NEW YORK JETS 13 – NEW YORK GIANTS 10 (OT)…
In an incredibly ugly football game, the New York Giants snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, losing 10-7 in overtime to the New York Jets. The Giants also lost another quarterback with Tyrod Taylor leaving the game with a rib injury that required him to go to the hospital. At 2-6, any playoff aspirations are all but officially over.
A combination of a very strong New York Jets’ defense, bad weather, and the Giants having to play an undrafted rookie at quarterback for most of the game led to a horrific Giants’ offensive performance. Even before Taylor left the game, however, the offense was dreadful. The Giants were held to 70 total yards of offense, including -9 passing yards. Five of the team’s 12 first downs were due to penalties on the Jets. The Giants had 17 offensive possessions. Thirteen of them resulted in punts. Two resulted in missed field goals, which was the difference in the game.
The Giants’ only points in the first half were completely set up by the defense. On the Jets’ first possession, outside linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaxu sacked quarterback Zach Wilson on 3rd-and-5. Wilson fumbled and the loose ball was recovered by outside linebacker Jihad Ward. The Giants had the ball at the Jets’ 19-yard line, but were forced to settle for a 31-yard field goal and an early 3-0 lead.
Meanwhile, the Giants’ defense was playing very well in the elements against a beat-up Jets’ offensive line and the shaky Wilson. The Jets had 10 first-half possessions, seven ending with punts and two ending with fumbles. The Jets were held to five first downs and were 0-of-8 on third-down conversion attempts. However, there was one very costly breakdown when running back Breece Hall caught a short pass and weaved his way for a 50-yard touchdown after some terrible tackling attempts.
There were also two missed opportunities for the Giants’ offense in the second quarter. Place kicker Graham Gano missed a 47-yard field goal early in the quarter after Head Coach Brian Daboll passed on going for it on 4th-and-1. Then with 2:28 left before halftime, inside linebacker Micah McFadden recovered a fumble at the Jets’ 41-yard line. Despite gaining six yards on first down, the Giants ended up losing four yards on this possession and punting.
At the half, the Jets led 7-3. Combined, the Giants and Jets were 0-of-18 on third down with 15 punts.
Aided by two unnecessary roughness penalties by the Jets’ defense, the Giants took the lead on their first drive of the third quarter. Running back Saquon Barkley picked up 40 yards on his first two carries of the drive. The Jets were flagged with one of the roughness penalties after a 2nd-and-10 incompletion by Tommy DeVito. Barkley picked up six yards on 3rd-and-6. Then came the other penalty which kept the drive alive after the Giants were stopped on 3rd-and-10. Three plays later, DeVito ran for a 6-yard touchdown on 3rd-and-goal.
Most of the rest of the second half was the Jets struggling to generate any offense against the Giants’ defense and the Giants’ coaching staff not putting DeVito in position to lose the game. The Jets punted the ball four consecutive times, gaining just two first downs. The Giants also punted the ball four consecutive times after the touchdown, gaining four first downs.
Then came the pivotal moments that would decide the game. With 2:19 left in the game, Thibodeaux sacked Wilson for a 10-yard loss. Three plays later, on 4th-and-10, Thibodeaux got to Wilson again, this time for a 15-yard loss. With 1:26 left in the game, the Giants had the ball at the Jets’ 26-yard line. Barkley gained nine yards on three plays, moving the ball to the 17-yard line. On 4th-and-1, Daboll decided to have Graham kick the 35-yard field goal. He missed.
Nevertheless, the Giants were still up 10-7. The Jets had the ball at their own 25-yard line with just 24 seconds left. The defense could not hold. Wilson completed back-to-back 29-yard passes. He spiked the ball with one second left. The 35-yard field goal was good with no time left on the clock.
In overtime, the Giants won the toss and received the ball first. Predictably, the Giants went three-and-out, actually losing 11 yards. The Jets began their first drive of overtime at their own 39-yard line. They gained 46 yards in six plays, converting on 3rd-and-10 with an 11-yard completion. The real killer came on 3rd-and-5. Cornerback Adoree’ Jackson was flagged for a 30-yard pass interference penalty down to the 15-yard line. The Jets immediately kicked the game-winning 33-yard field goal. Despite being tipped by defensive lineman Leonard Williams, the kick was good.
Taylor was 4-of-7 for eight yards, being sacked twice. DeVito was 2-of-7 for -1 yard, also being sacked twice. The leading receiver was Barkley who caught three passes for zero yards. No other player had more than one catch or four yards. Barkley carried the ball 36 times for 128 yards.
Defensively, the Giants allowed 12 first downs and 251 yards of offense. They held the Jets to 2-of-15 on 3rd down and 0-of-1 on 4th down. The defense recovered two fumbles and was credited with four sacks, one by nose tackle Dexter Lawrence and three by Thibodeaux. However, the three long pass plays, including the two in overtime, dampened the performance.
On special teams, the usually very reliable Gano cost the Giants the game with his two missed field goals.
ROSTER MOVES, PRACTICE SQUAD ACTIVATIONS, INACTIVES, AND INJURY REPORT…
On Saturday, the Giants placed RB Gary Brightwell (hamstring) on Injured Reserve and signed WR/Returner Gunner Olszewski to the 53-man roster from the Practice Squad. The Giants also activated (standard elevation) QB Tommy DeVito and OLB Oshane Ximines from the Practice Squad.
Inactive for the game were QB Daniel Jones (neck), LT Andrew Thomas (hamstring), RT Evan Neal (ankle), RB Deon Jackson, DL Jordon Riley, S Bobby McCain, and S Gervarrius Owens.
QB Tyrod Taylor (ribs) and TE Darren Waller (hamstring) left the game in the first half and did not return. Taylor was taken to the hospital and will remain overnight for further observation.
Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Brian Daboll and the following players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:
2022 YEAR IN REVIEW: Heading into 2022, there was real concern that the trajectory of Saquon Barkley’s career was going to be eerily and tragically similar to that of Tucker Frederickson, the top overall selection in the 1965 NFL Draft selected by the Giants. The uber-talented Frederickson was drafted in front of NFL legends Dick Butkus, Gale Sayers, and Joe Namath, but saw his career derailed early due to knee injuries. He was never the same and retired after seven seasons. Barkley had not played a full season since his rookie campaign in 2018 and was a shadow of his former self in the 13 games that he did play in 2021, coming off his serious knee injury in 2020. His former explosion was not there. Worse, he looked gun-shy and tentative, averaging just 3.7 yards per carry.
However, 2022 proved to be Barkley’s second-best season. While he still not completely recapture the dynamism of his rookie season, Barkley ran with a tougher and more physical style. He finished the season with a career-high 295 rushing attempts for 1,312 yards (4.4 yards per carry), and 10 touchdowns. He also tied for the team lead in receptions with 57 passes for 338 yards. Barkley only fumbled the ball once, out of bounds. He also played in every game, except for being a healthy scratch in the regular-season finale. Barkley made his second Pro Bowl.
The oddity to Barkley’s 2022 season was how his usage declined as the year progressed. Before the bye, Barkley averaged 20 carries and 97 rushing yards per game. Immediately, after the bye, he carried the ball a career-high 35 times against the Texans for 152 yards. After that, over the course of the next seven regular-season games, Barkley averaged 14 carries and 54 rushing yards per game. In the two playoff games, in total, he carried the ball only 18 times for 114 yards. Why? Wear-and-tear issues or concerns? Greater emphasis on throwing the ball? Note that the Giants were 7-2 through the Houston game, 2-4-1 in the remaining regular-season games before the meaningless finale, and 1-1 in the playoffs. Coincidence?
Barkley’s primary back-ups were Matt Breida (54 carries for 220 yards and one touchdown, 20 catches for 118 yards) and Gary Brightwell (31 carries for 141 yards and one touchdown, five catches for 39 yards). Unexpectedly, Bredia’s usage did not increase as Barkley’s declined in the second half of the season. The Giants simply did not run the ball as much. Breida only averaged four touches per game, both as a runner and receiver.
Undrafted rookie free agent Jashaun Corbin spent the season on the Practice Squad.
ADDITIONS/SUBTRACTIONS: Saquon Barkley remains unsigned as the team’s Franchise player. The Giants re-signed Matt Breida to a 1-year, $1.4 million deal in free agency and drafted Eric Gray in the 5th round of the 2023 NFL Draft.
TRAINING CAMP STORY LINES: Almost all of the media and fan attention now is on Saquon Barkley’s contract situation. July 17 is the key date. That is the deadline for teams that designated a Franchise player to sign a multi-year contract extension. After this, Barkley can only sign one-year contract that cannot be renegotiated until after the regular-season is over. Barkley’s hands are pretty much tied after July 17. He can sign his 1-year, $10 million tender or make a statement and hurt the team by holding out during training camp and the preseason. But he can’t change his contract situation after July 17 and before 2024.
