Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale
I think we're making progress defensively as you saw in the Seattle game. The biggest thing that stood out for us defensively was the improvement on third down, and I like where we're headed. I like that we've stayed positive throughout the tough time we're going through right now and we have a tremendous challenge coming up down there in Miami on Sunday. It's going to be a great a challenge for us. It's going to be exciting. Fun to watch.
Q: I saw (Bills Head Coach) Sean McDermott said something last week, they asked, 'How do you mimic the speed the Dolphins have?' And he said you sign Usain Bolt, basically. How do you guys mimic the speed you have on the practice field? Is there anybody you have that can play those roles?
A: It's tough to do. Even if you think you can mimic it, it's not—that's why they're so successful on their first drives coming out. Guys got to get used to the speed of the game and the speed of those guys. I don't know what the best way to describe it is. It's like, if you were driving on Daytona NASCAR and jump and try to race against a Formula 1 guy. Those guys, they're fast. It's not just (wide receiver) Tyreek (Hill) anymore. (Wide receiver Jaylen) Waddle, I don't know to pronounce his last name, the running back, the rookie running back (De'Von Achane), he runs 4.3 with his pads on. It's going to be a challenge.
Q: Where do you stand on the cornerback situation going into this game?
A: They're all going to be ready to play. They're going to have to be ready to play because, what is it supposed to be, 85 (degrees), which with 100 percent humidity will probably feel like 95, 96? If you watch this offense, you're going to be running, so everybody has got to be ready to go.
Q: Does that mean that we should expect to see (cornerback) Tre (Hawkins III) back on the field?
A: I'm not going to talk about who's playing and who's not playing. This is a matchup league. I think, as a coach, when you're looking at an offense, when you're going to match up certain guys with certain guys that somebody matches up better with this guy or that guy. That's where we're at here right now. So, it's not just cookie cutter. It's not just because you have these three guys that they're always going to play. And that's why it's so important and Rome (Defensive Backs Coach Jerome Henderson) does a great job of developing everybody that's on the roster. Guys have good weeks of practice. He coaches every practice, and we coach every practice like it is a game, because we want to make sure everybody knows what they're doing when they get in there, because they're probably going to be in there.
Q: How do you assess your tackling? Obviously, the (Seahawks tight end Noah) Fant play stood out the other night, but would you say there's been some tackling issues?
A: I think that anytime that you go through what we've gone through, there's several things that stand out. But we put an emphasis on tackling the Seattle week, and you're still going to have missed tackles. It's not like people walk out of games that no one missed a tackle. This is pro football. Those guys get paid, too. Would the guys who missed the tackle on that play like to have that play back? Yes.
I'll try to explain it the best way I can point it to you. We need to have fewer guys saying they want one or two plays back. You know what I mean? Because especially when you lose the game, those plays stand out even more. So, there's guys that you could go back and look at the last four games, and like I said, it's one or two plays. But if you have six guys that have one or two plays a game that they want back, that's too many. We're just trying to get better every day. I think we're going down that path. You saw the way we played.
Q: Is that the (outside linebacker) Kayvon (Thibodeaux) you want to see on a regular basis? Even the play before he got the sack, I think it was the second play, you saw him running back to make a tackle and really getting out there.
A: I think that Kayvon wants to win, and Kayvon wants to get better every day. Kayvon will get better, he'll continue to get better every day, because that's his personality. I want to see Kayvon every day. He's a good dude. You know what I mean? So, yeah, that's one of the greatest things about coaching. That's why you've been at as long as we have, because you want your guys to have success, so you're excited to see that. I think that he knows what's expected of him. I just told him keep being himself and keep trying to get better. Do everything the best you can do it and as fast as you can do it, and I think that's what you saw against Seattle. I thought he played well.
Q: (Tackle) Evan Neal's comments that came out yesterday drew a lot of attention. Obviously, he's a young guy that was frustrated. When you guys are going through a stretch like this, as a veteran coach, what's your advice on trying to handle that stress and the pressure that comes with the fact—
A: What'd you say? When we're going through what?
A: When you go through the stretch that you're on right now. Obviously, you've got a young guy that kind of lashed out, just showed his frustration.
