Head Coach Joe Judge
Q: I wanted to ask you about a couple of guys if I could – (Tackle) Matt Peart, what you saw from him and (Fullback) Eli Penny and the job he did yesterday, particularly in the short-yardage situation.
A: I thought Eli did a good job. He's been progressing in that role for us both as a fullback and as a running back or halfback throughout the season. He had a good game for us yesterday in a lot of things he did, showed up in the kicking game for us, as well. Eli's just one of those kinds of guys who's a steady presence, personality. Brings a lot of life into the room, but he'll work extremely hard on the field. This is a guy that's got a background as being a ballcarrier and he's played some fullback the last few years here, but when we went through training camp this year he was someone we wanted to look at in terms of running with the ball in his hands and he's done a good job for us pounding that ball between the tackles. Did a good job yesterday to close the game out when we got down into that four-minute situation for us. That's how we wanted to go ahead and end it so we could go ahead and get into victory formation and kneel it down. In terms of Matt, I think Matt's a guy who's improving all the time and he was someone who we obviously challenged last week. He had a large responsibility on his plate, came in and he really stepped up to it. There's things he has to improve on as a player, like we all do, like every player and every coach does, but one thing I see with him is a consistent work ethic to keep on getting better and he's very, very coachable. Thought Matt did a lot of things yesterday that were positive that we're going to look to build on.
Q: We didn't ask you about (Safety) Jabrill (Peppers) after the game. Any update on his status?
A: I don't have anything currently. I know he's with doctors as we speak and they're kind of on that backend of Monday check-ins with the doctors after going and getting X-rays and MRIs like a lot of our players do, so we'll see how he comes out of that. We're obviously hopeful to get him as soon as possible. I know the game means a lot to Pep. He's a tremendous leader on this team and brings a lot to us in terms of production and just leadership on the field.
Q: The trade deadline is a week from tomorrow. Do you expect you guys to be active, whether that's making deals to acquire players or to move players?
A: We'll see. It's definitely the time of year everyone starts making a lot of phone calls. There's been potential and opportunities for trades going in, coming out, however it's been the entire time since the season has been going, so sometimes people manufacture too much at the trade deadline. I know a lot of teams kind of rush to make final moves. We'll obviously talk about a number of phone calls that we'll be getting throughout the week, but I wouldn't say we're absolutely anticipating doing anything. Would say those conversations will run from now through the remainder of the week.
Q: Are you a believer in what people say about quarterbacks a lot, that the best guys can make those around them better? Do you believe a quarterback can do that?
A: I think any player in any position makes guys around them better. The quarterback's obviously no exception. I think when you're playing good football, that gives other guys around you an opportunity to have success. When you're not playing well, it puts more stress on the man next to you, so to me that's why you have to rely on all 11 to do their job. Obviously, the quarterback and his position touches the ball every pay, he's the guy the offense runs through. Obviously, he has to play well for anyone to have success. You can't have success just on the quarterback, everyone else needs to play well, as well. You have to protect him, you have to run the ball effectively, you have to get open, the skill players have to catch the ball. Simply put, you can definitely elevate the level of play of the people around you by playing well yourself.
Q: And the fact that (Quarterback) Daniel (Jones) went out there without some starting offensive linemen, certainly without some offensive playmakers, do you think he did that yesterday, that he elevated some of the lesser-known players around him?
A: I'd say all the players on our team came to play yesterday. I know what you're asking and what you're kind of getting at there, but we had starters yesterday. We had 11 people starting on offense, we had 11 people starting on defense and that's who we're concerned about getting prepared every week. Every player we bring to the game, we expect to play. We coach every player, we develop every player, everyone's expected to come in and produce and execute on Sunday. In terms of whoever's available, we want everybody to be available. The reality is that sometimes that doesn't happen, that's just the nature of the National Football League. Whoever we have up, we're going to go out and we expect to compete and we expect to have success. Obviously, did Daniel play well yesterday? He did. Did a lot of things that facilitated the offense and helped a lot of players have success. I think a lot of the success came from the way all the players around him played, as well.
Q: You obviously were eyeing this upcoming game for (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley) and (Wide Receiver) Kenny (Golladay) when you didn't put them on IR. Where are they and do you think that they'll make it to Monday?
