Q. We saw K Jake Elliott miss that 52-yard field goal. Since the start of 2018, I think he is five for 13 from 50-plus yards. I know that’s kind of an arbitrary number, but it seems kind of concerning. Is it concerning for you? (Dave Zangaro)
COACH FIPP: No, I’m not concerned at all with [K] Jake [Elliott]. You can paint any picture you want. Obviously, this year he hasn’t connected on as many as we’d like to connect on from that 50-yard range. He’s 100 percent from all his kicks underneath 52-yards. I think there’s a lot of guys that would like to be there right now. What I look at is more globally. When you got back in time and look at his numbers overall, his kicks of 53-yards or less or 50 – 53 yards, I think he’s hitting at about 60 plus percent on those kicks right there. I think last year the league average in that area was around the 58’s or something like that.
So, I think his numbers are kind of where probably a lot of guys are in the league, right around average in that 50-plus yard area. We’d like to be a little bit better than that, but if you’re saying it’s real concerning, I don’t have the same concerns. Like I said, if you just narrow that sample size down to this year, sure. We missed on a 57, we had a couple of misses that were shorter than that, we made I think the 54 or 55. I have no concerns with him.
The other thing that I look at is his kicks under 50-yards on his career. I think he’s right now hitting at like just under 90 percent or right at about 90 percent, which is a really high number there. I feel really good about where he’s at. He’s on track to have a really good year. Those high, long-distance field goal kicks at 50 plus and some of those even deeper than that, skew the numbers right now for him, but I got no concerns at all for Jake.
Q. The missed field goal on Sunday, what did you see? It was to the right again, as the one was in Pittsburgh. It looked like he had the wind with him, what happened? (Les Bowen)
COACH FIPP: Obviously it’s unfortunate that we didn’t get that done on that play there. At the end of the day, just pushed the ball just a little bit to the right. Like I said a week ago, the further back you get, the less margin there is for error and the more perfect you got to be, and we were off just a little bit right there. It’s unfortunate. I’m not trying to stand up here and say that we’re pleased with missing some of those kicks. At the same time, I’m certainly not going stand up here and say that I’m displeased with where Jake is in his career and his development. I think he’s on a really good track. I think the guy is a really good player, really talented and he’s going to continue to get better. I think as you look back in history and look at some of the kickers who’ve kicked in the past, all of their numbers fluctuate a little bit year to year. Some of that is based off where those kicks are from, some of it is based off the weather. Some of these guys are kicking indoors, that skews the numbers probably the other way a little bit more. There’s a lot that goes into all that stuff, but like I said I got no concerns with Jake. I feel real good about him and I think he’s a heck of a player. I think he will have a great rest of the year here for us.
Q. I was looking through the binoculars at the first kickoff and stuff like that and I saw all these guys that I’ve never seen before. Really with all the injuries you have had to incorporate people in that hadn’t been playing on your units and it looked like it had an impact on Sunday. How hard is it to get those guys up to speed and you’re still going to be in that situation this week, I guess right? (Les Bowen)
COACH FIPP: That’s life in the National Football League. We’ve had a lot of injuries throughout the last handful of years, but it just gives another opportunity for somebody to go up. I mean [S] Rudy Ford went down, [S] K’Von Wallace ended up playing in his position and did a really nice job for us. K’von went down, we had [TE Hakeem] Butler come into the game. I thought he did some positive things. Anytime somebody goes down, it creates an opportunity for other guys. At the end of the day for us, our job is to do the best we can with the 11 guys that we got and get the job done well enough to win football games.
We’ve obviously come up short with that as a team and we’re working hard to get that fixed. I know these guys give everything they got. I’m really proud of the effort and how they work and how they go out there and practice and train. I think we’ll get better and better, obviously the more reps we get, the more experience we get. We’re disappointed that we haven’t won as many games as we’d like too, but at the same time, I can’t question any of these guys effort and all that stuff. We just got to find a way to get the job done and these guys are really fighting and working hard at doing that.
