Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo**
Q: Is it a night and day type of thing now looking back to this time last year?
A: No, we put a lot of work in. We did a little more this offseason than we did last year because we had the cut-ups to go through. That took us four weeks and change. We went back and retooled the offense a little bit. We spent a lot of time on scheme and tying it into the personnel that we had and some of the new toys that we added. It is not a system anymore, it is our offense. We are excited to get that going.
Q: Where do you stand on Victor Cruz's status?
A: We are going to take the same approach on offense that we always do. We have a group of guys that we are going to go out and play with. We are pulling for Victor and we hope for the best. He certainly looks good moving around out there right now in rehab. We are going to let Victor take care of what he needs to take care of and come back when he is ready. When he is ready to come back, we will welcome him back.
Q: What does Shane Vereen add to this offense?
A: Vereen is a good player. He is a talented player. Unique skill set. He gets a lot of credit for what he does in the passing game. He is probably underappreciated as a pass protector and as a runner. We are glad to have him.
Q: What are a few things you liked/disliked about your first year?
A: I usually don't think that way. There isn't a lot that I look back and I am real happy about. We didn't win enough ballgames. We don't like to spend a lot of time talking about that. We like to chase execution. I think the last six games we started to play the way that we wanted to play. We started to execute and produce the way we wanted to produce. The way we completed the ball and the number of plays in a game. We just have to continue to chase execution and start where we left off.
Q: Is it too simple to draw the parallel to those last six games and when Odell [Beckham Jr.] started to take over? Are they one in the same?
A: I think it is a combination of a lot of things. We settled down up front a little bit. I think the quarterback started feeling better about the offense at that point. It takes some time. I think Odell is a unique player and I give him credit for paying attention in meetings and making meetings important so that he can transfer it onto the field, even though when [he] didn't get reps on your feet, he still gets mental reps. That was a big part of his success last year.
Q: Teams are obviously going to game plan for [Beckham Jr.]… Do you feel like you have to find different ways and move him around even more now?
A: Everyone learns to play everywhere on the perimeter. Whether you are a running back, a tight end or a receiver, you need to learn concepts. You need to be able to execute those concepts. It doesn't matter if you are a back, a tight end or a receiver, you have to be able to play one, two and three receiver. We ask that of all our guys. Whether we pull that out each week depends on who we are seeing and how we are tailoring our plan.
Q: With [Ereck] Flowers here now, is Justin Pugh a guard?
A: That remains to be seen. Justin Pugh, right now, is the starting right tackle for the Giants.
Q: Where do you see Flowers fitting in?
A: We are going to play our best five and if he is one of them, he will find a spot.
Q: What do you see out of Flowers that you like so far this week?
A: He looks like he likes football, and that is a great place to start. He is a conscientious young man and I look forward to watching him grow.
Q: What have you seen from Gary Nova and what do you look for from the quarterbacks at rookie minicamp?
A: We threw a lot at them. We try not to take it easy on them. We change their fundamentals. We threw a lot at them schematically. They did a nice job bouncing back here the second day and played a little better and a little faster here. They were able to digest the information, take it to the field, adjust their fundamentals and have a chance to execute. That is really what every day boils down to in this league. He did a nice job.
Q: Which side do you figure Flowers will be starting at?
A: That remains to be seen.
Q: Does that mean anything to you that most of the work Flowers has done out here has been on the left side? Do you try to move him around as much as possible?
A: We believe that he has a skill set to play left tackle in this league. We are going to give him opportunities to train out there. We will give him opportunities to train at multiple spots. That doesn't mean we are going to pencil him in to one spot right now.
Q: Is there any reason why you can't hit the ground running after the way the offense finished the last six games of last year?
A: It is a loser's mentality to think you can come in here and not miss a beat and pick up where you left off. Any success in this league is earned. If you come walking in thinking you don't have to do any work and you can pick up where you left off and we can execute the way we were at the end of the season, that is a loser's mindset.