A: I think a large part of that is going to have to do with this being a longer week. Really, I think Wednesday is going to be the day of moving these guys around to see what they really look like. There's not going to be an immediate press to put them on the field today or tomorrow at this point plans-wise to kind of see what they're doing to give us an immediate projection. We'll be on the field as a team Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday in one way or another, but in terms of really going for those players that are coming off the injury list, Wednesday will be more of a day of moving them around to give them an early week preview of it, so it gives us an extra day on the front end to see where they're at. But, I don't have any final answer on anyone who's going to be up or down this week at this point just based on we have extra time and some guys got nicked and banged up in the game, so sometimes that plays a big factor in it. With the guys that are coming off injury, those guys have been making consistent progress, so I'm optimistic with how they've been working, but we'll see where their bodies are at moving through this week.
Q: You changed the way you practiced a little bit this past week, sort of an emphasis on returning to fundamentals. Do you expect that to continue this week or does it change because of the long week?
A: No, we always emphasize fundamentals, but last week there was a large aspect of making sure that we understood that we control the results based on how we perform and execute. Every good play starts with good fundamentals and that was a large emphasis in what we did in practice last week. We had some competitive periods between the offense and defense, we'll continue doing some of those things, as well. The long week will not change any of that. I would expect to keep staying on that same track. Obviously, there's a number of things the Chiefs present that we're going to have to get prepared for offensively, defensively and in the kicking game, so there's a large quantity of game planning you have to see against these guys to make sure you account for what they're doing schematically. However, I'd say that fundamentally we're not going to go ahead and lose any time in practice to take away from fundamentals.
Q: (Linebacker) Azeez Ojulari, obviously he had a big game yesterday, two and a half sacks, four quarterback hits, three tackles for loss. He started off really well with a sack in each of the first three games and then stats wise at least, he had no pressures in back-to-back games. Is this a case of he started off well, teams adjusted to him and then he adjusted to their adjustments and that's encouraging to see?
A: It was encouraging to see him play well, but this guy has been playing hard the entire time. There's not going to be any one button you push to say this is the reason why it happened. I always come back to pressure on the quarterback and sacks and the results on the production up front always ties into the other guys doing their jobs, as well. When the coverage is playing well, the front gets to eat. When they're rushing the passer effectively, the coverage is helped right there, too. Thought we saw great complementary football on the defensive side of the ball yesterday with both aspects, the front and the secondary really playing together and all of them making plays with it – interceptions, pass breakups, good breaks for tackles for very short gains, rushes on the passer. Specifically getting back to Azeez, which you're asking about, this guy has been working very hard. I think he's doing a lot of things that – a lot of times the edge players as rookies, it's a real big transition because it's very different from college and the talent level is extremely different from college. He's been productive early in his career really just by playing within his own strengths and skillset. I think (Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Patrick) Pat (Graham) and (Defensive Line Coach Sean Spencer) Spence and those guys are doing a really good job using this guy to what he does well, letting him go out there and just play fast. I saw some things yesterday in terms of instinctually showing up, rushing up the field, countering back, getting to the quarterback, putting pressure on him. He didn't do anything that really got him outside the realm of the defense yesterday and allowed him to play fast and controlled. I was very, very proud of how he worked last week to put himself in position.
Q: A big-picture defense thing, I saw some quotes on Sports Illustrated from Albert Breer about how the defense might have been in the wrong spots depth wise, in zone, man coverage, lost some leverage. How did you fix that? That's a little surprising from veterans. Was this just a case of simplifying things for them and making them think a little less or react a little more that the defense played so well yesterday?
A: No, what I said about that was the emphasis that we're placing on fundamentals. When you talk about zone, it's all about depth and vision. When you talk about man, it's all about leverage. When you talk about offenses attacking zone defenses, it's about depth and spacing in your routes and making sure you have separation so that they can't cover every window at the same time. When you're going against man defense, it's about winning your leverage and protecting your leverage on the way back to the ball. You run routes a little bit differently based on the coverage and you play zone and man defense a little bit differently, but our emphasis last week was simply making sure we go back to the root of what we've really got to work and no matter what the call is, no matter who the opponent is, understanding what our assignment and out execution is. I definitely saw that from the defense yesterday, they really did a good job playing with good fundamentals. You can see when the ball was coming out of (Panthers Quarterback Sam) Darnold's hand, feet sticking in the ground and exploding to the point of attack right there. You saw a lot of pass break ups, quick tackles getting them on the ground. I think in zone defense, it doesn't take away every route. You don't play zone to eliminate every opportunity for a catch. What you do is you take away the things that are threats based on the kind of zone that you call and then you have to react and break with speed and vision when the ball comes out of the quarterback's hand. Sometimes, it gives you a chance for an interception or sometimes just a quick tackle to get him on the ground, but I definitely saw good execution from the defense in those regards.