So the key story line here is will Barkley hold out and be rusty when the regular-season starts? This may all be moot if he signs a multi-year deal before July 17. If not and he misses training camp and the preseason, it could impact the team on the field in September.
It may be best for Barkley to grin and bear the situation. The 2023 New York Giants are arguably the most-talented team of Barkley’s pro career. Improved play by a dual-threat at quarterback, the presence of the dangerous Darren Waller and an emerging Daniel Bellinger at tight end, a capable group of wide receivers, hopefully an improved offensive line, and a top-notch coaching staff should open things up for him as a runner and receiver. In other words, he should have more room to operate. Teams can’t simply concentrate on him. What will be interesting to watch is the run-pass ratio moving forward. That may be the #1 on-the-field story line at running back. Does Barkley come close to averaging 20 rushing attempts per game? Likewise, could his impact grow as a receiver?
ON THE BUBBLE: The Giants carried three running backs on the 53-man roster in 2022. Barring injury, Saquon Barkley and Eric Gray are locks, with Matt Breida being very close to a lock as well. The question is do the Giants carry four this year, and if so, will it be Gary Brightwell or Jashaun Corbin? One would have thought Brightwell was toast after the hiring of Brian Daboll, but his usage went way up under the new coaching staff and he flashed at times. He also plays special teams. Corbin is a forgotten player who could still surprise.
FROM TEAM OFFICIALS/COACHES: Assistant General Manager Brandon Brown on Saquon Barkley: “We love Saquon. He knows how I feel about him, he knows how we feel about him collectively.”
Running Backs Coach Jeff Nixon on Matt Breida: “Matt Breida is a great guy to have around; he has a veteran presence and really understands the offense. You know, he was with Coach Daboll in Buffalo, so he’s kind of like in his third year in the offense. Great guy to have around to help some of our younger running backs.”
Running Backs Coach Jeff Nixon on Gary Brightwell: “He got opportunities last year, I thought he performed well. He started the last game against Philly. He’s still an arrow-up player. I think he’s getting a lot better.”
Running Backs Coach Jeff Nixon on Jashaun Corbin: “Corbin you know, he was on the Practice Squad last year, but I really like his progress and he knows the offense. He’s going to really be able to show what he can do during training camp.”
Running Backs Coach Jeff Nixon on Eric Gray: “He’s someone we thought performed as a three-down running back (at Oklahoma). Fortunately for him, his college coach was DeMarco Murray, so he had a really good one that kind of trained him to be to be a pro running back, and he’s been a constant pro since he’s been here. He fits right in with this group of running backs that I want to coach.”
Running Backs Coach Jeff Nixon on what he looks for in a running back: “I want to coach guys that can play on all three downs and who can be complete running backs. I always say I know the running backs can run the football. I mean, that’s what they naturally do. But what separates them from being great is if they can also catch the ball out of the backfield and block, so we try to train them to do all three things equally… I think we have a talented group of running backs and the way things are now in the NFL, you have to be three and four deep at that position. I feel we have that.”
(Side note on Jeff Nixon: He was hired this offseason by Brian Daboll and has served as both an interim offensive coordinator and assistant head coach at the NFL level).
PREDICTIONS/CLOSING THOUGHTS: In my opinion, Saquon Barkley has two realistic options. He can accept a multi-year deal for less than he expected to receive by July 17th, or he can sign his 1-year Franchise tag by opening day. Sitting out a season for a 26-year old running back, who has only been relatively healthy in two of his five NFL seasons, does not seem a wise course of action. $10 million is $10 million. You can’t make that money up. The question is does he want to gamble, sign the tender, risk a lesser season and/or injury in 2023, and take another shot at the plate next offseason? My guess is no and that a deal will be done by 4PM on July 17. The realistic worst-case scenario is that Barkley throws a hissy fit by holding out of camp and the preseason, looking rusty in September, and then getting hurt.
Will Barkley ever regain his rookie-year explosion? Probably not. That next-level dynamic athleticism seems to be gone. That does not mean he can’t still break huge plays as a runner and receiver. He’s still darn shifty and fast. And he actually ran tougher and more physically in 2022 than he did as a rookie.
There is also something else Barkley had in his rookie season in 2018. That was Odell Beckham, Jr. Beckham’s presence opened things up for Barkley as a runner and a receiver. That’s been missing from the Giants’ offense for the past four years. If he stays healthy, Darren Waller should have a similar impact on Barkley in 2023. Defenses should not be able to crowd the line of scrimmage like they have. Moreover, if Parris Campbell, Jalin Hyatt, or Daniel Bellinger start to draw attention, Barkley’s job gets even easier. There will likely be some continued growing pains on the offensive line at left guard, center, and right tackle, but the arrow does seem to be pointing up on the offensive line. That obviously will help, particularly as the season progresses.
I suspect we have seen the last of Saquon getting 30 touches per game. But will he get 20 on a regular basis? There is an economic cost/benefit component to that discussion as well. On the other hand, fewer touches can extend Barkley’s career and enhance his future earning potential.
Keep an eye on Eric Gray. By season’s end, he may firmly entrench himself as the #2 back on the team. He’s got some Ahmad Bradshaw in him.
Final side note: Some Giants fans have gotten too angry and irrational about Saquon Barkley. He didn’t force the team to draft him with the #2 pick in 2018. The team did that. If you want to be pissed at someone, be pissed at the team. They didn’t even listen to trade offers. That said, Barkley had one of the most incredible rookie seasons in NFL history despite playing on a terrible team. He’s been a class act and a good teammate. The injuries are out of his control. And despite it all, he’s still been the best player on offense since drafted. And he knows it. That’s where his contract frustration is coming from, and it is completely understandable. I’m not advocating for the team to give him a huge contract, but fans may want to cut out some of the hostility. He’s a good guy and one of the best players in the NFL.
FINAL DEPTH CHART: Saquon Barkley, Matt Breida, and Eric Gray (with Gary Brightwell and Jashaun Corbin being offered PS contracts).
NEW YORK GIANTS RE-SIGN JAYLON SMITH…
According to press reports, the Giants have re-signed unrestricted free agent inside linebacker Jaylon Smith to the team’s Practice Squad. Last season, the Giants signed Smith to the Practice Squad and then 53-man roster in December 2021. He ended up playing in the last four games of the season with two starts (60 percent of the defensive snaps in those games), finishing with 18 tackles, one sack, and one pass defense.
Smith was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys, who cut him during his fifth season in October 2021. He then spent a month with the Packers before they cut him in early November 2021. Smith has played in 74 regular-season games with 58 starts. He made the Pro Bowl in 2019.
SEPTEMBER 19, 2022 BRIAN DABOLL PRESS CONFERENCE…
New York Giants Head Coach Brian Daboll addressed the media on Monday to discuss his team’s 19-16 victory over the Carolina Panthers (the VIDEO of the press conference is also available at Giants.com):
Q: I want to ask you about (cornerback) Adoree’ (Jackson). When you have a corner playing at the level he’s at, what does that do? How important is that for you guys’ defense?
A: It’s important. He’s really done a good job since we’ve been here. I think he’s bought into what we’re trying to do. I think he’s had a really good camp, and that’s led into a strong start to the season. I have a lot of confidence in him, and I’m glad he’s part of our team.
Q: And just specifically, the way you guys are going to play with so much pressure and so aggressive, you really can’t do that probably if your corners aren’t capable of f playing on an island. Like some systems, you maybe hide a corner; it feels like here you probably can’t.
A: I think (defensive coordinator) Wink (Martindale) does a good job though of mixing up. There’s a variety of way to play to pressure, as I know Wink has talked to you about. You can bring only four guys and consider it a pressure and do different things on the back end in terms of your coverage systems. I think Wink does a good job of mixing that up, and Adoree’s been a very dependable player for us.
Q: I wanted to ask you about the start of the last two weeks. The offense has kind of gotten off to a slow start as compared to the second half of the games. What can you do to maybe expedite things a little bit, get them going on a faster tempo and being more productive as far as scoring opportunities?
A: That’s an important part of the game for us is trying to get off for a fast start. That doesn’t always happen. The last two games are the only two games to go by in terms of the regular season. So, we’ll continue to work at that and put together some good openers. It takes everybody – the coaching, the playing – everybody. And it’s something we’ll work on.
Q: Is it possible that you might consider like an up-tempo or a no huddle offense to kind of jump start things?
A: I think we go into the week and the game trying to put together the best plan we can. And I think the offensive coaches do a really good job. Again, we haven’t had the results that we’re hoping for, but I believe in the process and the preparation that those guys do. We’ll continue to try to do a better job at that.
Q: I know you’ve been talking about competition and that leading into playing time and the way players are used in the games since training camp. A lot of coaches talk about that, not a lot of coaches always follow through on that. It seems like they just throw everybody out there the way things were. A – do you think that players believed you before the season started, that that’s the way you were going to treat things? And two – is it difficult for the players to accept that kind of role?
