Jan 292021
 
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Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence, New York Giants (November 8, 2020)

Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence – © USA TODAY Sports

Except for two outliers seasons (2013 and 1016), the New York Giants have struggled on defense for the past decade. The challenge for the team through four head coaches (Tom Coughlin, Ben McAdoo, Pat Shurmur, Joe Judge) and four defensive coordinators (Perry Fewell, Steve Spagnuolo, James Bettcher, Patrick Graham) has simply to move New York out of the bottom tier of the NFL on defense:

  • 2011: 27th
  • 2012: 31st
  • 2013: 8th
  • 2014: 29th
  • 2015: 32nd
  • 2016: 10th
  • 2017: 31st
  • 2018: 24th
  • 2019: 25th

With the fourth new regime coming in six years and serious personnel issues in the defensive back seven, it seemed unlikely the Giants would be able to improve their defensive team ranking in 2020. There was also viable media and fan concern about new Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham. In his first season as defensive coordinator in Miami in 2019, the Dolphins had finished 31st on defense. Miami Head Coach Brian Flores had also let Graham out of his contract to join Judge in New York, which seemed like a curious move.

To the credit of the entire coaching staff, the New York Giants finished the year 12th in yards allowed an 9th in points allowed. This was a major accomplishment for a team with no dangerous edge rushers or starting-caliber cornerback opposite of James Bradberry. While the two major free agent additions (Bradberry and linebacker Blake Martinez) were the two best players on the defense, the best overall unit was the defensive line.

The line benefitted from the coaching of Sean Spencer, the highly-regarded defensive line coach who Joe Judge lured away from Penn State. But it’s also important to note that Graham himself was a defensive line coach with the Patriots (2012-2013) and Giants (2016-2017).

Graham had his defense run out of multiple fronts, but the bread-and-butter was still a 3-4 system that remarkably employed only five defensive lineman all season. The sixth man (R.J. McIntosh) spent the whole year inactive. As a whole, the Giants were big, strong, powerful group that was tough to move off of the line of scrimmage. They were generally better against the run (10th in the NFL) than rushing the passer (21 of the team’s 40 sacks).

Ironically, the headliner ended up being the team’s most controversial defensive acquisition in years. Leonard Williams had a career year, accruing over one-fourth of the team’s sacks (11.5) and regularly being a disruptive presences as indicated by his team-high quarterback hits (30) and tackles for loss (14). He was also tied for fifth in combined tackles with 57.

The other two year-long starters were second-year defensive end Dexter Lawrence and third-year nose tackle Dalvin Tomlinson. While Williams received 74 percent of all defensive snaps, Lawrence and Tomlinson each saw 60 percent of all defensive snaps. These two finished with almost 100 combined tackles, 7.5 sacks, 20 quarterback hits, and 14 tackles for losses. Williams, Lawrence, and Tomlinson represented almost 1,000 pounds of beef up front, making life easier for the linebackers.

It’s also important to note the yeoman’s work of the only two reserves who saw action all year: B.J. Hill (34 percent of all defensive snaps) and Austin Johnson (21 percent of all defensive snaps). Both have started in this league, yet they accepted their back-up roles without complaint.

Looking past 2020, the offseason challenge for the Giants will be the retention of free agents Williams and Tomlinson.

THE STARTERS

In his sixth NFL season, Leonard Williams had his best season as a pro in 2020. Williams played in all 16 games with 12 starts (74 percent of defensive snaps) and finished the year with 57 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss, 11.5 sacks, 30 quarterback hits, one pass defense, and one fumble recovery. The 6’5”, 302-pound Williams was the sixth player taken overall in the 2015 NFL Draft by the New York Jets. The Giants acquired Williams by trade from the in late October 2019. Williams is a stout, strong, physical run defender. While he lacks classic quick-twitch outside pass-rush skills, Williams can pressure the passer due to his combination of power and overall athleticism. He has the ability to line up inside or outside to create match-up problems.

In his second season with the Giants in 2020, Dexter Lawrence played in all 16 games with 15 starts (60 percent of defensive snaps) and finished the year with 53 tackles, six tackles for a loss, four sacks, 10 quarterback hits, and two pass defenses. The Giants drafted Lawrence in the 1st round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He was named to the Pro Football Writers of America’s All-Rookie Team. Built like a prototypical run-stuffing nose tackle with excellent size and strength, the Giants play him more at defensive end. His size and power often force other teams to double-team him. While Lawrence can generate a power rush, he lacks dynamic pass rush moves to consistently reach the quarterback.

For the second year in a row, Dalvin Tomlinson served as the team’s primary nose tackle. He started all 16 games, playing 60 percent of all defensive snaps, and was credited with 49 tackles, eight tackles for a loss, 3.5 sacks, 10 quarterback hits, and four pass defenses. The Giants drafted Tomlinson in the 2nd round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Tomlinson has started all 64 games since he was drafted and has played both 3- and 1-technique roles with the Giants. Tomlinson is a big, strong, physical defender who flashes the ability to disrupt plays in the backfield.

THE RESERVES

In his third NFL season, B.J. Hill continued to see his playing time decline. He played in all 16 games with no starts, playing 34 percent of all defensive snaps (down from 59 percent in 2018 and 44 percent in 2019). Hill was credited with 32 tackles, two tackles for a loss, one sack, three quarterback hits, and one pass defense. The Giants drafted Hill in the 3rd round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Hill has a nice combination of size and athleticism. He is a better run defender than pass rusher.

The Giants signed Austin Johnson as an unrestricted free agent from the Tennessee Titans in March 2020. He played in all 16 games, with no starts (21 percent of all defensive snaps), and was credited with 18 tackles, two tackles for a loss, one sack, one quarterback hit, one pass defense, and one forced fumble. The 6’4”, 314-pound Johnson was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Titans. In four seasons in Tennessee, Johnson played in 58 regular-season games with 13 starts, compiling 83 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and five pass defenses. Johnson is a big, strong run defender who never lived up to expectations in Tennessee.

In his third year with the Giants in 2020, R.J. McIntosh spent the entire season on the inactive list. The Giants selected McIntosh in the 5th round of the 2018 NFL Draft. After missing most of his rookie season with unpublicized medical condition, McIntosh played in 12 games as a reserve in 2019, playing 10 percent of all defensive snaps, and finishing the year with 13 tackles and two sacks. McIntosh combines good size and overall athleticism.

PRACTICE SQUAD

The Giants signed David Moa to the Practice Squad in early October 2020. The 6’3”, 296-pound Moa was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Minnesota Vikings after the 2020 NFL Draft. The Vikings waived him in early September and he then spent a week on the Practice Squad on the Atlanta Falcons.

Jan 042021
 
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Xavier McKinney, New York Giants (January 3, 2021)

Xavier McKinney – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS 2021 OPPONENTS SET…
The New York Giants’ 2021 opponents have been mostly set:

Home:

  • Dallas Cowboys
  • Philadelphia Eagles
  • Washington Redskins
  • Atlanta Falcons
  • Carolina Panthers
  • Denver Broncos
  • Las Vegas Raiders
  • Los Angeles Rams

Away:

  • Dallas Cowboys
  • Philadelphia Eagles
  • Washington Redskins
  • New Orleans Saints
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Kansas City Chiefs
  • Los Angeles Chargers
  • Chicago Bears

The NFL will reportedly add a 17th regular-season game. If so, the Giants are expected to play a team from the AFC East. If the match-up is determined by division ranking, it will be the Miami Dolphins.

The league’s 2021 schedule will be announced in the spring.

NEW YORK GIANTS TO PICK 11TH IN 2021 NFL DRAFT…
The New York Giants now hold the 11th pick in the 1st round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

GIANTS RE-SIGN 15 PLAYERS…
The Giants have re-signed two exclusive rights free agents and 13 players to reserve/future contracts.

The two exclusive rights free agents are OT Jackson Barton and CB Madre Harper. Barton spent the entire year on the 53-man roster, but was only active for one game. Harper played in nine games for the Giants this year.

The 13 reserve/future players are:

  • QB Clayton Thorson
  • QB Alex Tanney
  • RB Taquan Mizzell
  • WR Alex Bachman
  • TE Rysen John
  • OG Chad Slade
  • OG Kenny Wiggins
  • DT David Moa
  • LB Trent Harris
  • CB Jarren Williams
  • CB Quincy Wilson
  • S Montre Hartage
  • LS Carson Tinker

All 13 of these players finished the year on the team’s Practice Squad.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

Dec 142020
 
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Joe Judge, New York Giants (December 13, 2020)

Joe Judge – © USA TODAY Sports

DECEMBER 14, 2020 JOE JUDGE PRESS CONFERENCE…
New York Giants Head Coach Joe Judge addressed the media on Monday to discuss his team’s 26-7 loss to the Arizona Cardinals (the video is also available at Giants.com):

Q: When you looked back at the film, how did Daniel (Jones) move around to you on the film? Did you think he was able to protect himself? Was he moving around well enough to be effective?

