HEAD COACH MIKE VRABEL
*Q: Could you just speak to coming up here and taking care of business? *A: Well, it's not easy. This team was playing well. They had won four of the last five, like we talked about. I'm proud of our team for coming out, starting the way they started. Tough conditions. We took care of the football, we didn't have any turnovers. It was tough sledding against a good defense. I'm proud of our football team for finishing — coming out in the second half and getting that two-score lead and then being able to add a field goal late. We took advantage of our opportunities, which were a strip sack there on (Eli) Manning, and a huge interception there by K.B. (Kevin Byard) — that was kind of what the recipe was.
*Q: How big was it to have that swarming type of defense against a guy like Saquon Barkley? *A: He is a really, really good player, and it takes everybody. There were times when one guy made the tackle, but the mentality coming in was that we needed more than one guy there. You saw K.B. make a great tackle — it looked like he was going to bounce out and had some yards there, and K.B. made a really, really nice tackle to keep him from gaining a first down. We actually, I think, stopped them on the next play to get off the field, so I thought that was a really critical play in a big moment.
*Q: For two weeks it has been largely defense and Derrick (Henry). If that takes you the rest of the way in December, is that just fine? *A: Absolutely. I played defense, coach defense. I never was a running back, but to be able to shorten these games and play physical and do those things that you have to do in December — it was cold, it was wet, it looked like the ball was a bowling ball with some grease on it — it was heavy, and it was heavy for both teams, but I think that is what you are going to have to do in December and probably going back home here next week against Washington.
*Q: How early did you know that the offensive line and Derrick had it going?
*A: Yeah, I think you just get a feel for how it is going early. I think that that was what we wanted to try to do, was try to build off of last week and carry over the confidence of running the football from last week, not that any one week will determine what you do the next week or the success or failure that you would have, but I thought we tried to carry the confidence over. The O-linemen seemed to embrace that. Obviously, the receivers are a huge part of that, but then seeing Derrick — and then Dion (Lewis) came in there and gave us a little lift late in the game, had a couple huge runs on third down — 10, 12-yard runs — so that was great to see.
*Q: With Derrick specifically, what are you seeing from him? Is he seeking contact more?
*A: We don't have some big dissertations about it together, but I just think that some guys, you maybe try to do too much. And I'm not saying that Derrick or anybody else was trying to do too much, but just getting back to doing what you do, what your skillset is, what you believe in, what got you to this point — whether that be Malcolm (Butler), or (Harold) Landry, or anybody — just doing what you do and believing in yourself, and it certainly has been a big boost for us here down the stretch and it's going to have to continue.
*Q: Has someone told you that this is the team's first shutout since 2000? *A: Yeah, I told the team. I just told them, that is the first shutout since I was riding the bench in Pittsburgh (laughter), so that is a long time ago. I recognized Dean — Dean Pees does a great job, and it's not easy being a defensive coordinator for me, but Dean does a heck of a job. Those players play hard for him, and they are multiple, they make very few mental errors. Dean is a very good football coach. We are lucky to have him. Derrick Henry also (established the) most back-to-back rushing yards in franchise history, beating Earl Campbell, and any time that you beat a record held by Earl Campbell, my guess is it's a really good thing.
*Q: I imagine you probably didn't know that until after the game. You didn't realize what was at stake on that last possession for them? *A: I think getting shutouts in this league is tough, and so that is partly why I wanted to call a timeout just to make sure that we kind of had our bearings straight. They kind of made a nice play. (I wanted to) get the rushers some rest, see if Jurrell (Casey) and (Derrick) Morgan there could get some rest so we weren't scrambling, so we could kind of reset and then play red zone defense four straight snaps which is when we are at our best — (it is) what we do, play good red zone defense down there. I was proud of the team. They deserve all the credit.
*Q: How much concern about (Sharif) Finch? *A: Well, any time that guys don't return to the game, that is a concern just because we don't have them for today. This afternoon, or when I get back in there and am able to talk to the doctors and the player and the trainer, then we will try to evaluate where they are at, and we'll get some more testing tomorrow. Any guy that doesn't return, I think that is a concern because you only have so many guys. You only have 43 guys that you are working with, and really 41 outside the specialists and the two quarterbacks.
