Offensive Coordinator Mike Shula -- May 8, 2019
Opening Statement: I will start this. Just coming off the field, that comfort feeling for me as a coach and I can only imagine for our players already about being here a year in the system, I think we are light years ahead of where we were at this time last year. One of our goals as we talked during the off-season is to kind of pick up offensively where we left off with those exceptions of at the end of games closing it out. Finishing. There’s a lot of good stuff to get at the end of the year. This time last year was my first time with Eli, you know, and seeing him in the offseason, I thought he was in really good shape. I think he’s in better shape now than he was. You know, having the young guys a year into the system with Barkley, with Shep, and Evan Engram and those guys. Just seeing their comfort level, for me, it makes me feel really excited about where we can go.
Q: Throughout your career, have you noticed that? Is there a dramatic jump in year two in terms of how the offenses produce?
A: I think so. I’d probably have to think back, but that first year when you get together, there’s a lot of, you know, ‘Hey, how do you want to do it?’ Now, we can go back, ‘Hey, how did we do it last year? How can we do it better?’ Plus, the fact that guys aren’t thinking about formations, they’re not thinking about movements. Now they’re thinking, ‘Okay, what is my job now after the ball is snapped? How do I react against certain looks?’ That’s the goal. That’s where we want to get. The quicker we get to that, the faster we’ll play and hopefully the better we’ll play because of it early.
Q: What makes you think that Eli is in better shape? What do you see that illustrates that?
A: I just think that he’s moving around pretty good. His arm looks fresh. And maybe even with him, it is kind of maybe the comfort level of being a year in a system and kind of knowing more of what we want. I think he’s throwing the ball well and moving around good.
Q: Golden Tate is a guy who wasn’t here last year and the Eagles struggled to integrate him into their scheme, but from what you have seen from him now, what is he going to bring to you guys and what is your first impression?
A: I think he is going to bring productivity because he is really good with the ball in his hands, versatility, and flexibility. You can put him inside, you know, we know with Shep that Shep can play both inside and out. Now, we have two guys that can do that. I think when you have two guys who can do that, you become less predictable and I think it gives you another guy when the ball is in his hands, he’s pretty good.
Q: You were at Daniel Jones’s Pro Day while we were with Pat and Dave in Arizona. What was your report back that day? Because I think Pat came and worked him out a couple of days later. What was your report?
A: I think he had a great pro day. Of course, we liked him all along. You know, when you see a guy throw the ball in person, I was down there at the Combine as well, but just another exposure. He throws the ball very well; he’s got a quick release; good touch. And then when he got here I thought everything was actually a little bit better. His arm was even stronger than I had remembered. His release was even quicker I remembered.
Q: You were in Carolina when Cam was in his first year. What are some of the challenges that Daniel Jones is going to face and how much will sitting and learning help him?
A: Well, I think the challenge for any young guy is the speed of the defense. If he’s throwing a deep ball outside to a receiver, he’s got to understand that most likely the free safety in the NFL is going to get to that ball a lot quicker than what he saw in college. The definition of a guy being open in the NFL is a lot different than maybe it is in college. There’s going to be a lot of tight coverage, where, he’s still open and you’ve got to throw it. I think the obvious reasons for him with Eli as our starter and sitting, you know, he’s going to be learning from one of the best ever in regards to preparation. It’s not just the normal stuff, but the day-to-day operations, the routine, the schedule, and then all of the details of the position. You see it in practice and then see how it manifests itself on game day.
Q: How would you describe your approach with a young quarterback? How do you kind of try and handle them and what do you try to accomplish early on?
A: I think with all of them we try to push the envelope early. First of all, you want to kind of see how quickly they can pick things up, how quickly they can retain now with not as many reps as they would in college. And then kind of go from there. We want all of the young guys to play catch up. We understand that there’s a learning curve, but we still want to test that a little bit. I think that helps us gather information down the road on what kind processor these guys are, talking about Daniel now, as well. At that position, going from the meeting rooms or walkthroughs to the practice field and the game field.
Q: Mike, as the OC and Quarterbacks Coach, when you guys make an investment in a guy like Daniel at 6, how does your day to day change as far as coaching and installing the offense, but also kind of trying to help bring him along.
A: It might get a little busy, but it’s a good busy. We’ve got to make sure that with all of our guys, and the guys listed first on the depth chart, are knowing and feeling really good about what they do, but everybody else at some point, they need to be ready to play. Our approach as coaches, and especially with quarterbacks, all of those guys need to be ready to play. The test for those guys is they’re going to have to do it without any reps and be expected to play well.
Q: Do you do like an extra period after practice with them? Do you do extra film individually with them?
