Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan
August 10, 2016
Q: You guys used to never stay out in the rain, is that a little bit surprising?
A: No, it was a lot of fun. It was something where obviously safety is first and foremost in terms of if there was going to be lightning or thunder storms and there was always the thought that that could happen today, but we had the chance to stay out there and it was kind of nice. It was like old school football.
Q: Where do you see your offense being at this point?
A: I think we are on track on where we would like to be in terms of two or three days out before our first preseason game, meaning that there were things that we wanted to address in the off-season that we knew would be areas of emphasis. We are just trying to get better in the green zone and trying to get better on third down and short yardage situations. We put time into those areas and try to match ideas and concepts with the personnel and while we have had practices where it has been more of a hands, feet and leverage tempo, we would like to talk when we don't have the full pads on and there is more contact like there is in pads. We have seen some things that give us some optimism, but again until you get a chance to see how they do against an opponent, it is really hard to say exactly where you’re at.
Q: How confident are you that from what you have seen from your younger receivers, that the perception is not going to change when the lights go on and there is game action? Do you think it is a huge test for them?
A: One of things, no question, is that it is a huge test because even a guy like Sterling who played at a high level of competition in college and has high expectations and is the second round draft choice, it will still be his first game against full speed NFL players. I think what we tried to do with all the young receivers is throwing them into the mix. When they have had opportunities, you have all been out there everyday and you have seen a few times where we have had some younger guys who are going with Eli or they are going with Ryan (Nassib) and that is how they are going to get better. They are making some mistakes and it is just a matter of us trying to correct it and hope that we don't see the same one over and over. As much as we have been able to put their feet to the fire, so to speak, we have been able to do that by just throwing them in there in the no-huddle periods and standard periods and I am excited to see how they are going to respond Friday night.
Q: Ben McAdoo spoke the other day about getting better at running up the middle. What specifically do you have to get better at in doing so?
A: I think the run game overall is an emphasis and there is no doubt about it. It is something we have to get better at and we have spent a lot of time, starting in the off-season, identifying what schemes best fit our personnel. What are things we are doing that we can do differently and what are things that we are doing where we are kind of wasting our time on and have to do more of something else. I think coach Solari and coach Wells have done a great job with working with the offensive line, which is where it all starts, but also the receivers blocking downfield so that the track in the back and the foot work, ball handling and the quarterback and all that comes into play. I think as a point of emphasis, we have not had full contact to the ground, but I am pleased with some of the progress we are making as far as the alignment and initial steps and so fourth. The bottom line is we have to be able to run the football. It will complement our play action pass game and our fakes and so forth, and it will take the pressure off the line. There is not a lineman in this world that wants to pass set 60-70 snaps a game. It gives us the balance we need when the weather gets nice and windy and cold and nasty around here like we all love.
Q: How tough is it for you as a coach to have Victor for a few practices and now he is out again? How tough and frustrating is that?
A: First off, Victor was coming along quite well. He was getting a sense of the timing and rhythm and he moved around in multiple positions at the receiver position. He wasn't just in one particular spot, we were moving him around. I think we saw him getting more and more comfortable and getting that chemistry back with Eli and getting a sense of where we want him to move around the formations and so from an assignment standpoint, he was on track. There is no substitute for catching a ball full speed and running full speed from a quarterback and then obviously you throw in some defenders or sometimes there are 11 on 11. So that was coming along nicely. It is disappointing for him, obviously first and foremost, and then for us, but again we are going to have to continue to do all we can as he is going to have to do all he can to get himself back onto the field. The good news is there was progress being made, it is just a matter of hopefully how soon we can get him back with that motive of trying to get better.
Q: How is he doing today?
A: I don't know exactly what his status is. I couldn’t really say anything
Q: You are not expecting to have him in a preseason game? Is that fair to assume at this point?
A: In terms of anybody that is playing on Friday, we are going to our big game management meeting and then as far as that aspect of it and then as a staff, talk about each position and see who's playing and how many plays we want to play them and a wide variety of factors will come into that, whether it is a guy who is a vet who maybe doesn’t need the time or want to increase the workload with someone else and all that good stuff. Unfortunately for you guys, it is going to happen tomorrow.
Q: How much of an asset is it as an offensive coordinator to have someone like Odell Beckham on your side?
A: It's a huge asset. The guy is a special talent and he is a dynamic player. I think when you are at practice, you guys witness, but mostly the fans or people who don't have the chance to come and see, how hard the guy works. He really loves practice, he loves to compete, and he loves to play and work and we continue to try to push him in terms of expanding his versatility. Just being able to have a wide variety of responsibilities for multiple positions and he is responding well to that. The guy is energetic and he is a special talent and so, yes, one of the things that eliminates the gray hair. Out of all the things that give me gray hair, that doesn’t.
Q: Are there types of things that you can do because you have a guy like that?
A: You try to find ways to match him up, but I think the main thing we talked about in the past is if the defense is going to commit two guys to him, which often can happen, that means other guys have the one on one and they have to step up. They have to be able to make plays.
(Beckham shows up to speak to the media)
There he is! Speaking of the devil. I want to say all great things about Odell Beckham, and if there was a mic, I would drop it.