Q: What does it mean that it is not a system anymore, it is an offense?
A: That means it is tailored to the players we have in the room. It is about the players, not the plays. We tailored it. You put some stuff out in the storage shed that you may like, but you may not get to because it doesn't fit with who you are.
Q: How do you feel? More comfortable?
A: I always battle being over-confident. I always battle that. I may hide that sometimes. I have confidence in the guys in the locker room and the guys in the staff room upstairs. We have assembled a good group of men and we are excited about the season.
Q: How much longer until Eli Manning hits that ceiling?
A: Usually when you put in changes or change the system or address fundamentals, it usually shows up in year two. I like the look in his eye. I am excited for what is on the plate this year.
Q: What do you see from a guy like Dwayne Harris?
A: Dwayne is a guy we are going to throw into the mix. We already have right away. He is a guy that brings in a little bit of attitude and a little bit of toughness. I like that.
Q: Is he primarily a guy who will play in the slot?
A: He is another receiver who is going to get opportunities to play all the spots and he will be a big contributor on special teams for us.
Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo
Q: Was it a hard decision to come back here?
A: Not really. There's a lot of reason to come back here. There's a lot of reasons for anybody to come here; the tradition of Giants football, the ownership, the Maras, the Tisches, Coach Coughlin, Jerry Reese… You do the checklist, if I did one at all, which I'm not saying I did. It would be fully loaded on one side. I was at a really good place in Baltimore and I just want to send a shout out to Steve Bisciotti and Ozzie (Newsome) and John (Harbaugh). I loved the two years there. Any time you can go to a different place, you can learn more. A little bit of wisdom was gained. It was terrific to work with such a good friend. John Harbaugh and I were together in Philadelphia for eight years and we had a lot of conversations in those eight years. We could sit and bounce things off as head coach and former head coach and it was a lot of fun, so I enjoyed that.
Q: What's been your priority here the first couple of months?
A: At the top of the list is the bottom of the foundation. That's probably the best way I can say it. We've got to build this thing gradually and the coaches all believe you can't do anything until you get all of the basics right. Some of the basics go all the way back to things that have nothing to do with talent, have nothing to do with being out here on the field, but believing in what we're doing, the character of the guys in unity, integrity and then we go from there. So we started from ground one and began to build it up. We get to a certain point here and we just keep on going, but it's going to take a little while.
Q: Why is it so important for you to show this team the history of the franchise?
A: Maybe that comes from having been there, but the whole staff just felt like when you understand the tradition of defensive football here at the Giants, you embrace it. When you embrace something you have a little pride in it. If you've got a little pride in something like your family, you tend to protect it. The only other thing I added to them was let's grow our own tradition and history here. We've been going back and feeding the guys all the greats here and we'll eventually start feeding great defensive games. We've got some picked out. I think we all should embrace that. There should be a passion about it, and that should carry it out right here on the field. That's the goal.
Q: Do you sense a different task than when your first time around here? **
A: New building. When I ran out there the first day, I was looking for the bubble. I didn't see a bubble. I just saw a nice indoor facility. What was really nice is when you can step into a building and you know people and they know you. That was really, really comfortable. That doesn't always happen that way. There were a lot of kinks that were already worked out. It was just comfortable. The New York Giants and the leadership is pretty much the same as when I was here. I certainly knew exactly the type of people and the type of organization I was going to and that's why I ran here instead of walking.
Q: How about as far as the team goes and the roster?
A: I believe that any year in this business, in the NFL, it's a different challenge and this one is certainly different than 2007. There were hurdles. There were hurdles then and there will be hurdles now, but that's a part of coaching. That's what we embrace. That's what we enjoy. That's the challenge of it and if all of us accept it and work together to get over the hump, hopefully we'll build something successful.
Q: How do you envision your defense schematically compared to when you were here before?