A: As much as we can, within the rules obviously, during the certain periods of the offseason and then training camp and then within the time frame of when we’re not slowing everybody else down. We’ve got enough resources where he’s going to be making sure that he and all of the other guys are going to be learning as fast as they can and kind of do a little bit more than the veterans would do.
Q: What have you learned in your limited time around Daniel Jones about his makeup?
A: He’s a solid person. He’s really smart. The way you tell that is not necessarily by, alone, how he is picking things up, but by the questions that he asks. You’ll say certain things, and then all of a sudden, you’ll get a question and sometimes you forgot to be detailed in talking about it and he’ll ask that question reminding you. Or another question, on a deeper level, in regards to all of the looks that we could see, and a rookie usually doesn’t ask those things. Our first exposure was the Rookie Minicamp and I thought he did a really good job. The things that were different for him, and like any rookie, that we do that were different than he did at Duke. He was so well coached at Duke, but we’ll have a couple of little different things. We’ll be under center a little bit more than they were. The things that he was new to, you could kind of see how quickly he picked them up. Maybe the first day it wasn’t quite as sharp, but the next day it was like he had done it for a long time.
Q: Eli has, by all accounts, been good with rookie quarterbacks throughout his career. He has never really had a guy who has been labeled as his eventual replacement. Have you talked to Eli about that and how do you expect that he will handle having a guy behind him that might take his job?
A: Most of you guys probably know Eli better than I do; been around him a lot longer. You can imagine, it’s like another day at work. I can remember when we were getting ready to draft Daniel and I called him. I could barely hear him because he’s got his youngest in his arms, the baby. He might’ve been changing a diaper. ‘Oh yeah, coach. Great. See you tomorrow.” That’s how he is. That’s how his approach is. I always saw that before I got here with the Giants and he was in front of the media and he is that way every single day.
Q: What does a guy like Golden Tate add to the receiving room?
A: He’s got learning to do. Sometimes the older guys have a little harder thing, because sometimes they are so used to having this thing called this way for so many years, and now it is called exactly the opposite. He provides the experience, the knowledge, the route awareness, sudden changes that you might not have to make that are kind of hard to cover all of the time with some of the younger guys. He is going to bring that to the table. And like I said, he is really good with the ball in his hands, so getting him the ball, he can lower his shoulder at times and make guys miss. Not necessarily defensive linemen, but DBs that are trying to tackle him. I think he is going to be a good weapon for us on all downs.
Q: How do you expect it to change how defenses play you guys without Odell Beckham?
A: I think kind of based on last year, not as much as you might think. I mean, there might have been certain teams that had an all-out double team, but other than that, there really wasn’t much, and part of that probably was because of Saquon. I mean you got to be careful doubling receivers when you’ve got a back like that.
Q: As Barkley goes into year two, what did you tell him that he needs to do better that you want him to take up a notch?
A: He’s so conscientious. I mean he’ll ask you that question. For all young backs, going from college to the NFL is they’re probably being asked to protect a little bit more, so that was probably an eye opener for him. Especially earlier in the year and then he got better at it. And then also, we will continue to work on the route running because we want to build him where he can pretty much line up anywhere and do some of the things wide receivers are doing. When you have the ability to move guys around like that, it is hard on the defense. A lot of players from year one to year two take a big step. That being said, when you have a really good year your first year, you’ve got to make sure that you don’t try to press and make it even bigger and always go for the big run, so to speak. Just be disciplined in what you’re doing and his comfort level, like a lot of the other guys, is really high and it’s kind of fun to watch.
Q: One of the question marks heading into the offseason was at right tackle. Are you guys set with Chad or are you looking to sign someone?
A: I mean I can only speak for the guys that are on the team. The other questions are for Dave and Pat. I think Wheels has done a really good job this offseason with our exposure with him. Again, I have only been around him for a year, but I think there is a big difference even with him and his approach. I think he, along with a lot of other guys, got better as the year went on. We all know that we were nowhere near good enough early in the year. We did a lot of good things even though it wasn’t good enough at the end of the year, but we were really, really close and trending in the right direction. He was one of those guys that falls in that category.
Q: You’ve dealt with a lot of young quarterbacks who have come from various schools, various draft picks. When you look at Daniel, if he was in a different circumstance, is he a day one starter in this league, you think?
A: I think he’d be ready to go. That’s my personal opinion. I would say this: times have changed. In the years past, whenever you draft a guy, even if it was that early, those guys would traditionally not play until their second or third year. But probably ever since six or seven years ago, you started seeing more guys playing early. But I think he has that capability. Obviously with any young guy, whether it is Daniel or whoever you have, I think you have to make sure that those guys, you find out what they can do best and get them on the field doing that to start with and then go from there. I think he’s got that capability.