Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan
November 11, 2016
Q: How special of a day is this for honoring veterans?
A: It is a very important day. It's obviously a time we recognize those men and women who have served and all of the sacrifices that have been made. None of us get to do what we're doing had it not been for those sacrifices and also to keep in mind those who are currently serving. It's a special day, the 11th day of the 11th month and if you really know your history and you go back, it was the 11th hour in terms of when World War I ended as far as why itís November 11th. Very special, meaningful day.
Q: What does the salute to service nomination mean to you?
A: I'm humbled by that. First off, for this organization to nominate me, I just think the world of the New York Giants from top to bottom, just an incredible organization. I'm humbled to be recognized, I should say to be nominated, by the Giants for that. Just honored to represent them and honored to be included as a nominee in that program.
Q: Does a day like today make you think of some of your experiences?
A: The national anthem is always a time when I reflect and then also a day like today, you have to take a step back and think about those that I have served with and some that are still serving now. Just to reflect upon those sacrifices and just be appreciative. And then, also, think about some of the lessons learned and some of the things that have helped me along the way, if you will. But, most importantly, it's just to show appreciation, gratitude and honor those who sacrifice for us.
Q: What are some of the lessons you have learned that have put you in a position for success?
A: I think going back to military service, there is an awful lot of pressure. There are an awful lot of demands that are placed upon you. I think when you jump out of an airplane or you're walking through the swamp at night and you feel something around your leg and it's dark and you don't know what it is and you just have to keep focused on the mission, focused on the task at hand. I think I'm so honored to have served with some great people and working hard to achieve goals. I think growing up on those experiences, you kind of reflect upon, 'man, if I can survive that, third down might be kind of tough but hopefully we can find a way.' So, just very appreciative for those experiences and what it teaches a person about them self. Also, just as important, when a unit comes together, whether it's an army platoon or if it's a football team, and they collectively combine their strengths and minimize their weaknesses and have the discipline just to continue to work and improve, great things can happen.
Q: Does it put things into perspective? When you're working on getting the running game going or something else isnít working, not to diminish the football element, but does it put it into perceptive?
A: Well, obviously this our livelihood, this is how our players, coaches and people in the organization, how we provide for our families. It is important. There's a former coach here with the Giants who once said, ' There's no medals for trying.' So, it's a result business. Ultimately, I've always kind of cringed, especially recently, when folks talk about life and death or this is a war, it's a battle. I don't use those types of terms because it does, I think, reflect negatively and somewhat disrespects those who are really in harmís way, where it truly is life and death. This, not to diminish the importance of what we're trying to do and the focus we have, but to compare what we do to what our men and women are doing that are in harmís way, there's no comparison.
Q: One of your mentors is Tom Coughlin, and obviously he's going to be in the building on Monday. Just curious if you've put much thought into that? Are you anxious to see him? Will you have an opportunity to see him?
A: I'm not sure if I'll have an opportunity. If I do, I'll certainly congratulate him and wish him well. It would be wonderful to see him. I think a lot of him rubbed off on me in that I've been so zeroed in this week on the Cincinnati Bengals and trying to do everything we can to be ready and I think that's just the way he'd like it in terms of having that type of focus. No doubt in my mind, it's someone who's been a tremendous mentor for me, someone that I owe a great deal of gratitude to. I respect him and couldn't think of anybody that's more deserving of that honor than coach Coughlin.
Q: How big of a loss is it not having a guy like Justin Pugh around?
A: I think you have someone who was producing, doing some good things. It gives an opportunity for somebody else. I think you look at a Brett Jones that went in there not having had any snaps throughout the week at the guard position and just had to rely upon his work ethic and preparation. The guy is a student of the game, he's a grinder, he's a tough guy and he's going to be put to the test this week. We're excited about the fact that he's had an additional week. He's had the snaps, he's had the meeting time, he knows. He had breakfast last Sunday morning and youíve got to be ready for anything, but really, playing some snaps at left guard wasn't in the plans, so now with that being the case, all the guys have to be ready when they're called upon. It's a challenge but we can't focus on that, we just have to focus on what we can do, what he can do and how he can help us be successful.
