Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan
October 19, 2017
Q: What was it like calling the plays last week against Denver?
A: It was a great night for the organization. So proud of the players and appreciative of their efforts and buying into the plan. The assistant coaches did a great job and after all weíve been through, for us to be able to go out there in that environment against that defense and to come out on top was something very gratifying and very happy for those guys.
Q: What is it like as a coordinator not calling the plays?
A: Well, the goal, first and foremost, is always to win. And whatever the responsibility that I have, whether itís to call the plays, or to assist [Head Coach] Ben [McAdoo] and him calling the plays, is what I want to do to the best of my ability. When Iím not calling, it really is more a matter of listening to whatís being said, in terms of what heís calling, and then getting some feedback from [quarterback] Eli [Manning], assessing whatís happening with my own eyes, talking to the other coaches, communicating with the other coaches, communicating with the players. Kind of the what-ifs and suggestions about what we could do next and so on and so forth. Youíre involved, itís definitely, like you said, a different perspective, from the standpoint of a rhythm because, ultimately, what is sent in is whatís sent in and you just do the best you can to, like I said, to support that play call.
Q: Was there any added adrenaline Sunday night, knowing all week that you were going to be calling the plays?
A: You know what? The preparation is something that we talk to our players about, how you trust your training, and you zero in on everything that is going to be required to be ready for the game. And I think that, whether itís our players or from a coaching standpoint, the more you can do the same thing over and over and study and prepare and certainly any game, regardless of what I think a coachís role is, thereís adrenaline and thereís excitement. Weíre very fortunate and blessed to be able to do this, but once the game starts, itís in that zone and just kind of zero in and not really getting caught up in anything other than that call and then what the potential next call would be.
Q: During the game when you arenít calling the plays, how much did you and McAdoo communicate?
A: There was a few times. He was excellent throughout the week, very supportive, and certainly on game day as well. There were occasions, just in terms of him giving some feedback and a suggestion here or there. But he was very, very good, in terms of, very positive, as I mentioned. We just were able to do everything like we typically do, in terms of trying to get the information from Eli and to Eli, and then to the backs, or then to the offensive line and just kind of go through and bounce ideas off of everybody in terms of whatís the next best approach for the next series.
Q: Going into the game, was the plan to run?
A: Every game is different, I know youíve heard that a thousand times, but I think we always have to look at who weíre playing, the level of talent that weíre going up against, the scheme, and then where we are, from both of those perspectives. And I think given the circumstances of last week, where we were with all the injures, with so many new guys Ė and quite frankly, try to do something that sometimes you want to stay away from a teamís strengths, other times maybe you can catch them off guard by attacking their strengths. And I think the guys, as I said early on, credit to those players for, despite all of the adversity and all of the disappointment, frustration and buying in and knowing early on, hey, weíre going to grind this thing out, and itís not going to be pretty. Itís going to be second-and-nine, itís going to be second-and-10. We joked a little bit about, on one hand, of having that game being on the road actually may have been a good thing, so that youíre not showered down with the boos after a second-and-10, or a second-and-11 because we were going to be patient. And that was just a mindset of just trying to grind them down and do something that they werenít necessarily expecting, hadnít necessarily prepared for. And again, just couldnít be more proud of all of the players, for going out there and being persistent for four quarters.
Q: What was it that allowed running back Orleans Darkwa to break free on his 47-yard run last week?
A: Well, it was very good execution up front. It was actually a play that we have in various personnel groupings, and they gave us a look that was advantageous and just the techniques, the aim points. [Offensive linemen] Ereck Flowers, D.J. Fluker, Brett Jones, JJ [John Jerry], Justin [Pugh], the whole crew. Rhett [Ellison] was the tight end, I believe. And then Orleans hit it with great discipline. Sometimes there are things that Ė aiming points are where we want the back to hit, and it might not look great and some guys, they start looking up ahead and they get impatient, or they get skittish. He hit it hard. Eli did a good job, as he always does, in terms of directing things and the operation and putting us in the best play and directing the play to the best look and I think it all came together in that particular play and weíre very fortunate in that regard.
Q: What did you think about OL D.J. Flukerís play?
