Q: We talked to Tom last week and he said that you don’t describe yourself as a West Coast offense guy. How do you describe yourself and your offensive philosophies?
A: Well, West Coast… most teams in the league have West Coast principles built into their offense, and we’ll be one of them. We’re going to be an offense that has an identity, first and foremost. We’re going to be sound, smart and tough. We’re going to be committed to discipline and poise, and at the end of the day, we’re going to hang our hat on the fundamentals.
Q: Obviously you come from Green Bay and you worked under Mike McCarthy for a long time. How much do you think you’re going to take from him and how much do you think it’s maybe going to have your own twist on it?
A: Right now, what we’re doing is we’re upstairs, all of the offensive coaches and Coach Coughlin, we are sitting there and going through the nuts and bolts of things. Obviously we want to have a sound foundation. We feel we have that. At this point we’re starting to build what we’re going to look like. Every offensive system is its own living, breathing organism. At the end of the day, you have to make sure you’re flexible enough. It depends on what type of personnel you feed it to see what it’s going to look like. It’s a little early to know what we’re going to look like right now. The roster, we’re just in the beginning phases of what the roster is going to look like.
Q: How difficult is that? You could have any number of players at different positions coming in and out with free agency. Is it hard to wrap your mind around how you envision this offense when you don’t even know who the players are going to be?
A: I don’t think so. The offensive system here with the Giants has been in place for a long time. The offensive system that I’m coming from I’ve been in for 10 years. With those two systems being in place as we merge them together and build towards the future, we’ll be multiple enough to use any type of personnel.
Q: How much, if any, input does Eli have in this? How much do the rules limit that from being the case?
A: We’re going to put in a system, we’re going to install it. At this point in time, we’re going to abide by the letter of the law as far as the rules go. As we get going here on the 21st of April, we’re going to start to put the system in, work through the system. As Eli gets his hands on it and has a chance to get comfortable with it, we’ll make tweaks here and there. Really as the offseason and training camp goes on, every offensive system tailors towards the strength of the starting quarterback, what he does well and he doesn’t do well in the pass game. The runs are directly related to the runners. At the end of the day, your system is built around your personnel, not the other way around.
Q: How important is it to have some stability at quarterback? Do you see any similarities between Eli and Aaron Rodgers?
A: Working with Aaron… I haven’t worked with Eli, so that’s hard to say. But I do know this – they’re both Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks, they’re both highly motivated and highly competitive. I’m excited to be here and excited to work with Eli.
Q: What was your conversation like with Eli? I believe you spoke to him once, maybe twice, during the interview process. What did you come away from that thinking and what was your impression?
A: I met Eli a year or so ago, a year ago at the Pro Bowl. I think it was last year, yeah, we had him in the Pro Bowl out there. We spent a little time together out there. It’s not too rigorous of a routine, but I came away with a great impression of him. In talking to him on the phone and having a chance to sit down with him and just talk to him a little without going into too much detail… I’m very fond of him, obviously, watching him play. There have been some high profile games between the Packers and the Giants over the years. He’s played very well in those games.
Q: Obviously a big focus for Eli this season will be on whether he can improve on a pretty down year, a lot of interceptions. When you look at what he did last year do you see that as something that a new system can fix or did he fall into bad mechanics or bad habits or anything that needs tweaking?
A: First and foremost, we hang our hat on fundamentals. That’s going to be the focal point. That’s the first thing that we’re going to address. The second thing is we want to take care of the football. Taking care of the football is the biggest factor in winning and losing games. Fundamentals can help you there. At the same point in time, everybody on the offensive side of the ball needs to play better. With that being said, everyone comes in with a clean slate. This is going to be a new operation on offense. There are some new coaches in place, there are some coaches who have been here who have been in different spots, but at the end of the day everyone has a clean slate. That’s how we’re going to start and that’s important for the players to know. Also, winning in this league, the quarterback gets a lot of credit and gets too much credit. When you don’t play so well and you lose in this league, the quarterback gets a lot of blame and probably too much blame. But that is the nature of the beast.
Q: John Mara after the season said that this offense was broken. When you look at this offense, when you’re studying it for the last five or six weeks, was it a broken offense?
A: I know that the offense here in the past has had a ton of success. Last year they didn’t play as well as they would have liked. At the same point in time, it’s important for everyone to understand that we’re going to move forward, we’re going to learn from the past, and we’re going to work so that doesn’t happen again.