Q: Halfway through at 5-3, are you still trying to figure out and determine how good you are and how good you can be as you make the turn, so to speak?
A: We took a step back during the bye week and tried to evaluate what was going well, what wasn't going well and, most importantly, the reasons behind that. Whether it was personnel groupings that we had on the field, formation wise, where is this receiver aligned in this formation as opposed to this other formation. Who are some of the different players who are getting some opportunities. And you do that just to give guys, like I said, opportunities. Give the young guys a chance to show what they can do but then also to keep some of the more veteran players fresh. It is a mixture of many factors. I think we made some progress, but dang it, we still have seven negative plays. We still had some of the setbacks, the turnovers, the things that have prevented us from being the best that we can be. We are working, making improvements in certain areas but it continues to be a work in progress. We're hoping to be able to put it all together and put together that complete game that I know all of us want and certainly our fans want; everyone wants to see it.
Q: When you mention the negative plays, do you think itís more scheme or execution...?
A: Always a combination of a lot of factors. There are some that you can point to where, a guy just flat out wasn't as good as the guy across the line of scrimmage. And then there'll be those other opportunities where it could be a matter of, they had a pretty good call and we have to really be on point for it to be successful. As we look at that, you try to assess the reasoning behind it and then just know, well, if you had those negatives, then when there are opportunities to make the plays, and this goes back to some of those long passes; whether it's a flag is thrown, what we call a free-play, we got the five yards but we'd love to have the big play. Finding a way to come down with that. Trying to make the plays that are there so it kind of offsets the ledger, if you will. Because they're going to make their share because it's hard. It's a heck of a competitive league with a lot of great players and teams and coaches. So, we know there's going to be a few negatives along the way. We just have to minimize them and then obviously offset them by making some big ones on our own.
Q: Ben McAdoo said that he had seen the running game start to perk-up a little bit as the game wore on. In addition to the yardage, what else was there that encouraged you to think that the running game was starting to make that turn?
A: I think if you look at just from the second half particularly and we were in that end of game, four-minute mode, if you will. We were able to have some success running when they had a pretty good feeling we were going to run. We had a big run getting the ball on the edge. So, you see some of those flashes, after having some of the setbacks in the first half. We looked at some various combinations, whether it's having a big offensive lineman at the tight end position, whether it was doing some things formationally. Trying to take a look at, based upon where Odell might be, what that's going to do in terms of drawing out a defender and that can soften up some of the running lanes. It is, as you mentioned earlier, a little bit of a work in progress. I think the fact from that second half, despite some of the setbacks, we were able to do some good things and something positive to build upon.
Q: Given how the defense is playing, do you as an offense have to err on the side of caution as far as not turning the ball over even more since they're not giving up points?
A: It's always important to take care of the ball and I don't know if it comes down to as much the way that they're playing and why we want to be extra cautious. We still want to do what's in our offense and there's going to be times where we are going to be aggressive, we are going to take some chances. In the same way we talked about earlier, some of the negative plays. There may be a turnover that happens just because the guy happens to have the exact, right timing and his helmet goes right on the ball. But what we can't have is the careless handling of the football where it's out and loose and we don't have those five points of pressure. We can't just throw it up for grabs and taking the risky chance, if you will, where we're not setting our feet. We can't just not have two hands in the pocket and those types of things. I don't know if I'm exactly answering your question; we don't necessarily look at, hey, how the defense is playing. I think it just comes down to us. There may be opportunities where a turnover might happen and son of a gun, every eight games this year we've had a turnover in every one so hopefully it's good karma you're asking me that question. So I'll give him credit when we have 100 percent ball security. That was a good omen, you'll have to ask me that every week to make sure we hold on to the ball every week.