A: You don't want to see anybody put themself in the position that he did, because it becomes a distraction. Everybody's frustrated right now. As long as you attack every day, it's like I told you guys last week, when you have experience – you said younger guys – you've been in these situations before. What you have to rely on is that you're still coaching in this league. So, be confident in what you do and how you're coaching it. It's the same thing that goes for a player. You can't just snap back, you know what I mean? You've got to think about everything you say, and just have the confidence that you're going to continue to work and get better. That's what I would say to him. I haven't talked to him about it.
Q: With that being said, can it be a benefit to you guys to go on the road for a couple of weeks given the stretch you had at home in the first two games?
A: I'm going to be completely honest with you, okay? During a game, I hear the fans when they get loud, especially on third down. I love that about our fans. I mean, like I said, they're passionate. And I understand their passion both ways. I do understand that. During the game, I've wish we could play every game at home, because it's advantage to the defense. So, I don't look at it as, is it going to be an advantage going on the road the next two weeks or not? I don't look at it that way.
Q: When you say you're making progress, is that execution? Is it effort? Is it preparation? Is it knowledge?
A: That's a great question. Execution, execution of the defense, I think it's all of the above. In just, like, third down, the area of third down. We're getting ready to face a team that—(Dolphins Head Coach) Mike McDaniel is a stud. It goes back to he's from the (49ers Head Coach Kyle) Shanahan tree. It used to be Kyle and everybody would say he's got Mike McDaniel with him. Now, it's Mike McDaniel. He's from that tree, but Mike's his own guy. The thing that they had, they have a lot of things in common, is the stress they put you in on all three downs. I mean, you have to game plan first and second down, just like you do third down. You have to defend every blade of grass against them. They're looking for horizontal seams, they're looking for vertical seams, and they hit it, and they hit it with fast players. That puts a lot of stress on a defense. So, it's one of those games as the defensive coordinator that you call that if you get them to third down—because I think they're averaging like nine-and-a-half third downs a game right now, which is No. 1 in the league in fewest third downs. So, if you get them to third down, and you get off the field on third down, to me as a play caller and that I expressed to the defense, if you get them off field third down, you come over that bench, you're celebrating like you just scored a touchdown defensively. Because that's the challenge that they put upon you as a play caller and as a defense. They're the No. 1 offense in the league.
Q: Are the defensive players getting frustrated at all? When a team struggles to score points, it can magnify mistakes. Maybe you're playing afraid or tentative because one mistake can be the game. How are the players reacting to the situation?
A: I think that's a good question. I think everything gets exaggerated in the situations that we've been in, you know what I mean? Everything. Frustrated, that's what I was talking about in the San Francisco game and in the Seattle game. It didn't matter what happened. They were ready to go back out on the field. I mean, all the way until that last series. That's why I'm saying I like the direction that we're going.
If you want to talk about sacks and everything else, it's hard to get sacks when you don't have the lead. That's just a fact. I mean, that's not saying anything. It's a team game. We've got to play better. That's all I'm concerned about defensively is we've got to play better to help out if somebody else is not playing better. We didn't play well in Arizona in the first half. The offense picked us up, and then we took off. So, it's a team game with all three phases. They have to play together for you to even have a chance in this league.
Q: This was two weeks ago obviously with Miami, but when you see a team put 70 points up on another team, as a defensive coordinator, what's your reaction to that? It doesn't happen very often.
A: My wife called me last night before she went to bed. She said she was worried about me. She said, 'Are you getting any sleep?' I said, 'Yeah, I'm sleeping like a baby; every two hours, I wake up and cry and go to the bathroom and try to go back and get some more sleep.'
I mean, that's unbelievable. It's unbelievable. But that's where this league's heading with some of the other scores. The points have been up pretty high. I told our guys, not the players, I told our staff because we're all old enough to remember 'The Greatest Show on Turf'. This is like that, 2023 supersonic. I mean, they are fast. Faster than that. That's the whole thing that in preparing a team going into this environment, that's not even turf there. It's grass and they're still faster. This quarterback is playing at a high level. I've got a lot of respect for the kid. He knows where to go with the football. He's accurate. He gets rid of it quick. I can't say enough about Mike because of the situations that he puts him in where he can get rid of the ball quick, and he's got those receivers and the right route concepts and everything else to get it to them quick. I'm not just saying quick like three-yard routes. He's throwing them before receivers come out of breaks and it's just put right there on them.
