Head Coach Tom Coughlin
Conference Call, December 21, 2015
I’ll start out by basically telling you exactly what I told our team—I thought it was too bad that today in the world of sports and from everything that I hear from the outside that the discussion going on is about the personal battle that took place between Odell Beckham and Josh Norman, and not about a team that’s 14-0, or a game which was, at one point, 35-7 and ended up 35 all, and then a drive at the end of the game with a long field goal to settle the score. It’s too bad that’s not what’s being emphasized. I went further and said this—we all know that personal battles have no presence in the game of football, not at any level. They’re a distraction, they take away from the game, they break concentration, they prevent what this thing is all about—the great game of football being played as a team, team sport. It’s not about the individual, it’s about the team. Having said that, let me say this to you, that there are qualities that Odell Beckham, this young man, brings to this football team, the likes of which I’ve never seen, okay? He has great energy, he has great enthusiasm, he gives great effort, he does it literally every day that he walks out on the field. He is an emotional young man, he wears his emotions on his sleeve. I will not defend his actions yesterday because they were wrong and this particular franchise and organization does not tolerate that, so I would not do that. But I will defend the young man and the quality of the person. I will defend him as long as I’m able. So I told our team that, our team feels the same way about Odell. Everyone knows that he was wrong and that was out of place. And it is an ongoing process, the education of young players. And this is a very unique and talented young man, and we are continuing to work with him about circumstances such as developed yesterday. For anyone out there to think that this was not discussed at great length with him – from the offensive coordinator, to his position coach, to me, throughout the course of the week—what he could expect in entering this game—for anyone to think that that did not take place, is foolish. We try to cover every possible scenario that will affect our team either through the X and O strategic operation or just whatever it may be, emotionally or whatever may transpire. So we try to prepare them for everything that they can possibly have happen in a particular game. And we continuously reinforce those thoughts throughout the game yesterday. One, Sean Ryan, the position coach, who has an outstanding relationship with Odell, literally met him at the sideline and walked and talked, and on my instructions and what have you, did communicate the same exact thoughts that I just relayed to you, on a literally series by series basis that things were happening on the field that no one wanted to take place. The other thing is, when Odell got to the sideline and spent time with his coaches, he was in the mode of learning information, gathering information, looking at pictures, and he was not out of control, he was not emotional. He was certainly at the sideline under control and wanted to have the information that he needed to go forth onto the field and to perform at a high level. So those things having been said, we’re certainly disappointed today. I feel very badly for our team, and all that had put in the type of investment that goes with a game, playing against a very good football team. There’s no consolation in playing well and losing, we don’t deal with that at all. We put forth an
outstanding effort, particularly I thought, they punted seven times, we punted seven times. I think it was 4th and 3 when are defense forced them to punt when we did catch fire with the second touchdown yesterday. I thought by going up-tempo, I thought our whole team responded to that and played hard. Errors were made and plays were made on both sides, but nevertheless, our guys were into the game, they played hard. We, unfortunately, had this game end like many games have ended this year. And this in itself, is of concern, obviously, to me. But the finish aspect did not happen yesterday for us, it had happened the week before. We were headed in that direction, but the final stop—we made the outstanding blocked kick from a special teams standpoint. Defensively, got the ball back, forced them to punt and give us the ball back etc. etc. A lot of things happened, but we didn’t win the game, and we feel very badly about that. And our players are in that state today where they’re remorse for opportunity lost, and that’s exactly what happened.
Q: (Rick Laughland | TheGiantsBeat.com) Now that you’ve probably had the opportunity to review some of the game film and see what transpired between Beckham and Norman, in your estimation, are you anticipating fines or suspension for Beckham?
A: Well I’m not sure about any of that. Immediately following the game, certainly there was some talk about fines.
Q: (Rick Laughland | TheGiantsBeat.com) Obviously with the final two games of the year looming large and being ultimately a must-win scenario, is that disconcerting to you, that one of your top playmakers could be out for this next game?
A: You ask a question that requires no answer.
Q: Did you have a talk with Odell this morning after watching the film?
A: I had a talk with the entire team with Odell there. I will certainly visit with him again when the players become available.
Q: Was it worse than—you obviously, you’re busy and you’re not watching him every single play of the game. When you watched the film, did you realize the full spectrum of what was going on the whole time?
A: Well, not the full spectrum. Obviously when the game started, I was very much aware because I was in-tuned with watching what was going to transpire with that matchup right away in the game, initially as the game began. I did see some there, but my eyes don’t follow one player around. So didn’t see everything. Saw a little bit of it on film and as it was going on throughout the course of the game. As I said to you yesterday, I believe I said anyway, the idea that Odell regained his composure—I thought that was taking place after that spat in the third quarter where a couple of penalties occurred and we found ourselves driving but going backwards. And you remember the third down conversion that should have been on the plus-45, ended up on the minus-45. But at that point in time, I thought that things were under control.
Q: Were there ongoing conversations with the officiating crew to try to prevent things from escalating and getting too much out of control? Was that kind of an ongoing conversation throughout the game?