A: We've got some tweaks. We're not going to venture too far personnel-wise because of what we have and try to change things too much, but the good thing about being in a lot of different places, whether it was St. Louis, New Orleans or Baltimore, is you can pick from other places. Nobody in this league is sharing information. So when you try to get little tidbits from other coaches, nobody is giving that info, but if you're able over the course of whatever it was, five or six years, to come up with some different things, we'll add those in and hopefully we'll come up with something really good.
Q: There's a lot of talk about the personnel you had in '07 and '08 and how those guys aren't here now.
A: Yeah. Everybody gets older. I've seen some of them out here. I tried to put a helmet and pads on them.
Q: In terms of the personnel you have now, are there pieces you can identify right now that you're excited about?
A: Yeah. The challenge for me will be real football doesn't begin until you put the pads on and you get to training camp. That's kind of the downside of what we're going through right now, but as much as we can find out, there's a lot of things I'm excited about. This may sound minimal to you all, but when I stand in front of that defensive group in the meeting room, I see attentive guys. I see people that want to learn, that are in tune to it, that are passionate about it, and I think it all begins there. Where we take that when we get out here, we'll wait and see.
Q: Do you see the talent in your room?
A: There's talent there. There are places where we need to fill some holes, but I think every team has that. That's why you have a draft and you have free agency and we bring guys in to see what you can come up with.
Q: Was there ever a feeling when you initially left in '08 to come back again?
A: This isn't a on and off switch where, boom, all of a sudden we're back to 2007 and we pick up where we left off. It doesn't work that way and so to me I treat them differently. It would be no different than if I had left Baltimore and went to another team. It's a different challenge. It's a different year. It's different personnel and we're talking about all of these things right now. I'm not a magician. No coaches are magicians. Things aren't going to happen like they may have happened in a different time, but hopefully something exciting will happen. At least that's the goal.
Q: What did you learn from your experience from New Orleans and what are you taking from that time to do things differently here?
A: I firmly believe you learn more from adverse situations than you do when things just go like that. So there was a tremendous amount of wisdom and knowledge gained from my year in New Orleans. That was a tough year for a lot of different reasons. I'm not going to go back and speculate on why, but what I will do is I'm going to grab the things that we need to from that experience that will help us here. I will fully be doing that. There's a good notebook about that thick with things I should have done, shouldn't have done and things I can certainly do better. But that was a growth experience. Life is like that. It's not just the NFL. I've been blessed to suffer in the last couple of years to make me what I am now and hopefully it resonates and it's something good here.
Q: How do you see Landon Collins fitting in here? What do you want from him?
A: I want him to go to the Pro Bowl. That's what we want all of our guys to do. I will say this, from practice one yesterday to just this morning, I saw a jump already. They come here initially and they're feeling their way through. They don't really want to say anything, but by the time we got to that last team period today, Landon was moving people around and directing, so if he can keep doing that every day, I think we'll have exactly what we thought we had when we took him.
Q: Does the distinction between free safety and strong safety matter?
A: Right now, it doesn't. Actually we want to get all of the safeties to learn both so we can figure out where we'll put people. We've just got to line them up left and right for right now. That will probably stay like that for a pretty good duration and then when we feel like maybe we should hone in on a particular spot, we'll do that, but we're not going to do that right away.
Q: Jason Pierre-Paul has primarily stayed on the right side of the defensive line and you like to move guys around on the line. Do you plan on using him in different ways?
A: Sure, and Coach Nunn and I have talked about that, but one other thing I do believe in is you get guys in comfortable spots. I haven't had enough of a long conversation with JPP to know what he's more comfortable with, but when you've got a talented player, you try to put them in places where they can excel and help your defense. We'll fill that out when he gets here.
Q: What about in terms of leadership? You had Antonio Pierce the first time you were here. Are you still feeling out the guys to see who that next guy will be?
