Head Coach Pat Shurmur -- July 30, 2019
Opening Statement: It’s the day after the off day. We just had a good walkthrough. We’ll get a good practice this afternoon. We’ve got a special group here. We’ve got a group of young writers that are here (through) a program with the New York Times. They’ll get a chance to watch us do our thing. With that, I’ll take your questions.
Q: Having looked at the film and spoken with the coaches, where do you think the team has made the most progress since the spring this first week, and where do they stand as far as what they still have to work on?
A: Where we’ve made the most progress, I think, is the familiarity with the schemes on really all three sides of the ball, so offense, defense and special teams. I think our younger players have come further this year than maybe they did last year. Those are probably the areas (we’ve made the most progress). This is a critical week, as you get into the second week of training camp, so to speak, because our next off day will be Sunday, then we start to get into training camp slash game prep stuff for the preseason game. We’ve got a long way to go, I think, to get where we need to be. But I think it’s a good first week.
Q: When you say younger players are further this year, do you mean first to second year guys? Or are you comparing first year to first year players (from last year to this year)?
A: First year to first year, I think, because our systems are more in place. They were able to… Last spring, we were sort of sorting through it, so then the rookies were sorting through it with us. Now it’s more defined what we choose to do, and so that allows the rookies to come just a little further quicker.
Q: Is Oshane (Ximines) in that group?
A: Oh, for sure. He’s done a good job in the first week. Some of what he’s shown is natural ability, which he came here with.
Q: Considering he came from a smaller program, does he have a little bit more of a polished toolbox than maybe you thought he would have?
A: We talked last year about (Kyle) Lauletta coming from a small school. He had a long way to go. (Oshane’s) playing a little bit different of a position. I would say you’ll be able to see more of what he can do quicker than maybe a quarterback position.
Q: Basically (you’ve had) two or three practices in full pads. How would you evaluate where the offensive line is right now, compared to where it was a year ago?
A: Well, I feel like we’re more settled. I have a real good vision of probably the front six or seven guys, and where they’ll play. With the addition of (Mike) Remmers, obviously, and (Kevin) Zeitler, that’s pretty settled right there on the right side, where last year we were sort of unsettled there.
Q: What have you seen from Tae Davis?
A: He’s one of the guys that is much more comfortable in year two. He’s obviously got great skill and ability. He can run around, cover, make tackles and all those things. But you can just see there’s more of a comfort level in the system, whereas to where he should be depending on what the call is.
Q: How much would you like to, or maybe need to, use some of the other quarterbacks with the first-team? Is that something you feel is necessary at any point over the summer or during training camp?
A: Well, Eli’s in there. They’re all in there at times with backup players. There are times where even Eli is throwing to backup receivers. There’s a pretty good mix between the ones and the twos. I think we can see what we need to see from that standpoint.
Q: Does it help Daniel (Jones) that when he’s out there, he’s throwing to NFL receivers and not other rookies? Sometimes a rookie quarterback comes in and he’s with other rookies who are kind of feeling their way along. He’s got guys that have established themselves already.
A: I think it does help. Guys being where they’re supposed to be more consistently helps the quarterback. Training camp is about training the quarterback. I think we all do that. Everybody does that, whatever camp you’re in.
Q: Would you like to see (Daniel) behind the starting offensive line at some point? Is that something you feel is necessary?
A: At some point. At some point, it might happen. We have a plan for how that’s all going to play out. We’ll just let it unfold for you.
Q: You’re not going to share (the plan)?
A: No. You’ll see it. I’m not hiding it from you. We do have a plan for that.
Q: Is there anything that you pinpointed with Eli going into the offseason that you wanted him to improve on? I know he’s been around for a long time, but there are always things. Is there anything that you targeted that he has worked on?
A: I think it started in the offseason. His training was just a little bit different than it’s been (in the past), and I think he’s really throwing the ball well. When he came back for OTAs, we saw it. Some of it was physical, some of it was how he trained. Going through this, especially with the quarterback, we’re more at step two. We can come out and say, ‘We’re going to run this play,’ and I can say, ‘Hey listen Eli, if it’s Cover Two, let’s check it to this.’ And we don’t even have to have practiced it. We can just call it in the huddle and get it done. Those types of things… You ask the quarterbacks to get better every day and train and do all of the right things, and along the way, they sort of find their way. Eli’s done that every year. Eli knows what he’s looking at, he knows when he sees it. When you’re in a system longer, then you’ll pull the trigger quicker also. I think that’s where maybe you’ll see a little difference.
Q: Were any of those changes in training that you mentioned his decision, or your suggestion?
A: He always has a plan in the offseason. It was just a little bit different this year. Along the way, as we’re developing what we want to do tactically, then we make the changes that kind of fit the quarterbacks that we have.
Q: What have you seen from both of those guys (Eli and Daniel) against the blitz? Because it seems like there have been several periods each day where maybe you’ve turned up the heat a little bit. How do you feel the quarterbacks are handling it?
A: I think they’re doing well. I mean, we have a blitz period every day. It’s a part of shaving. You’ve got to practice against the blitz every day. You’ve got to do it, and I think they’ve done a good job. There’s a lot to learn. I think it’s important for our defense, and important for our team, to be able to do it. I think our guys have handled it pretty well.
Q: Have you heard anything from the league about Golden Tate’s appeal?
A: No. I’ll let those details sort of unfold. It’ll be soon, I’m sure. It’s obviously before the start of the season. With that being said, he’s out here training like he’s going to be there Week One. Aside from that being on the horizon, the issues of the day don’t change.
Q: Do you prepare for him to not be there (Week One)? Do you have to assume the worst and prepare without him (in the game plan)?
A: Well, I always assume the best. It’s just like anything. If all of a sudden you don’t have a player, then you make the adjustments. At that time, if they decide we don’t have him, then we make adjustments.
Q: At backup running back, is there a quality that you are looking for most? Paul Perkins got some first team reps the other day. You’ve got a guy like Rod Smith, Wayne Gallman… What do you prioritize looking at a guy backing up Saquon?
A: Well, there’s a handful of things they have to do, and do well. Certainly, they have to be able to run the football. They need to be good in pass protection. Then when we choose to throw it to them, they have to be able to catch it. So, those three things. Normally where young players, or players that haven’t played much, are behind is in pass protection. That’s why it’s important that they get their reps. It’s important that they’re able to do all of those things. Quite frankly, all the running backs got high marks or medium marks in all of those three areas.
Q: With the weather being what it’s supposed to be like today, very hot, what do you do to keep the players safe in terms of the heat?
A: We’re always aware of the heat. Player safety is always on the front burner for us. But it is the second-to-last day of July. It’s warm in most climates where we’re playing NFL football. That’s part of it, is dealing with the heat to some degree. But we’ll give them breaks, let them drink water and then keep track of things. I think it’s important to adjust as we see fit. This is a process as you go through training camp. Each guy at this point is at maybe a little different place than the next guy, in terms of being ready to play Week One. So, we just keep track of it. That’s why sometimes you’ll see guys in practice and out of practice. We’re just trying to get them the work they need and get them trained up, but try to be smart as well.