Head Coach Joe Judge
Opening Statement: Alright, so we'll continue through our prep, working through all phases of the kicking game, all phases of offense and defense today and tie up the week as far as preparation. We'll come in here tomorrow, have a quick walk through, get on the plane and fly on down to Dallas. All that being said, I'll open it up to any questions you may have.
Q: Injury updates on (Wide Receiver Darius) Slayton, Shep (Wide Receiver Sterling Shepard) or (Safety Jabrill) Peppers?
A: I'd say all three guys did enough things promising enough yesterday that we're going to give them another opportunity to come out here today and work around and see where we can fit them in. But they've all had enough progress that we owe them at least one more day to try and get out there.
Q: How about (Tackle) Andrew Thomas? It seems like he's laboring, but I know he was upgraded to limited yesterday.
A: Yeah, he went through practice with us yesterday. I think everyone at this point in the season is dealing with some kind of nick or bump. We'll see where he is coming out of today. But yeah, he was practicing with us yesterday.
Q: Do you buy into using bulletin board material? Troy Aikman said on a radio show earlier this week that he doesn't think you guys are in the same class as the Cowboys. Do you buy into using stuff like that?
A: I don't think we really need any external motivation to show up and do our jobs and do them effectively, to be honest with you. I think you have to understand the magnitude of every game you play. These division games are obviously no different, so if we need somebody else to kind of get us in the mind frame to play, I think we have other issues at hand. Look, I think on the topic of what was said, look, this team's extremely good. We have to acknowledge this team's one of the best statistically that this league's seen in a long time to be ranked this high on offense as a rushing team, a passing team, defensively – in terms of turnovers and takeaways, along with rushing defense. To be this situationally good and to be this good in the kicking game, this team's an outstanding team. There's no getting around it. This team's extremely talented. They're well-coached and they're obviously winning games right now playing the right way. I think this is obviously one of the top teams in the league and one of the top teams we'll see in a long time.
Q: Your team obviously took notice of that quote, it's something that you mentioned to them, as well.
A: I honestly don't know what you're referring to right there in terms of –
Q: The Aikman comment.
A: Yeah, but I don't know where they would say they took notice to it. I'm not really sure what that would be a reference of.
Q: A bunch of guys from your locker room have taken note. Maybe it's posted in the locker room or something like that?
A: We don't even have a bulletin board in there, to be honest with you. Everything's screens and magnets and stuff now. We're in the future now, so we don't have bulletin boards anymore. Look, these guys are all active on Twitter and all that type of junk, so I'm sure they see stuff all the time.
Q: Given the quality of the opponent, how much is this a test for you guys in terms of gauging where you are?
A: I think every week's a test for where we are as a team. I don't think this week's any different. Obviously, this is a very good opponent, so we've got to go out there and play our best game to be able to have an opportunity.
Q: Early on versus New Orleans you guys did a good job handling the noise…
A: As far as you're talking about the actual noise within the stadium? I think the only way you can do that is by playing well. But at the same time, you've got to understand and expect there's going to be a lot of energy in the stadium. Look, I like it like that. I've said that before, maybe I'm screwed up. I like going on road games where there's a whole lot of people who hate you. To me, that's kind of fun. I don't know if everyone feels that way. I think our team responded last week the right way to that. That's not going to count for anything unless we go down there and do it this week the right way.
Q: You and T-Mac (Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey) have talked about (Cowboys Special Teams Coordinator John) Fassel and how great he is as a coordinator. You guys had that fake last year where obviously it got called back, but when you go against a coordinator like that, does that kind of make you want to make a play against him or anything like that?
A: No, I don't think it factors into that. I would say this, I would say there are certain guys you play against in this league in different phases whether it's offense, defense or the kicking game that present a great challenge and that's really a great week to prepare. You go against certain guys, 'Bones' is definitely one of them, where you know you've got to have your guys keyed into every bell and whistle he has. To play completely situationally aware, you've got to make sure you're playing your best game. Every player has to understand the flow of the game and when things come up and when they use those things. Look, he's a great challenge to go against. Every time you go against 'Bones', you have to commit a lot of time to dealing with all the fakes, gimmicks, gadgets, talking to your team about the substitutions they use, talking to the team about different personnel you have to be able to look for on the field. He's put up a lot of plays over the course of the years, so there's a lot of tape to go through with the team in team meetings, position meetings and things of that nature. But you've got to make sure you get the work on the field to do it the right way.
Q: Did you know the double punt rule that we saw yesterday in that Seattle game?
A: Ironically, yes, we did. We talked about it back in the spring when they changed the rule on the double pass. So that's when it came up, 'OK, if this is a pass, how would that also factor into a punt and things of that nature right there?' We talked about it back in the spring in terms of that exact rule. I'll be honest with you, when we talked about it, you also kind of had that caveat of 'but when's that going to happen?' Now, with (Sean) Landeta, it happened here back years ago, however, it's so rare. It's one of those deals. We just always talk to our team that they have to understand what the game is in terms of any ball that's behind the line of scrimmage is treated as a fumble. So, whether it's a punt, a field goal, whatever, and it crossed the line of scrimmage, treat it as a punt. Behind, fumble. Across, punt.
