Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan
December 1, 2016
Q: When Odell Beckham returns punts, is there a lump in your throat the whole time?
A: He's obviously, as well all know, a heck of a player, and a lot of good things happen when the ball is in his hands. So, if the decision is made, hopefully that turns out well for us and we're excited. We'll have to wait and see. I don't know if any decision has been made as far as whether he's going to do that or not. Obviously, he's a special talent and the more opportunities he has to touch the ball, that bodes well for us.
Q: Last week you had a couple plays with the power backfield, the full house backfield. Do you feel the running game took a little bit of a step back last week?
A: You could probably say that's an accurate statement, and I'd say it's relative. We still had some opportunities where we ran the football and in terms of how we gauge our success, Coach McAdoo talks about winning the down and how many yards we get and so forth and achieving goals for the game, and we achieved that goal. I think what happens is, we also had some negative plays. We had a few more negative runs and tackles for losses, those types of things that we hadn't had. I think that kind of skews the stats and kind of gets us to take a step back. So from that standpoint, we'd had a couple of weeks where we weren't having those negative runs and even again, 2nd and nine isn't a bad thing. We all prefer 2nd and six, five, four after a run, but we had a few of those. We were able to get a couple of snaps, as you mentioned, of that the Tiger personnel package, in terms of giving you different personnel grouping and a face out there, that was good. The more success that we can have with that, hopefully we can do more of that in the future to give us a little more balance.
Q: For the outside, it's hard to understand why you don't use it more or went away from it?
A: I think there's a bunch of factors that come into play in terms of that, in terms of what type of plan that we had for that particular package and then also, how much of a sense, defensively, what we anticipate seeing them do from a scheme standpoint, from a physical, match-up standpoint. If it's to our advantage and we feel that we can use it, we certainly would like to use it more often, it just kind of, one of those things that, as the game unfolds, teams have tended to play us differently or accentuate certain things from a cover standpoint. With regard to trying to do what they can to handle number 13, that is a factor that comes into play. Always try to put him in position to put the ball in his hands and yet, still have some of that balance from a run game standpoint. There are a lot of things that come into play, but certainly it would be nice to have that type of versatility, to be able to have that package, as well as our primary or Zebra package, to try to keep the defense off balance.
Q: Shane Vereen saw his first action since the third week of the season this week. How do you think he's looked so far and when do you think he's coming back?
A: I can't speculate on when he's going to be back. He did everything that we asked him to do today. It was great to see him out there and hope for the best.
Q: When you look at the receivers and they're not getting open, is that just a matter of them not winning their one-on-ones, or is there something you as coaches can do as far as the patterns they're running or how you're coaching them?
A: That's a great point, in terms of the separation. I think the thing that a lot of folks would tend to think back upon this most recent game, in terms of some of deeper passes, 'Gosh, finally the Giants are finally airing it out.' But we didn't have some completions and I'd like to show for. We had six opportunities where we pushed the ball down the field and only had the one completion. I think it really is a combination of three things, we obviously have to have the accuracy, and there's certainly that early in the game. I know Eli would love to have that throw back, in terms of the one to Odell. Have to have the protection so that he can set his feet and step into the throw. I think what you're talking about is a couple of those deeper passes that we had just to try win at the line of scrimmage and gain the separation that we need but then also, particularly if it's a deep pass. We always talk about holding the redline, trying to make sure we give the quarterback enough room so that we're not continually widening to the sideline. So now, all of a sudden, the defense gets a 12th man, ‘Sammy-sideline’, in terms of trying to maintain that. We've got to do a better job there. We had some great work today and have worked on that throughout the week and are always trying to work on those things to get the separation. Again, I would just commend Adam Henry, I think our receivers coach does as good of a job as anybody at working those drills. Even in the season where we don't have as much individual time. Obviously, something we've got to get better at and I think we'll be in good shape and move forward.
Q: Odell had five targets early in the first quarter. How much of that was scheme?