A: It was…primarily from our bench, first half and then anything that would flare up. But yes.
Q: You said there was talk of fines with Odell. Do you expect that there will discipline on Norman as well?
A: I have no idea about that.
Q: Do you think there should be?
A: Well if it happens on one side I would think it would happen on the other.
Q: When you talk about fines, you’re talking about by the league or by the organization?
A: Well you have to start with the league.
Q: Did you personally have any interaction with Odell during the game or was it all Sean Ryan?
A: No, no. There was interaction at halftime, there was interaction as I think there were one or two occasions where as he came off the field, I was there. Not anything lengthy other than just reminders. At halftime actually Odell stepped into the huddle that I conduct right before we leave and told his teammates that he was sorry for having dropped a couple balls, but as a team we needed to believe and go out in the second half and play how we practiced. He was very positive.
Q: You’re used to criticism, you’ve been in this game long enough. But a lot of it since the game has been directed specifically at you for not maybe sitting Beckham a series or what it appeared to outsiders, not doing something during the game. How do you respond to that specific part of it, that you with a reputation for discipline, didn’t appear to discipline Odell? What’s your answer to that?
A: Well there’s a couple of different answers. One was, I don’t watch one player throughout the course of a game. And to be honest with you, I wasn’t aware of the fact that all those personal fouls were all directed at Odell. There were three personal fouls, there was on offensive pass interference. I wasn’t aware of that, as you probably saw in the press conference afterwards. And secondly, there’s a young player that’s being educated that quite frankly, is an excellent football player. If we were to have a chance to win the game, I wanted him to be out there—I’ll be honest with you.
Q: Do you regret not taking him out earlier maybe, at least for a couple plays in the first half, having seen what was going on?
A: I’m not talking about regrets. I regret we didn’t win.
Q: You say that it’s an ongoing kind of process dealing with the education of young players. Looking back, he’s in line for his fourth fine and his fourth incident. Do you think you guys need to do a better job with that process?
A: Well, we thought we were. Because going in, even Odell had told you, the press, that the game was much more important, the game was being played between two teams and it was not about him or the corner that we mentioned. So you have all these things in front of you, I don’t know why you’re continuously asking. You’re aware of some of this.
Q: Did you have a reaction when you saw the play in the third quarter—after the Vereen run I believe it was—when Odell launched and hit Norman in the face?
A: I didn’t see that particular aspect until I looked at the tape today, and obviously that was a bad play.
Q: There was also a play right after Odell dropped the would-be touchdown very early in the game. I believe there was a running play and down the field Norman body-slammed, I guess, dumped Odell on the field with the side judge right there watching and no flags were called. Do you know or do you suspect that set any tone for this game?
A: Well I saw that play and I knew that —I saw at least the part of it where Odell ended up on the ground. I didn’t know how it was provoked or what have you, but I did see that, and that has no part in our game either.
Q: Obviously since you’ve been here you’ve talked so much about Giants pride and doing things the right way. In the last two weeks you’ve had this incident with Odell, you had the thing with Damontre Moore. I realize they’re not related, but do you get concerned over the picture that that kind of paints of what’s happening in this organization given how much you take that pride personally?
A: Well, first of all, they’re not related at all and the two circumstances are totally different. But yes, we’ll deal with what we believe in and we’ll get that straightened out. And people on the outside—talk is cheap—it’s going to have to happen. But it comes also, somewhat, with the frustrations of having not won some of these very close games as well, I’ll just mention that to you. We’ll take care of our business. And we still maintain great, great New York Giant pride.
Q: You said that there was no doubt in your mind that what Odell did was wrong. If the league were to suspend him, would the team just go along with that or would they appeal it?
A: I don’t know, let’s not get the cart before the horse.
Q: How do you handle your team this week just based on the circumstances of just kind of hanging onto the playoff race by the smallest of threads?
A: Full speed ahead, that’s how you handle it. We just talked about that, and we looked each other in the eye, and we’ve got to have two great weeks of practice starting right now. We got to have this great week of practice, going up to Minnesota to play against a very, very good football team that scored 38 points the other day. So we’ve got to focus and get ourselves ready to play and go play against a very good team—a team that’s headed for the playoffs—and give it all we have as we prepare. So nothing changes, nothing changes. We will prepare and do the necessary work and go up there and believe we will win.
Q: Lessons can obviously be learned the hard way. What do you think Odell comes out of yesterday having learned?
A: I hope he learns exactly what should be learned—that that there is no place in this game for these personal battles. That it is team first, team last, team always, and nothing stands above that. And that he is responsible to his team and to his franchise, to his ownership, just as we all are. And I’m hoping that’s what he learns.
Tom Coughlin shared his thoughts on Odell Beckham Jr.'s antics, what he said to the young receiver following the game and how his team can move forward after another excruciating loss as time expired.
The Giants head coach wouldn't speculate on whether Beckham will be fined or suspended and defended his decision to leave his star wideout on the field despite being flagged for three unsportsmanlike conduct penalties.