Running Backs Coach Craig Johnson
November 18, 2016
Q: Mike Sullivan said that he kind of sensed an edge from Rashad going into the Bengals game. Did you see that from Rashad?
A: He has an edge this week, too. I know that he was hoping that he was more productive and more consistent than he had been, so what happens with him is that he did have an edge. He was kind of a little chippy, had a little bit of an attitude, probably a little mad at his coach. That is okay. I am okay with that because a lot of times if you run aggressive, run angry and you are mad a little bit at the world then you get going and sometimes you get a lot of good results and we did and that is really what is important.
Q: Why was he mad at you?
A: Oh, well I have a tendency – you do what you need to do to get them to lift their game. That is what the coach is going to do. Sometimes you encourage them and sometimes you prod them. You do what you need to do to get it done and, again, I think he has high expectations for himself and he said that he knows he needs to play better and he did.
Q: It seems like you guys have kind of settled on him and Paul Perkins. How much of that is pre-determined and how much of that goes along with the flow of the game?
A: I think a lot of it has to do with the flow of it. But right now, those two guys have been getting the majority of the reps. They have been in a fairly consistent rhythm. Bobby Rainey has played for us some, Orleans Darkwa has played for us some, but right now those two guys are getting the majority of the reps and it seems like a good fit. Obviously last week Rashad had a really nice game, the prior week Perkins had a nice game, so you just go with it, flow of the game, see what happens and try to get what is best for the team.
Q: What happened with Orleans? Why has his role diminished so much?
A: There is really nothing and a lot of people ask me, but there is really nothing that he has done wrong. The bottom line is that it is hard to get a lot of guys carries and the feel and talking with the guys and just going through a lot of things, it is really hard when you play too many guys. So we really try to not play as many guys as we did prior, so they can get a better feel and the way the games have been going, how many plays we have been getting, how many carries and all that. We really feel good about having a couple guys in there. Sometimes you will have three and then every week you are going to do what you need to do to win.
Q: What does Paul bring to the table that is different than Rashad?
A: Well, one of the things that I think that Paul has got is a great ability to make guys miss. He has done a really nice job with that. He can really stretch and cut. But in a lot of ways they are very similar. They both can block well, they both obviously are able to run, they are both good in the passing game. They both have a lot of similar traits, they both bring a lot to the same table, but one of the things with all the younger backs is that they are going to bring a little energy, are sometimes going to play too fast, you have to slow them down, but I think Paul has really done a good job.
Q: We look at it and we see the numbers. When Shane Vereen went out, how much of a hit did this backfield take in your mind?
A: Oh, sure. You are always going to try and follow up and Shane was a valuable part of our team and offensive unit a year ago. So when I am told that he is ready to play, then we will see if we can try and find a role for him. I have not heard that yet. But he is really playing at a high level and I think he had one of the best years of his career a year ago and I thought that earlier this year that he had a great start to the year and, so, you have to deal with that. But injuries are a part of the game all the time. That is just the way it is. All positions get hit, running backs also, so next man up. If he is not there, then we have to have somebody else step up and so that is what I plan on doing and we will continue to move on and see if we can continue to play well. But there is no question that Shane is a valuable asset to our team.
Q: You have obviously talked to Shane. How hopeful are you that that will happen?
A: Always hopeful because, again, he was playing at a high level. But really what I have learned for being in this for a while is that when they tell me he is ready to go, then we will start talking and going down that road. Right now I have not heard that, so until I do hear that, I am going to plan on getting the guys that I know are ready to play, ready to play.
Q: How much did you guys change in the running game from the bye week until where we are now?
A: I don’t know if we changed a lot in the bye week. I think that what Coach McAdoo said is that he was not really happy with how we were playing with the offense as a whole unit and every single thing needed to be looked at. So we went back, as most teams do, and looked at all of our plays, how are we doing? What are we successful with? Do we need to do this more or less? So I don’t know if it is so much that, I just think that specifically late in the game in both of our last two games that we have been in a really good rhythm and obviously I would like to have it for four quarters, but this is the NFL. They play good defense here, so I just think that the guys that come and answer the question and answer the bell of what has been asked of them.
Q: From your perspective, what is the skill that Eli Manning brings in being able to change plays at the line of scrimmage?
A: I think it affects the running game a lot. I give all the credit in the world to Eli. He does a great job and is always prepared and he so often gets us into a good running play. We try to make sure that we don’t ever put too much on him because he has plenty to do with the passing game. But I think he does a good job of analyzing the defense, trying to find the weakness in it and hurting it, both in the run and the pass. As a running back coach, I like that a lot because, again, we are trying to get the best plays possible that you can in these situations.
Q: He did that. Not in the final first down but in the play before.
A: Well, he does that a lot. Obviously the plays that are the game changers or are the momentum changers that you see where you go, ‘Wow, that was a nice job there.’ But he does that quite a bit and sometimes he just lets it kind of ride and goes with the flow. It all depends. Kind of like the backs, it just goes with the flow of the game.
Q: Do you think there are as many NFL quarterbacks that do as much as he does?
A: I don’t know if I could say it for all the teams because I have not been on them. But I do know that he is very involved with that and I really think that it is the particular style of each offensive coach. Some coaches like you to touch it, some coaches like you to just run the play that is called. There is not a right or a wrong, it is just depending on what you like.