Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham
December 10, 2020
Q: You have relied on Darnay Holmes a lot. Can you talk about his progress from day one to now?
A: Darnay works really hard. He asks the right questions. I think that’s been part of his growth. I’m not sure, I think he was a little bit worried to asks questions sometimes in front of the group. Or stopping me while I’m doing an install. We had a meeting today and, boom, he didn’t know something, and he said, ‘Pat whoa, can you go back over that?’ I always think that’s a sign of confidence. A lot of times you don’t ask a question when you’re not confident. You might think it might sound stupid, that you missed something. I thought that was good by him. As for on the field, the biggest thing for me is just most coverage players, DB’s, you want them to be able to tackle. He’s doing a better job of tackling. The other thing is, can he play his leverage? One thing that happens when you get into this league, especially when you’re dealing with the slot corner position, winning your leverage is a big part of it. You see how teams struggle on third down early in the year and those teams improve. Usually it’s something as simple as winning your leverage. He’s really worked on that and I think he is doing a good job of trying to compete to win his leverage against some of the better players he is going against. That’s some of the stuff where he has improved.
Q: I’m curious what you got out of your experience when you went to Notre Dame as a GA (Graduate Assistant)? Where that sent your career with Coach Weiss (Charlie Weiss)?
A: Coach Weiss, I’m indebted to him for a ton of things. Just learning football. The opportunity to go to a big school. He took a lot of mornings when I was there as a GA where it was me and him going through the tape. He took the time to teach me how to coach. I’m in debt to that. Also, how he had the relationship in the NFL helped me get a job there. I met some really good people there. Chad Klunder, who is with us here. Tim McDonnell, who is here with the Giants. I met some really good people at Notre Dame. The simple thing is whether I grew up a Notre Dame fan or not, my brother was, I wasn’t, when you go there, it’s a special place. That’s one thing that always stands out to me.
Q: Can you speak to the different challenge that (Kyler) Murray presents to you guys versus what you had out in Seattle last week?
A: Russ (Russell Wilson) is a great quarterback in this league. For Murray, he is just younger. The thing about him, not that Russell isn’t fast, this guy Murray is true speed. When I’m talking to the players, true speed. Not fast, not quick, we’re dealing with true speed. Any mistake, it can be a touchdown at any given moment. That’s what you’re dealing with, with this guy. Whether it’s the run game or the passing game, he can get away from you and then get the ball down the field. That’s what I mean by true speed and the ability to score a touchdown at any point on the field. He’s pretty dynamic. We have a big challenge ahead of us. On top of that, he has some of the best wide receivers to play the game since I’ve been in the league working with him. Drake (Kenyan Drake) is playing at such a high level right now. The backs, Edmonds (Chase Edmonds), they are playing at such a high level. The guys are doing a good job blocking. Big challenge this week.
Q: Weiss claims that he fouled up your language a bit in South Bend.
A: (Laughing) My parents might be paying attention to this. I can’t agree to that.
Q: You had said a couple weeks ago your job is to be a reflection of the vision of the head coach. Obviously, you and Joe were on the same page back in January, that’s why you’re here. In your history, was there a time where you realized that you and Joe see a lot the same?
A: I gauge it like this, when we go to the Combine, who do I have dinner with? If I consistently have dinner with you, then we’re like minded and I enjoy spending my time. That’s one of the things I use to gauge. Me and a couple other people I work with, we always make time to spend time with one another. Again, I just admire Joe’s teaching ability. I’m drawn to people that are better than me. No different than Matt Patricia, Brian Flores. I know in my mind they are better than me and I’m drawn to them because I can learn from those guys. B Flo (Flores) in terms of how smart he is and how good of a leader he is. I’m drawn to that. Matty P, how smart he is, how tough he is, how good of a teacher he is. You talk about Joe Judge in terms of how he can teach. I’m drawn to people like that because I know it’s going to make me better. I like that.
Q: Jabrill (Peppers) was talking after the game that you’ve seemed to have found a way to figure out what every one of your guys is good at, at every level. That’s kind of putting them in position to make these plays down the stretch. What went into that and what’s the process like of just studying each of your guys and figuring out how to put them in the best position?
A: I appreciate what he said, but honestly it comes down to the assistant coaches and their feedback. They spend more time with the guys individually. What did I do, if anything I did, I just became maybe a better listener. That’s probably what happened. Something that you have to work on every day. Everybody wants to be a good listener. Do we practice it? We try to practice it. How good are you at it? Being a good listener and listening to the assistant coaches, listening to the players. I don’t know if they could have ownership of the defense right from the jump, but at some point, they have to take ownership of it, and you start to listen to those guys. It really comes down to the assistant coaches because they spend more time. They evaluate them. We’re all evaluating them. If it was anything I did, it was become a better listener to the coaches. Whether it’s Bret (Bielema), Jerome (Henderson) Kevin (Sherrer), Jody (Wright), Spence (Sean Spencer), Mike (Treier) all those guys. Just listening to those guys.
