Q: You’ve had a lot of work with veteran quarterbacks. What’s the biggest difference with working with a young quarterback like Daniel?
A: I think the biggest thing I’ve learned is everybody is a little bit different. Certainly, the vets have a lot more experience with some things. They’ve seen a lot of things in defenses, certain alignments and coverages. I think your approach with everybody, whether they are a vet or a young player, you start from square one and go, as you keep growing and you keep learning what they know and what they don’t know. I’d say with Daniel, he’s done a nice job. He’s really well prepared, he got a lot of great experience last year on that and that’s been really helpful. Certainly, the vets have seen a lot more, he doesn’t have as much game experience. I’d say he is very well prepared in everything he’s doing, and he has a lot of knowledge base underneath him so far.
Q: How can he make a big jump in year two that a lot of NFL quarterbacks experience?
A: Hard to say because we weren’t here last year. Right now, with him, we’re just really focusing hard on understanding the system. He’s putting in a lot of great work, as all those guys are. Getting the communication, the verbiage down, understanding the calls, making the right huddle calls, making the right checks at the line of scrimmage, understanding the fronts and alignments. Getting the communication down with the line, the receivers, all that stuff. Just trying to make sure we have the basics. Coach Garrett always talks about the alphabet. We have to get the alphabet down before we form words, before we form sentences, paragraphs, all that kind of stuff. That’s really what we’re focusing on now. I think if he gets that down as he’s continuing to do and all those guys do, I think we’ll have a good shot to work fundamentally as we’re working on, to get the whole system down and be productive in it.
Q: For your purposes when you go to your room, what kind of philosophies do you bring to the quarterback room? What do you want to see? How do you approach the offseason in terms of what you have seen from your guys in the past? What do you want to see from your quarterbacks?
A: I would say the biggest thing philosophy wise, make no mistake about it, this is Jason’s offense and Jason’s system. It’s been really great working with him, learning this system and growing in this system. He’s been really receptive and open to the ideas that all of us have brought to the table. This biggest thing for me in general is just being fundamentally sound. Understanding things that are pretty basic to the position in terms of footwork, drops, drop depth, being a good, sound mechanical thrower. Ball security is a huge thing that Coach Judge preaches, that Jason preaches, that we preach. Just really understanding the importance of all that stuff, why that’s important. Also understanding defenses, what that means. Is there certain tips or cues that we can pick up to help us play better, quicker, faster.
Q: You mentioned ball security. Without playing live football, how can you try to improve Daniel’s decision making as far as those split-second decisions of holding onto it a half-second longer, letting go of it, make the throw, put it up for grabs, don’t. How do you work on that as a coach, especially when you are not on the field yet?
A: It’s been challenging in the spring. But I think you have to approach it, kind of like I said before, part of ball security is understanding what you’re looking at on the other side of the ball. Understanding what the defense is in and what they are trying to do based on their coverages. Whether they are a deep spot drop zone team or a tight man to man team, what that means and what’s that going to mean for our reads and what we need to do. This spring we spent a lot of time diving into the system, learning the basics of it. Learning what are reads are on certain plays. We’re kind of able to do some stuff on air, you’re looking at timing, making the right decisions on air in terms of timing. Where we think the ball would go versus a certain coverage. When we get out there, we’ll continue to work on it. I think it’s a thing we do with all the quarterbacks, just harp on the little details all the time.
Q: Where do you fall on willingness to take a hit? Daniel has shown that he has not been afraid to take one. That can lead to mistakes, too. How are you coaching that?
A: I admire his toughness, he’s a tough guy. He works hard, he’s really passionate about the game. I think, ultimately, we need to be smart with the ball as a quarterback room and as a quarterback, in general. We have to make the right decisions. I think there is a time to get down and protect to ball, and I think there is a time to go ahead and go forward in certain situations, a short yardage thing when you have to get a first down. I think the biggest thing when we do have that opportunity to go through is really covering up the ball and make sure we take good care of it. The last thing we want is the ball on the ground.
Q: Daniel put in effort to gain about 10 pounds of muscle. In your experience, how can that benefit him in his second year. Especially when you look back at film and how he played last year. How can the extra muscle help him moving forward?
