Alex Smith: 'Winning games speaks for itself'
Q: Last time you played these guys, Greg Roman said the Giants put more emphasis on stopping the run than any team he's ever coached against in his career. Do you expect them to be more balanced this time around and have more respect for the passing game?
Smith: No idea. I guess we'll find out. You don't know. Certain situations, no question, I imagine they'll be run-heavy. You turn on the Green Bay film, a team that predominately throws the ball in my opinion, situations that are still heavy, safety down in the box, the extra hat's in the box and they're playing run. That's what they're going to do at times and then at times they're playing pass. It's all situational, so I imagine we'll see a little bit of both. I don't know coming away. I guess we'll see.
Q: How do you see the Giants defense get different the last few weeks from the team you saw November 13th?
Smith: I guess I'd kind of agree with Coach (Jim Harbaugh) in the sense that when we played them, obviously they were coming off a pretty big high. They were on a big win streak, had just beat the Patriots at the Patriots. I think schematically, maybe doing a little less is what I see. Playing faster though, I think it's even helped them. They've seemed to be creating more turnovers, playing faster on defense. Not quite doing as much, just playing really sound football. So, playing just as good as they were before I really feel like. Across the board, not a lot of weaknesses, obviously the defensive line is unique. To have that many guys that can get after the passer is unique in this league.
Q: What can you do to prepare, or what should you do to prepare for wet conditions? If it's muddy, soggy and wet?
Smith: Obviously, mentally get ready for it, but physically the nice thing is we got some weather (Thursday). It was pretty dry (Friday), but (Thursday) we got some rain and you get a little practice with the wet-ball drill, handling wet balls. For the person who touches the ball every single play, handing it off and throwing. So, it's good practice.
Q: Do you have some experience with some of that, some games you remember?
Smith: Yeah, oh for sure. Obviously a lot of bad weather games in college and then through my career here. The one that stands out the most is that Seattle game. It dumped up there and ended up delaying the game because it rained so much.
Q: After Michael Crabtree had several drops in the last game against New Orleans, is there anything you as a quarterback can do to get him going in this ballgame, like maybe get him a couple of easy ones early to get him in the flow?
Smith: I guess it's not something I'm thinking about. For sure we want to get all those guys going, all our playmakers. A couple of them just throw better balls to make it easier on him. But other than that, I'm not thinking about that. That's more I guess the coaches thinking into that stuff.
Q: What would it mean to get TE Delanie Walker back?
Smith: He's done so much for us all year and just even that potential would be a big boost to have him out there. He does so much for us in the run and the pass.
Q: Sometimes a quarterback is only as good as his offensive line. How much faith do you have in those guys in front of you, especially with the challenge that they have on Sunday?
Smith: I've got a ton of faith in those guys. They've done it all year. We've faced these guys already and they did a great job that first game. They've got a lot on their plate. I think they understand that. I don't think there's a team that presents this kind of challenge. To have this many guys that can all rush the passer, I can't remember playing a team that had this many guys that can get after the quarterback. So, feel good about it though. It's going to be a challenge. Those guys have a lot on their plate and it's not just them, it's all of us, got to be a part of it, be a part of protection.
Q: Is it different, the Saints were blitzing off the bus, this is a team that just kind of gets it done up front. How do you gauge the difference?
Smith: Yeah, it's tough. They've got a lot more guys in coverage. Yeah, anytime a defense can get pressure with just their front four that can make things very difficult, very difficult. Means they've got seven guys back there that can focus on coverage and that's about as good as it gets if you're a defensive coordinator, right? Thinking about that, so we'll have to handle it.
Q: In your three losses this year were there any common elements that you guys could learn from or take away?
Smith: Yeah, lack of execution, turnovers, things like that. I don't know if there's any one thing that jumps out in my mind other than those things. You turn on the film and those are obvious though. Execution anytime you lose isn't going to be where you want it.
Q: Did any of those three teams scheme you particularly well?
Smith: They were all different. Yeah, they all did a great job. From my perspective, talking about the defenses that we played, no question all presented different challenges for us and all did different things to have success.
Q: With the receiving group, you've had Braylon Edwards out and Braylon in. And now Braylon out and obviously Michael's had some games where he wasn't much. What do you feel about your receivers right now?
