SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR CHRIS HORTON
Opening statement:"Good to see everyone today. Just a quick little recap of the [Bengals] game; I thought our guys came out, played hard, played well. [There were] a couple little things that we're still going to get detailed out; we've been working on this week. I thought our specialists were outstanding throughout the course of the game, just in every facet of it. All three of the guys played really well.
"Moving forward to this week, our focus is the same this week, it's to get out and just try to play our best game, just kind of keep stacking the kind of games that we want to stack and play just to the level on which we want to see us playing at. Questions?"
K Justin Tucker said after the game that he isn't involved in the discussion of where his field goal range is. Do you have a field goal range set in your mind, or does it change game by game? _(Jamison Hensley) _"It's definitely a game-by-game situation. When you sit down, and you consult with [special teams coach] Randy [Brown] throughout the course of the game about where he thinks the line is, and then we kind of just work from there. Those things could change depending on weather. We might have a line in mind, and then some winds, or some rains might kick it, and then those lines will change. So, we always kind of go into it with a plan, an idea, and we just kind of work from there."
Is there a reason that K Justin Tucker isn't involved in those discussions? _(Cordell Woodland) _"I think it's just kind of the way we kind of go about it. His job is, when we put him out there, to kick the ball straight and put it through the uprights. That's been his only goal; I don't think he cares probably where we say the line is. When the game is on the line, I think we all know [Justin] Tucker; he's going to want a shot at an opportunity. So, we kind of just roll with it."
K Justin Tucker talked about P Jordan Stout's game-winning hold. What have you seen from Stout as a holder as he has progressed? _(Ryan Mink) _"Jordan [Stout] has done a great job. When he first got in, there were some things that we had to teach him, and there were some things that he's learned along the way. Every day, he's still continuing to grow. I think what he did and what he showed on Sunday night, he was just outstanding. He was up for the challenge. His job is to catch that snap, put it down over the spot, and then let's roll. He did just that."
There was a Tweet from an NFL Analytics guy that said that K Justin Tucker's game-winning kick was so down the middle that it would have been good if the uprights were only a few feet apart. Is information like that useful as an aggregate, or is it binary – you either make it or you don't? (Jonas Shaffer) "I think it's always, for us, you want to kick a straight ball. I think I always hear [special teams coach] Randy [Brown] say, 'Never give up the uprights, no matter what.' So, I think for Justin [Tucker], it's kick a straight ball, kick a good ball, and that thing should go in."
Would you want to shrink the uprights if kicks became worth more points? (Ryan Mink) _"(laughter)_I don't know; I'd have to ask Justin that. I would have to see what he thinks about that."
Have you had discussions with head coach John Harbaugh or anyone else about WR Devin Duvernay's role on offense increasing and affecting his availability for special teams? _(Jeff Zrebiec) _"That's a fair question. I think we're always having discussions on and off throughout the course of the week, throughout the course of the game about a guy's role. I think if you ask Devin [Duvernay], he probably doesn't want to come from back there, but as we continue to go on through this process, if we have to take him from back there, then that's what we have to do for the sake of really, really helping the team. He's valuable to the offense, he's made himself valuable to the offense. He's very valuable to us in what he does, so we're going to use him as we see fit."
The game on Sunday was the Bengals' first kickoff return of the season. How hard is it to prepare for teams who haven't returned many kickoffs as touchbacks have become more prevalent? _(Kyle Barber) _"I think for us, it's more of, they have a process, they have a scheme, they have certain schemes that they run. I think if they want to bring a ball out, they'll bring a ball out. It has to be the right ball; I think we're seeing that across the league. The ball has to be short of the goal line; some guys don't typically want to bring the ball out of the end zone, just because of the rules and things like that. It was [Cincinnati's] first one, and I think they got the ball out to the 29 [-yard line]; it was a 29-yard return against us. For us, it gives us an opportunity to kind of look at it and say, 'OK, how can we make this better?' As the year goes on, we're going to have to cover more kicks because of the weather. We might as well just continue to let our guys go out there and try to stone people."
