Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham
December 18, 2020
Q: With all the news about James Bradberry and how he is out on Sunday. Right now, you only have one active cornerback on the roster, obviously that will change before Sunday. How much of a challenge is it losing a guy like James who has been especially important to your defense this year?
A: The thing about this game and you get used to over the years. You lose guys, whether it’s injuries or other things. It’s definitely going to be tough, James will be missed. He’s in meeting in terms of over Zoom. Staying active and staying involved. It’s going to be tough, but we have to adjust. I know that Cleveland doesn’t care. They can care less. We have to get ready to go. That’s on us to figure it out. I know this, the players will rally behind the it. I know James will be pushing for us and cheering us on. It’s a unique challenge, not unique, let me stop, it’s not really unique. It’s challenge and we’re ready to go face it.
Q: You guys obviously have a couple safeties like Logan and Julian who have experience at corner. Does that make it a little easier to stomach when you have guys that can play those multiple spots like that?
A: It helps to have flexibility and have versatility on the back end. That’s definitely a bonus.
Q: It seems like this game is really going to be a buckle your chinstrap game against the Browns. You guys talk a lot about toughness and physicality. Is this going to be a good barometer for where you are in those terms?
A: Absolutely. You talk about their offense, again that’s what I’m dealing with directly. Their offensive line, these guys are big, they’re physical. I’m not trying to diminish the merits of the teams we’ve seen before, but arguably one of the best O-lines we’ve seen all year. It’s going to be a challenge. The tight ends are willing to block. The thing that stands out to me with Chad O’Shea the wide receivers coach and pass game coordinator. These receivers are going to block too. That’s always been a trademark of Chad. Talking about it being a people league. You can see Chad’s toughness showing up in those receivers in terms of them blocking. I like to ID when there is a point of attack wide receiver, but they all block. 11,80, they’re all blocking. That’s one thing that stands out. From there, you get the quarterback getting them in the right checks. You can see him really maturing as a signal caller back there. He’s getting them in the right checks. I think I said it before, I wondered if there was a stat for quarterbacks that get them in the right call for the run game. That’s pretty unique. You saw Peyton Manning, Eli (Manning), those guys would get those young guys in the right checks to the run. Last but not least, are the backs. You’re talking about guys that don’t go down on first contact. Guys that play tough. (Nick) Chubb to me, I would love to meet this guy postgame or something. I love his demeanor, I love the way he carries himself. It’s pretty impressive, him as a player. (Kareem) Hunt’s a dynamic player in the run and pass game. They do a good job, it’s definitely going to be a (inaudible) to see if we can handle the physicality. We’re working towards that challenge today.
Q: What are your thoughts generally on pulling from a strength to cover up a weakness like moving a safety to cornerback? Is that something you would do or does that open up another hole if say hypothetically you were to move Logan from the spot he is playing really well at?
A: Think about whether it’s positionally or think about what we’re doing on each play. There is so much field to cover. Whatever coverage you call you are pulling from weakness to play for a strength. You’re trying to guess right really, as you try to defend the field. It’s really no different when you have injuries and you have to move around the pieces. That’s up to us as coaches from the direction of our head coach, form the direction of the position coaches. What’s going to be the best fit for whether it’s a certain play, personnel situation. I don’t really think of it like that. Playing defensive football, you’re trying to hedge your bets on most plays anyway because there is so much field to defend. You can’t defend it all technically. All 53 yards across. It’s kind of the same thing if that makes sense.
Q: How much have you played Logan (Ryan) as a boundary corner or even (Xavier) McKinney so far? Just talking even in practice.
A: How often have we played them?
Q: Yeah, have you been willing to do it? Is it something they ar3 familiar with even?
A: Yeah. I think they all pride themselves, you have to ask them. Jerome (Henderson) does a great job, he is always thinking ahead on situations like what if this happened. We kind of talked about it before, we have to think ahead like that. Especially during this COVID-19 era. You don’t know what’s going to happen. All those guys have rotated through corner, safety, whatever it may be. I think Jerome does a good job of thinking ahead from the direction of our head coach. Sometimes I get caught as the coordinator in the x’s and the o’s. I forget and I’m like why is so and so out there at corner? Oh, that’s what we talked about at the beginning of the year. We have to get thinking ahead so it’s not a surprise when it comes up.
Q: How concerned were you when you heard Jason (Garrett) tested positive that it could extend to you and possibly more of the staff?
A: I have faith in our protocols and how we’re keeping each other safe here. The funny thing is when you’re in it right now, the football deal, thankfully, unlike a lot of people unfortunately for them. I’m kind of in a normal mode. Being safe, like they are asking us to, following the protocols. When we hear something, you think about it, you hope everybody is safe and you move on to the next thing, and that was thinking about red area. The thing you are thinking about is you hope everybody is safe and their families are safe and everything. From there, I feel safe about the protocols and what we’re doing here with the Giants.
Q: Can you walk us through what it was like finding out that he was positive? What you had to go through there to confirm everything was okay? Even though you test negative yesterday, is anything linger in your mind that you could test positive tomorrow and miss the game and all that?
A: I’m sure Joe will talk about all this stuff, the specifics of it. I’m not trying to be dismissive of the question, I promise you that. For me, when stuff comes up in the season, I move on to the task at hand. I’m not saying there’s not a human element to it. I just want everybody to be safe and their families to be safe, to be honest with you. I know I have a job to do. As long as I’m in the building doing my job, that’s what I’m going to do. That’s the extent of it right there. I’m sure Joe will answer logistic questions.
Q: How have your meeting structures and everything changed in the wake of the positive test? I know you worked virtually yesterday. I didn’t know if it was kind of in the norm for what you guys have been doing lately. What changes with Jason testing positive?
A: I have to admit you guys are really good. I’m just telling you, these questions are above my paygrade. I will defer to Joe about anything logistical. I’m here doing my job and I’m coaching football. Good question though, but I’m sorry I’m going to defer to Joe on that one.
Q: They have a pretty powerful one, two punch, does that keep you up at night. Figuring out how you’re going to slow those guys down?
A: You guys have gotten to know me a little bit, there is a bunch of stuff that keeps me up at night. That run game, when you put on that tape and you watch what happens between Baltimore and Cleveland on Monday night. Combined rushing touchdowns, that’s what keeps me up. I don’t know how good my Christmas is going to be. Honestly, yes. But it’s not just that. It’s also the quarterback, the receivers, (Jarvis) Landry. The O-line, they have a lot of good players. We didn’t even talk about the tight ends and the receivers. Chubb is a good player, they have a bunch of good players. The coaching staff, I talk about Chad. The head coach / OC (Offensive Coordinator) they do a great job. You can see it really on the tape. Their toughness shows up. They’re well coached in terms of how everything is packaged. They’re really playing to their strengths. To me, when you think about offense, that’s what makes it tough. The run game married with the play action . The play action and the boot married with the stretch run game. Third down, they are getting the ball to the guy they need to get the ball to. To me, their playing to their strengths, they are playing to the people they have. Obviously, they can hand the ball off and get whatever he is averaging, 5.2 a carry. That’s a pretty good thing to have for them.