Offensive Coordinator Mike Sullivan
December 14, 2017
Q: How can you get a running game going against the Philadelphia defense?
A: That’s a great question. They’re a phenomenal defensive front. They do an excellent job with penetrating. They’re talented, they’re well coached and they typically have an extra down in the box. So, there are some concepts that we’ve been working on, we’ve got to be patient with. Not every run is going to be pretty, but we just have to have an approach that the more we can just try to keep chopping away and then hopefully that wears them down and creates some of those, what had been two or three yard runs early on, become seven, eight and hopefully in the double digits later in the game.
Q: With running back Wayne Gallman getting an increased role last week, do you expect that to continue?
A: Well, Wayne’s been doing a great job in a lot of areas. You see things that he does with the ball in his hands in the open field, he can catch the ball well, he’s got speed to the edge, has a really nice run on an outside zone play versus Dallas, it was explosive for us. The more we can continue to give him opportunities, he’s going to continue to get those chances, both in pass protection and maybe get him in on third down. And again, it’s been a good group, we try to just give each of them opportunities and try to get a fresh back. The last question’s a good one, in terms of how hard it is to run and that’s what we’re going to have to do. So, just trying to keep shuffling guys around, trying to get the freshest guy in there to get the job done.
Q: Did Orleans Darkwa’s illness factor into Gallman’s increased role?
A: He missed a couple of the days, as you know, in terms of not being able to practice. Now, he’s such a good student of the game and really takes an approach where he gets himself ready if he can’t get those reps. Early on, he got hit pretty hard there and the ball came out and then initially there was kind of a thought process, is he okay, is there some of those effects that you were talking about? But then he had a couple really hard runs, some conversions, so he was able to bounce back effectively we felt.
Q: How do you think tight end Rhett Ellison responded to extended opportunities last week?
A: Rhett’s been outstanding. I can take the whole press conference talking about Rhett Ellison and how high we are on him. As a player, as a competitor, as a leader, as a guy that does all the grunt work, all the things that aren’t necessarily flashy. They go behind the scenes, that don’t show up on the stat sheet, but he is just a guy that we’d love to have 53 like him. In terms of him having those opportunities, he’s always had good definition in his routes, [quarterback] Eli [Manning] knows exactly what he’s doing. He’s a tough guy and that catch he made for the touchdown, the degree of difficulty was pretty high on that one. So, he’s just been an outstanding addition, I can’t say enough good things about Rhett.
Q: How much can you evaluate quarterback Davis Webb when he is just running the scout team in practice?
A: You know, there are things that I don’t think you can see about any player until they’re in an actual game. Also, you can take it a step further, in terms of what the caliber of the competition is, is it a regular season game, is it a preseason game, is the outcome in the balance? So, as far as the approach to this week, this particular week, Eli’s our guy and Geno [Smith] will be the backup and anything that happens down the road, we’ll cross that bridge. But I think he has done an excellent job, once more, in terms of what happens behind the scenes, in terms of just showing a grasp of the concepts and understanding. He works very closely with Eli and Geno and their preparation. And we do see a lot of great things in scout team. Now, scout team, of course they’re running off of a card. And when you’re the guy, there’s no card. You’ve got the voice in your ear and you’ve got to process it. So, that would be the next logical step for him, or any quarterback that’s waiting for an opportunity, but he’s certainly shown behind the scenes and what we can see, that the potential is there to be effective if given the opportunity.
Q: Is the notion that Webb has not been elevated to number two on the depth chart because you haven’t seen enough true?
A: I can’t get into, I don’t want to go down that road, in terms of, why isn’t he the two, why isn’t he the three? He has got potential, he’s a hard worker, he’s got an arm, he has ability and as far as where we go from after Philadelphia – which again, as you all know, is a heck of a challenge – we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
Q: Does a coach ever know exactly when a young quarterback is ready?
A: That’s a great question. You could say that about any position, in terms of, when do you really know? You can certainly see guys have flash in practice, scrimmages, preseason games. You could even argue a quarterback particularly can go through a regular season and maybe he’s never tested, maybe the offensive line is so dynamic, so strong, he’s able to rely on the run game, maybe he’s got some phenomenal receivers. But it’s until a guy is down by a score in the fourth quarter and has to do a two-minute drive, until he’s had to make an adjustment versus pressure and handle third down, I would say that’s an accurate statement. It’s hard to really get a sense to really vouch. You can be optimistic and feel like, yeah I’d make a pretty good bet – if I was a betting man, which I’m not – that he can get it done. But I think that is an accurate statement, until someone gets, not just an opportunity to play a game, but to really be tested and be put feet to the fire, so to speak.
Q: Why is defensive tackle Robert Thomas a better option at fullback at the goal line than Shane Smith?
A: Well, without giving out too much information, not that it’s anything earth shattering or secret, we’ve got that goal line group of personnel, the more beef, the bigger body that we can have down there, in terms of trying to punch the ball in. It’s not anything negative about Shane whatsoever, but Robert is a bigger body and he has a natural ability to [inaudible] his hips. And obviously he’s not going to be able to spend as much time with us in the meetings. He’s not an offensive guy, we have to try to really simplify and say, ‘Hey, block that guy,’ but it’s a nice addition. And you know what, there’s a little bit of a spark too. The defensive guys kind of get a kick out of it, so it’s not a situation where we feel Shane can’t get the job done, he’s certainly prepared and ready to go in there and we’ll have some goal line plays with Shane, but we’ve just been kind of leaning on the ones with Robert and it’s been effective so far.