Have a great challenge ahead of us this week. Playing a red-hot team on the road. Winners of six in a row. They’re scoring the football at a good clip, 31 points a game during the streak. Taking care of the football and Aaron is playing MVP-type football. Defensively, they get after the quarterback and are forcing turnovers. They have 11 turnovers in the last three weeks. They’re holding opponents to 18 points during their winning streak. Special teams, they’re creative and multiple. We have to be on our toes there. They have a variety of returns at their disposal when they have them all up. With that, let’s open it up.
Q: How’s Janoris Jenkins?
A: He was limited today but he worked.
Q: Was he moving well?
Q: Any doubt he’ll play?
A: He was limited today. We’ll take a look at him tomorrow.
Q: What do you feel about the team you’re taking into battle?
A: I like this team. I said it all along, we have talented men of integrity. They work hard, like football, are growing closer together. We had a good day today, we’ll have a great day tomorrow and we’re excited for the opportunity.
Q: How important for you is it for the investment of playing time for the young guys early in the season to start to pay off now?
A: That’s big for us. We talked about it early in the season. We had some young guys get opportunities on special teams early and then on offense and defense as the season went on. We have to cash in this time of year with those opportunities early in the season.
Q: What’s the one thing you’re going to work on this week that you didn’t necessarily do well when you played the Packers earlier this season?
A: We just need to play better football all around. The game is simple this time of year. It’s about fundamentals. You are who you are schematically. You need to fit together tight like nuts and bolts. The fundamentals, the blocking, the tackling, taking care of the ball, handling the ball. The Duke is like a bar of gold this time of year. We need to take care of the football.
Q: Any advantage going against a secondary that is a little banged up?
A: They have some guys that are in and out of the lineup. We’ll play who’s out there. They’ll have a good plan in place and we need to make sure we’re sound fundamentally and schematically.
Q: How much have they changed their defensive schemes up since you’ve last seen them?
A: Dom (Capers), I think he has everything there is in the book. He does a nice job tailoring what they do defensively to their players. Their front is still getting after the quarterback. That’s the key to their game. Their secondary, they do have some young guys that are playing. They’re playing a multitude of guys. They have talented players back there that can make plays and they fit well off of the front.
Q: That was early. How different do you see your team now?
A: I think we’re two different football teams. I think we’ve learned how to win since then. We’ve grown together and we’ve learned a lot about each other. We just have to prepare for the game and let the game play out.
Q: What kind of challenges does Ty Montgomery present?
A: He was a big receiver coming out. A good special teams player. He’s grown nicely and developed nicely into a back for them. He’s not really a jack of all trades for them because he’s a talented player with a nice skillset from the backfield. He’s improving with protections. He’s a good player.
Q: Has Odell and the attention he gets off the field diminished what he has done on the field this year?
A: I think each and every week it’s a challenge for Odell. Teams go in and they have a good plan. Not only do they have one plan for him, but they have multiple plans throughout the course of the game. They try to disguise what they’re doing. There are a couple of different things that they like to do during the course of the game, not just one, to try and take him away.
Q: Can you talk about the impact that Mike McCarthy has had on your career?
A: We’re excited for the opportunity. To be able to play a 17th game in the league is not a given. We’re excited for the opportunity. We earned the opportunity and now we have to go out there and prepare for a big ballgame. Mike has been a tremendous influence on me, but this isn’t the time or place for that.
Q: Are you surprised at all that Aaron Rodgers was able to run the table?
A: No. As a football team, I’ve been there. They do a good job of staying steady and not reacting to what’s going on outside of the building, like a lot of good organizations. Aaron is playing at a high level and the team feeds off of him.
Q: What are your thoughts on how DRC has played for you this season?
A: I think DRC is playing tremendous football for us. I think he’s developed into a leader in the locker room. He’s playing fast and he’s playing aggressive. His ball skills showed up last week again.
Q: How important was it for him to take a reduced role but still step up and make big plays?
A: We have three starting corners, we’ve talked about that before. No one has a reduced role.
