Offensive Coordinator Mike Shula -- September 19, 2019
Q: What sort of challenges does Tampa Bay’s blitzing pose?
A: They do such a good job, it poses a lot of problems for a lot of offenses. As we go into the game, you can imagine starting a rookie quarterback is probably going to increase it a little bit. They’re really good at what they do, and they’re really fast at doing it, and they give you a lot of disguises, so I think all of those things present problems. So, we’ve really got to be on point with our recognition and our communication.
Q: You’ve played some really good fronts the last two weeks. How has your line come through those two matchups, and how does it help them?
A: I think good at times. I think it could be better at times like a lot of other spots on offense, but I think the main thing is those guys are going to give you a hard day’s work every single day. The other thing, if something bad happens, they don’t let it bother them and they go on and play the next play. So, I think collectively, those guys are probably at the hot spots—the tackles are at the hot spots—but as a group, just taking all 11 guys to say let’s get open on time, let’s get the ball out on time, let’s pick up blitzers if you’re a running back, and know you have to get the ball out quick.
Q: What goes into the process of getting a rookie quarterback going into his first start ready for that?
A: First of all, it actually starts ahead of time. With all the quarterbacks that I’ve been around that have gotten a lot of reps in training camp, as we all see, and then all of the sudden they’re not the starter, you just keep talking to them about how you’ve got to keep the mindset that you have to be ready to go in after the first play of the game for whatever reason and go play. Then, the preparation during the week, even though they don’t get the physical reps, you still kind of work with them as much as you can on little throws here, little throws there, mentally as much time as you can, so then all of the sudden a week like this happens for Daniel (Jones) as we’re talking about, he’s in the mindset of, “I’m going to rely on the things I’ve done in training camp, and all the rules.” I think the biggest thing is probably for young guys starting, or guys that haven’t started in a while, is don’t try to do too much and make sure you communicate clearly. So, those are the things we’re emphasizing this week. I think he’s got a good grasp on our offense—I know he’s got a good grasp on our offense—and so now it’s just kind of the consistency during the week, and then let that take over on Sunday.
Q: How has he handled his new responsibilities this week?
A: He’s a unique guy. We’ve got some unique guys in that quarterback room. His demeanor, and you guys have been around him a little bit now, his demeanor doesn’t change much. He’s been really good, he’s on top of the things that—you can kind of see with young guys sometimes where there’s a little bit of hesitation with their answer or maybe sometimes out on the field—but so far, he’s been really good throughout and very consistent throughout all of our practices.
Q: What are your expectations for him this week?
A: Well, anybody that’s in that position, we expect to help us win football games. But like I said, I think more so than—don’t try to do too much, don’t think you have to make plays down the field here or there—our expectations for him are just to make the right decisions. As we’ve talked in the past, I think that position comes down to three things when you’re throwing the football: go to the right guy with the football, get the ball there on time, and get the ball there accurately. So, you’ve got to kind of stay in that world and try to block out all the other things. Now, there’s a lot of things that we train hard in the meantime to help accomplish that, but that’s what it’s going to come down to.
Q: If you’re able to get Sterling Shepard back, how much of boost is that if he can go?
A: Yeah, hopefully things will work out where he can. He’s really explosive with the ball, he’s got—I think I said this during the offseason or during training camp—he’s got so much of a better feel for what we’re doing. You can see him play with confidence, and he’s very sudden, so we’ve just got to give him a chance to do what he does best, and he does a lot of things good, and get him the ball.
Q: From your perspective, what’s the excitement level? For you, you were really at the ground floor when you guys evaluated Daniel.
A: I think he’s been very consistent, more so than maybe any other young guy I’ve been around, with everything that we’ve asked him to do. Maybe if it’s just doing it a little bit differently here or there, he works on it, gets it done, and he’s been so well coached in college, it’s made a lot of things for us easier here, and I think it’s helped him get himself in position to have a good training camp, play well as we all saw, and hopefully that will carry over on Sunday.
Q: What was your reaction when Pat Shurmur told you he was going to be the starting quarterback?
A: Like everybody else, the head coach of any football team has a lot of difficult decisions to make. We’re all in with whatever decision he makes, and we’re all about winning this football game.
Q: What was your evaluation of Eli in the first two games?
A: We all have not done a good enough job. I’m answering that as “we,” not as “Eli.” He’s done some really good things. I can’t say enough about the kind of guy he is, the kind of quarterback he is, and in just a short time the relationship that I have with him, and I know he’ll be ready when needed now--he’s such a tremendous leader and player. Unfortunately, we started 0-2, Coach has made this decision, and now we move forward with Daniel and everybody else, starting with myself and the other coaches, we’ve got to find a way to win a football game.
Q: What do you want Eli Manning’s role to be during the game? How will his role be different than maybe a typical backup quarterback, if at all?
A: Only because—and I’ll get back to the (quarterbacks) room, I was talking about how unique our room is—it’s the same thing on the sideline. It’s a collective effort. All three of those guys are probably the smartest guys I’ve ever—and I’ve been lucky enough to be around a lot of smart quarterbacks—and I’m not so sure I’ve been around three guys that are as smart as these guys. So, it’s decisions during the course of the week on things that we’re doing on the practice field, in the meeting room, and on game day. Those guys are great and they have really good ideas moving forward, so the communication will be constant as well this week.
Q: Daniel had the two fumbles against Chicago in the preseason, and then one against Dallas. Will ball security become a point of emphasis for him, and do you feel okay about that?
A: Ball security, that’s number one, it always is, especially for the guy who handles the ball the most. So yeah, we have to protect the football--the old cliché as far as the turnovers and the ratio and it’s tough to win games when you don’t win the turnover battle—but we want to play keep away, we want to be selfish and keep the ball and stay on the field and finish drives with touchdowns. The only way to do that is making smart decisions, not forcing the ball when you’re throwing it, and protecting the ball when you have it in your hands, whether or not you’re running it or you’re in the pocket.
Q: How do you guys get better on third downs to prolong those possessions?
A: We look at that, and we’ve looked at it hard already. Obviously, staying out of third down and long, you’re percentages are lower, and we’re really low when you go beyond seven yards, and we can be better on the third and one to two areas as well. So, it’s a collective effort. We look at everything involved—scheme-wise, what teams are trying to do to us may be different than what we thought, do we need to have more flexibility with some of the things that we’re doing—all those things. But you don’t want to just say “better execution,” it’s everything—it’s better coaching, better detailing what guys are being asked to do, and then the guys on the field.