Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham
Q: Do you know who will be playing for your team this game?
A: They'll be wearing blue helmets, I know that, so we'll see. We'll see, we'll see, we'll see. It's a little funky right now.
Q: Who's up at corner if (Cornerback) Adoree' (Jackson) and (Cornerback Aaron) Robinson are out?
A: We'll find out more today, but we know JB (Cornerback James Bradberry) will be playing and from there we'll see what's happening. We've got guys. (Defensive Backs Coach) Jerome (Henderson) does a good job of getting those guys ready, so whoever's out there, no excuses. I know this, Dallas doesn't care.
Q: One of those guys that might be up is (Defensive Back) Jarren Williams. What have you seen from him the first couple times he got out there?
A: I think the one thing about Jarren that stood out to us early on – and I would go back even to last year – one, he can run. Two, he's physical. He's a young player who has improved every time we've given him a shot. Those are the main things that stick out to me. In the classroom, a really diligent worker in terms of how he goes about preparing and studying. That's very encouraging there, but the improvement that happens day-to-day, that's all you could ask from a young player without having a lot of experience.
Q: Normally, you would probably move (Safety) Julian (Love) to an empty spot where you need help, but you have three or four of those spots and he can only go to one. How do you decide where to play Julian in a situation like this?
A: The thing about Julian, the benefit of having Julian, aside from being a great person, a good worker and generally a good football player, is the fact that he can play a bunch of different spots and he's a jack of all trades. He's played safety, he's played corner, he's played sub linebacker. Really it's about using today's practice to kind of figure it out. Kind of got an idea as we go into it for practice today, but you never know what curveball you're going to be thrown. We've got to adjust and luckily, we've been trained to do that. I can see some more adjustments coming about.
Q: Your disguises have given a lot of really good quarterbacks trouble over the last couple of years, but the one guy who even before you got here who has always killed the Giants is (Cowboys Quarterback) Dak Prescott. Why? Why is he not susceptible to some of the things other guys are?
A: I think it starts with the fact that he's a good player. He's a really good player and he has good players around him. They do a good job of protecting him up front. The main thing when you think about Dallas in my mind, no matter what the numbers are at any given point of the year or what year it is – I think it comes from ownership, definitely comes from the head coaches over the last few years, and I know with (Cowboys Head Coach) Mike (McCarthy) – it starts with the run game and their commitment to the run game. You can see the commitment through just the economics of how their team is set up, whether it's Zeke (Cowboys Running Back Ezekiel Elliott), whether it's (Cowboys Running Back Tony) Pollard, who's a very good player. They're lucky to have him as a number two. On most teams, he would be a number one, I can see that. The commitment to the offensive line. I think it starts there, him being a good player and having a lot of weapons around him. And he's a pretty smart player. You can see him and the combination with (Cowboys Offensive Coordinator) Kellen (Moore) just getting him the opportunity. Really, the offense runs through the quarterback. You can see all the checks that get made at the line of scrimmage, whether it's seeing blitz and checking to screen, whether you see the 'check with me' run game that they implement. He's got complete control of the offense and I think he's earned the right in terms of that elite status in terms of how he's able to execute. That's what you really see from him. I hope it's not just us he gives problems. This guy has been pretty good. We've got to see what we can do Sunday.
Q: What do you take from that Chargers game?
A: The Chargers game? A lot of things there from that game like, one, we've got do a better job fundamentally. We've got to do a better job tackling, defending the deep part of the field, stuff we talk about all the time. I think we can talk about the fight and all that stuff. Guys fought hard. In the second half, came out and played hard. The bottom line is this, we've got to execute better. As a coach, myself, I've got to execute better, the players have got to execute better. Thankfully, all our guys know that and all the coaches know that. When you lose a game, usually it comes down to execution. Experience doesn't matter. None of that stuff matters on Sunday. It's about executing, and I think we've just got to do a better job of executing, to be honest with you.
Q: When you draw up a game plan, are you drawing up a game plan to stop what Dallas does? Or do you do it because these are the guys I have and I have to put them in the best position?
A: I think you have to take both into consideration. Obviously, you want to stop what they do best and make them beat you left-handed. That's a big part of the philosophy, but also you don't want to go too far outside the box or outside the framework of what guys can do. I think it's a balancing act right there in terms of when you go into the game plan.
