Quarterbacks Coach Mike Sullivan
August 5, 2015
Q: Last summer with Eli there was an emphasis on footwork. Is there something this year that there is an emphasis on mechanically or is it still the footwork?
A: It always starts with the footwork but I think it is just really having the reads, having the concepts become second nature and having that level of comfort and confidence that the player is going to be where we want them to be. That he is going to trust his feet, as we like to say, in terms of the timing of the system and nothing beats experience. There are no shortcuts, there is no way to kind of go around that and you’ve got a true professional like Eli who really buys into doing all the little things that really makes it easier to improve.
Q: What else can be done besides reps to get that done and to get that familiarity?
A: Certainty the reps out on the field and then the things that we can teach in the classroom. There is great dialogue that we have in our meeting room and certainly a guy with his experience and his background…and there is a couple of them in terms of being able to say anything [and] ask anything. Those quarterback meetings…Ben (McAdoo) is certainly heavily involved in those meetings and it’s like another coaching meeting, so it is a lot of fun. Between the execution on the practice field, that preparation, what we do in the meeting room and then him taking care of his body, which he has done a tremendous job, of I think that we will be ready to go.
Q: How is your comfort level with the offense and is it odd that the guy you are trying to help and teach knows more of it than you do?
A: It has been exhilarating. I just can’t say enough about working with Ben McAdoo, what a detail-oriented, great teacher, very comfortable relationship and it is exciting. There [are] so many concepts about this scheme and I think Eli has really bought in and it has been a lot of fun to work with him. We didn’t really have to break through any of those barriers as far as establishing who we are and what we are about. We have a little history together so that has made it a lot easier so it has been a lot of fun.
Q: Does he have more options now? You look around at the talent level. Are his choices greater?
A: I think there [are] a lot of players that we are counting on. You look at certainly the receivers; Victor Cruz who is coming back and looking strong, Odell Beckham and Larry Donnell and so many of the players and younger guys, the addition of Shane Vereen out of the backfield. [It is] definitely nice to have those so he has been trying to spread the ball around and work on different reads, if you will, and that is certainly [a good thing].
Q: What have you seen from Ryan Nassib so far?
A: I think Ryan is a very, very hard worker [and] very competitive. I mean he is a gym rat, excellent…you talk about knowledge of the system, that guy, he is as sharp as a tack. He is someone from a mobility standpoint, the ability to extend plays and if he has to scramble, he has that as an asset and he is getting better [with] some of the things with his release and vantage point and tightening that up and getting the ball out of his hands faster. He has been doing that, so we have been very pleased working with him and I am excited to see what he does here in the preseason.
Q: Is that the emphasis with him? Getting the ball out faster?
A: I think there is a ton of areas of emphasis and he still has to get the, “Be ready to go at a moments notice.” That is the mindset and that is the way he prepares, which is great. He is not in the mode of, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m in grad school.’ He prepares as though he is going to be called upon and takes it up [notch] in that regard. I think that whether it is footwork or tightening up his release or any little, tiny thing, he is looking to improve everything, so I wouldn’t just limit it to that one area. He is looking to get better in all areas.
Q: You guys always had a veteran behind Eli during your first time here. I know this is a new look at Ryan but do you have any sense of whether if anything happened to Eli he could step in and get the job done for a little while?
A: Yeah, you know you are always hoping that your backup quarterback, if called upon, is ready to win, is ready to go ahead and do the things that are going to help you be successful, and certainly he is the backup quarterback for a reason because there are certain things he might not be able to do. [However], certainly from the standpoint of a person who would be competitive, who would be prepared, would work very hard and give everything he has, we have great confidence that he will continue to develop and be ready to go if he is called upon?
Q: How has being an offensive coordinator made you a better coach?
A: You know, it is interesting to see when you have the perspective of the entire operation: the run game, the pass game, the protections. I certainly can appreciate the responsibility and the pressure that Ben is under and having gone through that, I kind of try and find different areas and ways to make his job easier, to try to have a perspective of some of the bigger picture things, of lessons I learned and mistakes that I made, things that worked well and just to focus on what can I do, especially from the quarterback’s standpoint, to help him to be at his best so it helps the rest of the offense flow smoothly.
Q: With Tom Coughin, it always comes up every year whether the game has passed him by or if he is up with the latest things. How have you seen him evolve as a coach and keep up with the times and what is your opinion about that?
A: I think Coach Coughlin certainly has core values, he is a man of great integrity and honor and the way his style of football…the discipline, the belief in team above self that has not changed. He has in a lot of ways tried to do various thing to…whether it is the music we’ve got at stretch or just some of the various things behind the scenes that I don’t necessarily want to get into, but he has definitely been on the cutting edge and you look at just the openness of having the veteran quarterback and now with the new system and all that is going on there, I think he is always looking to evolve and grow. It stresses to us as coaches that the day you stop learning, the day you are so set in your ways, is the day that it is time to move on, so he has been very energized and it has just been a thrill for me to be back.
Q: Did you ever you think six or eight years ago that you would see a Giants practice with Tom Coughlin with music on the field and big guys catching punts?
A: It has been great and there is more to come. We have a few more things in store, so it should be a lot of fun.
Q: What about your year as a consultant. Was that sort of a year off?
A: It was an opportunity, first and foremost, to reconnect with my family and spend more time with my daughters, and I spent the time to work with Derek Carr to help get him ready for the draft, which was a lot of fun. Of course, David’s younger brother, went out to California and helped train him and work out with him and I was pleased with the progress he has made and wish him well as long as we don’t play him. I did some online work and that just gave me a chance really to take a step back and without all the pressure, to see the games it is just amazing. There is so many…when you take that vantage point, you can see some of the mistakes that are made and of course you fill the spiral notebook with ideas and it is not necessarily X’s and O’s as much as just ideas and thoughts of how you can be better prepared should you get another opportunity. I feel very fortunate to have a chance to be back and not just back but to come back home with big blue.
Q: Do you still have that book?
A: Oh, yes. My manifesto, my lessons learned and that type of thing.
Q: The goal for Eli last year was 70% completion rate, which he hasn’t really backed off when you ask him about it. Is that just something that is put out there as something to shoot for or is that an attainable goal?
A: Eli has always been very goal oriented. He has always been someone that has had high expectations for himself and I would say this, he is certainly going to do everything and has been and will continue to do everything possible to achieve those goals that are going to help us win. I think that it comes down to however many passes we need to win, that is what we are going to want to complete. However many big plays or touchdowns or adjustments in the run game or protections or whatever needs to be done, he is going to do. I don’t know if there is any set number or those certain indicators that help you win. We all know that if you protect the football, if you are able to have a certain amount of yards you are able to rush for or efficiency on third down or red zone or QB rating, those are all objectives but ultimately it just comes down to winning and I think that is all that really Eli cares about. In fact, I know that is all he cares about.
Q: How much does this offense make it reasonable to think that number can be realistically attainable?
A: I think there are components of the offense where we are looking for completions and trying to get the ball out of his hands and if there is a completion there, we are going to take it. Heck, when you’ve got a guy like Odell Beckham Jr., Victor Cruz, Shane Vereen and some of these guys that can do a lot of damage…a 70-yard gain is a 70-yard gain whether the ball is in the air for 50 or one yard and we had a great run, so whatever it takes.