Q: Are you close to shutting him down for the season?
That's a topic that's being discussed.
Q: Are you hesitant to change something that's working if Joseph is able to play as well as Fred Robbins, (Kendrick) Clancy, and (Kenderick) Allen have been doing on the interior?
Well, that gives us again the solid rotation and the more people that we can utilize, the better. He's obviously coming back at an outstanding time in the season and we're just going to have to see to what extent how he is going to be able to react in this early going. Hopefully, it's this week and it's not next week.
Q: When you look at the tape of again that play that Osi made on Julius Jones, do you see even more what a great play it was?
Oh, the athleticism, the angle, the speed, the quickness to just control that play and to not let him get the outside and turn the corner on us. That was an excellent football play.
Q: What about Strahan' I'm curious in your career as a coach if you have seen with his years in the league in coming off a serious injury that he had last year, have you seen a guy like that come back with the kind of enthusiasm and commitment that he's come back with obviously this year?
Well, I'm not sure anybody's seen anything quite like that. I mean I haven't, but his love of the game and the way he approaches the game and the enthusiasm and zest that he brings to work and practice quite frankly and to the games on Sunday. He could be 25 years old and you wouldn't know it. He loves to play and loves to compete. He's obviously playing very well and he's having fun doing it.
Q: Are you concerned about Eli's accuracy, particularly given the swirling winds in December that the Meadowlands generally has?
Well, the accuracy has been an issue really all season. I think it's definitely an area that we can improve upon and he's going to get much better with. When I looked hard at this game, I saw the first half, with the exception of the interception, was managed and played well. We were in position. We had a long 12 play 73-yard drive. We did a lot of good things. Then there are two or three plays that cast the second half that didn't happen where you're talking about people have to make plays and I think that would've resulted in a different feeling for the result. One certainly was the post ball to Tim Carter that was beautifully thrown. I mean that ball was right on the money 45 yards right in stride for Tim and I haven't talked to Tim, so I don't know what happened there. But, that was one and there were a couple of others along the way. There's no question that it wasn't Eli's best game, but everybody has to help out here. We've had dropped balls the last couple of weeks that are just ' why these things are taking place is another question' There's the idea of our focus and our concentration with regard to that issue too. So, yeah I'm concerned about accuracy. I'm concerned about the completion percentage. I want it to be higher. Some of the misses are things that you think would be kind of second nature and obviously we have to go back and bear down with some of these things such as check downs, which we threw some check downs poorly yesterday.
Q: Specifically with the interceptions, he's got 12 on the year, half of them have come either in the end zone or inside the opponents 10 (yard line). That must be a huge worry to you also, the frequency of those INT's?
Well, that converts immediately to young quarterback. I can tell you that right now. In the green zone things happen faster. The coverage is much tighter. There aren't as many windows to throw the ball into. You're timing has got to be absolutely perfect. You have to be in total control of what you're seeing and what you're doing and if you hesitate in the least, you can get yourself into trouble. Well I'm aware of that fact and disappointed in it and it needs to be definitely improved upon, it doesn't surprise me that that's where they are because of the things I just said.
Q: How much of that too is mechanical in just throwing off his back foot and lofting passes when they should be zipped?
Yeah, that's what happened yesterday. It was a blitz. He did make the audible call. He did put us in a protection where he could pick it up. There was some pressure coming from the outside, but the idea to get yourself mechanically in position and make your best throw, that has to be improved upon and, of course, that throw right there should have been higher and deeper and a ball that only could be caught by Plaxico there. It was one of those things where we were out a ways and we still signaled the fade ball and I think if the ball had been thrown up in the air, back toward the far end zone flag, and again with only Plaxico being able to get it. If it was overthrown, well that's one thing, but they were clearly telling us that they were going to come and he made all the necessary adjustments, which he does most of the time, and yet we didn't get the play executed.
Q: When you have a field goal kicker struggling as Jay Feely is right now, do you have a philosophy about rebuilding confidence. Do you change practice routines' Do you keep the old practice routines' What's your feeling on that?
Well, the first week we discussed some things with him and put him back in a routine that we were familiar with, perhaps kept the ball on the left hash more. We'll do more of the same thing. I don't like the idea of more kicks or anything like that at this point in the season. It really is, as I said last week, back to the fundamentals and the basics. We felt that Jay might have rushed the final field goal there the other day. It's a timing thing. It's back to basics and back to fundamentals. The kick was very strong, but just was inaccurate. So, whatever small detail we need to uncover that gets that consistency back, then we need to do that.
Q: When you're heading into the stretch run with so many important games and Eli having some of his struggles that I'm sure are very typical of a young quarterback, how do you balance that' This obviously isn't time for him to just walk through those naturally, are there things that you can do to help him out?
