- Head Coach Joe Judge
- Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett
- Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham
- Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
Head Coach Joe Judge
Q: Jason (Garrett) was just talking about the need to get the running game going. Going into this week, how do you balance wanting to ride the hot hand versus getting one guy going and just sticking with him, pounding the rock with him all game long?
A: I’d say first off, we always have a plan for all of our players going into the game. All of our backs will have packages in for them. Look, as you get into the game and things start declaring, you have to go with what’s working. You have to look to also at the same time stick to the plan and be able to keep the other team from guessing what you’re going to do at all times. In terms of going with the hot hand, there are times we may do that and ride that out. But at the same time, we have to make sure we complement our game plan by going in with everything we have in the arsenal.
Q: Jason just mentioned you guys are kind of still in the feeling out process with the offense in trying to figure out what the strengths are. What do you want the offense to be with the personnel that you have?
A: I don’t care who the personnel is. I think balance is what you want to be. To me, balance is not having to run it and throw it 50-50. To me, balance is being able to run it when you have to run it, and throw it when you have to throw it. No matter who the personnel is, no matter what the game plan is, you want to be able to be balanced to play the game on your terms.
Q: When a team gets gashed like the Cowboys were on defense last week, do you expect them to come out differently from what they presented in the past?
A: They’re a well-coached team and there is a world of talent on that roster. For us to think that just because someone had a rough outing one week, that’s going to transfer over to the game, we expect everybody’s best every week. That’s what we anticipate getting.
Q: Do you have to remind your offensive players of that who may be looking at some of the numbers and the stats and saying, ‘this is what’s going to fix us’?
A: No. It’s our job as coaches to let the players understand what each team has, what their strengths are and how we have to play to it. It’s our job as coaches to make sure our team doesn’t go in ever overconfident no matter what the situation or circumstance is. We have to anticipate the opponent’s best every week. This is a very talented roster and we know what we’re going to get.
Q: Simple question. Is Jabrill (Peppers) a possibility this week or is he just getting out on the field and feeling it out?
A: You know what, at this point right here, I’d say yeah, everyone is a possibility. I have to see where he’s at today. We have to check with the trainers. Yesterday was a walkthrough, so there’s not a lot of information I could really gather from based on what we did yesterday.
Offensive Coordinator Jason Garrett
Q: Obviously, the offense has started very slowly here. I’m wondering what do you think about the idea that people say your offense is vanilla through the first four weeks of the season?
A: I think the biggest thing we’re all trying to do is just simply execute better, both in the run game and the pass game. You certainly want to do the things you’re good at, and we’re trying to discover what those things are, again both in the run and the pass game. You want to make sure that you’re finding ways to keep the defense off balance, whether it’s using tempo, which we’ve used a lot of this year, whether it’s using formations and movements, or just the combination of run and pass and different ways to do that. We’re all trying as a coaching staff to do a great job of putting our players in a good position. Then we have to execute once the ball turns over.
Q: How much of it also has to do with the fact that you didn’t have the usual offseason in regard to what you’re able to do?
A: I think everybody is in the same boat regarding that. Our team did a great job through the offseason over Zoom trying to learn and understand what we’re going to try to do offensively. Then our players worked very hard throughout training camp, the same thing. Then obviously, the more we do it together, I think the better we’ll get at it. There was some progress in the game the other day. It’s really the first time we ran the ball relatively consistently throughout the year. That certainly helped us gain the balance that we want. I think it helped the passing game and the protection as that game wore on. We’re certainly striving for that, and guys are working hard every day to achieve it.
Q: What are your emotions this week going back to face the Dallas Cowboys? How awkward was it at the end not officially being let go when they were bringing in a new coach?
A: The biggest thing that we’re all focused on is what we can do to help the New York Giants play as well as we can play. That’s what we’re focused on as players and coaches. Many people around the league, you have history in another place. You know people on other teams. I obviously spent a lot of time in Dallas and am very grateful for my experience there, all the players I was fortunate to coach, the guys I was fortunate to coach with, and everyone in that organization and really the people of Dallas. They were amazing to me. It was a great time of my life. Forever appreciative of that and forever grateful of that, but I’m excited about this opportunity and trying to help this team get better.