Smith: "I feel great. I feel great about those guys. It's been a crew, other than Michael, really a crew that has had to jump in and be ready to go and had one guy down, next guy step up and they've done such a great job of that. All year long stepping up and kind of embracing that challenge and taking it on. So, I feel good with the guys that we have.
Q: Such a big game. What are your nerves like? And how relaxed have you been just the last couple of days?
Smith: I think all the guys feel better this week even more than last week. The bye week and the first playoff game maybe a little more anxiety there than maybe this week. I feel like this week, obviously guys know the stakes are high, but a little more back in the routine of things.
Q: Against the Saints, you seemed to show a little edginess after your two scores in the fourth quarter, something that we don't always see from you. What was behind that, talking from the Saints, if it was the moment?
Smith: There was kind of talking going on throughout the entire game, not much by me. Obviously, just a lot of emotion, the last touchdown there to Vernon (Davis). Yeah, just a lot going on. I couldn't tell you. I couldn't remember what was actually coming out of my mouth, but obviously I was pretty jacked.
Q: Do you see parallels between this group? I mean, what you've faced here throughout your career as a top pick and what Giants QB Eli Manning's gone through in the shadows of his brother, playing in New York, and sort of those paths?
Smith: I've never seen any. Other than the fact that obviously we're both first picks. His I feel like is a little different. To be Peyton's little brother, number one pick, you go to New York, playing for the Giants. Obviously, that's a lot of pressure. I don't think anyone's been in the situation he has. Those are pretty unique circumstances. Your older brother is arguably maybe the greatest quarterback ever, and a lot of expectations on you. And then you go to a big city like New York. So, I didn't have to face those things.
Q: With the top season you've had, how much of a desire is there to say, I told you so?
Smith: I think if we win this game and go to the Super Bowl it will say it in itself. I'm not thinking about that right now. I really feel like winning games as a quarterback this time of year speaks for itself. That's how you do your talking. So, just focused on this game, preparing myself all week.
Q: For you and a lot of guys, this journey kind of began with those workouts way back at San Jose State. Looking back, what do you think was accomplished there and what carried over into the season? What had an impact?
Smith: Tough to say. We were there all offseason, obviously working out and conditioning and running and doing that. But as far as coming together and doing the little camps and learning the playbook, really it was the ABCs of the playbook, the fundamentals. Just kind of a small foundation, so that when camp did start, when the lockout finally ended, there was a little bit of familiarity there with the guys on kind of the language we'd be speaking, the verbiage, what some things meant. So, it was like the first coat of paint I guess, the primer, I don't know whatever you want to call it. Just kind of the first taste of it and then obviously the bulk of it came in camp and during the season.
Q: Was there a chemistry built there? Was there a team-bonding effect?
Smith: Oh for sure. Anytime I think you're doing something like that, especially without the coaches' influence, when you're just doing it on your own. Guys were flying in from all over the country to be a part of it. Spending time with each other, no question I think that was kind of an unspoken gain from that.
Q: But following up on that, when you guys are stretching out on the field and talking about the upcoming season, what was the talk about? What your hopes were for the season at that time? Do you recall any of those conversations?
Smith: No. I think the focus at that time of year is always obviously the season, but the division. Win the division. That's the focus, I think, for most teams at the beginning of the year. The first step before you can talk about anything else. I think that's what the focus has always been on. So, for us it was that. But really, like I said, learning as much as we could those few weeks when we were doing that, just kind of getting a taste of it.
Q: When you threw that touchdown pass to Vernon last weekend, is that about as hard as you can throw a ball? I mean, you really gunned it.
Smith: Obviously I knew I had to get the ball up and down. I don't know. I don't know if I could throw the ball harder. I was in the middle of a game, so I don't think I've ever thrown a ball in the middle of a game as hard as I can. I think you kind of lose accuracy when you do that a little bit. So, obviously it was a ball and I knew I kind of had to fit in there.
Q: You want your play to speak for yourself, but is it fair to say that you personally are playing with a chip on your shoulder and there's some redemption just in how this season has gone?
Smith: I don't know. I guess I kind of feel like this whole team maybe is playing like that, if you want to call it that. I don't know how many wins we were picked to have at the beginning of the season, it wasn't many. Certainly, I don't know where we were picked to come in the division, all of that. Not a lot of people were in our corner. It was just us here working. It's down to the last four here with the chance to go to the Super Bowl this Sunday. That's how we want it. Obviously there are a few more people around, but I don't think it's changed the mindset in the locker room.
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