Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan
November 17, 2016
Q: How tough is it with the offensive line this week with so many different moving parts?
A: It's always a challenge. You'd love to have the continuity but I think based upon what happened last Monday night with some guys having to step in and make sure they're able to what they’re supposed to do and know the assignments; just really pleased with that group being able to respond the way that they did. We're hoping that if different guys are called upon, they're able to perform as well against Chicago.
Q: Based on what you've seen from their linebackers and how they use them, what kind of a unique challenge do they pose?
A: If you're talking about the outside linebackers that become different defensive ends, obviously they're a very talented defensive front. That's not coach speak. You put the tape on and there aren't too many quarterbacks that are back there that either are not getting hit or they're having to reset and move in the pocket or they're getting sacked. Of course with Floyd, he's a young guy that's really coming into his groove. McPhee is a heck of a player, he's been on a pitch count, if you will, because of his injuries. Hicks, of course, is tremendous and young; that's a great group. You asked about the outside guys, they become defensive ends when we go to our zebra package and so obviously we have to be aware of opportunities that we have and trying to make sure that if we want to push the ball down the field, we account for those guys, trying to help tackles when necessary and do various things because they definitely do present a challenge.
Q: You talked about how when Pugh got hurt and Jones came in, it was such a curve ball that you were looking forward to seeing Jones get a full week. Obviously he goes for a series. Same applies to what you saw from Marshall Newhouse?
A: Absolutely. Marshall is a veteran, he's been around, he knows this scheme. Very pleased with a guy just being able to step in and fill a role that was another one just like Brett Jones the week before. There wasn't a whole lot of preparation and planning in terms of having to be prepared to go to guard, but I think hats off to coach Solari, coach Wells, two guys that work with the offensive line in terms of working fundamentals. Trying to have those, whomever those individuals are that are going to be active, just having the versatility to try and crossover. It's a challenge but we'll have to wait and see how it unfolds, but really pleased with how they responded and whoever is asked to step in there, we're confident that they'll be able to do good job for us.
Q: What did you see from Marshall Newhouse?
A: From Marshall, there's a versatility as a guy who'd been, for the most part, a tackle since he's been here at least. Just being able to go in and not miss a beat in terms of assignments. There's an athleticism that he has that translates well, particularly pulling in a gap scheme. I think when you look at someone that was pressed into service, that responded and that's expected all of our players at every position, has to be ready.
Q: How difficult is that for Newhouse to play guard and then he has to bounce to tight end and then come off the field and then come back in?
A: Yeah, that was a lot of hats. Again, that's a credit to him and to his preparation. To have the awareness of what was going on and when to report and so on and so forth. You see that from the tight end position inside, but, I think it speaks to what every week we talk about over and over again as coaches is how important it is to prepare and getting mental reps and understanding the big picture. That all sounds good and then all of the sudden you get called upon, there's no hiding from the fact that those players who are prepared when they're called upon and those who aren't prepared. Fortunately for us, the guys that had opportunities Monday night did a good job for us.
Q: Do you think that you and coach McAdoo sent a positive message to the players by going for it on that 4th down and telling Eli Manning at the end of the 3rd quarter that you're in 4 down territory.
A: I'm not sure that from a message standpoint whether that was a part of the thought process. I think any time that you do that and you come out successful, man, that's great and it put us in a position to win the game. I think we felt very good about the process, about the plan that we had. I think it's one thing when you get any kind of situation when you're thinking about going for it. Whether it's down close to the goal line and talking about points or midfield or whatever the case may be. When you feel really good about what the play calls are and how well they looked in practice and how well things are falling into place, I think it does make it a little bit easier. You look at how the unit should feel, certainly more confidence based upon that. But I think also, as was touched upon earlier with a lot of the questions, to be able to run the ball the way we were able to run the ball, that's been a huge source of disappointment for all of us. And to be able to finish, get the first downs that we needed when they knew we had to run and we were able to do that, hopefully, it's something we can build upon.
Q: What do you think the biggest difference was on Monday running wise?
A: Hard to pinpoint exactly one. There's certainly some excellent individual efforts. I think Rashad Jennings did a tremendous job. I think there was some movement, some individual matchups up front where guys did a great job. There were times where we had a scheme which was just right for what they were doing. So really a combination of bunch of factors. Certainly came at a good time for us.
Q: Seemed like Rashad was more patient on some of his more successful runs. Was that something you stressed?
A: I don't think that was a point of emphasis or was a stress. I know he was very determined, very focused during the week. He had a little bit of an edge to him in a very positive way. He was really locked in and made the most of his opportunities and I think that was reflected in his performance.
Q: Do you find it confusing that you come out at the start of the game, eight plays, 80 yards, up and down the field and then it's not until the end of the first half when the offense got going again?
A: It was a great start; we've always talked about starting fast and there's no doubt about it. Everything was just flowing. You sit there and you wish you could bottle that and carry that for 60 minutes, that would be wonderful. But things change. Whether there's injuries that occur, whether it's just certain particular looks and schemes and things that they do on defense and so on and so forth. I think it does speak to the resilience of the group that you start off well and there's going to be an ebb and flow and you have to respond to setbacks and then try to find a way. Same way we've certainly had our fair share of bad starts and then having to fight through that. It was nice, wish we could start every game like that but then also sustain it.
Q: You've been around here when the offense has kind of been scuffling and just not in sync and then by the end of the season you've won championships. Do you see anything in this year’s struggle that leads you to believe that you can go in the same direction?
A: Of course, every year is different, every team is different. I know you guys all heard that, and you're probably tired of hearing that. But it's true and the personalities and the scheme and so forth. But I think for us to be able to have a game where we had more success running the ball, had a little more of the balance because that's going to take pressure off the line. It seems like every team that we play has a great defensive line and a great pass rusher, so compliments to the pass game to give us that type of balance and confidence and we closed out a game We're continuing to improve but there are so many areas that we need to improve in offensively. In all honesty, we’re just so zeroed in on the process and how can we do better in all phases offensively that it's hard to get locked into thinking about big picture, just about how we won the game, we did some good things but there are so many other plays that we left on the field.
Q: How did Victor Cruz look out there today?
A: Victor played well. He was in the mix with things. We'll see where he's at. Again, I can't comment on what his status is going to be or where he's at but he was a full participant and we're excited to see how he's able to progress.
Q: When he wasn't out there on Monday, was there a different sense of what the offense looked like with him versus without him?
A: I think what that speaks to is a little what we talked about with the offensive line; other guys have to be prepared to step up and we have all hands on deck, whatever the cliché you want to use. But guys have to be ready and whether it's a Tavarres King who came up with a big catch for us there in the tight green zone before the fourth down play or Roger Lewis, different guys getting their opportunity. They just all have to be ready. It's something that is preached and it's good to see that it’s coming to fruition.