New York Giants Head Coach Pat Shurmur - Conference Call with New Orleans Media - Wednesday, September 26, 2018
When you look at the Saints offense with Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas, why do you think it works so well?
"They are two good players and obviously Sean (Payton) is making a commitment to get them the ball. Which is smart because it's helping the Saints score a lot of points and they're both very fine players. Drew (Brees) obviously, is very comfortable and everything's always different, but he's very comfortable with the plan that they have in place and he does a good job of getting the ball to them and I think that's what makes it a challenge for the defense. Then you have Ben Watson (and) other players there that are catching balls when you commit to those two guys."
What are your thoughts on the first three games of the season and also how big was this win on the road last week?
"Yes, obviously I feel better about what happened last week on Sunday in Houston. We found a way to make enough plays and win (vs. Houston). The first two weeks (were) not so good. Obviously, we played hard and we played tough and we played together, but we didn't make enough plays to win and we made too many mistakes and I think we cleaned up some of the things that we did wrong against Houston and now the challenge is obviously each week to be able to come back, put a plan together and get ready for the next opponent and you put all your effort and your energy into the team you're playing this next coming Sunday, which happens to be the Saints."
What are some things you did better against Houston?
"Well I think we blocked them better, which was good and then much like the way Drew (Brees) plays, Eli (Manning) got lots of completions. We had a lot of catch and runs and that helped us move the ball down the field and then certainly our ability to have success when we ran the ball. That really should be the first thing I talked about."
Do you see any similarities between how the Saints Saints Alvin Kamara and Michael Thomas to what you have with Odell Beckham Jr. and Saquon Barkley?
"Well all four are sort of marquee players and all four can change the game with the ball in their hands. There's some similarities I would say. I think Sean (Payton) and I see offense in a similar way. We approach it maybe a little bit differently, but a similar way in terms of there's a certain amount of plays where you get a completion and there's other things where the ball can get down the field and you make sure you mix in the run constantly and take it from there."
Alvin Kamara and Saquon Barkley both have had big days as receiving running backs this year. Do you think the NFL is getting a new type of running back?
"In my opinion, I don't know true value of a running back if he cannot catch the ball. I think whether he's a primary target or you're trying to get the ball down the field and you utilize him as a checkdown, his ability to catch the ball, either helps move the chains or get you explosive plays. Alvin and Saquon they both have the full skill set as a running back and it makes sense to utilize it and sometimes the running back matchup, when it just comes to straight matchup ball is favorable, in terms of the offense if you have right runner."
Does having a running back with a unique skillset allow you to get more creative?
"I think it allows you to be more balanced. In a former life and we all know there's certain runners that were this way that weren't real great at either pass protection or catching the ball, so when they were in the game then the defense just calls a run defense. Where if you have a guy that can catch the ball, I think it puts the defense a little bit more off guard. Are you going to defend the runner or defend a pass?
What are some of the challenges defending the packages the Saints have when Taysom Hill is on the field?
"I think the RPO, the zone read. It's not really a read option, it's a zone read. I remember I was the OC in Philly for Chip (Kelly) when it kind of made a big push back into the NFL. But it's part of our game. And I think it's smart for Sean (Payton) and his staff to get to do this, because I think that puts pressure on a defense. And if you have a guy, a quarterback that has a good set of legs and can run, you've got to work on it. It's a chance to get some big plays, so I think it's smart. I think we both feel the same way too. You try to utilize the roster to the best of your ability and if you got a guy that can execute those kind of plays and you can make yards and score points doing that then it makes sense to."
What are your initial impressions of the Saints defensive line and the pressure they're able to bring with the front four?
"They are a bugger to block certainly. I got a chance to see firsthand twice last year in Minnesota. Cameron Jordan, he's good. He's really good and you've got to know where he is at all times. But there's other players in the front that are sneaky good as well, so you can't overcommit to 94 and forget the other guys. So I think they're good up front. I think they play their scheme and in some ways when they're in base is a little bit like ours with 5 on the line. I think they're a tough front to get after."
What have you seen from the Saints run defense? Seems like they're having a little more success in that area so far this season.
"I think so. Again, because if you are running the ball in base, certainly. There's a lot more gaps filled at the line of scrimmage. I think sometimes as play-callers, we sort of get away from it. You start doing other things, but they're good at stopping the run. And I think it's no mystery to me. I watched it last year firsthand."
When you see these early season struggles with the Saints in containing the big plays, as an offensive coach, do you get excited by that or do you think they're going to change something?
"I think there are certain things we do and there's certain ways we want to move the ball. And you try to just match it up with the coverages that you're playing. You're certainly aware of matchups always. But they can seamlessly play cover 2, or they play a boatload of cover 3, too where the matchups are not so much a matchup game. It's more of a progression game. So they allow them to keep the ball in front of them if that's in fact what's causing it. But for the most part you just get ready to play what you see on tape and try to run your plays."
Do you see similar traits in Odell Beckham Jr. and Mike Thomas, or do they get things done in different styles?
"I think they are similar because they can make plays. They can do – we just talked about the running backs, but they can do all the things receivers need to do. They can bump and run. When they're running down the field, they can find a way to separate the guy on their hip. If they are in a crowd, they got good enough ball skills to make contested catches. They can run away from coverage. They can run through coverage. They'll block. So I think when you're talking about receivers, those are all things you want."
You've got a guy like Saquan Barkley who's good at breaking tackles, does that make it more important for guys to be on those downfield blocks and do you see anything similar with the way the Saints run with Kamara there?
"Yeah. I think it's certainly important to finish plays. To your point, I think the I think the Saints offensive line, they play extremely well together. They're a smart group. You can see they do a really good job of getting five hats on the most dangerous guys. They do a good job of finishing their blocks. So that will give the runner space either at the line of scrimmage or down the field which can allow him to make those big plays."