A: How much of it was scheme? Every time we get a target to Odell, it's scheme. Every possible way we can get him the ball is scheme and we are trying like crazy to get number 13. News flash, 13 gets the ball, we're a better offense. In all seriousness, to answer your question; their defensive coverage concepts, every team usually has their core two, three, different ways they're going to want to play their defensive coverages. We've often times taken a look at how this particular defense plays a premier receiver. Perfect example would be; you're getting ready to play Cleveland. Well, how did they play Antonio Brown, how did they play A.J. Green, how did they play Dez Bryant? Different players that may somewhat fit our personnel, but then also schematically have to be very similar to us. There's an anticipation of how that's going to play itself out and you can try, as a coaching staff to format things, have different concepts that will match that. But then, ultimately, when Sunday comes around, they may change a little bit and decide to say, ‘You know what, we may have played Antonio Brown or A.J. Green a certain way,’ but they were much more aware of, I should say, 13. This most recent game is a good example of that, where there was a lot more consistent, two-high coverage, particularly whether it was man or zone with a safety over the top to 13. In fact, one the last clips we had, was what we were talking about as far as that deep ball. That was the last quarters that he got to see for the day. We're always trying to find ways to get him involved and look at different ways. Not just how he matches versus the coverage, but we can get him in different spots in the formation, not just always number one or number two and in the slot.
Q: Early in the fourth quarter when Eli came to the sideline after three and out, he looked kind of frustrated, you talked to him a little bit. The offense obviously came back out and scored late. What did you say to him? Was it new seeing Eli that frustrated?
A: I tell you, he's such a steady, steady guy. If there was some frustration, I'll tell ya, it goes away quickly. I always like to give him and give all of our players a moment when they come off the field to just collect themselves and get some water. It was kind of chilly out there so it was nice to wait for him on that nice heated bench to have the iPad to go over pictures. But by the time he got to me, like at any point, there's frustration on everybody's part. It's just a matter of trying to take a hard look at, ‘Okay, now what do we want to do.’ Based upon where we're at, and what we're seeing, what would be the best thing for us to do. Are there some more quick passes, are there some things that we can do to try to get you moving in the pockets and different runs. So there is that constant communication, where I get his ideas, I have my own suggestions. We're talking with the other coaches and then forwarding information to Ben so that we can see what direction we're going to head in. So, there wasn't a whole lot of outward displays of frustration. He's a steady competitor, he's a true professional. It was just trying to figure out how we were going to move forward.
Q: Paul Perkins had a couple of nice blitz pickups. What did you see from him?
A: Absolutely. There's the question of the day right there. Paul Perkins was phenomenal. Hopefully this doesn't get blown out of proportion, that we're putting him in Canton, Ohio. There were two specific clips that Paul Perkins was against a heck of player. That Jamie Collins is a load and he matched up well. He did an excellent job in blocking his man and he continues to get better and better. Obviously, he's got some ways to go in all areas but to answer your question, he did an excellent job there and so now it's just a matter of, what he knows, who to block, that's great, but we still have a couple of instances where he has some uncertainty and Eli has to direct him a little bit too much. He's working on it, he did a good job this week, and that's a huge part as we've said before, in terms of the willingness, the ability, and the knowledge of the pass protection in addition to catching some great passes. Unfortunately, one got negated by the penalty. Excited about him and looking forward to great things in the future.
Q: Is he an example a rookie who maybe wouldn't have played so much 5-7 years ago? The League is getting younger and it seems like coaches are more willing to play rookies in those kind of prominent roles.
A: I think anyone that has that combination of his vision, the ability that he has a runner, that's going to cause coaches to want to get him on the field. His hands, his ability to catch a football. But the biggest, I think, nowadays, is that it's maybe a little different then it was 5-7 years ago, is pass protection and just because what teams need to do now offensively, in terms of formation. And then you add some of the tempo calls, and no-huddle, and all of those things, the guys really have to be on his game and not just be willing and have the ability, as we mentioned, but also have the knowledge of how to pass block. I think when a guy brings those things to the table, that does put him in a position where a lot is expected of him.
What I mean by that is that I don't read a lot in his pressers that gives me much confidence that he's got a bead on our offensive problems or how to solve them, yet it's not because he's tight-lipped. He just says a lot of obvious things.