Q: What do you see since the last time you played Green Bay?
A: We went through some hard times early in the season. We stayed focused, stayed together, fought through the hard times and learned how to win.
Q: There was a report that drugs were being handed out like candy on the boat the receivers were on. Does that change your view?
A: The players were off. I’m not going to talk about players and their off time.
Q: Were you surprised by the reaction?
A: I’m not aware of it.
Q: How have they been since they’ve been back here?
A: They showed up yesterday ready to work. Had a good practice today.
Q: What do you think of the way this team has come together chemistry wise?
A: We had a lot of players and a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball. You have to give the personnel department, Jerry (Reese), a ton of credit for that. What we did, we hit the lottery in character and integrity. The guys fit together well and they enjoy seeing each other be successful. That’s a big reason why we’re playing great defense with them.
Q: What is it about Eli’s personality that helps him succeed in these types of playoff situations as he did in ’07 and ’11?
A: Eli Apple, you go back to Ohio State, he had some success in the playoff there. No, Eli Manning is a guy that is very consistent in his preparation and the way he approaches each and every week. It’s important to him. He’s steady. The rest of the team feeds off of him in that way. That’s really all you can ask for from a quarterback. Week in and week out, there is a lot on his plate and a lot he has to handle. Game plans change a lot week in and week out and defenses change. He stays consistent.
Q: Is there a timetable on JPP or is he just out here at practice for support?
A: He enjoys being around the guys. He’s a big part of this football team, whether he can dress out or not. As soon as he’s ready to come back physically, medically, we’ll take him.
Q: Robbie Gould’s experience?
A: Robbie, he’s kicked in some grey conditions. He’s handled all the elements well in his career. It’s hard to make it where he made it for all those years without being able to handle the elements. It’s good to have Robbie.
Q: Did you feel like it was necessary to talk to the receivers or was it not an issue?
A: The players were off. They showed up Tuesday and were ready to work. They had a good practice today.
Q: You’ve been on both sides of big games at Lambeau. What makes it so hard to play there as a visiting team?
A: It’s a tough place to play. It’s loud. The end zone is closed now. It makes it a little tougher to communicate. It’s a place that has a ton of tradition and a ton of history. It’s a tough place to go win. They have good players and good coaches. We have to be at our best.
Q: What are your memories of being in Green Bay?
A: It’s a great place to live.
Q: What makes it so great?
A: Green Bay is not like a lot of other organizations. It’s a great place, great family type place. A lot of similarities to the Giants and the way that they are run. Different ownership structures, obviously, but that doesn’t have anything to do with the ballgame.
Q: You said your team learned to win. How did they do that?
A: You have to go through tough times together, stick together, get hardened by some controversy at times, and you have to play through it. I think we’re a battle-tested football team.
Q: Is there a point where you realized that happened?
A: I think it happens over time. It doesn’t happen with one instance.
Q: Was there one game that was essential for that?
Q: You said this was a cold weather team. If it is single digits, do you feel that it’s an advantage for you?
A: I think we’re battle-tested and we’re ready to go handle the elements.
Q: What has Leon Hall brought at safety?
A: Leon has been great since he’s been here. Very versatile and smart player. He’s played a lot of football and he’s seen a lot of things schematically in the back end. He’s doing a nice job for us back there.
Q: What’s your message to guys that are playing in their first playoff game?
A: We’re not playing a wild card this week or the playoffs this week. We need to get ready to go play the Green Bay Packers this week. We need to focus on the preparation. It’s not about any of this other stuff. It’s about football.
Q: How important do you believe playoff experience is going into a playoff game?
A: None. Zero. We have to prepare to play a football game. That’s what we have to do. We have a game to get ready for. All this energy and other stuff doesn’t matter. We need to focus on playing the game and preparing to win the game.
Wide Receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
Q: What do you expect your emotions will be like on Sunday?
