Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan
September 15, 2017
Q: How is it game planning when you donít know if youíre going to have WR Odell Beckham Jr. in the lineup?
A: Well, you sit there and you have a contingency plan. You hope that things are going to work out and you try to see how that could unfold. And then, just see who might be able to fit in that particular role and then how it would affect the defense and then what are some other concepts that, again, wouldnít necessarily give you the same effect because obviously itís hard to replicate that after having a playmaker like Odell. Then, have those contingency plans and hope for the best come Monday night.
Q: How much do things have to change when WR Odell Beckham Jr. canít play?
A: You build your plan like I said in terms of, ĎHey, certain particular concept you love to have 13 at this spot, have 13 at that spotí, and then all the sudden, 90 minutes before the game heís not there. Well, prior to that decision, youíve had practices and opportunities where somebody else has to be ready to step in and fill his role, so this is how itís going to look. Or, you have other concepts, other plays and you just try to juggle all that so youíre in a position to be successful, which obviously we were not and have a lot of work to do. I know there will be some questions coming regarding that. Thatís to answer your question in terms of how we want to approach. Thatís the way we have to deal with it.
Q: What was the progress that WR Odell Beckham Jr. made on the practice field this week?
A: Heís been limited. Heís done what weíve asked him to do. So, I really canít comment in terms of where heís at or anything like that.
Q: What adjustments did you make at halftime?
A: I think the biggest thing Ė we took a hard look at man, were we awful in the first half, and by awful I mean we didnít have the ball. We had so many self-inflicted wounds. We had five third downs. Youíre 0-5. Of those five third downs, four of them were five yards or less and so youíre not out there. You donít get into that rhythm. We dug ourselves a hole. We dug ourselves a hole, and thatís not to take any-they did a heck of a job. Iím surely going to give credit where credit is due to their coaches and their players down in Dallas. But, you dig that type of a hole and so then itís just a matter of taking that bag and saying, ĎHey listen. Weíre getting the ball here to start this half. Hereís some concepts that we like. Son of a gun, thereís a lot of plays you havenít even gotten to because we havenít had the ball. So, just take a step back. This is what weíre going to do. Weíve been our own worst enemy. Letís eliminate the mis-assignments. Letís eliminate the breakdowns in communication, eliminate some of the technique errors. Just focus on these things and be at our best.í We did have some progress. We got it down there. Werenít able to punch that ball in the endzone, which obviously is a big disappointment for all of us. But, was overall pleased that despite all of the ugliness and despite all the frustration, disappointment, guys continued to put forth the effort to try to play hard.
Q: What does RB Orleans Darkwa need to do to get more carries?
A: Orleans has been someone that weíve felt very good about all through the spring, through training camp. Over the past couple years that Iíve been here, heís had some injury issues. Heís been healthy this fall. He had a very, very difficult situation with regards to the shin splints and injuries that he had last year and so as he continues to work hard and we mix him in there with some of the other guys based upon the situations out there at practice. So, excited about the dimension that he has. Every runner has a certain upside, if you will, or something that they bring to the table and he has some things. So, weíre looking forward to giving him more opportunities. Unfortunately, the one opportunity he had wasnít his fault. We had a penetration there, got him in a heck of a play and we didnít do a great job. It was a tackle for loss. Earlier, he had a nice run, so weíre pleased with where heís progressing.
Q: How do you look at the challenges that the Lionsí defensive line presents?
A: It starts in terms from a size standpoint and itís a different style of play schematically. Dallas is a lot of movement, a lot of twists and different stunts and so forth and moving those guys around. These guys have some of that, but there are some big, strong bodies Ė the defensive tackles and then of course Ziggy (Ezekiel) Ansah is one of the premier pass rushers outside. Their style is different, but from the standpoint of a challenge, whereas some of the other teams, most recent opponent, had a lot of the stunts and the twists and so forth. These guys just more brute force, just more penetration up the field and bringing it. So, weíre going to have to have some patience in the running game, consistency there in the run game to try and balance things out and try to do some things that will be to our advantage to try to off-set the strengths that they have up front. Theyíre a heck of a challenge. Itís just a different style. The size component.