*Q: What is going through your mind when your quarterback kind of throws himself at a defender to lay a block? *A: That he is willing to do whatever it takes to help the team and help a teammate. We laughed about watching some film earlier in the year — (Carolina Panthers quarterback) Cam Newton got one of their guys pretty good on a reverse I think, and so we were laughing. I said, 'Man, that looks like a linebacker or a tight end blocking,' and we might have chuckled about it in a quarterback meeting, and then to see it actually happen today with our guy, I'm (thinking) Cam Newton has about 50 pounds on you, Marcus (Mariota). It was a guy that will do anything that is necessary to help the team win.
*Q: You mentioned the Eli sack fumble. All the turnovers you got today were very timely, obviously. Could you speak to those a little bit and how your defense was able to not only keep them out of the endzone but take the ball away from them? *A: Sure. It's tough playing defense in this league when you don't get turnovers. We try to make it, I think, sometimes harder for us, because we have played good defense at times but for whatever reason just haven't been able to get those turnovers and finish, whether we tip a ball at the line of scrimmage or it's a caused fumble that we don't get that slips out of bounds, or an interception that we don't take advantage of that is floating up in the air — and so, to be able to get two today and take care of the ball offensively was really the key in the game.
*Q: (Kamalei) Correa had been inactive two weeks in a row. He had one of the forced fumbles. How big of a play was that? *A: We really appreciate Kam and what he does. It's not easy — making decisions on game day rosters is not easy. We have five guys in that room, and there is some veteran guys, there's some young guys, and then Kam who we acquired at the end of camp who is always ready to go. He is a professional, plays hard. Having those conversations with players like that is not easy, to say, 'Hey, we can't have you on our active today.' He remains positive, he remains focused, and then now he gets a chance today to be active and help contribute to the victory.
*Q: Two of your sacks today came from the secondary. What makes those guys so effective in blitzing? *A: Well, I think one is the package and the scheme. I think that it's multiple — we can bring guys from different places — then also the players understanding where they need to be, the disguise, where they are coming from. Having some feel for slipping under blocks and doing those types of things when you bring secondary players, and so the disguise is critical, and these guys have a good understanding. I think that Dean does a good job with his staff of coaching them how to disguise and blitz from there.
*Q: You want to be effective in all three phases of the game. What can you say about Brett Kern and how he's helped manage that field position? *A: Well, we feel like we have the best punter in the league, and we're lucky to be able to have that on a day like today. Maybe we relaxed a little bit, and whether they bobbled the snap of whether he was faking it and tucked it away — we'll take a look at that, but to have the defense come out then and execute the situation that they had in the Bears game — they were able to get the ball out of bounds and kick a long field goal, and so I was proud of our defense understanding that situation, playing the right coverages and the right techniques and not allowing them to get the ball out of bounds and get some yards to where they can kick a field goal.
*Q: It is easy to lose track sometimes about young players when they come in with expectations. I'm asking about Derrick, here, in particular — but just maybe the fact that he's still, especially with a new offense this year, in that process of figuring things out… *A: And I think that maybe what you are alluding to is actual play time and carries, where — Saquon has had, coming in to today minus however many carries or touches, he had 204 carries in his first year. Not having gone back and looked at the stats and seeing what Derrick's carries were in his first two seasons, so maybe I think the more he sees the runs and they are starting to repeat — no different than an inside linebacker saying, 'Hey, I start to remember this look and this play,' and, 'so-and-so ran this play two weeks ago, it is the same play.' I think that there is a lot to be said for that, to just actually having some seasoning in there with the looks, or the defense, or, 'Hey, this is the same way the corner played it when he had a crack replace, he came up and I was able to stiff arm him,' or, 'I was able to out run the corner.' I'm sure there are a lot of different looks that he is still seeing just in his young career.
QB MARCUS MARIOTA
*Q: How much reaction did you get to the block? *A: A little bit. Just trying to help a teammate out. Doing everything I can to help us win.
*Q: How good of a shot do you think you delivered?
*A: I just tried to get in the way to be honest, and Derrick [Henry] did the rest.
*Q: What do you hear about a block like that when you get back to the sideline?