So, in this game, I told the defense, there's going to be plays made. You've got to just have that mentality that's like, 'Here we go again.' Let's just try to get a stop. Every play, let's just try to get a stop. The more we can get them in third downs, the better off it is for us.
Offensive Coordinator Mike Kafka
Q: Have you spoken with (tackle) Evan (Neal) regarding his frustration and stuff and how do you handle that as a coach to try to curb that frustration coming out?
A: I think Evan came out with a statement today and obviously he's remorseful about it. But I think as a group, as an offense, we're all working, looking to improve and give something our offense, our organization, the fans something to be proud of.
Q: How do you feel about the "boos?" That's obviously what upset Evan was that the team and the offense was getting booed. As the play caller, how do you feel about it?
A: We've got to keep on working to improve and that's what we're doing this week.
Q: How difficult is it to get ready when it seems like the offensive line – you don't know exactly what it is. It hasn't been great to begin with but now you don't even know what you're going to have and now here we are Thursday on a short week. How difficult does that make your job in terms of getting the offense ready?
A: I think right now it's just part of being in the National Football League. There's injuries everywhere, we have to be able to adjust and have the next man up mentality and our guys have been great. That's why we've kept them all through offseason, OTA's, training camp and building that foundation with the guys so the next guy who's up, he's ready to rock and roll and that's who we give our trust into.
Q: After a game where (quarterback) Daniel (Jones) gets sacked 10 times, what are your conversations like with him?
A: Any week, good or bad, we're always looking at anything we can improve on. So, whether it's routes, whether it's protection, whether it's decision making, whether it's play calls. We're really hypercritical on all of those areas and we're always looking for ways to improve. So, as a staff, we'll go through it, we'll dissect all the things that kind of came down and what we saw, what we could've done differently and then we work on that throughout the week of practice and try to improve on those.
Q: How do you prevent those comments and the fallout from being a distraction from what you're trying to accomplish?
A: I think you just keep your mind focused on the task at hand, that's today. Today is the most important day, we get in there and put together a good day of work. Had a great meeting time, had a great install and had the opportunity to review some of the tape and get on the film against Miami. Those are the things that we're focused on today.
Q: Did Evan say anything to the offense or the team today regarding this?
A: I think he made a comment already, a post --
Q: I meant internally.
A: Yeah, I'll let (Head Coach Brian Daboll) Dabs answer that. I'm not going to get into the team stuff, but I know he came out with a comment today and he said what he said. I think that's where, as an offense, we've got to continue to find ways to improve.
Q: How difficult is it to curb that frustration, typically for young guys who haven't been through it as much, to handle the boos and handle the frustration on social media and what not? As a coach that's been around for awhile, what's your advice to try and handle that?
A: You find the right guys. Guys that are mentally, physically tough, tough minded and I think we have a lot of those guys on this team. That's why they're here, so they can handle that kind of stuff. Good or bad, you've got to be able to handle the highs and the lows. I think we have guys on this team that are the same guy every day. Whether it's they're never too high, they're never too low and you have that consistency. I think you build that, that builds confidence, that builds up yourself. I think the more that you work at that, the better you get.
Q: You were a player in this league once. Has it changed or been amplified – the pressure that's on the players from outside, from the fans and obviously social media is a significant part of that?
A: I think as a competitor you're always looking within. I know for me, personally, I'm always looking from within. How can I do a better job? How can I do a better job when I was a player? How can I do a better job as a coach? And always be hypocritical on all those little things I can improve on.
Q: How does Daniel make better decisions when the pressure is coming? How does he maintain his poise and stick with the system and at the same time know that these ferocious guys are coming? How tough is that?
A: I think when I look at the offense, we look at an 11-man operation. It's never just one guy that's responsible for it. It's all 11 guys have got to be on the same page, so we've all got to be working in unison. When something breaks down, obviously bad things can happen. We've got to make sure that we minimize those things, we work on them, we study them, we prep for them and then we go out on Sunday and execute.
