What Washington is saying ahead of Sunday's matchup at MetLife Stadium
Washington head coach Ron Rivera sat down for a conference call with the Giants' media contingent on Wednesday.
Rivera took over as head coach in Washington earlier this year after spending nine seasons as the head coach of the Carolina Panthers, where Dave Gettleman was also general manager for five years. Rivera and Gettleman went to Super Bowl 50 together during the 2015 season but fell short of a championship. Rivera touched on several topics during the call, such as Daniel Jones, Chase Young, and his familiarity with James Bradberry, who spent the first four years of his career in Carolina with Rivera.
Here is the full transcript from Rivera's call with the Giants' beat reporters.
Q: What is your relationship like today with [General Manager] Dave Gettleman and have you guys managed to stay in touch? You were obviously somebody we all thought was going to wind up on the interview list here. What was it about the Washington job that you said you would take that job before even coming up here to interview?
A: Well, first of all, I was thoroughly recruited to come here, and actually spent a lot of time and got a lot of opportunities to look at this team and just felt pretty comfortable. It was never really about the money, I think it was more about the challenge. For whatever reason, I like the challenge and it's been a challenge, to be honest with you. But I will say this, my relationship with Dave Gettleman is good, I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. My success that I had in Carolina if you look at it, five years, four of those five in the playoffs, were directly related to my relationship with Dave. Dave has a philosophy which I think is a very good one and which we're trying to institute here, which is big guys give you a chance to compete. I really look at what this football team has in terms of skill positions, look at the offensive line, big guys, I look at the defensive line, look at the back seven, and I think he's headed in that direction again. But, again, my relationship with Dave is I have a tremendous amount of respect for who he is as a general manager, but more importantly who he is as a man. I really do mean that, too, because he's really a part of the reason I've had success as a head coach.
Q: [Quarterback] Daniel Jones and [Washington Quarterback] Dwayne Haskins [Jr.], same draft class, both had to deal with a coaching change after their rookie years. I'm curious if you could just talk a little bit about your decision to sit Dwayne down for a little bit and then on the flip side of that what you see from Daniel, as he's losing but still playing in his second year.
A: Well, you sit there and look at what we did with Dwayne – we didn't have the offseason you would've liked to have had in terms of his chance to develop. So we went into training camp and we gave him every rep with the 1's for several weeks, and then we gave him a chance to play and he played four straight games and every rep he's taken has been with the 1's. Just in the evaluation process, we weren't seeing what we needed to see. We didn't see the growth that we thought you needed. Plus, looking at where the schedule was taking us – you know we have four games and you could honestly say six games which are all conference games, or five of those six are conference games, and three of those are divisional and there's an opportunity to make some hay in our division. So, I felt like I wanted to put the ball in a couple of guys' hands that know the system: [Washington QB] Kyle Allen, who's been with me for three seasons, who knows our system; [Washington QB] Alex Smith, who's a guy that's made a tremendous comeback who knows the system. So, I felt that our chances in these next six games would be increased by doing that and so that's what I did.
Q: Your thoughts from afar on Daniel Jones
A: I'll tell you what, especially if you watch last week, the young man is progressing. And it's a new system and it's probably a system that's a little bit more demanding too for him. Anytime you change head coaches, you change coordinators, there's going to be some things that you're going to have to learn, but I tell you what, I like who he is, I like the way he plays. The philosophy of you've got to protect him and put good players around him, I think that's where the Giants are headed. This is a good football team we're playing, I don't care about the record. This is the kind of team that they're growing, they're playing a lot of guys and you see improvement. This should be a very competitive game on Sunday.
Q: Tell me a little bit about what you've seen so far from [Washington Defensive End] Chase Young. Is there any point where you look at him on the field, in practice or in games, and say, 'Man, we were so lucky that we lost to the Giants last year'?
A: I wasn't here to say that, but I will say Chase is one of those special guys that has a chance to be a very, very, very good player in this league and the sky really, truly is the limit for him. He's a heck of a young man, he's got a great attitude, he plays hard, he does the things the way you want them, he's a little bit of an old soul in the NFL because he understands what it takes, so I'm excited about having him.
