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Saturday Media Transcript: Head Coach Pat Shurmur

Eric from BBI : Admin : 7/28/2018 3:48 pm
Head Coach Pat Shurmur
July 28, 2018

So I guess you go through these little stages in camp, so todayís the first day in pads so the guys are looking forward to it. I think the important thing is to continue to practice the way weíve practiced. Certainly with the shoulder pads and the pants on, we can start to get some of the final pieces of our evaluation Ė especially for the guys up front Ė so weíre going to try to find the guys that can play football and this is where itís going to start to look the most like what we do on Sundays aside from tackling and taking guys to the ground. Our guys are excited about it, theyíre ready to go, and I look forward to a good afternoon.

Q:† So no full live periods?
A:† No, weíre not going to tackle to the ground today. So as the runner goes through, theyíre going to thud and simulate a tackle and then continue to let the runner run and strip the ball out and all the things you continue to do, but weíre just not going to tackle to the ground.

Q:† I was just curious if you do tackle to the ground at some point?
A:† In a former life. In Philly we would have certain periods where we would tackle to the ground. Weíll just have to see as we go if we intend to do that. Typically, if you play enough of the players in the preseason, thatís sort of where it happens, in those games.†

Q:† How often would you like to bring out full pads this year? Do you have sort of an idea in mind about that?
A: Yeah, weíll see. I have a plan for how often weíre going to be in pads, but initially here itíll be today, tomorrow and Monday.

Q:† Pat, do you adjust if in a preseason game you donít like something you see, do you maybe say ďweíve got to ramp it up a little bit after that?Ē
A:† Possibly, I donít remember a time where that was the case. I think the important thing is training the players, giving them everything they need Ė and sometimes too much is just as bad as not enough. So we just want to be smart with them. Unfortunately, there are collisions sometimes in ways you donít like, but thatís part of football.

Q:† It seems inevitable that when the pads get on they get a little temperamental. Whatís your general view on fights in camp?
A:† Yeah, boys will be boys and itís competitive, and part of what makes our players special is they embrace the contact, they look for it, and theyíre super competitive, and they never want to lose. So I sort of look at fighting as youíre sort of emotionally injured for a little bit, but we try to separate the guys, cool them down Ė sort of like walking off an ankle injury Ė and then when weíre sure theyíre okay, we put them back in and get to work.

Q: Two guys that have seemed to have flashed these first couple of days, one on each side of the ball, Amba Etta-Tawo and Curtis Riley.
A: Yeah, both guys. Ambaís had a good offseason and the first part of camp heís done a nice job and then Rileyís done a really nice job. Heís back there, heís moving around, he understands the calls he has to make, and yeah, heís done a nice job.

Q:† At free safety, in that battle there, what do you want the guy that wins that battle to excel most at?
A:† I think itís important that safeties, number one, have to be able to communicate. They direct the back end, so youíre looking for a guy that has those skills and does it well within our scheme. Obviously, you have to be able to then play what a safety plays. Youíve got to be able to play half the field, youíve got to be able to play quarters, and then youíve got to be able to play the middle of the field. And then lastly, youíve got to be able to play low, in the box, so you donít always just have a strong or a free. So those are all the things youíre looking for.

Q: Does that change a little bit because Landon is a piece here? Obviously,
Bettcher has talked about moving him around a little bit. Does that change what youíre looking for with that guy to compliment him a little bit?

A: In some cases. If you have one safety that is really, really good at doing one thing, then you compensate with the other safety, kind of overplay him. The reality of pro football is if you are going to play shell coverage, which is some form of two-deep whether itís quarters or two, those guys need to both be able to equally play the back half of the field. Thatís sort of where it starts. From there, one of them screws down into the front and then weíll try to utilize the best assets of the players we have.

Q: Do you yet have a sense of the on-field personality of your offensive line?
A: Iíve just watched them work - I think as we go along here, you will see that kind of emerge through camp. Iíve got a good feeling of the personalities of the guys that youíre talking about. Itís equally important to be able to work well with the guys in the unit. As we get in pads and we start to go through this process, thatís where weíll start to see all that gel.