A: I think those are two good questions; I think they’re best questions for those guys. All we try to do is the very best we can as a coaching staff; we have high standards in terms of going out there, preparing well, practicing well. Each week is a different week. I know we talked about this yesterday. The receivers, Slay (wide receiver Darius Slayton), he was active but had a few reps. Kenny (wide receiver Kenny Golladay) didn’t have a lot. And if you look at the defensive side, sometimes it’s planned. You know, (inside linebacker Austin) Calitro had five. In the previous week, he had 40-plus. So, we’ll try to do what we think is best for our football team. I think that’s the most important. I think you just are open and honest with the players of what their role is, what they need to do to improve and let those guys go out there and compete it off each week. Again, we’re kind of at the introductory stages of our program and what we’re trying to do, and I think competition is the best thing for everybody.
Q: When you make a decision when it pertains one of the highest paid players of the team, do you have to check above you to make that call? I’m talking about Kenny, obviously. Do you have to check with (general manager) Joe (Schoen) or (president and chief executive officer) John (Mara) and make sure that’s okay?
A: Joe and I collaborate on pretty much everything in our building. I bounce ideas off of him; he bounces ideas off of us. I think something we want to create is as competitive of a team as we can. And regardless of where you’re drafted, how you got here, how much money you make, we believe in everybody goes out there and competes, and we play the guys that earn the right to play that week.
Q: Any (defensive lineman) Leonard Williams update?
A: It’s his knee. But it’s better than it could be. So, he’s day-to-day. He said he feels a lot better than he did yesterday. He’s walking around, so we’ll just take it like we normally do with these things each day. So, hopefully he’s a fast healer.
Q: So that day-to-day means?
Q: Another defensive question for you, I guess two parts. What did you think of the way Dane Belton (safety) played, and how did his play allow you to do some different things defensively with (safety Xavier) McKinney and (safety Julian) Love?
A: It was good to have him out there. I thought he played fast. It was his first NFL play, and he recovered a fumble there on the kickoff. He’s been a guy, as a young player, that’s been right in the back hip of those guys when he was injured. You can tell his preparation paid off. Just like a lot of the guys, there’s certain things he can improve on, like all of us. I thought he played fast. It was good to have him out there in terms of the defensive packages. I think that’s something each week. You go into a game, offensively you look at things. What do you like to do? How do you like to match up? We certainly do that there, and Wink does a great job, along with the defensive staff, of figuring out what we need to do for that particular week. So, for this week, it was good relative to how Carolina played the weapons that they had and the matchups we thought were in favor of us if we played it a certain way.
Q: A bunch of your players in the locker room, and you said it before, they said one of the keys to this team is they’re not afraid of failure. I’m not 100 percent sure what that means, but are there examples of that that you coached in yesterday’s game that show us that you’re not afraid of failure?
A: Well, I think that you can get bogged down in this league pretty quick by making a mistake and letting it affect the next play. The other thing I think for play callers is you put together a plan you prepare during the week. You explain it to the players, and then when you get into that situation, I’ve been there before, (you think), ‘Oh boy, should I really call this?’ I think (offensive coordinator) Mike (Kafka) – I think that was a great example at the end of the game there with the pass play that Mike called and put it in DJ’s (quarterback Daniel Jones) hands. I think we really had good communication from Mike to the quarterback. Again, that was discussed probably a couple plays before. He knew the play he wanted to go to. And then those two plays, back-to-back plays, where (safety) Tony Jefferson made the tackle on (Panthers running back) Christian McCaffrey. That was a great play; one of the plays of the game that allowed us to get to third-down and get that sack with Julian (Love). Pretty aggressive play calls, I’d say both on Mike’s end and on Wink’s end. So, again, I want them to be themselves, play fast, play free, move onto the next play. We all make mistakes. I’m probably the leader of that. Once you make them, don’t let it linger. Move onto the next play. The next step is the most important.
Q: Would an example of that (be) – tell me if I’m on that mark with this or not – about maybe not worrying about consequences and have the conviction. You call for (running back) Gary Brightwell, Mike makes that call. (Running back) Saquon (Barkley) is in the backfield. So, if Gary Brightwell drops the ball or gets stopped for no gain, it’s easy for me to come to you and say, ‘Just give it to Saquon.’ Isn’t that the easiest thing to do? Why do you give it to a guy that has one career rush? So, is that also like, ‘I’m not afraid to fail in that situation because I believe in this play?’
A: Yeah. I think – well again – our job as a coaching staff is to do the very best we can to prepare those guys and put plays in that we think are going to work. You’re never sitting up there at night drawing up a play going, ‘Boy, let’s call this play. We only got probably about a 10 percent chance to hit it.’ You spend a lot of time on it. Do they all work? Absolutely not. There’s been times where – let’s just call it a gadget-y play or a trick play or maybe something’s that a little bit unique that I’ve called – that it hasn’t worked. And you can’t worry about the criticism that you’re going to get with it if you believe in that play and you think that’s the right thing. And that happens quite a bit, but you have to, again, have conviction in it. That’s why you’re putting the play in or the defense in or the special teams play in, and you just don’t pick it out of a hat. You work at it. You evaluate it. You practice it. There’s been times where you think it’s going to work. You go out there and practice it a couple times during the week, and by Friday night or Friday after practice, you’re throwing it away. So, that’s the job of the coaching staff. That’s what we’ll always try to do here. And I’m pleased with how those guys prepare and the preparation that they put in, much like the players.
Q: How difficult is it as a play caller when you’re not having success with the run to stick with it in the second half, and how would you evaluate Saquon’s game yesterday? Obviously, it wasn’t the same numbers as the first game, but in many ways, it was still very effective.
A: That’s always a challenge. And again, I think it just depends on what you’re trying to get accomplished. Obviously, Saquon is a big part of what we do and what we want to do. And when you go into half and there’s eight carries for zero yards, I just put myself in Mike’s shoes. You’re going, ‘Oof. We’ve gotten zero yards on eight plays.’ But Saquon’s one of our best players, and again, the running game in this league is not always pretty. Maybe it’s two, maybe it’s zero, maybe they’re doing different things that they’re getting in the backfield and hitting us for a couple losses. But again, I think kind of how the game’s flowing, that dictates some of the things. We were in a close, contested back-and-forth game. The big thing for us, obviously, how that game was going, was let’s take care of the ball; let’s continue to feed 26 (Saquon Barkley). And a couple of those runs you saw later that got hit for a minus one, squirted around the corner off the edge for a big play. And then he had another one. So, he’s certainly a guy that’s important to our offense. And is it tough at times when you’re not gaining yards? Sure – I’d say particularly as the play-caller. But again, that falls back on your preparation plan and your commitment to the players, particularly your really good ones.
Q: How hard is it when Leo gets hurt? It seems like you just flipped the defense to a more nickel and dime package. I mean, how hard is that to do? You went with two linemen almost the rest of the way.
A: I think that just is a credit to the coaching staff. Again, being prepared for really (anything) – you’ve got to have contingency plans when things come up. Adjust, and communicate it on the sideline. That’s a strength, I’d say, of Wink’s and the defensive staff. I’d like to say that’s a strength of all our coaches. I have a lot of confidence in that regard, and on top of that, it’s the next-man-up mentality. So, every person on our roster is important from the practice squad players to the backups to the starters because you never really know during a game what you’re going to need. And that’s why their preparation throughout the week is really important in terms of being a pro, understanding the gameplan. And when they have an opportunity, like I’d just say say Ox (outside linebacker Oshane Ximines). We talked about him last week. He’s had his opportunities, and he’s made the most of them. He was the backup guy, and he was behind (outside linebacker Kayvon) Thibodeaux and (outside linebacker) Azeez (Ojulari), and all that guy did was work his tail off all offseason. And I think he’s reaping some of the stuff that he’s done. And that’s how you want all your players to be.
Q: I’m just going back to (a previous question) and what he asked about Golladay, the contract and everything. Have you felt the need or has John Mara asked you to ask about playing time for one of the higher-paid players on your roster? I know you did not bring him with you, he was here when you got here, but have you had that conversation with John at all?
A: I’d say this, Joe (Schoen) and I talk about a lot of things. Mr. Mara has been great in terms of Joe and I have handled a lot of the football things. Obviously, you’re going to have communication with your ownership group on a lot of different things, we certainly do. I think we have a good relationship in terms of communication. Again, whether it’s the highest-paid player, the lowest-paid player, the highest draft pick, an undrafted free agent – we’re going to go out there and let the guys compete it out. One week doesn’t necessarily mean this is what’s going to happen the next week. I think everybody understands what we are trying to do as an organization in terms of continuing to get better, competing for spots, working as hard as you can work. Again, I’ll just say (wide receiver) David Sills has done a good job. He’s done a good job and he’s earned some of his playing time and each week is a competition.
