Re: importance of this week's game vs. Vikings
That’s probably the word that you can use. We look at each game as the most important game of the year, whether we’re in this situation or not. It certainly is a very important game for us because we’re trying like heck to put ourselves in a position where we get some reinforcement for our team, our players, our fans, all of the above. I’m sure the same thing is being thought of in Minnesota, even though they do have a win. They had a bad loss last weekend and an outstanding win the week before. I would say that our situation, we played better last week, to be honest with you, but we had some costly things happen early in the game, and battled back and played well, put ourselves in position to win it and then didn’t do that.
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Know Your Opponent: Vikings
A: Here’s the way that goes, to be honest with you, it’s always the head coach and the quarterback, as you well know. I say that I’m responsible, I’m at fault, put it on my shoulders, I’m the head coach.
Q: How would you evaluate how Eli is playing?
A: Well, I’m sure he would tell you that he would like to play better, there’s no doubt about that. I have every confidence in the world that he will. We’re at this point in the season. It’s not early in the season, I’m not going to say that at all, but there’s a lot of football that has to be played here and we’re counting on that part of it.
Q: Jon Beason seems to have brought some energy to your defense last week. A pretty good addition, you think?
A: Yes. Jon did come in and he’s going to be here. He’s excited, he played hard and physical, he made a lot of tackles, and all of that in trying to understand exactly what we want out of that position. He’ll learn as he goes on here, but he is a very aggressive player and that was a big plus for our team.
Q: Is Jason Pierre-Paul close to being at full strength? What is your thinking on him?
A: We would like Jason to be the player that we know he is and as I said before, we’re well into the season, but he did have absolutely no preseason. I hope that he is coming back to the player that we know he can be.
Q: Tom, what are your thoughts on looking at the Vikings’ quarterback situation? Do you go in anticipating Freeman, or someone else?
A: We’ve seen Ponder, we’ve seen Cassel, we saw Freeman a year ago. We prepared two different styles based on Cassel. The Vikings are going to do what is best for them. Leslie is going to make that call and obviously we’ll tweak a little bit, what we do, based on it. You need to stop the run when you play the Vikings and they do have outstanding skill players as well. They do an outstanding job in the physical part of the game, both sides of the ball. You’re going to have to be ready for that, no matter what.
Q: David Wilson’s neck injury, is there any update on that?
A: Not really. It’s going to be a wait and see until such a point where after certain evaluations over time, maybe, we have to make a call. David is in a position where we’re going to have to be very careful with this and the doctors are going to control this and all we can do is hope.
Q: Vikings looking at possibly starting their third quarterback in six games. You’ve had the same guy for 140-142 games. How much does that help you as a coach?
A: It’s a tremendous help. You’re talking about the 10th year, barring half a season, his rookie season, and he’s been tremendous. We’ve given him tremendous responsibility from day one, he’s always come through. He’s a two-time MVP of the Super Bowl. A great football player and to be able to build on that over the years has been an extremely positive thing for our franchise. There isn’t any doubt that over the years the communication between the staff and Eli and back and forth has really been a very critical factor in the success that we’ve had.
Q: When the turnovers are coming at the rate that they are, how much thought, if any, does it ever pop into your mind to sit Eli down?
A: If I hear you right, that hasn’t crossed my mind at all.
Q: If Josh Freeman starts at quarterback this week or even if he starts at any time, how tough do you think it is for a quarterback to come in, in the middle of the season without training camp, learning the playbook on the fly, taking over as a starter, for any NFL team?
A: You can speculate on that as best as I can. I … for me not to speculate on that because I don’t know the circumstances, but I do know he’s a talented young man and we played against him when he was with Tampa a year ago and he played well.
Q: How would you say Eli has handled this, having reached the heights that he’s reached?