A: I think D.J. is a guy that the physicality that we had seen in previous games was definitely on display that night. I mean, heís a guy that just brings a lot of energy. Heís a fun guy to be around and he loves football and his strengths are going to be his strength and his size and the more we can try to do the things that are going to accentuate that Ė I think thatís going to put him in a good position. But, like so many of the players, the thing you like about D.J. is that when it does not initially go right, when things Ė maybe he misses a block or maybe he doesnít redirect well enough on a pass protection or whatever the case may be. Or maybe we as an offense donít do well. Heís one of the guys that you always see there on the sideline thatís constantly trying to lift everybodyís spirits and be encouraging and be positive and so his energy, as I mentioned, as well as his size and strength are things that make us better.
Q: Can play by an offensive lineman energize the line?
A: Absolutely. I think, especially when you look at one of the particular, there was the two big blocks that he had on inside plays that Ė one was the 47-yarder that you mentioned. The other one was really just a three or four-yard gain, but it was just such a devastating block that everyone sees on the sidelines, some of the defensive guys see and you look at the film room afterwards, and it does bring about just a sense of pride in the unit and just guys feeling confident, more confident I should say, in one another and there is that spark. You mentioned that in terms of certainly itís something you tend to think about in terms of an explosive play and donít get me wrong, Iíd love to have those and those would be great and those would bring some energy, too, but when you talk about wanting to be tough-minded and tough physically and have that type of mentality that shows up from a physical standpoint Ė that is something that can help you out and it certainly helped us last time.
Q: On the 47-yard run and other plays, was RB Orleans Darkwa lined up closer to QB Eli Manning because of a scheme?
A: We try to vary that quite a bit and thatís something thatís important for us to make sure depending upon, as youíd imagine, thereís certain Ė if itís pass plays, we want to make sure we have him at a certain depth. If you only do that for pass plays, youíre tipping your hand. If you only have him in a certain depth, that tips your hand. So, we try to vary that depending upon what the scheme is and then have a pass play off of that so that weíre not too predictable.
Q: It seems like he burst through the hole pretty quick on a few plays.
A: The guys did a great job up front. I mean, on that specific play youíre talking about. You talk about critical plays in a game, you know, our defense had just done an outstanding job stopping them down there and thatís the noisy part of that stadium. Itís all noisy, but thatís an especially noisy part and we used some cadence down there to see if we could maybe get them to jump off sides. They didnít quite jump off sides, but it did get a little bit off balance and, again, if they can be a little bit off balance and weíre able to fire off on the ball, thatís going to be an advantage for us. So, the three inside guys did a great job on that particular play youíre talking about.
Q: You seem to run traps and more outside zone than you have in the past. How much were you able to open up the playbook for the run game?
A: I think it just, as I mentioned earlier, based upon what the opponent does schematically, and based upon who they have in specific spots, thatís going to really drive the train with regard to maybe, as you mentioned, an outside zone play being more effective for us. We have multiplicity in the playbook Ė both run and pass. But, thereís going to be certain games with a wide variety of factors we talked about where one is going to be featured more than the other.
Q: Does it have to do more with you guys running in certain formations?
A: If I think Iím following you, certainly when you have different personnel groupings, whether body types. I think what weíre talking about is if thereís more tight ends or if thereís more receivers, I think in any offense, all throughout the league and even at the collegiate level, thereís going to be certain runs that are going to be more effective and youíre going to kind of hang your hat on more. So, based upon that, that would be an accurate statement.
Q: What have you seen from OL Brett Jones?
A: Well, Brett Jones is someone that weíre very, very pleased with that is on our team. Heís a hard worker. I always love getting a Brett Jones question because the guy, just all he does is work his butt off and heís very smart. Heís a team-first guy and his teammates respect him immensely. There is that Ė Kim just asked about as far as D.J. Flukerís big block Ė you know, heís another guy that doesnít have necessarily a lot of the eye-opening blocks that people will see up on TV when they watch it on TV or up in the stands. But, he has an ability just to be very persistent, stay on guys and particularly when heís blocking back. Heís done a good job with that because heís got good technique and heís strong and heís tough, so that helps.