Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham
Q: What has this week been like since you guys lost a coach?
A: Really just having to adjust in terms more so of the offensive side of the ball and (Head Coach) Joe (Judge) is the head coach, but really just been trying to plow away on Philly with the short week ad Thanksgiving. Just trying to get all situated liked that. The fact that Philly is playing so well right now, the quarterback, the offensive line, the receivers, and the backs. Really just spent most of my time getting adjusted on that and not really having time to sit down and think about too much of anything else. Just appreciative of all the stuff Jason (Garrett) did for the team and the organization. Just thinking about Philly really.
Q: It has to grab your attention when a coordinator gets fired.
A: You're always aware when it's somebody from the staff, but Joe, the head coach, his job is to do what he thinks is best for the team and then we've got to move forward and just keep plugging away because Philly doesn't care. We've got to adjust to them.
Q: When you look at Philly, it seems like they've kind of reinvented their offense completely philosophically. Who are they basically? Are you preparing for the offense that you saw the first seven games or are you preparing for the offense that's kind of grinding it out?
A: I just think naturally you look at all the tape. That's our job, to look at all the tape, but when you're game planning for a team especially this late in the season, you're really going back and referencing probably the last four or five games. That's a normal breakdown in terms of what we have the guys break down, having thoroughly broken down, you pick those games. But really what you're seeing right now is that the offense is going through the quarterback and there's more of an emphasis to run the ball, like what you would think for most teams in this division – whether it's the Cowboys, whether it's what we're trying to do and trying to get the run game going. They're doing a good job with it. They cause a lot of confusion or they put a lot of stress on you with how they're running the ball because of the fact that the quarterback can run the ball and it's running through him.
Q: How much did you miss (Defensive Back) Logan (Ryan) last week and if you don't have him back this week, how much will you miss him this week?
A: Anytime you have a player of Logan's caliber, you're going to miss him somewhat. Again, the level of how much we missed him – we like to have all our weapons out there to play a game. The thing is he was out for whatever reason and we just have to move forward going ahead with that, and then we'll see what happens this week. When he gets back, he'll be ready to go, I know that, and I trust that. We'll always welcome that back, whether it's the experience, the communication part of it, the tackling part of it, the coverage of it. Anytime it's a good player like that, you're going to miss it somewhat and you've just got to adjust off of it.
Q: What message does the firing of Jason send to the rest of the coaching staff, if any?
A: I don't know about a message. I just know this – and it's been laid out since I've been coaching football, period – we get judged based on how our guys play and all that stuff like that, so we've got to do a good job there. We all know what we signed up for. This is a business and every day I come in thinking, 'Hey, you could be fired.' That's just part of it. I've always thought that way whether I was a QC, a graduate assistant at Wagner. It's just the nature of the business I think, coaching football especially at this level. I don't know the message, I can't speak for the other coaches, but for me personally that's how I kind of operate in my day-to-day, just knowing that I'm accountable for my job. I've got to do my job and my job this year and the last three years has been defensive coordinator – one in Miami, two here – and this is my second year with the Giants, so I'm responsible for the defense and I've got to do a good job. Obviously, last week we didn't do a good enough job, so hopefully this week we do a better job and compete and go out there and give us a chance to win. The message I don't think changes, not for me personally. I've always been like that. Just like I would assume for you guys in New York City, it's higher stakes. It's different. It's higher stakes, that's just how it is – and we sign up for that because there's good and bad. But if you like living on that edge a little bit, you like it.
Q: When you face a team like Philly which is pounding the rock, can you reinvent yourself to play more four defensive linemen, play heavier, things like that?
A: You can. The thing you've got to be careful of with a team like this, you don't want to do too much. If you do too much and then they start to adjust – it's like when I was in college coaching and you go against an option team. If you start doing too much, you're going to spend too much time adjusting and then the next series they're going to be onto something different. The thing we've got to do, I think we've got to put our best run defenders out there and that's where it has to start, stopping the run. Put our best run defenders out there and react to the pass game. In terms of the personnel groupings, it'll change. We'll mix it up a little bit, but you can't do too much. You don't want to have this guy doing a different job on every other play when the plays can vary from series to series.
Q: You've seen game-breakers at wide receiver this year already and even at tight end. At least from our vantage point, you've adjusted to that. Has (Eagles Wide Receiver) DeVonta Smith gotten to that level that you will treat him as if you treated the other big-time playmakers you're facing?