*A: Guys were excited for sure. That's probably a better question for them. I was just trying to do my part.
*Q: With this weather, did you know the running game would have to be effective? And how good was Derrick for the second week in a row?
*A: First of all Derrick was awesome. It all starts up front. Those guys did an unbelievable job. With the weather, we knew it was going to be one of those games where we would take our shots here and there and make plays in the passing game when we could. But for the most part, those guys won it up front.
*Q: Can you talk about the defense getting turnovers for you guys and setting you up in good field position? Was this the ultimate complementary day?
*A: Our defense was unbelievable. We pitched a shutout with turnovers. They're fun to watch. And we made some plays on the offensive side of the ball, but again defense was unreal today. They're the reason why we won.
*Q: What do you think is happening with Derrick's confidence and feel for the offense in the last couple of games? *A: Well I think he's just finding seams and when it comes down to it, there's only one ball. We just have to find a way to get it to everybody. Derrick had the opportunity in the past couple of weeks to have more carries and I think he's done a great job with it. It's just going to depend week-to-week and hopefully he can continue to do that for us. But at the same time, we've got a bunch of playmakers on that side of that side of the ball. We just have to get the ball to them.
*Q: How do you like the way the team has responded when having their backs against the wall in the last three weeks?
*A: It's been awesome. At the same time, we've got another one coming up. When it comes time to do it, we just have to go out and make plays. Those guys did that. In these critical games and situations when you're playing meaningful games in December, it's fun to see that. It's something to build off of.
*Q: With you guys getting into a groove on offense, do you notice a different rhythm or cadence as far as [Matt] LaFleur talking to you on the headset?
*A: Matt's done a great job. He's got a great feel for it. When you're able to run the football the way that we've done, it opens up a lot of different things. When you get to third down, we're able to convert and continue drives. Matt's done a great job. He's put us in a good situations, and guys have made plays.
*Q: Do you hear a different confidence in his voice as he's calling plays?
*A: it's been the same all year. I think he's been pretty even keeled all year and as an offense, that's what we need.
RB DERRICK HENRY
*Q: How early in the game were you feeling it? Because it just seemed like their defense wanted no part in getting off blocks or trying to tackle you today.
*A: We really just wanted to start fast. We felt like when we started fast our momentum carries over throughout the game. That was our main focus -- being efficient, finishing runs.
*Q: When you saw the weather did you know it was going to be a day where you were probably going to have to rely on the running game to get it done? *A: When I got done with pregame I knew it was going to be a long game. The rain was coming down, it was windy, but we were going to run it and I had to go out there and make something happen.
*Q: How important was it for you to build on that last performance? *A: I'm not really focused on that. I was focused on me just playing good and helping us win games. Coach made sure that last game, that it was gone. We had to focus on the Giants and make sure we prepare right. As long as we all do our job, everything will work out for us.
*Q: How hard is it to move past that in a few days' time? *A: It's easy for me because I can have a good game and then come out here and do nothing and then the game doesn't matter. The main focus is just winning a game, taking it one game at a time. We don't focus on individual performance. We are a team and that is how we execute plays and win games.
*Q: You guys have pretty much avoided being a formula team and you do it a different way as need be. Last two weeks it has been Derrick and the defense. Are you cool with it if that is what the formula becomes now? *A: We are happy with whatever works and helps us win games. If that's it, then we are going to keep on doing it. Whatever we feel like gives us the best opportunity to win the game, I think we are going to stick with that. Hats off to the defense for a shutout. I don't think it's happened since 2000, so hats off to those guys. Those guys work hard and they deserve it.
*Q: What did you know about Earl Campbell and did you realize that you broke his record of most rushing yards in two games? *A: Earl Campbell, that's a beast, man. I got a chance to talk to him at some signings and got a chance to chat with him. That's a legend in my eyes. For me to be mentioned with his name, that's like a dream come true. Hats off to everybody involved with the offense – the offensive line, the receivers, the tight ends, everybody blocking for me to have this opportunity so it's all of us not just me. A lot of credit to those guys.
*Q: You were critical of yourself and how you were running. How are you running differently in the last two weeks? *A: Like I said last week, I am really just focused on being efficient. Going out there making plays, making something happen. Not trying to make the big play every carry. Just go out there and do my job and I know those guys are going to do their job and just going out there and playing ball.