A: You cut out a little bit on me, but based on the part of the question I could hear right there, I’d say the way he moved in the game was what we expected. We put him through enough in practice last week to make sure he was put in a position where he could protect himself. We knew that there were things that were going to come up in the game and some limitations that he was going to have throughout the game. We were willing to live with those. But in terms of the question did we feel like he moved the same in practice as he did in the game, I would say the answer to that is yes. What we expected to see, we pretty much saw.

Q: It did seem like by the end of the game, he was maybe limping around a little more. I don’t know if that was just wear and tear. How did he come out of the game from what you understand?

A: I had a conversation obviously after the game yesterday, and then I talked to him again this morning. Obviously, there are some bumps and bruises. He didn’t do anything that aggravated that leg injury right there. He felt like he came out… obviously, there was probably a little bit of wear and tear as the game went on. He took some hits in the pocket yesterday. I think that’s just kind of natural. Any quarterback getting up is going to have a little bit of wear and tear on them right there. I’ll check back with him tomorrow. I know he visited with the doctors after I talked to him today, and I haven’t talked to our medical staff other than very early this morning until they’re getting ready to leave the building today. The biggest meeting we’ll have will be tomorrow when guys are about 48 hours outside the game. That will kind of tell us in terms of going through the week who we can plan on practicing and managing and having for the game, things of that nature.

Q: Separate from that, what was your diagnosis on giving up eight sacks and five in particular to Hasson Reddick? When you went back and watched the film, was there any common theme there?

A: I think there was a multitude of things we have to do better, coaching and playing. There were some situations where it just came down to they were good in coverage. We blocked for a long time, and Daniel wasn’t going to pull the ball and run in some of those circumstances yesterday. Some of those were, you can call them coverage sacks if you want to call them that. But it’s all tied together. It’s never one person, it’s never one thing. It comes down to everybody on the field and the coach with the plan we put together and the plays we call in that circumstance. Look, obviously, he’s a good player. They made plays, you have to give them credit. They really showed up yesterday and played their top game. We have to be better all across the board, starting with myself.

Q: Did Daniel have any x-rays after the game or other injuries?

A: I don’t have the answer to that, not that I’m avoiding that. But when I check with the medical staff, I’ll kind of get more information on that. I can tell you there’s no broken bones or anything of that nature if that’s what you’re referring to right there, no. They would have told me that immediately.

Q: I was just seeking clarification, you said he visited with the doctors today. I didn’t know if that was just a routine checkup on the hamstring or if that was some new injury that needed further examination.

A: No. So, the checkup with the doctors, that’s routine. Every Monday, we have a full staff of guys in here. What they do is they meet with the players, they come in through the day, they check on everything. If there’s anyone that has to go get an MRI or an x-ray or some kind of an opinion on something they’re doing, they’re handling that today. There are circumstances where we go ahead and we handle things after the game immediately if they need to be. What they do is kind of compile because the guys come in at different times throughout the day. With the buildings being closed right now to the players and coaches, we have to stagger the guys that come in for treatment, for checkups, and for workouts throughout the day to make sure we keep the numbers thin. Right now, it’s a lot less, however you want to say it, it’s a lot less of a fluid situation of getting information back on the players because they’re truly staggered throughout the day, based on the situation with COVID, on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Q: If Daniel were to look the same way he looked going into this last game, would you play him against the Browns or are all options on the table for you in order to try and win Sunday, including possibly resting him?

A: Yeah, if Daniel is healthy to play and he looked the way he did in practice last week, I’d have no hesitation of playing Daniel at all. We made a calculation. We have a lot of confidence in Colt (McCoy). This has nothing to do with Colt. But there’s also a commitment we’ve made to Daniel as our quarterback and how we’re running this offense. We have confidence in all of our players. But if he’s healthy enough to go out there and protect himself, and we don’t feel he’s putting himself in greater danger to be injured worse, and he’s going to give the team a competitive advantage of going out there, then we’re going to play him. We have no hesitation. Just because we’re going to play Daniel doesn’t mean at any time that we’re not going to have a plan to put Colt in for a certain package or situation in the game, or we’re not going to have a plan for any other player on the roster to at some point be used in a certain situation or circumstance to give us an advantage. Look, all options are always on the table in terms of what we’re going to do by game plan. But to answer your question directly and simply, yeah, if Daniel is healthy enough to go out there, and we think he’s not in greater danger to be damaged or hurt, then we’ll play him.

Q: Just kind of piggybacking off that a little bit, based on the way Daniel kind of came through yesterday limited in terms of the running game, do you guys need to change your perspective or what you evaluate on him in practice to clear him? Do you need to have a different set of standards going into next week based on how last week played out?

A: In terms of what? In terms of him coming out healthy or in terms of what he wasn’t doing in the game plan?

Q: In terms of just seeing him through the week at practice, do you need to see him able to do more to be able to be more effective in the game than he was this past week?

A: No. Our evaluation was to make sure he could operate in the pocket, that he could defend himself. He had to leave the pocket a couple of times, he did that, he could do that effectively and be able to get rid of the ball or get the ball down the field and protect himself. In terms of how we call or structure the game plan, that’s on us as coaches to make sure we’re inventive enough and creative enough to put ourselves in situations that if we’re limited with any player in a certain something they can do physically, then we have to give them another option.

Q: Daniel took a lot of hits. You said he had bumps and bruises. When you watched the film, was any of that a result of him not being able to move like he normally can?

A: I think everything is always connected. I think, obviously, he took some hits in the pocket. Were there some times that maybe he could have left the pocket and extended plays? You could argue one way or another. Were there other times that had nothing to do with that? Yeah, there were definitely times like that as well. I think any player that comes out of a game… look, there’s been every game this year that guys come out with some kind of bump or bruise, whether it looks like he didn’t get touched at all or not. You play through a professional game, everyone is coming out the next day sore, tired, worn down, and everyone’s getting checked on all the time.

Q: Was he at some greater risk? Maybe not for the hamstring, but bumps and bruises or other injuries? You think he could protect himself, but he could not move or escape some of the hits like he normally could.

A: I just go back to we saw he could protect himself in the pocket and move fluidly through the pocket. He could get rid of the ball if he needed. If he had to eat a sack at some point, that was something we were going to go into the game plan knowing it could happen. Obviously, there are some things that come up in the game. You get hit in the pocket at certain points. He is no different than the other 31 quarterbacks in the NFL. They all deal with the same risks every time they drop back in the pocket. To answer you directly, he was able to protect himself yesterday. No, there is no regrets, there’s no second guessing. We took a lot of time discussing a lot of things, scenarios with doctors, coaches, making sure it was the best position for the team. That’s the decision we went with and move forward.

Q: In regard to one particular hit that Daniel took late in the game, he seemed to come up limping on his left leg noticeably. He stayed in the rest of the series. He came over and had a conversation with Colt and then Colt immediately started taking warmup throws. It seemed like something in addition to the hamstring had happened.

A: At that point in the game, I had just made the decision to go with Colt. It was late in the game at that point. I was going to get Colt in just to get a few reps at that point. That had nothing to do with something that happened on that drive.

Q: Do you expect Daniel to be ready to practice Wednesday? Is it a little too early to know?

A: I honestly couldn’t give you accurate information. I have to talk to Ronnie (Barnes) and his staff along with the doctors’ feedback. Talking to Daniel this morning, the conversation was more about the hamstring. How his leg felt and how he was through the flow of the game. He assured us he came out with the hamstring really the same as what he went in. He felt good through the flow of the game. We had a long conversation. I’ll let him speak for himself on a lot of things. There was really no talk about anything other than the hamstring going on.

Q: You fell to second place. How do you move forward and how do you talk to the team about the situation and the three games left?

A: I’ve already addressed the team today in a squad meeting. Real simply, the focus is still what the focus has been the entire year: to come to work, to improve as a team. Move forward and play our best ball next Sunday. That’s the only thing that can help us, that’s the only thing that really matters. Our focus this year was very clear-cut and simple, to become the best team we can be, to establish a culture and lay a foundation for this program going forward. That included becoming the best team we could be this year. That includes daily and weekly improvement. I’ve seen that from this team. Obviously, yesterday, we had to coach and play better. That wasn’t the result we were looking for. We need to come back to work on Wednesday. Put our nose to the grindstone and keep moving forward. In terms of all the division standings, the same as when last week everyone wanted to talk about being in first place. That wasn’t the focus of the week and being in second place, that’s not the focus of the week either. The only thing that’s going to help us right now is playing our best game against the Browns.

