The New York Giants spent the week practicing in Tuscon, Ariz. Here are some notable things said by players and coaches throughout the week.
A comment that went sideways
NFL players usually stick to the script when they speak with the media. They are always blessed for any opportunity. They pretty much have a stock answer for every question. That way they don’t make any unintentional headlines.
When they go off-script the media loves it. Honestly, it gives us something different to write about and that is both enjoyable and good for page views. It’s generally not good for the player.
Logan Ryan went off script on Sunday evening, offering his services at quarterback should the Giants need them. He said he was “A lot like Tua (Tagovailoa), a lefty. I can throw 2-yard passes to the left. I’m accurate. I’m smart.”
Thursday, Ryan was issuing a mea culpa.
“I want to apologize to Tua I didn’t mean any disrespect. I made a light-hearted comment about me playing quarterback. I think he’s a good player. He’s humble. He approaches the game the right way and he made game-winning plays to beat us, and they won the game,” Ryan said. “I’m not a sore loser. I don’t hate on players in the league. I have a lot of respect for players in this league. I’ve been in this league and he’s doing it the right way. I wish him the best and I want him to know there’s no disrespect there or any bad beef there. Just a comment that went the wrong way and I was trying to be funny, and it wasn’t funny, and I don’t want to disrespect him.”
Again, that’s why players know they should stick to the script.
Man of the Year nomination
On the flip side, Ryan is the Giants’ Walter Payton Man of the Year Award nominee.
“The nomination is awesome,” Ryan said. “I’ve been doing work for a lot of years and I wasn’t doing it for the nomination. I just kind of was working in my own circles with people and trying to make a difference and trying to make the world a better place and to be noticed for that and recognized for that, not trying to get it, I think is the coolest feeling, so I’m proud. I’m honored to be the nominee for the Giants. I really want to win it and I really want to win it for the animal people out there. I mentioned there are a lot of people that do shelter work, volunteer, dedicate their life to that, don’t make a lot of money, pet owners. There are a lot of good people out there that love animals and I’m not sure, but I think I would be the first person with an animal cause as his main cause to win that award. I do work with kids and police reform as well, but to highlight the animal people, I really want to win it for them and support them and give them notice.”
Doing it the right way
Another Giant defensive back up for an award is cornerback James Bradberry. He is the Giants’ nominee for the 2021 Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award. That award is presented annually to a player player who best demonstrates the qualities of on-field sportsmanship, including fair play, respect for the game and opponents, and integrity in competition.
“I just try to play the game the right way,” Bradberry said. “I don’t try to do anything before or after the whistle that will put the other guy or myself in harm’s way. Of course, football is a violent sport, so I try to do it within the realm of the game, within the whistle and the lines.”
Bradberry is also not a trash-talker.
“That’s never been me,” he said. “I just like to go out there and have fun.
“I talk more with my teammates more than I talk with the opponent. Communication is very key on defense and I pride myself in being communicative, I pride myself on my communication skills on the back end when it comes to communicating with the safety and also communicating with DBs. As far as talking and talking trash, that’s not me.
I have no idea why the Giants trotted tight ends coach Derek Dooley out to speak with media Thursday instead of senior offensive assistant and play caller. Dooley, though, ended up making a couple of excellent points.
On offense line play ...
“Line one in the NFL in the pass game is how are you going to protect him, and this is not specific to the New York Giants. Most everybody’s offensive line is not quite as God-gifted as the defensive line, right? Let’s be honest, if you’re really big and you’re incredibly athletic and explosive, most guys play on the defensive line. When you’re in high school and college, if you’re not quite as good on the defensive line, but you’ve got really good size, what do they do? They move you to offensive line, right? So right away, you have an immediate mismatch from what God gave you,” Dooley said. “My point is, we’re always starting with protection and the challenges, and every defense that you play typically has elite rushers ... Everything we’re doing is trying to help our offensive line in the protection, but at the same time you’ve got to get guys out and get open ... we’re trying to do our best, but at some point, you’ve got to block a guy and you can’t avoid that. There’s no pass protection we can put out there where a guy doesn’t have to block somebody.”