Q: During your coaching career, I assume you’ve made trips to cities across the country. When you go to those cities, do you normally go out on a Saturday night and have a dinner with somebody, and has that changed with COVID-19?
A: On all the teams I played on or coached with, we always were in the hotel on Saturday night. I’m sure some coaches when you were done with your meetings would go out before curfew, but I always was a guy that just kind of stayed at the hotel and went back up to that room. That’s never really been a part of my routine, so nothing’s really changed for me.
Q: Years ago, the common wisdom was that it took a quarterback several years before he really kind of showed what he could do and what he was. The last couple of years, we’ve seen a lot of quarterbacks kind of develop really quickly and almost show it immediately. Do you think that the timeline for development of young quarterbacks is now quicker than it used to be?
A: Oh, I think it’s a long discussion. I think the way the salary cap is and the way rosters are structured, a lot of young players are making teams now, and maybe they wouldn’t have before. A lot of young players at all positions are playing earlier than they would have before. It’s just the nature of how the salary cap works and how rosters are structured, and that’s probably been in place for at least the last 10 years, and maybe longer than that. In regards to the quarterback position, that’s been a great debate through the years. I don’t think there’s any question that the more recent trend is that if you draft a guy high, you typically want to play him early. What I would say going back really throughout at least the recent history in the NFL, typically, quarterbacks play best when they’re in a really good environment. That’s younger quarterbacks and that’s older quarterbacks. What everyone’s trying to do in an organization is create a good environment for their quarterback and give them a good supporting cast. Typically, it’s a strong offensive line, it’s playmakers outside, it’s a good run game. I think those things help that quarterback transition more smoothly. If he’s in a situation where he’s carrying too much of a burden early on because the team is young and in their rebuilding stage, sometimes it’s a little bit harder for that guy to transition. I think that’s probably a common denominator for a lot of guys. Sometimes quarterbacks have to take their lumps because they’re really in the ground floor of the rebuilding process. The best ones I’ve been around have come out the other end of those experiences. Sometimes the transition happens smoother because the team is further along in their cycle of rebuilding, and that quarterback comes into that environment and is that much better.
Q: You guys are in last place in terms of percentage of throws that are more than 20 yards down the field. I’m just curious how you would explain it is that way, and is that something you think needs to go up in the future? That you guys maybe take more shots down the field with Daniel?
A: Yeah, I don’t think there’s any question you want to make explosive plays. That’s a big part of playing offensive football and scoring points. I think if you look at the statistics on drives when you make an explosive play versus not making an explosive play, the spread is almost 50 percent different. That’s an important thing. It’s something we try to emphasize. Obviously, being able to run the football, being able to control the line of scrimmage, being able to pass protect the way you need to, impacts your ability to throw the ball vertically down the field. If you take those shots and you’re not able to hold it and protect it the way you need to, a lot of bad things happen and you find yourself digging out of those drives. You have to be selective, again, when you’re kind of rebuilding with a team to find those spots. But there’s no question they’re important in drives, they’re important in drives if you want to score points.
Q: I know you obviously have your sights set on doing your number one job this week, but I think there are probably some people in that building, Patrick Graham and Logan Ryan talked about how they want to pick your brain about the personnel that you spent a lot of time with over on the other side of the ball. I’m just curious, how do you handle the familiarity going into this week? Obviously, you have a lot of people in Dallas who are familiar with what you want to do. But also, you guys have familiarity in a lot of players on both sides of the ball in Dallas. Do you allow for your guys on staff to kind of pick the brain a little bit as to what they may be facing this weekend?
A: I think that’s part of the process every week in the NFL. You’re always trying to understand who you’re playing against. So much of that comes from your film study and watching your guys play on tape, but a lot of it comes from your memory of a player coming out in the draft and how you got to know him, or maybe you were around that player or somebody else from the staff or the team was. I don’t think you want to get overly focused on those things. But if there’s a resource in the building, you certainly want to take advantage of it. I think my experience has been most players and coaches through the years have been generous with that knowledge. I don’t think it should be overused. I think the process we go through each week in trying to understand who the opponent is and what we want to do is the best process. But any time you have a resource that you can use in the building, I think it would be helpful for everybody.