Q: What's the impact on (tight end) Darren (Waller) when (tight end Daniel) Bellinger isn't on the field? Which we saw a lot on Sunday.
A: Bellinger, Waller, those guys are tight ends. Obviously, Bellinger – they all have their different roles and they're all important, very important roles, so we have to have flexibility and be able to adjust and adapt when things like that happen.
Q: Did that make Waller have to block more? Did he have to block more in that game then he had in previous games?
A: I don't know the exact numbers on that but in that position, you're going to have that responsibility to block. On the line of scrimmage, downfield or run/passes.
Q: When a quarterback is struggling, it kind of becomes open season for criticism. This is something that a defensive coach said about him and your scheme that Daniel has the easiest reads and the easiest concepts, and he still doesn't throw the ball accurately. That seems like not just a criticism of Daniel but of what you're doing. Would you argue that?
A: I'd say each and every week is different. We've got to make sure that we've got our schemes tied down, things that we want to do offensively. Whether it's moving people around, whether it's changing things up in the run and pass game so we can build confidence. That's what we work for every single week.
Q: Why has Waller not been as involved? Is it something that you guys haven't figured out how to get him the ball enough? Is it the protection issues? Is it a combination of all those things? Because obviously you brought him in here to make him a big part of the offense, which he hasn't been yet.
A: Every week's different. I think we want to get everyone involved in the game plan and in the game and get them touches and I think that's a high priority. You want to get all your playmakers the ball so that's again, what we do every week and try to really hone in on that and give us schemes and offensive plays we can do that with.
Q: I know you don't go against their offense, clearly, your game planning for their defense, but in a week where you know what they can do on the board, I mean, you don't put 70 up every week. Does that shape the way you attack a game or put together a game plan? At least in the back of your mind, you know what's happening on the other side of the ball.
A: Yeah, you have to play complementary football, that's every game. Really doesn't matter the opponent but you have to play complementary football with offense, defense and special teams and that's doing our third of it. So, we're focused in on today, focusing on practice and getting the things corrected that we had from yesterday, from the previous weeks, and we're working to get better at those.
Q: On the third-and-11 run, Daboll said there was a miscommunication, and a pass was called. How does a miscommunication like that happen with the quarterback?
A: Miscommunication, and for me, I've got to make sure that I communicate that clearly to him so that there isn't any of that. We obviously don't want those type of things happening on critical situations, third downs, things like that, so I can do a better job of that.
Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
Q: It was very uncharacteristic of one of your units to have six penalties. What do you think went wrong?
A: It's a lot of stuff. We knew that crew threw a lot of penalties, but you just can't do it, offsides or two holding penalties. I can deal with those effort penalties, but the illegal shift and holding penalty at the line of scrimmage that wasn't necessary, stuff like that. That's just - It's hard enough to win games in this league to beat your opponent. You can't over overcome yourself and then try to beat your opponent. So, it's obviously a point of emphasis all the time, but especially this week after we had that type of performance.
Q: How do you fix stuff like that? How do you make sure that it doesn't happen again?
A: Well, in the moment, you've got to coach it better, right? You've got to drill it better. You've got to overemphasize certain things that are not being executed. You know, as far as an illegal shift, get up to the line, get set. It's really simple, it ain't that hard, you know. Holding, schematically we can do some things better to put our long snapper in a better position where he doesn't have to hold. That's something I can do. But just those little, small details, just make sure you just tighten the screws on everything. When you feel like things are getting loose, you've just got to tighten the screws and that's it and it's execution under pressure. Got to execute, right. We've got to do a better job on our path going to the punter, right? We can't run right down the middle of him. We 'vegot to either veer off to the left or veer off to the right. It's just details of your job.
Q: What went into putting (cornerback) Adoree' (Jackson) back there?
A: Michael Dixon is a really good punter. He hits a variety of balls. It's just, you want to make sure that the guy back there feels comfortable, and we made a decision to put him back there and it's just tough. Michael Dixon is the leading punter in the league right now, he's averaging almost 55 yards a punt and again, he has those variety of punts, so it makes it tougher.
Q: Are you going back with (running back) Eric (Gray)
A: Yeah, he'll be back, Eric will be back.
