Transcriptions from Thursday's Giants practice
Wide Receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
Q: How do you feel physically after playing Monday night?
A: I came out straight. I didn't have any setbacks or anything like that. So, keep ramping up the rehab. Just try to get as good as you can get, you know what I mean?
Q: So, you're still getting treatment on top of practice?
A: Yeah. I don't think that's ever going to stop. I've been doing that since the hamstring. Going home, rehab, all of that stuff. So, I don't think that's going to stop now.
Q: Is there a chance you might not be right for the whole season?
A: I mean, I don't know. The ankle is something you get on every single day. So, you never really know, but I'm going to get as good as I can get and I know once I'm comfortable cutting off in each and every way, I don't see that there will be any problems with it, even if it's not 100.
Q: Do you think about it a little bit?
A: It's not so much I think about it, it's just like actually when you make the cut. I remember I tried to make a cut in the game and I ended up having to jump over him because I couldn't get up field. So, it's just little things like that, but it's coming back.
Q: Is it a matter of when you make a cut, you can still feel it?
A: Yeah, it's not so much a mental thing, it's when you actually go to make the cut and you turn out and you put force on it the same way that you created the injury, it's a little difficult.
Q: But the good news is that the medical staff clears you to play, now it's a matter of your tolerance, right?
A: Yeah, pretty much. It's hard to get in the groove when you're in and out. So, I look to play a lot more this week, in my opinion.
Q: Do you think you're healthy enough to take over a game like you have in the past?
A: I mean I told you, my mind is on another level. I feel like I can take over a game at any time no matter ankle, anything like that. So, it's just a matter of getting those opportunities and making the most of them. Just playing as a team, we have to play better in each and every phase. Defense, special teams, offense. We just got to do better.
Q: With this team at 0-2, how much do you want to be the difference maker?
A: 0-2, 16-0, I always want to be a difference maker and I think last year around week 5, we were 2-3. So, there is not really any panic in my eyes. I know it's a long season. We didn't have a good start. I know it's cliché, but it is not about how you start, it's how you finish, but it really is.
Q: You said you think you're going to play more this week. Is that your hope or do you expect to?
A: That's what's going to happen.
Q: Are you lobbying the coaching staff or are they…
A: No, I'm playing.
Q: When you were at LSU, did you matchup against Jalen (Mills) a lot?
A: Yeah, Jalen and I went at it every single day. We fought, we competed every day. So, this is a guy who I've gone against, a guy who I've competed against, have respect for and I'm happy to see him in the league and doing his thing. Unfortunately, he plays for Philly, but it's a guy who I've gone against, so I do expect to see him and the other corners as well. I know (Ronald) Darby went down, so they have some other guys filling in and stepping up and playing that role.
Q: Philly has pretty much owned you guys since you got here. Is there a common thread as to why this matchup is so difficult for the Giants?
A: I honestly couldn't tell you. I was thinking about it the other day. I'm like every time I've gone to Philly, we've lost. They beat us at home, they just for some reason they've had our number, but this is our opportunity for a new year and to turn things around. This is a big game for us. We need a win and what better team to beat than Philly.
Q: Do you guys pay mind to Ben (McAdoo) being critical of Eli (Manning)?
A: To be honest, I used to pay a lot of attention to what is said outside of this building and stuff and now I really don't. It's going to make no difference to me what somebody says outside of here. So, I don't pay any attention.
*Q: But it's inside. *
A: Well, it's outside because it's getting brought into here. He said it, but it's still getting written about. So, that to me isn't going to bother me. I am still going to talk to 10 the same way. Me and 10 are still going to have the same mentality each and every day. So, honestly there is nothing that can really be said that's going to make me feel a way about somebody on this team.
Q: Do you still believe in him?
A: All day, every day. I talk to him about passing up whoever is in front of him, touchdowns, yards, all of that. We talk about all of that. So, do I believe in 10? Absolutely. Is he going to lead us there? Absolutely. He's done it before and I don't see why he wouldn't do it again. He just had a slow start, you know?
Q: How frustrating is it as a receiver when you run routes and before you even turn back, Eli is on his back?
A: It's frustrating to not get the ball. Frustrating is not really the right word, so don't quote me on that because now it will be I'm frustrated I don't get the ball. As a receiver, you want the ball, period. So, to look back and you see Eli getting sacked, especially if you feel like you got open on this route, you might have finally got your break, you get open and he's on the ground. It's tough, it's tough and I feel like we haven't put our best foot forward, but that's what you get these games for. It's a chance to make yourself better and come out and do better than you did last week and that's what we have to do.