On getting the ball to the right players ...
“The end zone is the biggest one. Obviously, the first key element of getting the skill players involved is having them dress out on game day, which is a really important thing. It’s hard to get them the ball when they’re in the sweat suit. If you said what’s been a little bit of a challenge is you start planning early in the week and usually by about today or tomorrow you find out who’s playing and who’s not.”
Barkley still awaiting breakout
Running back Saquon Barkley is averaging just 3.8 yards on 84 carries this season. The Giants are still waiting for him to have the kind of dominant game that used to be commonplace for the No. 2 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Barkley, in fact, has been largely outperformed by backup Devontae Booker.
Barkley admitted this week that the ankle injury he suffered against the Dallas Cowboys is “nagging,” but also that “I feel good.”
Barkley was not happy with his performance last week against the Miami Dolphins.
“I had two drops. Two balls that hit my hand and I didn’t come up with the play there,” he said. “I felt like as the game went on, I got better in the run game. I’ve just got to continue to take what’s there. Whatever the defense gives me or whatever opportunity I have, take what’s there and when big plays are there to be made, like a catch in the flat or an under against a linebacker, I’ve got to make those plays.”
Patrick Graham lauds position coaches
The Giants have had a lot of moving parts in the secondary the past two weeks. Injuries have sent Jabrill Peppers and Darnay Holmes to IR. Adoree’ Jackson is out with a quad injury. Logan Ryan missed a game due to COVID-19. Aaron Robinson has had to move from slot to outside cornerback. Julian Love plays pretty much everywhere. Two weeks ago, Steve Parker was on the field making plays at the end of the game. Last week, Jarren Williams debuted and played more than 20 snaps.
Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham this week praised the ability of the team’s defensive assistants to have those players prepared.
“That we have good coaches on our staff. That’s what it says to me. Those guys – (defensive backs coach) Jerome (Henderson) in terms of with the defensive backs. (He’s) relentless in terms of preparation and getting those guys ready even when they’re not even on the active roster,” Graham said. “What you’ve got to understand is the way we look at the game is we’re dealing with a collision sport, right? So there’s going to be injuries somehow, some way. Part of our job requirement is to have guys prepared.”
Graham also praised senior defensive assistant Jeremy Pruitt and assistant defensive backs coach Mike Treier.
“It’s not unique to the Giants. It’s not unique to this year. Every year those young guys are going to have to play at some point during the season and it’s our job to be able to have them prepared and ready to go,” Graham said. “It just tells me we’ve got the right coaches on the staff. They do a good job, where something happens, ‘OK, can we still call this?’ ‘Yes, Pat, he’s ready.’ I think they do a great job at that. I’m proud to have these guys on the staff. They do a good job. They help me out a ton. We’ve just got good coaches. We’ve got good coaches on the staff.”
Thomas McGaughey praises Gary Brightwell
Special teams ability was the primary reason the Giants drafted running back Gary Brightwell in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Special teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey said Brightwell is everything the Giants thought he would be on special teams.
“He’s not your typical rookie. He has a special skillset. When you watch him cover kicks, he’s hard to block one on one. It’s a hard, hard win against Gary Brightwell and that’s unusual for rookies. We haven’t seen a guy cover kicks like him since Ahmad Bradshaw,” McGaughey said. “He’s a different animal that way and he’s along those lines. Not quite the monster that Ahmad was, Ahmad was just heavy handed and so physical, but Gary is so savvy and just really, really slippery and it’s hard to get your hands on him and he can play with power also. He’s developing nicely.”
Brightwell loves special teams so much he wants to coach them one day.
“I embraced the role even when I was in college, like even my senior year I was still embracing that role,” he said this week. “After my career, I want to become a special teams coach, so that should tell you how I feel about special teams.”