Q: Your thoughts on [Cornerback] James Bradberry and the way he's playing. Obviously, you know him very well from your Carolina days, but it almost seems to us like he's taken his game to another level this year.
A: He is. He's one of my favorites, he really is because he just comes to work and the guy works hard. He's a big, physical corner. That's what we needed in Carolina to be able to be competitive in the division because if you look at who he played against, [Saints WR] Michael Thomas, [Buccaneers WR] Mike Evans, he played against those kinds of guys, [Falcons WR] Julio Jones, [Falcons WR] Calvin Ridley. This guy competed at the highest level against the highest level players, and so he's just one of those guys that came to work and was physical and was dependable. Sure, he might've gotten beaten once in a while but man, he would come back, line up and he would be physical. And he's a guy that I knew would get a good opportunity and really I think he's a guy that the more he works at it, the more reps he gets, the better and better he keeps getting.
Q: Ron, why do you think the NFC East is struggling the way it is so far early this season?
A: Well, first of all, you have three new head coaches. Philly's been beat up, they've lost a lot of good players, so physically they're not the team they were before they got hurt. As they get those guys back, they're going to be better. We've got some young teams in our division – when I say 'young teams' I look at us and New York, I think they're very young. I think Dallas is still learning who they are with the new head coach. They've got some veteran guys and they lost their quarterback, so I think it's going to be interesting to see how the rest of this division unfolds.
Giants coaches admire Daniel Jones' resiliency
An old cliché applicable to both sports and life is, "it's not whether you get knocked down, it's whether you get up."
Daniel Jones has been knocked down often in his 17 games as the Giants' starting quarterback. And we're not talking about the 54 sacks he's absorbed, including 16 this season.
Jones' pain would exist if he never hit the ground, because the Giants have won just three of those games. That's a heavy burden for any quarterback and especially one that is just 23 years old.
Despite the record and the other bumps Jones has endured, the Giants' coaches remain his strongest supporters.
"This guy is still a young guy," coach Joe Judge said today. "We're working on getting him really comfortable within the scheme, handling different situations. He's made a lot of progress for us. As an entire team, we want to see guys make strides in the running and passing game and defensively and the kicking game as well. But I've seen a lot of progress from Daniel. He's a very resilient guy, he's a fighter. He stands there and plays very aggressive. I'm pleased with the way he's played for the most part to this point. There are obviously some things that all of us as coaches and players have to clean up and learn from and not repeat mistakes."
"He is a resilient guy," quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski said. "Every week is a new week for him and a new week for us. He is so resilient. … He comes to work each week just trying to work his butt off and do the best he can. And we're trying to do the best we can for him. Unfortunately, sometimes younger guys when they're playing and they're playing early they take some lumps. But by no means do I think he's shellshocked. He's trying to do the best he can on every play."
Jones and the Giants haven't received the desired results yet this season. They are 0-5 after a last-second 37-34 loss in Dallas on Sunday. This week, they host the Washington Football Team, the opponent in two of the three games Jones started and won. He hasn't celebrated in a winning locker room since the Giants' 41-35 overtime victory in FedExField last Dec. 22 and is eager to recapture that feeling.
"We put a lot of work into it throughout the week. To not get the results is disappointing at times," Jones said. "It's frustrating. I think like anyone, I certainly am when we don't get the results. I take it hard. But the thing about this game, the thing about any game, any sport or anything you're doing is you have to be able to refocus and not let it discourage you, not let it distract from the next one, from the preparation or looking forward, I guess. Taking the next step and using what you learned to help you. It's definitely tough, it's definitely frustrating. But I think you have to be able to learn from it and re-energize yourself and focus toward the next week. I try to do that. I think as a team, we were frustrated but it's time to refocus our efforts and use that energy to focus toward next week and not let it distract from our preparation. I thought we had a good practice today and guys were focused and ready to go."
Through the Years: Giants vs. Washington
Check out the gallery below to view rare photos of the all-time series between the New York Giants and the Washington Football Team. The Giants lead the series 103-69-4.
View rare photos of the all-time series between the New York Giants and the Washington Football Team.