A: I expect to be very excited, very anxious. It's a situation I've never been in, something I feel like I've always dreamed of. I've had to sit back and watch playoffs the past two years since I've been in the league and even before that I was watching playoffs. I'm really excited right now. I don't want to say that I don't know what to expect, I know obviously what's at hand but...I'm just ready for it. I wish it was tomorrow, but we get some days to prepare and get ready for it.
Q: All season long you've talked about how much you want to make the playoffs. Has the feeling sunk in yet?
A: I don't think so, until I get Lambeau, that it'll really hit me. We went there earlier in the year, Sunday night game. We didn't come out and put our best foot forward, but it's truly an incredible, amazing atmosphere to play in. One of the historic places, in my opinion. I think it should be very exciting against a red-hot team, a very good team, offensively and defense, and they're just playing at a high level. Obviously, it's win or go home, so you have to put your best foot forward and that's what we plan to do.
Q: Victor Cruz said that Green Bay plays a lot of single high. You haven't seen a lot of that this year, you've seen a lot of double coverage, two high safeties. Is that something you guys could take advantage of?
A: That's what you hope for, but I don't see them playing single high, I see them going with the two high, going inside, two-man with the inside corner and the safety over the top as far as that goes. We’ve just got to find ways to get in where we fit in and everybody has just got to be on point, make plays when your number is called.
Q: You ever watched tapes of Jerry Rice in the playoffs? Tell me your recollections of that?
A: A lot of points he put up on the board. He just was in the right place at the right time. He made the plays when they needed to be made, so I've seen the highlights, I've watched them for years. Obviously, the best to ever do it and this was a time where he stepped it up even more. That's just what you have to do, you’ve got to bring your A game, you’re a-plus, actually. You've got to bring the very best that you have and you have to leave it all out there.
Q: This is where legends are made.
A: Absolutely. I'm excited about the opportunity to even be able to play in the playoffs. For me, it's like...I feel like I've talked about it for years since I've been here and it's finally here. It's not really here until Sunday, I think, or even when we take off to go to Green Bay and it all kind of will settle in. I'm just trying to hold it all together and I just don't know where I'm going to be at. I know I'm going to be very amped up and very excited.
Q: Are you going to be able to sleep on Saturday night?
A: That's usually the day I sleep the best. Throughout the week, I don't really sleep as much. Last night I was kind of tossing and turning a little bit. I'm excited man, I'm excited.
Q: We all know about your big play potential, is that ability something you see as the X factor in this game?
A: We all have to make plays and whatever it is, whenever your number is called, if it's a slant, you take it to the house; if it's a deep ball, you take it to the house. We need those big time plays and we're going to need them from everybody, so I pride myself on making plays, I pride myself on being the very best that I can be, so these plays, they all have to be made.
Each ball has to be caught, each route has to be ran precisely and you need to be where you're supposed to be when you're supposed to be there. It's all about the timing. The big plays are definitely going to help. If we come out and execute and do things the right way, we out-execute a team, I don't know if the big play's an x factor, so to say, but they definitely can't hurt you.
Q: Everyone has different motivation. Eli said he thrives off being an underdog. Where do you fit in, in that category?
A: That's kind of how it's been for me all of my life. I've always been the underdog, going into college, when you had the little rivals ratings. Even going into the league, I always felt as if I had a chip on my shoulder. I don't think it'll ever leave. That's just how I was raised, how I grew up, as the underdog. You thrive on these moments. Like Eli said, you thrive on being the underdog. You thrive on these special situations knowing that big-time players make big-time plays in big-time games, and that's what we all need to do.
Q: Do you appreciate that your life isn't ordinary?
A: Even when I was sitting here being like, 'be careful what you ask for' and stuff like that, but I wouldn't trade what I have for anything in the world. God's put me in a great position. I'm truly, truly blessed. It's life, it's ups and downs and finding ways to maintain and stay yourself throughout it all and just go with the flow and enjoy it. I genuinely feel like I try and enjoy every moment, every second of life. Tomorrow is never promised and when you walk out of this building, it's never promised. I don't want to say that I live every day like it's my last, but it's pretty close to it.
Q: What do you think about the attention the Miami trip has attracted?