*Q: What about within this offense? First year in this offense, I'm sure it takes time with the reads and things like that. Do you feel like that has come along too in terms of the technical side of things and knowing what might pop here and there? *A: We're definitely in a groove as an offense. Our offensive line, everybody just being on the same page and everything's going good. But we can't get too ahead of ourselves, keep attacking them, and we've got the Redskins next.
*Q: As a unit, when you're pounding the rock like that, can you kind of feel the opponent, your will being imposed upon them? *A: I can feel us in our groove, with the offensive line, with me, everybody doing their job. And the defense, everybody's executing and everybody's playing hard.
*Q: You marry your feet with your eyes really well, what allows you to do that as far as the footwork and vision? *A: I just try to see it. I just try to see what the defense gives me and when I see it, just hit it, whether it's two yards, six yards or 15 yards, just see it.
*Q: How much pride do you take when the defense probably knows what's coming and they can't stop you?
*A: I don't worry about that, I just worry about me and getting positive yards and not getting negative runs. If they're going to come, come. We are coming too, so I don't really worry about the defense stopping me, stopping us.
*A: Any extra juice for you going into this game going against Saquon, another running back getting a lot of notoriety?
*A: No, I don't worry about. I'll keep saying it again, just worry about us. We know what we have to do, we know what's at stake, so just keep trying to (attack) them, and take it one game at a time.
*Q: You went left on a wildcat, about a 20 yard run, did you get a look at that Mariota block? *A: I heard it (laughter)! Once I went down, I looked back to see if he was still standing there. He knocked fire out of 52 (Alec Ogletree). That was worse than the one in Kansas City in the playoffs last year. That's the kind of guy he is. It was so funny because when I hit back left, he was standing there and he was like, oh snap, and he just give me a shoulder.
*What do you say to him, and what does that do in the huddle when the quarterback makes a block like that? *A: I gave him a handshake and I said 'thank you, I owe you one'. He's a tough guy, he battles every day, doesn't complain, no excuses, comes into work and does what he has to do to help this team beat teams.
S KEVIN BYARD
*Q: On the Giants passing game. *A: I mean you've got to look at several things—the rain—I mean you can't really throw the ball deep too many times because of the rain or whatever. But honestly, I need to give credit to our DB's. I think we played pretty good sticky coverage. Our D-line did good in the pass rush so great day for our defense.
*Q: Look at what you guys did to [Saquon] Barkley today. I mean obviously that was a point of emphasis. What was the plan going in? *A: The plan was to eliminate all of the big plays. We understand that this guy, he's going to get the two-yard, one-yard, three-yard play. We can't let him get the eighty-yard runs and that was something we talked about today. We kind of let him get loose on about one or two runs, other than that I think we did a great job today corralling him and that was one of our keys to the game.
*Q: He had averaged I think like one hundred and a quarter a game for the last five, he had a hundred and seventy last week. He had forty-one today. What does that tell you about what you guys did to him today? *A: Well we're not the Washington Redskins defense. Not saying they're a bad defense, but we're a totally different team. We knew coming into this game we're going to have to bring a road mentality. Odell [Beckham Jr.] wasn't playing so we knew Saquon Barkley was going to be a big key so we did a great job containing him
*Q: When you watch Eli Manning, what's it like playing against him versus maybe some of the more athletic quarterbacks in the league right now? *A: A lot of times when you're playing against quarterbacks that don't have a lot of good scramble ability, the main job is keeping them in the pocket, making them throw from the pocket and trying to make them feel uncomfortable and I think we did a great job today. You could tell by the way he was falling back and making a couple throws. So like I said, defense, we brought a real good road mentality today and it was enough to get a shutout.
*Q: On their defensive celebration on the fourth down stop. *A: [If] we did a big play on defense, we knew we were going to do that.
*Q: Who's "we"? You? Like who came up with it? *A: The defense. I'm not ever going to say me. The defense came up with it. I would say Wood [Wesley Woodyard] because Wood is always the guy who's going to do stuff like that, but Wood kind of threw it out there like, 'We're going to do this 'Remember the Titans' and make this play right here, so it's pretty cool.
