Offensive Coordinator Mike Shula -- November 7, 2019
Q: We get back to it every week. The turnovers with Daniel (Jones), what do you make of this round?
A: Well, as we’ve said before, there are a couple of different things. First of all, we all, as an offense, have to get the ball out faster when we’re throwing the ball. That’s when you’re most susceptible to turning the ball over, is when you’re throwing the ball, whether or not it’s a bad decision or a bad throw as an interception, or getting a sack, strip fumble in the pocket. So, getting the ball out on time… As coaches, and we’ve all talked about it, we work hard on protecting the football when we’re not throwing it. Keeping two hands on it. But the scramble right before, when was it… the third quarter, trying to make a play. Great effort, but you have to secure the ball. He knows that. As we’ve seen, turnovers result in points for other teams, just like we try to get when we get the ball. Protect the ball first. There are a lot of good things that we’re still building on. We’re not there, but one thing that can… That’s the other thing is when you have turnovers, it kind of, not kind of, it definitely overshadows a lot of the good things that you’re doing. It hurts in trying to win football games.
Q: Why do you think, and you kind of alluded to it, Daniel knows that, to protect the ball in the open field situation there. It’s a pretty simple thing to say from the outside, ‘Just do it.’ Why do you think in the moment, that thought in his head maybe gets lost?
A: I think it’s a lot of things. You’re competitive. You’re trying to find the first down marker to make sure you get the first down. Then you’re trying to figure out how to fall and all of a sudden, you have guys that are pretty good, maybe a little bit faster than what you’ve seen the last few years in competition that can get to the ball quicker and know how to get the ball out.
Q: I’ve heard of guys walking around the building with the football, people try to pop it out and stuff. What do you do specifically with that?
A: The biggest thing is when you’re in the pocket and you’re not throwing the ball, until you’re throwing the ball, keep two hands on it. Obviously, you want to keep it in front. But there are sometimes you just can’t help it. The best way you can get it where you’re not getting the ball stripped out is get the ball out faster. So, that’s us. That’s not just the quarterback. That’s us. That’s designing plays where the ball gets out faster, getting open faster, protecting a little bit longer, getting your reads quicker, all of those things come into it. In my experience, some years you have that and you have sacks and you don’t have a lot of turnovers. Other years, it seems like every time you get hit, the ball comes out. Other times, it’s been where the ball comes out the same time as it did last year, but you recover 70% of them this year, and the next year, you don’t recover any of them. You just have to kind of keep preaching it. Then when you research it further, you sa,y ‘Hey, well, stay out of long yardage situations. That’s when you’re most susceptible to it.’ So, all of those things combined.
Q: There’s nothing mechanically that he does in terms of his arm going back too far or anything?
A: No. I like his arm. I like the way he throws it. But yeah, I know what you’re saying.
Q: Why do you think it’s been such tough sledding for Nate Solder? It seemed like he was building some momentum late in the year last year, playing better than he started. But it seems like it’s been a struggle this year.
A: Again, he’s been like a lot of us, kind of been up and down. I think last week was better. He had the one (sack) late at the end of the game. That was tough. We were in the two-minute mode and trying to get the ball out quicker. I think he and some other guys, all of us, again, as coaches and players, we’re just not quite doing all of the things right consistently. Then when you have one thing go wrong, sometimes it just feels like when you’re losing games, it kind of gets magnified. You just have to kind of fight through that. We haven’t put everything together yet. When we do, we feel like he’s going to be a big part of that reason why we do because, as we know, he’s a good football player. He’s talented, he has good experience. He and all of us have to come together a little bit better and more consistently.
Q: When you call a reverse and Daniel is out in front, what do you want to see him do in that spot?
A: Well, not like that. Just kind of close the cushion a little bit quicker. He was kind of way out there in space, and then all of a sudden thought he could go one on one from about 40 yards with a defensive guy. But you can find ways as a quarterback to block and not have to do it like as a lead blocker with that much space between. We’re working on that.
Q: With Saquon (Barkley), what have you seen from him since he’s come back?
A: I don’t think he’s hit his stride yet. He’s done a lot of good things, and we know he’s a really good back. I think he’s part of that mix in where we’re just not quite everybody in stride. He’s had some really good runs where there hasn’t been a lot there, and there’s been some other times where I think he would probably say, ‘I could do a better job, because the line did a good job, I have to do a better job here, there.’ I think he’s getting there. I think just with more carries, and still he’s young, but with more carries and things like that, he’ll continue to get better.
Q: Is that getting back into that mindset of running it up in there hard. He mentioned that, a little bit of getting back to his college habit.
A: Yeah, I’ll kind of defer that to him, just because I think he’s had a few more carries than I’ve had. As far as coaching those guys that are really good runners coming out in college and good young runners, I think you kind of show them, ‘Hey, look how you did it here in the same situation. Now look how you’re doing it there. Let’s get back to doing it this way.’ Things like that. I think he has a good feel for that. Our best game is definitely still out there in the run game, and when we get that going, I think it’s going to help everybody else in regard to ball security, pass protection, productivity and points.
Q: In the passing game, can you find more creative ways to kind of get him involved? Obviously, you had the long catch and run on the screen, but just moving him around, finding ways to kind of use his full skillset?
A: Yeah, we feel like we’ve got some ways to get him the ball now, whether or not it’s checking the ball down to him on certain plays or getting him out wide, or even splitting him out wide at times. We’ve done some things. Could we do more? Yeah, potentially. But we kind of want to do it within the framework of what we do and do things that he’s comfortable with doing and Daniel is as well.
Q: How much do you need to do it more? You don’t have Sterling (Shepard), you’re not going to have Evan (Engram). Obviously, you need him to do more now.
A: I think, in general, obviously, you want to use your playmakers. I think that varies week to week on how you want to do that. For example, with Saquon, whether or not you want to keep him in the backfield or run routes from there or split him out, because he can do that. I think it kind of varies.
Q: In the red zone, do you think Daniel is a half-second tentative on letting go of the ball in some of these situations? Like late against Detroit, there was one in the red zone against Dallas where he took a hit from the guy (Kevin) Zeitler was blocking and overthrew Bennie (Fowler), who was open on the side.
A: I don’t know if I’d really agree with that. I would say just, in general, on offense, we were just a little bit off. We were really, really close on some things, whether or not it was ‘Man, we just need a little bit longer.’ He had to move in the pocket just to avoid some pressure and then he tried to get the ball there, or the receiver comes back just a little bit more. I think it was probably a little bit of everything. You look at that game last week and between the turnovers and then those opportunities in the red zone, and that’s kind of what we have to look at. We feel bad. We feel like we’re nowhere near where we, and we’re not, where we need to be. But you have to move past it. There’s nothing we can do about our schedule or what’s happened so far. But moving forward, we’re focusing on the Jets and just correcting those things that, ‘Hey, if we get this done, if we’re better in the red zone just by a little bit here, there, we get points, we protect the football, now we get ourselves in position to win games.’