Q: What was it that got the running game going a little bit last week? Where is Devonta Freeman? Is he completely caught up in what you need from him?
A: The running game, again, it was really the first time we were able to consistently run the football in a game. That obviously makes everything else be much better. You continue to persist with it regardless, but you’re more likely to keep running the ball when you keep having success. We were able to do that. I think using some tempo helped us. I think we were controlling the line of scrimmage as well as we have in the running game all year long. A lot of positive runs. I thought the guys did a good job upfront blocking, not just the down guys but the tight ends. The receivers got involved and the runners ran the ball well, and we ran it different ways. That certainly helped us as the game wore on. Again, it helped our protection, the run action stuff. We were able to make some plays in the passing game as a result of that. We have to continue to work hard on it in practice and carry that to the ball game. In regards to Devonta, he’s done an excellent job since he’s been here. He’s been a very good player in this league for a number of years, and you can see why. He’s a real professional in his approach, he loves ball, he works very hard to get himself physically, mentally and emotionally ready to play. He does that every day. He’s chomping at the bit for more opportunities. He’s done a good job taking advantage of them.
Q: Two-part question. Where do you see the biggest schematic change on the Cowboys’ defense from last year to this year? And what’s the top lesson you learned as coach here in Dallas that you’ve taken to the Giants?
A: In regards to the defense, it’s really a completely different style of defense from when we were there the last number of years. Mike Nolan is the defensive coordinator now, so his whole scheme is different than what we played. Obviously, there are some familiar names. They have really good pass rushers up front, they have linebackers who can run and guys on the backend who are good cover guys. I’m familiar with a lot of the names, but the scheme is really very different. In regards to learning from my experiences in Dallas, I think the biggest thing I learned a long time ago is you have to learn from all of your experiences. I was fortunate to play in the league for a number of years, and I tried to learn from every experience I had there, whether it was from a situation or from other players or from coaches. I tried to do the same thing as an assistant coach and as a head coach when I was in Dallas. I was fortunate to be around a lot of really good players. I’m proud of the team we built down there, proud of the coaches we had and really learned from them each and every day. You try to take all of those experiences and grow as a person, grow as a coach, and try to use them as you go forward.
Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham
Q: As a defensive coordinator, how much do you enjoy the chess game of trying to outsmart the offensive coordinator on the other side? Obviously, you guys are changing things up week to week and I’m sure that’s hard to prepare for. How much do you enjoy that aspect of being a play caller?
A: I enjoy the competitive part of it. I don’t know about outsmart. If that was the case, I would lose every time. These guys are a lot smarter than me. I enjoy the competitive nature of the job. Trying to prepare and compete against another team, again there is only 32 of these teams. You’re dealing with some real elite people in those positions. The thing I enjoy the most in my job is figuring out ways to put our players in the best position to really try to highlight their talents and what they do well. That’s the thing I enjoy the most. That and the relationships you build with the players. It all comes back to our guys and the players. Again, it’s not me outwitting anybody, it’s our guys outplaying the other team. Obviously, we have a ways to go with that, we have to do a better job. If anything, I can screw it up as opposed to having anything to do with it being successful.
Q: What has Tae Crowder shown you that you have been confident enough to put him on the field like you did last week?
A: Any young player you have and just how we see the process here as we work through it with the players, everything is a process. The thing that shows up first for me is his diligence in terms of his work ethic off the field. I go to get breakfast and he was here when I was here this morning. I’m sitting here like, what are you doing here? You start seeing stuff like that, that means he’s dialed in, locked in, trying to get his body right, his mind right to practice. I think the thing that shows up with him, he’s instinctual, good football player, comes from a good background of football. He’s just been really working hard. He’s a rookie, he doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. He’s trying his best to improve every day.
Q: How early was breakfast if you don’t mind me asking?
A: I can’t tell you that. I don’t want to say anything. It’s always early, we’re football coaches.
Q: I know last week you said, talking about the secondary and some of the young guys, it wasn’t a matter of them not trusting you. It was almost like once they could actually see what you were trying to do defensively, it would almost click for them. It would almost be like, “now we get it.” Do you give them a blueprint to see how to get it?