Q: How do you stay even keeled despite the team being 0-2? Some people would say it's time to panic.
A: Those people aren't on this team, I don't think. I don't really see any panic. There is no fear in my heart about being 0-2. It's just a time to dig deep, make plays when you need to make them, turn things around. You can go 0-5, win the next 11 and you never know. I think the Giants won a Super Bowl when they were 9-7 here, something like that. So, I don't really count us out.
Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan
Q: What is the biggest factor as to why you're 0-2?
A: Well, I think it's been hard for us to get any level of consistency and there are a number of reasons why that's the case. But, when you look at the fact that we've turned the ball over in both games, we've struggled on third down in both games, struggled to get any type of consistency. Obviously, had the one nice drive for the touchdown Monday night, but far too many three-and-outs and really not able to get in a type of rhythm that we'd like to get into where we have that balance that we want to have as far as running paths. We're able to get some of those play action shots down the field and able to do some of those things. Then you throw in there some of our penalties and some of the negative plays, whether it's a tackle for loss or a sack that set us back. I think that's the biggest reason, if you will, as far as why we put ourselves in this position.
Q: Is there anything you can do as a coach to establish a rhythm or does that have to happen naturally?
A: Well, I think there are certain instances where by virtue of a personnel grouping or in terms of just trying to have a set scheme or concept that you want to try to run it, you want to try to feature that, you just have to be patient with it. There's ways to try to kick start that, if you will, but if there's a turnover or all the sudden you're trying to stay on track and now a penalty and something sets you back, it's hard to overcome. So, there's certainly things from a schematic standpoint that you try to do, but in order to get the guys the touches that they need to get in terms of the defense having to defend the entire field and have to face different obstacles and issues. Unless we're able to stay out there, it's going to be hard to get anything done.
Q: If T Bobby Hart can't play on Sunday, will OL D.J. Fluker be able to play?
A: I think all the guys that we have on the roster are open for discussion in terms of those guys out there working throughout the various positions. We're just trying to find the very best mix that's going to help us be successful.
Q: Is it possible that defensive coordinators figured out your offense?
A: That's one way I think could be looked at it from the outside looking in. I think it goes a lot deeper than that. I think we've certainly looked at the tape and haven't necessarily had the sense of, 'Oh man, they certainly had our playbook right here' or 'Holy cow, they must have been able to hear what we said on the headsets.' I think you give credit to the opponent. We're not making excuses. It's easy to sit up here and talk about obviously the mistakes that we made and the things that we have to overcome and not give the opponents credit because they did do a good job. I want to make sure I'm clear about that. From the standpoint of being predictable, I don't know how predictable we've been. We haven't been out there long enough to be predictable. I hope we can be predictable because that means we're sustaining some drives and we're doing some things to get the ball in the endzone, but I don't know if that's quite on point right now.
Q: How much of a difference can a play-caller actually make?
A: Well, I think regardless of the team, regardless of the offense that's run, regardless of any of those variables, it still comes down to players making plays and it's about the players and it's about them being able to go out there and perform and then obviously, no kidding, it's our job to put them in the right spots and try to feature what their strengths are and try to minimize or mask or reduce what the weaknesses are. I think that you brought up a point as far as how that's going to unfold. I think the most important thing for us right now is making sure that we can start playing better football, more consistent football and that seems like an oversimplification. But, a lot of that just comes down to us having more opportunities and that goes back to answer Kim's question as far as the three-and-outs and turnovers and those negative plays that keep us from getting in some type of a rhythm. That's, I think, what we're going to have to do regardless of the play-calling situation.
Q: Do you think you have to get the ball out quicker as an offense or does the line need to protect better?
A: I think the more versatile that we can be, the better. Let me be specific what I mean by that is you can't be any one thing. It goes back to predictability. If we're always five-step drop, if we're always three-step drop, if we're always in a mode where we have tight ends and backs to both sides chipping and helping tackles, if we're always just forcing the run and we're getting stuffed or we're always just trying to throw it, regardless. Too much of one thing is not good. So, we have to constantly try to find ways to keep the defense off balance, not be predictable and try to, at the same time, know who our playmakers are and put them in positions to be successful. So, I think that certainly, looking at this opponent in terms of the strengths that they have and being so dynamic up front, you have to make sure you're aware of that and I think for anybody, I don't think it'd be shocking to say that we don't want to drop back 65 times against the Eagles down there. That wouldn't be an earth-shattering statement.