Q: As a defensive coach, can you appreciate a (Cowboys Linebacker) Micah Parsons?
A: Yeah. We knew Micah in terms of just watching him on his college tape. He's a very active player. I've seen crossover tape. He's being disruptive in the pass rush, he's being disruptive in the run game. That's why he was drafted where he was drafted. He's a good football player. Just hope he doesn't have a good game on Sunday, but the guy works hard – it looks like he works hard – doing a good job playing football and he's disruptive. So, yeah, you could appreciate that. When you watch the crossover tape, you see the good players out there. You see the (Chiefs Defensive Tackle) Chris Joneses of the world from Kansas City, you see those guys, you see (Patriots Linebacker Matthew) Judon out there, you see all those guys doing a good job. The players like to see those guys too because it's stuff you can learn from, too.
Q: How do you fill the void if you don't have (Defensive Lineman) Leonard (Williams)? He's a huge part of your defense this year and playing a ton of snaps.
A: Just a next man up mentality. Obviously, Leo provides a spark, a good energy for our group, production as an interior player and also getting those reps on the outside, so it'd really just be from, again, the group of men that we have on the team. Again, I don't know if you can ever really replace Leo and (Head Coach) Joe (Judge) will talk about the injury stuff and all that stuff, but if any of our players go down, any of our starting players are down, obviously it's a next man up mentality and we'll see where it goes from there.
Q: Who is the next man up? Is it (Defensive Lineman) Raymond (Johnson III)?
A: It's a combination of guys. The thing about Leo is he plays so many different spots. When you watch the tape, he's on the edge, he's on the inside, so I think it can be supplemented by a bunch of guys, whether it's Raymond, Q (Linebacker Quincy Roche), (Linebacker) Azeez (Ojulari). Based on what the situation is, it could vary. It could vary.
Q: What makes Julian Love a leader? It seems like he's kind of growing a little into that role on your defense.
A: I think guys respect the fact of, one, his intelligence, and I'm not just saying because of the Notre Dame thing or anything like that, but just his intelligence as a football player. They know this guy is a jack of all trades. Not all players can handle that – 'Hey, plug in here. Hey, plug in here.' I think just naturally players respect that when you're able to do that, not have mental errors, be out there and be competitive. I think players just naturally respect that, just like players naturally respect guys who are really productive. I think whether his leadership is vocal – and then you've got to take into consideration his role on special teams. He's out there playing PP (punt protection). Naturally, that's a leadership role. There's a lot of communication that goes on there, similar to the safety spot. Again, I've never coached special teams at this level, but that PP position is like being the quarterback out there for one of the most important plays in football, the punt. I just think that naturally his voice carries some weight because of the positions he plays.
Q: Can you talk a little bit more about Raymond Johnson and about the development that he's made this year?
A: I think – and this is me personally just talking about him – I remember going through the process when undrafted free agency started and just how much we wanted him there. We expressed that to him. Saw what I saw on tape and just really liked his physicality for the position. You go back to his tape there, he was playing a four I a lot of times and he was a smaller guy, but playing a four I, being physical, playing with his hands and able to generate some pass rush from that position, which is tougher a lot of times because you're slightly inside the tackle generating some pressure there. I thought that was positive. But the thing I've seen the most is his demeanor has changed transitioning in that rookie year to understanding he's a professional football player. What I mean by that is he has a seriousness about him. I'm not saying he was never someone to be silly or anything like that, but there's a seriousness about how he's going about his preparation. I don't go through the day-to-day with him in terms of how he's taking care of his body, but the mental prep, the demeanor in the meetings, you can definitely see a growth there. That's always encouraging because, again, I always try to explain to the players that once you get to this level you don't have to worry about class. Most of these guys aren't married or have kids. I'm like, 'You don't have to worry about that.' All you've got to really worry about is football. If you want to set yourself up to be the best football player you can be, set yourself up for life, let's just focus on that right now because there are going to be plenty of distractions out there. We live here in New York City, there are a bunch of distractions everywhere. I'm like, 'Just focus on that,' and, again, you can just see his demeanor and how he's going about it. I'm really encouraged by that.