Head Coach Pat Shurmur
August 7, 2018
Opening Remarks: We had some special guests at practice today, the Army football team was here on their day off. Coach (Jeff) Monken brought his whole team and his staff, and so you saw at the end of practice there the players went over to acknowledge them. NCAA rules say they couldn’t be on the field because we couldn’t give them special treatment, but it was nice for our players to acknowledge those young men. I have a fondness in my heart for the academies. I had my appointment to the Naval Academy, I wanted to captain a battleship and shoot the guns and do all that stuff, but I didn’t want to be an engineer, so I turned it down. That was a little detail they left out when I was going through it. But, no, these guys are terrific young men and at some point they may be defending our freedom, so our guys, I thought it was great they went over there and acknowledged them. So, that being said, I’ll take your questions.
Q: Plans for Thursday? Have you figured out when the starters are going to play, how much they’re going to play?
A: We haven’t discussed it with the players in detail yet, and that’ll be happening here in the next 48 hours.
Q: How do you balance a player like Odell who’s coming off of serious injury. Obviously he got hurt last year in the preseason?
A: Every player will receive the consideration necessary with regard to the play time.
Q: How have you handled preseason playing time in the past?
A: Well, I think we’ve got to give them what they need and, again, they’re all at different stages of being ready to play in Week 1, so we just try to balance it and make good decisions based on whether we think it’s right from the [beginning?].
Q: There’s obviously a lot of individual evaluation that goes on in this game, but can you find out something about this team in general and are you curious to see anything?
A: Yeah. I think it’s important that we operate as a staff and getting in and out of the huddle, making sure we’ve got the right people on the field, and there’s a lot to be learned especially between the first and the second preseason game when you’re a new staff working together. We have a blueprint for how we want to do it, and games are uncontrolled settings, and there’s things that happen. So, the more uncontrolled things that happen in the game, the more opportunity you have to learn, and I think that’s what we’re looking for. So, we’re trying to balance getting our team ready to play Jacksonville with doing the final evaluations on the guys that’ll be on our initial 53.
Q: One of the things you had to deal with when you got here was there was no game film on Davis Webb. Are you eager to see what he does on Thursday night?
A: I am. I think along the way I’ve gained an appreciation for Davis and his skillset and what he’s able to do, and so I’m looking forward to seeing it in the game.
Q: How much does that factor into his playing time, the fact that you didn’t get to see a lot of him last year? Do you want to see more of him this preseason maybe?
A: He’ll play throughout the preseason like the other quarterbacks.
Q: Do you have a preference regarding where the coordinators are during the game, if they’re on the field or if they’re upstairs, or do you leave that up to them to decide?
A: I have a preference, and dependent on how your staff is structured, like Mike [Shula] is going to be on the field because Mike also talks to the quarterbacks and he’s used to being on the field and being able to advise. I’m going to have plenty of experienced guys in the press box to see what we need to see up there.
Q: Are you going to be the voice in their ear then, the quarterbacks? Are you the primary voice in their ear?
A: I’m going to call in the plays, but as you know, we’re all connected.
Q: Speaking of Coach Shula, you didn’t have a coordinator your first go around as a head coach in Cleveland. Can you talk about how hiring him alleviates some of the responsibilities that you had in Cleveland where basically you had to stay with the offense the whole time?
A: Yeah, that was one of the things that I did that I would do differently the second time around, is make sure I had the full structure of my staff in place. Mike is an outstanding coordinator, called plays in a Super Bowl, [and] we’re very fortunate that he was available. There’s a lot of things similar about the way we ran our system that made it a good mix for us, and I think the Giants should be happy that he’s here. But, yes, I didn’t have one in Cleveland, and so that’s not the right way to go. You need a coordinator.
Q: I realize it’s not a regular season game but you are playing a team that you had been with. When you see that uniform and that helmet, is there going to be any extra emotion from you?
A: No. It’s a preseason game against a worthy opponent and we’re just going to go out and try to get better.
Q: Would you be more willing to do things in a situation where you wouldn’t do them in a normal game, like if you’re at the 50, the offense is moving, fourth-and-one, go for it, and things like that?
A: Depends on the situation, but I think all things are up in a preseason game – certainly to go for it on fourth down makes sense in that situation.
Q: When you see guys like [Olivier Vernon], Kareem Martin, Connor Barwin, Lorenzo Carter, probably others – how has your thinking about the pass rush changed during this camp in terms of the confidence level you might now have in it?
A: I’m very confident that we can create pressure on the edge. The four guys you mentioned, plus we have other guys behind them that are doing a good job, so yeah I think as I’m around these guys more and more, you see that they can generate some pass rush and that’ll be good for us.
Q: Olivier Vernon just told me he’s looking to solidify his spot in this defense. You look at it and his spot seems pretty solid, but do you like that attitude from a veteran?
A: I love that attitude. I think guys that have a veteran presence about them but come in with a rookie ‘I want to try to make this team’ mentality, I think that’s what you’re looking for. So, I’m glad to hear he said that.
Q: Is special teams important to you, especially in competitive situations and especially with some of these young guys as you get to these preseason games when you’re evaluating?
A: Absolutely. I think the special teams’ contribution that a guy can make can help him make this team. You’ve heard us say it before, but fourth down players – and there are some guys that are going to make this team because of their value on fourth down, and then they’ll be role players on first, second and third down. So, certainly, what they do on teams matters.
Q: Do you have any idea in your head as far as a guy like Saquon or a lot of players, that you say this is what I want to see in the whole preseason, do you have a number that you want to see, situations, then you back game by game?
A: Yeah, I think so. I have a general blueprint in my brain as to how much I want guys to play, and it changes as we go through the preseason, depending on where they’re at. But you like to see them do something, and we’ll just see how it plays out.
Q: You talked when you got the job about things you had learned in Cleveland and how you apply it to now, thinking differently – you mentioned the coordinator as one – are there things that you have taken that you can tell now that you’ve done differently that feel right for you now?
A: Well, we haven’t played any games yet, so we’ll see, but I think in terms of day to day business, issues of the day, everything from our visits here daily to how I function behind the scenes, there was a certain list of things that I wanted to get done in the first six weeks and that kind of sets the rest of it in motion, and I think I don’t necessarily want to share what those were, but some of that has helped as we’ve moved forward now to training camp.
Q: Just out of curiosity, do you ever keep in touch with Mike Holmgren?
A: I do.
Q: How has that been?
A: Good. It’s been good. We have a good relationship.