Q: Are you counting on the line to protect better or will you scheme around that?
A: I think it's a combination of both. We're always looking to get better. There's always improvement. That's why we're out there practicing. It never happens as fast as we might like and there's frustration, I'm sure, from all of our fans and from everyone on the outside looking in and, guess what, our players are frustrated with themselves. We're frustrated in ourselves as coaches and I think when that comes to the forefront, you can either complain about it and point fingers and look for the blame or circle the wagons and say, listen, we just have to keep wheeling stones down the street, just keep grinding away, keep grinding away, keep trying to find a way to get better in conjunction with the individual technique, regardless of the position. Then also from a schematic standpoint, trying to do the same thing, as I mentioned earlier, that can play to our strengths and then try to minimize our weaknesses.
Q: How do you think G Justin Pugh reacted to the unscheduled move to tackle on Monday night?
A: Justin has played a lot of football. He's played tackle in his NFL career and he's a smart football player and tough football player and a guy that we're counting on as we're counting on all of our offensive linemen and really the other guys at the other positions. Often times, what we planned for, what we expect, anything can happen in the course of the game. Guys have to be ready to step up, and obviously it was a difficult night. It was a tough night, but for the most part, he did a lot of good things out there.
Q: Do you see tangible evidence that the players still believe in this team?
A: I do. That's a great question. There hasn't been any type of finger pointing at each other or at us coaches. We spent a lot of time. Some of these players have been with us for three years. Some of these guys, a lot of times, those who are new to the organization through the spring, through all of the OTA's and training camp, in the meetings, in the practice room and you get a sense of what's in here. What their character is like and there isn't a group of guys that are looking to quit or looking to point fingers or looking to make excuses. It's a prideful group. It's a competitive group. It's a group that is frustrated, but I think in a positive way that there's more of a determination and more of a resolve to get this thing headed in the right direction and play the type of football we know we're capable of rather then look to make excuses and finger-point.
Q: Is your offense not one that naturally gives a lot of help to the tackles?
A: I think schematically, it is a part of what we do. Like anything else, if you pay enough, if you want to buy something in one area, you pay in the other area. If you make a commitment, say for example this week, hey, we're going to chip and have a tight end always to the left. Well, then No. 55, (Brandon) Graham is one of the best pass rushers in the National Football League is to the right. So, it gets to – I hate to sound like a broken record – but, it's having that balance and versatility just to try to get that defense off balance a little bit.
CB Eli Apple
Q: How much more difficult does it become to defend teams when cornerback Janoris Jenkins is not out there with you guys?
A: I mean, you're losing somebody that's really great at playing man coverage and he's really good at taking away the number one receiver. That's a lot of production you're losing. But we know we've got guys that are able to step up and take his place and I think guys like Ross [Cockrell] did a great job of doing that. And we also had other guys in the secondary step up, like, [safety Andrew] Adams had to pick up his reps a little bit, and same with [safety] Nat [Behre] and I think we did a good job with that.
Q: Are you guys better prepared to go forward with Jenkins?
A: Yeah, we just try every day to go really hard because whoever's out there, we've just got to go hard no matter what. You can't try to just anticipate everything, you can't. You don't know what's going to happen with somebody's health, so you've just got to do what you can.
Q: How does Jenkins being out change your job?
A: It doesn't really change my job, really.
Q: Do you feel like you're ready to take that next step and be that shutdown corner if Jenkins doesn't play this week?
A: Yes, definitely, most definitely. It's just about the little things. Just always trying to improve and get better, never taking any steps backwards and that is something I'm really trying to harp on and be hard on myself about and just try every day to get better.
Q: What happened on the touchdown pass scored on you last week against Detroit?
A: Well in the red zone, you never want to be too high on a receiver, and that's one thing – that was the first mistake I made. I got too high on the touchdown and I kind of just was thinking too much and I was thinking which way I was going to look. When I really should've just turned into the receiver and just try to play chest-to-chest. That's something we practice all the time, just something I didn't incorporate during that time. But that's something I've definitely been working on this week.
Q: Is Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz the type of quarterback that will give the defense opportunities to make plays?
A: Yeah, most definitely. In his first two games [this season] you can see that. They definitely try to throw the ball a lot and try to get their passing game started. He's a great quarterback, he's great at extending plays and getting his receivers the ball downfield. So, that's something that we have to work on, just making sure we stay high to low because we know when he does scramble, he like to go deep?
Q: What does Philadelphia wide receiver Alshon Jeffery add to their offense?
