Tom Coughlin Press Conference: 11-22-05

Q: Updates on Luke (Petitgout), Shaun (O'Hara), and the rest of the Offensive Line? Well, Shaun is having an MRI. So, I don't know that he's over that just yet. Luke's is a result of a constant pounding on the knee. It's not a structural thing. It's more they say around the outside of the knee swelling and hopefully that swelling can be brought under control.

Q: How did Carlos (Emmons) come out of the game?

Okay. He's sore today. But, I think for a guy who went in and played as many plays as he did coming off, I thought he did very well. We're going to have to see. It's probably going to be a day or so before we can evaluate just how sore he is and etc. He was sore today.

Q: How about (Michael) Strahan and (Tiki) Barber?

Tiki seemed to be fine. He was in and came to treatment and went through a full workout. Michael is having an MRI. He's got some stiffness in his neck and up in shoulders. So, they want to take the whole gamut of things and we're waiting on some results with that stuff as well.

Q: Is Luke expected to miss time?

He may miss practice Wednesday. It depends on the swelling. But, they expect that he'll make it back.

Q: Is that something that he's just going to have to deal with the rest of the way?

Well, he's had problems with it ? the same kind of thing for probably a couple of weeks now.

Q: Is the MRI on Shaun O'Hara a lower ankle sprain or higher ankle sprain?

It's not a high ankle sprain. Let's put it that way. The full extent of it I don't know. He has some swelling and that's why they're going to go ahead with the MRI.

Q: This is several steps away, but just in case you had to get to that point, how ready is Rich Seubert to play?

He's ready. He's ready. He's practiced all year long.

Q: Can you talk about the fact that your team felt that you had better offensive line depth, but you really haven?t needed it to an extent. Yesterday, you needed it. Talk about the job they did and moving forward what job they might be able to do?

Well, they did a good job. Bob Whitfield and Jason Whittle went into the game. They're veteran football players. They were ready. They could go into the game and they could perform at a high level. There were a couple of center-quarterback exchange issues on the Philadelphia side of the ball. We didn't seem to have any and we do center-quarterback exchange everyday. But, under game conditions it is sometimes different and Jason did well with it. It wasn't flawless, but both guys went in the game and really contributed and the depth, as you mentioned, is something we sought coming out of camp and I feel strongly about it.

Q: This is a matter of being hypothetical. If you would have had to go to a third center, could you have used Ryan Kuehl?

No, no. (Chris) Snee takes snaps. He would be an emergency center that we could play.

Q: They also had a couple of plays where they were very alert around the ball. I think there were two plays. The McKenzie play and another fumble that they chased down. Is that something that you guys work on a lot with them. I know that you do that defensively a lot, but they really seemed to have a good nose for the ball yesterday?

Snee a couple of weeks ago came up with a critical fumble recovery in San Francisco and really did a nice job and threw a big block to prevent the Philadelphia player from getting to the ball on the lengthy fumble and then Tiki came up with that ball. You talk about a flat out sprint to the ball and diving on the ball prior to the rest of the people arriving. So, the block by Snee to inhibit the Philadelphia player and the fact that Tiki was able to get there first was a huge play in the game.

Q: Is this the toughest game on your schedule coming up? Do you look at things that way at all?

Yes, it's the toughest because it's the next one. It's obviously a team that's playing very, very well and has won six straight games, some common opponents there. But, they're a team that's played very well. They have 34 sacks. They're playing very well on defense. I'm looking at their special teams right now and their offense can score, plus their running back is having an outstanding year.

Q: Obviously, you have been thru playoff chases before. There are some guys on your roster that haven't. A lot of them at least haven't been in one in a few years. What are the challenges that you face and the team faces now that every game becomes a big one down the stretch?

Well, from the very onset, you're constantly changing a position that you take with regard to the importance of the next game. In the beginning of the year, you of course have to win games to try to get yourself into some kind of position and I think at this point in time, having played 10 games, each game becomes that much more critical because of the opportunity that you have afforded yourself. So, I think the importance of each game ? I think everybody wants to play well. It's an amazing thing when you look at the tape and sometimes you wonder why the execution isn?t better or whatever. Sometimes you do not give enough credit to the people across the ball. But, nevertheless, I think moving forward for young people, for example the rookies, they have to understand how critical it is to everyone on our team that the focus remain extremely high and you realize that the entire league plays with nicks and injuries of all kinds. But yet, the focus has to be above that to the point where what your chasing is so much more important than allowing yourself to be distracted by injury or whatever. As you move forward, the games become more critical and more magnified.

Q: What are the qualities that David Tyree possesses, which many of his other peers don't seem to have that allows him to excel the way he does?

I think around the league and you put him in a handful of people who are exceptional special teams players. There's a pride that comes forwards. There's a physical toughness about the role and the job. Certainly, there's athleticism and speed. But, there's also cunning. There's awareness. There's a timing if you will and emphasis or drive to finish plays even when things perhaps may not look as if they're going to play themselves out the way you want them to. He has an ability to remain in the hunt, if you will, in the chase. He's relentless; he's relentless about the role that he plays. The blocked punt is an exceptional individual play yesterday in the way that it was set up in the fact that the punter had a little trouble handling the punt and it was slowed down a little bit and there he was to block the punt. And so, what a huge play in the game it was.

Q: Plaxico (Burress) talked about a couple of half-time adjustments yesterday where Amani (Toomer) and where he lined up. What were the adjustments and were they designed to kind of get single coverage on Plaxico?