A: Right now, I'm really more focused on the Packers and the Giants. Any of those questions, whenever y'all want to sit down and have a little side to side, we can do that after the playoffs.
Q: There was a report there were drugs being handed out on the boat...
A: Like I said, we're focused on the Packers and the Giants. Anything else doesn't really bother me.
Q: What's the coldest you've ever played in?
A: It's perfect football weather.
Q: When you look at the Packers secondary, there are a lot of guys out of position. Is that something you guys could take advantage of?
A: That's obviously the plan. They're, like I said, a red hot team. They've won six in a row, they had to win each and every game to get in. It's about finding the best matchup that you think you have and going at it. Like I said, we have to make plays everywhere, all across the board, offense, defense, special teams, all three groups have to come together and truly execute. One special teams play can be the difference in the game. We could’ve had a great offensive game, great defensive game and the special teams is what sets it apart. So, all three phases have to be clean.
Q: The bond between you, Victor Cruz and Sterling Shepard, you've talked about back when Sterling joined here, but what has it developed into?
A: A brotherhood. These are guys who I ride for. Right, wrong or indifferent, I'm always going to be on their side, to their defense or whatever it may be. Sterling Shepard is like a little brother to me, Victor is like the big brother to me and I'm right in the middle. I get the advice from Vic, I give the advice to Shep or vice versa. We all work together and I don't think you see that as much with receivers in just the nature of the position. This is a group that genuinely looks out and cares for each other. Not just us three, obviously Tavarres King, Dwayne Harris, everybody in that room, it's a very close room. It's a place where what we talk about in those four walls stays in there, for the most part.
Q: One of the challenges of this game, everyone is saying, is can the Giants offense do enough. Is that a challenge that you embrace?
A: Yeah. We have to come out and, like we've been saying all year, we have to put our best foot forward. We have to do more than we've been doing. The defense has done a phenomenal job all year, putting us in this position and now it's our turn. It's our turn to step up and now is a better time than ever.
Q: Why do you like pressure moments and a big spotlight, big stage?
A: I just don't know what more you would ask for. It's 4th and one, it's 1:36 left on the clock, you're down five, you need a play or you just need a first down to stay alive, but you score a touchdown. It's something about those moments, knowing you have to get it done. There's no ifs, ands or buts about it, there's no way around it, you just have to get it done. I do enjoy those moments. It's like taking the last shot, you never know if you're going to fail unless you shoot.
Q: How much has Victor Cruz meant to your career?
A: I do not know if words really do it justice, what he's done for me as far as being a big brother, teaching me the ins and outs of the game. Little does he know, I've taken a lot of stuff from his film. He's genuinely a big brother to me. A guy who's looked out for me since the night I met him after the draft and we'll always be that way. We're pretty much family for life. I wouldn't rather go into any other playoffs with these guys that I have now.
Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
Q: Any extra emotions being selected NFC Defensive Player of the Week?
A: No, just working man. Just going to work and doing my job, nothing more, nothing less.
Q: What's this season been like for you?
A: It's been fun. Just playing a lot of different positions, going out there and having fun. We've got a great group of guys; this secondary group keeps me young. A lot of funny individuals back there, and on top of that you're winning, so it's just been really fun.
Q: You've have to make a compromise; playing a different role.
A: At the end of the day, once you sit down and look at everything, you're 30 years-old, nine years in, still playing at a high level, and all that other stuff doesn't matter.
Q: Is it easier to do at this stage in your career?
A: Mentally, yeah, because you just understand the game. At the end of the day, you just have to go out there and play.
Q: When you see the results payoff with a great defense and with wins, does it make it easier to do what you do?
A: I don't look at it look that. I just look at it as going out there and playing, whether it's one play or sixty plays. Just go out there and have fun and continue to just get out there. Like I said, the group makes it easier. We have a great group of guys and being around them is fun and makes coming in every day a fun job.
Q: You said in training camp that you felt this group could be special and you were right. What made you think that in training camp?
