Offensive Coordinator Mike Shula -- November 29, 2019
Q: I think one of the things highlighted a little bit this week was people pointing at rushing attempts into disadvantageous looks. Does Daniel (Jones) have the same amount of freedom as Eli (Manning) to change those, or do you have to scale that back when you’re dealing with a rookie quarterback?
A: There are a lot of different ways to have answers in the run game, whether or not it’s having your quarterback change plays, as we have all watched, the RPO’s (run-pass option) that everyone’s talked about, you have the ability to throw the ball to receivers at times. So yeah, we have that flexibility to do that. Sometimes, it doesn’t always look like, not necessarily a bad look, but where we just didn’t execute it well. There are other times where you run the ball, and not just us, everybody does this, you run the ball when there’s an extra guy there. But in your scheme, you block everybody other than the extra guy and leave him furthest away from the point of attack. Then you give him to the back and you make yards that way, too. You have a combination of those answers. Kind of like a lot of things, we just have to make sure we’re executing. As coaches, we’re going to give our quarterbacks the freedom to keep ourselves in a good play. Sometimes, we say, ‘Hey, this is a play that if they have an extra guy in there, he’s going to be the furthest guy away. We’ll run it and we’ll make yards on that play.’
Q: What do you want done in a situation like when you did the fake fullback dive and you pitched it out to Saquon (Barkley)? They were in a defense that had, I think, eight or nine up, and it probably wasn’t going to be successful. What’s the answer when your quarterback is in a spot like that?
A: It depends on the situation. Again, it kind of goes back to sometimes you just have him call it and run it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a good look, but it wasn’t necessarily a play that… it’s just a bad play by us. It wasn’t by them. A bad play by us.
Q: So, that one he can’t switch out? That one, there’s no other option?
A: Well, it depends. Sometimes, we do. Sometimes, we don’t. Those are questions for Coach (Shurmur) on when we’re doing it, how we’re doing it, things like that. But as far as Daniel, giving him the opportunity in general to get ourselves in the best play, yeah, we’ll do that just like we would with a veteran quarterback.
Q: I know your receivers haven’t all been out there at the same time very often, so maybe this is that. But that fourth down play, it was fourth and four and (Sterling) Shep ended up with a one-yard catch, Shep and (Golden) Tate ran into each other as they were crossing, and Tate and somebody else did that, too. Their routes intersected. Is that surprising from veteran receivers? How do you correct that?
A: Well, they play, too. They have guys out there, too. Obviously, you don’t have plays when it’s your veteran guys. A lot of those things are, as we’ve seen, where you’re running crossing routes, you’re trying to run interference and yet not get called for pick plays, things like that. There’s a fine line. All that being said, they’re trying to avoid and yet make the defense avoid and not get pushed where their guy is pushing them into our guys. We kind of want that without getting too much into philosophy. In general, we need to have a little better timing on that. If that ball comes out just a little bit quicker, and we just do a couple other things a little better, then we have a chance. They did a good job on defense, where if that ball goes quicker to Shep, we get the ball in a little more space and have a chance to go get the first down.
Q: Just to clarify, were you saying that if a look doesn’t look favorable, Daniel does have the freedom to check out of it to a different play?
A: Sometimes he does and sometimes he doesn’t, depending on what we feel like is a play, ‘hey, we can call this thing and if it’s…’ Again, if it’s a look where even though there might be an extra guy in there, if we feel like he’s away from the point of attack, then we’ll just kind of run that play, just like a lot of teams do that. Sometimes we have plays where we say, ‘Hey, we’re going to call it and run it.’ Sometimes we have plays where, ‘Hey, we can get out of the play to a pass play or get to another run play.’ Sometimes we have plays where it’s a run play with those RPO-type things. So, we have a combination of those.
Q: Is it fair to say with a young quarterback, the pre-snap recognition is probably one of the biggest challenges and you really just need experience to hone that?
A: Is it fair to say that? I would think in general, yeah. But I would also say it’s fair to say that with veteran quarterbacks, too. I think teams are doing a really good job, defenses are, of disguising and holding coverages until the last second. Sometimes it’s harder to get those looks until the ball is snapped. I think that’s probably… Defenses are doing a much better job of that maybe than in the last three or four years, not that they didn’t do a good job then, because of these run-pass options and things like that, and trying to keep you from trying to get into the best play. You have to have plays where your quarterback can get you into the best play based on pre-snap look. But you also have to have plays that are good knowing that teams are going to disguise and you won’t know what the true coverage is until after the snap.
Q: What do you like about Kaden Smith since he’s likely going to be in a pretty big role again?
A: I think for the first time, and Coach alluded to this, I thought he had a nice day for his first start. I think the more we’re kind of getting to know him, I think he’s got, in fact we just said this in there today, he has good football sense. Really good football awareness for a young guy. You can tell by the way he asks questions and just little adjustments, whether or not it’s the run game or the pass game. We’re looking forward to him getting him out there a little bit more and giving him more opportunity.