A: It’s never something that we discussed with him about trying to get bigger and stronger. I think it’s probably a progression of being in our strength program and our conditioning. He’s a really good worker and one of the best I’ve seen from a young guy. I think that’s a testament to him. In terms of what it does for him on the field, hopefully it makes him a little more durable when he is taking hits in there. It’s not something we ever really talked about, that he has to put on a certain amount of weight. I did notice and I remarked to him the other day, when I first got here in the winter, I got to meet him briefly and talked to him. He does look like he’s a little bit bigger. He definitely looked like he got a little bit bigger, a little more solid. We’ll see how that relates to him. You hope it makes him a little more durable, but it was never a discussion we had with him.
Q: Every quarterbacks coach has his own philosophy as far as stance and mechanics. I’m just going off of video and pictures, what obviously doesn’t tell you a whole lot. It looks like Daniel is crouching a little bit more in his stance? Is that something you worked on with him to change? What are some other things you have him doing to change his mechanics?
A: With all the guys and with any quarterback, they have to feel comfortable back there. There’s certain points that we can give out. You want to get a decent base to you, have decent knee bend. You want to be comfortable taking the snap, you want your hands loose, you don’t want them overly too tight. There’s certain pointers that we give out. I think it’s more of a feel thing. You see how they are, how they’re comfortable, how the centers are. Just in terms of their stances and taking snaps and all that. Like I said, you’re really just trying to work on a good wide base, make that feel comfortable, decent knee bend. Really what allows them to get back from the pocket as fast as they can.
Q: You have been around some really good quarterbacks in your career between Tom (Brady), Jacoby (Brisset) and Jimmy Garoppolo. Is there an underlying trait that is consistent with all those guys that helps get them to where they’re at? For you as a coach, what did you learn from being around guys like that? Just kind of as a young coach coming up in the business.
A: Preparation is so key. I really think it’s one of the hardest positions in all of sports, is to play quarterback. No matter what team you are on, what system you are in, you are putting a lot on the quarterback. Ultimately, when the ball is snapped, they are touching it every play, they have the ball in their hands. You are relying on them to make the right decisions and make good decisions. I did have the opportunity to look at some guys prepare, how hard they work, how much they knew what to expect what was coming from a certain defense and how they could help them. Every quarterback is different. I’m pretty excited about the ones we have. That group is working really hard. They are buying into everything we are trying to tell them, and Daniel is no different. He’s a great worker and I think he is on the right track in terms of his preparation.
Q: You have been credited with helping Jimmy Garoppolo get caught up when he was young and Jacoby the same way. What’s your approach with young quarterbacks? How do you go about teaching them and getting them up to speed?
A: I think the first thing you have to do is build a relationship with them before you even worry about the X’s and O’s part of it. It’s no different than anybody else. They have to know that you have their best interest at heart. You want them to know that they can trust you. That you are there to help them. You have to be able to prove to them that the information you give them can help them be successful, that’s the first part of it. It’s really just foundational, the biggest thing you can do is have a good foundation of a system, of an offense. Understanding what the formations are, what the calls are. What we need to do, what breaks us down on a certain protection. Where could our issues be, why we want certain plays in certain directions. You just keep hammering the foundation, the foundation, the foundation. Once you can help them build a foundation, have a general understanding of protections, run game, and what we’re doing. I think the passing game continues to build off of that. Really just getting the foundation down and taking our time with that.
Q: In this environment, backup quarterbacks could be especially important. You guys happen to have three experienced ones in the room. Are you fortunate to have guys with experience? Maybe a quick synopsis of what you see from these guys.
A: I like these guys. I’m excited about what we have in the room. A lot of the discussion has been about Daniel today and I certainly understand that. Those other guys are awesome. Colt is a good veteran, he’s seen a lot in this league, he understands a lot. He works really hard in the meetings. He pays great attention, asks really great questions. He’s probably the question-asker of the group, but I don’t know if he’s always asking it for himself. He’s seen things and knows things might come up and so he’s not afraid to asks questions. Cooper has a lot of experience in our system. He still comes to work every day, is learning and learning new things and growing, and opening up his communication. Alex, who has been here, is a really sharp guy mentally. Really understands the game of football. We’re all learning about each other. Daniel and Alex were in the same room last year. The rest of us weren’t, Jason, me, Colt and Cooper. We’re all learning about each other while growing together. It’s really fun so far. Those guys, we couldn’t ask for anything more. Every chance they get, they are working hard and they are in there studying.