Q. I wanted to follow up on the first question. Your answer seemed to be focused on this year’s kicks, but since 2018 he’s 5 of 13 from 50 plus, that’s 38 percent and that’s near the bottom of the league. There are kickers who’ve been kicking during that period who are 66, 70 percent and you know who those kickers are. So why isn’t that concerning to you when it’s a two-plus year sample size? (Zach Berman)
COACH FIPP: I wasn’t just focused on this year, I was focused on his career and where he’s at, so I’m not sure where you got that from but that’s okay. Like I said, I’ll just repeat what I said. I’m really comfortable with Jake. You might not be and that’s fine and everyone’s entitled to their own opinion. We can all paint the picture we want with our own brush. You can focus more on this year’s 50-plus kicks, but at the end of the day to me, four kicks is not a huge sample size. I think guys fluctuate from year to year. I think if you go back in history, you’ll see that. If you look at guys’ 50-plus yard kicks, all 50-yard kicks aren’t the same. Some guys are kicking the ball 50-yards, some guys are kicking it at 57, some of those attempts come indoors, some of those attempts come outdoors. I’m certainly not trying to make excuses up here, so don’t take that the wrong way, but I am saying there are a lot of factors and variables that go into it.
When I look at his overall numbers, I don’t think he’s far off average, maybe a little bit above average for where he’s at in his career, in his development. I think he’s in a really good spot. I think he will continue to get better. I think the trajectory will go up. He’s obviously suffered a little bit of a down year on those longer kicks right now. So far on this year, he’s obviously at 25 percent. But I think as the future goes, he’ll only get better. I think this year that number will improve. I think the more kicks that we have, the better that will get. I have the fortune of seeing the guy kick at practice all the time. I have a lot of data on him that some of you guys don’t. I’m not going to get into all of that stuff, but at the end of the day, I will just tell you emphatically that I feel great about the guy as a player. You can hold me accountable to that when we look back in history at him, in his career. I have no problems with where I stand on him. I think he’s really good and he’s going to end up having a good year for us. I think he’s playing well right now for us, better than the numbers suggest. I think they get skewed a little bit because of the long kicks.
Again, I’m not sitting here telling that we don’t want to make those kicks, we certainly do. But I think there’s a lot of guys who would like to be 100 percent underneath 50-yards right now and he’s sitting on that number too. He’s done some really good things for us. There are some things and some areas he would like to get better at. I hope that answers your question. I’m not trying to be combative with the whole thing, but I am trying to explain the whole picture and maybe in a little bit better way or at least in a way that I look at it.
Q. Your coverage units probably had their poorest performance Sunday of the season. Three punts that gave them pretty good drive starts and Ravens WR Devin Duvernay kickoff return. Common thread there beyond the fact that you’re playing with guys – you’re not going to make excuses about injuries but what’s going on? (Paul Domowitch)
COACH FIPP: I’ll never make excuses. When you look at those punts, we had a couple of punts that didn’t net as good as we wanted to. I didn’t think we were as consistent in the punt phase as we have been in the past. I think our punt team has operated on a really efficient level. I think we’re netting 44.9 yards a punt, I think that’s like fourth in the National Football League. In that game when you average it out because we did have a 46-yard net, we had a 55-yard net, our net on the day was 42 yards. I think their net on the day was 43. So, there was a yard difference between the two teams when you traded punts. We look at those numbers there.
Again, I’m not going to stand here and say I’m arguing that we did everything that we wanted to do. We were not as consistent as we wanted to be. That being said, I think there’s a lot of teams in this league that would take the nets that we’ve had. We have a high standard here. We’ve been playing really well, and we didn’t have as good of a day as we wanted to in that area.
On the kickoff cover, we had the one return against us that came out 37-yard line right there, that’s what we look at more than anything is the drive start. They executed. They did a nice job. I think they’re number one in the National Football League in drive start after that play. We knew we were going up against a good unit. Those guys had a bunch of really good core players, blockers. They had a talented returner. We didn’t probably fit things up quite as well as we could have across the board. I think those guys can play a little bit better on that play. I think they know that and would say the same thing. I think the more reps and opportunities we get, the more experience these guys get, the better they’re going to get. I think in that phase of the game, we started with the ball on average at the 25 and I think they started at the 28. Those are things we do look at for field position. We take field position seriously on special teams here and we look at it a lot of different ways. At the end of the day, we didn’t play quite as well as we wanted to, but I don’t know that the numbers are terrible in any phase either.