Q: Does it matter to you whether or not this team makes the playoffs?

A: The only thing I am concerned with right now is the Cleveland Browns. Anything beyond that, again, are hypothetical games. At this point right here, we need to go out there and play our best game this Sunday.

Q: What did you think about the ability of your receivers to get open and create separation? It looked like they were pretty tightly covered a lot of times, at least where the ball went.

A: You have to give them credit. They had a good game plan. They definitely did a lot of the stuff in terms of double teaming and bracketing a lot of our receivers down the field. There was definitely some tight coverage in man situations. I saw a lot of opportunities where our guys made catches in tight situations. I saw a lot of guys separate from man coverage and get open at times. There were times where we have to do a better job of winning our matchups. That ties into a lot of things. That’s not just each individual receiver. That’s the timing of the routes. The timing of the throws. That’s calling it at the right time. That’s making sure we recognize the coverage and get ourselves in the right situation. There’s a lot of things that tie in together right there. Obviously, we want to win more matchups. We want to make more plays down the field. We have confidence in our receivers, and these are the guys we’re going to play with going forward.

Q: The last couple of weeks, you’re not playing as well on special teams as you did for most of the season. Have you noticed teams are trying to take advantage of you schematically? Are there execution issues that are taking place that you are not happy with? What’s happening on some of these breakdowns?

A: We all have to do our job better, number one. This hasn’t been one thing. It’s not a schematic disadvantage. We’re not getting isolated into something and we can’t make an adjustment, make a correction. There haven’t been repeat mistakes, but over six phases, if you have an issue in one phase per week, it’s going to be glaring and go ahead and be magnified over time. That’s fair, that’s the way the National Football League is. That’s what we signed up for. We’ve got to coach it better. We have to play it better. It starts with me. Yesterday, obviously with the returns, they did a good job on us. We have to do a better job covering in space. That comes down to playing with good field leverage, good space tackling. That comes into specialists doing their job, the coverage units doing their jobs and make sure we tie it all together. This has been a strength for us for most of the season. There’s been a one-off here or there. Those one-offs on special teams, everything is a one-play situation, one-play scenario. There is not second down on special teams. You go out there and you have one chance to operate and execute. We have to make sure we make the most of our opportunities.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The assistant coaches will address the media on Tuesday. The players return to practice on Wednesday.

Nov 112020
 
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Riley Dixon and Graham Gano, New York Giants (October 11, 2020)

Riley Dixon and Graham Gano – © USA TODAY Sports

GRAHAM GANO NAMED “NFC SPECIAL TEAMS PLAYER OF THE WEEK”…
New York Giants place kicker Graham Gano has been named “NFC Special Teams Player of the Week” for his performance against the Washington Football Team last Sunday. Gano kicked field goals of 38, 48, and 42 yards in the team’s 23-20 victory. Three of his six kickoffs were touchbacks.

This season, Gano has missed only one of his 33 attempts, a 57-yard field goal try against the Chicago Bears.

NOVEMBER 11, 2020 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT…
DL Leonard Williams (not injury related) and S/CB Logan Ryan (not injury related) did not practice on Wednesday.

RB Devonta Freeman (ankle), WR Sterling Shepard (toe/hip), and TE Kaden Smith (concussion) were limited in practice.

LB Tae Crowder, who has been on Injured Reserve since October 20th with a hamstring injury, returned to practice on Wednesday. The Giants now have 21 days to decide whether to activate him to the 53-man roster or end his season.

HEAD COACH JOE JUDGE…
The transcript of Joe Judge’s press conference on Wednesday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available on YouTube.

Coach Judge also broke down game film for fans. See video on YouTube.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and on Giants.com:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The New York Giants practice on Thursday afternoon (12:15-2:00PM). Head Coach Joe Judge, the team’s coordinators, and select players will also address the media.

Oct 232020
 
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Jabrill Peppers, New York Giants (October 22, 2020)

Jabrill Peppers – © USA TODAY Sports

OCTOBER 23, 2020 JOE JUDGE PRESS CONFERENCE…
New York Giants Head Coach Joe Judge addressed the media on Friday to discuss his team’s 22-21 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles (the video is also available on Giants.com):

Q: There was a report that Saquon’s (Barkley) surgery is scheduled for next week. Is that true and do you have any other information on that?

A: At this point, I don’t have any information on that. I have to check with Ronnie (Barnes) and see when everything is final. I know Saquon was with us this weekend on the trip. As far as when his surgery can officially take place, I don’t have a date right now specifically myself. But I’ll talk to Ronnie when we’re done here about a lot of guys today.

Q: How did Devonta Freeman come out of last night? I know he had the ankle. Were there any other meaningful injuries coming out of the game?

A: Again, I have to check with a lot of guys in terms of where they’re at today with Ronnie. But I would say with Devonta, he finished the game for us. He’s been obviously playing through a bunch of nicks and bumps like a lot of guys in the league are at this point in time. But he’s a tough dude. He never complains, so you’d never really know anything is wrong with him.

Q: You guys have seen seven games of Andrew Thomas now at left tackle. I’m just curious what has he done that makes you believe he deserves to be the starting left tackle still?

A: He’s done a lot. Andrew’s a good guy to build with. We have a lot of plans long-term with Andrew. He’s the kind of guy we want to work with, both physically and his personality off the field. We have a lot of confidence in Andrew. We’re going to keep working with him and developing him going forward. I fully expect Andrew to have a very productive, long career in this league. We enjoy him being a Giant.

Q: A follow up on Andrew, do you think his confidence has been hurt at all with the struggles he’s gone through?

A: I see him coming to work every day with a good attitude, effort and energy. When you see guys with confidence issues, normally the urgency goes down. I see this guy work tirelessly every day, so no. He’s a pleasure to be around right there. Look, he’s a young player who’s still learning to develop in this league. Nothing is going to be perfect all the time. We need to keep doing a good job of coaching him and bringing him along.

Q: What do you need to do to sort of clean up some of the mistakes that keep showing up time and again?

A: I think with any young player, it always comes down to just fundamentals, that you can execute your technique at the right time against the speed of the game.

Q: In the last three weeks and maybe throughout the season, the two-minute defense has struggled. Is there a common thread there?

A: They’re all different opponents and they attack you in different ways. We’ve had different personnel on the field throughout all those games for the most part, some changing parts. Look, we just need to do a better job of coaching the situation and executing as players. Everyone has to raise their level of play. That’s something that we have to work on as a team, and need to see marked improvement going forward.

Q: The other thing quickly was Graham Gano, it looked like he tweaked his kicking leg. Could he have kicked last night a long one?

A: Yeah, Graham finished the game for us. We had no plans of changing anything we would have done with him differently. We’ll see where he’s at physically today. But he kicked the ball really well for us last night. To answer that question for you, you can easily see a lot of times with kickers based on their kickoffs. In terms of the plan on kicking a long field goal, you look at Graham, the hang time and the distance he had on the kickoffs, I think that kind of shows you where his leg was at last night. We moved the ball around a little bit and placed the ball differently. But when we asked Graham to go ahead and bang the ball, he banged it pretty good and put it deep in the end zone with good hang time. That answers your question right there in terms of where we thought he was physically last night.

Q: When a player has a play like Daniel’s (Jones) run last night that sort of ended ignominiously, it kind of takes on a life of its own. That’s sort of the social media world we live in. Is that any part of your purview to help him get through that part of it? And what you saw on that play?

A: I thought he made a nice run. Look, we’d like him to stay up and finish it. He stumbled. That’s something you don’t want to happen. Look, internally, that’ll be something eventually we’ll be able to laugh about. Right now, we’ll correct some techniques and things. I thought Jason (Garrett) made a good call at the right time. Daniel did a good job on the mesh as far as hiding that thing, disguising it and pulling it. He made a real nice run to get down there. It was a huge gain for the team, put us in a position to score and the team capitalized on it. In terms of the social media part of it right there, look, the internet is undefeated. There are funny things all over the place. You just need to have a sense of humor. When someone sends you something or shows you something, you have to be willing to laugh at yourself sometimes.

Q: Your next game is a day before the trade deadline. How does last night’s game affect what you’re going to do in the next 10 days leading up to that?

A: We haven’t really had too many conversations as of yet as far as how that would affect anything right there. Our focus right now with this long weekend is just reviewing what we’ve done the first half of the season, coaching and playing, and making sure when the players come back that we’ve made some adjustments going forward. That can be something in terms of how we practice, how we prepare, techniques we’re using with certain players, whatever that may be. We’re kind of treating this a little bit right now like we would in a bye week. It’s a good opportunity for the players to get physically refreshed, mentally refreshed, and when they come back on Monday, getting back into ball with those guys.