Q: I know a lot of people are probably going to wonder about Darius Slayton. I want to ask you about Corey Coleman, a guy who’s coming off the ACL. I know you just got him on the field recently. He was a guy who last year looked good until he had that injury. What have you seen from him running around out there? Is he close to being back to where he was before the injury? What are his chances of cracking into this group?
A: I think Corey did a really good job this offseason and this summer, being with the trainers, getting rehabbed and getting ready to go. There’s only so much he can do with all of the COVID stuff, so he still had to do a lot of work on his own, which he did. I think Corey is pretty much back to where he was before he got injured. I’m just looking forward for Corey to go out there and compete like everybody else. He’s making strides right now. He’s going to go out there and practice hard and do what he has to do. With everyone competing, I’m looking forward for him to go out there and make some plays for us and see where the chips fall.
Q: You have three undrafted rookie free agents (Binjimen Victor, Austin Mack, Derrick Dillon). Has anybody kind of jumped out at you? What have you seen from those three guys?
A: They’re all working very hard. Two guys came from the same college, so they push each other. Another one came from the Princeton of the south down there, LSU. They’re all doing a really good job. They’re all competing, they’re all studying. I like to see good, young guys with a chip on their shoulder to go out there and compete. That’s what they’re doing right now. They’re always working hard and trying to get better.
Q: You’ve worked for a lot of different head coaches now in the NFL. Just your thoughts so far on working with Joe, and maybe what’s different about him than other guys you’ve worked with so far?
A: I don’t like to compare things. I think just working for Coach Judge has been an honor, to be able to be here and work for him. He’s very well-organized, he’s very structured, very planned with what he has to do. We know from the staff exactly what we have to do day in and day out. I think a lot of us are responding better that way. I just think being around him and him knowing a lot of football, he’s taught me a couple things being in those special teams meetings, which I hadn’t been a part of very much in the past. But hearing different things and situations and stuff come up, I’ve learned a lot. I’m very honored to be able to be here and work for him.
Q: He has you guys going to meetings with other position groups or other parts of the game as well?
A: Every coach pitches in with everything. All special teams and as far as our positions and everything as well. This coaching staff, we work together very well. Everybody works together to help each other. We’re just one big organization helping out wherever we can.
Q: You have a group there, you have some veterans with Sterling (Shepard) and Golden (Tate). When you look at those two guys, what do you see? The fact that you were not able to get those guys on the field together very often, what do you see the potential is if you can get those guys on the field for 16 games?
A: I think it’s a great potential. Coach Judge mentioned something earlier to us about the team with the best advantage is the healthiest team. We like all our guys to be as healthy as possible because when you have everybody healthy and everybody on the field at the same time, then you’ll be able to use people in different ways. I’m looking forward to those guys being out on the field together and being healthy and having everyone contribute again, because we believe the healthiest team will be the team that has the biggest advantage. Health is priority number one right now.
Q: The fact that you were kept from the previous regime, how meaningful was that to you? Is it a little strange, you get used to something for two years and then you look around and now a lot of those guys are gone. It has to be a little weird.
A: Well, that’s the NFL. That’s the business we chose. Again, I’m very fortunate to be able to stay here with Coach Judge. I’m very fortunate to not have to move my daughter before her senior year. All of those things kind of clicked in. I’m just excited to be here. I’m excited to work with this new coaching staff that comes from different places, been knowing each other from across the league but now we have a chance to work with each other. I’m very excited that Coach Judge is leading this organization. I’m just ready to do whatever I can to help us win some football games.
Q: Darius Slayton. A year ago, you were trying to get him on the field off of a hamstring injury. We know what he did during the season. What is different about Darius the player today that you’re coaching than maybe what he was last year when you had to teach him the NFL basically?
A: The difference for Darius is, it’s year two, obviously, and it’s game experience. He did get some game experience in the NFL last year. At this point of time last year, he hadn’t played an NFL snap. Now, he has some game experience. He can go out there and he knows the speed of the game and how the defensive backs play in the NFL. That’s, to me, the biggest difference. He’s a smart guy. He’s starting the new offense, as we all are. But we’re looking forward to Darius getting to compete. Last year was last year. It’s gone. This is a new year. He’s out there competing with everybody else. Again, being healthy is the biggest thing. If we can stay healthy and have all our guys out there on the field, I think we’ll go out there and we’ll play pretty hard and play well. Let’s see what happens.
Q: Did he prove last year that the knock about him just being a fast guy out there and not being a route-runner, did he prove that that was a myth?