A: I would just say, I got a good feel of the guys. We spend a lot of time off the field together. Anytime you can gel off of the field, it works for you on the field. Everybody just accepts their roles. Landon Collins did a great job, he made a great leap, great jump from one year to the next, and we just follow his suit.
Q: Has it been a challenge to switch back and forth between nickel and playing outside?
A: No man, at the end of the day, you spend your whole career outside and once you’re out there, it's just like being at home. The nickel spot was challenging, not being in there. You just got to continue to learn and just continue to grow.
Q: As far as adjusting to different positions, is this the most you've been asked to do in your career?
A: Yes sir, definitely.
Q: The need for a really good secondary going against a quarterback like this, how do you feel you guys stack up with that?
A: Aaron Rodgers' himself, you can't take nothing from him. You've got to give him credit, he makes it happen. They've definitely got some guys that have a skill set at receiver. The most important is, you've got to have eye discipline. Once you get outside that pocket, you can't be looking to see what Aaron Rodgers will do because like that (snaps) he can throw it off his back foot, 60 yards down field. It comes down to eye discipline and being focused on your man, and don't try to do anything else.
Q: And it's also about trust too, you have to trust the guy next to you?
A: Definitely. Like I said, it comes back to your eyes. You can't see what the next guy’s doing, you just got to trust and know that he's going to be there.
Q: Do you in particular have to make sure you're disciplined?
A: I'm a backfield watcher, I agree. I know with some quarterbacks you can peek a little bit more than others. This isn't a game where you really want to do that. You have stay zoned in on your man because they like to scramble, and it seems designed for them to move around when he (Rodgers) scrambles so you have to be focused.
Q: Is this a secondary that can look at a team and say, ‘Okay they have good receivers, but we can shut them down?’
A: I think we can line up with pretty much anybody. I think we've got a group of guys who go out there and play hard and continue to play no matter who's on the other side. You just go out there and do your job.
Q: The Packers are a little bit different in the sense that they don't have a Dez Bryant type of guy.
A: They've got a Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, all of them playing at a high level. I think Jordy's got 14 touchdowns, (Davante) Adam’s got 12. They're producing, and they've got a quarterback that can get it to them from anywhere, from any angle. You think he's running this way and he'll throw it that way. They work well together.
Q: Have you ever seen a defense improve so drastically from one year to the next?
A: No, sir. You go from 32 to top 10 defense. You don't see that too often. They definitely added some good pieces, had a good draft class and we gel together. We came in, we started working at OTA's and everybody came on board and stuck to the script.
Q: Do you still feel like you can keep up physically with the young guys?
A: No question. Line anyone of them up. In the weight room, any one of them.
Q: Who are the top five fastest guys on the team if you could have a race?
A: Me, Odell, Tavarres King, Janoris Jenkins and Eli Apple.
Q: How would you finish?
Q: You were the guy that was here when Eli Apple and (Janoris) Jenkins came in, why did you accept them so easily?
A: I know Janoris just from watching him, I know his style of play. I know he can make it happen. Apple just came in as a young guy asking all the questions and found him looking at me and Janoris and just copying, mimicking some of the stuff we do. He's a guy that really wants to learn and he's learning and excelling.
Q: Do you guys have a motto or something in the secondary?
A: They call us the NYPD. I just go with what they go with.
Q: When you guys played Green Bay in week five, seemed like you guys came out in the second half and shut down their offense. What did you change?
A: Nothing really. Once coach comes in there and you go over the adjustments and understand what the teams is doing to you, you have a better understanding of going back out there in the second half and just continuing to play.
Q: How do you defend Rodgers when he's running all over the place?
A: It's hard. You just have to pressure your guy. Where you guy is, you go with him. You can't look back to see what Rodgers is doing, you just have to trust that the D line is getting out there early and running them down.
Q: Who calls you the NYPD?
A: Landon Collins. I don't know if he came up with it, but that’s what it is.
Q: You were not at full strength against the Packers. How would you characterize how you were in that game?
A: I was banged up. If I'm on the field, I'm playing.
