Q: How weird is it going to be facing the Giants without some of those recognizable faces on the defense like Strahan and Osi?
A: I think it is going to be physical. They still have a lot of talented guys. That is one of the biggest things about the Giants. Since we have been playing them, they have been deep in that position. Right now it is actually big enough. The top two are gone, but I’m sure they have some guys in the making who have been waiting for an opportunity and want to get out there and show what they are capable of doing.
Q: Can you talk about your first reaction when they hired Jim Zorn as head coach. He had never been a head coach or coordinator before. And now that you have been through camp and preseason and all, just what are you impressions? How do you compare them now?
A: Actually, when we got the news that Coach Zorn had been hired as offensive coordinator, everybody was excited. Then the news came that he was hired as the head coach. It is like kind of a shock because most of the guys felt that Coach (Greg) Williams would get it. It was kind of a shock like, “Now we have to get adjusted to a new guy.” And after first talking to him and meeting him, it was like, “Okay, this man could be what we need to change the face of the team” after replacing Coach Gibbs. There were a lot of people that were attached to Coach Gibbs. It was going to be different, and all of a sudden everybody bought in. And I think he is a wonderful coach. I think he is just as excited as we are. When you have somebody with the opportunity, the sky is the limit because all of the time he is thinking of something. He comes out after practice sometimes happier than we are about a new play he put in and wants to see how it is going to be executed. I think it is a different excitement level. There is a lot more energy and positive vibes around to have him come in.
Q: How different is it? What is the biggest difference? Is it the offense, is it the way he does things or just in general?
A: I think just in general. The offense is wonderful. It is what we have been trying to get put in the situation as exploiting our talent. Letting guys like Santana Moss have an opportunity to work one-on-one where he is not always double-teamed, or not in position. I think Coach Z is going to find a mismatch and is going to find a way to get Santana in and Randall El and Devin and Malcolm Kelly and James Thrash the ball. There is always going to be a favorable matchup for us, because he is going to find a way to work those guys where we can get the ball. It is going to be hard for a team to take your star player out of the game, like Carolina does with Steve Smith. For teams only to have focused on Steve Smith, Carolina has a lot of guys who are capable, but Steve Smith always has his numbers every week. That is because they put him in position to make plays. And I think having Coach Zorn come in, he is going to put all of us in positions to make plays. Guys are excited about that.
Q: This is going to be a tough division when start out facing the defending Super Bowl champions. How much of a message do you guys need to send in this opening game?
A: I think it will be a big plus for us to go out and get a win on the road to start our season off because this will be a tough division. It has always been a tough division with Philly, us, New York and Dallas. You can’t afford to get behind early because at the end of the season these teams are still going to be battling for playoff positions, no matter what. And it has been that way since I have been here. Every year when you get to the end of the season it is never all just obvious. Okay, we are in, and this game doesn’t matter. It always comes down to the end of the season. And if we can get an advantage at the beginning of the season, we just have to play it out at the end of the season and see how things fall for us.
Q: What kind of year are you looking for yourself? Do you see a big year coming up?
A: Yeah, I actually do. I think I feel great. I’m just excited about playing. It is having fun again. For a couple of years it was like a job; like really work and a grind, banging your head constantly. It was like the wear and tear. But now having this offense, it is like one hit or miss play, we will be in a position then. All of sudden you are still thinking about the 60 or 70-yard run or the big plays or the blow-out games. And I think that brings a lot of excitement to this organization. Because we went into most games with the attitude, “This is going to be a war every game we play. Every game we play is going to be a war and it is going to come down to a 10-7, 10-6, 7-3, type game.” And now having this opportunity to know we can put a lot of points on the board and we can compete with some of the best in scoring, it is up to us. We are going to have the opportunity. We just have to go out and capitalize.
Q: Your team played pretty well last year against the Giants. You should have beaten them the first time. You beat them pretty easily the second time. How surprised were you when they turned around and did what they did in the postseason and the Super Bowl?
A: We always knew we had a lot of talent, for one. It was just a matter of displaying it. Some weeks we came out and looked like we are going to be the team to beat and then sometimes we came out and laid goose eggs. It was just finding the consistency in us. But we have played the Giants and the Giants have always been a great team. And …… for the best teams, which you saw in the Super Bowl when they went out. And once they get their confidence that they can beat you and get going early in the game, if you are going to have a chance against the Giants, you have really got to put them away when you have the opportunity. Because the more they stick around, the more belief they get and the better they start playing as a team. You saw that in the playoffs. Once they got the belief that they could do it, it was hard for anybody to beat them.
Q: Do you have any specific numbers that you want to reach this year in terms of rushing yards or total yards?
A: I really don’t. I want to have a big year; I want to put up major numbers. But at the same time, I would rather win. So if us throwing the ball, if I have more receptions and my running yards are down, does that mean that I didn’t have a big year? I don’t think so. If I can find a way to contribute, the only number that I really want to see go up to sky high and knowing what this system is capable of it, are my touchdown numbers. If I can get touchdowns instead of yards, that doesn’t mean anything. If I can get touchdowns and get my yards per carry back up to five yards or more and I can get 15 or 20 touchdowns or more, I’ll be great and will feel like I accomplished everything I need to accomplish. As far as yardage, I have no idea how my yardage is going to pan out. Because I’m sure teams are going to try to find a way to know that the ……., early on just to make sure our offense doesn’t make them be ……. So until our offense shows everything that we are capable of and our receivers and quarterbacks go out and have great games and teams decide they are going to stop giving up 70 or 80-yard bombs, we have got to go out and play …. I know it is going to be pretty tough but at the same time I’m looking forward to the challenge.
Q: How different is this system than what you had under Al Saunders? I guess it is simpler? Can you describe the difference of what you guys are doing now compared to the past few years?
A: I think it is night and day. Because I think it was a lot of input, not only Coach Saunders, I think it was a posse of people running the offense. Therefore there was no identity that you can contribute. The only identity that we really had was playing hard-nosed football. And now that Coach Zorn is the head coach and the offensive coordinator, he is making the calls. He is putting us in position. We know where our game plan is going. We know what we want to do and there is one identity. Because in (past) years it was more, “Okay, we want to do this” and then all of a sudden we are playing in a different environment or different game that that wasn’t our game plan. All of a sudden it was like a tug of war between identifies. But now we have a one identity; we have an opportunity to have one person at the helm. I think Coach Gibbs was always at the helm, it was just input. He was there for suggestions and everything else. So now that we are all on the same page. I think gets guys excited about having the opportunity to be one-on-one …..
Q: What is the trademark of this offense compared to the one you ran before?
A: The trademark of the offense is mismatches, actually. It is finding a way to get guys one-on-one. Before it was, “This is what we are going to do no matter what they do. They have to stop us.” And you know, fortunately for them, more than not, they had the opportunity to stop us. We didn’t have audibles before. Right now if we are in a bad play, we can get out of that play. Jason has the opportunity to put up the audibles and change things around and get us points. So I think everybody is just excited.