Q: You had some fun with (Safety) Julian Love going back and forth in the summer. Obviously, his personality came out a little bit with you. He seems to be taking on a bigger role week in and week out defensively. He may not be one of those stars everybody mentions, but he's an important part. What have you liked about him as a player? You don't go back and forth with a lot of the players on this team or at least to have a player to go back and forth publicly with you that way, what is it about Julian that you like?
A: He's actually a really fun player to coach. He's a really fun player to coach. You say, 'Well, who's a fun player to coach?' The guys who love football and come to work every day and love going out to practice and really getting things in meetings. They're fun to be around. That's definitely Jules (Julian Love). He's a guy that has got a lot of versatility whether it's playing the corner position, the safety position, playing star on our punt team. He can play gunner, he can play PP. He'll do stuff on kickoff coverage. He can play in the vice or the box on punt return. On kickoff return he can play a multitude of positions. He's definitely like one of those guys, we talk about the Swiss Army knife, the versatility. But he's also a guy who's extremely intelligent and he's very a team-first guy. He comes in every week and it's like, 'Hey Jules, your role just changed completely from last week.' He doesn't ever bat an eye. He's like, 'Great, coach me, coach' and that's it. He's a guy that we depend on for a lot of roles. You can only depend on guys if they do them productively and consistently. He definitely does that. He just comes out every day and gives it his all. He's a great teammate, he's a great guy to coach in the locker room. He's a lot of fun to be around. In terms of the cutting up and going back and forth, I mean look, that kind of keeps it fun.
Q: Do you give yourself a couple of minutes to scout the Rams or do you leave that to somebody else when they're playing on a Thursday?
A: Depending on what your workload is the night before. If you ask me specifically if I watched the Rams game last night, I was on Dallas. I didn't have an opportunity to watch it last night and I'll end up watching it this weekend. I'll end up watching it several times before next week. I'll start my Rams prep this afternoon. I always get a peak on Friday and Saturday on the next opponent coming up, staying ahead, so that way when we start getting the game planning on offense, defense or the kicking game, I've seen a picture of that team. So, they anticipate what offense, defense and special teams we may be thinking or ideas that I have that I want incorporated in the game and understanding the flow of the opponent and then thinking about practicing the next week coming up. So when I do the practices on Tuesday, I've already kind of seen in my mind, these are specific things we have to work on. These are things we have to address. I always get ahead on opponents and work ahead, so I'll start looking at the Rams today. We've got to make sure that, obviously, we stay on Dallas. You're kind of looking at a surface level of the Rams, if you would right there because you've got to go ahead and keep coming back. I make sure anytime I look ahead to the next opponent, I end the day going back to the opponent we're on, so you get your mind back in that thinking.
Q: (Quarterback) Daniel (Jones) has obviously done a good job taking care of the ball this year. He's played well early this season. How much when he does that does that make you want to give him more freedom or maybe put more onto his plate to be able to do more?
A: Yeah, I think that's natural. Obviously, that's a guy that demonstrates dependability when making decisions on the field and having good ball security. You start giving him more and more things to do. We've seen the improvement with Daniel really throughout last year as well. He's carried over into this year. He's making good decisions. In terms of Daniel, to me, a lot of it's the decisions and I talked a lot about how he's mastered the offense and how he's handling the line of scrimmage, his decisions have started really showing up for us in the spring with some of the checks on the line of scrimmage he's made, and it's carried into the games and been productive for us. We see it every day in practice. When you see a guy – and the offense has to run through the quarterback. In my mind, the way I see the game, the offense has to go through the quarterback. So, when he's out there and can control the flow of the game and how we're operating, that to me gives freedom to go ahead and (Offensive Coordinator) Jason (Garrett) can call different things where he can go ahead and think and put us in the right position, or you just got to give him the freedom at some point if he sees something to completely change it and get that out right there. You've got to let him have enough freedom that he feels aggressive, and he can go out there and do it. Look, if it's not perfect, you can't pull back on that the next time. You've got to coach it, correct it and just keep on moving.
Q: So he has full autonomy at the line if he wants to make changes?
A: That's a pretty loose term, but relatively speaking, we let him have freedom, yes.
Q: The way that runners like (Saints Running Back Alvin) Kamara and (Cowboys Running Back) Ezekiel Elliott always seem to fall forward and get like three more yards than it looks like they have. Is that want-to? Is that technical? Is that repetition? What is that skill?
A: I guess the word I would sum that up with is instincts. I think that kind of encapsulates a lot of things. They have definitely good effort as a player. To me, it's the instinct of finding that extra space and just squeezing it to gain that extra yard. I think he's a really, really instinctive player. I think when you look at Ezekiel, he's a true, true running back. I mean, he's big, he's strong, he's fast, he can run downhill, he's got speed to break away in the open field, he's elusive, he's powerful. You go to Kamara, this guy's kind of in that realm of he's definitely a true running back, don't say he's not. But he's such a complete football player, if they said this guy's going to be a full-time receiver, he'd be one of the top receivers out here. If he was a full-time kick returner, he'd be the top kick returner out there. There's certain guys that are out there that obviously within their strengths, they have differences. Those two players are very different. The similarity for those two for me would be they're very dominant.