Q: Could you go over your interceptions from Sunday?
A: I don't even remember to be honest.
Q: The one deep in your territory, sideline route, you cut in front of the guy?
A: Oh yeah, he slipped down and I just saw the path to the ball. That was kind of a gimme. The other one, as I was looking back, I saw Cousins see that Garcon had a step on me, so I knew in my head he was going to try to fit it in so I waited a little bit until I saw his arm release and I just hit that gear.
Q: Are you guys doing anything differently to prepare for the weather?
A: The got the AC on. I don't know how much that's going to help, but it's making us cold around here.
S Landon Collins
Q: Landon, what do you like about this football team that you’re going into battle with this weekend?
A: Oh man, the energy and tenacity that ever guy has. The spirit that you can feel that each player is driven and ready to play the game.
Q: Where is the confidence level?
A: I want to say through the roof. I can’t speak too much for the offensive side because I don’t know, but when I’m watching practice their catching every ball, their running full speed trying to change their routes and stuff like that. Were all in and paying attention to key details.
Q: When you look at the Packers game from back in December to today, what is the biggest difference their offense has made?
A: They rely more on their pass game because all of their running backs have been down so far. That is the biggest change we have seen, a lot less running. Concept wise their passing game has been the same, just more passes.
Q: Facing Aaron Rodgers and his escape ability, being a defensive player knowing that once he gets out of the pocket it’s a whole new ball game. As a defender, how difficult is it for you having to face a guy like that who has that mobility?
A: As a defender, it’s difficult at times, but as long as you’re doing your job and as a safety if you’re keeping everybody in front of you. If he throws it up and he usually throws it across the field all over the place, so you usually can make a play on the ball and make sure their not catching the ball and stuff like that. It’s definitely difficult because you don’t know if he’s going to take off or what he sees because you’re not in his eyes and really just trying to play the field.
Q: He’s playing as well as anyone in the league right now, are you guys looking forward to trying to slow him down or are you kind of like wow he might be a little too good right now?
A: Yeah were trying to slow him down. That’s the job. We try to get him uncomfortable and try to take advantage of it. That’s the biggest key keeping him contained and keeping him inside the pocket so he doesn’t have the chance to move the sticks and make the big plays down the field.
Q: Does it amaze you that weeks ago, Aaron was apparently on the decline of his career and washed up?
A: No, that’s a future Hall of Fame quarterback. Everybody has their down games and everybody has their issues. They had a lot of guys down prior, and they found ways to get back into it. He proved everybody wrong.
Q: You mentioned before how the Packers are running less but they have found a bit of a diamond in the rough in their running game in Ty Montgomery a former receiver turned running back. How much of a challenge is it to defend a running back knowing that he’s not even technically a running back?
A: You hit him. At the end of the day he’s a receiver and receivers don’t like to be touched. You got big guys in there, linebackers, and defensive backs that like to hit, so he’s going to have to suck it up if he’s going to touch the ball.
Q: We were just talking with DRC and he said that you call the secondary the NYPD, did you come up with that?
A: No I didn’t come up with that, the fans actually came up with that. We were trying to figure out what to call our group and they came up with that but we stuck to it. Coach Walton is really the one that brings the name up all the times so we stuck with it so we call ourselves the NYPD.
Q. What’s the meaning, is it because you shot every down or…?
A. Really, it started with Jackrabbit because he shuts the best receivers down ever since we started playing each and every game. From that point on, we’ve been trying to keep the quarterback from throwing for 300 plus yards.
Q. Do you like it?
A. It’s cool, yeah I like it.
Q. It’s going to be, they say, 9 degrees there. It’s probably going to feel a little bit colder. How do you prepare for the cold weather and how do you think that’s going to factor?
A. Right here, we keep this dome pretty cold. I know some of you felt it when you walked in. We also practice outside a lot, so just practicing in that environment and thinking about playing in it. You keep yourself warm and trying to find ways to keep warm and having that mindset and not worrying about playing in the cold weather.
