New York Giants coordinators Thomas McGaughey (special teams), James Bettcher (defense) and Mike Shula (offense) all spoke to reporters on Friday. Here are a few of the key items they addressed, along with some of my thoughts on those topics.
Thomas McGaughey, special teams
On why the Giants did not get a punt returner on the field during a fourth-quarter sequence against the Chicago Bears ...
[NOTE: Recall that on a fourth-and-2 the Giants could have subbed when the Bears ran their offense off the field, but chose not to.]
“It’s just a decision we made. Players have to do their jobs. Regardless of how we would have switched it, we would have put our gray team in and it’s basically the same exact people minus the returner, just a different returner. It’s just a matter of getting hands on people and stopping them from being able to get to the ball.”
McGaughey also said this about the play ...
“We just moved up Antoine Bethea to the corner and dropped back Jackrabbit. Jackrabbit has returned punts in this league for years and had success. He probably should have fielded the ball in a perfect situation. DeAndre Baker should have blocked [Cordarrelle] Patterson more, he didn’t get anything on him. We’re talking about Jackrabbit possibly getting in his way or blocking Cordarrelle and the same thing with Baker. If we get a little bit of him the ball goes into the end zone. It’s just a matter of execution and we didn’t execute.”
Valentine’s View: The Giants made a clear mistake here, and I’m bothered by the idea that the coaching staff has not owned it. The job of a coach is to put his players in the best possible position to succeed. The Giants did not do that here. McGaughey might be right about what Jenkins and Baker should have done. When you put players in unfamiliar positions, though, the likelihood that they will make mistakes increases. The idea that Jenkins “has returned punts in this league for years and had success” is flatly untrue. Jenkins returned nine punts for an average of 5.1 yards in 2012. He has returned ONE since, in 2015.
On sticking with Aldrick Rosas ...
“It’s tough. It’s always hard because this is a results business, so you want to have the results. In the process, when you have a guy like Aldrick, who’s been a Pro Bowler, who’s had success in this league, you just got to keep working. And you’re right, there’s a fine line. He knows it’s a results business and you’ve got to get it done.”
Valentine’s View: After what Rosas did a season ago there is no way the Giants should give up on Rosas. If they were fighting for a playoff spot a change would be justified. At 2-9, giving up on a talented young kicker like the 24-year-old Rosas seems like a move they would eventually regret.
Mike Shula, offensive coordinator
Much has been made over the past few days about Daniel Jones and how much freedom he has — or does not have — to change plays at the line of scrimmage. Shula kind of muddied up the waters even more on Friday, by saying:
“Sometimes he does [have freedom to change] and sometimes he doesn’t, depending on what we feel like is a play, ‘hey, we can call this thing and if it’s …’ Again, if it’s a look where even though there might be an extra guy in there, if we feel like he’s away from the point of attack, then we’ll just kind of run that play, just like a lot of teams do that. Sometimes we have plays where we say, ‘Hey, we’re going to call it and run it.’ Sometimes we have plays where, ‘Hey, we can get out of the play to a pass play or get to another run play.’ Sometimes we have plays where it’s a run play with those RPO-type things. So, we have a combination of those.”
Valentine’s View: I understand that Jones will make mistakes. I don’t, though, understand handcuffing the offense by at times giving zero options to get out of a bad play.
James Bettcher, defensive coordinator
On Leonard Williams’ lack of statistical production ...
“I still think sometimes production is not a stat. I think there’s things that he has done as he has been with us for a few weeks now that is not a recorded statistical play. I can see that stuff showing up on tape. He is disruptive in the run game, he’s changed the course of the back, he has helped us immensely in those ways. I think even in pass rush as a rusher, he has disrupted the middle of the pocket on quite a few occasions. I want him to have sacks just as much as he does, I promise you. We’ll keep working towards that and I think there’s things in his game he is going to continue to work to improve and those numbers will come.”
Valentine’s View: As I have said before, without some statistical production it is going to be difficult to give Williams a big-money deal.
On whether he could have given cornerback Corey Ballentine more help vs. Allen Robinson last week ...
“I think you always look at ways you can help but you always look at does calling something to help one guy, what other things does that put you in a position to have to defend? The second piece of that is what do your guys do well, what do they feel most comfortable in. If they get a play on us, whether it’s on Corey or anyone, what’s the call you want to go to if they have a couple in a row and you have to settle guys down. Sometimes when you just look at it from a naked eye and you’re just looking at the game, you might say, man, you have to do something for him, but you also have to think of what does he play best and what is he most comfortable in. We try to put him in those situations when things aren’t going well. (I) certainly evaluate those things as a coordinator, always have, always will.”
On the development of Julian Love ...
“I think with Julian since he’s walked in, he has been a guy that’s ahead of some other young guys I have been around, from just meeting, from just awareness. Not just awareness of what’s going on but also self-awareness. He’s been able to give you good feedback right away on something he wasn’t right on, whether it’s his eyes, his alignment, his technique. I think as he has sat behind one really veteran safety and I said this last week with AB (Antoine Bethea), he’s done such a good job being engaged with Julian and trying to help him along the way. Julian has also done a good job of being engaged when he’s not the number one. When Pep went down he had a chance to go in and he was ready for his moment.”