*Q: I know you guys like the quote 'game to game', the last two games the defense and Derrick Henry's been the recipe. I'm sure you guys are cool if that's the recipe that carries you the next couple of weeks? *A: Yeah, I mean defense, we're going into every single game thinking that we're going to have to carry this team. Not saying that our offense isn't going to score points, but that's our mentality. We like to say that's just our road mentality and I've been talking about it the past couple of weeks. At this point we're going to enjoy this but it's onto the Redskins--it's survive and advance. We have to make sure we're ready for those guys and they just won today.
*Q: And the defense paired with the run game usually works pretty well? *A: Yeah, I think definitely will be a good recipe to winning games in late December. Your run game has to be going and your defense has to be playing lights out.
*Q: How about from a turnover perspective you guys are starting to generate those. What's going on there? *A: Well we've been trying to get as much as we can. We got two today—we should have had more. We kind of dropped one or whatever, but like I said we played great defense, the DBs played sticky coverage, our D-line, our linebackers got good pass rush. It was just all out a good team effort today and just glad we got the shutout in the end.
*Q: I know when you're going against a guy like Saquon Barkley, you can't replicate his speed—now that you've seen it firsthand what's your takeaway from going against him? *A: He's dynamic. He's a dynamic athlete who's still making guys miss even though we corralled and we swarmed him, but like I said, the guys just kind understood the gameplan and understood that whenever this guy had the ball all of us need to be running to him, making sure we corral and swarm him in time.
*Q: It's one thing to have Coach say, 'Hey we've got to swarm this guy, we've got to surround him', but to actually go out and execute it on a game day the way you guys did today, that says something. *A: I mean it's always easier said than done, but like I said a dynamic player like him, we just did a great job of understanding the game plan and understanding there's going to be little screen routes and stuff like that, you know there weren't too many other crazy runs out of the backfield it was about making those great tackles.
*Q: How important was it to get the shutout? *A: I wouldn't say it was important. We didn't come into the game saying we were going to get a shutout, but to get one in eighteen years is a great feeling. I understand our defense has really come a long way from the beginning of the year and we want to keep it going late into December because like you said the run game and defense is going to win us playoff games.
CB ADOREE' JACKSON
*Q: That was a great defensive effort today from a team that scored 40 points last week. *A: I think they've been putting up a ton of points recently. For a defense to go out there and play like that, knowing that they have a lot of weapons and a running back that can take the top off and make plays. We as a defense just had to focus on the little things and make plays.
*Q: The battle cry this week was to surround Saquon and swarm him. What was the key to shutting him down today? *A: I was just thinking about that Rose Bowl game. We said the same thing, stop 26. We stopped him for a little bit. He still had 70 yards and scored. For us, we were just swarming and not letting one person impact the game. Once we could get out there and stop the run, it was about us getting to the quarterback and doing what we had to do.
*Q: You guys ran the ball and stopped the run in this miserable weather. That sounds like a great formula, right? *A: As a defensive back, I love when it is raining. You can see what the quarterbacks like to do. For us with the weather and coming on the road with this mentality, it was huge. What better way to be physical than to run the ball. They were going to run the ball with a great back like Saquon. We had to try and make tackles. We just tried to play complimentary football with each other.
*Q: How much does it charge you up on the sidelines when you see Derrick run the ball like he has been? *A: Every time he runs the ball I say that is a big dude. Every time I see him run the ball it is hard to see him not get at least a couple of yards and knock people forward. That guy is phenomenal. I remember him in the Championship game when he was at Alabama. No one wanted to tackle him. That is a grown man out there.
*Q: You win the NFC East if you win next week against the Redskins because you have would have beaten all the teams. *A: For us, we just worry about focusing and winning this game. At the end of the day we can't really think about whatever division that is or the playoffs. It is all about just winning the game in front of you. One game at a time, one series and one snap at a time. We have to lock in. Having a short week it is going to be a lot about being prepared. Get our bodies ready to go. We have to be there, be ready and be sharp.
The Tennessee Titans take on the New York Giants in Week 15 of the 2018 season on Sunday, Dec. 16, 2018 at MetLife Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)