Q: It's a little strange because from what we see, you have guys back there every day catching punts during the special teams portions and Adoree' is not one of those guys.
A: He does it from time to time. He's done it enough in his career to where we feel comfortable putting him back there, but we have a bunch of guys back there catching punts every day because you just never know. You always want to have options as the game moves forward, as the year moves forward, you have injuries, you have all kind of things that happen, so you always want to have a bunch of guys back there catching punts, but he catches them after practice. He catches them all the time.
Q: Were they the right decisions, the ones he let bounce, because obviously, if they bounce the other direction, then you're gonna say, 'yeah, it was,' but when they roll inside the five –
A: It's tough because we were pressuring him, and he was inconsistent. So again, his ball when it hits the ground, it averages probably 10 to 15 yards of roll yards, like Tress Way, Those guys are hard. It's difficult because you plant them at 50 yards, 54 yards and he hits it 40 or he hits it 42 and it's hard because you have a gunner that's coming down the field, a jammer is coming down the field. You don't want to run up and make a bad decision. It's a double-edged sword. It was just kind of one of those deals, a perfect storm.
Q: Over four games, what have you thought of your guys' special teams performance? The PFF ratings have you guys last, but what have you thought?
A: To be honest with you, I don't take a lot of stock into the PFF rating. We started off slow and then I think we hit those two games in there and we started to pick it up a little bit and then we just took a step back. Again, we've been kind of on this roller coaster ride and we got to make sure that we're continuously getting better. That's the mantra of our room anyway. It's the act of continuous improvement, right? So, we've just got to make sure we just keep getting better.
Q: How much better do you need to play as a unit in this whole new concept of complementary football in order to help this team dig itself out?
A: Yeah, it's not a new concept. It's something that we did all last year. It's something that we've done when we've had success, and that's any football team, you have to play complementary football and one phase has to help the other one even when the other one is down. Kickoff return, punt return, offense, defense, turnovers, all those things have to work as one and that's just something we have to do a better job of as a group and as a unit and as a team, we just got to play better complementary football.
Q: Do you think Gray looks natural and comfortable back there?
A: Yeah, absolutely. When you look at the first four games, he made every good decision you can make, and he fields the ball well. Again, Michael Dixon is different. He's an Australian punter that can hit the ball a bunch of different ways. He hit the ball nose up and the spin is just a funky spin, and he has a very powerful leg. That's why he's the number one gross punter in the league right now. That's what it is. We're talking about one play with a rookie. Rookies make mistakes sometimes. Last time I checked, Peyton Manning, I think he had like 35 picks as a rookie in the National Football League. So young players make mistakes, but he'll be fine.
Q: You mentioned the uneven performances. How much pressure do you feel from the head coach with that?
A: Pressure? That comes with the job. That's pressure wearing this (points to NY logo on sweatshirt), that just comes with the job. Pressure is my friend. I keep it right here in my back pocket, pressure don't bother me.
Q: I meant more-so is he on your back?
A: He's always on my ass. That's part of the job. I'm good with that. I have no issue. Like the pressure part of this, I love it. I absolutely love it because you wouldn't want it - like, I wouldn't want to be in any other place, and they don't care. You want to be here in New York. You want the pressure of being the best. You want the pressure of just trying to be at your absolute best. That's why we do this, we don't do it just to be average. I don't show up here just to be just some average coach playing on some average team in an average market. I had a choice to come here to New York. I made that choice. I knew exactly what I was getting into, so I love it, it doesn't bother me at all.
Q: How does the decision to take Eric out of that and give him a reprieve from what you're going to see from Dixon. How does that decision get made? Does (head coach Brian) Daboll come to you or do you -
A: The decision was made. Regardless of how it happens, it's just something we're doing for the betterment of the team and just to make sure that we get the ball back. At the end of the day, I tell guys that all the time, punt return, the most important thing is we know we're getting the ball back and that's what we need to do.
Q: In regard to (tackle) Evan Neal, if the pressure becomes too much one day for somebody, especially a young guy, how as a coach do you re-center him and how does the team re-center itself?