Q: I’m just curious, the way offense has evolved in this league – Is there really such a thing as a gimmick or gadget any more in offenses in the NFL? How have you adjusted to that idea of no play is too gimmicky or too cute with the way you guys want to run things?
A: I would say that if there’s a good play out there that we can research, it’s worth our time to research. Calling gadget-type plays, I think there’s a time and a place for them. It makes the defense defend the whole field, and I would say if I was down the street at a high school game and saw a good, cool-looking play, I would research it. There’s a lot of good coaches in this profession starting with little youngsters to high school to college to pros. The minute you think you have all the answers because you’re coaching in the National Football League, that’ll get you real quick. I think be open minded, do as much research as you can and if you think a play is going to give you an advantage regardless of special teams or offense or defense, you owe it to the players to do that research. And if you believe in it and you think it’s going to work, then you call it.
THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available atGiants.com:
DARIUS SLAYTON ACCEPTS PAY CUT…
New York Giants wide receiver Darius Slayton has agreed to a pay cut. Newsday is reporting that Slayton agreed to have his $2.54 million salary reduced to the league-minimum $965,000 with his level of experience. The Giants will save $1.575 million against the 2022 salary cap. The new contract will allow Slayton to possibly earn back additional money with playing-time incentives.
GIANTS RE-SIGN SANDRO PLATZGUMMER TO THE PRACTICE SQUAD…
The Giants have re-signed running back Sandro Platzgummer to the Practice Squad. Platzgummer was waived by the team from the 53-man roster on Monday. As part of the NFL’s International Player Pathway Program, Platzgummer will not count against the team’s 16-player Practice Squad limit. The 6’0”, 198-pound Sandro Platzgummer was originally allocated to the Giants in April 2020 as part of the NFL’s international program. He also spent all of 2020 and 2021 on the Giants’ Practice Squad. Platzgummer played for the Swarco Raiders Tirol of the Austrian Football League. He has yet to play in a regular-season game.
SEPTEMBER 7, 2022 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT… WR Sterling Shepard (Achilles), OLB Kayvon Thibodeaux (knee), OLB Azeez Ojulari (calf), and S Dane Belton (clavicle) were officially listed as “limited” after Wednesday’s practice.
THE COACHES SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following coaches are available in The Corner Forum and on YouTube:
WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The players are off on Thursday and there is no media access to the team. The Giants return to practice on Friday (11:45AM-1:15PM). Head Coach Brian Daboll and select players will address the media on that day as well.
DECEMBER 30, 2021 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT… The New York Giants practiced on Thursday at Quest Diagnostics Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
Not on the official injury list, but also not practicing due to being placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 List were WR Darius Slayton, OL Korey Cunningham, NT Danny Shelton, DE Dexter Lawrence, and S Julian Love.
Not practicing were RB Gary Brightwell (neck), WR Kadarius Toney (shoulder), WR John Ross (knee/COVID ramp up), WR Collin Johnson (hamstring), OL Billy Price (personal), and DL Austin Johnson (foot).
“Billy and his family are dealing with a family matter,” Head Coach Joe Judge said. “I’m not going to go into it. It’s not mine to disclose, but his family has our full support as an organization. We’ve all talked to him. Our concern is for the personal wellbeing of Billy as a person, and his family’s well-being is a primary concern right now. We’ll deal with Billy as we go through the week, and we’ll know more as we go.”
Limited in practice were RB Saquon Barkley (ankle), FB Cullen Gillaspia (shin), TE Kyle Rudolph (ankle), TE Chris Myarick (hip), OT Nate Solder (COVID ramp up), OL Ben Bredeson (ankle), DL Raymond Johnson (illness), CB Adoree’ Jackson (quad/COVID ramp up), CB Keion Crossen (COVID ramp up), and PK Graham Gano (illness).
The Giants have placed WR Darius Slayton, OL Korey Cunningham, and LB Omari Cobb on the Reserve/COVID-19 List. Slayton and Cunningham will likely miss Sunday’s game; Cobb is on the Practice Squad. The team activated OT Nate Solder from the Reserve/COVID-19 List.
The Giants also placed OT Matt Peart (knee) and RB Gary Brightwell (neck) on Injured Reserve. Their season is over.
The Giants waived LB Trent Harris.
THE COACHES SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following coaches are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:
DECEMBER 8, 2021 NEW YORK GIANTS INJURY REPORT… The New York Giants practiced on Wednesday at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona.
Not practicing were QB Mike Glennon (concussion), WR Kenny Golladay (rib), WR Kadarius Toney (oblique), and CB Adoree’ Jackson (quad).
“Mike’s still in the (concussion) protocol,” said Head Coach Joe Judge before practice. “He’s moving along at that pace. We’re optimistic he’s going to be fully cleared and getting ready to play. Mike will be with the trainers for the most part of the morning and in walk-through. He’ll do some things with us in the afternoon. He’ll be back out here and active through the walk-through. Tomorrow will be a non-contact practice, which to be honest, for all of our quarterbacks really every practice on Thursday is non-contact. Friday will be a practice that he could be cleared full for and, again, the contact portion for a quarterback on Friday is lighter. We’ll put him through some designed drills to make sure he’s safe to go out there on Sunday, just as we did with Daniel earlier in the year coming off the Dallas game.”
When asked if he expects Glennon to start on Sunday, Judge replied, “I would. We have nothing at this point that would say he wouldn’t clear, so we’ll wait and see where that goes. But we’re going to prepare Jake as if he’s the starter today.”
Limited in practice were QB Daniel Jones (neck), RB Saquon Barkley (ankle), and WR Sterling Shepard (quad).
“(Jones) still hasn’t been cleared for contact,” said Judge. “He’ll continue to go through practice like he did last week. He’ll throw with the team. He’ll move. He’s in all of the meetings. We’ll see if anything changes in terms of his status, but he has not been cleared for contact… There’s nothing at this point that we’ve been told that would indicate this would be season-ending.”
When asked if there were any long-term concerns about Jones’ injury, Judge responded, “I think that’s about really the caution right now going into it, so we don’t create a long-term concern.”
PRACTICE SQUAD MOVES…
On Tuesday, the Giants signed QB Clayton Thorson to the Practice Squad. To make room for Thorson, the team also placed CB Ka’Dar Hollman on the Practice Squad/Injured List. Thorson spent most of 2020 on New York’s Practice Squad. He was re-signed in January and waived/injured in August. The 6’4”, 222-pound Thorson was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles cut him in August 2019 and he was then signed to the Practice Squad of the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys cut him in early September 2020.
On Wednesday, the Washington Football team signed RB Jonathan Williams off of Practice Squad of the Giants. The 6’0”, 217-pound Williams was originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2016 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills. He has spent time with the Bills (2016-2017), Denver Broncos (2017), New Orleans Saints (2017–2018), Indianapolis Colts (2018–2019), Detroit Lions (2020), and Washington Football Team (2020-2021). The Giants signed Williams to the Practice Squad in November 2021.
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 at Giants.com.
THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available inThe Corner Forumand atGiants.com:
MAY 14, 2021 NEW YORK GIANTS ROOKIE MINI-CAMP REPORT…
The first day of the New York Giants three-day rookie mini-camp was held on Friday at Quest Diagnostics Training Center in East Rutherford, New Jersey. With COVID protocols remaining in place, only 22 players are in attendance. (At the 2019 rookie mini-camp, 75 players participated).
The on-field work emphasized individual drills.
“Really this is an orientation weekend,” said Head Coach Joe Judge. “This isn’t a competition weekend. This isn’t a situation where we are cutting down the team this weekend. This is just get the guys out there moving on the grass, take a look at them and get a better idea where they are physically. These are guys that have not been with a team now for at least five months. So being out there for the first time in team activities, drills and the pace and practice, as opposed to individual workouts with a trainer are much, much different. So you know, all these guys got to get in football shape which is just part of the process of being out here in spring and working them forward.
“Right now, we’re just trying to get them out there and get them moving. This is all very new for these guys in terms of walking around the building. These guys have as much on their plate in terms of finding out where their locker is, where to eat in the cafeteria, where they shower as much as getting out there, where they stretch where an individual is and when we blow the horn for group and special teams, where they run to. So it’s a learning experience for these guys. They try to get on the field and just move as fast as they can. Like I said we’ve got to get these guys in football shape and it’s just part of the process.
“None of their fundamentals will be good enough and none of their conditioning will be good enough. That’s our job to get them going. That’s why we have to be out there and we have to train them and practice and catch up where the vets are at, so when they get to training camp they can compete on equal ground.
“It truly is just orientation. At this point obviously we can identify things they have to work on. We can identify where they are currently. However I’d say every rookie you get right now, just from the nature of not being on a team for the duration that they have been training for the Draft and all that kind of stuff, they are all far behind. You know, they really are. Most of these guys are all further behind now than they were when they finished their college seasons. So we have to get them back going, get them caught up, get them in our systems and in our schemes, and they have got a long way to go, and that’s true of any rookie class.
