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Giants’ notebook: “This ain’t the Jets,” and more from the coaching staff

Let’s empty the notebook after a busy week

New York Giants v New Orleans Saints
Kadarius Toney
Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

New York Giants coordinators and position coaches were all available to the media this week. There were several interesting quotes and tidbits of information that came out of Thursday’s marathon session with the coaching staff.

Thus far, we haven’t found places for all of the noteworthy things that were said. So, here is a notebook filled with some of the better quotes of the week from Giants coaches yours truly was able to speak with.

“This ain’t the Jets”

Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham said this week that he learned quickly during his first tour with the Giants as defensive line coach in 2016, that Giants-Cowboys is not normal. The teams faced off in Week 1 that season.

“I’ll never forget my first regular season game as a Giants coach and it was against the Cowboys. It was a four o’clock game and I remember JPP (Jason Pierre-Paul) standing next to me during the national anthem and he said, ‘This ain’t the Jets’ or he said something to me, right? Because I was with New England for my whole time and I said, ‘Yeah, it’s a little different, man. It’s a little different,’ “ Graham said. “I always remember that moment and how cool – he looked at me and he was so cool about it. After the national anthem he said, ‘Little different.’ That’s what he said, he said, ‘Little different, isn’t it?’ And I said, ‘Little different.’ And then we won the game. At the end of the game – and he had a great game, I just remember that – and I looked at him and said, ‘This is a little different, man.’ He said, ‘I told you. This is Cowboys-Giants week.’

“I remember that. That stands out to me and that was a good memory. That was a good memory that first one, so I’m looking forward to it. I know it’s important to the people around here, I know it’s important to the fans around here, so it’s important for us to prepare and get ready for the game. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

“Gotta get ‘em ready”

First-year offensive line coach Rob Sale was asked this week what it’s been like dealing with the week-to-week personnel changes he has had to handle.

I loved his response.

“You coach who’s there. You’ve gotta get ‘em ready. There’s no choice, no excuses. We’ve got a good team. It’s not just Rob Sale, it’s Flats [Pat Flaherty], it’s Ben [Wilkerson], it’s Freddie [Kitchens]. We’re all saying the same thing and we’ve got a team to surround these players and get ‘em all on the same page, get ‘em all up to speed. Injuries are part of the deal. You can’t make excuses, all the other 31 teams have got the same issue. They’ve got the same amount of time, they’ve got COVID, they’ve got injuries,” Sale said.

“Gotta roll with the punches, get the guys ready to play and the people that can do that the best and get everybody on the same page are gonna get the results.”

Impressive incompletions

I asked quarterbacks coach Jerry Schuplinski on Thursday whether he, like media and fans, looks at Daniel Jones’ 402-yard passing performance and says “that’s his best game.”

I thought Schuplinski gave a nuanced, accurate answer.

“I just feel in general I’ve been liking the way he’s played at the start of this season. He looks comfortable to me, he looks confident to me, he’s seeing the defense really well, he’s understanding what the goals are for each play that’s called, where he wants to go with the ball but then also sometimes where he needs to go with the ball,” Schuplinski said.

“One of the things I think I was most impressed by him was the three incompletions that he had that he threw away. Even on the last drive in overtime a free rusher gets loose and he just chucks it into the sideline, you know, 20 yards deep into the sideline and we’re able to go on to the next play as opposed to forcing something or now it’s third-and-20 or whatever. I think he’s done a good job of, hey, if it’s there I’m taking it, if not I’m going to move on or get rid of it. If sometimes we have to punt we have to punt or whatever the situation might be — he’s done a good job of understanding that.”

Offensive coordinator Jason Garrett said something similar about Jones.

“I just think he’s made progress over the last year and a half that we’ve been with him. It starts with playing winning football. You have to take care of the ball and I think he’s done that. Starting from about midseason last year, he’s done a great job taking care of the ball. He has made really good decisions, he’s played decisively. I think he’s getting a better understanding for what we’re asking him to do, what defenses are trying to do to us and he’s seeing the field and he’s making a lot of good decisions. When things aren’t there, he’s made good decisions to get rid of the ball,” Garrett said. “Two or three times in the game the other day, maybe a rusher came free, or something didn’t come up exactly like we wanted to, he used his feet, he threw the ball away, we went to the next down. So, I think that’s a big sign of maturity and then he’s been able to make more and more plays.

“As the environment gets better around him as we protect better and we get some guys outside who can make some plays for him, he’s going to continue to play better. That’s been my experience with quarterback play. You make the environment better, all of a sudden, the guy starts to play better and better.”

“Take it in stride”

Defensive backs coach Jerome Henderson said the best thing about his group is that no matter what he asks they “take it in stride.”

One of those players is Julian Love, who plays pretty much all over the secondary and has an ever-changing role. With Jabrill Peppers injured, Love played a season-high 47 snaps last week. He will likely play a key role again Sunday vs. the Dallas Cowboys with Peppers (hamstring) out of action.

“One of the things that you appreciate about Julian is how calm he is and how he just handles everything in stride,” Henderson said. “You put on top of that he’s a very intelligent, very aware player. It gives us flexibility to move him around and for him to handle different things and take on different jobs.”

Another player who has seen his role change somewhat is Adoree’ Jackson. He has played 18 snaps in the slot the past two weeks after playing only 6 in the first two games.

“The biggest thing for me is he’s been a team player and hasn’t complained … Adoree’ just took it in stride,” Henderson said. “That’s the one thing about this group of secondary players. They kinda operate that way, they all just kinda take it in stride and it’s a credit to them.”

An alien being?

Special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey is asked every week when the Giants will let rookie Kadarius Toney return kickoffs, punts, or both. Toney had his best game as a pro last week with 6 catches for 78 yards, 51 of those yards after the catch. McGaughey was asked this time if he was “curious” what Toney could do as a returner.

“I’ve seen KT play for a long time. I knew exactly what he was. I told y’all a couple weeks ago that he’s different. I didn’t say that just because I thought he was an alien. He’s a hell of a football player,” McGaughey said. “He’s super, super talented, but again, he’s a rookie and (we’re) just going to spoon feed him. Again, he’s getting more acclimated to what he’s doing. He’s obviously got a heavy load on offense, so once we get him going there – like I said, when it’s time to go, he’ll be back there.”