Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan
October 6, 2016
Q: Yesterday, coach McAdoo said that he thought the offense was on the verge of a breakout, what have you seen that would suggest that to be true?
A: I think when you look at the complete body of work in terms of yards, we're headed in the right direction, and 6th right now in the NFL. But, when you look at the points, we're not headed in the right direction. We need to do things to be more consistent. I think it's not hard for us to realize that we're not quite putting together the complete game, or the complete series when you look at all of the turnovers. At least the first couple of games, some of the negative runs. We've run the ball better recently and then, penalties. There's a level of consistency that, if we can put all of it together, we really could put ourselves in the position to be a special offense. Right now, we're moving the ball up and down the field, but we're not having anything to show for it. And then, obviously, that's something that we're aware of and need to improve upon.
Q: Has there been a half, or a quarter, where you've thought, ‘That's what we're looking for?’
A: I think it's hard to reflect because as coaches, we're so zeroed in right now on Green Bay, and you have to reflect back upon earlier games in the season. But I think there are flashes, there are certain series, periods of time in every game where things were clicking. We were executing, we were moving the football, we were converting on 3rd down, and we're putting the ball in the end zone. Unfortunately, there's been those ebb and flow, where we've come up short and that consistency is something that, if we can put that together, and we see that out in practice, we see progress being made and we see certainly the flashes out on the field on Sunday or Monday. But, we have to be consistent with it and not have those self-inflicted wounds.
Q: Monday marked the first game where you didn't have Shane Vereen or Rashad Jennings, how did you think the trio responded? And, do you see Paul Perkins get a bigger role in this offense?
A: I think all three guys responded well in terms of what we tried to do offensively. And, while Shane Vereen is a heck of a player and tough to replace, that running back by committee, if you will, in terms of what Orleans Darkwa was able to do; he had some hard runs. If you look at the touchdown run he had, it's one-on-one with the linebacker and he just had a great desire and physicality. You look at the versatility that Bobby Rainey had in terms of having some good runs himself, as well as catching the football. And then, Perkins stepping in and making a huge play for us that gave us a chance to get us back into the ball game. There was some execution from all three of those guys that we were excited about and not have the mental errors and mistakes and so all three, as Rashad is continuing to progress and do some great things as well, will hopefully be back for us. We'll have to be ready when called upon to help us out in all those phases.
Q: Where is Paul Perkins in his pass blocking at this point in his progression?
A: He is definitely showing improvement from two areas, technique, I think he has a better feel for his pad level. Now, as soon as I mention that, either everyone could point to the fact of that 4th down play, when you had the guy from Minnesota, 55, was able to come in. That's a tough block for anybody and it certainly could be better, but his technique has improved and more importantly, the awareness, and knowing who to block. There's often times it can seem simple on the surface, but can be complicated based upon the adjustments that the quarterback makes in terms of who to block, or who to scan to, and we're seeing improvement both in games, as well as out in practice from Paul.
Q: As far as tight end goes, there is a chance you may not have Larry Donnell. What kind of development has Jerell Adams had since the summer?
A: Jerell has improved in many areas. He has speed and there's a vertical threat component to him that we've seen. You guys had a chance when you were able to watch all of the practice before you got kicked out. I think there you were a witness in terms of how he could stretch the field, and like all rookies, there's a learning curve and they need the reps. He's certainly got thrown into the fire Monday and responded well and we're giving him all the opportunities with Larry not being able to practice, got more reps and if called upon, we feel confident about him. There's a component that he adds, that if I really narrow down to one, there's a vertical speed component. Of course, he's a heck of a target and is a big man.
Q: What about his blocking?
A: Well, I think all of the tight ends, what we ask them do, whether it's in-line or coming from the backfield, they first have to know who to block and then it's, ‘Alright well, are they having the right hat placement, is there the right leverage?’ and so forth. I think in both of those areas, I'm sure he'd be the first to say, he's not where he wants or we want him to be, but he is headed in the right direction.
Q: Do you think sitting Odell Beckham Jr. at all would help if he got to be like how he was on Monday?