Q. I wanted to ask about LB Davion Taylor. I know he’s still a developing player but has his speed been as advertised? (Dave Zangaro)
COACH FIPP: Davion, he’s done a really nice job. I think a few weeks ago I came up here and told you he had played two core teams for us and the last game he played four core teams for us. He was on all four: punt, punt return, kick cover and kick return. He’s just getting better and better. The more he plays, the better he gets. He’s obviously a younger guy. He doesn’t have as much as experience. I think that’s well documented, obviously with his high school football and college. He’s really doing a nice job for us and he’s come along. He had a really nice block on our first kickoff return of the game. So, I would say his game has come along in all areas and we’re really excited about him. He does have a lot of speed. We’re hoping to see some of that Thursday night here.
Q. Head Coach Doug Pederson has had a lot of success since he’s been here, you guys have never lost on Thursday Night Football. What are those short weeks like for you from a preparation standpoint? Also, the NY Giants haven’t had a lot of team success. I know you’re not a fan of those outside analytics, but people say they’re playing pretty well on special teams. What have you seen from them? (John McMullen)
COACH FIPP: As far as the Thursday night games, I really enjoy Thursday night games. Obviously, my body is not as beat up as some of these players, so it’s probably a little bit different for them. For me I really enjoy it, both teams are under the same circumstances. You are both coming off a Sunday game. You got to hurry and get ready, but you got to hustle up, get ready and get ready to play the next game. That’s always enjoyable for us, for me. I like that.
In terms of the Giants, they do a great job on special teams. Their Head Coach Joe Judge, a guy who I have a lot of respect for. We’ve had some good battles against each other while he was in New England and he does a really nice job. He understands the nuances of the game on special teams really well. They have two great coaches up there in [Giants Special Teams Coordinator] Thomas McGaughey and [Assistant Special Teams Coach] Tom Quinn. Those guys are exceptional at what they do. Then at the end of the day, a lot of it comes down to the players that they got to work with. They’ve got some talented players. They’ve had some good returners. [Giants S Jabrill] Peppers has done a really nice job on punt return for them. In the early part of the year [Giants WR] Golden Tate’s come in and carried that on for them on their punt return. I would say that across the board these guys got a good roster, good coaches. They do a nice job of putting these guys in a good position. We got our work cut out for us on Thursday night, but our guys are excited to go.
Q. I was wondering what went into the decision on the onside kick to reverse it there, especially when both sides, the players clearly knew it was coming. When Jake Elliott was aiming one way and then turned and kicked it the other way? (Jeff McLane)
COACH FIPP: With any kind of kick like that, I think the only thing you’re trying to do is skew the numbers a little bit one way. Sometimes teams over shift based off the direction the kicker is facing. Maybe you try to skew the numbers a little bit or get them to take a little less off that side. So that was kind of the face one way and try to hit it back the other. I thought their guy did a really nice job of digging that ball out of there, he went and attacked it. He did a nice job of getting it out of there. I thought Jake did a nice job of giving us a chance. The challenge on that play right now is obviously with the stationary start for the kick cover team trying to get 10 yards before the ball gets there. I thought he did a good job of playing that ball short and giving us a chance to get in there and get it. They ended up digging us out on one of those blocks and their guy I thought came across and made a nice play on the ball. I thought we gave ourselves a chance. Obviously, we want to try and get the job done. It’s obviously a difficult play.
Q. It looked like you had RB Jason Huntley back there for a kickoff return at the end. Is that a role he can build upon going forward? (Zach Berman)
COACH FIPP: Yeah, sure. We did put him back there for the last two I believe it was. [RB] Miles Sanders went down, [RB] Boston Scott was up. Boston Scott’s role had changed in the game. We put Huntley back there, we got a lot of confidence in him. I’m excited to see him play. You and I both know his college career and how well he had done at New Mexico State. So anytime a young guy gets an opportunity to play, it’s always exciting. You don’t totally know what you’re going to get, but you’re excited to see what it looks like. We are excited to see what it looks like with him. We’ll find out more about our roster situation as we go this week. It’s a short week, but there’s a chance he can be back there again. If he does get back there, we’ll be excited to see him.