Press Conference: Tom Coughlin

Tom Coughlin answered questions for the media today. Here are some of the questions:

Q: Were there any injuries out of this game?
A:  We had just a couple of nicks.  I don't think anything that will keep anybody from working.  (Jason) Bell got a slight concussion. That's why he didn't finish.  I think (Brandon) Jacobs got a little bit of a stinger.  He has a little bit of a stiff neck today, but that's about it.
Q: Why did you give the players an extra day off?
A: It's just a normal progression, so it will go just like a…Thursday will be a Wednesday, because we play Monday.  We'll do it that way.
Q: Would it have been a normal progression if you had not won this game?
A: That's none of…Not of concern today.
Q: What's going on with Gibril Wilson's foot?
A: Toenail.  It's a toenail that ripped right off.  He had to have a couple of sutures.
Q: He has to be on crutches?
A: Well, he didn't use the crutches on his trip to Atlanta, but it's a difficult – It's a very sore, very unusual injury, to have the toenail completely removed or come off with the guy just coming down on top of your foot.  He is sore.  Hopefully he'll be able to control that, but we'll see.  I think it was more swelling than anything else, and the idea of infection.  Hopefully we can get past that.
Q: The last couple of weeks, the defense has had a lot more success getting to the quarterback.  Is that a product of better play, more aggressive speed, more blitz calls…?
A: No.  I think it's a product of certainly better play.  It's a product of guys just knowing their responsibilities, certainly, but guys just being instinctive, reactionary.  Much of yesterday was accomplished with four people rushing.  Occasionally five, but certainly good, hard rush out of a lot of different people.  When you see the (Barry) Cofield sack, for example, at the end of the game.  But the idea of getting pressure on the quarterback puts everything back in perspective when you can have – not that we stopped the run, we certainly didn't – but when you at least put the game in the second half into a mode where they were thinking pass – and had to, to get back in it.  The pressure was very welcome. Of course, the more pressure and success you have getting to the quarterback, the more excited the players are about being a part of that.  Hopefully that will continue to grow.  There were other people involved yesterday, too.  You had the corners involved, by scheme, and as I said, some of the names you don't always hear.
Q: Was the way the corners played something that was designed up in practice?
A: (It was) schemed, yes.  Part of the preparation.
Q: Over the last two weeks, Brandon Short has dispelled any thought that you might have had that the knee is not at 100 percent.  Did he do even more than you thought he could?
A: No.  It's good to see him in a position where he can play and contribute and not have issues from a health standpoint.  We certainly are encouraged by the way he's played. 
Q: Will you get Carlos Emmons back this week?
A: I think we're going to start to work him back, yes.  We're going to see how that goes.  (Derrick) Ward continues to work his way back.  (Sinorice) Moss continues to have more time.  Last week he did have some individual time and that should be extended, I hope, this week. 
Q: If Gibril Wilson's nail becomes much more of a problem, will James Butler have enough work that you might feel comfortable starting him?
A: One of the things you need to say, if you're going to be honest about looking at this game, is what an outstanding job Jason Bell did in a short amount of time, when most of the reps during the week were taken by Gibril.  So on a Friday afternoon, you had four or five people in that secondary – one of whom was Butler, who came back in here Friday night and spent time with (safeties coach) David Merritt, making sure that he was prepared if he would have to play.  And he did play some 17 snaps in the game.  I thought Jason Bell, I thought (Will) Demps – their contribution…We had Butler ready to play back there, we had (R.W.) McQuarters ready to play back there if we would have had to have used them.  Those guys really rose up to a situation that you just don't want. That's the last thing you want to hear on a Friday afternoon, is that there's an injury and perhaps the individual can't go.  When it first came up, it was a nail.  I didn't think any more than that, but by early Friday evening, it was more than a nail. 
Q: Antonio Pierce said in the locker room that the reason the defense has improved in the last couple of weeks is because everybody is paying attention to the little things.  Is it that simple?
A: Of course not.  It's never that simple.  You have to understand, there's a big foundation that has to be developed before you can even understand what the details are.  But I think we have, I've talked an awful lot to the players about preparation being the key to success, and I think that the players have really done a good job of preparing.  If you take just specifically the defense, the last couple of weeks, felt good about themselves because of the way they practiced -- felt good about their execution, their ability to go into the game and execute what they had practiced.  I think that's where it all starts.  It starts in the preparation.  They've been able to go ahead and play better on Sunday because of the fact that they've developed the confidence, if you will, over the course of the week.  And they've earned the right to win.  They've earned it by putting the effort forth in the meetings and on the practice field, and that's what I've always believed in.  We've talked a lot about focus.  We've talked a lot about the players, when they come to work 6:30 in the morning until 4:00 in the afternoon, make sure that every bit of your conscious effort takes place, in terms of preparation for the opponent.  There's a combination of things there.  Certainly it is never that simple, but on the other hand, it can be maybe narrowed down to assignment, alignment and execution.  What has to happen on game day is the execution at top speed against, in this past week, an extremely talented football team with lots of weapons and outstanding team speed. 
Q: How satisfying is it to see that execution on the field these last few weeks?