Q: When you looked at the Evan Engram play, the drop near the end of the game, did you think he should have caught the ball? If so, is there anything wrong with a head coach frankly saying, ‘I think he should have caught the ball’?

A: I think everyone has their own style right there. To me, across the board, it’s easy to play Monday morning quarterback for a lot of people. We expect our players to perform in critical situations. Evan put us in position to be in that part of the game yesterday with how he performed. I thought he did a good job showing up, he was very productive for us. I like the way he comes to work, prepares and battles. Look, we’ll address that internally with how we can do things. I have no complaints on how Evan comes to work, what kind of teammate he is, and what he’s helping us build going forward right there. With how some other head coach wants to handle that, that’s on them.

Q: Coaches always say when you’re trying to build a team and gain confidence as a team, when you get some positive reinforcement, it’s easier. They win and you can point out mistakes and also point out things they did well. With so little winning this year, does it make your job harder to try to get positive reinforcement and build a team where there is so much losing that comes as a result of that?

A: I’ve always been very blunt and honest from day one. Regardless of if it’s coming off the field after a hard practice, coming off the field after a win or a loss, they are getting the same personality and feedback regardless. When you do something good, I’m going to highlight it and point it out. When you do something wrong, I’m going to show that to the team as well and make sure we correct it. Everyone has to learn the lesson. In terms of trying to use wins or losses at times to motivate or address players, to me you just have to be consistent on a daily basis. You don’t have to wait for the right time to correct someone, the right time to get motivation for somebody. The thing is to be consistent as a coach every day, so the players know what to expect coming in. They’ve been very consistent and very repetitive the entire way as well, all of them. I understand what you’re saying, I’ve worked for a lot of coaches who have said in the past, ‘hey, you can correct more after a win and after a loss you have to kind of pick them up.’ I’m going to be honest with you, that’s not really my personality. I think you just tell it like it is and people aware. They take the corrections as they come.

Q: I know you said you haven’t had much time to discuss the trade deadline. Any of those decisions, do you expect to have input on those decisions? Kind of like free agency and the draft with personnel.

A: We’ve had great synergy in the building since I have been here with everybody involved. We’ve been very open with a lot of discussions and talking through the personnel. Whether that was free agency or the draft, training camp or final cuts. There’s been great communication across the board. I expect that to continue. We’ve done a good job working together as a team.

Q: Any moves you do make, and I understand you haven’t made any and you don’t know if you will, any moves that you do make, do you have to consider what kind of message that sends to the locker room? How that affects some of the young guys’ development? Say it was an offensive guy, do you have to consider the ripple effect from those moves?

A: I don’t know that there needs to be an assumption that there is going to be a string of moves anyway. Right now, I think if I comment on a lot of this, all of the sudden you have players kind of anticipating what are we looking to do. I’m very clear with the players from day one that any decision we make is in the best interests of the team. That’s something I told them from day one and I always reiterate that to them. However, just because there is a trade deadline coming up doesn’t mean there is going to be a string of moves or something we’re going to have to look to go ahead and do and flip a lot of things. We always have personnel conversations. We always discuss (inaudible). We always make sure we’re on the same page. This week is no different just because there is a deadline approaching.

Q: How do you balance as a head coach trying to put the best team on the field for this year and looking at the big picture of wanting to continue to build around a young roster? Maybe not give up draft picks or assets at the deadline.

A: Part of the question you guys ask me every week, who do we expect to play at certain positions. I’ve been telling you every week, anyone at the game is going to play. We’re into developing all of our players. Whether that’s rotating linemen at different positions, getting a couple new DB’s in, make sure they are getting exposure. Make sure guys are getting reps in the kicking game. We saw TJ Brunson got into the game yesterday for the first time. He made a real nice play on kickoff. Went down there and showed what we have been seeing at practice for the time right now. We’re looking to develop our players all the time. To me, we’re going out there to be competitive and win every game every week. We’re not racing for some kind of a draft pick, that’s not our priority right now. We’re trying to go out there, we’re trying to win, that’s our goal as an organization. In terms of bringing players along, we’re using every player we have to develop to the future. We’re always thinking about the future in what we do. The future includes the Sunday game coming up that week as well as the long-term picture. The balance is always how it works off each other all the time anyway.

Q: I was curious with the Madre Harper late hit last night and then the hit on Desean Jackson, just your thoughts on seeing that on film and how you addressed it internally with Madre?

A: We haven’t had team meetings yet, so I haven’t had a chance to look at the tape before addressing Madre. I talked to him in the locker room. I’ll keep that conversation between me and him right now. When we have team meetings on Monday when the players come back, anything we have to correct, we will.

Q: After the game last night, Evan Engram was understandably down, given his performance. He’s had a rough start to his year. I’m just wondering what’s your approach in keeping his confidence up. Not letting his struggles manifest in his performance moving forward.

A: I’m not going to try and be a psychologist with him. I’m going to let him know right now, he’s an important player for us. He makes a lot of big plays. He put us in a position last night be competitive down the stretch. We all have to coach better, we all have to make plays and execute on the field. To me, there is not a player on our team that needs to worry about confidence or these questions about confidence issues. Confidence comes from practice, execution, and then in-game success. In terms of Evan as a player, we have all the confidence in him possible. We’re going to keep giving him the ball, keep making him the focal point of our offense. We expect him to keep showing up. He did a lot of good things for us last night.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and on YouTube:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The players are off on Saturday and Sunday. There will be no media availability to the team on Saturday-Monday.

Oct 122020
 
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Lorenzo Carter, New York Giants (October 11, 2020)

Lorenzo Carter – © USA TODAY Sports

LORENZO CARTER DONE FOR THE SEASON…
New York Giants linebacker Lorenzo Carter suffered a ruptured Achilles’ tendon in the 1st quarter of Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys. Carter will undergo surgery within the next few days. He will miss the remainder of the 2020 NFL season.

“I’ll just say in terms of Zo, look, he’s an integral part of this team,” said Head Coach Joe Judge. “He’s a great dude in the locker room. He’s a blast to coach. The good news for him is they can do remarkable things with these injuries now to get him back on the field as soon as possible. That also being said, we won’t see him again this year. We’re going to miss having a guy like that out there for a lot of different reasons. Our thoughts and prayers obviously go out to him for what he’s worked to do, and we appreciate everything he’s done for this team. We look forward to getting him back next year.”

The Giants drafted Carter in the 3rd round of the 2018 NFL Draft. Carter played in 15 games as a rookie with two starts, finishing the season with 43 tackles, 4 sacks, and 4 pass defenses. He started 12 games in 2019 and finishing the year with 45 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 5 pass defenses, and 1 forced fumble. Carter started all five games this year and was credited with 14 tackles and one sack.

OCTOBER 12, 2020 JOE JUDGE PRESS CONFERENCE…
New York Giants Head Coach Joe Judge addressed the media on Monday to discuss his team’s 37-34 loss to the Dallas Cowboys (the video is also available on YouTube):

Q: You’ve had a day now to look, you obviously looked at the film. I’m going to ask you what did you think about the call, the offensive interference on (Damion) Ratley, on a key play there to negate the touchdown by (Darius) Slayton?

A: I always put it on we have to execute cleaner and better and not give an official any opportunity to affect the game. To me, the emphasis is always on what we can teach our players how to clean it up and execute better, and make sure we don’t have those issues.

Q: I was curious what you make of how Andrew (Thomas) has progressed over the course of five games, and in particular the last couple of weeks? It seems like maybe he’s, I know there’s been tough competition obviously, going across DeMarcus Lawrence and guys like that, but what have you made of his progress going against guys like that?

A: Obviously, he sees a mix of things every week. The multiples pile up a little bit in terms of what he’s getting an education on. But I think he’s progressing at a good rate right now. We want to see some improvement from all of our players across the board, both vets and rookies. But he’s working hard every day and he’s making progress.

Q: Obviously, a tough loss with Lorenzo Carter’s injury. I’m just curious what it means to see a guy like that go down and where do you guys go forward now at outside linebacker?

A: I’ll just say in terms of Zo, look, he’s an integral part of this team. He’s a great dude in the locker room. He’s a blast to coach. The good news for him is they can do remarkable things with these injuries now to get him back on the field as soon as possible. That also being said, we won’t see him again this year. We’re going to miss having a guy like that out there for a lot of different reasons. Our thoughts and prayers obviously go out to him for what he’s worked to do, and we appreciate everything he’s done for this team. We look forward to getting him back next year. That being said, as with any move, everyone needs to play better around and make sure we all play as a team.

