CONFERENCE CALL WITH QUARTERBACK COLT McCOY…
The following is the transcript from today’s media conference call with quarterback Colt McCoy, who the New York Giants signed on March 19th:
Q: You are now the longest tenured quarterback in the NFC East. How important was it for you to stay in the division?
A: I don’t know if I looked at it from a standpoint of importance, but I do think it’s an advantage. Spending my last six years in D.C., playing on and off there and then having the opportunity to join the Giants. I think playing those teams, their systems, their coaches, their coordinators may change but you do have a feel for players and their skillset. It’s a very competitive division and I do think there is value in staying in the east for sure.
Q: Did you have any existing relationship with Daniel Jones or have you even ever met?
A: I met Daniel just in pregame when we played them a couple times last year. I know him more as a quarterback because playing in the same division you get to watch their tape week in and week out because we are playing all the same opponents across the league. I thought he played very well as a rookie last year. His future is bright, his ceiling is high and he seems like a really great person. He’s obviously very lucky to have a guy like Eli in the quarterback room. A guy I really look up to and respect as a guy who did it right his whole career. I think Daniel knows the importance of a healthy quarterback room. I’ve talked to Daniel since I signed a couple times and just told him how excited I am coming up and learning this new system together. It’s kind of unfortunate the circumstances we are in right now. We have to get creative in ways to learn and grow. He seems like a great person and I’m excited to come in and learn alongside him and Alex (Tanney). Really just come in work hard and compete and bring out the best in our quarterback room, which I think will really benefit our team.
Q: You went through the 2011 lockout as a young quarterback. What advice can you offer Daniel on how to prepare for a season when the offseason is interrupted like this?
A: I had talked to a few of my friends about that lately. That was probably the worst thing to happen to me as a young quarterback. I played my rookie year and then we went into the lockout going into my second year. I didn’t get the playbook until we had two or three weeks of training camp. That was the first time I knew anything, and it was a completely new system. I played decent that year, but our team certainly struggled. I think I can take some experience and some lessons learned from that and hopefully help Daniel. I think Daniel is prepared for this, he played a lot more his rookie year than I did. There are challenges and it’s a new system, new ways to call plays. A new philosophy in what we are trying to accomplish as an offense. I will really do my best to be a great resource for him. I don’t know what the rules are yet, but hopefully as we get going on this virtually learning and installs with Coach Garrett, Daniel and I spending time on the phone to really talk about the ins and outs of what we are doing. I think as best we can, we are going to have to adapt and face these challenges just like everyone else in the league. Certainly, I remember that lockout season being a real challenge for me. I’ll do my best to help Daniel and make sure he is feeling as confident as he can and we as an offense are feeling as good as we can too.
Q: Did Coach Judge or Coach Garrett talk to you about how the quarterback room is going to be structured? You have Alex, who worked with Daniel last season. Are you guys competing directly or are you guys complementing each other? How is that working?
A: I did spend a lot of time talking to Coach Judge and talking to Coach Garrett. They seemed great over the phone. I’ve known Coach Garrett from playing against him the last six years. I really think his system is very QB friendly from watching it from afar, I’m excited to get going in that. I’m sure you guys all know the structure. I’m assuming Daniel is the starting quarterback, he was the sixth pick in the draft and he has a super bright future. That doesn’t just count out coming in and practicing hard and working hard in the classroom, and in the film room studying. I have sort of mentioned on another phone call earlier that for me I’ve been a backup and a starter. The way that I approach it is, number one, making sure that Daniel feels as comfortable as he can going into these games. Understanding and feeling good about the game plan and our preparation all week long so he can go out and play as best he can. I take pride in helping him feel that way and helping Coach Garrett. Being an old guy, you don’t get a lot of reps, but you have to do a lot of mental reps. The second part is the responsibility of being ready to play if something were to happen. You have to go in from the bench and play well and that’s expected, those two things. I’ve been a starter, and everyone wants to be a starter, but as a backup, it’s just as crucial to handle your business that way. I really feel confident that I bring value to this team and to that quarterback room. I think that approaching it that way is the right way. These challenges that we are facing right now with COVID-19 and having to learn online, it will be interesting. I think we will be alright.