A: I don’t know if he proved anything. I think because of him being able to have a year under his belt and see the defenses and see how he was able to adjust along the way… Again, I say that last year was last year. This year is always a prove-it… He has to prove himself tomorrow, just like I have to prove myself tomorrow. We always have to prove ourselves every single day. I think with Darius and with all of the receivers, whether it’s Darius, Shep, Cody White we just signed, everyone is going to go out there, work hard, prepare and stay healthy, and give ourselves the best chance to put the best people out there to help us win games.
Q: Can you talk about your quick journey here with the Giants? Head coach, what you learned, what you know more about yourself, and what you can take from that experience and maybe help Joe Judge, who’s a first-year head coach?
A: I gained a lot of experience last year. I’m really fortunate to have gotten that experience. I’m looking forward to bringing everything, not just last year, but my previous years of coaching. Anything Joe needs or any questions he asks, all I can give him is my experience from that. All of us have had experiences along the way, some good, some bad. Joe’s done a great job surrounding himself with people that he trusts, that he can ask questions to, and will give him honest answers.
Q: Your experience last year as a head coach, some good, some bad? What was the ratio there you would say?
A: I don’t want to put figures on anything. I enjoyed my time and the opportunity in Cleveland. I appreciate the opportunity that I was given. I gained valuable experience moving forward. But I’m concentrating on the New York Football Giants, which I’m excited to be here. What a great organization. All the history that goes into the organization since 1925, I love that kind of stuff. It’s great to be here.
Q: What’s it like going back to being a single position coach and not having everyone looking at you for answers?
A: I’m a football coach. I don’t really get into that kind of thing. I’m here to coach football. I’ve always been a football coach. I don’t get into that sort of thing. I’m in charge of my own position, everyone is in charge of their positions, the coordinators do their job. It just takes everyone doing their job to be successful, and that’s what we’re going to try to do. I’m here to do a job, and that’s to coach the tight ends.
Q: How much is being a head coach again part of your aspirations? Also, what are your initial thoughts on when you see Evan Engram?
A: It goes back to the way I’ve always been. I’ve always tried to stay in the moment, and right now, I’m here with the New York Giants. I’m going to try to get the most out of the players that I coach and help this staff any way I can. I’m here for the team. I feel like I’ve always been like that, a team-oriented guy. As far as Evan Engram, he’s a team-oriented guy. He’s been working his tail off to get better each and every day, and he’s done a good job of just staying in the moment, like we all should be doing. Just try to get a little better each day and see where you’re at in a couple of weeks.
Q: You don’t see a head coach go to being a position coach too often from one year to the next. I’m curious was there any thought of sitting out this year? I’m just curious how you landed with the Giants and what made this the only option for you?
A: Like I said, I’m a ball coach. I take pride in being a football coach, which in theory is a teacher. I love teaching, I love teaching guys. There’s no better feeling in the world of teaching someone something and watching them have success with it and see the look on their face. That’s what I take pride in doing. It just worked out perfectly that I knew Joe, I trust Joe, I know Joe’s background and what he believes in. I think we’re aligned pretty well with those sorts of things.
Q: I’m going off of memory here, but you have quite a diverse background. I think you’ve coached every position at some point in your career with the exception of offensive line. Now that you’re focused in on tight ends, which in the NFL they’re asked to do so much and know so much, can you just draw a little bit upon your experience coaching the other positions and just how that’s going to benefit you as you teach the Giants tight ends, especially in this offense?
A: I think coaching nearly all the positions in the past certainly benefits me from the standpoint of knowing what the other positions are thinking and doing. But at the end of the day, any position you coach, it all starts from the ground up, and feet, hands and pad level for the most part. The basics are the same, whether you’re throwing the football or catching the football or trying to block a three technique. It’s all football. It’s all technique-oriented to get the most out of the individual player and to get the most out of themselves. They understand that. So yeah, I can carry knowledge from all the positions I’ve coached. At some point, the tight ends are going to be involved in all of the areas.
Q: Injuries have kind of derailed Evan, and I think at times have frustrated him as well, which is understandable. If he can stay healthy on the field, how good can he be?