Q: I know you probably touched on this yesterday, but when you talked to the team today, are you just sitting there going, ‘look guys, we’re making progress. Just concentrate. We’re going to get a win. Don’t worry about it’?

A: My message to the team is always pretty blunt and simple. To me, it’s about evidence on the tape what we have to correct, what we’re doing well, what we have to build on. I’m not a rainbows and sunshine type of guy. I’m also not a brow-beat-you-and-rub-your-nose in it guy, either. It’s, ‘this is what it is. Understand what we’re doing good that we can build on. Understand what we have to do that we have to correct and clean up.’ To me, that’s the best thing for guys to respond. Just show them visual evidence of what they’re improving on and what we have to clean up, and they understand going forward what we have to work on.

Q: I believe (Sterling) Shep is eligible to come off IR maybe Wednesday. Where is he at physically? Is he ready to if you decide to?

A: I need to take a look at him at practice, obviously. He stayed behind this week to do some extra work with the trainers. I know he’s made a lot of progress on a weekly basis. We’ll get him moving around a little bit this week with the trainers early on and see where that’s going to lead as far as him going into practice. We’re kind of in the same spot right now with (David) Mayo as well. We’ll have to see how he moves around in practice again this week to see where he’ll be for this weekend.

Q: You put Oshane (Ximines) on IR Friday, so we didn’t get a chance to ask you, is that a serious, long-term injury or is that something you think he could be back from in a couple of weeks?

A: From the information we got from the doctors right now, it looks like there’s some hope for him to come back soon. I know he’s working hard right now to get back.

Q: Following up on an earlier question, how do you balance the game results with the effort that you’re getting and with the improvement and progress you’re making?

A: Look, I’m always proud of the way our guys come to work every day and how they compete. If it’s not to our standard, believe me, they know it and they know it right away. But I don’t really have to ever worry about the way our guys are going to compete and how they’re going to play. I have a lot of faith in the resiliency we have. We have a tough team, we have a good mindset team. That being said, this is a production business. Our guys understand that we’re going out there to play games to win games, and that’s what the fans deserve and that’s what we’re working to do.

Q: I’m not necessarily looking for you to put anybody on blast, but as far as the fake field goal, the officials called it one way, I think they called it on (Nick) Gates. Then obviously, Tony Romo on the broadcast seemed to think it was Cam Fleming. Can you describe what you saw after watching the film? What happened? Why was a penalty called on that play and why did the touchdown get negated?

A: We just weren’t set as a unit right there, and that’s not one person. That ties into a couple different things communication wise and execution wise. We’ll talk with the team and make sure they understand fully what it is. That was a situational play that came up. We had the opportunity to call it. It was something we prepared for that could come up at different times. We hit it. Evan did a really good job of executing on his part in terms of the substitution exchange and the execution down the field. But we have a couple things we have to clean up on that right there. It wasn’t one person at all.

Q: How do you adjust your schedule for the next couple of days? You have two games now in 11 days I guess.

A: The easiest thing would be to kind of work backwards for you there. Obviously, leading into the Thursday game against Philly, that would be an abbreviated week. Our experience in the past which has worked out pretty good for the players is obviously it’s a lighter on-the-field load. It’s a heavy mental week and mental preparation week, so you have to make sure that you go ahead and you give your players time to recuperate and recover from the game this Sunday that we’re going to play. But that will be a little bit of a lighter load that we’ll build on in. The toughest thing for the guys to understand is once that game against Washington is over, you’re already middle of the way through the game week against Philly on a normal week’s preparation. It’s a very quick turnaround. The biggest emphasis on those weeks is, really physically, let the players recover as much as possible to get them as fresh as you can for the game. This week itself, because it’s a tight turnaround, we have multiple games in a short window, we’ll talk collectively with some of the players, with the strength staff and with our trainers tomorrow morning and kind of see where the team is at physically. Then we’ll go ahead and determine and adjust how we’re going to approach this week here. Last week after the west coast trip, we did a Wednesday walkthrough, Thursday and Friday practice. I thought we had great energy at practice. We had very efficient practices. We’ll see if that’s something that applies this week or not, but I haven’t yet made a decision.

Q: What did you think of Kyler’s (Fackrell) game yesterday? He had a couple impact plays there. Obviously, with Lorenzo out, he’s going to have to carry a little bit more of a load.

A: Yeah, Kyler’s a guy that’s made some plays for us throughout the year so far. He’s a guy who has some versatility to how he plays. He was in the right spot at the right time because he followed his alignment and his drop assignment on that play where he made the interception. He finished it with a good run down the sideline, he got in the end zone for us and made a big play. He had some nice plays in the run game as well. In terms of Kyler, regardless of who else is at the game, we need him to do his job as well as possible for us to have success.

Q: To follow up on that a little bit, Kyler was already playing. Who do you look at to fill in for that void that’s now there with Lorenzo down?

A: There are a lot of things we could do right there. Obviously, Markus (Golden) played a lot yesterday as well, so he’ll be a key part of what we’re doing. We’ll see how it deflects on our other personnel around. Carter Coughlin and Cam Brown are guys who have been at the games for us and play the outside linebacker position. They’re obviously a factor in what we’re doing. But it’s really no different than any other position on any week in terms of we’re going to find the best combinations we can put together.

Q: On a separate note, I’m curious how much do you believe in and how do you feel about team’s needing to learn to win?

A: You hear a lot about that expression, ‘learn to win.’ To me, you can make a lot about the 60th minute of the game when it really starts in the first 59 minutes of the game. You learn to win by doing your assignment on a consistent basis, by executing correctly, by calling the right calls as a coach, by putting your team in the best position, and that’s how we learn to win. We’re working. We have to make sure we execute and we do a better job as coaches, and we execute as players.

Q: I’m curious, Tony Romo said on the broadcast that maybe there was a little bit of a miscommunication with Nick Gates and with Daniel Jones in terms of identifying the middle linebacker and things like that. I’m just curious where you are in terms of those two as a battery and how you would evaluate Nick Gates at center through five games having never played that position before?

A: I’m not overly familiar with exactly what happened on the broadcast yesterday. We have a lot of confidence in Nick going forward. Him and Daniel work very tirelessly together, put in a lot of effort to make sure they’re on the same page. I’m very pleased with how they’ve worked so far. Obviously, we have to all play better and coach better to get the results we want.

Q: A couple questions if I may. Do you have to remind your team to not pay attention to what’s going on in the division given how tight it is and just focus on each week?

A: Yeah, it’s truly one game at a time, no matter who we’re playing. Right now, the only game we’re truly worried about is Washington. That’s the team that we’re focused on right now going forward. Everything that happened yesterday is purely corrections so that we can have the best plan going forward into Washington, and that’s all of our focus as coaches and players this week.

Q: Then if I could just go back to something you said. You mentioned that you keep reminding the players of what it is they do well and so forth. Is that numbers, is it something tangible that you’re seeing? What is it that you’re basing or considering progress with this team that maybe isn’t showing up on game days?

A: Yeah, for me, it’s all video evidence. You can show someone a clip of what they did several games ago and a clip of what they’re doing yesterday on the same play, same technique, same type of matchup, and they can see the visual success of what they’re having. Maybe it’s something they did earlier in the week at practice that you had to correct and it shows up in the game and they do it well. It’s maybe something that they do well at practice and they make a mistake in the game. You have to show them where’s the disconnect? Why are we not executing this correctly and how do we clean this up? To me, it’s about visual evidence. Stats are a large part of the game for different reasons. But for me, if you get lost too much in the numbers, you could lose sight of what the real football is.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and on YouTube:

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The players are off on Tuesday and return to practice on Wednesday. The assistant coaches will be available to the media on Tuesday.

Sep 092020
 
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Joe Judge, New York Giants (August 28, 2020)

Joe Judge – © USA TODAY Sports

HEAD COACH JOE JUDGE…
The transcript of Joe Judge’s press conference on Wednesday is available in The Corner Forum while the video is available on YouTube.

THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:

NOTES…
Under special 2020 Practice Squad rules, teams are allowed to protect four Practice Squad players from being signed by other teams on a week-to-week basis. This week, the Giants have protected QB Cooper Rush, WR Johnny Holton, OL Chad Slade, and CB Ryan Lewis.

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The New York Giants practice on Thursday afternoon (12:30-2:30PM). Head Coach Joe Judge, the team’s coordinators, and select players will also address the media.

Sep 082020
 
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Deandre Baker, New York Giants (September 22, 2019)

Deandre Baker – © USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK GIANTS WAIVE DEANDRE BAKER…
The New York Giants have waived cornerback Deandre Baker, who has been on the Commissioner’s Exempt List since July 27th due to his legal troubles. At the team’s request, Baker had not participated in any team workouts this offseason. Baker was charged with four counts of robbery with a firearm from an incident that occurred in Florida in May. If convicted, Baker faces a minimum prison sentence of 10 years up to life.