“I’ve been part of rookie mini-camps before where you put them out there and it’s full competition, you are doing hard one-on-ones and seven-on-seven and team as much as you can. To be honest with you, if we had 70 guys out there, we wouldn’t have done anything different today. The focus was on fundamentals and getting acclimated to our system and how they practice so when we get out there through the duration of spring and training camp, they have to jump and get going and compete against the vets.”
2021 NFL Draft Picks (6):
WR Kadarius Toney
OLB Azeez Ojulari
CB Aaron Robinson
OLB Elerson Smith
RB Gary Brightwell
CB Rodarius Williams
2021 Signed Undrafted Rookie Free Agents (3):
OC/OG Brett Heggie
OT/OG Jake Burton
DE/LB Raymond Johnson
New York Giants First-Year Players (8):
QB Clayton Thorson
RB Jordan Chunn
RB Sandro Platzgummer
WR Derrick Dillon
TE Nakia Griffin-Stewart
TE Nate Wieting
DL David Moa
LB Cale Garrett
Undrafted rookie and veteran tryout players (5):
QB Nathan Rourke (rookie)
RB Corey Clement (4-year veteran)
RB Ito Smith (3-year veteran)
FB Frank Feaster (rookie)
TE Kelvin Benjamin (former 4-year veteran WR working at TE)
CAM FLEMING SIGNS WITH DENVER BRONCOS…
New York Giants unrestricted free agent offensive tackle Cam Fleming has signed a 1-year contract with the Denver Broncos. The Giants signed Fleming as an unrestricted free agent from the Dallas Cowboys in March 2020. He ended up starting all 16 games at right tackle, by far the most in his career in a single season. But Fleming was arguably the weak link up front, regularly missing blocks. Fleming was also credited with four false starts and two holding penalties. The 6’5”, 320-pound Fleming was originally drafted in the 4th round of the 2014 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. After four years in New England, he played two seasons with the Cowboys. In seven NFL seasons, Fleming has played in 91 regular-season games with 42 starts.
HEAD COACH JOE JUDGE…
The transcript and video of Joe Judge’s press conference on Friday are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:
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:
NEW YORK GIANTS SIGN THREE 2021 DRAFT PICKS…
The New York Giants have announced that they have signed half of their 2021 NFL Draft class, including outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari (2nd round), running back Gary Brightwell (6th round), and cornerback Rodarius Williams (6th round). Remaining unsigned are wide receiver Kadarius Toney (1st round), cornerback Aaron Robinson (3rd round), and outside linebacker Elerson Smith (4th round).
GIANTS SIGN THREE UNDRAFTED ROOKIE FREE AGENTS…
The New York Giants have officially confirmed that they have signed three undrafted rookie free agents, including center/guard Brett Heggie (University of Florida), tackle Jake Burton (Baylor University), and defensive end Raymond Johnson (Georgia Southern University).
OC/OG Brett Heggie, 6’4”, 310lbs, 5.50, University of Florida (Video) Heggie was a 3-year starter in college with experience at center and both guard spots. He lacks ideal power and athleticism for the NFL, but he is a smart, tough, feisty blue-collar lineman.
OT/OG Jake Burton, 6’6”, 312lbs, 5.35, Baylor University Burton is UCLA transfer. He has good size, but lacks ideal overall athleticism/foot quickness. Burton is physical and plays hard.
DE/LB Raymond Johnson, 6’3”, 270lbs, 4.73, Georgia Southern University (Video) Johnson played at defensive end in college but could project to edge linebacker for the Giants. He combines good size and overall athleticism. Johnson plays low with good leverage and initial quickness. He is physical and plays hard.
GIANTS CUT BREELAND SPEAKS…
The New York Giants have waived defensive end Breeland Speaks. The Giants signed Speaks to a future/reserve contract in January 2021. The 6’3”, 285-pound Speaks was originally drafted in the 2nd round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. As a rookie in 2018, Speaks played in all 16 regular-season games, with four starts, and was credited with 24 tackles, 1.5 sacks, one forced fumble, and two fumble recoveries. He missed all of 2019 with a knee injury and was cut by the Chiefs in early September 2020. Speaks then spent time on the Practice Squads of the Las Vegas Raiders and Dallas Cowboys.
NEW YORK GIANTS OFFSEASON WORKOUT PROGRAM DATES SET…
The NFL and the New York Giants have announced the offseason workout program dates:
May 14-16:New York Giants Rookie Mini-Camp
May 24-25: New York Giants OTA Offseason Workouts
May 27: New York Giants OTA Offseason Workouts
June 2-4: New York Giants OTA Offseason Workouts
June 8-10: New York Giants mandatory Mini-Camp
June 14-15: New York Giants OTA Offseason Workouts
Per the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), teams are only allowed to hold voluntary offseason activities over the course of a 9-week period in three phases:
Phase One (April 19-May 14): Activities during this 4-week period are limited to strength and conditioning, virtual meetings, and physical rehabilitation only.
Phase Two (May 17-21): On-field workouts may only include individual player instruction and non-contact, walkthrough drills. Offensive players can only line up against other offensive players, and defensive players can only line up against other defensive players.
Phase Three (May 24-June 18): Activities during this 4-week period include in-person meetings and classroom instruction subject to COVID protocols, 10 days of organized team practice activity (OTAs). No live contact is permitted, but 7-on-7, 9-on-7, and 11-on-11 drills are allowed. Teams can also hold one mandatory mini-camp for veteran players.
In addition, teams may hold a rookie football development program for a 7-week period, beginning on May 17.
GIANTS FIRE SCOUT… InsideTheLeague is reporting that the Giants have fired scout Chris Watts, who had been with the team since 2005. More recently, Watts was the southwest area scout for the Giants.
On Saturday, the New York Giants made three more selections on the final day of the 2021 NFL Draft, including linebacker Elerson Smith (University of Northern Iowa) in the 4th round and running back Gary Brightwell (University of Arizona) and cornerback Rodarius Williams (Oklahoma State University) in the 6th round.
LB Elerson Smith Scouting Report: Smith is a tall, lanky, athletic rush end who projects to outside linebacker in the Giants’ system. He combines good size, arm length, big hands, initial get-off quickness, bend, and closing burst. Good pass rusher who makes plays in the backfield. Raw, Smith will need some time to develop and reach his potential. He will need to continue to get stronger and be more consistent at playing off of blockers in the run game. Smith is a hard worker both off and on the football field.
Sy’56’s Take:Fifth year senior from Minneapolis, Minnesota. One-year starter that had his senior season canceled because of the Covid-19 pandemic. 1st Team All Missouri Valley Conference and 1st Team AFCA FCS All American in 2019. Smith broke out in his redshirt junior season, netting 21.5 tackles for loss, 14 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, and 2 blocked kicks. He plays the game with a level of ease and smoothness in traffic. He gets off the ball in a hurry with great leverage and upper body positioning, his hands are exceptionally fast, and the foot quickness is elite. Smith is just scratching the surface when it comes to his true potential. He needs to sleep in the weight room for a year before he can be an every down asset, but he will be a solid rotational pass rusher right away and has the upside of being a solid starter in multiple schemes.
*If you haven’t seen Northern Iowa play but you want to get a feel for what this kid looks like on the field, think about Jayson Taylor. He has the really long, borderline thin frame but plays with tremendous burst and bend for a player his size. Smith impressed me a ton at the Senior Bowl in the practice tapes. Really twitchy, plays low to the ground, and easily changes direction. His 2019 tape is something else, too. Good player here that may need more time than others but presents more upside than most guys in this tier.
RB Gary Brightwell Scouting Report: Brightwell is a big, physical, no-nonsense, downhill runner with good speed and acceleration for his size. He is not a particularly creative running back, being more of a one-speed, one-cut slasher. His biggest negative is ball security. He needs to protect the football better.
Sy’56’s Take: Sizeable slasher that can put his foot in the ground a burst upfield. Will push defenders back on contact, shows decent late wiggle. Hard nosed kid that will get yards after contact. Has fumble issues, mechanical.
CB Rodarius Williams Scouting Report: Williams has good size for a corner and has experience in both press and off coverage. He is a competitor who plays a physical game. Williams lacks ideal speed and quickness but he is instinctive in coverage. He breaks up a lot of passes.
Sy’56’s Take: Smart and instinctive. Supports the run and knows how to play physical in coverage without getting flagged. Plays faster than he times because of knowledge, feel, and reaction twitch.
