Press Confernece: Tom Coughlin

Tom Coughlin was in quite a jovial mood, considering his club was mired in a four-game losing streak. However, Coughlin focused on the positive - the fact that the Giants were in a four-team race for the NFC's two wild card playoff spots - and could still make hay during the season's final month. Here's what Coughlin had to say on Wednesday.

Coach Tom Coughlin

December 6, 2006


Opening Statement:

Good morning.  Know what I think when I walked in here, it's different from when I came in here on Monday.  You have to get it up, guys.  You have to get excited – it's a new week here.  You're all sitting here like this with your heads down and I know you want to win just as bad as I want to win.  You have to get it going.  The enthusiasm is…You have to get yourself fired up a little bit for a new week and a new opportunity.

Q: Is that what you told the players?

A: That's exactly what I told the players.  That was part of it.  The reality-based introduction to the opponent, the idea of what's at stake – there are four teams, obviously, that are 6-6.  All of those things.  The circumstances surrounding the Carolina team – they're a very, very good football team.  There isn't any doubt about that.  They're very solid in all areas.  You talk about (Chris) Kasay and (Jason) Baker, you're talking about guys that are having great seasons.  You talk about their fire-power, talk about their defensive team, talk about their front.  They're a very, very good football team.  They've had a different course, if you will, from ours, but a lot of things are similar.  The two games that you relate to right away would be the most recent game – Philadelphia and then the Dallas game, for example, the Washington game – whichever games you want to look at in which we really know the opponents well.  You know how hard-fought those games were.  Even the Dallas game was 21-14 in the fourth quarter and the two turnovers put it at the 35 number, but up until that point it certainly wasn't that type of score.  Very, very good team.  We're going there, they're playing at home and we're all in the same situation here, the four teams that are 6-6.  It's a great opporuntity for us and what do we do with it?  That's what remains to be seen.  We start the week off in a pretty good situation, from an injury standpoint.  We still have Michael (Strahan), who's not going to be able to work, and Corey Webster won't – He'll do some individual, but he won't…He probably won't do any team.  We'll see how he does.  Obviously Luke (Petitgout) is not going to work, but hopefully unless somebody has slipped my mind the rest of the players will be – some are limited, but they'll all practice.  They'll work, and that's a good thing.

Q: Did Michael Strahan's attempt to do individual drills last week set him back?

A: I don't think so, because he came right back and felt better after doing it.  He was sore the next day, but then eventually he felt better after that.  I wouldn't even say it's day-to-day, but I would hope it would end up being day-to-day.  Now it's probably not.

Q: Are you concerned at all with the kickoff coverage?

A: On Monday, if you remember, I said that.  I was concerned.  I started out by saying I didn't think either kicker kicked the ball well – Whether it was the weather, whatever it was, the ball didn't fly on kickoffs.  But their starting point was the 36, ours was 30.  I didn't think our coverage was very good.  The things that we had pointed out and tried to recognize as the strength of their returns we were allowing them to do and didn't really have much of a solid answer for.  Obviously it's an area of concern.  They have some outstanding returners.  Goings is their kickoffs returner.  He put the ball out to the 40 the other day.  Their punt returners, although the numbers aren't that good, (Chris) Gamble and (Steve) Smith are both outstanding, elusive, fast people that can hurt you at any time during the course of a game.

Q: Were there signs in the Dallas game that the pass-rush was getting any better?

A: It wasn't as good as it could be and it has to be better.  I really would not like to go backwards.  I'd like to go forwards.  But I will say this to you, and you saw it.  We had three people unblocked in the quarterback's face, and he avoided all three.  So we can't allow that to happen.  We have to position ourselves better, come to balance better and make those plays when we're there. They would have been big plays in the game.

Q: With the kind of receivers Carolina has, is it of the utmost importance to make Jake Delhomme throw the ball not when he wants to?

A: It's very important, because really when he's most effective is when the ball's coming out of his hands in a rhythmic fashion, in a timely fashion.  He does have the capability – as have the last two quarterbacks that we've played – of moving out of there if he does want to throw the ball down the field.

Q: Earlier this season everyone was questioning if Tiki Barber's retirement would be a distraction.  What do you feel like about the way he's playing, and is the hand playing a factor in that at all?

A: I think he's playing well, regardless of (the) announcement you're referring to.  He's doing a good job.  It was never a factor with the thumb.  He never lost focus, he never missed anything during the course of the game.  When it happened, he was as focused as he's ever been.  There was never any question about, ‘Can I do this?  Can I do that?'  His answer and responses were right away, ‘I'm able to secure the ball.'  As far as I was concerned, he never missed a beat.

Q: Are there marked differences between Foster and DeAngleo Williams in their running styles?

A: There are differences, obviously, in their approach, their size, for example.  Both are very good, very elusive.  (DeShaun) Foster can put it up in the hole with power and you're going to have trouble tackling him.  DeAngelo Williams is a guy who is really an outstanding scooter and I think really, as I told the team this morning, the real important thing for them to look at is 17 for 74 and seven catches for 101 yards and a touchdown.  That's outstanding production in a game against an Eagle defense.  Because of the unfortunate injury to Foster, they've had to play DeAngelo Williams, and he's responded well.

Q: I know it's been almost a year since the playoff game and you're trying to get your own playoff berth here, but does the playoff loss, from a motivational standpoint, still factor in here at all?

A: I think it does, but I didn't refer to it this morning with our team, I didn't utilize it in any way.  I think that it's something that will always be the dot on the end of the season last year which nobody, nobody is happy about that at all.  No one was ever anything but disappointed and it remains there.

Q: Players sometimes go through peaks and valleys where they for whatever reason they lose their confidence.  Do coordinators go through the same thing?