The Giants drafted Baker in the 1st round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Baker had an up-and-down rookie season for the Giants. He started 15 of the 16 games he played in, receiving 87 percent of defensive snaps, and finishing the year with 61 tackles and 8 pass defenses. He did not intercept a pass.

GIANTS VOTE FOR TEAM CAPTAINS…
New York Giants players voted six of their teammates to represent the squad in 2020:

Offense: QB Daniel Jones, RB Saquon Barkley

Defense: DL Dalvin Tomlinson, LB Blake Martinez

Special Teams: S Jabrill Peppers, S Nate Ebner

GIANTS SIGN TWO, CUT ONE FROM PRACTICE SQUAD…
The Giants have signed RB Rod Smith and CB Ryan Lewis to their Practice Squad, and terminated the Practice Squad contract of WR Derrick Dillon.

The 28-year old, 6’3”, 236-pound Smith was originally signed as an undrafted rookie free agent by the Seattle Seahawks after the 2015 NFL Draft. He was released by Seattle in October 2015. The Cowboys claimed him off of waivers and he played with the Cowboys until the end of the 2018 season. The Giants signed Smith as an unrestricted free agent in May 2019 and waived him from Injured Reserve in September 2019. He then spent time with both the Tennessee Titans and Oakland Raiders in 2019. Smith has played in 55 regular-season games with two starts, rushing 101 times for 364 yards (3.6 yards per carry) and five touchdowns. He also has caught 30 passes for 272 yards and one touchdown.

The 26-year old, 6’0”, 195-pound Lewis was originally signed by the Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2017 NFL Draft. He has spent time with the Cardinals (2017), New England Patriots (2017-2018), Buffalo Bills (2018), Indianapolis Colts (2019), Philadelphia Eagles (2019), Miami Dolphins (2019), and Washington Football Team (2020). Lewis has played in 20 NFL regular-season games with two starts, accruing 43 tackles, eight pass defenses, and one interception.

The Giants signed Dillon as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2020 NFL Draft.

WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The New York Giants practice on Wednesday afternoon (12:30-2:30PM). Head Coach Joe Judge and select players will also address the media.

Aug 062020
 
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Daniel Jones, New York Giants (August 6, 2020)

Daniel Jones – Courtesy of New York Giants

AUGUST 6, 2020 DANIEL JONES CONFERENCE CALL…
New York Giants quarterback Daniel Jones addressed the media on Thursday (see video at Giants.com and YouTube):

Q: I guess the most important question I have to ask today is do you plan to opt out?

A: No, I do not plan to opt out.

Q: You did a bunch of workouts with teammates during the offseason. What did you get out of those and how valuable were they?

A: I think they were valuable for us. Obviously, this year we did all our meetings and installs virtually through Zoom, which I thought went well and we did a good job of learning and picking up through that. Getting on the field together helped and we kind of worked on some things we had discussed in meetings in trying to get guys ready for this camp and make sure we were ready to roll.

Q: When you look at this offense, are you saying to yourself that you have seen all this before, or how much do you have to learn?

A: I think we’re all trying to learn and there are obviously some similar concepts and similar ideas, but it’s a new system and we are all learning it and putting it together. That is kind of what we’re focused on. Comparing it to last year, I’m not sure how much that helps in learning it. We’re taking it day by day and install by install and trying to learn it as quickly as we can and as well as we can.

Q: In terms of 2020, what are the goals? What are you trying to accomplish?

A: Right now, I think my focus is on this camp and trying to make sure I am as prepared as possible mentally. We have talked about a new system and a new offense to learn and pick up. So I think my focus right now is what we’re doing day to day here and trying to make sure we take the right steps forward and improving every single day. For me personally, I am doing a good job of picking up the offense and understanding what the coaches expect. Obviously want to improve on a lot of things from last year personally and as a team. In order to get there and to get there the right way, I think we want to focus on what we’re doing day to day in this camp.

Q: You have your five main targets back this year (Tate, Shepard, Slayton, Saquon, Engram). How has that continuity been beneficial to this point?

A: Just spending time with guys, and like we talked about, getting together in the offseason a little bit. Knowing how guys are going to get in and out of breaks is obvious and something you would expect, but that continuity helps. Also, just having a relationship with guys and me knowing how they learn and how they communicate as we all try to learn this system and try to work through it and make sure we’re on the same page. I think that continuity definitely helps with that process.

Q: Seeing photos and videos of you, it has been talked about how different you look. What was your training like and what was it about this offseason?

A: I feel good. I feel like I’m as strong as I’ve been. I feel like I’m in good shape. I was in Charlotte for most of the offseason and training there. I wanted to get stronger and wanted to gain some weight for what that does for every part of my game, standing in the pocket, running when I need to, and obviously throwing the ball as efficiently as I can using my strength, my lower body. Each piece of that was part of the goal of the offseason in my training.

Q: What are you weighing right now?

A: 229, 228.

Q: Is that up from what, 220?

A: Yeah, I was at 220.

Q: It has to be different for you walking in without Eli Manning here and you being the starter. What is the biggest difference for you walking in as the starter? And how would you describe your collaboration and relationship with Jason Garrett and what are his qualities as an offensive coordinator and a coach?

A: The biggest thing is not being a rookie and having relationships with people in the building and my teammates. Obviously we have a new staff and I’m certainly learning and going through that process like I did last year. There is a certain level of comfort in it being my second year and it’s been good. With Coach Garrett, I have enjoyed learning from him so far. He is extremely detailed in his thinking and what he expects on the field, and I think that is probably what has stood out the most. I look forward to working with him and continuing to learn this system.

Q: You kind of laughed off that first question about opting out, but I’m curious if that is something you gave any thought to it and how do you approach teammates who are considering it or who have chosen that option?

A: It’s important to realize that everyone has different circumstances, whether it be family related or personally or whatever it may be. I certainly don’t have those situations. I live by myself and I’m healthy, but everyone has got to consider their own personal situation and I certainly respect that and expect people to do that and do what’s best for them and certainly don’t hold that against them. Obviously Nate (Solder) made a decision to opt out and he’s got an extremely tough circumstance and he’s got to do what’s best for his family. All the respect in the world, all the support in the world to him.

Q: Are you surprised at how many players around the league have decided to opt out?

A: I don’t know. I’m not really sure I had an expectation. Like I said, you’ve got to look at everyone individually and personally and you have no way of knowing exactly what’s going on and why they made that decision. That’s up to them, so like I said, I certainly respect it and support it for all the people who made that decision.

Q: You and Darius Slayton came into the league at the same time. How would you describe your relationship with him and what is it like throwing to one of the faster guys on the team?

A: I’ve certainly enjoyed playing with Darius and working with Darius. He’s a guy that comes to work everyday and knows what to do and knows what’s expected of him from the coaches and does his best to do that. Obviously he’s a talented guy. Like you said, he can really get out and run. He has a big frame, he’s a big target. I’ve really enjoyed working with him and I know he’s excited going into this year and has attacked this offseason and this new system the right way, so I’m excited to continue working with him.

Q: How difficult an adjustment has it been getting used to the new protocols, especially as you are trying to become a leader of this team?

A: It has definitely been different, but I think our organization, the Giants, the medical staff, the operation people have done an unbelievable job of setting up the facility here at the stadium and making sure it is clear what they expect from us, wearing a mask and socially distancing and doing all those things. It’s different, but it’s not hard and it’s not getting in the way of us doing our work. As long as we’re conscientious about it, I think we haven’t had any problems with the policies and the procedures.

Q: Has anything been a bigger adjustment than others?

A: Not really. Just being here, just being in the stadium is different, but like I said, our organization has done a great job of setting it up and we’re lucky to have this space and do as much as we can do over here with all the space we have.

Q: As you look to the start of the season, how difficult do you envision it will be to go into that first game in a new system without having played a preseason game?

A: When you look at it, a lot of other teams have that situation. Obviously no one is playing a preseason. We’re all operating under the same rules, the same outline as far as practice and into the season. All we can do is prepare as well as we can in the time we have and make sure we’re getting the most out of every single day and those practices leading up to the first game. I think that’s our approach as a team and we’ll make sure we do that and prepare as well as possible.

Q: As a second-year quarterback going into a new system, does that put you at a little bit of a disadvantage as opposed to some veterans in the same system?

A: I don’t think so. I think it’s on me to learn the system as quick as I can and as effectively as I can. Use the time we have, use the practices we have to do that and come in prepared and ready to go.

