Head Coach Pat Shurmur -- October 8, 2019
Q: Did Saquon (Barkley) and Evan (Engram) practice?
A: We had kind of a ‘teach tempo’ today. We did a few things full speed, but teach tempo. The only guys that didn’t participate in anything were the two guys that are dealing with concussions (Sterling Shepard and Wayne Gallman). So I’m just going to leave it at that.
Q: How’s Sterling doing?
A: He’s in the concussion protocol.
Q: Is he moving around? Is he at the facility?
A: Yeah, he’s up moving around.
Q: It appears that you’re going to be pretty significantly short-handed on offense entering this game. How do you adjust to that and accommodate to that as a play-caller?
A: We do everything each week to adjust to the players that we have on the field. We try to do the things that they do best and give them the best chance to compete against the team we’re playing against. This game will be no different.
Q: Do you expect Evan and Saquon to be game-time decisions?
A: We’ll see. Like I said, I’m not going to talk about injuries other than the two concussion guys didn’t participate at all today.
Q: You guys are 16.5-point underdogs. What is your reaction to that? That’s such a big number.
A: I have no reaction to it.
Q: When you look at the Patriots defense, the numbers have been dominant. But from a film study standpoint, what stands out about why they’re playing so well?
A: They have all of the elements of what makes for a dominating defense. They’re very sturdy against the run. When you drop back to pass, they get pressure, whether they’re rushing with four or they choose to pressure. Then in the backend, they can play man-to-man coverage or in the case of zone, they do a good job of eliminating the big play. They have all of those elements, and that’s why they’ve had success.
Q: What does not having all of those weapons do to Daniel (Jones)?
A: We’re going to play with the guys that we have. We expect Daniel to go out and execute, and I’m going to try to call the game so that he has the best chance to do so.
Q: Your defense has given up almost 500 yards in three games. Two 98-yard drives, which is kind of unusual to see in a season. What can it do to get better beginning Thursday? Where would you want it to start?
A: We need to play more like we did two weeks ago than we did last week. Two weeks ago, I think we had three explosive plays. Last week, we had many more. It just comes down to all of the fundamentals of playing good defense. You have to be in the right spot. When a ball carrier or a route runner shows up and he has the ball in his hands, you have to tackle him. Everybody has to cover down properly, and when they choose to pass, you have to get pressure. Obviously, when they choose to run the ball, it’s a team thing. You have to win your gap, which means you have to defeat the block, win your gap and then run to the ball. Those are just all team concepts that we just have to all do more like we did two weeks ago and less like we did last week.
Q: Do you get a sense that opposing defenses are getting a little bit of a jump on Daniel’s snap count?
A: No. We have alternate snap counts.
Q: You don’t feel like edge rushers are getting a particularly good jump?
A: You’d have to ask those edge rushers.
Q: Looking at it, it seems like they are.
A: Well, we played against some good edge rushers. You’d have to ask them. But we certainly have ways to combat that.
Q: It’s out there that Engram and Saquon aren’t expected to play. Is that accurate?
A: You didn’t hear that from me. What’s accurate is the two guys that did not participate to any degree today were the two guys that are listed with concussions.
Q: If those two guys can’t play though, what does it do to your offense?
A: We’ll put the next guys in and we’ll go. I understand that you’re curious about the injuries. I really don’t have anything to add other than what’s out there. And some of what’s out there is not stuff that we put out.
Q: After watching the film, if Saquon can’t play, do you expect (Eli) Penny to have more of a role than he did on Sunday?
A: We’ll see how much he plays tailback. He’s listed as a fullback, but when we put him in at tailback, we expect him to do tailback things.
Q: What did you think of him? It seemed like he was productive when he had the ball.
A: I think he’s a good runner. He has good vision. He has good collision balance. To this point, when we’ve handed it to him, he’s secured it well. Those are all of the elements that you’re looking for in a runner.
Q: When it comes to Saquon, this is more philosophical than his status for Thursday necessarily, but a guy like that who pushes himself, who does heal quickly historically. Should it be a surprise that it’s perhaps the training staff that has to say, ‘You think you’re ready to play. We’re going to be cautious and give you that one extra game off,’ because that makes sense for the longer term?
A: I don’t know any of that. I do know this. We have outstanding doctors and trainers. We have open lines of communication between the players, the trainers and the doctors. At some point, when a player is ready to play and we feel like he’s healthy enough to play, he goes back in there. That’s really how it works.
Q: When you look at this Patriots defense throughout these first few games, how much is (Patriots head coach Bill) Belichick changing drastically what he’s doing from week to week or do they have kind of a consistent approach? Because he has that chameleon reputation for being able to change weekly. How much of it is that versus (a consistent approach)?
A: There’s always a little bit of change to what they do. But they’re playing extremely well, and they’re very multiple within games. Again, that would be a better question for anybody that’s watching this tape like we are. But that’s part of their charm, their ability to change. They’re like everybody. He has a roster of players, really good players, and he tries to put them on the field and use their strengths. That’s what he does. And then take away what we do well.
Q: When you guys have injuries, it seems like your tendency is to call up guys from the practice squad rather than sign new players. Why is that? Why are you more comfortable with your practice squad players?
A: I don’t know what our tendency is. I do know this, we have workouts frequently, and we’re trying to add the best players available. Sometimes, those guys come from your practice squad. A guy that’s been with you for a while has an understanding of what you’re doing. They’re on our practice squad because they’re guys that we like to some degree. So, that’s why.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about what Darius Slayton has done the last couple of weeks? I think he’s been targeted 12 times, nine catches, he’s averaging something like 17.4 (yards per catch). Is that surprising for a guy who’s had a hamstring problem?
A: No. Unfortunately, he had a hamstring problem. But once again, we drafted him for a reason. I think I made comments earlier in the week about how we’ve liked what we’ve seen behind the scenes. He’s getting more and more of an opportunity to play, and he’s making the best of it. The hamstring problem for him was sort of the issue of the day. But aside from that, he’s done a lot of good things.
Q: What did you notice coming out of that game from (Jon) Hilliman? What did he do well? Where does he have to get better? Can you just kind of assess that?
A: Yeah, he competed well. He did what we asked him to do, and with his opportunities, he made the most of them. We expect that he’ll do the same this week.