A: What else could be expected? He’s an individual who has always been humble. He’s always been a guy quick to give credit to everybody else and because of that, he has a tremendous relationship with the players here and everyone is in support of Eli. He’s the guy that’s put us in the position that we’re in. We know there’s great talent there and this is something we’re all going through it, not just Eli. There’s some growing pains here with some different people involved and some people we didn’t get from the offseason that we would have hoped. It’s not early in the year, I’m not saying that, I’m saying hopefully we’ll settle down and we’ll play the kind of football we’re capable of playing. I’m pretty quick to remind people that this team has been a team that has been in a position where it’s led the league in fewest turnovers. Our plus to minus turnover ratio as well. We’re capable of that. Right now we’re careless with the football and it strikes right at my gut because that’s one of the things that we preach about the most. I’m going to state that we’re going to improve, we’re going to be better at this and when we do, we’ll start to see the checkered flag at the end of a ball game.
Q: You mention the offseason, to what degree do you think the time missed by receivers, if any, has impacted your passing game?
A: It’s always going to be a factor because you’d like to say training camp is a long period of opportunity and in this day and age, it isn’t You do have to think about your OTAs and that type of thing. There’s precious opportunities for people to get on the same page, communicate, do things well, so when it doesn’t happen. It doesn’t happen, it doesn’t help you.
QB Eli Manning
Q: You guys are 0-6. Is there an easy way to put a finger on what needs to be turned around or is it a lot of things?
A: There are just a number of things. There are some good things that we’re doing. We’re just not playing a full, complete game. We’re not playing four quarters of quality football. We may get two or three in and then our mistakes are hurting us. The mistakes aren’t just a missed play; they’re turnovers and missed opportunities for big plays and things like that are hurting us. We've just got to get more consistent and just take care of business.
Q: How do you evaluate your play through six games personally?
A: I’m not into the evaluating business during the season. I’ve got to play better and I’ve got to eliminate the turnovers. I know that. I’m just focused on this next game and doing whatever it takes to try to get a win and playing smart and try to make the plays that we need to make to move this offense.
Q: Did you see better signs in the game against Chicago? Were there things that led you to believe that this could be turned around pretty quickly?
A: Yeah. I thought we competed and we hung in there. We got down in the third quarter by 13 points and fought back and scored a touchdown. We had the ball with five minutes left and we were about to go down and score a touchdown and take the lead and hopefully win a game, but I thought guys did a good job. I just missed on a throw a little high and there you go. But I think we got closer to the style of football we’ve got to play to win and I think guys are seeing that. We've just got to put it all together.
Q: What’s been the biggest difference for you this year compared to your successful years?
A: Just being 0-6, losing those games. I think probably just some of our performances in the fourth quarter. We’ve always been a very strong fourth quarter team and maybe have been down a little bit in the fourth quarter and that’s where we’ve been able to score a lot of points and score multiple touchdowns or score in those two-minute drives to win. We just haven’t had that this year. I wish I knew the exact reason of why or why that occurs. A different game has a different reason, so we’ve got to find a way just to either build a lead into the fourth quarter or get those close games. We’ve got to get our best performances in the clutch.
Q: Have you talked to Peyton lately? How supportive has he been?
A: I’ve talked to Peyton. Yeah. He’s been supportive, just saying keep grinding. Football is a crazy game and that’s just a part of it. Over the years, we’ve always talked about how you've got to cherish each win because they are well-earned and you've got to fight for each one and it’s tough. It’s tough winning in the NFL and obviously this can happen. You’ve got to just dig your way out of it.
Q: Quarterback is such a tough position. Do you sympathize with what is going on in Minnesota and who is going to be the starter between three quarterbacks?
A: It is a tough position to play and it doesn’t always get easier. After 10 years, you can still go through battles and still learn lessons and be in different situations that you haven’t been in prior to. Minnesota has got things going on and I’ve got to obviously worry about this Giants team and get my play where it needs to be.
Q: If Josh Freeman does start, how tough do you think it would be as a quarterback coming in the middle of the season and having to learn the playbook?
A: I would assume it would be very tough. I’ve been fortunate enough to be in the same offense for 10 years, so I wouldn’t even know what it would be like to go in and try to learn a new offense. Maybe Josh has been through… Tampa, I know they’ve gone through some different coaches or maybe he’s gone through some different systems and has some sort of overlapping with another system he’s been in, so it might be easier. But I’m not sure how that would go over trying to learn a new offense.