AUGUST 6, 2020 DALVIN TOMLINSON CONFERENCE CALL…
New York Giants defensive lineman Dalvin Tomlinson addressed the media on Thursday (see video at Giants.com and YouTube):

Q: How ready can a defensive lineman be to play football with no offseason program?

A: We’ve been thinking about it with everything going on, but it’s something that you must mentally prepare for as well as try to as much as possible physically prepare for the practices for when we do get to practice with the pads on.

Q: What is your reaction to the number of optouts around the league and did you ever consider it?

A: I can’t react to them because I’ve been so locked into the playbook. I just have been trying to get the plays down with training camp going on and meetings. I’ve just been so locked in here just trying to improve and help everyone else improve. I really haven’t thought too much about opting out because I Just want to be with my teammates.

Q: Obviously this is a different offseason, a different training camp, how different does it feel to you?

A: It’s super different. Social distancing is the biggest thing to get used to, making sure you’re always six feet apart and things like that. It’s super different, different location, you’re used to being in the facility just right there with everyone and everything is super close. Things are a lot more spread out now.

Q: Obviously in the locker room you guys sit close to each other and there’s a lot of joking around. You guys really have to be conscious of that now?

A: Yeah, everyone is spread out and we’re yelling over to make sure everyone can hear you through the mask. You might lose your voice every now and again.

Q: We were just on with Blake (Martinez) and he talked about wanting to come in and be the quarterback of the defense, the guy everyone turns to when they need to know what’s going on. I know it’s really early in the process and you probably just met him in person. Have you seen him developing into that role for this defense?

A: Blake’s a great guy, a great teammate. I feel like as a linebacker, that’s what linebackers do. They coach the defense up and stuff like that. It’s super early and we have only been out here for a couple days now, I feel like our roles and things like that are going to develop a lot more in the coming weeks.

Q: What are the roadblocks that you see as you guys move through the season? Where might you guys slip up and have an outbreak that could end the season? How different is the defense you are running this year as opposed to last year? Coach Judge talks a lot about versatility? If you are going to be versatile, I’m assuming there are going to be some similarities to last year.

A: For the roadblock question, pretty much everyone just needs to follow the protocols and hopefully we can stay safe as possible, that’s the number one priority right now. The new defense, I’m just trying to pick up everything. I really haven’t been able to compare it to last year simply because it’s still pretty new for the most part. We’ve been able to walk through stuff and everything. Just trying to take it day by day and continue to improve on the things we are installing each day.

Q: What’s the biggest difference watching Dexter Lawrence now compared to where he was a year ago?

A: The biggest difference is you get used to the NFL, the meetings and things like that. I guess you get a little but more comfortable going into your second year. Everybody, as a rookie coming in, you are nervous because you are a rookie. Now he is a second-year player. He comes in with his work hat on every day ready to work. I love the energy he brings and just how excited he is to come to work and get better each day.

Q: You are going into your fourth year here. What are your expectations this year for yourself? How do you think this new defense is going to help you reach those?

A: I am super excited about the new defense. I want to be able to help in the run and pass game this year and just keep improving across the whole board. Help out and be disruptive in the middle as much as possible throughout the whole season.

Q: What do you like about the defense and how does it apply to you specifically?

A: I feel like I am super aggressive on the inside. The scheme is fun. It reminds me of the Alabama defense and the Alabama days and the techniques I used to use and stuff like that.

Q: You are not the oldest player on this team, but you are the longest tenured defensive player. What does that tell you about the business, about yourself, about the Giants? That you can be such a young guy and the elder statesman as far as time served with Giants on the defense?

A: Everybody knows it’s a business. You have to be able to understand that coming in. I just keep my head down and focus on getting better each and every day and keep working. That’s all you can do. I’m just blessed to be in the position I’m in and be in this chair talking to you guys. Come in each and every day and don’t take a day for granted.

Q: Do you ever look around and say where did all those guys go?

A: I guess you could say that sometimes. Not really, though, I have been so locked in on everything we are installing and stuff like that. Trying to get me and everyone around me better, just trying to improve everybody.

Q: You were here last time Coach Graham was here as the D-line coach. Are you seeing some carryover in what he taught when he was the defensive line coach versus what he is teaching now? How has he grown since he last here a defensive line coach?

A: He is a great guy who has grown a lot. You can just tell it’s a lot of pretty much the same techniques. I always catch him coming into the D-line room and talking to us all the time. We are his favorite group, I guess you could say, because he used to be a D-line coach. He’s always teaching us different techniques that remind me of the stuff he used to teach my rookie year. A lot of great stuff going on and we just keep improving on the techniques he’s teaching us.

Q: Does that make it easier for you transitioning to this new defense because there is some familiarity?

A: It does make it a little bit easier because the techniques are similar.

AUGUST 6, 2020 BLAKE MARTINEZ CONFERENCE CALL…
New York Giants linebacker Blake Martinez addressed the media on Thursday (see video at Giants.com and YouTube):

Q: Coach talked about using the spring to make sure there were no strangers once you guys finally do get on the field. How quickly have you come together in the last week or so? Do you feel like there is anything that’s missing from not having that spring?

A: Especially me being a new guy, I thought about the OTA’s portion, especially if you are a rookie or new a free agent, as that earning the respect portion. I think that’s a big miss. You can work out together and you get to see everybody’s work ethic, you get to see the guys doing extra. See the guys take control in certain tough situations, whether it’s conditioning, meetings, walk throughs and things like that. I think overall we did a great job as a team making sure we took advantage of what we were given. The zoom meetings, being able to add in video games at nighttime with guys, just chatting with guys after the meetings ended. Overall, walking in it was just having to see the guy’s face for the first time in person. Being like, oh sweet, that’s what you look like, it’s not just your face, I get your whole body now. That portion was different, but overall, it was cool to walk in and make it seem like we have been friends for the last six months.

Q: Being the guy who is going to be in the middle of the huddle making all the calls and checks. How do you simulate that? Without any preseason games, are there things you will do with your defense between now and September 14 to make sure you’re ready for when the lights go on?

A: For us, right now our big focus is everyone focusing on the fundamentals of doing what we need to do each day to grow as individuals. Overall, for me it’s just being able to allow those guys to understand that I’m going to be on top of everything from checks, making sure people are lined up in the right position, that I am that calming factor. For me, I take every single day to keep chipping at that. Whether it’s walk throughs, talking in meetings, guys start to recognize this guy knows what going on, this guy is going to allow me to not have any freak moments. If things are moving fast, he’s the guy that I can turn to and calm myself down.

Q: Who is the guy you look to, to calm you down if you start to get a little antsy?

A: That’s the reason I am here, to be that guy. For me, I pride myself on not being too flustered in any moments and being that rock for the defense. Especially obviously for me being the quote, unquote, quarterback on the defense. Being that guy that’s always calm, cool, and collected.

Q: From a player perspective, what roadblocks do you see that could potentially end the season?

A: I try to not look at the negative aspects. For me, I think Coach Judge has hit it on us and probably spoke to you guys about it. It’s just focusing on what we can control. Following every protocol that’s necessary. Doing everything, whether it’s showing up on time, doing our test every single day, walking in making sure we are wearing our masks, wearing the certain things to know we are distanced apart. Following certain protocols put on the ground, whatever is put in place in every aspect. Whether it’s on the field or in the meeting rooms. As long as everyone starts the day focusing on that and ends the day focusing on that, I think we are going to be in a good spot.

Q: You were in Arizona for the entirety of this pandemic and it got hit pretty hard by the virus. What has this stretch of months been like for you where you have been forced to stay at home and not be able to go play football like you would have wanted to? What do you make of all the guys that have been opting out?

A: For me, I was extremely blessed and lucky that my dad ended up building the facility that we had. I think I left that facility maybe four times. Once I realized Whole Foods delivered, I think I cut down to zero times. That was a blessing in disguise. Overall, my offseason was safe and controlled and I always made sure there wasn’t any more than maybe five people in there at a time with me at least. The opting out with everyone else, for me, everyone has their individual decision. I respect their decision, I’m not living their life, I’m living my own life. I made my own decision to obviously play.

Q: This last week here in camp, away from the facility, how have you structured your nights as opposed to training camps in the past?

A: Right now, we are here so late, and we have all the stuff. Our nutritionist Pratik (Patel) has been awesome, making sure we have all the meals. Before we leave, we have snack handed to us. Food wise, I’m good. Once I get home, I basically spend an hour doing a normal life out of football. Whether I’m watching a tv show with my wife or playing video games for thirty minutes or so. Just something where I can decompress. The other night my daughter woke up right as I got home, and I played with her for 30 minutes and it was awesome to see her.

Q: How much value do you think there is in the preseason? How much will you lose not having it this year?