Media Q&A with General Manager Dave Gettleman (Video):
Opening Statement: Obviously we had three picks, the 7th round is still going, I didn’t trade back so we could get to this sooner. Elerson Smith, who we took in the fourth round, is a kid that played at Northern Iowa, didn’t play this fall obviously because of COVID. He didn’t opt out. They just didn’t play. And he played the Senior Bowl. He’s long, he’s athletic and we watched him on his Northern Iowa tape and what sold us on him is they played Iowa State and he must have played about 85, 90 snaps. He’s a real tough kid, athletic, long, has some pass rush potential and he’s instinctive, so we really liked him. With the first sixth round pick, we took a running back out of Arizona, Gary Brightwell. He’s a big kid and he’s got a heavy body, he’s a heavy body runner, he’s in the 215, 220 range and he really is a quality special teams player. So he’s got dual value. Then our last pick was Rodarius Williams out of Oklahoma State. We had a solid value on him on the board. He’s athletic. He’s fast. He can carry the vertical. He plays our style. He’s a press corner and we were just very pleased to see him there. So those are our last three.
Q: When you talked leading into the Draft and you also talked about free agency, I think Kevin Abrams said you wanted to be aggressive. Did that carry over into the Draft and maybe lead to some of the trades?
A: I think it did. You know, we’ve had that mindset. And you know we just felt like, it’s all about calculated risk. You know, you go to Vegas, go to Atlantic City and some people are aggressive and some people aren’t. It’s just sometimes it’s instinct. Sometimes it’s just looking at the board and seeing where it’s going to take you. You know, we felt we were aggressive in the off-season and in the roster building season — there’s no off-season here. We were aggressive in the roster building season in both free agency and the Draft.
Q: Didn’t make any picks on the offensive line and really weren’t aggressive in free agency, but do you think that position is good enough and why did you feel that way if so?
A: First of all, you don’t want it to be good enough, you want it to be good, plain and simple. It’s really apparent that we have a little more confidence in our offensive linemen than you guys do. So I’m just going to say we’re happy with the group that we have. Obviously you’re always trying to get better and you’re not going to take a player just to take a player, you take a player because you think he’s going to improve the value of your team. Right now, our offensive line is what it is, the players are who they are and we’re going to move forward.
Q: You’ve invested either draft picks or trades, why so many corners and does that mean somebody has to be the odd man out here?
A: As the media says, and as the public perception is, this is a passing league. So why not a lot of corners, okay. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you can never have too many good players at a position, and when everybody comes in, let the games begin.
Q: Did you realize you had to wait 80 picks?
A: I knew it was going to be awhile, and I was going to have time to do a number of things, my taxes, etc., etc. It’s a long wait, but listen, that’s the way it is. That’s the way it turned out.
Q: The perception, and you hear it already, that Joe in his second year, his influence is increasing, his fingerprints are all over some of the philosophical things with the trade that never happened before. Wondering what you think of that?
A: I think that we have a great collaborative group going here. It’s not about me. It’s not about Joe. It’s about the New York Football Giants.
Q: How much did his role change in year two?
A: We collaborate. We’ve been collaborating since he walked in the door. It’s about the New York Giants.
Q: Elerson Smith, you said he’s got some pass rush. He was a skinny kid who became a not-skinny kid, obviously, very long arms, big hands, things like that. You have a lot of guys, you drafted two of them, you have two guys coming back, X-man (Oshane Ximines) and Lorenzo Carter, where do you see that edge rush situation?
A: Well, there’s a lot of competition there. Listen, I’ve said this a million times; fundamentally, the college kids are further behind than they used to be. So at the end of the day, it’s about do they have the talent, the physical talent, the feel, the instinct, to develop as pass rushers. Both of these kids do. Elerson definitely does. That’s why we drafted him and at the end of the day, it’s about competition. It’s about competition. And we just feel like with those two draft picks, we’ve upgraded.
Q: The Giants have not done well in the last 10 years, you haven’t been here for all of that, with that third, fourth, fifth round stab at a pass rusher. Do you think with these two guys, one or two of them, you got it right?
A: I always think I got it right. Listen, we’ll know in three years whether we got this right. And that’s what it is, okay. It’s perception and it’s what the media writes about players. We put a ton of time into this. We don’t do this for a hobby, all right, and in three years we’ll know if we’re right or not.
Q: You were on ESPN earlier and said that you feel like you guys are close to being able to compete. What gives you the most optimism and how much of that is from guys you were able to pick up this weekend?
A: I felt we’ve had a very good roster building season.
Q: Anyone in particular or any philosophical —
A: We feel like we’ve added a strong group of players at a variety of positions. We’ve added playmakers. We’ve added pass rushers. We added corners. We feel good about what we’ve done.
Q: In regard to the secondary and specifically, Rodarius Williams and Aaron Robinson, how much adding guys like that change what you guys can do schematically and coverage-wise?
A: Look, we are always looking for different skill sets that create versatility within our defensive schemes and look ultimately throughout the draft and free agency you’re looking for the best players available. We happened to go through the Draft and we had the opportunity to add two good corners, coming to compete with our current roster. We’ll see when they get here how it shakes out. I tell the guys all the time, truest thing I can say, it doesn’t matter how you get here; it’s what you do when you are here. We are excited to get these guys here and at the same time excited to work with everyone on our current roster, and again, look, our goal is to make every position as competitive as can be and that’s when you really get the best out of your team.
Q: You drafted five guys that were Senior Bowl participants this year and a few talked about the conversations they had with you and Rodarius mentioned. How important are those face-to-face conversations, especially in a year like this where you didn’t have the combine to meet with the guys?
A: For me, they are crucial. I don’t really like adding someone to our team or I can’t really have a strong enough opinion on someone if I have not had good enough interaction with them as a person and there’s no better opportunity to sit down with somebody and look them eye to eye and really ask them tough questions and get an answer and get a feel for them as a person. A number of guys at the Senior Bowl we came away with obviously the ability to have a strong opinion. To be honest the guys you only see on tape, if you don’t have enough interaction with, you may like them as a player and there’s just something missing that you can’t stand on the table and say, this guy fits our locker room, this guy fits our culture. So the interactions are definitely crucial for us.
Q: Is it possible at this point to gauge how much better you’ve gotten with this draft? And secondly, do you look at the other teams in your division in terms of what they have done and maybe whether you’ve gained on them or not or is that too early to do that at this point?
A: I don’t think you can ever make a team on paper. I don’t think you can ever really win in the offseason. To me it’s about adding competitive players each position. And then when training camp starts and the competition truly starts, that’s when we’ll know how much we’ve improved. We’ll know when we start the preseason games and truly know when we get into the season. It’s a fair question, I fully understand it. We are looking to add a raised level of play at every position. But by adding competition, one of two things happen: You either bring somebody in who you improve because they are good enough to take someone else’s job or you bring someone in who pushes the guys in front of him to keep their job, and either way you get a raised level of play.
Q: Gary Brightwell sounded like you talking about special teams and all the hidden yards and importance of it. What did you like about him in those roles while he was in college?
A: He’s a guy that definitely jumped out. A few weeks back, me, Tom Quinn and Thomas McGaughey were sitting in the staff room on a Saturday about 5:30am in the morning and Tom Quinn brought his name up and we watched his kick game and this dude was flying down the field and it was early enough that it woke you up and you really got excited about watching him. You start watching a lot more of his offense and start talking with our scouts who have done a lot of research on him and talking to Burton (Burns) as far as the running back value. Look, he’s a guy that jumps out from his skill set. You are always looking for good versatility and depth at those positions, running back and the kicking game. To be honest with you, the opportunity I had to really speak with him and spend some time with him even though it was over Zoom with Gary was very, very impressive. He has an tremendous story. This dude had the utmost compliments given to him from everyone who has been around him at every level. He was the guy that was available at the time and he was a guy we guy we could bring on on our roster and compete to be on the roster and make us a better team.
Q: From the outside there’s a lot of surprise that you guys didn’t address the offensive line throughout the three days of the Draft. Dave talked about this but I’m curious from your perspective on the guys that you have and whether you’re completely comfortable going into the season with the group you’ve got.
A: First off I’m encouraged by the guys we have on our roster right now. They are working hard. We don’t have them in the building just yet, not all of them. As we get closer to the mandatory minicamp and training camp, we’ll get a feel for them on the grass. I would say we are always looking to make every position more competitive, but right now we are committed to working with the guys on our roster and approving each one of those guys individually and that should help the unit collectively.
Q: Elerson Smith, lower level of competition, gained a lot of weight, big hands, good athlete. This team has been looking for an edge rusher for many years. You think you got it right with these two guys?