Q: What is the key to being a good backup? Obviously you came in the league and wanted to play. What is the key to supporting a younger teammate and staying ready? Is there a key that you have that the Giants saw in you?
A: The one thing that Coach Judge and Coach Garrett told me is that we watched all your tape for 10 years and you have started a ton of games in this league. You also have been a backup and when you were called to come off the bench you have always stepped in and won the game and played well and played up to a standard. We value that and that’s why we want you to come be here. I think there are a lot of challenges in playing backup like I mentioned. You have to be ready to play and be able to watch tape, be disciplined, and learn because you are not going to get a lot of reps. I think more important than that is I look at it from a standpoint of what if I was to be a coach someday. I have played in a lot of different systems, my dad was my high school coach. I have been a water boy since I was three years old. I have been around the game and I love the game. Playing backup creates a lot of challenges and you may not play all year long. I backed up Kirk (Cousins) for two years and I didn’t take a snap. Some other seasons, I have played four or five games, it’s unique. I try to be another set of eyes, another set of ears, another encouraging voice and like a coach for whoever the starter is. I think it will help me if I want to make a transition someday to be a coach, to call plays. I want to understand and learn this system in a way that’s detailed, it’s structured and that I can call the game the way Jason would call the game. I think by doing it and by learning and understanding it, that really helps Daniel or whoever is playing. It would help me ultimately if I was called upon to play. I try to get creative with it, but I also know my role and what it entails. I couldn’t be more excited to come to a place where I don’t know a whole lot of people, but I love the game and I’m excited about the opportunity and the challenge. I’m just looking forward to when all this passes and getting up there and getting to work.
Q: You mentioned the challenges of learning the offense with Daniel and Alex. So much of the quarterback and receiver relationship is physical. You have to establish timing and stuff. As we are in these challenging times, how can you build that up with your receivers so when you do get to work out with them, you can hit the ground running?
A: I’m not real sure exactly how that’s going to work. When we do these Zoom live classes or installs I don’t know how it’s going to work, I have never used it. I’m hoping that there is some interaction between players. You are listening to your coach but maybe we can have interaction with the players or you can hop on a call with some of other guys. So you can ask, hey, how did feel about that or do you like the depth of that route, is that how you were taught. So you can go through a lot of different things with them. All 31 other teams are facing this same challenge. I think some teams who are going to continue in the same system maybe have a little bit of an advantage. I think the teams like us who have a new coach and a new system have a little bit of a disadvantage. That can’t be a crutch or an excuse either. We just have to figure out ways to get creative. (Make sure) The first time we can toss the ball around and run some plays we are all on the same page. Hopefully we can figure that out.
Q: There’s a possibility that for a lot of years here we could watch Daniel Jones and Dwayne Haskins go against each other. I’m curious what your thoughts were on Dwayne after seeing him up close for a year?
A: It was good. I think Dwayne has a ton of potential, just like Daniel. I think Daniel played a little bit more this year, so he probably has a little more experience. But both of those guys were highly sought after in the draft last year. They both had great college careers and they both have a ton of skill at playing the position. I know Dwayne is very talented throwing the football. It would be good. I get to play against the Redskins for at least this year, and we’ll see what happens. It should be fun. I’m excited to work with Daniel after having worked with Dwayne last year. I know he has a bright future. It’ll be fun games, for sure.
Q: Have you gotten a playbook?
A: We’re going to get going on Monday, as long as that is upheld. I just don’t know the rules. But I think that’s sort of the plan. We’ll dive into the playbook then. I think right now, everybody is just really focusing on the health and wellness of our country. I know the Giants specifically for the players, they’re in constant contact with us, making sure we have all the things we need from a health standpoint. But again, I think there’s a lot of uncertainty. I think Monday is kind of the day where we’re going to get all of that and get going.
Q: You talked a little bit about a possible future in coaching. Is that something you’re kind of hypothetical about, or is that what’s going to happen at some point?
A: I certainly don’t want to rule that out. I’ve been playing football for a long time and been around the game a long time, too. I think I would be a good coach. I’ve played in a lot of systems. I feel like I have a pretty good grasp and understanding of the game. So yeah, I don’t want to rule that out. I still think that I have a lot of football to be played left in me. It’s why I’m still going. But coaching intrigues me, yes. I think that could be in my future. I looked at this as an opportunity to go learn from Coach Judge, Coach Garrett, Jerry Schuplinski, our QB Coach, he’s been a part of… He’s coached Tom Brady and many other guys. I think there’s a lot of value in this place, in this organization, to really learn more football and I’m excited about that.