A: Here’s the bottom line really moving forward with Dallas, last week we didn’t win, we didn’t do enough to win. To me, that’s not the best blueprint. I think in terms of them understanding exactly what I want to get done, it comes back to me and trying to explain it better. I think I talked about that last week. I really took a look back at myself and evaluated the first three weeks and said how I can I teach this better. No different than last week, I’m trying to figure out how I can teach it better this week. How to get the information to them. I think, as always, if they have some success and it’s something that you told them and kind of pointed them in the right direction, that builds trust naturally. I’m just looking to try to build that naturally with those guys. I don’t know if there is a blueprint. Every week is so different. Dallas, we’re dealing with another top notch offense. They score ten billion points a game I think or something like that and about 30 billion yards a game. We have a challenge right there and then they have great players. From the O-line to the skill players, starting with the quarterback. The coordinator, this guy is calling it at a high level. On top of that, you have Coach McCarthy, who in my opinion is one of the best offensive minds in the league from my time here in the NFL. I have a lot of respect for him. We have a daunting task in front of us. Whatever blueprint we had the last three weeks, we have to have a different blueprint right now. We’re going to go out there and practice today and try to convey to the guys what we need to do and what we need to take away from them. Highlight what we do well and see how it goes on Sunday. I’m not dismissing the question, we have to get a win. Right now, we are going to start with trying to win today.
Q: You mentioned McCarthy, as a quick follow up, you spent one year with him. Do you need to be careful about some of the things because of his familiarity with you?
A: Each team is different, each year is different. I have a lot of respect for him. He knows my personality and he’s going to watch the tape just like we’re going to watch the tape. I don’t think you have to be careful or anything like that. You have to be careful because of those players over there, yes. You have to be very careful. Any one play can be a touchdown with those guys.
Q: Speaking of getting there early, Logan Ryan was saying that him and Daniel Jones are the first two in the building every day. What has Logan brought to you guys in terms of leadership? What do you expect from him in his role moving forward from here?
A: The thing that stands out to me about Logan, and I have always loved this about Logan, he is a very consistent player. He has a very consistent attitude and approach to the game. He’s there early, he’s working hard, he’s asking the right questions. He’s going to ask the questions that maybe somebody else didn’t want to ask. He’s been like that the whole time I have known him. From the days in New England to now. He makes you a better coach because he asks the right questions. He wants to know about the situations and sometimes he makes you think about it and you’re like, ‘you know what, I might have forgotten that and I need to hit that point.’ It’s our responsibility to be on top of everything. It’s those unique players that make you good as a coach. He makes you better as a coach because of his insight. You can see the leadership skills with the players. They gravitate to him. I get the championships, but Logan is a day to day guy. I can’t speak for him, but that’s how he appears to me, he’s a day to day guy. He carries himself like that every day. I haven’t seen him not carry himself like that. Even when he was a rookie or second year player, he carried himself like that. It’s pretty impressive.
Q: If he makes you better as a coach, how much better does he make the players around him? You guys are pretty young in the secondary. Is he a guy that you can kind of lean on in terms of helping to translate the scheme to these guys in meetings and then take that out on the field?
A: I would think so. Again, you have to ask those guys, but I think so. This guy has a wealth of knowledge and he’s been in big games. He’s been in the system before, he’s been in multiple systems. I think it’s his playing experience. Here I am, I’m a coach, I have a remote in my hand, I have a whistle out there on the field. Actually, I have to get my whistle. I forgot it. The guys that have played, the guys that are playing, those are the guys that provide the insight for the players. Just like as a coach, I learned a lot from Bill (Belichick), I learned a lot from McCarthy, Brian Flores, I learned a lot from those guys. The most I’ve learned in this league has been from former players like Pepper Johnson and Carl Banks, Jerod Mayo when I was in New England, Vince Wilfork. It’s the guys that played that teach you the game and how to convey it to the players. I would be remiss to think that my knowledge I have right now, I would say probably over 50 percent of it is because of players or former players and learning how to maneuver through the NFL, this game. Of course, he provides some insight.