A: I think we added two guys between Elerson and Azeez that are going to be able to come in that have a skill set to develop and work with, both guys really fit our outside linebacker category. In our defense, our outside backers have a variety of skill set. Some guys are more stout, set the edge guys better in early down run setting and some guys are more third down sub-package pass rushers. Elerson is a guy, I got to sit down with him in Mobile at the Senior Bowl and was impressed with him down there playing. You watch his tape, the one thing I would say about guys from small schools and low level of competition, I think sometimes people over-evaluate someone because where they played in college. And this is a guy you look at his story, he weighed 195 pounds coming out of high school, was built more like a receiver. So someone obviously at Northern Iowa did a good job evaluating this guy and seeing his upside and potential. That’s what I think we did a good job as well with, and we’re going to have an opportunity to develop it. But he’s gained a lot of weight. That just shows his commitment to body and really developing over time. Some guys are late bloomers. But I know when Northern Iowa plays, whether it’s him or Spencer Brown another guys who was drafted along with other guys, those guys play tough. You watch their tape. They are a competitive team. So to me I look at a lot of lower competition, per se, quote, or smaller schools as really more of an opportunity to grow these guys as guys that really weren’t always in a program where they had great nutrition plans or maybe the top-tier strength program or assets available to them. Sometimes you get a guy from a really good program and you have to look and say, how topped out are they. They have been coached very well, had a resource at all times; what is their ceiling and how much higher can they go. A guy from a smaller school, you can say, we can really develop this guy. You know, let’s be patient with this guy, give him time, throw them in, let them compete and if they have upside, all of a sudden you really see them competing on your roster.
Q: Last year was a whirlwind. How is this year, the whole process and your involvement any different?
A: No, I think from the day I got here we all worked together very well. That’s one thing that I talked about from the very beginning. It’s been very open on both sides of the building. It’s just one building. It’s not separated personnel and coaching. Everyone is working together. Right now we have our scouts working with the coaches on the free agency process after the Draft, me and Dave (Gettleman), Kevin (Abrams), Mark (Koncz), Tim (McDonnell) and Chris (Pettit), we always talk fluidly throughout the entire process. There is more involvement because I wasn’t here last fall, or two falls ago. The ability to talk about who is in the draft, who we are targeting, what kind of bodies, change of the scheme and further understanding on both sides what we are looking for and how we work together. After going through a cycle last year, you knock off some of the newness and this time through it was a lot more fluid.
Media Q&A with Director of College Scouting Chris Pettit (Video):
Q. You drafted five guys that were at the Senior Bowl this year and a lot of those guys talked about those conversations had with them and the things you learned about them. How important was that this year, especially, when you didn’t have the combine and all the traditional visits? Was there extra value added on meeting guys there?
A: Every year, we’ve taken guys from the Senior Bowl. Senior Bowl does a great job of recruiting and bringing in really good players to get a look at. There’s, you know, every year I feel like we draft guys from there. This year, it really was — I said it the last couple nights was our really only time to be face-to-face with the prospects and how important that was to the process of just seeing them, feeling them, getting close to them. So yeah, it was super important, but every year they do a great job of bringing in really good players down there for us to evaluate.
Q. And then one guy that wasn’t at the Senior Bowl that you picked was Gary Brightwell who was a little more under the radar. Joe talked about how impressed he was with the special teams tape. Was that something that stood out to you?
A: Yeah, absolutely. Especially, one of our special teams coaches, Tom Quinn, ran into me one day in the hall and said he really saw some good traits in him. So we threw on the tape. Also as a runner, this guy will help us as a running back, as well. He’s competitive. He’s tough. He’s got good hands. Good athlete. So yeah I’m looking forward to seeing him run and also contribute on teams.
Q. Obviously Joe told us that the process was already starting with you guys trying to get together and worry about after the Draft and free agency. If you can explain what this year’s process looks like compared to obviously last year where you were not bringing guys in and going virtual. How different is this year and do you have a number in mind of how many guys you will look to sign after the Draft?
A: Between the scouts and coaches, we’re collaborative and we work together on recruiting and really trying to get these guys signed up after the Draft is over. It’s definitely been a better process this year than it was last year doing it all virtual. It was difficult. I’ll be honest, it was difficult. I’m sitting there looking, trying to organize it all with about 60 faces on the Zoom and the communication was hard. I think we did a great job last year and this year is going to be even better. We have the coaching staff here and we can communicate face-to-face. We have some of our scouts that live locally around and that’s helping out and then we have our scouts Zoomed in the room. It will be better this year but we’re not at full capacity when we are all together working as a team face-to-face.
Q. Rodarius Williams is going to be 25 in September. Some teams are drafting guys who are 20. How old — how do you look at age in the draft process? Is there a number that’s too old? Is there a number that’s too young? Are you aware if a guy is 22 versus 23? Do you know that number off the top of your head? How do you see age?
A: I mean, I think it’s a piece of the puzzle like every measurable is or every skill is. Obviously it didn’t affect us, his age and why we took him. You know, it’s case-by-case basis when it comes to the age to be honest with you. But no, I mean, actually he’s more mature. We don’t have to — some of these guys that are coming in, maybe don’t have the life skills being younger players, really straight out of high school almost. But no, it’s part of the puzzle like everything else, like I said, every measurable, every skill.
Q. You just spent the last year of your life devoted to these three days. What is your takeaway of this class and how does it compare to what you might have expected coming in?
A: This has been going since really our BLESTO meetings last May, I had my mind on this date. So it’s been good. It been a difficult year for all of us. But it’s been a great process. We’ve learned a lot. We learned new ways to scout. I think that’s going to help us going forward. I’m really excited about the class. There’s guys that we kind of targeted way back in February and we’re happy they were there for us at the time they were. So you know I feel good. I feel good about every draft class. We put a lot of work in both — all the scouts, all the personnel, all the coaches, we put a lot into this, so it’s a big day for us.
Q. When you look at a guy like Elerson (Smith), Joe was just talking about big school, small school. Is he a little more of hey, you look at him and say, he is not what he’s going to be and you project him and just what kind of potential as a pass rusher do you see him having?
A: I think there’s a lot of potential. The biggest thing with the smaller school guys, we always start at step one, do they dominate that level. They have to dominate that level of competition to get in the conversation. And the great thing about Elerson that, again, reference the Senior Bowl again, but we got to see him on the same playing field with guys from Power Five schools and the higher levels and he fit right in. He competed his butt off and looked the part. You got to compare apples-to-apples there. That was a great venue for us. There were times when he had to play a Division I team. He played Iowa State this year, played over 90 plays in that game and competed to the last whistle and it was really impressive to see. But I think there’s big upside there, with all our players, they are going to have to come in and develop and become pros.
Q. I know you’re finishing up and probably haven’t turned the page yet but you spend your whole year to get to this date. What’s the mindset you take when you are going to be leaving moving forward knowing, okay, next year now, we have all these extra first, an extra third, an extra fourth (picks in 2022 Draft).
A: Yeah, kind of what I alluded to last night with the class next year being so large, to have the extra picks is really beneficial going forward. To be honest with you it makes it fun knowing that we have all these opportunities to take players next year. So I’m looking forward to it. With a big class, it’s going to be a lot of work for us. Our scouts are going to have to be as thorough as ever and start work earlier with such a big class and guys moving all around. We know that and we are ready to take on the challenge but now at least we have the picks to hit it out of the park next year again hopefully.
Q. Did you get any directive or direction from the defensive coaching staff about the cornerbacks you were looking for as opposed to in years past and can you talk about sort of how Rodarius (Williams) and A-Rob (Aaron Robinson) line up with each other? Are they a similar type of player?
A: Number one, first day here with our coaching staff, is let’s sit down with the personnel and coaching staff and talk about what kind of players they want and what works in the scheme. The last thing we want to do is, you know, give them players that don’t fit their scheme and type of people. It’s collaborative. I’m sure Dave has said that many times but it’s true. We work together. It’s our job as personnel people to provide them the players that work. As far as Rodarius and A-Rob, they have some similar skill sets, both long, both physical and both competitive, instinctive minds. I think they fit our scheme. They both are good in press. Ball skills, they both have ball skills which we emphasize. I’m excited to see those guys work together.
Q: Obviously, the Giants were at the Senior Bowl and I’m curious about how much you talked to them there? Do you remember those conversations? What was your impression of the Giants when you met with them?
A: At the Senior Bowl, I just had a brief 15-minute interview just like any other team there. I didn’t really get to know them much or meet with the other coaches and people on staff until later when we had a few meetings. First impression was. obviously, I just know that the New York Giants is a great, historically great, organization. I’m excited to be able to contribute to what they have.
Q: When you arrived in Northern Iowa, you were really thin, like 215 pounds or whatever it was. Then you put on all that weight. How would you describe what this journey has been like for you going from that skinny kid to being drafted by the New York Giants, which has a pretty rich history of pass rushers obviously?
A: It’s been a process. I’ve had to take advantage of each day early on when I wasn’t getting a lot of acknowledgement or recognition. It was a process. I was just kind of working in the dark and just making sure that I was getting the most out of every day. It has been a whirlwind the past few months. I’m excited to kind of take that same approach when I get to New York – just making sure that I’m getting better everyday and not letting days get by where I’m not getting better because if you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse. I’m really excited to be a part of New York.