A: I think Evan is in the mindset that he should be in, and that’s just getting better today. We’re trying to stay in the moment here with every position, with every player, with every coach, and keep our head down and just work to get better each and every day. Evan has done a good job up to this point in doing that. He did a hell of a job this summer in rehabbing and getting back to where he’s at right now, and just kind of taking it day to day and getting better with his releases, his hand placement, with everything. Every aspect of Evan’s game, we want to try to get better at each and every day. Evan’s done an unbelievable job in staying focused and concentrating on, even more specific to every day, just every rep. He’s done a good job and we’re just going to stay in the moment.
Q: He has every tool, though, right?
A: There are a lot of people who have a lot of tools. If the makeup is not right as far as staying in the moment, the things we’re trying to teach here, stay in the moment and get better each and every day, it doesn’t come to fruition. That’s the only thing that we’re going to try to do here, is just stay in the moment and get better with the tools that anyone has. Everybody has different sets of tools. Whatever your tools are, work to make that set better.
Q: What did you see, what intrigued you about Rysen John when you studied him in the offseason and brought him in? What are the challenges of basically starting from square one with a guy who’s learning a new position?
A: Again, Rysen is the same as with our whole group. He’s trying to get better each and every day. Everyone has different starting spots, but I think Rysen has done an excellent job of coming to work every day and putting his hand down and continuing to work. It all started back in March when we started Zoom calls and stuff. He’s done a great job of learning the system, learning the offense, and continuing to enable himself to give himself the best chance to succeed in every play he takes. He’s done a good job of just working.
Q: You know Baker Mayfield, the NFL player, as well as anyone. Now you’re coaching the Giants with a young quarterback in Daniel Jones. From what you’ve seen, how would you compare those two guys as far as young QBs, how they’re growing, and how they’re developing?
A: I’m not in the comparing business. I enjoyed my time there with Baker. Baker’s an exceptional player, but we have work to do here and I’d rather stay in the moment here with these guys I’m coaching right now. Unbelievable opportunity we have to go to work every day and try to get better each and every day, and that’s what I’m looking forward to. There will be a time down the road to reflect on the past. Right now, we’re staying in the moment.
Q: As a guy who has spent your entire career in the college game, have you had other opportunities to come to the NFL? What made this one the one to jump at?
A: I did have a couple opportunities some time ago. Probably like three years ago, an NFL team approached me and I had some conversation with scouts when you have pro days. Asking me if I would ever make the jump. This opportunity, in terms of being a northeast kid, born and raised in the northeast and having worked at Penn State, having the opportunity to work for the New York Giants is like a dream come true. It’s kind of surreal, you go from Penn State to the New York Giants having grown up in this area and recruited in this area. Pat Graham is a longtime friend of mine. I’ve known him since he was a graduate of Yale University. It just always made sense to me.
Q: You’re known as a pretty intense guy from what I gather. Do you have to change anything when you go from coaching college kids to professional adults that are grown men?
A: I can’t change, man. I’m coming hard every day. Those guys know about my energy and they have gotten to experience it a little bit. I told them today that wasn’t a one-time thing yesterday and that it’s going to be like that every day. It’s the way you bring it. You can bring positive energy and be excited without berating somebody. They can feel when you’re upset and feel when you’re happy. I have to coach like that. When I leave the practice field, I have to be completely sweaty or I didn’t do a good job.
Q: What did you know about Joe Judge? Did you have a relationship with him before? What have been your early impressions of him?
A: Obviously, he had a lot of success in New England. I had some guys like Brendan Daly that’s the D-line coach for the Kansas City Chiefs. I never worked with Joe directly, but I had a bunch of guys reach out to me when this opportunity came about. Before I was hired, they told me all the great things about Joe and how he works. He is a highly organized guy, very detailed. It is what it is with him, it’s mapped out how it goes. I really respect that. Obviously, he has learned from some great ones, having worked with Nick Saban and Bill Belichick. I’m excited to work with him.
Q: Looking at the defensive line you have up front, you have some talented guys like Dexter Lawrence, Leonard Williams. What do you see out of these guys and what’s the ceiling for your group? Top to bottom, you can make the case it is one of the deepest position groups on the roster.
A: One of the things I talked about with the guys today, obviously coming into it quote, unquote, we are a talented group. I just told them I am here to help them reach their potential and beyond. I don’t care if you were a high draft pick or you’re a free agent or a middle round guy. I’m here to help you reach your potential and that’s why coach brought me in. I’m going to work with these guys and take them to the next step, whatever that step is. I want to take them to their potential and beyond. This is a great room of guys. I’m truly blessed to have such a great group my first year in the NFL and I’m just excited for it. Just taking them to the next level and working at having them master their craft. I’m excited about that.