A: I'm not going to speak for Evan, I'll just speak in general. You have to understand where you are and what you're doing. We know what we signed up for. This is pro football, fans are going to say things, that's part of it. My son is getting his Twitter blown up, my oldest son, because he has the same last name as me and then my other son has a podcast. Trust me, it's the media part of it and I understand it. You've just got to tune everything (out). The outside noise is the outside noise and it has nothing to do with what goes on inside the building.
Q: There was a play I didn't understand where I think it was punt coverage and Cam Brown came down late and I think he knocked the return guy over and there was no penalty. I'm thinking it was going to be unnecessary roughness.
A: I don't remember.
Q: The player was standing around the ball and the returner was lingering, hoping one of your guys would touch it so he could pick it up and Cam just wiped him out.
A: Oh, the first touch because the whistle hadn't blown. If you go in there and the whistle hadn't blown, you're still fair game, right? So, you're going to try and get the ball. That's just part of it.
Q: So, they just knock him? Maybe he falls on the ball when it's loose?
A: And maybe we get it. It probably wasn't a smart thing for him to do.
Running Back Saquon Barkley
Q: On how he feels physically
A: Each day it gets better. It's not a tough injury. Or it's a tough injury, I guess I should say. I'm just taking it one day at a time and just trying to improve each day.
Q: It's Thursday. Sunday is still a ways off. Are you encouraged?
A: I'd definitely say I'm in a better spot than where I was last Thursday. So, definitely encouraged, but I don't want to make any guarantees. Continuing to trust in my body and trust in the training staff and go from them.
Q: How do you like your chances this week?
A: Kind of similar to what I just said, continuing to just keep working, keep rehabbing, put my trust in the (athletic) trainers and take it day by day.
Q: How much more have you been able to do?
A: Yeah, definitely able to do a lot more this week. Definitely can feel improvements, feel a lot better than what I was in this moment, in this spot than I was last week. But just keep chipping away.
Q: Dabs (Head Coach Brian Daboll) said yesterday was the first time you did team reps. Did you do even more today than yesterday?
A: Yeah, I was able to do more team reps this week than I was the week prior. Keep sticking with it, keep sticking with the plan, trusting the (athletic) trainers, listening to them, and take it day by day.
Q: I know how much your competitive juices flow. So, how much do you want to just be out there with these guys, especially with this big game?
A: Yeah, I would love to be out there. I feel like I can help. I feel like I can help us get back on track. I know there's some people out there that wouldn't agree with that, but that's why I believe in my mindset. I'm fighting, I'm trying to do everything I can in my power to get back and be there for my teammates.
Q: Why do you believe this club can get back and get it going?
A: It's the NFL. You never expect it to go this way. Obviously, last year didn't go this way. We had a hot start. We started the first quarter of season 1-3, not where we want to be, but you've got to weather the storm. That's the reality of the NFL, it's going to happen to every team. At some point, you're going to have adversity. I think we have a team that's built for adversity. I think we have the players and the leaders in this locker room to get us out of this funk. That's the only thing that's going to solve it, is by going out there and winning games. The reason why I think we are going to be able to do that is because of the system we have in place, the coaches that we have here and the players that we have in this locker room, and I feel like continue to trust in that and continue to lean on each other. That's going to be the way we get out of this.
Q: What's it been like to have to watch? Obviously, the offense has struggled.
A: It sucks. It sucks. As a competitor, you want to be out there, and you go back and look at film every game whether you play in it or you don't. You think, 'Is there anything else I could have done different if I was in this play or if I was here or there?' That's not any diss to (running back) Gary (Brightwell) or (running back Matt) Breida, those guys have been doing a great job coming in and making plays for us. But as a player, you want to be out there, and I'll try my best.
Q: Have you learned anything different being on the sideline watching the whole game as opposed to being in the game? Did you learn any different perspective on everything?
A: I guess you get a different perspective of it, but it's not a perspective that you want.
You can get a different sense of what's going on. You really just can't do much. It's hard to be vocal, try to be the leader, try to, in those moments, pick guys up when you're not going through the fire with them, when you're not out there going to war with them. So, that's why I'm trying my best to get back out there. I'll be able to let my personality show and hopefully, my playmaking ability, and hopefully just have an impact being on the field and also carrying over to the vocal leadership role and just the leadership on the field also.
