SAFETY DEVIN McCOURTY
Wednesday, October 2, 2019
Q: What has Stephen Gostkowski meant to this franchise?
DM: Yeah, I mean, all-time great. I think because of Slate [Matthew Slater] always being the special teams captain, I think maybe sometimes the outside world doesn't know how much he means to our special teams unit and to us as a team. I think for me, just the stability of that position – we never waver if there's a kick on the line, kickoffs, playing against tough returners. Sometimes the best thing to stop a tough returner is Steve kicking a ball out of the end zone. So, he's meant a lot to this team, obviously for the whole time I've been here. And obviously, you see a lot of that in the record books and all of that, where he has a lot of records for this franchise, but I always speak on how much he means to the locker room – always keeping it light, he's the best at every little thing and tournament we do in the locker room, so he'll definitely be missed throughout the year, just having his presence in there.
Q: Has there been an ease on your mind when he's out there in pressure situations?
DM: Oh, definitely. Like I said, I've been a part of a lot of game-winning drives. For the offense, I remember Baltimore my rookie year. Going back and forth with them and it comes down to Steve at the end of the game – kicks a game winner. In 2015, we're playing the Giants, tough game. Steve goes out there, kicks a game winner. In Oakland when he kicked that long field goal – well, it was in Mexico City, but that long field goal – you saw the whole team run on the field. I think that's because we know that's what he's capable of and that's what he does so often for us as a team. They always say you don't know how much you need a kicker until you get in those situations and you don't have a guy that you know is going to come and deliver. And I think at times for players, we get spoiled sometimes when you have a guy like that, that's kicked for so long and has been so good.
Q: Given that kickers are often practicing and playing on the field by themselves, how do you put another guy in that position and put the confidence you had in him like you had in Steve?
DM: It's like all other positions – it builds. I don't care how good a player is that comes in here, you don't build that true trust until you get out there and you start repping. And even though they're not out there running and doing reps with us in practice, we always see Steve kicking and we do our periods where we're doing field goal and then bantering. And so that trust starts to build and you get to know each other. I think a lot of trust is done even off the field. When you get to know guys and you see their story, you understand what they're about and what playing on a team means to them. I think a lot goes into that that you don't always see from the outside looking in on game day or at the beginning of practice and different times like that. But, I think that builds a true camaraderie and trust between guys out there.
Q: You already have four interceptions this season. Is there a reason why you're finding the ball more this year, or is it finding you?
DM: The ball is finding me. You know, I think a lot of – I was talking to Malcolm Jenkins last night, and he texts me and he's like, "Man, you've got four interceptions," and I was like, "Yeah, man. For a lot of years, the ball didn't find me a lot." You could be in good position, you could play good football, but the ball doesn't find you. And then sometimes you go out there and you know, Steph [Gilmore] tips one to me, I got an overthrow, I got another overthrow, and one where the quarterback never saw me. So, I wouldn't say they're like the hardest plays you ever make in your career, but sometimes you keep putting yourself in the right position, the ball will find you. Sometimes it doesn't, but you've just got to keep trying to play good football. I think me having interceptions shows how good this unit is. I'm able to play a lot of things just on being free and knowledge because our corners are so good. I don't have to worry about anything. I have complete faith in what they're doing, and I think a lot of us being on the same page allows us to do some things out there as a group that you can't always do, unless you have a lot of guys that are studying film together and smart enough to go out there and try to do some things.
Q: Are you at a nice combination right now between your physical ability and you experience and knowledge?
DM: I feel like that. I doubt a lot of people think 32-year-olds are at a nice combination, but I feel pretty good, so I like how you put that. If you don't mind, just keep telling the coaches that, too.
Q: How has Terry McLaurin been as a vertical threat this season?
DM: Yeah, he caught a deep one against Philly over the top. What is it – I think three touchdowns already. So, we've definitely got to be aware of him all throughout the field because even when they get into the red area, he's one of the top targets down there. He caught a post against Chicago where he just was able to bang it in there, and [Case] Keenum snuck it in between the corner and the safety. So, he's a guy you've got to be very aware of. Even though a rookie, a guy that they're targeting not just on post-routes and nines, but they've found him on some over routes just running from strong to the weak side of the defense. So, just understanding where he is. I think because of his speed they also run some shorter routes with him because obviously two-three games into the season, people start to know, "Alright, where 17 is, this guy can really run." So, I'm sure we'll see him do some different things because, like I said, it's only been three games. He didn't play last week. I think they're probably still figuring out all of the things he can do, but obviously you can see he's a pretty dynamic player that we're going to have a heightened awareness of.
Q: What are your thoughts on Kyle Van Noy after he got AFC Defensive Player of the Week?
DM: As a person or as a player?
Q: As a player.