Well, we continue to work on his fundamentals and continue to work on the ability and putting him in all kinds of positions where he has to throw the ball and working on his drops and his steps, his delivery, his time, and the continuous work with the receivers on the route tree so that again we get back to doing that more or less instinctively. You have to go back one week and say, 'Well where'd the 490 yards come from and then what happened yesterday' There are some things that you have to balance right there. It wasn't as good a performance as we're capable of. No question about it. We won the game and it's a good circumstance under which to make the corrections. But, we just keep focusing and working and I think we have an extended period before we start the practice everyday and then we follow that up with seven-on-seven and that's kind of where the fundamentals are worked on and developed.
Q: Even the big fourth quarters that he's had, is your confidence in him still as strong as ever in a big spot in a big game?
Absolutely, nothing has changed with regard to that.
Q: How would you assess the job that Tim Lewis has done this year as far as making the proper changes and adjustments early in the season?
Well, he's done an outstanding job. Our defensive staff has done an outstanding job. Tim's done an outstanding job. The progress that we've made with our defense getting back maybe eight games or so ago when we started to get the pressure that we needed to help in terms of not giving up the big gains with regard to pass yardage, we've made constant and steady progress along those lines and the credit goes to the players and the coaches.
Q: Tiki (Barber) carried the ball 30 times yesterday and is really carrying the load on offense, do you see Tiki as a guy that can carry the load the same way for the last four games of the season?
Well, certainly this is the time of the year. You've always spoken to the weather changes, weather issues, wind issues, being able to play outstanding defense, and having the punting game. I was pleased with our punting game yesterday, with the exception of one punt and the fact that we forced Dallas in two critical situations at the start of the game and end of the game really to begin from inside their own five (yard line). That was important. To be able to run the ball at this time of the year in the NFC East, to play great defense and to be able to punt the ball in the situations where you create poor field position for the opponent, all those things are very important. When you looked at yesterday, everyone wants to talk about offensively how it wasn't pretty, well that's been the eye of the beholder a little bit because we did win the time of possession against the number one time of possession team in the league. Although, I don't always think that that is a key stat in the game, it's an important reflection on yesterday in terms of our ability to have the ball and the clock.
Q: On a cold weather day, especially a day say in January, is a team that's defensive oriented at more of an advantage over a team that has maybe a better offense?
That's an opinion. I think you have to play strong defense without a doubt. You're not going to win anything without strong defense. That just doesn't happen. So, under any circumstances a great defensive effort, particularly stopping the run is critical to success and of course at this time of the year, I think it just makes it even that much more important.
Q: Do you agree that defense wins championships?
I'm a believer that defense wins championships and I'm a believer that you have to be able to have great defense and you've got to be able to run the ball and stop the run.
Q: Is this a championship caliber defense?
Well, we're playing good defense. Let's put it that way. We've got games to go here ' four critical games to go with the most important game of the year the next game.
Q: Did you think you could be where you are now like you said with about eight games to go' You were 3-1 then and they still had a good team and the offense was helping, but did you think that this was defense needed to make this jump to be among the top teams in the conference?
Well, there was no question we had to play better defense. We had to improve in those critical categories that we talked about earlier and that has been steady. It's been focus and progress all the way through and we've got to continue. I look at our team coming off the field yesterday and we had an outstanding defensive game, but I think we have a lot of improvement in front of us offensively to be where we want to be and I also think although we played solid in terms of special teams, obviously you want a little bit more out of your return game and you've got to be able to count on those field goals going down the stretch.
Q: How pleased were you yesterday that your offensive line virtually eliminated all of its penalties?
Well, I was pleased that we were able to get back on track that way. I think we work very hard on that last week both psychologically and the practice field. We had the officials there on two occasions. We called everything that was even close. We discussed it. We did a thorough study of the league and where these calls were coming from and a through analysis of the Dallas team and the fact that they were the least penalized team in the league and if we were going to have a chance to win a game, we had to be smart team and so we worked hard at that and we did a better job. We didn't eliminate them, but we did a better job.
Q: You guys kind of control your own destiny in the division, how much do you allow yourself to look at the standings as a conference?
I don't allow myself to look anything except the next team. I'm looking at Philadelphia right now and looking forward to watching their game when I get this tape tomorrow morning. Maybe I'll see a quarter or a half of it tonight and that's all I'm thinking about is our division and the outstanding teams that are in our division, how closely bunched up we are, and how critical for all four teams each game is now from here on out.
Q: With three of your last four games on the road, did the San Francisco win and the fact that you played so well in Seattle, did that alleviate any concerns you had about this team's ability to go out and win a road game?
Well, it's very difficult to win on the road. There's no doubt about it. This seems to be one of those years again statistically, as we've talked about before. I do think that we've proven that we can play well on the road and I'm certainly going to count on that.
Q: One more question about Will Peterson, is he not on the IR because you really believe he's going to play again or is this a case of you don't make a move until you absolutely have to make it?
Well, the thinking isn't really for the league or anybody else to know. That's not ' Will was on our original roster and he still stays there until we decide to make a decision as to his status to play or not to play.