A: Overall, an easy one is guys trying to make the team and having those live reps against another team and things like that. For me, I don’t know exactly what we are going to do to change it. Right now, we are still in phase one. Once it gets there, I’m projecting there will be some type of way to get a competitive aspect and get those reps that can match a preseason some way. I think that’s kind of the big thing for preseason. For me, looking at the preseason, like you said, this will be my fifth year in the league, and for me I should know how to tackle and do all these things. Overall, for practice it’s just working on those fundamentals. Whether it’s the fundamentals of the right feet, the right stance, the right approach to tackle and the perfect drops and things like that. Once you get on the football field, you know how to tackle and how to go play.

Q: In any other year of your career, you would have been in the same system, know the system cold and it just would have been dealing with this craziness. For someone like you who needs to know the whole defense and tell your defense everything, is this a special challenge for you? Whereas another guy who is going into a system who has been there three, four or five years, he can sit back and get ready at his own pace. You have to learn this all in a very unusual situation.

A: Definitely, that’s the challenge of this. Everything right now, challenges pop up every single day. The playbook aspect is just nailing down things and doing whatever is necessary. We have an hour break right now so instead spending the whole hour chatting, okay let’s spend 30 minutes watching film or going through certain installs and things like that. Talking to Pat (Graham) about certain checks and things, what he’s thinking. It’s just going to take that much more effort, just kind of chipping away like I said earlier to get where I need to be when the season gets going.

Q: How much easier is it for you, as the guy who going to make all the calls, that you played under Patrick Graham? You have that trust built in there. What is the dynamic like between you two? Does your past experience with Graham make this summer a little bit easier?

A: We have great relationship. We grew it my third year in Green Bay and it makes it a lot easier to walk into his office anytime. Any concerns I have, or certain questions I have, I can go straight to him and we chat just like anybody else. It’s made it a lot easier to get new updates on anything that he is changing throughout the day.

JOSIAH TAUAEFA COMES OFF OF RESERVE/COVID-19 LIST …
Linebacker Josiah Tauaefa was activated off of the Reserve/COVID-19 List on Wednesday, a day after he was placed on it. Players who are placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 List either test positive for the virus or have come into contact with someone who did. The Giants originally signed Tauaefa as an undrafted rookie free agent after the 2019 NFL Draft. They then signed Tauaefa to the Practice Squad in September 2019 and the 53-man roster in October 2019. He played in 12 games with no starts as almost all of his playing time came on special teams.

The Giants currently have no other player on the Reserve/COVID-19 List.

Jun 012020
 
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B.J. Hill and Dalvin Tomlinson, New York Giants (November 25, 2018)

B.J. Hill and Dalvin Tomlinson – © USA TODAY Sports

With New York Giants training camp hopefully beginning in late July, BigBlueInteractive.com (BBI) breaks down each of the team’s positional groups until the players report at Quest Diagnostics Training Center. Keep in mind that some of the players discussed may be cut as the 2020 NFL draft class signs their rookie contracts.

FIND A COMPLETE LIST OF ALL BREAKDOWNS HERE

POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN: Defensive Line

2019 YEAR IN REVIEW: As expected, the defensive line was the strongest unit on the New York defense in 2019. However, that was small consolation on a defense that finished 25th in yards allowed and 30th in points allowed. Once again, the Giants fielded one the League’s worst defenses. This has been a decade-long trend and probably the biggest reason why the team has become a doormat in recent years.

Quality run and pass defense relies on all three levels of the defense playing well together. So it is always unwise to judge each separate unit in a vacuum. Linebackers and defensive backs need to be in the right position and make the tackle in run defense. A good pass rush also depends on linebackers and defensive backs being able to cover backs, tight ends, and receivers. Long story short, the Giants defensive line did not receive much help from the back seven. This was exacerbated by a 3-4 scheme that puts the onus on the linebackers to be play-makers. The players also never seemed to fully embrace Defensive Coordinator James Bettcher’s system.

The Giants entered 2019 with what on paper looked to be a strong starting unit of RDE Dexter Lawrence (2019 1st-round pick), NT Dalvin Tomlinson (2017 2nd-round pick), and LDE B.J. Hill (2018 3rd-round picks). However, depth was very thin with only DE R.J. McIntosh (2018 5th-round pick) and Olsen Pierre (2019 free agent) in reserve. Oddly, two days after the Giants fell to 2-6, General Manager Dave Gettleman traded away two draft picks for soon-to-be-unrestricted free agent Leonard Williams, who had failed to live up to expectations with the Jets. A half-season rental was the type of move a team in the middle of a playoff fight would only be expected to make, not a team clearly needing every draft pick it could keep or acquire. Williams would soon take many of B.J. Hill’s snaps and Pierre Olsen was let go.

Overall, the Giants finished a disappointing 20th in run defense (allowing 113 yards per game) and 28th in pass defense (allowing 264 yards per game). The Giants generated only 36 sacks with only 11.5 coming from the defensive line. That said, Dexter Lawrence (38 tackles, 2.5 sacks) had a promising first season, being named to the All-Rookie Team. Dalvin Tomliinson (49 tackles, 3.5 sacks) became a more disruptive player as the season progressed. Leonard Williams (26 tackles, 0.5 sacks) started five of his eight games with the Giants. As advertised, he was a good run defender who only teased as a pass rusher. More was expected from B.J. Hill (36 tackles, 1 sack), who saw his playing time, tackles, and sacks fall from his promising 2018 rookie season. R.J. McIntosh only played in 10 percent of defensive snaps and finished with only 13 tackles, but did have two sacks in limited opportunities. 2019 7th-round Chris Slayton spent most of the year on the Practice Squad.

ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: This unit saw the least change during the offseason. Other than Olsen Pierre, who was waived last November, everyone returns. Gettleman doubled down on Leonard Williams, slapping a 1-year, $16 million Franchise Tag on him. The only newcomers are Austin Johnson (unrestricted free agent from Tennessee Titans) and Niko Lalos (undrafted rookie free agent).

TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: The new coaching staff is being very coy about the new defense, vaguely repeating that it will be “multiple.” When asked if the Giants will be a 3-4 or 4-3 defense, new Defensive Patrick Graham responds, “yes.” But even a cursory look at the depth chart strongly suggests that the Giants will remain a  predominately 3-4 base as the team currently has nine defensive linemen and 17 linebackers. Nevertheless, expect Graham to constantly change fronts based on opponent, game plan, and down-and-distance.

Personally, I will be curious to see if Dexter Lawrence stays at end or plays more at nose tackle. He has the ability to develop into a truly imposing force in the League. Can Dalvin Tomlinson build upon his strong second half of the 2019 season? Can B.J. Hill return to his more disruptive play as a rookie in 2018? Most importantly, is Leonard Williams worth the the two draft picks and $16 million?

As part of an integrated defense, this unit will ultimately be judged on whether the team can dramatically improve its run defense and pass rush.

ON THE BUBBLE: For a team entering training camp with a 90-man roster, this team remains awfully thin on the line with only nine players. Assuming Niko Lalos spends him time with the defensive line (they gave him a DL jersey number), he clearly is on the bubble. Austin Johnson and Chris Slayton could also be fighting for one roster spot. Barring injury, everyone else should make the team.

PREDICTIONS: Patrick Graham is a relatively unknown commodity. The 41-year old coach has only served as defensive coordinator for one season at any level, that being his 30th-ranked defense with the talent-deficient Dolphins in 2019. Miami also oddly let him out of his contract to join the Giants. One gets the sense that the defensive line will thrive or fail depending on Graham’s overall effectiveness as a coordinator and whether or not the back seven can improve its play. There is talent on the defensive line, but the coaches, linebackers, and defensive backs need to step it up. Keep in mind that Graham served as defensive line coach with the Patriots (2012-2013) and Giants (2016-2017).

It will also be interesting to see how the players respond to new Defensive Line Coach Sean Spencer, aka “Coach Chaos.” Spencer has never coached at the NFL level but his relentless coaching style is vastly different from his predecessor with the Giants who was very low key (at least publicly). In addition, Outside Linebacker Coach/Senior Assistant Bret Bielema was the defensive line coach with the Patriots in 2019.

Do not expect any of the Giants’ current defensive linemen to become double-digit sack masters. None of them have that type of dynamic skill set. These are big, powerful linemen who can hold the point-of-attack, disrupt, and potentially control the line of scrimmage. But the best you can probably expect from each is 5-6 sacks in a season.

FINAL DEPTH CHART: Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, Dalvin Tomlinson, B.J. Hill, R.J. McIntosh, Austin Johnson

Johnson was an under-the-radar singing who really could help the depth situation. Can Chris Slayton show enough to stick?