Q: You're obviously a leader on this team, right? You've seen what's happened with (tackle) Evan Neal, and he apologized again. As a leader, what kind of advice do you give him in this situation?
A: I think you've got to applaud him for owning up to his mistakes and taking accountability for what he said and apologizing. The advice I would give to him, and any other teammate is never pick a battle with the fans. You're never going to win that one. They've been here before us and some of them will be here after us, and that's just the truth.
Do I think what he said was wrong? I think he could have used his words differently. But in some cases, he's right, knowing that you're getting booed and this. Basically, how I took it outside of the hamburgers and stuff like, he definitely could have chosen his words differently there, but at the end of the day, we're all we've got. We've got to do better on the football field, we've got to perform better because at the end of the day it's an entertainment business and we've got to put a product out there for fans to be happy about. But when they're booing and everyone in the media is saying this and saying this about you, it's like, we're all we got. That's the reality of it.
Q: Is that the rallying cry now?
A: It's always that. I think Thibs (outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux) said it two, three weeks, however long ago it was when he was talking about social media GMs or this, that and the third. We see all that and we're aware of it and fans are going to, rightfully so, boo and have their opinions. You guys are doing your job. You guys are going to say negative things or positive things about us, and we just can't get too caught up into that. So, that really would just be my advice is just keep the main thing the main thing and focus on what we've got in here because at the end of day we're the only the ones, like I said earlier, to get us out of this funk and get us out of this adversity and that's leaning on each other, trusting each other, and having each other's backs. That's what we're going to continue to do.
Tight End Darren Waller
Q. (Tackle) Evan Neal just spent some time with us offering an apology for what happened. He said he'll be in the future quicker to hear and slower to speak. What's your reaction to all this?
A: I think Evan's heart is in the right place. We could all look at the situation and realize that the words that he may have chosen at the moment weren't the best. There are people who flip burgers and who are leaders in their families, trying to get their life on track, whatever their situation may be, there are good people doing that. But I think his heart was in the place of after a game like that, after the start to a season like this, you're frustrated, you feel a little vulnerable, you feel a little pissed off. It may sting a little bit when people who may not know the grind, day-to-day, the work that you put in, they're more critical and they're trying to cut you down. So, I feel like he was operating from that place, not necessarily trying to put anyone down.
Q. Is there any frustration in this locker room?
A: I'd say frustration at the result. I don't think there's any frustration at people. It's just the results of the way the season started. It'd be a little puzzling if guys weren't frustrated because it's something that we've got to fix and turn around. You don't turn it around all at once, you don't get to .500 all at once, and things like that. It's one day at a time, unfortunately, it's a climb, and the change and the progress you're going to see in the locker room before everybody else in the world sees it.
Q. I know you wanted to be a workhorse when you came here. Are you disappointed that your load hasn't been greater?
A: I wouldn't say I'm disappointed. I'd say that's the flow of football sometimes. There have been patches of seasons where I've had 1,100 yards where there were three or four games where I didn't touch the ball as much or the flow of me being involved in playmaking wasn't necessarily there. Those are things that you've got to accept and be like nobody is plotting against me, nobody is trying to keep me from being involved. You know what I'm saying? And yeah, trust the process. Trust that these guys are looking out for me to have opportunities just like they're looking out for everybody else here.
Q. What can you do on your end to make sure that you can make a bigger impact in games? Because that half in Arizona you we're one of the driving forces in the offense looking the best that it looked all season.
A: I'd say just continuing to be vocal. These coaches are always receptive to our opinions, and always receptive to what we see in the game. Just continuing to bring ideas to them, bring things that I feel and see on the game field because they've got things to worry about as well. They're trying to help the team win ultimately no matter what's going on. Yeah, so just continue to be vocal.
Q. You've got to score this week against a team that can score as many as 70. Do you guys know that the offense has to step up?
A: We know the talent that's over there but at the same time if you focus too much on what somebody else is doing, we'll be distracted from what we've got to do. With that offense over there, as talented as they are, we trust the defense to go out there and do their job. The defense has played more than well enough for us to win football games and we trust them to go out there and do that. We've just got to do what we've got to do.
