Head Coach Pat Shurmur
September 12, 2018
Opening Remarks: Dallas Week. Wednesday. I’ll try to take your questions.
Q: You have done some chipping, or had the tight ends stay in. What’s the balance of that? I assume there’s cons to doing that as well.
A: We always do that. I try to change the protections in a lot of ways. It’s not always obvious schematically. You change the protections, you provide chips. That’s just part of what we do.
Q: When you look at the way (Eli Manning) and (Odell Beckham Jr.) connected in the first game after not being together in a while, what’s the next threshold for them? Obviously they need to score points.
A: We had a couple opportunities to score points that we didn’t, but I think the fact that they’re producing, that that’s a good a thing. Scoring points is what you want to do.
Q: What do you see from the Cowboys, in particular their running game at this point?
A: It starts with the run for them. Certainly they’ve got an outstanding running back. I don’t know about the narrative about their O Line, but they look pretty good blocking to me, especially in the first week. They’ve got an outstanding run game. When you have the threat of the quarterback as a runner, that adds another element to it because the so-called zone read game shows up and they don’t worry about him running with the football. They do a good job of kicking the ball to the perimeter in their run game on their RPO stuff, so there’s yardage there, as opposed to just turning around and handing the ball off. They’ve got really good concepts in the passing game and if they do drop back to pass and we don’t corral the quarterback, that’s when he gets outside of the pocket and I call them 60-yard check downs, he’s outrunning the route, he’s got a strong arm and if he sees somebody open, he can get the ball down the field. That makes him also dangerous.
Q: Along those lines, you had a decent push with the pass rush last week, but only had one sack. With a multi-dimensional quarterback like (Dak Prescott) and a better offensive line, how do you get those guys home?
A: First, let’s kill the sack narrative. Sacks are certainly very important, but the rush needs to disrupt the quarterback and his timing when he makes throws, so I’m going to dispel that, whatever that is. To your point, it’s important that we put pressure on Dak and make him move his feet. More than half the time, he’s got to have to move when he tends to just drop back and throw. I think that’s what the rush is designed to do, so we’ve got to continue working on that.
Q: Speaking of sacks, has (Olivier Vernon) got a chance this week?
A: OV will be out there running around today, so you’ll get a chance to see for yourselves. We’ll see. He’s making good progress, he’s going to do more this week than he did last week and we’re hopeful that he’ll be back soon.
Q: Do you see similarities in Ezekiel Elliott and (Saquon Barkley), and was Ezekiel Elliott’s first two years and the impact a running back can make right away something you considered (when drafting Saquon)?
A: There are a lot of similarities. They’re big, physical guys, they have great collision balance, they’re powerfully built guys. When I say collision balance, in the hole, guys bouncing off, and they can keep their balance. That helps them in pass protection, because they drop their weight, they’ve got a little weight to them. There’s a lot of similarities between the two. His production in his first two years had nothing to do with us selecting Saquon, but they’re similar in a lot of ways.
Q: Can you comment on Cole Beasley and the damage he can inflict as a slot receiver? He looks like one of those under-the-radar type of guys.
A: He creates mismatches in the slot. As coaches, we’ve all been around guys like that where you develop a trust in him. Obviously Dak trusts him. Typically when you’re in the slot, you’re close to the quarterback and he can see you better, sort of knows what you’re going to do, and he finds a way to get open, and he throws him the ball quickly. That’s the challenge that those types of receivers present to the defense. We’ve watched him have success for many years and we’ve watched the way a guy of his size can have an impact on the game.
Q: You’ve spent a lot of years in the (NFC East). What do these division games mean?
A: Any division game means a great deal. Week 2 in Dallas, we’re certainly looking forward to it, and we understand what it means. I do think they all count, so it’s important that we put all our focus on Dallas and worry about beating Dallas on Sunday night, this Sunday night, before we move on to anything else. I’ve always enjoyed the NFC East rivalries. All the teams have great tradition, after last year now all the teams have Super Bowl trophies, and this is one of the tougher divisions year in and year out. I really feel like all the teams have quarterbacks, all the teams can play defense, all the teams have running games, and so it makes for very competitive games.
Q: You’ve been involved in some of these rivalries. Are they all the same, or are you interested to see what nuance or difference there is in Giants-Cowboys?
A: When you get a team ready to play and you look at the tactics, and you look at the players and all that, I guess you would have to ask the fans who they want to beat most. That’s more of that type of deal. I remember when I was in Philly, I was putting my trash out one morning early my first year, and we weren’t very good. It was early in the morning, and I was surprised by this person. They said to me, ‘Listen, you can go 2-14 if you beat Dallas twice’. So, that was Philly’s take on it. I don’t have the full feel here, I understand it’s important to beat everyone and, certainly, Dallas is our next one.
Q: There’s a lot of stats about 0-2 and how detrimental that is in trying to make the playoffs.
A: We don’t worry about that. That’s fun for everybody to talk about outside the building. We didn’t do enough in the first game to win the game, and we’re working to do what we can to win this next one. Period. End of story. All that stuff is fun for everybody to talk about, but we don’t worry about that.
Q: On DeMarcus Lawrence - Can a team necessarily stop him by just chipping him?
A: No, the guy assigned to block him has to block him. He’s certainly been very disruptive. The thing about him is, he’s long, he’s got a twitch and he can get going quickly. He’s relentless, he plays hard throughout the game, so you’ve got a full day with him. You’ve got to block him 65 or 70 times, or he’ll disrupt the game. You’re asking me about a really good player, and we have our challenge to block him.
Q: Saquon has an ability to improvise, to make something out of nothing. Can you practice plays where he changes the field and then guys have to hold their blocks an extra three seconds? Can you practice that as a team?
A: No, we practice the plays as we design them. They’re all run with the idea you’re going to gain yards and hopefully a touchdown. You can just see the skill and ability of a player as he finishes a play and does what Saquon can do.
Q: You said (Saquon) had a great run and that’s why you drafted him. What do you find special in him and what are your expectations here on out?
A: We found him special in all areas, that’s why we drafted him so high. Explosive runner. When you can hand a ball off to a guy and he can run 70 yards for a touchdown, there’s very few running backs that can do that. He’s a pro, he’s already old beyond his time in some ways because I’ve watched the way he’s trained in the last few months. He was in here doing what he had to do on a Tuesday, his day off, which means he’s already developing the right process. He can catch the ball, he can block, so he does all the things we need a running back to do, and he’s got a good mindset to boot.
Q: Is there anyone you know that won’t practice today – (Wayne Gallman)?
A: He’ll be out there. We’ve got a couple guys – Gallman will be out there, Tae Davis is coming back, and then (Olivier Vernon) will be out there running around so you’ll get a chance to see him. I don’t want to jinx it or anything, we’ve been pretty good that way.
Q: Do you think the Cowboys may consider moving their best pass rusher to (Ereck Flowers’) side until he proves he can handle it?
A: I don’t know. That’s a tactical question for when (Jason Garrett) calls you. I don’t know that.