Q: What are some of the similarities between the Panthers and the Giants defenses?
A: I think both teams have good front fours. I think the Giants’ is probably one of the best in the league. I think they’ve got probably three top-tier pass-rushers that are as good as anybody. We know it from having played against them last year. I think scheme-wise, four-down, that’s similar to last week, but this is, in my opinion, a very, very good defense and they’re going to present us with some challenges.
Q: How have you guys changed since last year’s playoff loss to the Giants?
A: I think every year is different, I really do. I think every year, every team is different. We’ve got a handful of different guys, especially on defense. That’s helped us this year; our defense has played very well. Offensively, we’ve got a lot of the same guys back. We’ve got a new guard in Peter Konz, who’s doing a good job for us. I think we’re more mature. I think we’re a more mature football team than we were last year and a more experienced football team.
Q: Is there any concern that last week’s loss to the Panthers exposed some underlying problems?
A: We played poorly in the first half. I think if you look around the league, everybody has a half of football where they don’t play their best. That’s what happened. We need to move on, move forward and I think everybody’s done a good job with that and focus on trying to play better this week.
Q: You excited for a chance to get back at the Giants after the playoff lost?
A: You know what, last year is done. Obviously they had a great run last year in the playoffs and were carrying a lot of momentum. I think they’re a different football team this year; we’re a different football team this year. That’s more of where my focus is.
Q: Is there any danger in clinching the division too early in your opinion?
A: I think it’s just a function of playing poorly. When you set out at the beginning of the year, you want to win every game that you play. You can’t worry about what everybody else is doing and what that means in terms of your playoff picture. I think we just played poorly last week and that’s something we can’t do again this week.
Q: What do you remember about the Giants’ front four and how they rush the passer?
A: They’re very solid. They really are. They’re very solid and their scheme allows them to create some one-on-one matchups. I think they’re relentless. That’s one of the things they do as well as anybody. For four quarters they continue to rush the passer as well as anybody. For us, we’ve got to try and do a great job of scheming for their guys, trying to keep our offensive line and our running backs in good position to pass-protect. Also, try and stay in front of the chains and be able to run the football effectively.
Q: Do you see this game as a benchmark playing against last year’s Super Bowl champion?
A: No, you know what, I think for us it’s an important football game because we’ve got a lot of stuff in front of us that we want to finish off with this season. I think more so than anything else, and more so than worrying about what they’re worrying about, that’s where our focus is. That’s where it needs to be. I’m sure that they’ll be giving us their absolute very best as everybody does at the end of the year, but we need to concentrate on playing our very best because some of the things that we set out to achieve at the beginning of the season are still there for us in the regular season.
Q: Do you feel that you’re not getting the proper credit, despite being the best team in the NFC record-wise?
A: That’s not something I’m concerned with. I really don’t worry about how we’re perceived or the media’s perception of us. I think we have a locker room where guys are just focused on trying to play well and play our best, week in and week out. Anybody can really have their opinion of us. We have our own. We’re confident in ourselves and we play that way; we play with a lot of confidence. I think that’s what’s important to focus on.
Q: What is the challenge of running an offense where the running game hasn’t been as good as it has been in the past?
A: It’s one of those things…games have kind of shaped out the way they have where we needed to throw the football in certain instances. You love to be balanced, you love to run the ball half the time and throw the football half the time, and keep the defense guessing. Games dictate the way you call plays and what you need to do. We’ve been in situations where we needed to throw it and I like the fact that we’ve done what we’ve needed to do. We’ve won some games this year running the football and we won some games throwing the football.
Q: When you see the Giants’ secondary, do you see a team that’s given up a lot of big plays or a team that makes a lot of big takeaways when it matters?
A: I think they’re something like second in the league in takeaways. Sometimes when you play that aggressive style of ball, they give up some explosive plays, but they’re ball hawks, they really are. I think their front four does a great job of helping out that back end in terms of creating pressure on the passer and forcing quarterbacks to make some decisions before they want to. That’s one of the things that jumps out on tape when you watch them.
A: Yeah, absolutely. I think he has something like seven on the year, so that’s a huge number of interceptions. When you watch him, he moves very well. His change of direction is very good; he’s got good instincts and certainly a guy that is playing with a ton of confidence right now.