Coughlin: “I’m big in building from one thing to another. Some of the things that you build upon are not exactly what you like to build from, but nevertheless it happens. That’s our game. When you’re not very good at something, you stress it and by and large, your players will respond to that, and when you play well, you want to continue to play well. I think that the thing that’s very interesting for me as we go forward now is we had a couple of unusual schedules and we’ve adapted to them fairly well. I’m not going to tell you we were great from the end of camp to the first Wednesday night game, but this past week I thought the guys really, really came off the Tampa Bay win and were focused for the Carolina game (on the following Thursday night). First of all, you have to see the big picture. You have to know what your circumstance is and then the next thing that we did is we approached it with optimism. We didn’t approach it as an issue. We approached it with optimism.”
Q: Like it wasn’t a chore?
Coughlin: “As an opportunity to play against a team that had just put almost 500 yards on New Orleans, so we going against a very good team that was extremely productive in that game.”
Q: Because you were playing what seemed to be a hot team in a short week on the road, I think the general consensus was you would lose. Does this team play its best when its back is against the wall?
Coughlin: “I think that’s a great characteristic of a team, but it’s not the only characteristic of this team. I think you have to look hard at our mental toughness, our belief in one another. We had a couple of key individuals that weren’t going to play and the guys that did play performed just as you would say in a meeting: 'Guys have to step up and play well and be responsible and realize that they’re on the team for a reason.' They’re outstanding players, they can and they must contribute in these kinds of things and if you are truly a team, you’re going through 16 of these, you’re going to have your ups and downs when people can’t play for one reason or another. And in the case of
Q: Brown didn’t make the roster until his fourth training camp here and Barden waited just as long to make a significant contribution. When they’re waiting, do you say to the players, You have to be ready, because we’re going to need you at some point?”
Coughlin: “Absolutely, all the time. I say it all the time to them. When a guy makes your team, you say it and some guys, quite frankly, develop at different times. Now, do they persevere? In the case of these two, yes. Sometimes there are guys that are in it for a long time that get a chance and their chance is over and they’re no longer a part of it.”
Q: As a coach, it must be a good feeling to see players persevere and then contribute so significantly when called upon.
Coughlin: “It is, because it makes it all worthwhile for them and it also reinforces everything that you do in terms of talking about team and about people being reliable and opportunity meeting preparation. A big thing we talk about is when preparation meets opportunity and if a guy takes full advantage of his opportunities, then he has in effect provided for his team an opportunity to continue to win.”
Q: Outsiders might look at the roster and wonder how the playing time will be divided at running back and wide receiver if everyone is healthy. But your attitude is…
Coughlin: “The more the merrier. Let’s have all the talent we can possibly have. They’ll contribute in a lot of different ways and over the course of 16 games, it all works out.”
Q: When you play in Philadelphia Sunday night, it will be your 18th regular-season game against Andy Reid, which will tie the two of you for the most meetings by two active head coaches. How much does the opposing coach factor into your preparation?
Coughlin: “Oh, it definitely does, but it also factors into the course of the game and what the expectation is from the other sideline as the game is being played, particularly in situations that are a little bit unusual. You have to be prepared for what you think the other coach might do. What is his personality? What’s he liable to do in a situation where others might err on the side of conservatism? Is that going to be the case here?”
Q: Do you also have to think, “I can’t be too predictable because he knows me, too?”
Coughlin: “No doubt about that. The Philadelphia media wanted to know if I was aware of how the Cardinals were successful. I said yes, but I said, ‘Don’t forget, we have an incredible number of games between the Giants and the Eagles and the first thing that we look at and we keep track of is what did they do to us? What did we do to them?’ Because we've played them twice a year for a lot of years.”
Q: I guess it’s an understatement to say you’re very familiar with each other after all those games.
Coughlin: “Yes and so many of these games have been so closely contested. The ball hits the upright from 57 yards (on a David Akers field goal attempt in 2007) down there. They kick a field goal to beat us down there (in the 2006 playoffs). In 2008, they beat us here in a 17-10 game or something like that (actually, 20-14). Sometimes, they’re so competitive and they’re usually very, very close, tight games and they’re never decided until the very end and you just have so much on the line in these games. First, they’re divisional games, and secondly, there’s such an individualistic rivalry between the teams in your division, especially when you’re talking about the NFC East and these teams have played each other for so many years dating back to the beginning of the National Football League.”
Coughlin: “No question. Those are the things that if you’re not directly involved in it, you don’t realize how important it is, the confidence that those three have in each other and the amount of time they spend with each other. It’s incredible and you have people who by nature of their personalities are very supportive of each other. If you listen on the practice field, you know Steve is always telling Zak, ‘Great snap Zak.’ The snap might be on the ground, but he’ll say, ‘Great snap, Zak. Way to go.’ And, ‘Great kick, Lawrence.’ ‘Great punt, number five,' or whatever Lawrence yells out when he does it and it’s good stuff.”
Q: That makes a difference?
Coughlin: “It makes a huge difference.”
Q: Tynes probably wouldn’t have been Player of the Week if you had scored more touchdowns in the green zone. Is that a good news/bad news situation?
Coughlin: “No, I don’t look at it that way. He had an exceptional game and he deserves the recognition that he’s received and that’s one very strong part of our game right now. And now if you want to talk about another part, which is touchdowns in the green zone, we’ll go there. But it would have been good to take that second half kickoff fumble and go score a touchdown, but we didn’t do that. But we scored eight out of 10 times we had the ball. That’s quite an afternoon or evening. When you have 10 drives in the game and you score points on eight of the 10, that’s not easy, so I don’t want to overlook that, either.”
Q: What do you see from Michael Vick?
Coughlin: “Courageous. He steps up, he takes a hit and gets right back up. The next play he throws the ball 60 yards in the air to some of the speediest players in the league and he’s relying heavily on his tight end (Brent Celek). His runner (LeSean McCoy) gives him options in terms of the big play every time they run the ball. He’s a tough, tough guy. You know when he pulls it down and runs, you’re holding your breath. It doesn’t matter what that is and they move him a lot now just to give him extra time, because he’s so good at extending plays. There are a few guys in this league that are exceptional at extending plays. He’s one of them.”
Q: Have you seen a team rotate defensive linemen like the Eagles?
Coughlin: “They dress nine defensive lineman. Nine. Figure it out. Last week, they played with 19 on offense and 23 on defense. They always play with more defense - that way they have special teams help and things of that nature.”
Q: It seems like they always have fresh linemen in there.
Coughlin: “They do. That’s the whole point. They come hard.”
Q: What do you think of their rookie return specialists, Damaris Johnson on punts and Brandon Boykin on kickoffs?
Coughlin: “They both had outstanding collegiate careers. They were both ranked in the top 10 in preseason in punt return, kickoff return, and they’re dangerous. They look just like every other Eagle that ever goes out there – not very big, but faster than fast.”