Q: Could you have ever imagined going into this game 0-6 facing a 1-4 Minnesota team?
A: No. It’s not what I would have thought to start to go into this game, obviously, for us or them. I think they’re obviously a very talented team and have a lot of good players. It’s tough sometimes to get wins and each game is a battle and you have to play quality football to win in the NFL and if you make mistakes and you don’t play up to your ability, you’re not going to win football games and I think that’s something that’s happened with both teams.
Q: Do you feel pressure whenever things go wrong and people are talking about you or have you earned the right to be above that?
A: No. I don’t think you ever earn anything to be above anything in this league. I think it’s all a case of what have you done for me lately? And I have high expectations for myself and expect to bring a contender every year and try to win championships and make playoffs and play at a high level. This is obviously a tough situation, but we’re going to fight through it and I think our thought is we’re three games back in the division with 10 to go. There’s still a lot of football to be played and obviously we’ve got a big one right now and we’ve got to get that first win. You hate to be saying that in Week 7, but that’s the circumstance. We’re going against a quality team and we’ve got to play good football.
Q: Has it ever crossed your mind that you might be benched?
A: No. My goal is just to keep competing and try to put us in a situation to win. I’ve got to make some better plays and make some better decisions when I’m in some bad spots and so I’ll continue to work on that.
Q: Coach Coughlin brought up the impact of some guys not having the offseason that maybe he would have liked them to. What impact, if any, do you think that’s had on your passing game, that you didn’t have all the normal work with your receivers?
A: I don’t think that’s been a huge issue. I think our receivers have done a good job, have made plays and I think we still feel that we have some quality receivers. We just got to connect on some plays and I’ve got to get the ball to them and we’ve got to have protection. So a lot goes into the passing game being efficient and some of it is that we were in a lot of third and longs early in the season. Last week, I thought we were better. I thought the last two weeks we were better at running the ball and being more consistent and not being in as many third and longs. I think it’s just a combination. I think there are some good things being done. We've just got to do it consistently.
Q: Are there things rhythm and timing wise that you guys are trying to work through?
A: No. I think our timing on the ball getting out and guys running routes and doing the right things are all basically where they need to be. You can always make improvements and work on some things, but I think it’s just a matter of everything coming along and everybody each play playing at a high level.
Q: Minnesota’s pass defense hasn’t been the best in the NFL this year. Do you think this is just what the doctor ordered for the Giants’ offense this week?
A: I think they have a good scheme and they have good players. They do a good job of getting the pass rush and you have to watch out for Jared Allen. He can disrupt the game and they have Kevin Williams and their defensive line is very talented. We’ve got to make sure we block those guys up and guys are getting open in a timely fashion and you have a good mix of pass and run. I think you kind of look at the scheme and you look at the players and you try to get a good plan and hopefully we’ll have some opportunities to throw the ball and throw it well, but obviously everybody has got to do their job for a play to be successful.
Q: You’ve started 141 games in a row. How do you rank that personally?
A: I’ve been fortunate to stay healthy and try to work hard to make sure that I’m in that lineup each week for my teammates. Hopefully I can do the same this week and play well and stay healthy, but sometimes playing quarterback you’re going to get some bumps and bruises and things are going to happen and you've got to make adjustments.
Q: I think you took that straight from Peyton.
A: Yeah. I think he was up there. He had the season he missed with the neck injury, but he’s been a pretty consistent quarterback and both of us don’t want to miss games. But obviously some of that is just luck and fortune and some of it is hard work.
Q: Does he offer any advice when you talk or do you guys exchange advice?
A: Not on the games. Just plays sometimes, if we’re playing an opponent that one of us has played recently or that season and maybe there’s a tip on seeing something or advice or knowledge about a player. We’ll exchange some of that information, but we don’t always get to see each other’s games. There’s no advice saying you should be doing this or you should be doing that.