A: Somebody with size. A red zone threat and just somebody who's very productive, possession-wise.
Q: How to improve on third down?
A: Just continue to work on it and continue to make it an emphasis in practice. That's something that we've been doing a little bit more, and just practicing a little harder on it and just try our best to disguise our coverages a little bit more. I think, as a defense, we can all work on that and just try to confuse the quarterback a little bit better.
Q: Does Wentz make it tough on third down, with his ability to extend plays?
A: Oh, for sure, definitely. That's always the toughest part because we always have initial good coverage. It's always just when a quarterback extends the plays. Like [Cowboys QB Dak] Prescott has done and especially with [Lions QB] Matthew Stafford this past game. He did that on a couple third downs and that was really critical but that's something we're definitely working on.
DT Damon Harrison
Q: What's the biggest jump that Carson Wentz has made on film? Is it confidence?
A: You just hit it right on the head – confidence. He just looks a whole lot more confident in the pocket. At times, he looks like Aaron Rodgers out there running around, evading the rush and still making some pretty good throws. So, I don't know anything other than confidence.
Q: What challenges does their run game bring?
A: They have three different types of backs. They have (Darren) Sproles, who is a receiving type of back. They have (Wendell) Smallwood, who is the speed guy, and you have (LeGarrette) Blount, who is the downhill, power back. So, they have three different guys who can do three different things and you just have to be prepared. All of them can catch the ball really, so it'll be a tough game.
Q: Does who is in front of you change how you attack?
A: It doesn't really matter. It's just like you make a change on the defensive line. Obviously, it's going to be some type of familiarity with the starter as opposed to the guy who is coming in as a backup, but I played against (Chance) Warmack, a couple of the backup guards a few times. So, it doesn't make much of a difference.
Q: Can you lose track of Darren Sproles in the line?
A: He's like five feet tall. You just have to be sound in your technique because the moment you try to do too much, the offensive linemen, they're some pretty big guys. They can just get in your way and that split second is all he needs to find a crease. A guy that short, he's hard to locate.
Q: What can you improve on when it comes to stopping the run?
A: Gap integrity. Everybody is just not playing sound football in terms of gap integrity, being where they're supposed to be and doing exactly what they're supposed to do. You have some people that are stretching to make plays, myself included. We just have to get back to trusting each other.
Q: Are you stretching plays because of the offensive struggles?
A: Paying attention to the defensive side of the ball.
Q: What has the mood been this week?
A: It's the same thing every week. We're professionals. We know we have a job to do. We go out there and do it, no matter what, wins or losses. The next game has to be played. You can't sit there and think about anything in the past and you can't think about the future. You just have to be in the moment.
Special Teams Coordinator Tom Quinn
Q: What happened on Detroit's punt return touchdown last week?
A: We missed tackles, number one. And we played with poor leverage. So, those two combined, against good returners, not a good combination. Critical time of the game, we had an opportunity to change field position, we had a nice punt by Brad [Wing], nice distance, location. And we just didn't get the job done with coverage. We've got to do a better job.
Q: Are you a little concerned about the battle of field positon at this point?
A: Well, it's a team deal, right? I mean, offense, defense and special teams, combined with that, it's not just one phase. So I think as a team we're concerned about it. We want to do a better job stopping them, returning it and then driving it and then punting it down there. But it's been too lopsided, you're correct.
Q: Are the same problems in the return game happening each week?
A: The first week, we had one opportunity on a kickoff return, we had a nice kickoff return, [but] we had a penalty, and then everything else was in the plus-area, so we had to fair catch a majority of those. And then last week, we had a couple opportunities to return them. We had a 10-yard return, then a 0-yard return and we only had one kickoff return. So yeah, you want more opportunities, you want to do a better job with it.
Q: How do you think wide receiver Dwayne Harris has responded to returning kicks after dealing with an injury in preseason?
A: I think he's done fine so far, yeah. He's done a better job of catching the ball clean, which he was working on from the previous season. So we've just got to keep getting him better blocking to get him started.
Q: What happened on Aldrick Rosas' kickoff last week that went out of bounds?
A: That was poor situational football. He's got to understand that you've got to keep the thing in. We call it 'deep kick middle' and trying to do too much – which I think some of the guys are trying to do too much, instead of just your job and just kick it down there. And he's trying to kill it and anytime you kill it as a kicker, you have the opportunity – that's why we don't put directional with it, we just want it down the middle so we can keep it inbounds. A costly penalty right there.