Q: (Wide Receiver) Kadarius Toney, is he at any different point than (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley) or (Wide Receiver) Kenny (Golladay) as far as getting him on the field earlier in these next two days and is his status any different than those guys for possibly looking at Monday?
A: Two parts to that, his status is no different than those two guys right now, but I'd say all three are on different time tracks. Three different bodies, three different injuries, all three guys are kind of on independent tracks. I know this, I know all three guys are chomping at the bit to get out there. When you've got guys that really want to play and they're doing everything that they can possible to get healthy, that gives them a little bit of an edge in where they can push to get back. If their bodies allow it, we'll definitely have them out there.
Q: Regarding the trade deadline, do you believe you guys should be buyers looking to improve now in any way? Do you think you should be taking more of a long-term kind of view or approach as an organization? How are you approaching that?
A: I always think long-term. Sometimes, long-term can come in a move you can make immediately at this point, but I'm always thinking long-term. I've said this from the beginning, I'm not about taking shortcuts into anything. I've made it very clear in terms of my vision of the team and where I want to build it. It's being built for long-term success. I have a lot of faith in the people we have in this program right now, but ultimately my vision always goes long-term. I'm always looking at – just for everyone listening, I'm always looking at not only what our depth chart is now, but what does it look like at the end of this year, beginning of next year, what does it look like two years from now? Whether you're going through free agency, trades, draft, whatever it may be, to me, you're always looking down the road in terms of not where you are immediately, but where do you have to get to. That's my perspective on that.
Wide Receiver Darius Slayton
Q: Obviously there is a lot of attention on the outside about (Quarterback) Daniel's (Jones) big catch, a lot of memes, a lot of comments and kind of photoshopping him into different things. What's been the reaction to it inside the building? Are you guys having fun with it?
A: Yeah, I mean, I think everybody was pretty excited about it. Obviously, it was a pretty special play for anybody to make, but especially a quarterback.
Q: Did you know he had that in him?
A: I know he's a pretty decent athlete, so I wasn't too surprised he was able to pull it off.
Q: You guys seem to want to move the pocket a lot yesterday having Daniel on roll outs to his right and you were successful hooking up with him a few times. On those kinds of plays, it's kind of an all or nothing thing, isn't it? He doesn't have a lot of options when he's rolling so hard to the sideline. Can you just take us through what that's like and how you kind of have to be in sync with him the whole way?
A: It kind of depends on what part of it you are. Obviously depending on the route, you're just trying to move in sync with the quarterback while finding holes or open spots while you're running. It's just kind of trying to be on the same page with him.
Q: Do you think he is especially good at that? Getting out and kind of you guys running in unison together?
A: I think he's good at everything. So yeah, he would be included in that.
Q: There's always a lot of attention to who's not out there, right? You came back after missing games, Shep (Wide Receiver Sterling Shepard) couldn't make it, other guys are still not back. In your experience, can a quarterback kind of lift the guys around him a little bit, maybe guys who aren't used to starting? You're a guy who is used to being on the field, but kind of rallying people around him. Can a guy do that?
A: Definitely. I think everybody on the team believes in DJ, so whether it's guys who have played a lot of snaps or guys who have played zero snaps, everybody out there believes in 8 and knows that if they're out there with him, they're going to have catchable, accurate passes to catch. At the end of the day, it's just on us to complete them.
Q: How did you end up feeling yesterday after coming back?
A: Pretty good. It's always a little sore after getting hit after not getting hit for a while. But I feel pretty good all in all.
Q: I asked you last week about (Wide Receiver) Dante Pettis and you gave me that nice little wiggle at the podium. I've got a different question about Dante, did you know that his (Houston Astros Third Base Coach Gary Pettis) dad is a baseball coach for the Astros? Does he talk about that a lot? Does he talk about the Astros in the locker room? Does baseball come up a lot around him? Just curious – I don't know, are you a baseball fan? I don't know if you guys talk about that.
A: I'm not really a baseball guy, but it has kind of came up recently because obviously the Astros are in the World Series and I'm from Georgia and the Braves are in the series. I've kind of hopped on the bandwagon over the past two weeks and just rode the wave. We've kind of had a little back and forth over the last few weeks.
Q: So do you guys have a bet on the series or anything? What's the story there? Who's going to win the series?