Q: How do you rectify that there were good reviews for the offensive line in the offseason, but they didnít live up to them?
A: Thereís no question. I think in everyoneís eyes. The key thing Ė the point that I want to make is that it was not just the offensive line. You can point to all the positions. You can point to coaching. There was an awful lot of bad in that first night and so thereís enough blame, if you will, to go around and a lot of disappointment. But, the thing that we really focused on is, it is just one game. 15 years of doing this. The one thing I know beyond a shadow of a doubt is that where teams are after the first week of the season Ė thereís no direct correlation to where they are at the end of the regular season or at the end of the postseason. So, a lot of work to do. A lot of errors for improvement across the board, but weíve zeroed in more on that rather than, ĎOh, itís a huge disappointment,í despite reviews or a continuation of the things from last year. Whatever. Thatís all to the side. Weíre just rolling our sleeves up and trying to zero in on how we can get better.
Q: What does Manning need to do more of in order for the offense to be more successful?
A: Well, I think every position has the responsibilities Ė for us, with coaching, the preparation standpoint, getting them ready to go. Then you look at the various positions, from the line Ė whether itís protecting the passer and being able to open up holes in the run game, running backs hitting it, receivers getting open and catching. Obviously, the quarterback is who touches the ball on every play, thereís an awful lot on his plate. I think in terms of, just things that can be better, he would be the first guy, as you mentioned, to tell you that thereís some plays heíd like to have back from either a standpoint of accuracy or decision that are made, whatever the case may be. But the key point I want to emphasize is just kind of like what you said, thereís so many areas where we all have to get better. And thatís what we really zeroed in on here. Had a heck of a day today and a really good week.
Q: How do you think the guys that stepped in for injured tackle Bobby Hart did in practice this week?
A: We had other guys on the roster filling in, moving around different places, different guys fitting into some different places. So, we feel good about that, weíll see how it all unfolds here, a couple more days.
Q: Can you say who was playing in a different place in practice?
A: I canít name names.
Q: What would you say to people that say Manning is in a decline?
A: I would say that, Eli, like everyone else on the offensive side of the ball, had a bad night. Had a night that is not up to our standard. And seeing his work ethic and how he prepares and seeing things heís done out on the practice field and the communication thatís continuing to get better and better with the receivers and protection adjustments and so forth, that it is one bad night and to rush to conclusions and where heís at or where anybody is after one game, would be premature.
Q: What do you think the issue was with getting the ball to wide receiver Brandon Marshall last week against Dallas?
A: Well, I think as you look at some of the plays early on, he had an opportunity to get the ball and whether it was a breakdown either from a pass protection standpoint, or youíre having a situation where a play thatís called where thereís an opportunity for him to get the ball and all of a sudden, the coverage where youíre counting on him being the primary read, now all of a sudden they do a different coverage, so he becomes a second or a third read. Heís been great, his attitude is tremendous, heís working hard and works at it. Weíre excited about his improvement and the opportunities that are going to be there for him coming down the road.
Q: To get out of teams always playing the cover two against you, do you just have to run the ball more successfully?
A: Absolutely. You have to run the ball better and you have to be patient with some of the opportunities that are there, from the pass-game standpoint. Because if theyíre taking away some of your deeper shots, you have to be patient enough to go ahead and take that completion, win the down, put yourself in a position. But you hit the nail on the head. We have to be able to run the ball. And I think going back to that game Ė obviously itís the first time Iíve talked to you guys since that game, we have to touch base on it Ė when youíre not out there, when you only have so few snaps in the first half because youíre not converting on third downs, itís hard to get that consistency. But to get teams out of cover two, to get him out of that soft zone, you have to be able to run the ball. And thatís something we have to do.