Q. You got a chance to partake in another type of playoff in college while partaking in Alabama’s active dynasty. Do you think that gives you an advantage in preparing for this type of playoff now?
A. I would say definitely, the way we went mentally throughout that program. I would say it was a little tougher then because with (Nick) Saban we were going full pads the whole time. We had the shoulder pads on for at least three days throughout that week. Mentally, it definitely prepared me for that and this situation.
Q. Talking about Alabama, you not only had a big year but so did Ha-Ha Clinton Dix, are you guys close?
A. Yea, we’re very close. We’re like brothers. That’s my boy. We train together and almost do everything together. We have the same agent. We do everything, that’s my boy.
WR Victor Cruz
Q: What do you remember about your first playoff game?
A: My first playoff game I remember being extremely nervous and not knowing what to expect. I had the luxury of playing my first playoff game right here at home so that made it a little bit easier. I still remember being nervous and kind of having the jitters. Once that ball is kicked off and you start playing some football, you’re good to go.
Q: What has your advice been to some of your younger guys that have never experienced this?
A: Just relax. The moment can be hyped, and it can get you excited. There could be a lot running through your mind in that specific moment. Just relax and let the game come to you. Take it for what it’s worth, enjoy the moment, but understand what you need to do so we can continue to have that feeling week in and week out.
Q: Is it calming that a guy like Eli Manning has done what he’s done in the playoffs?
A: 100 percent. Having a guy like Eli is exactly what you want, and exactly what you look for in a team that wants to make a deep run. Having him at the helm, understanding what this is all about, and being in this position before can definitely give us an advantage, at least for the younger guys to look up to him and for us to have that much more confidence in our guys.
Q: You’re one of six leftovers from the last playoff team. Have the other guys come to you for advice?
A: Not necessarily, but I did tell them that it is different. That the energy is different in these games. Just in passing, not in a big hoopla crowd. As I’m talking to them as the days go on, I’m just letting them know that energy and the mode in the playoffs is different. Just understand that going into the game and not be surprised by it going into the game.
Q: Back in 2011; can you talk about how special and how important that game was? You had a lot going on in your life, with having a kid and stuff, and can you talk about how far you’ve come?
A: Her birthday is on Monday. She’ll be five. So she wasn’t even born yet. That in itself shows how much time flies, and how much things change over a period of time. My mode then was just trying to figure it out, trying to get through it, and trying to understand what the playoffs with the Giants is all about. Now, it’s a little different. Having played in a couple of playoff games and having won a Super Bowl, you understand what it’s like. You just have to remind yourself when you get out on the field. The moment and that feeling is pretty special.
Q: What’s your reaction, to our reaction, on your off-day festivities in Florida?
A: Not surprised. Let’s move along. It’s all about Green Bay now. We’re already a couple of days removed from that. Green Bay is the focus.
Q: What about the weather?
A: Who cares. It’s a playoff game. We don’t care about the weather. We’re going out there to play a football game and to win. Keep our chances of winning a Super Bowl alive. The weather isn’t anything we’re concerned about.
Q: With all those distractions around Odell, and all the attention that he gets, for him to go out and perform and have another great year, what does it say about him?
A: It shows a lot. We’re literally seeing this kid grow in front of our eyes. For me as a teammate, its something that is fun to watch. It’s fun to see him hold it down and continue to produce week in and week out. It’s something that I’ve helped him with, whether it’s just saying words to him or talking to him about what is expected of him, and how I view him. It’s something that has been very fun to watch and it’s only going to get better.
Q: Has he asked you anything in particular?
A: Nothing I can share with you.
Q: You mentioned Odell learning from you, but you also have a few rookies offensively, like Sterling Shepard and Paul Perkins, that are really producing. What have you taught them and how proud does it make you to see them succeed in the field?
A: It makes me feel great. Obviously for Perkins, he’s a guy that has fought tooth and nail week in and week out for a chance to play. He’s done his due diligence doing the scout team work and all the things that you ask a guy to pay his dues to get on that field. Sterling has just been phenomenal.