DM: It's awesome to see. For me, KV came in here, and you know, it's always tough when you come to a team kind of in the middle of the year. Then when he first got here, then Jamie [Collins] gets traded, and now it's like Kyle Van Noy is here to replace him. So, we always joke with him about when he first got here. But to just see his growth as a player, to be able to play outside linebacker, defensive end, inside linebacker – you know, he plays so many roles for us defensively. We're not really surprised when he goes out there and has a game like that, very similar to the game he had last time we were in Buffalo, just being all over the field making plays. So, I think it's great for him. We count on his leadership, we count on his communication on the field, and when we're able to have him, [Dont'a] Hightower, Jamie, [Ja'Whaun] Bentley, E-Rob [Elandon Roberts] – all of those guys have been the main communicators out there for us at some point in time defensively. So, when we have a combination of all of them out there on the field, it helps a lot, from defensive line all the way back to the safeties. So, I'm not surprised by the honor because I think he's been playing great football for a while for us. So, I think it's awesome for him to get the recognition because he really cares about that kind of stuff.
Q: And as a person?
DM: As a person, he's a very weird dude. I'm sure you guys know it, but once you get to know him, he's a pretty cool guy. And his wife's cool, so she helps him out a little bit.
RUNNING BACK JAMES WHITE
Wednesday, October 2, 2019
Q: What are your initial thoughts to Stephen Gostkowski being out for the season due to injury?
JW: Never want to see a guy like that go down. He's been a big part of our team ever since I've been here and even before that. I wish that guy nothing but the best and a speedy recovery.
Q: When the kicking game is struggling, how can your position group help?
JW: We just do our job. Obviously, we don't kick field goals and do things of that nature, so for us, it's just trying to score points as an offense or put the ball in position for the kicker to make the field goals. We always had confidence in Steve. Like I said, he's going to come out of that eventually. He's a very good kicker and a very good teammate.
Q: He's been this team's kicker since well before your time here. How would you describe what he's meant to you?
JW: He's meant a lot. He's an awesome guy. Our lockers are near each other. He jokes around with me all the time about how I don't talk that much and things of that nature, but [he is a] good friend of mine. Like I said, tough to see guys like that go down because they're a big part of our team.
Q: What stands out to you about the way the Redskins play defense?
JW: They turn the ball over a lot. I mean, they're pretty good on every level of the defense. D-line has some veteran guys like [Ryan] Kerrigan, and the secondary is really good and the linebackers. For us, it's about protecting the football. They're going to challenge us – man coverage, zone coverage, whatever they want to go out there and do. It'll be a good week for us to go out there and try to play a four-quarter football game, start fast and keep the foot on the pedal for four quarters.
Q: How much has their pressure stood out to you as you've studied them?
JW: Yeah, they pressure a lot. Like I said, they try and bring five guys to the quarterback most of the team, so backs, linemen, tight ends have got to do a good job of protecting Tom [Brady].
Q: What do you guys have to do to run the ball better?
JW: I think it's just execution as a whole. Everybody being on the same page, finishing through the whistle. It's not anything schematically. It's just going out there getting the job done. I think we're going to improve each and every week we go out there with guys who are willing to put the work in.
Q: After watching the film from the Buffalo game, what did you see?
JW: It's not just one thing, like I said. Each play has its own different entity. Like I said, it's just everybody being on the same page, everybody finishing, everybody being physical. It's just going out there and working hard and being confident in the play call and executing it.
Q: Can you get a sense of how good your defense is going against them in practice? When did you get an idea of how good they were going to be this year?
JW: Yeah, those guys are extremely talented and they practice hard and they work well together. A lot of guys have been playing with each other for a long time. Some new guys have come in and put the work in. So, each week, they keep getting better and better, turning the ball over, trying to stop the run, being good in the passing game. Competing against those guys in practice definitely makes us better.
Q: When you talk about protecting Tom, what is the key to pass protection and blitz pickup as a running back?
JW: First, knowing who you have, knowing who the line has. It's knowing all the calls and the possible things that you have to look at. At the end of the day, it's just being physical and staying after somebody for as long as it needs to be – for one second, five seconds, you never know how long it's going to take Tom to get rid of the ball – so staying inside-out and just keeping them off of him.
Q: This past game, we saw you and Tom connect on a wheel route down the sideline. How hard is that particular route to execute? It seems like an explosive play when it does work.
JW: Yeah, I mean, you probably only get one opportunity of that a game or so. So, you've just got to run the route perfectly and Tom's going to put the ball in the right spot and I've just got to go up there and get it. So, you've got to make the most of the opportunities that you get because you're not going to get many of those a game.
Q: Can you talk in general about getting better as a team? In this matchup you're 4-0 and they're 0-4, but what do you have to get better?
JW: Records don't really matter at this point. You're not winning anything with four wins or four losses at this point. So, we're treating it like we're both 0-0. Those guys are going to come out, compete. You know they're going to want to bounce back. They're going to fly around, and we have to do the same. For us, it's just improving as an offense and going out there and just having a better performance this week
Q: You say records don't matter, but is the attitude in the locker room the same as it was at this point last year when the record was different?
JW: Yeah, I mean, we want to go out here and try to be 1-0 this week. That's what it's all about, studying up as hard as we can on the Washington Redskins so we can go out there on Sunday, fly around, have some fun and play team football.