When you have a player who is as good as K Justin Tucker, do you have to find new ways to challenge them? (Cordell Woodland)"I don't think you need to find new ways to challenge him; I think he's such a good player that he'll find those ways himself. He'll do things out in practice that you might sit back as a coach and be like, 'What are you doing?' So, he'll do those things himself. For us, it's just to try to make sure we continue to coach him and continue to have this mindset of, 'You just need to continue to try to be the best player you can be.'"
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MIKE MACDONALD
Opening Statement: "Alright, good to see everybody. Obviously, great to get another win. And just really, the big challenge this week is everybody is talking about how we're just trying to stack wins and finish games. So, so far so good on the week of prep, and onward we go."
What type of challenges does the Giants' offense present? (Cordell Woodland)"Yes, it's a different style than we've played, really, so far this year. They do a great job of getting [No.] 26 [Saquon Barkley] in situations where he can go do his thing. And then when you overcommit to the run, they've got a really good play-action pass game and movement game that can make you pay if you're not detailed enough. So, obviously, we've got to handle Saquon [Barkley] and his ability and get 11 hats to the ball. We're saying all week, really, everybody is at the point of attack this week. And then the quarterback [Daniel] Jones does a nice job off the play-action stuff and the movements, where he can throw on the intermediate game, and they can scheme some guys open down the field. So, they do a good job."
I don't want to use the word concerned, but would you like to see a stouter run defense – for lack of a better word? Is there too much available for opposing teams in the run game so far? (Jeff Zrebiec)"When you watch the tape – take the stats out of it – there are definitely plays that we need to play better at each individual position, and I think if you asked each guy, they'd be the first to tell you. But that goes for the whole defense and really any situation – you're always just trying to chase perfection. I'm not sure of the stats, per se, but just overall effort is there, but we want to play some things better for sure. And a lot of times, we're in different types of defenses, where we're willing to give up a run here or there. But for the part, just for like the whole defense, we're trying to chase perfection with it."
CB Marcus Peters – between the way he reads the game and the amount of emotional intensity he brings to it, is he one of the more unique players that you've coached? (Childs Walker)"Yes, unique is one way to put it. I love 'MP' [Marcus Peters]. He's awesome in the meeting rooms; he sits right here, right in front of me when we're talking to the team, and he brings great energy, like you said. He's such a great competitor. He just loves being out there and accepts the challenge and brings great energy to the sideline. And shoot, I think his football IQ is second to none, as well. I'm glad he's with us. I'm glad he's with us. We've had a lot of great times, and he's made, obviously, some phenomenal plays to help us win a lot of games around here. So, yes, I'd say unique is one way to put it, for sure."
What did you think of CB Marcus Peters' gold cleats last week? (Jonas Shaffer)"Yes, he [Marcus Peters] was looking fresh out there." (laughter)
Is QB Tyler Huntley a mobile enough quarterback for you guys to put him there on scout team and have him replicate the kind of stuff that QB Daniel Jones can do? Or is that a shared responsibility with maybe some of the faster guys on the team? (Jonas Shaffer)"Yes, our scout guys do a great job. Sometimes you want the ball out on a certain cadence; sometimes you're trying to design some things where you're testing the pass rush, you're testing the plaster, you're testing the downfield – him trying to buy time [and] things like that. So, really, whoever we play, those guys do a great job of giving them what we want and the looks we want, and they're great quarterbacks. So, they do a good job."
Can you talk about the lessons learned from Giants defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale during your time together? (Ryan Mink)"Man, there's a lot. Shoot, we had a lot of good times together, man – a lot of great defenses that we've worked together on. And obviously, he spearheaded the charge, really 2018-20, I suppose. And then we worked together … I was his assistant in 2015, when I was with the inside backers. So, shoot, there's so many. Big takeaways are just constant open communication with the guys; keeping it real, as he likes to say; his aggressive mindset – I definitely take that away from him. And then, shoot … That's probably it right now – the big ones – but yes, a lot, a lot of positives."
