Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan
June 15, 2016
Q: I know Victor Cruz didn’t do much, but to get him back there… how does he look? Were you able to get a read on him?
A: Victor has done a great job, being unable to participate, in terms of his focus in the meetings and being able to stay attune with what we’re doing. I know he was excited to get back out there. It’s good to see him. He didn’t miss a beat with regard to assignments, and so it’s just a matter of us doing all things we need to do to make sure he’s in the best position to be healthy and be ready and come and help us be the best that we can possibly be in training camp.
Q: Does he have a big gap to catch up with or get back with Eli, or does the fact that he played in this offense with Eli make it maybe not as big of a learning curve or re-learning curve?
A: I think for all of the receivers the critical component is that timing. So much of the offense is geared around timing and rhythm with the footwork of the quarterback and how it coordinates with the protection and the routes and so forth. Even Odell, even guys who have a lot of time on task in the system, you know they need that work, and Victor is no exception. But I think from the standpoint of paying attention in the meetings and really asking good questions and being focused and being aware of his assignments, the timing component may be there, but I think it’s there really for all the guys for all of us… but I think he’ll be ready to roll in terms of knowing what to do.
Q: In terms of the running back situation, has any clarity been established? Has anyone stood out to you during this process?
A: When you look at the running back situation, unfortunately, Orleans [Darkwa] has not been able to participate this spring, and of course Paul Perkins— being at UCLA— kind of hard to really see exactly where he’s at, you know being limited. And so we have Andre [Williams] and Rashad [Jennings] and, of course, Shane Vereen who have been able to do the things that we like them to do. Rashad has picked up right where he left off— he’s had good reads, he’s been very decisive, he’s improved his pass protection, and really he’s improved his receiving ability. I think Andre, a little bit lighter, is hitting the holes better and we want to see where he progresses once we get into training camp. Shane is a dynamic pass receiver, and we’ve done some things offensively to try and pinpoint him or target him, if you will, to get him the football. And then Bobby Rainey is a young man to keep an eye on. He’s done a lot of good things both from a running standpoint— he has good vision, good acceleration— and he’s an excellent receiver, so it gives us some good problems to have in terms of saying who’s going to be the individual or individuals who are going to carry the football.
Q: How far behind is [Paul] Perkins?
A: You know, there’s no substitute for the reps. I know there was communication— you try to coach him up as best you can while he’s finishing school in California— but obviously if guys could just get it off of the film or off of the book, then I wouldn’t have a job… so he needs to be out there and get those reps. And he’s a young man that we’re very excited about— glad that he’s here, glad that he’s a member of the Giants— he just needs to get those reps and it’ll be great to have him go full-speed ahead for us in training camp.
Q: Both Victor and Odell raved about what they’ve seen from Sterling Shepard— are you similarly impressed or do you have to take a bit of a more critical eye as a coach?
A: I always have critical eyes as a coach. But Sterling, in all seriousness, is a young man that has demonstrated a suddenness, an explosiveness, an ability to make contested catches, to separate from defenders, and something else that’s jumped out is we’ve thrown an awful lot at him and as we’ve gone through the later OTAs and through the minicamp we’re giving him more repetitions with Eli and holding him to a high standard. And the thing is, he’s a rookie, he’s making mistakes, but he doesn’t make a lot of the same mistakes. He tends to be a quick study, and so I think that I’m excited where he’s headed and glad that he’s here.
Q: What have you seen from Andre Williams? Is there anything that you guys maybe have to be mindful of to get him going after last year?
A: That’s hard to say, really, going in the spring where we certainly are looking at aiming points, footwork, what type of detail there is, what type of finish there may be on a carry. But in terms of to really evaluate where is he at right now compared to where he was at during the season, I think until we get into those full contact padded practices and until you get the chance to see the preseason games… I do know he has lost some weight. He does look quicker. He’s worked very, very hard, but again there’s a lot of young men in that room and it’s going to be a very good competition. I’m excited for us— it’s a blessing for us as coaches to see how it’s going to pan out.
Q: Was that weight loss recommended by the team or did he do that on his own?
A: I don’t know. You’ll have to ask him. I’m not aware of any recommendation… I just, I know that he wanted to… he had a… he’s a new father, he’s got a new baby and wants to make sure he’s ready to be at his best. I’m happy for him that he’s working hard to help us out.
Q: Will Johnson seems to be like a Swiss Army Knife type of guy for the offense. What can he bring to the offense with what you want to do in terms…
A: There’s a lot of versatility— asking about Will Johnson— and the fact that he’s done some things in line as a tight end. He’s done some things moving into the backfield. You know, the more versatile our tight ends can be, that really helps our offense, whether they’re able to stretch the field vertically and do things in the passing game. I would love for them to be able to move around and be smart enough to know where to insert and fit in the run game, and certainly pass protection is a big part of that, and he is a young man that is picking things up. There’s been a learning curve— there’s been some mistakes— there’s been corrections, and there’s been more mistakes, and then there’s different corrections, but he’s getting better and we’re definitely glad he’s here.
Q: One of the young receivers, Roger Lewis— what do you see from him? Has he shown you anything?
