MONDAY PAT SHURMUR CONFERENCE CALL…
New York Giants Head Coach Pat Shurmur addressed the media by conference call on Monday to discuss the team’s 35-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys:
Opening Statement: Relative to yesterday’s game, I don’t have much to add in regard to how it played out. (We are) certainly disappointed with that result. There are areas on all three sides of the ball that we can be better. Having gone through the tape and looked at the mistakes that we made, everything there is correctable. We need to just get back to work. I think there were some good things in the game, but those are obviously overshadowed by the things that contributed to the loss. That being said, I will add Kareem Martin had a knee sprain. Sterling Shepard may be dealing with a concussion here. We’ll know more. Then Kevin Zeitler has a little shoulder deal that we’re getting more information on. Other than that, it’s just your normal bumps and bruises. I’ll try to answer your questions.
Q: The Zeitler injury, is that something that you’re worried about being a long-term thing, or is it something else?
A: No, we don’t think it will be long-term. It may be not much at all. We just don’t have all of the information quite yet. He’s fine, though. In my mind, he is.
Q: Just to clarify, what does maybe in the concussion protocol mean? Are you just waiting for him to get tested still?
A: Yeah, he’s getting tested. He has to go through some of the testing. It appears like he might be in the protocol here. But each guy is different, as you know. We’ll just have to see how it goes here.
Q: As you look at Week One games, not just this one in particular, but as a whole throughout your career— how much do you put stock in them as a tone-setter, or do you look at it as when you guys struggle, that’s just something you have to work out the kinks with in Week One. How do you put that into context?
A: I think everybody has to work out kinks. No matter how much you play your guys in the preseason, this is the first time they are all playing a full game. In our case, we did play our ones a little more than some in the preseason, but we have a really young football team, especially on the defensive side of the ball, (and) especially in the backend. I think there is a lot to be learned from it. I have been on teams where you won the first game and had a so-so year, but I’ve also been on teams where we’ve lost the first game and (have) gone on and had playoff years. I think you just have to keep working. Just like between year one and year two you can make great improvement, I think the same thing can be said between game one and game two.
Q: You went back and you watched the defensive performance. What do you make of it and to what do you attribute the struggles? Did you see lack of communication, is it just young players needing more experience? What was your impression after watching the film?
A: Actually, I felt like from a defensive perspective in terms of the run game, other than one run that split out for a score inside the red zone, I thought we did a better job against Dallas this year of setting up the run game. Unfortunately, we had those long passes. A couple of them were breakdowns individually, a couple of them were, within the scheme, a guy not doing what he should be doing. Unfortunately, it was just a combination of things. But again, all things that can be corrected. I think some of the youth of our players on the outside, this is the first time going through it and we know there are some areas where they can be better.
Q: Anything in that game that you saw come out of the film change your perspective or affect your perspective of what you guys might do with your open roster spot in terms of need areas?
A: We’ll take a look at it. I think you’re always looking for players on the defensive side of the ball that either can cover or pass rush, that’s always a place to look, and then I think we’re always going to do what we can to address the offensive line. We’ll just see where it goes from there. A couple of the injuries I mentioned today, we’ll see how that settles in and try to find the best player available.
Q: The defense took a couple of lumps yesterday. Do you have to coach them up mentally too and just make sure their heads are on straight, as opposed to just the football stuff?
A: Yeah, I think we’ve got to coach the players constantly. Certainly, we didn’t do anything well enough to win the game yesterday, so you coach them on the details of it, but also on the mindset of getting back to work. You show them where they should be better, you show them how to be better, and then you go out and practice it, so that’s the process. You know, half the teams lost their first game yesterday, and I think that’s what you’ve got to do moving forward.
Q: I guess I’m talking more about their confidence–
A: In terms of that, again you just show them where they could have been better, or this was a mistake that—you show them doing it properly in practice, and then you try to get them to do it properly again, and just keep getting the reps you need to make them better. That includes obviously not only what you do physically, but also mentally.
Q: You guys struggled getting pressure. How do you pick it up?
A: Well, again, I think there’s areas—we have some more young players in there playing that could just be a little more active or violent. We went against a good offensive line that blocked well, they blocked well as a unit yesterday. We had a couple of spots where we got pressure, and Dak (Prescott) actually made a couple of good throws with pressure, so we’ve just got to get more of it. The players that we have in there have just got to continue to keep working to maximize the rushes that they get.
Q: Did you find after watching tape that there were more opportunities to get Saquon the ball?
A: You bring up a good point, we only had four possessions in the first half, and one was a two-minute drive, so it really was three possessions and I think in our first 17 plays he touched the ball six times. Obviously, we want more plays, more possessions, a couple of the things we did were zone reads where they covered him and we threw the ball with success. Those are the things you are going to see. Obviously it was his first game playing in full action and I thought he did a good job. It’s always good to keep him involved throughout, but the way the first half, and I know that was a question last night as well, the way the first half played out, it was only four possessions. A couple reasons for it, they controlled the ball on us by making their third downs. We didn’t convert and again we had the one drive we got down there and got stopped and we have to do a better job of when we get down there, getting points and that changes things. You don’t go into it thinking he isn’t going to touch the ball, that’s just how that first half played out.
Q: There were a couple of short yardage situations where you didn’t turn to Saquon, was that because of what the Cowboys were showing or is there another reason why you went in a different direction?
A: On one of the short yardages, we did go to him and he converted for us. A couple of times we tried to throw it to him, the one I guess where we got intentional grounding, I’ll be surprised if they don’t say that’s a bad call, because he was in the area of the throw. It wasn’t like we were going away from him, no.
Q: On plays where the quarterback rolls out, is it sometimes less effective when the quarterback is not a run/pass threat, in this case Eli when you guys had the ball down near the Dallas goal line?
A: He’s executed our boots and naked’s pretty well throughout. They did a good job of covering the primary part of it, there was an initial quick throw. In that case there, they defended it well and any play that you call that doesn’t work with any success, I certainly can understand your question.
THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts of Monday’s media conference calls with the following players are available in The Corner Forum:
The Giants have lost the opener three years in a row and eight times in nine seasons.
This was the fourth time in five years and the fifth time in seven seasons the Giants began their season in AT&T Stadium, and the fifth consecutive season the Giants’ first road game was in Dallas. The Giants are 1-9 in season-opening games vs. the Cowboys, including 1-7 in Dallas. Since 2012, they are 1-5 in season openers vs. Dallas, including 1-4 in Dallas.
The Giants lost their fifth consecutive game against the Cowboys.
QB Eli Manning became the first player in the 95-season history of the Giants franchise to play 16 years for the team. The only other players to play 15 years are Mel Hein, Michael Strahan, and Phil Simms.
WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The players are off on Tuesday and return to practice on Wednesday.