Q: What does that look like for a guy like Dexter Lawrence? Last year the staff played him in the middle at nose tackle and defensive end in some other spots. What do you see in his skill set and what’s the ceiling for him?
A: I don’t know what the ceiling will be for him, but I’m just telling you I feel like he is one of the more athletic kids that I’ve seen. That I have had the opportunity to coach. I knew him in high school back in North Carolina. I watched him do a workout and I was amazed at how fluid he was as an athlete. I’m seeing some of the signs of that already. What his ceiling is, I don’t know. We are going to prepare him for the season and I’m going to push him to the brink and try to get the best out of him. Obviously, you guys have seen he is tremendously athletic. We’re going to put everything together. He listens and he’s a sponge for coaching. We’ll make him get to his potential that way.
Q: I wanted to ask you about a common thing with young defensive linemen, sometimes they struggle to finish on the pass rush. We noticed that with Leonard Williams. What are some of the things that you can teach these guys to help them with finishing the pass rush and getting the ultimate prize, which of course would be the sack.
A: That’s a great point. What I do is I stand on the sideline in practice and if they don’t get to the quarterback, I chase them to the ball. That’s a good drill, it’s called ‘I’m going to chase you to the ball until you get to where you are supposed to go.’ You bring up a great point about finishing on the quarterback and finishing drills. Everything that you do, if you do it with a finish, you create the muscle memory. Like you said, the ultimate prize is getting to the quarterback, so to speak. Also, we want to make sure they are functioning within the defense. We don’t want them to go outside of what we are asking them to do schematically. Finishing on the quarterback is a good thing, finishing on the ball carrier is a good thing. Like I said, I know it sounds cliché, but I’m going to chase them to the ball.
Q: You are going to do that when they are on the field actually playing?
A: No, it’s muscle memory. In the back of their head, they will know that coach will be chasing me right now so they are going to run after the quarterback.
Q: With Leoanrd Williams in particular, a high draft, obviously the Jets were willing to trade him to the Giants. How can you unleash the Leonard Williams that teams expect to get and he’s almost always that close?
A: I think in the offseason in zoom and things like that because it’s a different situation, I was able to develop quite the relationship with Leonard. I think he knows I have his best interests in mind. He wants to have success. No one goes out on the field saying I was this high draft pick, I haven’t reached my potential. He wants to be great. He is detailed in the meetings, he asks great questions. He’s into football. I’m here to help him take his next step, whatever that is. He’s a talented guy and I’m excited to work with him.
Q: Do you have to convey to these guys that it’s not okay with you that they are close?
A: Yeah, you definitely let them know. I haven’t had them in practice yet, so I obviously I never go back on those things. I just use that as a barometer that I need to look and study to see what I need to do to make them the best they can be. I really don’t go back and say, ‘hey, you didn’t do a lot of finishing last year.’ I know, I saw the film. It’s a new year, a new start. All I’ll have is what they put on the tape for me in practice now.
Q: You know Cam Brown as well as anyone on this staff from your time with him at Penn State. What can you say the Giants are getting in Cam Brown? What’s been your impression so far of him?
A: Being with Cam at Penn State and I was a part of the group of individuals that helped recruit him. I have a longstanding relationship with Cam. I don’t want to make any predictions for Cam or anything like that. I can tell you personally he is a very conscientious individual. He’s a student of the game and he will be the ultimate team player. He’ll do whatever you ask and he’s always a team first guy. I can definitely quote myself on saying that, he will be a team first individual.
Q: What do you remember about recruiting him?
A: He was skinny, he was tall and skinny. I asked him if he was a two guard on the basketball court. He gained some weight, he has some muscles now. He wears shirts that don’t fit so his muscles pop out. He’s definitely improved his size. He’s worked at getting stronger in the weight room and just changing his body. I think he’s like 230 right now, he looks great. A funny story I can tell you is his dad can cook. That was some of the best food I’ve ever had in my life.
Q: What did he cook you?
A: I can’t tell that secret because his mom will get mad.
Q: Sounds like his dad was recruiting you instead of the other way around maybe.
A: That was the fun thing about going on those home visits. You get to go to different families and get food and things like that. One kid in particular, we didn’t get to have dinner but that’s another story. We sat there and talked for four hours and no one ate. We just had a couple pieces of cheese. It was different but that’s okay, you’re not expecting to have dinner.
