guys you have on the roster can just step in and not miss a beat?  

A: John Greco came in and played during the game. He’s a vet and he’s been here, he knows what he’s doing, so I thought he did a good job. We’ll meet this week, I always meet with the offensive line and the centers especially and just talk a bunch about how we make calls. We’ve just got to start watching Houston, but we usually meet with them just quarterbacks, offensive line at least two times a week and just go over different looks, different calls to make sure we’re prepared for whatever calls we might have to make during the game.  

Q: There was a lot of free rushes on the sacks last night. Was that a common trend or a communication breakdown? How were guys coming in so clean?

A: A combination of stuff, we had nothing where we should’ve been picked up on anything, nothing that we didn’t have an answer for. Everybody’s got to know their assignments, enough things where a guy might mess up a little bit, and that’s a combination of everybody. It’s not just the offensive line, the offensive line gets blamed most of the time but that’s not necessarily the case. You’ve got running backs, you’ve got quarterbacks, you’ve got receivers, everybody plays a part in that. As a team, we’ve got to be better and know the calls and know your assignments, and it’s just when you have those few mess ups in critical third downs and blitzing situations, that’s when guys are coming free.    

Q: What would you say to people inside or outside the building who think or say this is a “here we go again” season?

A: I haven’t heard that and I think guys are fighting hard, guys are competing. Everybody’s learning, every week we’re going to learn and get better and make improvements. That’s what we have to do. When you have a new offense, new players, new guys coming in, there is a learning curve to it so we’ve just got to keep grinding and keep preparing and don’t get down. Have the desire to get better. If we all want that, we all have that, and we’ve got to make the improvements that the coaches are giving us, and that will give us a better opportunity to win the game.

Q: You’re a leader and a veteran on this team. Do you have to keep an eye on the morale or mindset on this team after what happened last year to make sure it doesn’t spiral in that direction?  

A: Each year nowadays, you’ve got a lot of new players, new guys, so I don’t think there’s a concern about that. We’ve just got to just come to work and have a great attitude that we’re going to get better. This doesn’t get fixed with hoping it gets fixed, it’s got to happen and the mindset, the commitment and the attitude that we’re going to play at a better level is what’s going to fix it.    

Q: All of you have said they took away the downfield throws with zone. What’s the answer to that? How do you beat a team that’s doing that to you?

A: It’s a combination of things. Sometimes they’re going to rush four and then drop and try to get into zones, so in those situations, you’ve got to be patient and sometimes you’ve got to take check downs and get six-seven yards, and that’s fine. You can do that and get down the field and have third and manageable, but we had our shots to take down the field when they brought pressure, and that’s when you’ve got to pick it up. It’s that combination. If they’re bringing pressure, that should open up some things down the field. Then you’ve got to block it up and have time to push it down there. On the times when they brought the pressure and we had some guys open, we just didn’t have the amount of time to push it down there.

Q: Shouldn’t a team that has Saquon Barkley at running back be able to make defenses pay for playing two high and really trying to keep everything in front of them?

A: They didn’t play a ton of two high. They did every once in a while, I think they had, I’d say before the last two drives of the fourth quarter, they maybe played four snaps of two high and one time we did have a run on it and ran for 12 or 13 yards. The other times we’re in second and long, and we had some play action or had some passes and so we didn’t have runs called.

Q: Is the biggest problem with the offense now you’re not in manageable second and third downs?

A:  I think that was an issue, we just had on first down decided to get some play action and some different looks, and that’s when some of the sacks came on first down. So now you’re in second and 18 or second and 13’s, and that’s the issue. Yeah, we’ve got to do a better job of  down distance. We actually converted, did a good job of second and long and got to third and manageable, converted some of those third downs. We actually did okay in those situations, but then it would happen again. We just definitely have to do a better job of not losing yards on first and second downs and not getting into third and real long, but I would say it’s going to happen every once in a awhile. You’re going to take a shot and they get a sack, or a guy gets beat, that’s part of football, but yeah maybe happening a little bit too often when we are in second and long. That takes away a lot of your game plan and a lot of your plays when you’re in that situation.  

Q: I’m curious – you’ve taken some shots downfield and hit a lot of underneath stuff, you haven’t had a lot of mid-range stuff. What do you attribute that to?   

A: I don’t know if I have an exact answer to that, I think it’s just we hit a couple of in breaking routes early on hitting Odell on kind of an in breaking route for maybe 13 or 14 yards. We had a couple of things where possibly things were going to come open and just couldn’t quite get to him, so a lot of those cases, you have guys that are short, you’ve got guys that are in mid-distance, you’ve got guys that are down the field and you’re just going through the progressions to try to see where you can get it.

Q: I think the ratio was 24 passes to eight runs in the first half. How does that get so out of whack and is that something you need to do a better job of balancing out?

A: Obviously, that’s on the coach, I think some of that could be the fact we were in bad down and distance. We got into some second and longs, third and longs in throwing situations, so I think it’s just a matter of being in better down and distance, a little easier to stay balanced in those situations.

DT Damon “Snacks” Harrison Sr.

Q: The Giants have started 0-2 four of the last five years. Why do you think this team will be any different?

A: It’s a completely different team with different guys in positions. You just go back and look at the previous years and compare it to this one, rightfully so, but it’s just a different group of guys, a different mindset. Not saying that the mindset that we had in the past was wrong. I think just one game at a time and not looking ahead will help us.

Q: What goes into the slow start you guys been having to start out games on the defensive side of the ball?

A: Possibly just guys overthinking things. As we know in the NFL, the first 10-20 plays are scripted. It’s just all about getting a call and executing, which I think we’re doing some overthinking. Guys are just sitting back trying to get a feel for the game as opposed to attacking like the defense is built for.

Q: Is it frustrating only allowing 20 points a game and the offense isn’t doing enough to win them?

A: Not at all. Giving up 20 points is not exactly great defense. I’m sure you can compare it to other defenses and say so. The offense gives up three points, it’s our job to go out and pitch a shutout. It’s never about what the offense is doing. I know that’s easy to say from the outside looking in, but we feel like we shouldn’t have to give up any touchdowns and give our team the best chance to win. When we basically give a team seven or 10 points in the first quarter, we’re putting a burden on our offense as well as our defense. So, it’s not anything the offense is doing.

Q: What has to happen to fix it?

A: We just have to execute better. We watched the film. It’s just the little things. It’s nothing huge. It’s a guy tripping here, or a guy not doing his assignment. We have this saying that you see a little, you see a lot; if you see a lot, you’ve seen too much. I think we’re just overthinking things and not executing.

Q: Do you think things have to change during the week? Or is it just a Sunday thing where things need to change?

A: No, it’s just individual guys just doing their job. It’s as simple as that.

Q: Can you talk about the growth you saw in C Jon Halapio over the past two years?

A: He went from a guy that was on the practice squad to a starter. I just feel for him that all that hard work and to have something like this happen. He had a great summer, a great offseason. Actually the last couple of years, he was doing great things and was able to crack the starting lineup. I feel for him because he did everything right. He did everything that was asked of him. Things like this just happen.

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