A: Yes, he has. Roger Lewis is a young man from Bowling Green that has come in and shown an ability to make the tough catches. He separates, he competes well. He’s made some mistakes, like they all do just coming in— there’s a big huge learning curve from the system he was in in college to what he’s asked to do here. But coach Adam Henry, our receivers coach, does a phenomenal job with all the receivers and not just teaching the fundamentals but also the scheme and trying to break it down into concepts they can understand. We’ve seen some good things from Roger and I’m excited to have him in the mix.
Q: How would you describe Coach McAdoo’s managerial style? What have you noticed?
A: Just a tremendous, tremendous detailed and organized individual. He’s someone that has been very helpful to me on a personal level. Last year coming in as a quarterbacks coach, working hand in hand with him as we worked through the season and working on the game plan and so forth, and as he’s stepped up as the head coach, he’s brought that same level of commitment and focus— the detail, the organization— and he still has that sense of humor, and there’s just great energy. I think the players have responded well. He’s very receptive to the coaching staff. I think every one of us coaches are just thrilled and excited and honored and grateful for the opportunity to be on the staff.
Q: Is that a lot like Coughlin with the detail oriented…
A: Yes, absolutely. Coach Coughlin was very detail oriented as well. I think Ben said it himself— he can’t be Coach Coughlin— he has to be himself in the same way that I can’t be Ben, I have to be myself. And I think he’s maintained his own personality but certainly playing to his strengths as someone that really motivates not just the players but the assistant coaches as well.
Q: I know you can’t tell until you put the pads on, but with the offensive line you have your starting five right now. What about the depth? There were some questions— it looks like tackle is a little thin right now— is anybody kind of jumping out as far as his technique and understanding of what you guys are trying to do?
A: You hit the nail on the head as far as certainly the pads. But Mike Solari, Lunda Wells— our two offensive line coaches— they have done a great job with that unit and they’ve responded to, in particular, some of the small things. The things that you really don’t see— if the footwork is off, if the pad level, if the hand placement isn’t where it needs to be— that might not show up here in the spring in shorts, but it’s going to be magnified in the fall. And so we are seeing some of those things improve. The group is sticking together. There is a camaraderie, which is good to see. Guys are competing… and yes, Bobby Hart would come to mind as someone that has responded well and has shown some improvement and has really been receptive to what we’re trying to accomplish this spring
Q: We saw Matt LaCosse as a guy who ran with the 1’s a lot this spring— what was it about him that helped him earn that or that you saw that got him that opportunity?
A: Matt is a guy who— it was mentioned earlier about the versatility— but he was able to know his assignments, and that’s a tough position in this offense. We ask the tight ends to do an awful lot— they’re kind of like Atlas— you know, they’ve got the world on their shoulders there with what we’re trying to do schematically. So he knew his assignments and was making some plays— he was able to catch the ball, he was able to separate. There were some adjustments that Eli made and he was able to get them. And he had a toughness and a willingness to fit and use his hands and have good pad level, if you will— again, I hate to say pad level when we’re not in pads but you know what I’m getting at— that warranted that, so it was disappointing and frustrating that he had the injury there, but hopefully he’ll be back and will be in the mix of things in training camp.
Q: Can you talk about how Odell is developing as a leader among the wide receivers and really among the offense?
A: Odell is a special, special player, someone that is a dynamic receiver, and just by that talent guys are going to look up to him. When you see some of the interactions— particularly with some of the younger receivers— but even with some of the other players, just from an encouraging standpoint and kind of pulling them aside and giving them a few pointers. And I think just being a leader by example— there’s nobody that practices harder, competes harder in practice than Odell. So that’s not just being a good leader by example, but he’s also taken some of those younger guys under his belt and that will certainly help us.
Q: You were calling some plays today— has that ever been decided who’s going to call the plays this year?
A: So you’re the one that gave that young man the $100 at the Giants town hall… no, there was a cute story with a young man asking who was going to call the plays… but through the course of the spring, we’ve had various phases where I’ve called it or Ben has called it. We’re still in that process. Nothing has really changed since the last time we talked about it, and we’re still trying to get a sense of what’s going to be best for us and getting to know each other. At the end of the day, we’re going to do what is going to help us win, and there will be 100 percent support from me no matter what happens, and I think Ben will feel the same way, and again, all we care about is wins.
Q: RE: Play calling…
A: I wouldn’t know about that— I think once ultimately to keep a rhythm with the quarterback and with the offense as a whole, and we’ll see ultimately how it’s decided, but again, that’s down the road. Someone is going to call on September 11th, so we’ll see. Hopefully a good one, for sure.
Q: What have you seen from Ryan Nassib so far?
A: Ryan Nassib— very smart, very conscientious. There’s a tremendous relationship that he has with the quarterback [Eli Manning]. Those two guys work closely— meaning Eli— and Eli relies upon him, and he is improving with his decision-making. There’s a component that he adds in terms of mobility, in terms of being able to extend some plays, so now it’s just a matter of him getting in a good rhythm. He has some different receivers he’s working with to be able to execute, but we feel very comfortable having Ryan and I’m glad that he’s here as our backup.