Q: Have you had a chance to talk to Jason Garrett at all about that? He obviously had a long NFL career, mostly as a backup, and sort of made that jump to coaching. Have you had a chance yet, or is that something that might happen down the road?
A: Yeah, I’ve had great conversations with Coach Garrett, and some about that, for sure. He certainly has done that. He played for a long time and he’s been a super successful head coach. I’m excited to learn from him. Not only his system and him coming back to calling plays this year, which he hadn’t done in a couple of years, but really, I mentioned it earlier on this call, there is value to playing for a coach that played quarterback, that played your position. There are little things that pop up, and he sees the field the same way we do and he understands. But he has an expectation of us to play at a high level and he knows how he wants his offense run. But there is a difference. Playing for Coach (Jay) Gruden, he played quarterback too. There is a familiarity there that he sort of understands what we see and how we play. I think there is benefit to that.
Q: Along those lines, how much value is there going back and looking at tapes of Jason Garrett’s system before he became the head coach, back when he was the offensive coordinator in Dallas, and just getting a feel for what he does in certain situations?
A: I think there certainly will be a time for that. I’m sure we’ll watch Cowboys offense tape during these installs and kind of down the road. I think right now, we’re just trying to get a good grasp of just the terminology, the protections, the formations, how we call the plays, all those things. Once you kind of soak that in, I do see a big value in watching those plays be executed versus different coverages or defenses or fronts. I’m sure that’s coming. I think right now it’s more just learning the foundations of what we’re trying to do.
Q: When you were around Alex Smith, I’m just curious because of his reputation as a leader and to some degree mentor, I’m wondering if there was anything from Alex in particular that you picked up, and if you’ll be particularly curious in terms of what the future holds for him?
A: First of all, I love Alex. He was a tremendous resource, a great leader, a good football player, and above that, he was just a great person. My two years with him I think were some of my most enjoyed years. It was the worst thing ever to see him go down and have the injury that he faced and kind of walk through that with him, and we’re still walking through that with him. I felt more confident than ever when he went down coming in, playing and leading our offense. I felt like I was playing at a really high level before I broke my leg as well. But we had a great working relationship. I definitely will take a lot of the things I learned from him as I move on to the Giants, as far as just the quarterback room, the help of the quarterback room, studying, different ways that he looked at tape, you can go down the list. I really valued my time with him. He’s one of my best friends. I certainly hope that he has a chance to play again if that’s what he wants. We’ll see what happens with that.
CONFERENCE CALL WITH TIGHT END LEVINE TOILOLO…
The following is the transcript from today’s media conference call with tight end Levine Toilolo, who the New York Giants signed on March 17th:
Q: Before signing with the Giants, did they give you any indication regarding what your role is going to be? Are you going to be primarily a blocker or are they looking to expand the role you had?
A: We didn’t talk too much about roles or anything like that? All I know is I’m just coming in to work my tail off and do whatever they ask me to do. Whatever I can do to help the team win, that’s what I’ll do.
Q: What did you learn last year about a team that can make a quick turnaround after a losing season and go all the way to the Super Bowl?
A: I think that’s hard to speak on since I wasn’t there the year before to compare the two different teams. Just from my time there, it’s really hard to say as far as what they did to turn it around. Obviously, I had great teammates and great coaches. Like you said, we had a great season. It’s hard for me to speak on the whole turnaround aspect.
Q: Kaden Smith played at Stanford, you played at Stanford. What is it about that school that just seems to produce such quality tight ends?
A: I think that’s one of the programs that allow you to do a little bit of everything as far as blocking and receiving being in a pro-style offense. I think that just kind of helps you develop your game in all different aspects. A lot of great tight ends come out of there like Zach Ertz and Coby Fleener that I got to be teammates with. It’s really a credit to the coaches there and obviously guys like Kaden that work hard at their craft.
Q: Last year you had to wait until May to sign with San Francisco. Were you surprised this process moved as quickly as it did with the Giants?