A: That's going to take a little bit of time. There are guys in that room that we're working with right now that I know in the past, having listened to other coaches or watching the Giants from afar, that I think there's some good leaders there and I think you always have got to develop more. Sometimes when leaders leave the program or system, some guys jump up that you would have never expected. Sometimes leadership lids are removed and guys that you never even would have thought would step to the forefront. I'm anxious to see who that might be. I'm just going to add this. Would I like to have AP back? Sure. He ran the show. He was pretty good.
Q: How important is the relationship between the defensive coordinator and the middle linebacker?
A: I think it's pretty important.
Q: How have you and Jon Beason gotten along?
A: He's been great. I remember Jon coming out of Miami and I have friends down in Carolina that were with him and I remember talking about Jon Beason before he even became a Giant. Everything was complimentary and you've got to love those guys that like the chess game. Jameel McClain is the same guy and I have some experience with him in Baltimore, so it's nice to have a couple of guys like that and I'm sure there'll be some other guys.
Q: Even though you weren't Jameel McClain's position coach, are you going to count on him maybe a little bit more since he is familiar with you?
A: I think it naturally happens that way and Jameel and I have had a couple of conversations. I was with Chykie Brown last year. You take the good from all of the places and it will be easier if I'm trying to feed something to the guys about maybe something that we did or the way we did it in Baltimore and they could probably back it up and say he knows a little bit about what he's talking about because we were there, too.
Q: What are your expectations for Damontre Moore?
A: I'm not sure I have any except with all the guys. I said this to the group, that the main objective right now, from now until February, is to be better today than we were yesterday. I know that sounds cliché-ish, but I think that's where we should be right now.
Q: Do you know anything about Damontre as a player?
A: From what the coaches have fed to me. I have spoken to him. I know he's getting his degree, which I'm kind of proud of. I would love to have him here because that stuff is important, but we'll just see where it goes when he gets here.
Q: What would be your definition of New York Giants defense?
A: As you asked that, in my mindm I'm going through what we've been watching with the Harry Carsons and the Lawrence Taylors… I'm seeing all of them. I grew up in the northeast, but before they were Patriots fans, they were Giants fans. I can just remember watching Giants football and Giants Stadium. Everybody gets infatuated with offense, but I just remember the linebackers and the d-linemen. That play that Jason Sehorn made against us when Philadelphia played at Giants Stadium with the interception… That was a playoff game. Those things are what resonates. It's relentless. It's attacking. Michael Strahan said this in one of the things we were watching. He said when he first got here, they -- meaning all of his defensive players -- they took pride in living up to the New York Giants defensive tradition. I thought that just spoke volumes. That's a lot to live up to. So if we can shoot for that and get close to that, I think we'll be pretty good.
Q: What is your plan for the nickel back position?
A: That's one we're trying to feel through, to be honest with you. You'll probably see as we go through the OTA's that there'll be a number of guys working in and out of there. In this league nowadays, there are a lot of three wideout sets. That means you've got to match them in a lot of cases and put another DB out there, so I'm not sure I have an answer for that right now. There were some guys that did it a little bit last year and some guys that we added.
Q: Is Trumaine McBride a guy you could put in the nickelback position?
A: I thought he showed a pretty good feel for being there. He's one of them. Josh Gordy has done it. Mike Harris did it a little bit last year. We've got some guys that we can try, but we need to get that solved and we need to identify who the nickel is.
Q: The Giants have used a lot of three-safety looks in the past. Is that something you'd like to use?
A: We're going to have to work with the ebb and flow and the talent and personnel that we have, but sometimes the offenses force you to go that route and if we have to do that, we'll do that. I'm going to start finding those people out.
Q: How was the interview process with Tom Coughlin?
A: You go through the process. It was a very comfortable job interview. For the greater part of it, it was being back with an old friend. Tom and I have always stayed in touch the whole time I've been gone, but we had to talk about things that related to the job and we did that. It was a little bit of business and it was a lot of just personal getting caught up and I enjoyed it. I'm glad it worked out.
Special Teams Coordinator Tom Quinn
Q: What do you expect is going to happen with the extra point?
A: That is a good question. I know they want to do something to it. Probably move it back to where it was in the preseason.