Q: Technically, you called it an opt-out from last year, but clearly, that’s not what happened until the spring anyway. What was it like to have that senior season taken away from you?
A: It’s tough because your senior season is what you look forward to, you know, for all four years really. We had a great group of guys playing together in Northern Iowa and we really had a chance to make a run for it this year. But, obviously, with Covid and everything going on, it’s not the worst thing that could have happened to me. I just tried to go with the flow and understand that it is what it was and I had no control over the season being canceled. So, I just wanted to make sure that I was making the most out of my days and continuing to work toward the Senior Bowl and our Pro Day.
Q: How important was that Senior Bowl because nobody had been able to see you on the field since December of 2019?
A: It was huge. I think at that point, it was the only film I had where I played around 260. All my other film I was around 240 or 235. I just wanted to show teams that I could play with the new weight and to show them I was working hard on my body and my game and that I am able to contribute to an NFL team at this point. It was an important week because I didn’t have the film like everyone else had from the 2020 season.
Q: Obviously, being 6’6″, you have a size advantage off the edge over a lot of tackles, but is there a pass rush move that is kind of your go-to or one that you’ve really refined and you think is your best trait?
A: I like to work moves together. I love a good bull rush. I think my get-off is what starts all my pass rush moves. I love driving offensive linemen off the jump, get their feet moving and really get them scared of my length and my get-off. From there, depending on what the offensive line is giving me, it’s going to be a bull rush or I’m going to take the edger or coming underneath. I love pass rushing, though. I have a lot of fun doing it.
Q: I just wanted to ask you – the Giants also took an edge rusher in the second round in Azeez Ojulari. Are you a little bit surprised to land in New York? How much do you know about the edge rush situation with the team?
A: I’m not surprised to land in New York. I had a decent amount of meetings with them before. The edge rush situation is something out of my hands, but I’m excited to get to know the guys. I’m excited to work with them. I’m excited to get better with them and try to make the pass rush better as a whole unit. I don’t know much about Azeez, but I’m sure he’s a great player and I’m excited to get to know him and get after it and get to work with him, too.
Q: How much football have you played in the last like five years? It seems like ’16 and ’17, you didn’t play, ’18 was limited and ’19 was a big season. Is it only two years in the last five?
A: Yes. I mean, other than practice, which I treated like those were my games because that’s what I needed to get better at, my first few years of college, I started one year. Then, I was in a reserve pass rush role my sophomore year. I just like to make the most of my opportunities and I was able to do that my junior year. I think that’s a result of me treating those first few years like those were playing seasons for me or preparing for every game throughout those seasons, so I was ready at that point.
Q: I noticed you blocked two kicks. Are we talking about placekicks and you’re coming up the middle, I assume?
A: Yup. Just right on the ball, getting off and driving through the back.
Q: You’re being drafted as a pass rusher here, but have any teams asked you to play tight end or told you that they would like you to? I know you’re such a well-rounded athlete. You did it in high school. Is that something the Giants and other teams talked to you about?
A: No, not the Giants. I heard a joke about it, but no serious talk about me playing tight end.
Q: When the season was cancelled, I think you entered the transfer portal but then pulled your name out. What were those couple weeks like and what was that specific decision like for you? How did it go and how did you come to the decision to not transfer and not play?
A: Honestly, that was one of those things that were out of my hands again. I entered the transfer portal a few days after our season got cancelled because I thought it would be best for me to be able to boost my stock at a bigger school or maybe just find somewhere to play because I knew I wanted to enter this draft. After the FCS season, I entered the transfer portal and was talking to some schools. I had some schools in mind, but then the FBS cancelled, or postponed their season for that brief little stint there – a brief few weeks a day after I was into it – so, at that point everything was so up in the air. I was like, ‘I’m just going to declare and start training for the Pro Day and Senior Bowl.’ That’s kind of how it happened.
Q: I know you’re from the Minneapolis area. Do you know Carter Coughlin at all? I know you grew up near each other.
A: I actually don’t, not personally. I played against him in high school, football and basketball. I know he’s a great athlete. I know he did great things at the University of Minnesota and I’m excited to get to know him in New York.
Q: You probably posted him up pretty good in basketball.
A: I wasn’t very good at basketball. I was a wrestler most of my life. I played basketball a little bit later, even though it’s funny because I’m 6’6″, I’m not a basketball player.
Q: What does this moment mean for you to get drafted by the Giants and considering your journey here and everything you’ve been through? What does it mean to get picked by them?
A: This moment is special for me. My family grew up as Giants fans, so I mean this is everything I dreamed of.
Q: So does that mean you’re a Tiki Barber guy? Who was your favorite running back growing up?
A: Tiki Barber was my favorite running back.
Q: Tell us about your game, Gary. What are you going to bring to the team?
A: I’m excited to bring some special teams to the field. I’m going to bring a lot of explosive plays, but my priority right now is getting the playbook, getting on special teams and dominating.
Q: Did you talk to [Head] Coach [Joe] Judge about that already? He’s a pretty big special teams guy.
A: Nah, that’s my thing. That’s been my thing since high school. I’ve been a special teams guy.
Q: What do you like about that?
A: I feel like special teams starts the game and also finish it. Special teams has all the hidden yards. I mean, you need special teams to dominate.
Q: How can your parents be Giants fans when you’re from Chester?
A: I don’t know. I mean, my parents are not Giants fans. My mom is an Eagles fan, but obviously she’s got to be one (Giants fan) now. And my uncles and aunts are Giants fans.
Q: You didn’t get a chance to play a lot because of Covid. Is that good or bad or what?
A: I mean, it could be good or bad, but to me I think it worked out just right. I’m a Giant.
Q: How much did the Giants talk to you about special teams and how do you show them? How does the draft process go about in providing to them that you can do special teams and showing them?
A: I mean, we didn’t really talk about special teams. We broke the film down and we mentioned special teams, but honestly special teams impacts me. I like to be the guy that starts the game off like on kickoff at Arizona. Unfortunately, I couldn’t play it last year as much as I wanted to, but I feel like special teams starts the game. Without special teams, it could be a win or lose situation. It’s the hidden yards.
Q: What units did you play on at Arizona?
A: So last year, I got to play punt pro [protection] and I also played kick return because I was the starter last year. But years before, I played everything.
Q: Just your thoughts on being in the running back room with [Running Back] Saquon [Barkley].
A: Honestly, my thoughts about it is I get to play behind a guy who’s very competitive. I’m going to make him work and for sure he’s going to make me work, but I just can’t wait to see how he approaches the day because I know some guys have different ways. And he can help me a lot, honestly. I mean, he’s been there for a few years now, so he can help me a lot. He knows secrets that I might not know right now, so I want to learn from this guy.
Q: Hey Rodarius, congratulations. So you’re actually Greedy Williams older brother, but he got to the NFL two years first.
A: Yes sir.
Q: What’s that like when you’re the older brother and he’s there first? Are you thirsty to get there? Now, what’s that moment like?
A: It’s just a humbling moment, man. Everything that he felt on his day, I feel. I’m just ready to get in and get the work done.
Q: What has he told you about NFL life?
A: Stay healthy, stay on top of things and don’t get in any trouble.
Q: Hey Rodarius, congratulations. Can you describe your game a little bit? And also, a lot of guys down at the lower part of the draft have a lot of special teams value. Are you one of those kinds of guys?
A: I wasn’t a big special teamer, but I did play special teams. I’m coming from a four-year starting experience, so whatever needs be I’ll adjust. Whatever you guys need of me is what I’m going to do.
Q: What kind of player are you? How would you describe yourself? Obviously, you’re very durable. You play all the time.
A: I’d say durable like you mentioned and definitely high confidence in myself. I believe that I will go down as one of the greats.
Q: Hey Rodarius, congratulations man. You’re 24 years old if I read correctly. That’s usually on the older side, so I’m wondering what that was like throughout the process and how much teams harped on that or you heard that or you had to fight that perception of, ‘Hey, you’re already old or older,’ I should say.
A: I’ve never had any run-ins or anything as far as things like that. My coaches used to tell me, if you could play, you could play, regardless of age. Teams definitely can see my durability. I don’t miss too many games. I don’t miss too many practices. I’m a guy that’s going to show up to work.
Q: Hey Rodarius, did you speak with the Giants at the Senior Bowl and what was your impression of them when you had conversations with them?
A: Oh we had a great talk. They were one of the teams that showed a lot of interest in me when we had meetings and stuff like that, drawing up plays and stuff like that. I was just showing them my knowledge of the game. They really took a lot of interest in me and I’m just – I’m not really shocked that you guys picked me. I kind of had expectations to go to the Giants leading up to the Draft.
Q: Yeah, so I was going to say, when you left your meetings with the Giants, did you say in your head, ‘I think this team might try and draft me’? Was that in your head right away?
A: Yes, most definitely. I was like, ‘This is going to be one of the teams that definitely gives me a call.