A: I think Odell is a tremendous competitor. There's a fire, there's an energy that he brings. He's been outstanding this week in his preparation, both in the meeting room and on the practice field. I think, what it boils down to is in terms of defenders, you really have to ask yourself, ‘Well why are they trying to get in his head? Why are they trying to rattle him?’ If a guy is very confident, I'm talking about a defender, if he's confident, if he has a complete belief in his own abilities and if he's a true competitor, why does he want to try and tip the scales? Doesn't he want Odell to be at his best? And so I think, Odell has taken the approach, and I don't want to speak for him by any means but we have had conversations which have been private conversations and will remain private. But, I'll tell you what, all of his coaches and teammates support him and believe in him, and we're excited to see what he does Sunday night.
Q: Obviously they are doing that because they've seen that they can knock him off his game. How do you get him to stay focused on his game?
A: I think it's about the motivation. The only reason a guy tries to get him off his game is because they're not confident enough in their abilities. They're afraid to match-up against him at one-on-one, mano y mano if you will. If that's going to be the approach, hey, you can put that in the way you rank and say, ‘Obviously, the guy’s not courageous enough, brave enough, or man enough, whatever you want to say to go ahead and play straight up.’ If they need those types of tricks, okay, then so be it. We're going to rise above it.
Q: If it works, shouldn't every team do that?
A: It just comes down to the competitive spirit. Let's talk about the whole macho thing, what macho means, 'I'm a tough guy.' If I know the source of your motivation is because you're afraid of me. Because you don't want to match up against me. So what?
Q: But it seems like it irritates you that there is this added stuff.
A: I think what makes him a great player is the fire, is the energy, is the passion. The level of work the young man puts in is tremendous. He is an outstanding football player. I just think that, as we move forward, obviously there's been a lot that's been written and said about the whole situation and what's gone on, and obviously nobody is thrilled with the fact that we're 2-2, nobody likes the fact we went down on Monday night and lost a difficult game and that creates frustration. It's ultimately, what's causing it, how we do solve it, and how do we get ourselves in a position where we can be happy and have happy plane rides, or happy drives out of this parking lot and win. That's really what it boils down to.
Q: What do you think went wrong with Odell on Monday night? 3 receptions for 23 yards, that's a career low.
A: When you say wrong, are you talking about statistics or about penalties. What specifically are you referring to?
Q: I was leaving it open to your interpretation.
A: My interpretation of that night was, a lot of areas in which we could have done better. Whether it's from a coaching standpoint first and foremost, or we can have better plays for them to execute. From a player execution standpoint, whether it's better pass protection, better route running. From an overall, how the game flows and certainly there are games where calls go your way from the officials and calls don't go your way. And we never, ever speculate or comment upon that. So, there's a wide variety. Pick your poison as far as exactly what went wrong.
Q: There are reports that Sam Shields might not be able to play. How does their defense change without him in the lineup?
A: They have used him in the past, as the great player that he is, to matchup per se. But they do a lot more schematically out of a two high configuration. That's some of the things that we've seen quite a bit of that had been in the games that are in the breakdown. What they end up ultimately doing is obviously, some things you prepare for and your build your plan around. But, you also have some of the contingencies in place in case they want to do some of the things to try and take Odell away, or take another receiver away, or try to stop the run with an added defender. So, it’s hard to say. I would figure though that if him not being in the game, we might anticipate seeing a little bit more high coverage.
Q: How do you think Eli Manning has been playing?
A: I think has had his moments and few plays he'd love to have back. I think he's had some very good production. I think that's it's just like a microcosm of the entire offense. There's a level of overall consistency that we're just so close, as coach McAdoo had mentioned, to really taking off and it's just trying to do the things that are not going to be the self-inflicted wounds. I know you guys are going to say that's “coach speak”. But, it is true, it terms of things we do to hurt ourselves and try to eliminate. I think he's got a command of the offense and I think he's our leader and he's got some great leadership qualities that are helping our offense and excited about what he's going to do Sunday night.