Q: You told us in the spring not to read so much into the center snaps, but we are still seeing Jon Halapio get all the first string work. What is it that you really like about Jon at this point?
A: The closer you are to the ball, the more you need to communicate. I think heís done a good job communicating, getting us going in the right direction. We are fortunate enough in practice to see a lot of looks, which will help us and serve us well as we move forward and he has done a good job with that. He also has to do what every lineman does Ė block his guy and then work in conjunction with the guys next to him and he has done a good job with that as well.

Q: How do you see your quarterbacks behind Eli Manning? Is it clear Davis Webb has had a year over Kyle Lauletta? Is he definitely the number two quarterback?
A: In my mind, we have Eli, and we havenít really structured the depth chart beyond that. I think itís important that the guys come out here and use the reps that they get to get better. Thatís probably a question thatís better for later in camp. We want to fight as coaches to be instant evaluators. I mentioned it yesterday, we game plan and then we develop players. So, weíre in the phase right now where we are trying to develop players.

Q: Back to Halapio, he was basically a guard for the most of his career. When did you realize center was his spot and what stood out to make you feel that way?
A:† When you look at a guy, you can tell if he is able to play center or not. Certainly, heís able to snap the ball and communicate. As I mentioned earlier, the closer you are to the ball, the more communication takes place and the more critical that communication is. As you work away from the ball, there are fewer things to communicate about and youíre sort of told what to do. So thatís really the first piece, and then his natural ability just to snap. Most often, until you become a starting center, you have to be somewhat of a swing guy and play guard and heís gone through that process. We were fortunate to win 14 games in Minnesota last year, we used three centers, thatís not always obvious. Itís important to develop the centers. Jonesy (Brett Jones) is doing a really good job. I have to make sure we get him in there with the oneís too because heís progressing in a way that we like.

Q: Talk about the running back room and how those guys have fed off each other?
A: I think they work well together. I think Craig (Johnson) is an excellent teacher. Its not like in the meeting rooms the coaches are just telling players what to do, there is constant communication and constant feedback. I see because of the veteran presence of Jonathan Stewart, then you have younger players like Wayne Gallman and then even Rob Martin has done a nice job, and obviously Saquon. We have a good group in there, a group of guys that are pretty smart about what they want to do and they communicate well. I think that makes for a good group.

Q: One of the things this team didnít do well last year is return kicks, how do fix that in the sense that you canít really do that in camp?
A: I think the important thing is itís like any offensive play. You have to block it properly and whoever has the ball has to be smart with it. We are working on those phases and you will see it in the preseason games live.

Q: What does Andrew Adams have to do to stick here?
A: He has to do all the things we talked about when we were talking about free safeties. He just has to continue to improve, heís flashed in ways. Itís been a big emphasis for us to catch the football. Thatís just not wide outs or guys on offense. The same can be said about defense. Yesterday, there were some interceptions where we finished the play with the ball and if you look at it, catching the football -- we all talk about it from an offensive standpoint -- but itís important that those safeties in the back end can finish with the ball in their hands. Thatís one of the other things that they need to do. Typically for safeties, itís tipped balls and overthrows. It might be an easy one and you have to catch and heís done a good job of that, along with the other things we talked about. Heís shown flashes.

Q: You spoke about the battery of your football team; center and free safety being able to communicate, what are you looking for in your nose and your inside backers?
A: Same thing, thereís different levels to the defense like there is different levels to the offense. Upfront, getting everything set from the center on out is very important. The Mike linebacker has to communicate how weíre lined up, the safeties have to communicate what the configuration of the back end looks like.† A lot of times when a coach says we need a lot of reps, what a defensive coach is saying is I want to see as many looks as I can possibly see so that these guys can train themselves for what they are going to see in the game. A lot of times, it doesnít have to end with a tackle to the ground. All that stuff is happening whether itís in a walk through, half speed setting or a drill where there is not a lot of contact.

Q: With the clean slate you talked about, what is Eli Apple doing to add to that slate under your guidance?
A: With my eyes, just a few months into this, Iím seeing a guy thatís all about his business. He is very business-like and he is covering really well, which is a good attribute for a corner. I like the way he is working. Heís out there challenging but he is also being smart. Based on what I have seen, there are very few mistakes that he is making when we move the coverage around and I like the way he is functioning in the building. Heís very attentive in meetings. In my mind, based on what Iíve seen, heís acting like a pro.
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