How satisfied were you, after some early season big plays allowed in the pass, to bottle up the Bengals' passing attack in the manner in which you did, in a time when you had to have it? (Pete Gilbert)"Yes, that's a big challenge. Obviously, [Cincinnati is] a great offense, and we felt like in order for us to win the game, we had to eliminate those type of plays. And so, the guys spearheaded that challenge and really responded, so I'm proud of the way the guys played and really just how they attacked their offense. That's a dangerous offense, and if you take on guy away, they're always going to have another guy and another guy, so there's always going to be something on the play that is a quote-unquote weakness, and if they find it, you've got to be able to get them on the ground, and the guys did a nice job of that."
You had on a big smile yesterday when you were talking to OLBs Tyus Bowser and David Ojabo. How exciting is it to have those two guys back on the practice squad? (Kevin Richardson)"Yes, I was jacked to see them out there with a jersey on and helmet and everything. Obviously, Tyus [Bowser] and then the road that he's … what he's haven gone through since the last game of the season and the work that he's put in. And then, obviously, [David] Ojabo and his situation [tearing his Achilles during his March Pro Day] – it's not easy … Man, it's such a tough injury to come back from, and mentally just as much as physically – just the daily grind and getting to trust it and to believe in it and to believe in the work that you're putting in. There's a lot of work behind the scenes, so to see it in the flesh kind of come to fruition like that, I can't help but just be proud of those guys and happy for them that they're getting an opportunity to go play again. So, yes, that was a cool moment."
How challenging has it been to replace OLB Tyus Bowser's skillset, just knowing that he can rush the passer and drop into coverage as much as he has in the past, and now it's been a committee approach to filling that void? (Luke Jones)"Yes, sure, that's a great point. Any time anybody goes down, there's no way you can replace that guy, because they're just so … Every guy has some unique skillset that they can bring to the table. So, Tyus [Bowser] is no different; Marcus Williams is no different than that. So, yes, it's by committee, but Tyus is such an elite, versatile player. He rushes at a high level; he drops at a high level. Shoot, he covers tight ends. He does it all, so it's something that we had to … We changed it up a little bit, because he's not out there, but when he comes back, we'll take advantage of those things that he can do."
What have you thought about S Kyle Hamilton's development to this point in the season? And with S Marcus Williams going down, is he somebody who you feel like is going to have to carry a little bit more of the load? (Cordell Woodland)"The thing with Kyle [Hamilton] that I appreciate about him is he went through some adversity there at the beginning, and his role kind of changed and evolved over the last three or four games. But [he's] just kind of straight ahead, knows the gameplan every week, accepts his role, and, 'Let's roll.' And now his role is starting to expand. So, the way he's communicated and executed during practice has been what we expect. So, we expect him to go out and do it on Sunday, and I think he'd tell you the same thing."
You were very clear when you got hired here that you weren't going to change everything. Obviously, this defense was going to have your imprint on it. Are you happy so far? Obviously, you understand it wasn't going to be a one-week thing, but are you happy so far with how the team has been implemented and how the defense has sort of come together, especially these last couple of weeks? (Jeff Zrebiec)"Yes, the big message to the guys is where we're going and trajectory. Where we're at right now is not where we want to be – everyone can tell you that. But what matters is how we play on a week-to-week basis and how we're playing at the end, and if we're in it, how we play throughout the playoffs. So, am I happy with it? I'd say I'm not satisfied, and I think we're on the right trajectory. But I think everyone would agree we're not where we want to be right now. But what matters is where we're going."
ILB Patrick Queen got a lot of props for the interception he made against the Bengals. From the beginning of the season to now, what have you seen from him? (Cliff Brown)"Yes, I think when 'PQ' is at his best, he just does his job, and the plays will come to him. He has such a great skillset; he's so explosive; he's a smart guy. Sometimes he overplays some things; I think that's when he's gotten in trouble in the past. So, the big message to him is, 'Hey man, just go do your job. The plays will come to you. And then when the ball does hit you in the hands, go ahead and catch it.' So, we've made a stride there. Obviously, [I'm] very happy for him to make that play. And that's something we've been stressing – that particular defense versus that particular play. That's something that [inside linebackers coach] Zach [Orr] has been working with the guys [on] for a long time, and they're obviously in the right spot. So, I'm proud of him, but we're not finished with him yet. We want him to keep working."