Q: Do you have a preference?
A: I have no preference at all. Whatever they tell us to do, we will do. We handled it well last year. Obviously nothing has been done with later in the year with the wind and cold. That would make it a little bit more challenging in the northeast.
Q: Think it would change much in regards to strategy for you guys?
A: It all depends on the game conditions. That is something [Coach Coughlin] would take care of.
Q: Re: Dwayne Harris?
A: It is good that it is someone we know so well. [He] is someone who we played twice a year against all his time in Dallas. I respected him coming out of college and how he plays and how physical he plays. He will add a good dimension. He is a returner that is also a gunner, so anytime you can get a guy that can do multiple jobs is a nice addition.
Q: Do you look at Harris as a guy who can do both, punt returning and kickoff returns?
A: Yeah, he has done it. It is there on tape. I feel very confident in him picking up those jobs. I think if you look across the league, you need a stable of guys you can rely on.
Q: Would you like to keep Odell [Beckham Jr.] off of punt return this year if you can? **
A: That is not my decision. I think he wants to do it. Whatever helps the team. If he is needed, then he is needed.
Q: When you look at the new pieces that have been added to your unit, are you feeling pretty good about where they fit in?
A: Yeah. It is always exciting to add guys that have played at a high level in this league. [Jonathan] Casillas has done that. J.T. Thomas has done that. That is always nice to add them into the mix and get them into our culture and how we want them to do things. Really try to highlight what they do well. That is the fun part about it. It is always changing parts.
Q: How about [Geremy] Davis from UConn?
A: Little bit of an unknown. I know he has good height, weight and speed coming out. He didn't do a lot of special teams coming out of college, but that is not unusual. We are excited to work with him and see what he can add to the mix.
Q: Who do you view as your core special teamers?
A: You try to, but a lot of times those guys end up starting, so that becomes their role. You just try to have a good, solid room. I think [Mark] Herzlich is a guy that has been a leader in that room. You always have a mix of young guys and old guys and guys that are starting and guys that are not starting. It is a little bit in flux. It is not like you have six to eight guys that you have had for three or four years with how much movement there is now in the league.
Q: What is it about Harris that makes him a good return man?
A: He is decisive. There isn't a lot of wasted movement. He is physical. He has a good understanding of the return schemes and what is needed for each one. There is no hesitation. If he is catching the ball and you are running it to the right, he is going to get it to the right, which sets up all the blockers for him. They know where he is going to be. A lot of times when you are blocking, [the returner] is supposed to be over here, but the returner is running the wrong direction or in the middle and now your block is not set up for that. He is very decisive. He is a strong runner.
Q: How do you evaluate the overall performance of the special teams last season?
A: I was pleased with some areas of it, but obviously other areas have to get better. I thought Josh [Brown] had a very solid year. One of his better years. I think his kickoffs continue to get better, which is a positive for him at his age and a tribute to how well he trains. I saw some sparks in the punt return game, especially when Odell got his feet wet and guys did a good job understanding the blocking. Kickoff was vey solid. I was very pleased with that. Kickoff return – you are always trying to find some guys up front to block. I think we got better as the year went on. Punt is the one area that we did not meet our goal. You want to have a 40-yard net now and we are under that. We continue to emphasize with the hang time and the location of the punts. Get better at that and get better at covering it. I think we have done that with some of the acquisitions we have made.
Q: How much of the punting issues can be attributed to the fact that Steve Weatherford was hurt for most of the season?
A: He did. He had the ankle and then he had the back. He was banged up all year. It was really unfortunate for how hard he trains. He puts the time in the weight room to stay healthy. I think he might be lifting now as we are talking.
Q: When you say the acquisitions for punt return…?
A: I am talking about punt return and punt. Guys that we have picked up have played at a high level on those teams. Casillas has made a living doing it. J.T. Thomas has done it even though he was starting. He would still cover kicks. Adding those guys with speed and experience is always a positive.