Q: How important is the screen game for you guys and rebuilding that? I’m sure you had an opportunity to see that here with the Giants, they admittedly had major struggles with that. It seemed to be a really big part of what you guys did when you were in Green Bay. How important is that to you as you rebuild this offense and to have that weapon?
A: We’re definitely going to spend time in the screen game. It’s something that will be a focal point and needs to be installed. We’ll have different types of screens, whether they’re sidewalk screens or half screens, so fourth and so on, just like everybody else in the league. At the end of the day, it comes down to fundamentals and guys getting enough repetitions where they’re productive.
Q: When you look at the roster as it is right now, how much do you think you need a running back that can come out of the backfield as a pass-catcher?
A: First and foremost, the runner needs to be able to protect the quarterback. He also needs to be able to run with the ball in his hands and do that well. You’d like to have a complete back. Obviously, it’s ideal to have a guy who’s functional out of the backfield catching the football, but at the end of the day, if they can’t protect the quarterback, they’re going to have a hard time getting on the field.
Q: How confident are you in all of this? Obviously this is the first time you’re going to be an offensive coordinator, the first time calling plays. That’s a lot to handle for a relatively young guy. What’s your confidence level like?
A: I’m confident. I’ve been groomed for this position. It’s something that we train our coaches and our quarterbacks for. We’ve done it in Green Bay and it’s something that I feel very confident about. I’m excited for the opportunity, but at the end of the day, play calling isn’t just about one guy pulling plays out of a hat. It’s the process that you go through during the week. A lot of it has to do with game planning and has to do with ranking plays in the plan. Everyone’s involved with it, not just coaches, not just the head coach but the players as well.
Q: What did you take from the whole interview process? You had a head coaching interview as well. What do you take from the whole process of the interviewing and your future goals in that regard?
A: Well I’ll say this – I’m very excited to be here. I think that being able to come to an organization that is the class of professional sports, to work in an organization with a future Hall of Fame head coach and a two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback is very rare. You don’t get those types of opportunities. I come from a great place, a great organization with a head coach that I’m very fond of and players that I have a special relationship and a special bond with. To leave that, obviously your opportunity has to be something special. That’s what we’re looking at right now.
Q: You talked about blocking being the number one priority for a running back in your mind. What do you look for when you’re talking tight ends? That’s a position you’ve coached before and you seem to know very well. You don’t really have any guys under contract at that position here. What do you look for and what are the priorities about that position?
A: A tight end, that’s a difficult position, first of all, to evaluate. They’re asked to do a lot of things in this league, whether it’s run blocking from the backfield, run blocking at the line, out in space, a lot of things in pass protection and then running routes, whether they’re an in-line guy or they’re in the slot or in the back. They have a lot on their plate. To me, it was always the best position to coach and in this offense it’s the best position to play because you have to learn how to do everything and you have to learn how to do it well at a high level. At the end of the day, you have to find players who you can plug in and figure out what they do best and make sure on the field that they’re doing what they do best.
Q: I know you said it’s about the system first and then you assess personnel moving forward. From the guys you do have under contract, are there any that you’re really looking forward to getting going in your system and what you think their potential could be in your system?
A: Well, first things first, it’s not my system. It’s our system here and we’re building it right now. I’ve had a chance to meet different guys going through the building. It’ll be exciting. A lot of guys are in and out right now, so I haven’t had a chance to meet all of them. Victor (Cruz), we had over at the Pro Bowl and Eli, it’ll obviously be exciting to get going with those guys. Henry Hynoski, I’m familiar with, he played at Pitt and Southern Columbia High School. I’ve followed him since he was in high school really. A lot of other guys. Rueben Randle, I had a chance to meet yesterday, he’s excited to get going. Just to name a few that I had a chance to talk to. Chris Snee has been in the weight room a ton, I’ve run into him and Boothe and all of those guys, so it’s been great seeing them and I look forward to getting going.
Q: With so many question marks and injuries along the offensive line, is that something that’s a bit of a concern for you or do you see that as a bit of an opportunity to draft or bring in a free agent to help?
A: It definitely is an opportunity. When the door closes for someone, it opens for another. There are going to be plenty of guys lined up at the door to get a spot. We look forward to helping them improve and developing guys and seeing where we could take this thing.