Q: You mentioned earlier that you told the players yesterday’s energy was not an aberration. How did that manifest itself? What happened that you felt like you had to explain that?
A: I was excited. It’s phase 2 and it’s your first, not practice, but you get to move around and do certain things. I had my whole group there. I had been working with a couple of young guys. That was the first time I had got my group on the field at the same time and got to run drills with them. It got me excited. I’m walking around pre-practice in a full sweat, bouncing up and down. I just can’t wait to coach these guys and then I wanted them to understand this is not something I’m just going to do on occasion, this is how they are going to get coached. That’s kind of all I was letting them know, that it wasn’t going to be a day off. I want them to match my energy every day.
Q: Are you going to be okay on Monday?
A: Yeah, I will get a stretch out, a roll out and I’m good to go.
Q: This is your first NFL job. What intrigued you about coming to New York, and your thoughts so far on working with Joe Judge?
A: First off, it had to do a lot with Joe. Joe and I have known each other for I’d say 10-12 years, back from when I was coaching high school ball, and we worked together at the University of Alabama. He and I are pretty decent friends. We kept in touch. He was a big part. As far as the attraction to coaching in the NFL, you always want to coach at the highest level. Whether you’re a player, coach, whatever, to compete at that level. Once he got an opportunity and presented that to me, I was really excited. I was really excited about being here as well.
Q: You were obviously with Joe very early in his coaching career. I’m curious, what stood out about him back then? Did you think he had this type of future way back then?
A: It’s kind of funny. Yeah, I really thought he did. But when you think of a guy that’s kind of a friend of yours, a colleague, co-worker, getting a head coaching job with the New York Giants is something that’s really kind of like ‘wow.’ But yeah, early on, Joe has always been an organized guy, very articulate, does a really good job, loves football, a good family guy. He fits the mold, in my opinion.
Q: With Ryan Connelly, obviously, he’s coming off a pretty big injury off of a rookie season. I’m just curious what you’ve seen from him, what you like about him as a player? I’m sure in some circles, you were familiar with him at the college level. What has been Ryan’s ascension here over the first couple weeks of camp?
A: Like all the guys, they’ve done a really good job of coming in and working and kind of understanding what it is that Coach Judge has set down as a foundation of our team. The fundamentals, attention to detail, situational awareness. He’s done a really good job. The training staff did a good job of getting him back in time for once training camp started. But he’s done a really good job, just like all of the guys have in the room of coming in and working and learning as much as they can each day.
Q: You have a lot of new talent here to work with. Guys who can maybe do different things, inside linebacker, outside linebacker, some guys who can play with their hand in the dirt. Can you just give us a little insight into the sorting out process? Obviously, you have to see what they’re doing on the field. But do you also kind of integrate your teaching with what Coach Spencer is doing, what Coach Bielema is doing and so forth?
A: Yeah, a lot of it ties into what Pat Graham has laid down as kind of who we’re going to be defensively. Some of that ties into what our personnel is. Yes, we all kind of collaborate on that. Our skill set that we teach is, again, around the fundamentals that Joe has laid down, just the functional movements of a football player. Yeah, there are times where we pair up with the defensive front, with the outside linebackers, and kind of interchange players, you might say. Ideas, skill coach, the inside and vice versa. It sort of just depends on what’s going on during practice time.
Q: I know you just started working with the guys on the field recently, but how much can you glean from their college film in terms of ‘Ok, this guy is going to be a better fit inside, this guy is going to be a better fit outside,’ and so forth?
A: Obviously, you look for the length on the edge and you look for the change of direction on the inside. But until you actually see those guys in person, you don’t really know. Sometimes they’re bigger or not as big as what you thought they were on film. It’s best to be able to see those guys in person. Once you get them here, then you go, ‘Ok, this guy may be better to train at a couple of different positions,’ whether it be outside, inside, back or things like that. College film is a big part of it, but once you get your eyes and hands on them, you might say that’s the best way to find out.
Q: I know you’re coaching inside linebackers, but are you going to get any joy working with Zo (Lorenzo Carter) again?
A: Yeah. It’s funny because I think I was here maybe a week and he popped in. I hadn’t really seen much of him since we both left the University of Georgia. Lorenzo is a great person, great player, good family. I’m actually looking forward to it. You kind of hope he’s a voice in the locker room that lets players know who you are before you show up.