A: Not yet, but obviously you know I'll be rooting for my home team and obviously he'll be rooting for his family, so I guess we'll see.
Q: You had a good rookie season and (Linebacker) Azeez Ojulari's having a good rookie season. I know outside linebacker and receiver aren't the same thing, but how much in the middle of your rookie season is it like, you've got off to a good start, you've put some things on tape and now defenses adjust to that and you've got to now figure out and you say, 'okay, I have to find a new way to have success?'
A: Obviously, like you just said, Azeez got off to a great start, but I think kind of the fine line is allowing yourself to let your confidence build and belief build that you've made plays, and then still maintaining that humility and knowing that you still have a lot to learn. But just taking advantage of opportunities to make the plays when you can make them. I remember yesterday during the game, it was kind of the first game where we were up, and the opposing team was in an obvious passing scenario. I remember I actually told all of our edge rushers, but I remember I specifically told Azeez, 'hey, this is when you get to work. They've got to pass. They're in two-minute. I'm saying this is when it's time to turn it on.' Obviously, he's done a great job of doing that for us so far.
View photos from the New York Giants' 25-3 victory over the Carolina Panthers at MetLife Stadium.
Linebacker Azeez Ojulari
Q: (Head) Coach (Joe) Judge just said that he loved your instincts yesterday. Is that a result of maybe the game starting to slow down for you? Explain exactly what he means by that.
A: I'll say every week I'm just trying to get better. As I continue to play these games, I'm getting used to it and adjusting to the game speed and everything. It's just kind of slowing down for me and getting better by the week, so I would agree with him.
Q: What was that game like for you yesterday? I know you work hard every week, but to see the results, 2.5 sacks, three tackles for loss, four quarterback hits, to see the box score, what was 4:30pm-on like for you yesterday? Did you allow yourself to enjoy it a little bit?
A: Yes sir, definitely. I'm blessed to be able to go out there and compete and make those big plays out there. At the end of the day, I was just happy to get the win, to get back in the win column. I'm just happy to get the win for the team and just continue to go from there and just keep going. So, it was a great day. I'm just happy to get the win.
Q: Did you come back to the locker room and have like 100 texts or anything like that? Were people chiming in? Anything interesting?
A: People definitely chimed in for sure, so thanks to (those) people. Just got to keep going.
Q: You had a sack in each of the first three games. Then the last two games, according to the stats and analytics, you had zero pressures. I'm wondering if you were even aware of that and if that motivated you more? Was that a case of teams adjusting to you, and you had to adjust to them after that?
A: I think you're trying to get to the quarterback every week. You try to do whatever you've got to do to get there within the scheme. Whatever it is, you've just got to play your best, give it your all when you're out there. That's what I'm just continuing to try to do every single time I step on the field. Just play my role and do whatever I've got to do to help the team succeed.
Q: Did you notice a difference in practice last week? It seemed like talking to people and listening to Coach Judge talk to some other people, you guys put more of an emphasis on yourselves than necessarily the opponent.
A: Yeah, definitely. We're just trying to make sure we're fundamentally sound and just good with our techniques – because at the end of the day, it's really about us. At the end of the day, it ends up going back to us and what we have to do out there, and how we do it, and just trying to fix everything in that standpoint of us. Just get better every week and go out there and compete.
Q: There's been a lot of talk about Joe Judge and some of the coaches really challenging the defense last week. I'm just curious what was the mood like among the players and the veteran players leading into the game yesterday. Did anybody speak up? Did anybody give any big speeches? What really motivated you guys to have that big game yesterday?
A: We just knew that we needed this game. As a defense, we have to do what we have to do. We don't want the other team to score points. It's a mindset, really. Everyone comes in and everyone has to do their job. The defensive leaders come in and just let us know what we've got to do. Everyone has to do it at a high level. Everyone must lock in and go out there and just do it on the field. No more talking, just go out there and do it with our actions. That's what we did yesterday.
Q: How much is pass rush contagious? There were games where nobody had any sacks on the whole defense and then there's yesterday where it seemed like everybody had a sack. How much is that contagious? Like when one guy gets one, everybody wants to get one, and how much does (Defensive Lineman) Leonard Williams going up the middle help you guys on the edge?
A: Definitely, man. I feel like we feed off each other in our defense, definitely. We feed off each other big time. The secondary is covering, we get there, we work with each other. The secondary covers, the rush gets there – so it's just feeding off each other and playing off each other's energy. It's just great having these guys that want to get to the quarterback and get after people. It's just great competing out there.