Head Coach Pat Shurmur -- December 26, 2018
Opening Remarks: Injuries, you can ask me about specifics. We’ve got some guys that got banged up a little bit in the last game, we’ll just see how they can make it through. Then we have some guys trying to work their way back, they’re all feeling better, but we’ll just see if they got enough time to make it to the game. If you have questions, I’ll answer them then, otherwise, Wednesday, Dallas, good walk thru and getting ready to go practice here in a little bit. I’ll try to answer your questions.
Q: Is there a chance Odell (Beckham) and (Alec) Ogletree, two starters that missed last week, will play in this game?
A: There’s a chance. We’ll just have to see where they’re at. They’re both feeling better than they did last week, we’ll just have to see.
Q: What do you expect from them today?
A: Odell will be out there, he’s not going to take part in practice – he’s been out there, but it won’t be much different than what he did last week. And then Ogletree won’t be out there.
Q: How are the Cowboys different with Amari Cooper since the last time you saw them?
A: Yeah, they’ve added a dynamic playmaker at receiver. Certainly their offense runs through their quarterback and their running back, they do an excellent job running the football, they’re committed to it and Dak Prescott, the offensive line does a great job. Ezekiel Elliott gets yards when he runs the ball and the play action feeds off of that, so when you add a dynamic playmaker on the outside, from a defensive standpoint, you have to defend everything. They’ve made big plays now with him in the lineup.
Q: They’re locked up already in the number four spot. What do you expect Jason (Garrett) will do and does that affect anything that you do?
A: I don’t think it affects anything that we’ll do. That’s certainly a better question for them and he may hold his cards all the way until the end. I expect them to come in and try to win a football game, that’s what I expect. And we’re going to try to do the same, try to beat them at their best and finish the year on a good note.
Q: Does it change the feeling a little bit? You obviously always play division rivals the last game, and the fact that they’ve clinched, they’re a first place team, and it gives your team in some ways something to shoot for – this is the best team in the division this year, and you get one last shot at them.
A: No, I think it’s just one more weekly preparation and we play Dallas this week, and it’s a division rival. We understand the emotion that goes with playing a division rival. We’ll try to get a win in our last game.
Q: Since the last time you played them was back in Week 2, can you take much from that film?
A: Well, I think we’re a better team than we were back then. We’ve sustained some injuries the last couple of weeks, but I do think that all teams kind of morph a little bit as the season goes on. You start to do the things you do well more. Some of the things you didn’t do well early, you don’t do anymore. And again, for guys in their first year, getting the feel for the players, so you change certainly. There’s something to be gained by watching the film because schemes pretty much are the same, but I think we’re both different teams now.
Q: You mentioned a couple times there is year-to-year momentum, and that carries over. Why is that? If you’re going to have 10, 15 new players, maybe some coaching assistant changes and what not, why do you believe it carries over through nine months and all that happens?
A: Yeah, unless you just change everybody out, what about the other 45 guys? What about the coaches that are still here? The systems are in place, you do what you can to improve the systems, and you do what you can to improve the players. Just like the second year that you were writing articles, you were better than you were the first year, right? Well, I’m assuming (laughter). Let’s assume that. Anything you do more than once, you improve, and so if you believe experience matters, that’s why everything carries over. I think it’s all connected.
Q: You said you’re a better team than when you played them (Week 2)?
A: I think we’re a better team, yeah. We function better.
Q: Is there a specific part of your team that you look and say maybe this is the biggest gain we’ve made?
A: I don’t know, I just think it’s incremental improvements in areas that we weren’t quite as good earlier in the year, throughout the team.
Q: You’ve lost a number of games very close, do you take solace in that? Or what do you attribute that to and what needs to be done to kind of win those games?
A: Good point. No, I don’t take solace in that. Right is right, you’ve got to win the game. A game like last week, it’s right there, we’ve got to go take it. Nothing’s given to you, so you’re presented with…just talk about five or six games this year, a couple of them we finished out and won and there were a couple of them that we didn’t. We played the Eagles, right, it was 22-22, they had the ball at their 25 and they went down and kicked a field goal on us. Carolina, right? We do what we did to get ahead, they go down and kick the field goal. Then there were games that we closed out, like Tampa and Chicago, and even Houston early on where they were racing up and down the field at the end and we did what we had to do to get the ball turned over and win. Right is right, though, you’ve got to try and win these games. The fact that we’re competitive, that’s for somebody else to take solace in. The fact that we fight until the end is what I think is important. Now when there’s a victory to be had, we’ve got to go take it, and I think that’s part of learning and part of what we need to do better.
Q: Will that be part of that carryover?
A: Sure. Oh, absolutely. That’s part of what the guys that remain, the guys that are here next year, they’re going to hear that. They’re going to remember when we’re in these moments again, they’re going to go take them.
Q: I know you’re not making any personnel decisions until the offseason, but you will assess the QB position after this going into the draft, etcetera. Is there any consideration on your part this week in preparation for Dallas that this could be Eli Manning’s last game as a Giant? Two-time Super Bowl winner, what he means to the franchise – because you haven’t made that decision yet, is that any consideration on your part this week as far as how you prepare for this game, how you prepare the team for the game?
A: No, not really. Eli’s our starter, Eli gives us the best chance to win, and he’s going to play on Sunday. That’s where we’re at. I think when the game is over and we start talking in depth about what’s going to happen moving forward, that’s when you worry about it. I’m not worried about that. Again, you’re talking to the coach. I’m worried about the game.
Q: Think back when you first took over this job, we talked to you at the Combine. I remember you saying you feel like you were just waiting for that moment to get the guys in the building and get your program together, spend time together. Now you’re on kind of the flipside, you have less than a week or about a week left with this group. Is there anything beyond the game that you’re looking at now over the last six, seven days that you need to accomplish before you send this team away and not seeing them for a while?
A: I have things I’m doing behind the scenes to direct as we move through the month of January, so yeah, I’m making those plans myself and then I’ll reveal them as the staff and players meet.
Q: I just mean your connection with the players. I remember you talking about you’d see Eli in the cafeteria and you couldn’t talk football with him. You basically have a week left with the guys you’re viewing who you can count on for next year, is there anything you can do between now and next week to kind of button that up?
A: We’ll have longer conversations with all the players on Monday to talk about what our expectations are moving forward. I’m ready for that. We’ve done this long enough where there’s sort of a blueprint for that. And there’s certain things I expect to see from the younger players, and then I just expect that they’re going to be professional about what they do with their time and take it from there. I have a more detailed blueprint of where it’s going to go, I have an idea of what January, February, March needs to look like, but that’s not for anybody to know yet until after we play the next game.
Q: Would you consider, if the situation permitted, something that would allow the fans to acknowledge Eli, knowing it could be his last game as a starter? Is that something you would consider at all?
A: That’s an in-game thing that happens when it happens. We’re trying to win a game and Eli is our quarterback.
Q: What’s Rhett Ellison’s status?
A: He’s in the protocol, and he is working his way back.
Q: With Eli, barring any physical issues, do you expect him to finish the game?
A: Of course. Hopefully, what I expect him to do is lead us to victory. Nothing would be better than for him to assume the victory formation and take a knee, and beating the Cowboys. That’s what we’re looking to do.