A: I would say this, this guy is what he was advertised as coming out of college. He's an elite-level player. He's really, really, good. I remember the knock being his size, but I could see, there's probably two or three touchdowns where people bounce off of him and he scores. His toughness shows up on the tape, whether it's in the pass game, run after catch, the gadget plays they give him, but also his blocking. The Wide Receivers Coach (Aaron Moorehead) – those guys block and he's part of that, I think they do a good job there. He's tough, he's physical and then his receiving skills are up there with anybody in the league that we've seen so far. I've been very impressed with him and unfortunately, we're going to have to deal with him for whatever many years on his contract in this division (laughs).
Q: We always talk on the offensive side of the ball about how valuable a good offensive line is, so Monday night and this Sunday are probably two of the best in the league. How much of a challenge is it to go against a line like that?
A: It's a challenge and I would say more so because of how well they're playing together. I've always thought (on the) offensive line you could have one star player here and you could assemble four star players or five star players there, but if they don't play well together then it's a problem. The thing I'm seeing on tape and I know (Eagles Run Game Coordinator/Offensive Line) Coach (Jeff) Stoutland – I mean, I don't know him personally, but I respect him as an offensive line coach. I think he's one of the best in the league. They do such a good job. It's a big challenge, it's a big challenge. Like last week, the O-line played well together. It's a big challenge because you're trying to find cracks in the wall or whatever it is, but it's hard because they're able to pass stuff off, they're playing in unison together. It's a big challenge.
Q: How did (Safety) Julian (Love) play last week?
A: Julian was out there competing. I'm sure there were a couple plays that he would want back, just like there were a couple calls that I would want back. But he competed, he played hard the whole time, made some tackles when we needed it, had a pass breakup there, did a good job there. Julian's always ready to go. The combination of his defensive plays and his special teams plays – I think it was over 90 plays for this guy. He stepped up big for us. He stepped up big for us and I'm sure he wishes we got the win, but we didn't. There's always room for improvement, there's always room for improvement.
Q: After the game, (Defensive Lineman) Leonard Williams said he didn't play well enough. The other day, (Cornerback) James Bradberry said he didn't play up to his standard. Is a little bit of where you guys are at right now you need your big guys to play the way you need them to play?
A: I think we might've talked about this earlier in the year, the way the NFL is set up – and this is just my opinion and how I learned it – your best players have to play well. Your best players have to play well. I know that when we're going good, our best players are playing well. I'm sure there are plays they want back and stuff, but it's not all on them. It's definitely not all on them. I know those guys have got a lot of pride, I know they've got a lot of pride and that's probably why they said that. But I'm sure there's a few plays they want back. In order to win games in this league, the guys that you see as the star players have to play well. They have to play well because whether you want to look at the salary cap or however you want to look at it, they've got to play well in order for you to be successful.
Q: Why do you think James hasn't played to the same level that he did last year?
A: Each year is so different right there. I think JB has had really good games this year. He's got his hands on some balls, he's doing a good job of tackling. I just think there might be a couple plays, one here or there off, that he probably wants back. I probably could've put him in a better position there – on me. But it's a long season. I know we're a little over halfway through it, but we've still got room to grow. We're just trying to improve. JB works hard, he works hard every day out here in practice. Everything's going to come together, everything will come together.
Q: How much better does (Eagles Quarterback) Jalen Hurts look to you than he did earlier in the year?
A: He looks pretty good. I think the smart thing about – I'm not saying it wasn't smart before about what they were doing, but the run game is setting up the passing game for them. The play-action shots, you watch the plays and how they're pushing the ball down the field off the play-action. I mean, it's 35 yards a gain for some of that stuff right there. I think obviously the way the coach is setting up everything off of the run game, it opens it up for the passing game. Then in the run game, he's always been able to run the ball. This guy is big, strong from what I remember seeing at Alabama and Oklahoma when I watched college football. What I'm seeing in terms of his improvement, there's definitely a confidence out there. There's definitely a confidence throwing the ball. He's sitting back there, getting the ball out on time, throwing to the receivers before they're open, throwing them open a little bit. That's the thing that's showing up there. Like most young players especially at that position, you've got to learn to play with some anticipation and that comes through work, practice and having success on the field, then he becomes more confident doing what the coaches are asking him. The thing that I'm seeing most drastically is, again, the combination of the run game setting up the pass game and his improvement in terms of confidence, which comes from having some success.