Q. We saw in the previous Giants game that Giants QB Daniel Jones was able to run against you guys and he was able to do it again just a few days ago. Why was that able to happen and on the specific touchdown run, what happened on that play? (Dave Zangaro)
JIM SCHWARTZ: The defense broke down on that play. You guys know I don’t assign individual blame. First game it was a little bit of a surprise. They ran out of a formation we hadn’t seen before, but it was embarrassing in this game because they ran out of the exact same formation and we fit it wrong. The guy that’s supposed to be there for the quarterback wasn’t there. Nobody else got off any blocks and he made us pay with a touchdown.
The other one that got called back with a penalty, the hold affected that play and also caused us — well, we had a chance to get him in the backfield and it was more of a physical play on that one that got called back. There was a lot of those plays our guys executed very well but particularly early in that game on that first drive we weren’t up to that challenge and it cost us. The way we started that game had a lot to do with the final result of that game.
Q. Not just Daniel Jones but also a guy like Giants RB Wayne Gallman, felt like they were able to run the ball pretty effectively, at least in the first half. What did you see from the Giants running game in general that you didn’t see from last time? (Kristen Rodgers)
JIM SCHWARTZ: I don’t know that I would agree with that. I mean, their running backs averaged 3.2 yards a carry and a lot of — other than the 30-yarder on the first drive, most of Daniel Jones’ other rushing things came from scrambles which I really don’t count. They are passing yards. They are not rushing yards. Whether you let a guy free in your rush or in your blitz or with your coverage, that’s really a reflection of your pass defense. It’s not a reflection of your run defense.
I’ve continued to be pleased with the way our defense has stopped running backs but that’s not enough. All those rushing yards count and particularly the quarterbacks. Like I said, it was disappointing that it was a play that we had practiced and we had worked hard on after the first week and the very first time we ran it, we made multiple mistakes on that play and that, like I said, that caused a little bit of a chain reaction in those first two series and we were finally able to get that fire put out but it was too late.
Q. You mentioned the impact those first two series had on the outcome of the game. I think that’s only the second time this season you’ve given up back-to-back touchdowns on their first two possessions and only sixth or seventh time since you took over the defense in 2016. When you went back and analyzed it, what went wrong? (Paul Domowitch)
JIM SCHWARTZ: Well, particularly the first series, we couldn’t get the third downs. First play of the game we get a sack, fit the coverage really, really well, buy time to get the D-Line there. It’s as much a coverage sack as anything else. We have it fairly backed up at second and long. We play Cover 2 and we let a ball get ripped right past us for a first down and instead of putting them in third down and long, all of a sudden, it’s a first down. And those little mistakes here and there added up over the course of that have because we couldn’t get them to third down and long situations.
One of the keys to this game was putting them in third down and seven pluses. They didn’t excel in those situations. I think 10 out of our 14 were third and five or less. Doesn’t give us very many opportunities to rush, and a lot of them were just short yardage plays, third down and one, fourth down and one situations. Those little things accumulated. We had a big third down and eight opportunity to stop them. I see why our guys jumped because their center moved the ball and was back on his heels. He moved. Their officials didn’t see it and instead of third down and 13, it was third down and three and they were able to hit a shovel pass for four yards and a first down. Those are the little things in there that made a big difference there. Fit his own read wrong and they are making you pay with a touchdown.
Obviously, you want to start fast. We didn’t start fast in this game. Rallied a little bit, but it wasn’t enough. We couldn’t overcome those first two drives. There were so many plays that we were an inch away from making a play, an inch away from getting a sack strip or a pass knocked down or something like that. We didn’t make those plays in this game and we paid the price for it with a loss.
Q. In the third quarter, they had that sequence where after RB Boston Scott’s touchdown made it 14-11, Daniel Jones hit Giants WR Sterling Shepard for 27 yards with CB Avonte Maddox and then he hit Giants WR Golden Tate for 38 yards with CB Nickell Robey-Coleman. Those two plays, do you chalk that up to great throws and pretty good coverage? What did you see on those two plays? That was a key sequence there. (Reuben Frank)
JIM SCHWARTZ: You’re 100 percent right. That was huge. We had gone to more man-to-man because there were a lot of those plays he was fitting into some of those windows and we were inches away from making those plays. We started playing more man-to-man to tighten those things up and when you do it makes you a little bit more vulnerable down the field and we need to respond in those man-to-man situations.
Like you said, it wasn’t one guy. They were going after multiple guys in our back end. You’re not going to make every one of those plays. There are talented receivers, but you’ve got to battle. We can’t give up three completions for good chunks and them have a long drive and be able to take the momentum right back from us. So early in the season, we were playing really good man-to-man coverage. This game it tightened up a little bit of those short throws and that, but we paid the price for it with some of the longer throws and we have to be better.
Q. To kind of follow-up on those two particular plays, the coverage looked okay, correct me if I’m wrong, are there teaching points that the guys seem to be there? What are those teaching points to say — to try to help them make those play? (John McMullen)
JIM SCHWARTZ: Having a guy covered isn’t enough. It’s all about the finish. There’s an old saying in the NFL that if it’s man-to-man, the receiver’s open. I mean, it’s a quarterback saying, if it’s man-to-man, throw it, he’s open.
