Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham
Q: Why did you go so much more single-high in the second half? It seemed like your two-high was working well in the first half.
A: That it was working well? You're talking about the last game? Shoot, I can't remember. Probably the flow of the game, just whether it was single-high or moved to one-high or two-high or whatever it may be. Normally, just try to mix it up during the game based on what we think is best.
Q: Your pressure rate was really low in that game. How much of that was what you guys were trying to do and how much was it just not getting there?
A: Just talking in terms of bringing people or are you talking about pressure getting to the quarterback, you're saying?
Q: I don't know, I'm asking you. What do you look at with that and say here's why?
A: Each week – I'm looking at Dallas right now, one of the best offenses obviously in the league right now. You try to figure out, okay, who are you going to try to take away and how are you going to try to take away (them) or limit what they do. So, the quarterback is obviously good, they've got a good back, they've got a good offensive line, they've got good skill people, so any game plan we're trying to work and trying to manipulate – obviously, you want to get more pressure here, you want get more pressure there, whether it's four or bringing guys – but what we try to do is mix it up. Sometimes, it looks like we're not bringing five or we're bringing four or we're bringing six. Usually if you look at it from week to week, we've mixed it up in terms of bringing – you know, we just decide on what's best for that game, trying to figure out who to bring and stuff like that. Same thing we'll try to do this week against Dallas. I know this, you've got to affect the quarterback somehow, you've got to affect the offensive line somehow and that's the goal.
Q: Did you affect the quarterback enough?
A: We can keep talking about New Orleans, which is cool, but I'm really focused on Dallas. It's New York Giants-Dallas week and I know unfortunately for you guys it's Thursday right now, but I'm getting text messages from all the guys I know that played here. Like, this is New York Giants-Dallas week and I can't be any more focused on them. I'm just apologizing for that. I'm worried about this offensive line. You look up here at this depth chart – (Cowboys Wide Receiver Amari) Coop (Cooper), (Cowboys Tackle Tyron) Smith, (Cowboys Guard Connor) Williams, (Cowboys Guard Zack) Martin, (Cowboys Tackle Terence) Steele, (Cowboys Tight End Dalton) Schultz, (Cowboys Wide Receiver CeeDee) Lamb, (Cowboys Wide Receiver Cedrick) Wilson, (Cowboys Quarterback Dak) Prescott, (Cowboys Running Back Ezekiel) Elliott. Now, that's just the starters – (Cowboys Running Back Tony) Pollard. Look at all these guys up here. I mean, it's a lot to think about right now. Most of my focus is on Dallas.
Q: How important is it going to be to get more pressure this week against someone like Dak Prescott then?
A: We've got do whatever is necessary to affect Prescott this week. Again, I think whether you're going to compare it to last week or two weeks before or the year before, we're going to try to do what's best for the game plan for this weekend and hopefully it's enough to win the game.
Q: You kind of hinted at it a little bit, there's 15 regular season games and two Cowboys games. How big is this one and can you sense that in the building and outside the building?
A: I can only speak for myself. I'll never forget my first regular season game as a Giants coach and it was against the Cowboys. It was a four o'clock game and I remember JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul) standing next to me during the national anthem and he said, 'This ain't the Jets' or he said something to me, right? Because I was with New England for my whole time and I said, 'Yeah, it's a little different, man. It's a little different.' I always remember that moment and how cool – he looked at me and he was so cool about it. After the national anthem he said, 'Little different.' That's what he said, he said, 'Little different, isn't it?' And I said, 'Little different.' And then we won the game. At the end of the game – and he had a great game, I just remember that – and I looked at him and said, 'This is a little different, man.' He said, 'I told you. This is Cowboys-Giants week.' I remember that. That stands out to me and that was a good memory. That was a good memory that first one, so I'm looking forward to it. I know it's important to the people around here, I know it's important to the fans around here, so it's important for us to prepare and get ready for the game. I'm looking forward to the challenge.
Q: Those texts that you said you're getting from everybody, are they just reminding you how big it is or are they telling you that you better win?
A: Luckily for me, I have friends and mentors that are very honest with me, so I get 'Good luck,' sometimes I get some criticism, sometimes I get some advice. The people involved with football, I've got a lot of people that are real honest with me and I appreciate that about them.
Q: You've always said to start on defense you've got to stop the run. I don't want to go back to last week, but can you afford to give up 160 yards or whatever?