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR GREG ROMAN
Opening statement:"How's everyone doing today? Anyone going to make it to the Mount Saint Joe's - McDonogh game Saturday, or are you guys going to be up in Jersey? (Reporter: "I'll be up in Jersey.")Up in Jersey. (laughter)We'll be on the train, so go MSJ. Any questions?"
You are facing a familiar face in Giants defensive coordinator Don Martindale. Do you have an over-under on the number of blitzes you'll face? (Jamison Hensley) "You're going to have to ask 'Wink' [Don Martindale]. 'Wink' is a great defensive coach; they'll playing at a high level really in all phases. They have a good winning formula right now, and when you watch them on film, their D-line is really talented, they have a bunch of No. 1 picks up there. The linebackers are flying around, and the secondary – they've had some injuries – but when you look at the results, they're keeping points down, they're really good in the situational areas. So, we have our work cut out for us. I think everyone is dialed in. I'm looking forward to the challenge."
When you face someone who you know as well as you know Giants defensive coordinator Don Martindale, do you find yourself trying to reinvent what you do well to trick them? (Jeff Zrebiec) "Yes, I think you can overthink that. This is not the first time I've coached against somebody [I coached with]; I think back to last year. But, [if] you overthink it, it's all about the players, putting them in the right positions, and the players are going to be the ones who decide what happens, the result. You really just turn on the film and you can kind of see the personality their defense has. It's aggressive, play hard, and they're getting the results right now. I think you have to be careful to try to overthink that stuff because you can end up in a room of never ending mirrors."
Practice is obviously much different than a game, but does it feel like you have kind of coached against him previously? (Ryan Mink) "Not really. In practice, we're going through our installation, they're going through their installation. You get familiarity just by the comradery of being on the staff together and in meetings and whatnot, but we're a different team than we were. That's obviously a different unit; his schemes have changed a little bit. He has everything that you can do on defense, and they're doing a good job with it."
When you watch the Giants on film, do you see a lot of the same tendencies from defensive coordinator Don Martindale? (Cordell Woodland) "You see the personality for sure. You see some of the schemes. Football is football; there's 11 guys out there. They're going to move the shells around, [they] do a nice job with that, but yes, you can see some similarities. It's a different situation, different players, different ingredients. So, the soup's going to taste different."
What have you seen from QB Lamar Jackson under pressure this year, facing the blitz, and has it been any different? (Jamison Hensley) "How are the stats looking against blitz? So far so good. Every week is different; every challenge is different. You certainly can't rest on your laurels. We have a lot of work to do, and we're trying to get ready to win this game against the Giants, but at the same time it's early in the year and we're really trying to improve. We're trying to get better; we're trying to incrementally get better running the ball, pass protection, throwing the ball, route running, all those different things. So, your game-planning, but you're also really coaching guys on the fundamentals and details of things. To your question, again blitz, you have to be in the moment, and we have to be on point. Heavy blitz is trying to force a quick outcome, and you want that outcome in your favor, and you need to be prepared. We're working hard on it; we've been working hard on it all year. We've been seeing quite a bit of it this year at times, too, so hopefully we're up to the challenge."
How pleased were you with how WR Devin Duvernay handled more of a hybrid role and got some carries in the last game? (Luke Jones) "'Duv' [Devin Duvernay] is really coming into his own. When we went up to New England, I grabbed him in the locker room and I said, 'How much have you come along since the last time we were here?' Remember we played up there in the Nor'easter monsoon? It hit my brain of just how far he's come, and he's still doing this (gestures upwards). [I'm] really proud of what he's doing, excited for him, and we're really, as I said, we're definitely expanding his portfolio in terms of what we're asking him to do and different things we can do with him. So, he's doing a great job. He got some carries. [I'm] really happy to see J.K. [Dobbins], really felt like he took a huge step forward last week with his running style, where he's at. The one play where he broke like three tackles and got us the first down, that's the J.K. Dobbins that we're accustomed to seeing, so that was great. So, we have some guys. Ronnie [Stanley], Nick [Boyle], J.K., we're kind of bringing along. Gus [Edwards], Gus, he's looking great. So, we're really excited."