Well, throughout the game, there's always multiple formation alignments included so that it is difficult or more difficult, if you will, to go ahead and double if you are going to try to. I think we have done that fairly consistently to move him around, move Shockey around, and Amani lines up all over the place. So, that's a part of what our plan is on a weekly basis. So, the formations and that type of thing were all part of the plan originally. They are always adjustments made at half-time in terms of emphasis, in terms of what you see in the first half; compiling the statistical information and deciding what you are going to do and who you're going to try and do it against.

Q: Can you point to anything within the last couple of weeks that has led to the first-half sluggishness?

No, I don't think so. Everyone is asking questions about the fourth quarter. These games in the National Football League seem to come down to the fourth quarter. To me the word sluggishness is not the right word. There's no sluggishness about it. They want to play, they want to play hard, they want to do the right thing, and their energy and their effort is in the right place. Sometimes, it doesn't come exactly the way you want it to come off, as was evidenced in the first half and you can find any number of plays on both the Philadelphia team and our team to point to. But, you also have to look at the huge plays that took place. The fourth down play and pass by Eli, the catch by Toomer, the fake, and those things were executed extremely well and was a critical play in the game because at that time our defense was playing well and the Philadelphia offense was not having a lot of success. To their credit, they hung in there and made some plays in the second half. But to our credit, we did also.

Q: Over the last few weeks, it seems as though you have had some difficulty with the short-yardage. (Brandon) Jacobs has had some trouble getting that extra yard that you need, is that more on his shoulders or it seems as though there's always been a missed block in a lot of those occasions?

Well, when you put the ball down on the goal line and you line up in those tight formations, it's very difficult to block everyone that's at the line of scrimmage. There's going to be one guy who's going to be unblocked just simply by the mathematical arrangement between the quarterback and the 11 people on the other side of the ball. A lot of times, you do have to make a play running on someone, an unblocked player. But, to give credit where credit is do, Philadelphia's goal line defense is extremely ? all you have to do is look back to last year for us ? difficult to run against. We haven't been down there a lot this year, to be honest with you, in that formation. I thought that there was an opportunity, even if not on the first play, on the third play to perhaps be a little bit wider with the ball and get into the end zone. But, you have to give credit to their defense as well. It's not all ? the barrier is hit now, he is hit and there are bodies flying to ball. The first play, Brandon kind of rolled his shoulders and was turning them. He was really close. I mean that ball probably had to be ? the nose of the ball ? extremely close to the goal line. But, it was a hard fought three plays and we were able to score with a touchdown on fourth down with a pass.

Q: Getting back to the question of the playoff chase, you said before that you always tell the players about where you guys are in the standings in the division. Do you broaden that to the NFC Playoff picture?

Perhaps not for a while. I think they'll be aware of it. I think we have a couple of more games to play before we would get into that phase of it. I think there's time to talk about that. I think the critical thing is always going to remain the next game and your ability to take care of your own issues and try, as you will, to keep yourself in position where your fate is determined by how you play.

Q: This week it especially seems like those two things kind of combine?

It becomes conference oriented. I understand that too. But, they're a very good football team and it?s an extremely difficult game for us. I think we know that and not only it has repercussions within the division as well.

Q: Is Chad Morton going to continue returning kicks or is Willie Ponder?

We will discuss that over the next couple of days. I wouldn't give you a position on that just yet.

Q: How come you made the change this week?

I just thought that our performance the week before, which did not simply rest on Willie's shoulders, I thought we just needed a little bit of a jump start there. I think our wedge was not as effective as it has been earlier. I think our up front blocking needed to ? we needed some reemphasis there and we just thought we needed a little bit of a jump start.

Q: You had Tiki and Amani ironically approaching the same milestone yesterday with the 500 career receptions and I was just wondering, in your estimation, if you think both of them are playing at their peak this season for you?

Well, they're playing extremely well and they have to for us to have to be able to continue to win games and be in position to hopefully move forward, they're going to have to. But yes, they're playing well.

Q: As Eli continues his growth process, bouncing back off the difficulty he had the previous week, I would think that probably was something that you were very much looking sharply at. I wonder this morning, how much better you feel about him passing this latest test?

Well, I never questioned that he would bounce back. I really didn't. I think part of the problem in the game the week before was due to the fact that I think we threw the ball too much the week before. I really do and I don't think there was enough threat of the run. Sometimes, you have to understand that even though the run doesn't look like it's making a lot of yardage, it?s certainly serving its purpose in terms of the ability to go ahead utilize the play-action pass and I thought we got away from it to the point the week before where there was no one even respecting the play-action pass. So, it was an intended goal that we would bring those numbers back a little bit more into the way we want to play and I did not hesitate to think that Eli would have a good football game based on that.

Q: How does that happen in a game when you have a game plan and suddenly something changes and all of a sudden you look back and say, "We passed the ball too much." The game didn't get away from you. So, how does that happen?

Because it happens out of frustration when you're not gaining the yardage consistently in the run and you feel like there are other avenues that you need to go to, for example, in that game we were pass protecting well and seemed to control the blitz because of our ability to pick it up. We had an awful lot of snaps. We did an awful lot of good things in between the two. I would say even the two 10-yard lines, but we had turned the ball over and consequently, we're spinning our wheels. So, we ended up with a lot of plays feeling that we could control the game in one dimension or one dimensional way. But, it really is not the case.

Q: Can you explain what happens to Eli in the fourth quarter. I mean he's had such good fortune with the comebacks and the efficiency in the fourth quarter. Does his focus just simply narrow in or what happens there?

I'm happy he does, okay. For whatever reason, but as I said yesterday, I think part of the situation the way it works is that we have played three quarters and he has a really good feel for what the opponent is doing. He knows that the situation is on the line perhaps that you have two or three more drives in the game and that's it. It has to be ? the production has to be at that point in time and I think he uses the knowledge of the first three quarters in that situation. Fortunately, we've been relatively successful there.

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