Q: Obviously Jason Garrett and Marc Colombo are most familiar with the personnel on the other team. How much have they been able to help you this week?
A: A ton, that’s the simple answer to it. We go back to what we talk about, it’s a people game. The X’s and O’s, everybody has that. Everybody can look at the tape, so and so is blocking this guy, so and so is doing this, he passes to this guy. It’s about the people, what affects this receiver? You have some insight there, that’s what I’m more interested in. What affects this receiver, what affects this offensive lineman? What are his weaknesses? Mentally, what’s his makeup? Can he handle if we blah, blah, blah put three guys over top of him and spin them out of there or something like that. If we press right here, is that going to affect him? Those are the questions I want to get answers to. They have the insight, it’s a people game. They know the people intimately, so we’re able to get some information right there. The film is the film, you go off the film. Those are some of the things I’m interested in.
Q: Jason Garrett’s fingerprints are obviously all over that offense. How similar is their offense to what you guys are running and what you guys face in practice every day?
A: You definitely see some of the similarities. I would say when you get to their big people, some of the run game from that. They have been mostly 11 personnel this whole season because of being behind a little bit. When they get into their big people, you can see some similarities there. Some of the passing game shows up pretty similar, stuff we have seen. Again, it’s the NFL, how many different ways can you run D-slant, I don’t know, everybody runs it. There’s some patterns that show up in terms of okay whether it’s something they like to do on P and 10, first play of the possessions. There’s some common threads there that you see. It’s interesting to see. You’re able to go back with the players and say, ‘hey, remember this route from training camp, here it is.’ It helps out right there.
Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey
Q: How do you reintegrate Jabrill Peppers when it’s time for him to come back and sort of balance that with Golden Tate? Obviously, when he comes back, he might not be 100 percent.
A: It’s a feel thing and it’s more on Jabrill and how he feels. You just never know with these things. Whenever he’s ready to go, he’ll hop in and, I promise you, he’ll let me know.
Q: Does he get right back in there and he’s the permanent guy or you going to do it by situations?
A: Just like we’ve always done it, by situation. Like the last two years, Golden and Jabrill have been our punt returners. It’s just a feel thing. If he feels fresh and he can go back there, he’s good. If not, he’ll come off and Golden will go back there. Get a fresh pair of legs back there, fresh mind to make a good decision. Those two guys will handle it.
Q: We talked a lot a couple weeks ago about Dallas’ crazy onside kick. Will you show that to your guys this week?
A: I think they have seen it 100 times. Between ESPN, NFL Network and tape, we’ve seen it, we’ve talked about it. It’s something we do every week, going through the situations throughout the league. We’re always trying to be on top of that stuff and don’t get caught off guard.
Q: Can you guys have crazy onside kicks like that? Maybe not that special one or is it pretty much standard onside kicks if that makes sense?
A: We have different stuff. Everybody has options, we can go crazy, we can get as plain as you want. Graham Gano is a pretty good kicker. We have some stuff up our sleeve.
Q: What do you think of Cam Brown working at gunner? What did you think of Madre Harper’s play on that kickoff?
A: Thank God Madre was out there, right? That could have got ugly for us. Cam is a young guy that’s working his tail off and Madre is doing the same thing. They’re both working hard, they’re both trying to figure it out as they go along. Teams are new to the process with it. Their two talented guys, they have good length, they have good speed. It’s definitely two guys you want to build a core around. We’re excited to have them. We’re just going to keep working them, keep coaching them. Keep coaching them hard and hopefully they will end up being guys that make some plays for us.
Q: I know you guys had your unit on high alert with Johnny Hekker last week. Now you get John (Bones) Fassel, who kind of set that whole thing up in L.A. for years. What do you see from what he’s done in Dallas? Is there any carryover from what you guys practiced for last week to this week?
A: A lot of carryover. A lot of the same stuff, a lot of the same schemes. Bones does a heck of a job. He has for the last eight or nine years he’s been a coordinator. He’s very aggressive in his approach to the game. He keeps you on your toes. He tries to put people on their heels and that’s what he does because of all the stuff that they do. You just have to be disciplined, you have to be prepared. You have to be sound in how you play them. He does a heck of a job.