So getting him covered isn’t enough. You have to finish with those plays. I thought Golden Tate made an outstanding play. You’re not going to make every one of those, but it’s a contested play. Their other receivers sort of the same thing. But one little miss step, a slip, allows a second and long play to become a first down or a ball that just gets over our head or something like that. Close isn’t good enough in this game and we have to win our share. We didn’t win enough of our share of those plays and I think on a lot of them it was either one bad step early or it was the finish at the ball. Again, you’re not going to win every one of those, but we have to win our share and we didn’t win enough of our share in this game.
Q. You mentioned earlier that you guys have been pretty good against running backs and stopping the run and everything. I was just kind of wondering, Cleveland obviously presents a pretty big challenge with two really good running backs. How do you see that match up against your defense? (Martin Frank)
JIM SCHWARTZ: Yeah, it’s our biggest challenge of the season in the run game. And how well we stop the run is going to go a long way to how well we play in this game. They are an outstanding run team. Probably the best two running backs we face this year. Not just the best two on the team, but the best two overall. Great balance. Great power. They know what they want to do in the run game. Nothing sort of takes them out of it. There’s not a whole lot you can do scheme-wise that forces them to do something else. They are going to run it. It doesn’t matter what your look is and they are going to take that attitude of if you have an unblocked guy, the running back is going to try to run over them.
It’s going to take everybody, it’s not just the defensive linemen, it’s not just the linebackers; our corners are going to have to have an outstanding game defending the run. There’s some carryover to like San Francisco. There are some similarities in what the run game is. We have to do a good job on stopping that zone stretch and taking their power run games. They are a good contact-running team and like I said both of those guys, [Browns RB Kareem] Hunt and [Browns RB Nick] Chubb are both outstanding running backs and it’s going to be our biggest challenge of the year and we need to be up to that challenge.
Q. We saw going back to some of the catches that were made over your cornerbacks, we’ve seen that various points over the season. I’m not sure if this is something you think is a trend, but you guys did get smaller at cornerback this season. Do you feel like that’s been an issue on why guys haven’t been able to finish on those jump balls? (Jeff McLane)
JIM SCHWARTZ: No. All our shorter guys have outstanding leaping ability and they have all made plays on contested throws down the field and it really hasn’t been a 6-5 guy that out jumps a 5-9 guy or something like that. I wouldn’t really put it up there. We just put it down to technique and finish, and we’ve had shorter receivers make plays on us. I don’t think that size mismatch has had a thing. It’s been more just execution of a scheme or execution of technique and it also comes from battling, a little bit like the NBA and you can play great defense. They still — the guy hits an 18-foot fall away turnaround and you’ve just got to say, ‘Hey, great play,’ comeback and defend the next play.
But I think the one point that you made that I agree with is we need to make our share of those, and we haven’t been.
Q. Perhaps this plays into what you were talking about regarding finishing, but I noticed other than the ball that hit Nickell Robey Coleman in the face, you didn’t really come close to intercepting anything from a quarterback who throws a lot of interceptions. The lack of turnovers has really been something we’ve talked about before. What do see there? What’s going on that you guys really don’t get close to a lot of balls? (Les Bowen)
JIM SCHWARTZ: Well, I’d say this: almost no turnovers are scheme-related. It’s not like you do something scheme-wise that causes a forced fumble or things like that. It really just comes from continual pressure. There are some plays that are close. I think if you go back and look at some of this stuff, we had about ten plays that we were like on the ball in the pocket, like a defensive lineman was making contact with the ball. One of those, [DE] Brandon Graham made and the ball threw incomplete on the third down right at midfield near the end of the first half.
Those are the plays that cause turnovers. You’re not going to make those all the time but the continual big hits on the running back, we didn’t have enough of those. We didn’t have second-level guys coming in and wiping out piles and causing those kind of things. The continual pressure on the quarterback, where he steps — he has to step back and lets a ball like hang up a little bit. There were a lot of balls that we had — we were close to getting a hand on or a tip. Close doesn’t count in this league. It’s a win or a loss and we lost the game. It’s that continual pressure.
I thought that there were some opportunities. We were just maybe half a step away from making a lot of those. We can’t get discouraged by that. We need to keep the pressure on. We need to stay with our formula and keep relying on those things, as opposed to getting loose. There were a couple times in this game that I would say that we gave up some plays because we got — we were probably a little bit too turnover-conscious in the secondary. Guys tried to jump a play and it took the play away, but the quarterback was able to complete a play somewhere else as a result of it. We have to guard against that. You can play great defense and you can get wins without having turnovers.
Obviously, they are a big part, but turnovers come from physical play and guys doing their job and just that continual pressure. Pressure bursts pipes and that’s what we need. We don’t need guys going outside of what their responsibility is to try to create a turnover. That can make the situation worse.
Q. Back in the spring when you signed S Will Parks there was a thought we might see more three-safety looks this season. You haven’t done it as frequently and I think Will was down to six snaps last week. Why is that not featured as frequently as it has been in the past and how do you unlock Will more than you have? (Zach Berman)
JIM SCHWARTZ: The plan was for him to play a little bit more than what he did in this game, but with the no-huddle stuff and with the amount of 12-personnel that they were running and particularly, again, a lot of it came from not having a lot of second and long or third down situations and Will was in a lot of those packages for second and long and third-down situations.
But you know, when it’s third down and one and they are in 13-personnel, we are not going to be in three safeties. We’re going to have our load-up defensive line and linebackers on the field and that’s the way this game just played out. It was more a fact of that than not having a plan for him or not having confidence in him. He stepped up and made plays when he’s been on the field and just the way it went in this game.