Q: It seems like the last month you guys have elevated your game on defense to another level. Was there a moment where it seemed like these guys kind of clicked and they started to take ownership of the defense like you talked about?
A: Each week is so different. The confidence is coming from practice, to be honest with you. Practice and spending time with one another. Whether it’s zoom or when they’re here in the building. Them getting comfortable with us as coaches. The coaches getting comfortable with one another. It just starts to grow just like any relationship. You get your bumps in the road, if that’s the right saying, and you work through it. Now we’re just focused on the Cardinals and how we can hopefully stop them or minimize their effectiveness on Sunday.
Q: You talked about some of the head coaches you have worked for. Hard not to notice your name being thrown around a little bit for head coach opportunities. Do you think you are ready for that? Is that something you are interested in?
A: If you go back to the first time I spoke to you guys, I’m not smart enough to think ahead of today. I’m trying to get better today. I need to get ready for third down versus Arizona on Sunday. I can’t even think about it like that, to be honest with you. That’s all I’m really focused on. Third down and two-minute today. Finish up early downs and get ready for red area. Right before here, I was going through red area meetings. I can’t think about that stuff, to be honest with you.
Q: As a coordinator, what’s it like when you’re drawing up these plays every week? (inaudible) What is that feeling like as a coordinator?
A: You broke up a little bit, but to draw up the plans? It comes back to listening. I won’t go through the whole process of how we game plan, but it’s the input from the coaches and watching the tape. Obviously, you just try to provide some wrinkles here and there. Here’s the thing, the reason why you have to provide the wrinkles is because the coaches on the other side of the ball that you’re going against, they’re pretty good coaches. One of 32, whether they’re a running backs coach, receivers coach, they are one of 32 in the world. You have to throw in wrinkles. Here’s how I look at it, we don’t have anything else to do but football. It’s not like we have to get on the phone and recruit. We’re not worried about that stuff right there. We don’t have to talk to boosters, all we do is football. If you all you do is football, that’s what they’re evaluating us (on), that’s what they’re looking at. You have to have some wrinkles to be able to hopefully throw them off a little bit. It’s just the normal process you go through. I would say it starts with listening, listening to your coaches, listening to your players, to be honest with you.
Q: We were talking to Logan Ryan yesterday and he kind of brought up out of the wild blue, he said there is a guy on our team that doesn’t post really big numbers but he does as much as anybody and that’s Dalvin (Tomlinson), who today was nominated for the Walter Payton Award. Can you talk about him and his season?
A: I’ll talk about the person first. I love you and all that stuff like that, guys say it all the time. I’ve known him since he was a rookie, I really have a love for this guy. In terms of what he does on and off the field, having a relationship with him. I just think that he’s a genuine person. He’s one of those people that you become a better person, better player, being around him. You can see that. Where that D-line is going right as they go through this process is a direct correlation to his leadership and what he does on that field, regardless of what statistics or what have you. He’s teaching them how to use their hands properly. He’s teaching them about the right attitude playing up front. I knew him as a rookie, and he was learning from Snacks (Damon Harrison), JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul), OV (Olivier Vernon) and those guys. You can see the maturation process occur and it’s a beautiful thing to see. It’s one of the things why we coach. You have to go back to us being teachers. You see one of your students doing well and you’re like, ‘wow, that’s pretty cool.’ What’s going on, on the field? He’s a technician. He’s always been a technician but now you’re seeing again, I don’t know if he had an apprenticeship, he’s just improving as he has over the years. He’s ready to take his exams to get his own masters. You really see it. He was a young guy learning from the older guys and now as he’s grown, he’s ready to teach the masters classes. It’s a beautiful thing to see. Pad level, playing with his hands, the ability to get off blocks. The conditioning to be able to finish games. It’s a such a good thing to see for that guy. I’m just happy to be around him.
Q: I want to ask about three free agents you guy brought in. Logan (Ryan), Blake (Martinez) and (James) Bradberry. When you get hired, you know the roster and most of these guys were here before you. You have two months before free agency. Were you drawing up schemes and saying I need a Martinez, I need a Bradberry, I need a Logan Ryan to do what I want to do? Do you sign those guys and tweak after you have those guys? Chicken or the egg, which came first?
A: (laughing) Once you start throwing sayings out there, you’re going to confuse me. I would say this, I knew Blake, I knew he was a leader and growing into that role as a productive inside linebacker. We want good players, to be honest with you. To me, the beauty of the system and the part that Joe is building here with Mr. Gettleman, we want good football players here with the New York Giants. It’s our job to figure out how to deploy them. To me, chicken or the egg, I don’t know. We want good football players and then it’s our job to figure it out. See what we can do to help stop the offenses.