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Coughlin Corner: Planning for West Coast

Posted Dec 6, 2013

The Coughlin Corner, Giants.com’s exclusive weekly interview with head coach Tom Coughlin



You started slowly last week in Washington, which looked like a continuation of the end of the Dallas game the previous week. The end of the game was much better, so perhaps you can pick that up in San Diego this week. Do you believe in momentum from one week to the next or is every game a separate and distinct entity?

“If the momentum is a positive thing, you hope it keeps going and certainly it does build confidence. But every game is a different game, every team is a different team. The start of that game last weekend, we knew that they were going to go no-huddle at some point; we didn’t know they would start the game with it. The tempo was good and they were effective right away with it. Thank God we settled down. I didn’t feel good until we scored our first touchdown and it was 14-7. After that I felt much better.”

Have you talked to the team about playoffs? Or is it just preparation…

“No. Preparation, pride, determination, those things. We never did, you don’t talk about that until the time is right, but the only thing that we continually talked about was the situation in the division, that’s what’s most important.”

The trip to San Diego is by far the longest of the season. What do you tell the players about hydrating, rest…?

“You start at the beginning of the week. I told them Wednesday exactly how our schedule would be and what they had to do to be ready. One is to hydrate, the other was to rest and continuously do that and also I began to talk to them about the plane and what they need to do on the plane. They really need to hydrate on the plane and they need to move around on the plane. They’ll have assignments from their coaches for some of the time, and of course they’ll be able to relax and rest and watch a movie or whatever they want to do. We’ve taken these west coast trips many times and I think we’ve got a good formula for it and the result of it has been good when we’ve traveled. So you begin talking about a trip of this nature early, because the Saturday schedule has to change a little bit too so we can leave a little bit earlier.”

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Much of the focus this week is on Eli Manning and Philip Rivers, who were drafted and then traded for each other. Do you remember going into that draft thinking, “We’re going to come out of this with Eli Manning?”

“I think we went in knowing that Eli Manning was the guy we wanted, but he was probably the first pick in the draft (the Giants selected fourth). We didn’t know how it was going to work out once it started.”

Manning has been sacked a career-high 31 times. You’ve talked in the past about how you prefer him to take a sack than risk a turnover. Is part of that the reason that the sack total is so high?

“No, I don’t think so. I think it’s because we’ve had some situations where people are running free and he can’t get away. You saw it the other night, the same kind of thing happened where he pretty much felt he was stuck and went down. And he took care of the ball, but you don’t expect on the first play of the game to have a nine-yard sack.”

You still have one turnover a game, not the multiplicity of turnovers that was an issue earlier. As you look at the offense, is it still the sacks and the turnovers that you have to cut down on to be as efficient as you’d like?

“No, there are a lot of ways, there are a lot of things that have to happen. You’re not going to rush for 80 yards and be very successful. You’ve got to have the ball more than 52 snaps per game or 53, whatever it was (it was 54 in Washington). The green zone has not been very productive for us. I’m sure at the end of this thing when you look at it that’s going to be something that I’ve got to do some serious thinking about and evaluating. We haven’t been very good on third down, let’s face it. So there are lots of areas – protection. It’s not that we don’t know what we’re doing and it’s not that the quarterback doesn’t arrange the protections to give us the maximum opportunity. That does happen the majority of the time. But now we’re experiencing things that we haven’t had. What did we have last year, 20 (sacks) for the season? We’re not as productive.”

The other night you had the two big runs but you didn’t have the consistency.

“No, we didn’t. We have to have more consistency, we have to have that kind of balance. As I say, we had 28 passes and 23 runs - come on, that’s not enough plays.”

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Justin Tuck had the big game with four sacks. As his teammates and you have said, he’s been around the ball a lot this season. Was the big difference the other night that he finished?

“He was able to get in position to finish the job and he didn’t get out maneuvered or he didn’t get someone leaning on him at the last second and pushing him away from the quarterback. He was able to get in position and he was able to finish the rush. He had good leverage. Obviously one of them should have been a turnover. My God, he wacked  him (Robert Griffin III) in the arm pretty much with everything he had and the ball didn’t come out. I was shocked at that. I’m looking for the ball on the ground.”

Philip Rivers has completed an NFL-high 70 percent of his passes and he releases the ball very quickly. What problems does he pose? He doesn’t have a lot of big-name guys around him, but they’ve very productive.

“They lost a couple of receivers (Danario Alexander and Malcolm Floyd) but he sprays the ball around so well and Danny Woodhead has helped him tremendously. (Antonio) Gates is having the kind of year he’s having (team-high 64 receptions) and Ladarius Green has given them another target. He likes the Keenan Allen kid, the young rookie who has helped him and given him some plays , and (Ryan) Mathews is a good runner and they use him well and effectively. Their time of possession, they’re third in the league in time of possession (per-game average of 32:13), they have the ball forever. They had the ball for 14 minutes and some seconds in the first quarter of the Denver game and Denver had a 7-0 lead with a 74-yard pass. It’s unbelievable.”

And they’re a very good third down team.

‘They’re second in the league in that. They’re unbelievable. When you watch them play, there’s so much going on when it’s third down. It’s 46 percent. I said, ‘How could that be, I just looked at the game and I didn’t think it was that good.’ But they are. That’s how they keep the ball.”

Defensively they’ve had a lot of injuries at linebacker but the front three (Cam Thomas, Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes) have been there every game and …

“They’re steady, they can run, they’re physical, they present a lot of looks. They’ve come up with guys just like everybody else today, this kid from Stanford (linebacker Thomas Keiser), who is this kid? He has four sacks and all he does is play hard.”

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