C Nick Gates
September 28, 2020
Q: How would you assess the run blocking over the first 3 games? Obviously, you guys haven’t had a lot of success with it. What seems to be the problem with it?
A: We just have to sustain our blocks and finish our blocks downfield and finish on our man. A lot of the time you see mostly guys are on their blocks and it’s just one guy that makes a play or one guy falls off a block and ends up making a play, things like that. We just have to sustain.
Q: Were you personally surprised at how badly yesterday’s game went? How do you guys as a team, as players, avoid a ‘here we go again’ reaction to a game like that when it did feel like you made strides over week 2 and week 1? This just seemed to be a different trajectory.
A: We definitely didn’t play the way we wanted to play. We didn’t come out and play. We didn’t run the ball well, we didn’t protect really well, we didn’t pass pro really well. We didn’t do anything really well that game. You can easily point fingers here and there, but we are just going to be on to the next game. You have to focus on the Rams and try to leave that one behind. Try to look back on the mistakes you made and try not to make them again.
Q: There have been times the last three years when all else fails, Saquon just kind of bails everybody out with a huge run or something like that. Without him, are you worried about what happens to this offense? Defenses kind of go all out to stop the pass, without fearing the run game, the way you guys are running the ball right now.
A: We have really good backs after Saquon. We just have to make holes, even when Saquon was in there, holes weren’t there. There’s still guys falling off blocks and still guys making plays. Even if Saquon was in there, who knows what would happen. As an offensive line, we have to sustain and finish.
Q: What’s the right way to describe the offensive line meeting room? Are you guys disappointed, are you encouraged, are you pissed off? You, Hernandez, there’s some fiery guys in there. Are you guys pissed off? If I was in that room, what’s the temperature of it?
A: We’re pissed off, we want to be better. We don’t want to go out there and lose. We don’t want to go out there and not run the ball. We’re not trying to go out there and play bad. We practice every week, we go to work every week. We put a lot of effort and a lot of work into going out there and learning the defense. It is frustrating when you go out there and you can’t run the ball and you can’t protect well. It’s frustrating.
Q: What would you have thought if I said a few weeks ago you’re only going to average 12.7 points per game the first few weeks? You’ve got some big name offensive players. Obviously, you guys have high expectations for yourself. What’s that been like?
A: It’s frustrating not getting the ball in the endzone and settling for three points instead of six. When we get down there in the red zone, we have to score. I forget where we were, but we’re not good enough in the red zone. I don’t even think we got to the red zone last game. We just have to be better. I wouldn’t have believed you if you said we’re only going to score 12 points a game.
Q: You have Aaron Donald this week. What’s the thought process for you, as a guy who is a fairly new center, to the prospects of having to face that guy?
A: He’s a really good player. The Rams are a really good organization. They have a good coach, they have a good defense. I haven’t started watching film on him yet, but I was going to sit down after this zoom call and start. Make my notes and try to make a game plan in my head. Talk to the other offensive linemen (about) what our plan is going forward with him and things like that. He’s a really good player, it’s going to take a lot of execution and a lot of being fundamentally sound to win this ball game come Sunday.
Q: I was going to ask about Aaron Donald, too. He’s a such a power there in the middle. Do any of the skills you had as a tackle going up against edge rushers, does any of that translate against him at center?
A: I talked to (offensive line coach Marc) Colombo. He says the length, not a lot of centers have been able to play tackle. Having length and being able to use your length and know how use your length helps you. Aaron Donald, he’s the best player I have ever gone up against. Just try to take it snap by snap, get a good game plan for him and see how it goes.
Q: Is that daunting, exciting? How do you feel about going up against the best player you’ve ever gone up against?
A: I’m excited. I like going up against good players, it makes you better. It teaches you what you need to work on and what you’re good at, things like that. I’m excited, I think we’re all excited.