A: I'm an old D-line coach, that's never what we're looking to do, I promise you that. Obviously, we've got a lot of stuff to work on. That's what we're going to work on today out there on the practice field. Got pads on today, going to work on that. It's about getting off of blocks, setting a good edge and stuff like that. No, you can't afford to do that. You can't make a living doing that, doing it that way, so we've got to do a better job stopping the run.
Q: Is (Safety) Julian (Love) going in for (Safety Jabrill) Peppers if he can't play?
A: You've got to talk to (Head Coach) Joe (Judge) about all that stuff. Again, the injury thing, I don't really get into that, but in terms of the people – we've got so many guys out on the field that are interchangeable at the different spots, so I can't give you any idea on that right now. Really our first day of getting after it today.
Q: Last year in Dallas, the way that game ended and I remember back then your guys felt like they gave it away. Do you have to remind your guys about what happened there or is it so frustrating—
A: Oh, you definitely watch that game. You see the ebb and flow of the game. I think it was 17-3, then they get the ball and you really saw – again, I know (Cowboys Head) Coach (Mike) McCarthy from my time at Green Bay and you really saw him like, 'Okay, let's get the ball to Zeke.' And then that drive he busts – like, we had the formation level, but then he snuck through for about eight yards and that really got them going and all of a sudden, it's 17-10. Then, I think they made a play on defense. However the flow of the game went and that's – to me, when you get back to the question about the run game, this team goes as the offensive line and the running back go. I get all the skill guys and stuff like that, but the challenge is up front. That game is a great game to go back to and learn lessons from because once they got the run game going that's when they were able to get back into the game, and they eventually ended up winning the game.
Q: How do you slow down Cooper and Lamb?
A: How do you slow them down? Mix of coverages, mix of affecting the quarterback, but the thing about them is they're moving those guys around, whether they're in the slot, they're out, number 1. I think one thing that can help us is making sure (we) take care of the deep part of the field, maybe get some hits on them when they're down at the line of scrimmage but keep changing it up on them. They're pretty dynamic, they're pretty dynamic players, so we've got a challenge ahead of us.
Q: How about Zeke? How much does he look like the running back he was three or four years ago?
A: That guy – I mean, I never questioned whether (he would return to form). I mean, he's a good player. I mean, he's a good player, he sees it all, the way he presses the line of scrimmage and makes his cuts. You have to be decisive. He's truly one of 32 when you talk about that. This guy who knows how to carry the ball. He knows how to manipulate his blockers or use his blockers the right way. He can see. He can see the backside. If he's running frontside, he can see the backside if you overlap too much and he's cutting back there. I think he's pretty dynamic. The thing I'm noticing about him is how hard he's running. He's doing a good job of getting the extra yards like he always has, but he's a good player.
Q: What makes (Cowboys Offensive Coordinator) Kellen Moore tough to go against?
A: Smart. I mean, I don't know him personally, but I know Coach McCarthy and Coach McCarthy spoke highly of him. Smart. As a play-caller, you can see he understands defenses, so he's trying to attack your weaknesses. I don't know exactly what he's doing, but playing the percentages of what you're going to be in, trying to attack the weaknesses. He has his coverage beaters, he has his stuff intended to try to manipulate the edge. I think he does a good job with that stuff and he does a good job of changing it up throughout the field zones, whether it's backed up, middle of the field, fringe. I think he does a good job of doing that and then most importantly how most offensive coordinators are judged, he gets the ball out quickly to the guys who make plays whether you look at the percentage of the quick passing game or how they're getting the ball to Zeke. The guys who are productive with the ball, that's who he's getting the ball to whether it's based on down-and-distance, based on where they're at on the field. That's how I measure if a coordinator knows what he's doing (is) in terms of that, how they get the ball to those guys.
Q: Do you put any extra emphasis on tackling after Sunday?
A: Oh, yeah. I think you put extra emphasis on tackling because of the level of skills guys they have here, like Cooper, Zeke, all these guys, even Dak. They're all tough to tackle, so you have to put emphasis on that, no question.
Q: You're not preparing for him, but what have you seen from (Cowboys Linebacker) Micah Parsons? What kind of a player is he?
A: I haven't really watched him. I just saw him in college – you're talking about the linebacker, correct? I know he's fast, big, fast. He's bigger than you think. I heard that he's playing different spots, playing on the edge, playing back, different things, can cover, can rush, so I'm always happy to see guys have success. Met him one time at Penn State. Good kid, just happy that he's having success.