A: Yeah, like you said, with last year you never know what to expect. I was ready to be patient if need be. I think with how quick everything went this time around it was definitely a different process. I’m excited about this opportunity and to come to New York.
Q: Do you think the league is turning more and more into two tight end sets? Do you see tight ends in general taking on a much bigger role in the passing game as opposed to years ago when they were primarily blockers?
A: I think for me being a little biased, I always think the more tight ends on the field, the better. I think the tight end position is a unique one in terms of you can have so many different body types and different athletes out there. You can ask them to do a wide range of things. Whether that’s in the blocking game or the receiving game. Even nowadays, you see tight ends lining up in the backfield as kind of a fullback or H-Back types. I always enjoy watching all different tight ends. You see them in different places in the offense. The game is always changing, and it may not always be like that but the game changes throughout time. It’s definitely a fun time to be a tight end.
Q: Last year, you kind of blocked in a running back-by-committee situation. What do you think it will be like to block for a guy like Saquon Barkley? What do you know from him? How do you think you can maybe help him and his career?
A: I don’t know him personally. I’ve just been able to watch him. Just the athlete that he is is always exciting to watch. I’m definitely excited to be able to get out there and hopefully do whatever I can to kind of help him out. Like I said, I’m just excited to be there and like I said, do whatever I can to help the team. If that’s trying to open up a hole or whatever, then I’m just going to focus on how I can try to help him and help this offense.
Q: Where do you feel most comfortable as a tight end? Obviously, you’ve done in-line blocking, you’ve done some receiving. What about working out of the backfield?
A: I’m pretty comfortable wherever they need me. I’ve had different roles. In Atlanta, I’ve been in the backfield as far as whether it’s lead blocking or floating around. But like you said, I’ve been in-line, I’ve been flexed out a little bit. Obviously as a player, you’re always working to improve on all aspects of your game. Even though I may not have been out there a lot, I think obviously throughout the season and offseason, it’s definitely something that I stay working on. If the team needs me to go wherever, obviously, I’m open to that.
Q: You’ve been on two teams that have gone to Super Bowls. Were there any common traits or common denominators between those squads that you found?
A: Obviously, every team in the league works hard and stuff like that. For me, one of the biggest things that I can definitely point out from the two teams that were successful was just the bond between the players and teammates, and just how close everyone was in the building. Not just player to player, but even the players to coaches. Everyone was pretty tight. When you’re able to build those relationships off the field and you can kind of come together and you’re kind of playing for more than just yourself. You’re playing for your brother next to you and for your coaches and stuff like that. That’s something that people may not really be able to see on the outside, just kind of the relationships that you have and that you’re able to build, and how that can really translate to on the field.
Q: When you come so close, especially this past year with a team like the 49ers who are kind of viewed as an ascending team in the league, is it hard to leave in free agency when you guys got so close? Were there any talks about going back there and trying to make another run?
A: Any time you go to a new team, it’s definitely going to be different. I think that’s the same thing with any aspect in life. Whenever there’s change, it’s obviously going to be a little uncomfortable. But just from the relationship I had with those guys, obviously there’s lifelong friendships made every time you go to a team. But at the same time, I’m definitely excited for… obviously, I already know some of the guys with the Giants, Stanford guys and stuff like that. But not only that, I’m excited to be able to meet some of the new teammates that I have and be with this new coaching staff. I’m excited for what’s to come, and for what we’re going to be able to try to work together and try to do. Like I said, to be a part of this team and this new opportunity is definitely exciting. I’m looking forward to it.
Q: With everything that’s going on with the Coronavirus, how has that kind of shook up your offseason routine with working out, training and all that? Just how surreal is it to sign with a new team, but you’re not really able to meet up with any of your new teammates in person or anything like that?
A: Like you said, it’s definitely been a different process this offseason. But luckily, I was here in San Diego kind of settled. I’m lucky enough to have some equipment and stuff like that so I can still be working out and at least stay in shape. But like you said, not being able to meet up with the guys and like you said, kind of start building that relationship is definitely going to be different. But hopefully everyone is staying safe. We’re hoping that everyone will be healthy and this will all be over soon. But until then, all I can do is try to stay in shape and stay ready for once we get the call.