Q: What has it been like for the offense to maintain success with all of the injuries?
A: Well I think when we do have good drives, when we do score, we are very consistent. We don't get penalties. We are running the ball well on first and second down and getting into some play-action, hitting some deep stuff and keeping the defense off balance. I think our offensive line, obviously, that is where it starts. They have done a great job in pass protection, did a great job today running the ball, the backs are running tough, receivers are blocking safeties, throwing it short, and just maintaining drives. Staying out of incomplete passes, staying out of getting zero yards on runs or losing yards. I think the first half was great. I think we didn't have many third downs and the ones we had were third-and-one and third-and-two. We had another about third-and-three where we ran the ball and got close to getting it. That is kind of what you like. You like to stay in your base personnel and keep things simple and just go out there and execute. Second half we had a few drives where we got into a penalty here or some bad football and that is where we got stalled out a little bit. We were a little limited, we had the lead and especially in the fourth quarter you are kind of just running the ball trying to run the clock and not trying to take too many shots. I thought we played really well, smart football, the defense is playing outstanding getting a lot of turnovers. When it comes to December in Giants Stadium you are going to have to run the ball and we were able to do that.
Q: Do you foresee the wind being a factor late in the season in the new stadium and what is the difference between the wind in this stadium and the old one?
A: It is tough to say, we have to play a few more games. It was a windy day, but I thought the stadium handled it pretty well. I thought the far endzone from where we run out of our locker room was kind of the windiest endzone, blowing kind of into the field. Throwing fades into that corner kind of like the old stadium that kind of far endzone is probably the toughest one. The middle of the field I thought was very manageable throwing the ball. I threw a couple, I am thinking of one kind of a long comeback to Mario Manningham in the fourth quarter, kind of a long sideline throw and the wind didn't hold it up. So I thought that was a good sign. It seems like the stadium kind of maintains the wind a little bit better. We will have to see. There will be some games when it is even windier than this and we will see how it holds up, but we had a good gameplan and we executed.
Q: Was the wind a factor on your interception?
A: No. Just a good play by them. I had Kevin Boss open and it is one of the hardest ones. We had play-action right kind of throw back left and you are kind of buying in that that mike is going to jump the play-action. He did and I had Boss open and had pretty good pressure from my left side and threw it and he just fell right back into it. It is just one of those that you kind of hate for it to happen, but it is tough to see it. Boss is open, you see him open, and it is kind of like fool's gold a little bit. They got us on that one, which is disappointing as it would have been good to get another touchdown there, but besides that we played really well.
Q: What are the good and bad of using so many two and three tight end sets?
A: Well I think the good thing is you probably limit what a defense does a little bit, just kind of what their blitzes are, what their schemes are. When they stay in their base personnel you get a pretty good feel for what they are doing. All of a sudden you get into three and four wides that is when Washington likes to bring some of their exotic blitzes and play different stuff. We stayed in our base and you kind of have your core plays that you run a ton and over and over and right now having receivers hurt we feel that is kind of our best personnel. You have playmakers on the field and guys know exactly what is going on when you are checking and doing different stuff. Today we went some with three tight ends and had a few big passes out of it, hit Manningham on one, hit Boss on one. You get some play-action, you run the ball, and it is a good mix and sometimes it simplifies what the defense does and you get a better key to what they are going to do.
Q: When you get your receivers back are you going to go back to a lot of three and four receiver sets?
A: We just have to see. Hopefully we get them back this week. Hopefully have Steve (Smith) back and Hakeem (Nicks) back practicing so that would give us some more options, some more weapons. We still have to hopefully continue to run the ball. You want to have as many personnel groups as you can that work and you feel confident with and as soon as we get receivers back we should just have more flexibility and more options.
Q: Do you feel like you have a good rapport with Derek Hagan now?
A: Yeah and Derek has been here over the years so it wasn't like a brand new receiver coming in. He was here all training camp and the last couple years so he is a guy who knows what he is doing. A lot of times that is what gives you confidence and timing and throwing it when you are sure the guy is going to run the right route and you are sure that he is going to be doing the right thing. When you get new guys that is when you get a little hesitant and sometimes the throw is going to be off. Derek played really well today, a lot of big catches down the field. They were matching Hall with Manningham all day; he was following him around. Not that we were staying away from him, but we were working the other side. Mario had a few big catches near the end.
Q: This was the first time in quite a few games that you had scored a touchdown on the opening drive, did that give you confidence?
A: Yeah that was nice. Last week we had a field goal and it was the first time we had scored on an opening drive so we kind of said, ‘hey, we are getting better now so let's take it to that next step and get a touchdown.' That is a big help, just to set the tempo for the game. When you get the ball and go down and score a touchdown the defense is all of a sudden fired up when they get back on the field and the offense is feeling great with the way we ran the ball. Then we get the ball again and do the same thing, go down there running the ball well, hitting some passes, and play-action. Hopefully we continue to do that, but if not we have to find ways to continue to move the ball and get points on the board.
Q: What about the job Will Beatty and Kevin Boothe have been doing on the offensive line?
A: Yeah the whole offensive line is doing outstanding. The way we have been running the ball the last couple weeks has been great. Big holes for the running backs to run through and Ahmad and Brandon are both running tough and running hard. In pass protection I think that is five weeks since we had a sack so that is something we have to build on and keep working, especially next week going against a tough Minnesota team that gets a lot of sacks. It is a combination of the way we are running it, our play-action, receivers getting open, getting the ball out quickly, and so we have to continue to keep that pace and play smart football.
Q: How has Bear Pascoe's development helped the offense?
A: Bear is doing a great job. We have asked Bear to do everything you can possibly ask of a guy this season. Through training camp, preseason, he was our only tight end there for about three weeks and we treated him like gold. We kind of let everybody else run full routes and he would go half speed just because we were so limited. At the start of the season he is on practice squad, but right away he is brought up and he has to play tight end, he has to play fullback and today he had a couple big catches. He does great in blocking, he knows his assignments, he takes great pride in what he is doing, and he is one of those guys you like to have on your team because he is going to do the right thing and is a good receiver out of the backfield. He had a couple big catches today for us so he has done a great job picking up this offense and playing new positions for us.
Q: Do you see a role for Hagan once Nicks and Smith are back healthy?
A: I think he has earned a spot for sure. Whether he is a fourth receiver or a third and you mix him in or bring him in the way he is blocking the safeties. He has definitely earned a spot on this team with just the way he has prepared and the way he has played, especially this week. He played really well. A couple big time routes on some comebacks, some hitches, some inner routes, so he has done a good job. We have to see how it all works out. I assume when you get Steve back and when you get Hakeem back his playing time will probably diminish a little bit, but there will be a spot for him on certain things.
Q: It looked like you had an opportunity to hit Mario deep on a pass on third down that got knocked down, what did you see on that one?
A: Yeah it is one of those where he had a linebacker on him and the safeties got real wide and I kind of wanted him to just run straight down the field. It is one of those where we got the blitz that we had in practice and rarely do you get that. When they bring a certain blitz or they are bringing two off the side and going back to two and we had the play and in practice he kind of did the same thing, he went a little to the flat and I said, ‘hey, just take that right down the middle. You have London Fletcher running with you man to man.' Kind of the same thing happened today so that is kind of what happens when you are short receivers. You have guys running routes that they are not really used to running. Right there we would have Steve running that route and he has run it a thousand times, but you are trying to mix and match. Mario does a lot of good things for us, but when he is running routes he is not used to running you get little things wrong or you miss a big chance and that is all that happened.