Speaking of T Ronnie Stanley, how do you assess what you saw? (Pete Gilbert) "Really good, really good. He looks just like he did right before that unfortunate injury. He's coming along; he'll obviously play more. I'm not going to give you the snap count number, but he's going to play more. (laughter) We just hope that he can continue to trend in that direction. He's a very talented guy, very valuable to us. It can kind of change the way we leverage things a little bit when he's playing."
Did WR Devin Duvernay answer your question about how far he's come, or was it more rhetorical? (Jonas Shaffer) "No, he thought about it, and he was like, 'You know what, yes,' because he's starting to appear like he's a vet, like a veteran receiver, and special teamer and Swiss Army knife. So, he's really a confident guy, and it's great to see. That's what you want."
With T Ronnie Stanley and T Patrick Mekari alternating snaps, did that affect how you called plays at all? (Cordell Woodland) "Not really. I thought Pat [Mekari] did a great job. I'm certainly going to call things differently a little bit, but we really didn't have to. I thought the guys really did a great job up front last week. There was some precision stuff going on, and we just have to keep building on that; we're definitely not where we're going to be. We understand that, and I really love how guys are embracing that climb up the mountain. I think we'll just continue to evolve as we go."
RB J.K. DOBBINS
On the ability to break tackles: "That was just natural, that was just natural. That was my God-given ability. I didn't really think about it. I saw [Cincinnati Bengals Sam Hubbard] … He was my old college teammate, too, you know that, right? So, I've been waiting on that. Because him and guys like [Washington Commanders] Chase Young, and those guys, we would always go back and forth, like, 'If I were to play against you, I would do this, and I would do that.' It was good to do that. I've just got to keep building on that and show that I can keep doing that."
On does that let himself know that he's back healthy again: "Oh yes, it's very important, like you said. It lets me know that my knee is ready, I'm ready. [I] keep waiting on my time."
On not getting the amount of carries you once did prior to his injury: "It's funny that you say that. I've never had an [NFL] game where I had more than 15 carries, throughout my whole career. It's me being patient. Whether it's the organization protecting me and being really cautious – which I really appreciate. Because I can be somewhere where they don't care about me. But they do here. And sometimes, it can be hard as an athlete and the competitor that I am, because I want to be the best. I've just got to keep being patient and keep working hard. And when my number is called, just do what I do."
On if it is hard to be patient in that regard: "Yes – one of the hardest things for me. Because my whole career, I've been able to work my tail off to get the carries and get the workload and be that guy that my teammates look up to. Like, 'Hey, we know he's going to make that play. We know we can look at him and he's going to get 30, 20, whatever. But it's tough not to do that now, especially because I know … A lot of people don't know how hard I worked to get back on the field even. So, I just want to showcase the hard work I've been through [and] that I'm doing. But it's hard. It's super hard."
On if he tried to lobby to play on the final drive: (laughter)"Well, you know I didn't play the whole fourth quarter. No, because I just let the coaches do what they … As long as we win, I'm fine – that's what it's all about. We've got Lamar [Jackson], and he carried the team on that drive. And it hurt not being out there with him, but I've just got to be patient."
On what it's like to get ready for the Giants' defense: "Yes, we're trying to treat it like it's another game, but we know those guys know us, and we know that the players know us, and we've got to work really hard, because we know 'Wink' [Giants defensive coordinator Don Martindale] is going to bring it. His players are going to bring it. We know what he's about. We know he's tough, and so, his players are going to be tough, and we've got to come with our mindset. We're on the road, too, so we've got to come with a mindset that it's us against the world. And I think me and my teammates, we're going to do that."
On what he thinks he'll have to show the coaching staff to prove that he feels as good as he says he does: "I've just got to keep performing, keep performing. Whenever they want to let me out [of] the cage, it'll be the right time, and I trust them. As long as we keep winning, I'm fine."
On his style of running being more patient the last few games:"Yes, it's just my style. I've always been a patient runner. Sometimes it requires me to not be patient and just hit it, but I've aways been a patient runner. As the game goes on, that's why it's so hard for me not being able to play late in the game, because as the game goes on, I get better. I feel like that, but who knows. It's a process, and like I said, I'm grateful that the organization is being careful with me."