A: We're trying to improve, we're trying to get better, we're trying to compliment each other.  I thought one of the keys yesterday, for example -- you talk about the contributions of all phases -- was the fact that our kickoff coverage team was able to do a good job of at least containing, if you will, their outstanding return game.  (Jay) Feely kicked the ball well, we covered well.  We had a touchback, we had a ball inside the 20.  We had a couple at the 21 and 22.  That's a big factor in the game.  We also were in a position where we didn't net that great of a number, but we didn't get hurt by the punt return game either, by Allen Rossum.  That's something we've been able to do over the last two weeks with outstanding return men.  When we talk about all three phases contributing to each other, I think you have to talk first of all (about) what a great job the defense did with the very first turnover.  There's a ball first and 10 on the 20 yard line.  Not the way we want to start a game, and our defense is able to come up with an interception there to not allow Atlanta to have any points on the board.  The interesting thing about yesterday was there were two turnovers by each team early in the game and no points off of them.
Q: Just for the sake of discussion, did you ever think about going for two on that last touchdown?
A: I didn't think it was necessary.  I thought about it, obviously.
Q: Is that a thing where the chart says, ‘go for it'?
A: The chart says go for it.  It doesn't always…It's not always the point in time at which it's necessary.  That same chart will say that in the second quarter.
Q: It's just the cold, hard facts of the numbers?
A: Absolutely.  But then you have to deal with the game and the circumstances, the situation, where you feel you are as a team, as to whether you go for it.
Q: Several of the players have been mentioning about practicing well during the week and then transferring that to Sunday.  Isn't that difficult for a guy to come in every day and play?
A: Maybe it's difficult, but it has to be done if you want to get to where you want to go.  We talk a lot about being extremely positive, bringing the energy to work every day, the enthusiasm, so you can get the little things out of it.  But when you go on the practice field, you have to put it all together and you have to practice well.  I've always believed in that. 
Q: Because of the rivalry, the way the division stacks up and the fact that it's a Monday Night game, there's going to be a lot of hype leading up to this game this week.  Is this one of those things where you have to try and keep your guys calm, or do you just let them go?
A: I think there's been hype about pretty much every game we've played this year, so I don't think anything's going to change from that standpoint.  It is obviously in the division against a traditional foe, so it will be an exciting time.  I think each game has been very exciting.
Q: Is it a comfort for you knowing that you've had to deal with hype already this year?
A: I'm only concerned in our preparation and how well we practice, how well we prepare.  I think the players will deal with all of the other things well.
Q: How have they handled that hype so far?
A: Let's just say they've handled the last two weeks pretty well. 
Q: I'm sure if you were preparing for a team that hadn't won a game, you and your staff would prepare the same way, but do you feel like it's been a grind because of these six games and the fact that the teams all have winning records and their respective talent levels?  With big game after big game, does it wear on people?
A: I don't think so.  Hopefully, it's the other way around.  I think you look at these teams – they're very good football teams, they're challenging.  The preparation is very challenging.  The planning is challenging, because of the quality and the talent level, and the differences that occur between week to week and team to team.  It certainly has been invigorating.  It's been one of those things where you've got to be at your very best.  I think the players have certainly paid attention, real solid attention, to the opponents.  They know the quality of the opponents, and it just keeps going.
Q: Tiki Barber had said that the resiliency is starting to show through.  You have been in three very difficult situations in the middle of the game on the road, and you're 2-1.  How much does that show what you have in that locker room?
A: I think it came to bear again yesterday.  Whether you call it mental toughness, which I do, and I have a lot of definitions for what mental toughness is.  When you get into a situation like that, you come out after the half, your defense, I think, has played pretty well in the first half, special teams.  The offense has had two opportunities to score and has not scored.  The offense is going to get the ball.  You're excited about that.  You come out, you get the ball, you punt the ball, you punt the ball down to the other guy's ten yard-line.  He has 90 yards to go.  You're feeling pretty good about that field position and he takes one snap and he goes 90?  It's now a 14-3 game.  Now you find out a little bit about who you are, what you're made of, what you believe in – all of those kinds of things.  Fortunately, we stuck to our business and stayed with our plan.  Players continued to believe in what we were doing and we were able to make some plays to give us an opportunity to take the lead.  On the road, at home, a team goes ahead and scores with a 90-yard touchdown – It really does get the crowd involved.  We were able to play our way back into that, so it says a lot of positive things about our players.  We're making some progress, we're making some improvement (and) we have a long way to go.
Q: You sometimes hear players talk about Monday Night Football and they like it because the rest of the league, in theory, is watching.  Is that true motivation?
A: Whatever it takes.  You may say to some of the younger guys, ‘All of your aunts and uncles, everybody is watching,' and that may perk them up.  Most of the time, it's because of the guy you're playing against and the importance of the game.  It certainly is an honor to be on Monday night, or Sunday night, or whatever night you'd like to be, but just the idea that, for example, this Monday night we're in the division against a long-time rival.  That's pretty darn exciting enough.
Q: Is there something to be gained other than the victory itself by impressing people, and making a statement in that Monday Night game?
A: I'm interested in winning.  Just find a way to win.
Q: After Barber's fumble, you stressed the importance of ‘high and tight'.  Now it seems to have changed the whole way he runs.  Is that an added blessing?
A: He's very compact.  It all works together.  You can't have one without the other.  He is very compact.  He does choose when he wishes to engage all of his armor, if you will.  Otherwise, he can put himself in a position where he's not a big target, which I think is a real important factor.  One of the things that has developed is, because of his patience, is that in learning how to run that way – it's not an easy thing to learn right away—but he is now, I think…he has a better ability to utilize his blockers.  Some of that is as a result of that.

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