Q. How much does stuff change for you with (tight end Daniel) Bellinger injured? When you guys are on the field together, he plays more of a blocking role, you play more of the receiver role. Do you become more of a blocker when your other tight end is injured?
A: Yeah, there are certain times where, again, it shifts. My role may shift with him not being on the field and that's part of being a teammate. As much as I'd like to run routes all the time, there might be things that I might not necessarily want to do that are necessary. That's everybody in football. There are certain situations that I've got to do this to help the team. Belly is extremely important to what we do. Not only in the run game but he's gotten so much better at route running and in the pass game as well.
Offensive Tackle Evan Neal
Q. You issued an apology on social media. What would you like to share with us today?
A: That I'm remorseful and I definitely could've used a better choice of words. Coming from humble beginnings myself, I never want to belittle anyone. Regardless of their financial status or their occupation. I really just want to apologize for what I said.
Q. How do you gain or regain the trust of the fans?
A: Just by continuing to move forward. Just taking it day-by-day, trust is built over time. I'm sure nothing is going to happen overnight. Just got to continue to make the right choices moving forward.
Q. (Head Coach Brian) Daboll told us you talked to him. Did you have to address it with your teammates as well?
A: That's our business – but I did address them because I felt like they should know because they may get questioned about it from you guys. So, I just wanted to let them know how I felt.
Q. When was this and where?
A: I'm not going to elaborate any further.
Q. Were you upset with yourself when you realized you made comments that would be received in such a negative fashion?
A: To be honest with you, when I made those comments, it was just out of a moment of frustration. Right now, we must play better as a team, and I must perform better myself. I just kind of let my frustrations get the best of me in that moment.
Q. I think everyone wants to know is were you speaking for yourself or is that a message that's been told to you from up above? Or is it common in this locker room the idea that booing, and fans don't matter?
A: It came out of my mouth, so I said it. Those were my words.
Q. You mentioned frustration with your own play. What specifically is frustrating you the most about how you're playing versus what your expectations are of yourself?
A: Right now, I'm just not performing at my absolute best. We're not performing as a team to our absolute best and it's frustrating when you're a competitor, when you want to win, and you put a lot of hard work into something and you're not getting the result that you want. It's tough and it's frustrating.
Q: We all know you went to Alabama, so there was nothing but success there pretty much. Is this really the first time in your life you've ever been on a losing team?
A: Yeah, since my freshman year of high school at Okeechobee. But I wouldn't label us a losing team.
Q: I mean right now.
A: There are peaks and valleys and we're just navigating this valley, man. We'll get there.
Q: What were the last 24 hours like for you?
A: Normal. I got a lot of texts and phone calls, but outside of that, pretty normal.
Q: Do you understand that you really can't get into a fight with the fans?
A: I wasn't trying to pick a fight with anyone, honestly. That was just a moment of frustration. I kind of said something, although it wasn't my intent to offend anyone or anyone's occupation, but that's how it came across. I own up to that. I definitely could have just used a better choice of words for sure, but I mean…Hey, I love the fans that support us and are behind us and want to fight for us and cheer for us. I just apologize to those that I offended.
Q: Have you considered getting off social media or taking any steps like that to avoid hearing things that might put you in that mental space again?
A: Maybe, but who knows. We live in a digital world, so if I'm not on social media, somebody I'm close to is, and they may send me cut ups or send me something. The way the world is now, it's kind of hard to tune out the negative noise but you just can't let it affect you. You've got to move forward, and we must get better as a team.
Q: What do you want the fans to know about Evan Neal's character?
A: I want the fans to know that I'm a human like everyone else. If you ask anyone that's ever been around me, they always speak highly of me. Nobody's perfect, including myself. I just want to apologize again for the things that I said yesterday, because I know it's unacceptable, and I just could have used a better choice of words.
Q: When it comes to fans, this is bigger than just the football side. Did you speak to ownership? Did they try to talk to you? Did it reach that level?
A: Family business is our business, so I don't want to get into that.
Q: How has this, if at all, changed the way you view things and the way you've been performing, and how you would react in the future?
A: You've just got to be careful with the words that you choose. So, if anything, I'll be quicker to hear and slower to speak
View photos of the Giants on the practice field ahead of the Week 5 matchup against the Miami Dolphins.