A: I think that the only thing that happens with a coach is that they're constantly trying to figure out a way to accomplish what perhaps didn't get accomplished in that last particular game.  I think that's exactly where it is for all of us. 

Q: You talked about Will Demps on Monday.  It seems like every time there's a big play against you, he's involved.

A: I'm not going to put any added blame on any one player, because we're all at fault in everything that we say and do.  His play can be better.  He can be in position to play the ball better, for example, and I would hope that he will improve.

Q: When he and Gibril Wilson had a good stretch and the defense had a good stretch, is that more a factor of having a good pass-rush?

A: Well, that certainly helps the whole secondary.  To have pressure on the quarterback, it makes their job at least more timely.  What happened the other night with people getting out of the pocket and having all of that time, that's difficult.  But we still can stay in better position than we were.

Q: Are they a similar team to prepare for as they were last year in the playoffs and can you take anything from last year's game plan?

A: I think you certainly can, but all teams are different.  All teams have changes – personnel changes, where they are at this point in time, how they utilize their personnel.  How their kicking game affects their game.  So I think you certainly can look at the similarities in the people that are there and the positions that they're playing and how they're playing, but then I think you have to make adjustments for where you are at this point.

Q: Obviously you know what your team has gone through.  Is Carolina in a similar situation?

A: I think coming off a disappointing loss would be an easy way to put it, yes.  I think that would be something that would be similar. 

Q: The fact that they're both coming off two losses, they're 6-6…

A: (nods)

Q: You agree?

A: Very well said.  Good assessment.

Q: Has Julius Peppers changed at all since the playoff game?

A: He's changed.  It's been in the wrong direction for us.  No, he's a good football player in all respects, whether it be running, pass, chase the ball, long arms.  Sometimes he's involved in coverage on the tight end – He looks pretty good doing that, even.

Q: Specifically, what did they do to Eli Manning in that game and do you think he's learned from that?

A: I think the course of the season, people having watched that game and what they did…he certainly has had the experience of playing against similar things and hopefully has grown from that as well.  I don't know that you can be specific and apply it to what has he learned.  Obviously the fact that he's played pretty much another 12 games is the learning experience.

Q: Special teams last year seemed to be more of a force, more of a positive.  This year, it seems like…

A: I think all you need to look at when you're talking about that is we haven't really had a big kickoff return, we haven't had a big punt return.  Our coverage has been pretty solid and pretty physical.  Last week was not a very good example of that.  Our punter has made strong contributions to our punt-coverage because he's been able to, through his ability, put the ball on the sideline or almost out of bounds.  We've had some downs inside – That's been pretty solid.  But the big plays that are very, very motivational to your team on special teams, we haven't had any of those.

Q: What's your report on Delhomme?

A: It's just what I hear.  I really don't know a lot about it.  I'll have to get some information on that.  I probably know what you know, or you may know a little more.

Q: He and Chris Weinke I would think would take different preparation?

A:  I would think so, but I don't…I wouldn't even start to speculate on who the quarterback will be, because I know the type of competitor that Delhomme is. 

Q: Do they still use Steve Smith the same way, and is he as dangerous as ever?

A: As dangerous as ever.

Q: When you worked Keyshawn Johnson out during the off-season, did you ever think you would sign him?

A: Other than there was a visit.  There was a visit here and he moved on.  I think he had five or six places he was visiting.  His visit here we thought was productive, but it never got any further than that.

Q: How much did you want him?

A: Any time we visit a player there's great interest, but it's kind of a two-way thing.  There's a lot that has to go into it from the standpoint of the club as well as the player.

Q: You seem upbeat.  Is there a reenergizing around the team?  Is it because everyone is 6-6, or the fact that you played better…?

A: I think it's time to get off the last one and get into the new one, and the excitement of the new game and what's coming forward and still the opportunities that we have.  I try to make the players understand that – Not to be distracted by what's being said on the outside about our team or whatever, and know what the reality of the situation is and what opportunities there are.  And win one game and it changes a lot of things.  It changes a lot of things.  Win one game, get excited about that…You know, we have a whole quarter of the season left to go and it's an exciting time.  For anybody to say that it isn't, despite the disappointments, is foolish.  You only go around this thing one time.

Q: Is there any part of you that worries that this message doesn't get through to the team?

A: Do you guys get it?  I'm using the same one in there, so…This is not an IQ test, now.

Q: I just thought maybe there's a cumulative effect after four losses –

A: I hope not.  I hope we're better than that.  I think you're talking about gut-checks and character-checks and toughness-checks and all kinds of things.  But I would hope that our mental toughness and the fact that there's been so much invested, and again, even though they're young they have to realize that you get opportunities and you don't have opportunities.  Despite the disappointments, you still have them and take advantage of them.  Let's make something good happen.  When you talk about, like I mentioned to them today – You know, there's one or two plays (that) make the difference in a lot of these games that we're looking at a four-game losing streak here?  How about if those one or two plays happen on our side?  Just one or two of them.  That's all.  Then we end up being the winner.  Then we've got something to be happy about.  That's where it is.  That's what we have to do.  We have to make that happen.  Some of the plays that we're not making – Let's make them.  And there's a million of them.  There's a ton of them.  I know we all want to discuss two or three of them, and that's fine.  You're right, we should be.  But there's about ten of them in each game that if it happened the way you want it to go, you win the game.  That's where I am. 

Q: Each week do you discuss with them maintaining self control throughout the game?

A: Yes, I do.

Q: (The penalties) keep jumping up and biting you.

A: Well, they hadn't been jumping up and biting, then all of a sudden they did.  Unfortunately, that's it.

Q: How is Jeff Feagles?

A: He seems to be doing well.

Q: Is Sean Landeta still here?

A: No.

Q: Did you make a move?

A: Yes.

Q: Who did you get?

A: I'll let you know later.

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