Offensive Coordinator Mike Shula -- November 29, 2018
Q: Khalil Mack. How do you stop this guy?
A; Heís really good. One of the top players in the NFL, and the reason he is not just because heís such a great pass rusher and heís got all the moves a pass rusher has, and he can bull rush too with power, but he plays the run so well, heís very instinctive. You just have to know where he is on every play and get as much help to him as you can, but obviously theyíre coached very well and they understand that too, and they do a good job scheme-wise where they try to prevent you from getting to him with more than one guy. Itís going to have to be a team effort on offense, and it starts on the early downs up front with our offensive line, staying out of the longer yardage situations, keeping ourselves in the downs where are we running it, are we throwing it, and going from there. Each and every week, obviously youíve got to know who youíre playing personnel-wise, but itís still about us and we feel like if weíre on top of our game for four quarters, then we can keep teams off-balance, defenses off-balance, and move the ball and just got to get it in the end zone more.
Q: Do you see a lot of situations where maybe Mackís not making the play but heís drawing two or three guys and itís freeing up other guys to do damage?
A: Every play. You see it on every play.
Q: Given your record, thereís been a lot of talk about what to do at the quarterback position over the final five games. Youíre in practice every day with Kyle Lauletta, what do you see out of him and do you think heíd be ready to step in?
A: Weíre locked in on beating the Bears and helping Eli and our offense get ourselves ready and go win a football game. We felt like we had a chance last week and did a lot of really good things, and Eli did a lot of really good things to help us, and we just fell short. That was unfortunate because we feel like weíre getting better across the board on offense.
Q: What do you think happened in the second half with Eli thatís so different than the success he had early on?
A: Weíve all been around games like that where youíre controlling the ball, youíre doing a lot of good things in the first half, and unfortunately we didnít get touchdowns on a couple drives down there and that usually ends up a lot of times hurting you. Thatís kind of what happened, the third quarter we didnít have the ball very much because we didnít make first downs, whether or not it was on an end-of-play, or penalty, or what have you. Thatís collectively as a team, and then when we got going, we had a really good drive in the fourth quarter and unfortunately we were close on the third down at the end and just missed it. You even take a look at the first drive of the game, and this is what we try to impress upon our players, the third play of the game Ė I think itís third-and-10, if not itís at least third-and-eight Ė and we throw the ball during a soft zone, we throw the ball underneath to Rhett (Ellison) and he fights, catches it and fights, and itís a good read obviously because theyíre real soft, and he gets the first down but that much (motions small with fingers). If we donít get the first down, itís three and out, they got the ball. We get the first down, we go down and score. Those are the things we continue to build on, work on, and impress upon our players.
Q: Youíre part of designing the game plan. What do you think when Odell says afterwards, Iím paraphrasing, ĎIf it was me, I wouldíve attacked more downfield, it just wasnít part of our game planí?
A: I donít really ever worry about that. We talk here with our players and our coaches and we move on. If thereís ever any issues, we handle them one on one, whether or not itís coaches and players, players and players, or coordinators or head coaches, and then we move on, make sure weíre on the same page. Everybody wants to win, for sure with receivers. Weíd all be disappointed if guys didnít want the ball more. Unfortunately, thereís only one football, and the bottom line for us is we want to all be on the same page and do whatever we can each and every guy, player and coach, to go win a football game. Thatís what our focus is this week.
Q: It came up in the Eagles game but Iím speaking more generally. What makes taking Saquon out for a full series right versus spelling him for one play here or there on different series?
A: I donít know if thereís any right answer. I think itís important, you can wear guys out easily, especially at that position where you have a tendency to try to give them the ball, and then all the sudden at the end of the game, maybe heís got too many carries or heís too tired or whatever, plus heís a young guy. I think Coach (Craig) Johnson does a really good job of spelling those guys and I think Wayne (Gallman) is a lot like the rest of our offense. Heís gotten a lot better as the yearís gone on and really played well the last two weeks and in the game last week. Itís good to have a guy like that to give Saquon a break, and just when you do it, itís just kind of a feel thing.
Q: Youíve been an offensive coordinator for a while. Theyíre going into the game not knowing whoís starting. In that situation, you have the same game plan? Would you put A if this guy starts, or B if that guy starts? Would you have more plays for a certain guy, knowing those are his favorite plays as opposed to one game plan (at quarterback)?
A: Weíre worried about beating the Bears, and whoever is in there is expected to execute the plays. Eli is our quarterback and trying like crazy just like every week, coaches Ė Iím not the only one, but I am, the quarterbacks are, the other positions are, and when theyíre numberís called, go make a play.
Q: On the quarterback situation: You say that youíre concentrating on the current team, but obviously you have to put together a lineup. When you put together your list of the guys that are going to contribute to beating that team, do you look at the preparation of the younger guys? What goes into deciding whoís going to be part of the game plan to beat that team?
A: All of our guys are expected to execute whatís on the game plan.
Q: But thereís no evaluation done as far as, ok, this guyís maybe further along in the classroom as opposed to this guy?
A: Sure there is, but if we have our game plan, then anything thatís in our game plan, anybody thatís in the game is expected to execute that.
Q: Against these guys, how important is ball security Ė both fumbles and interceptions? (Khalil) Mack in particular is going to make his plays, but you try to not to make them game wreckers.
A: Yeah, obviously we all know how important it is and these guys feed off of that. Theyíre as good as probably anybody is of getting turnovers, and thatís not just interceptions but stripping the ball. If itís not the first guy, the second guy is trying to strip the ball while the first guyís trying to tackle. Obviously itís our number-one thing each and every week to take care of the football, secure it, and play keep away. Thereís drills to do that, anybodyís whoís in there is expected to make sure theyíre doing everything they can in there to protect the ball whether or not youíre throwing it or running with it or catching it or whatever. Like I said, theyíre really good at it, and thatís one of the reasons they have the record they have, so weíve just got to make sure we do the things that we can do in that regard to help ourselves stay on the field and get points.