He just understands how to play football and is getting better week to week. He asks a bunch of questions as well. He just wants to ask and learn and learn. I’m the same way. I ask those guys, whether it be visually seeing what they’re doing on the field, and taking little things from them. I’m sure it’s vice versa. Obviously, both of those guys we’re going need to make a stretch here in these playoffs. I’m excited to have those guys playing at a high-level.
Q: Have you given any thought about this being your last game with the Giants?
A: Not at all.
Q: When you look at the Packers secondary, what do you see on film?
A: We just see, due to some injuries, some guys that aren’t playing their natural position. Just some guys that are trying to figure it out and get through games. Get through in a sound way. Get through their defense and make plays. Obviously we see that. As an offense, we want to do some things to combat that, and make sure that we are prepared for whatever they throw at us and whatever guys cover us that we are able to win our one-on-one battle.
Q: Is that something you can take advantage of? Those guys playing out of their position?
A: Of course. Any time guys are playing a position that they aren’t necessarily used to, it’s definitely something that you want to look at to get a leg up on the opponent. Those guys get paid to play too, so we understand that. We just want to be able to pick our spots and be successful.
Q: What’s the biggest difference that you can tell in the Packers defense from when you faced them last?
A: Just personnel. Obviously, due to some injuries they have some different guys in there. They’re playing the same thing. When they played the Lions they played a lot of single-high and a lot of press man. Stuff like that. We’ll see if they keep that up with us. For the most part, they’re the same cover-two team that we saw when we saw them earlier this season.
Q: It’s been a season of milestones for you coming back. Is that going to be the feeling when you step on the field on Sunday, that you’re back in the playoffs after being away for so long?
A: Absolutely. It’s going to be a moment for me that I’ll cherish forever. This entire year and entire season was trying to do the impossible. Do all the things that all the guys out there, and all the people that have microphones and have these newspapers and things like that, write about how hard it was going to be for me to come back or potentially how hard it was going to be for me to come back.
To play 15 games this year, and now into the postseason, and continue to play at a high level and still be healthy and ready to go, I think it says a lot about not only my teammates, myself, and my coaching staff that have the belief in me; but my work ethic and all the hard work that I put in this game. Now, I just want to continue to do what I’m supposed to do and win another Super Bowl.
Q: Do you see any similarities in this team that you saw in the 2011 team that won a title?
A: Absolutely. For the most part, obviously talent-wise it’s all there, but the biggest thing for me is the comradery. The friendships on this team go beyond football. It’s not just what you see on the practice field. I think it goes off the field and it will live for years to come. I think that’s the biggest thing that I can relate the 2011 team.
Q: There was a report that there were drugs on this boat in a video. Could you set the record straight for us?
A: I’m just here to talk about the Green Bay Packers and the matchup that we have coming up this week. That’s the only thing I’m worried about.
Q: Coach McAdoo was talking about that this is a different Giants team heading into Lambeau now, then earlier this year. Do you agree with that?
A: I do. I think we’re battle-tested. I think we’ve been through some things after that game that really set the standard and the focus for this team. I think that’s one of the biggest things for us going into the game. Understanding that we’ve been through some wars and now we’re ready to go.
Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy
Q: How do you think Ben McAdoo has done in his first season as a head coach and are you proud of him?
A: Well, I think it is obvious that he has done a great job. Your first year is -- I don’t care how well you prepare or how well you think you are, there are always things that come up that there is really nothing to point to. Situations arise and it’s not like there is a handbook sitting on your desk where you just look it up in Chapter Six, so I think he has done a great job navigating the challenges of the first year as a head coach. Personally, yeah, I am very proud of him and what he has done and you want to see your friends be successful and so forth. But you have to realize what this is all about, it is about the Packers and the Giants in the playoffs. But yeah, I think he has done a great job, especially for it being his first year, and it is no surprise to any of us or anybody who has known Ben over the years. He has prepared himself for everything.
Q: Do you think his knowledge of Aaron Rodgers works to his advantage in a game like this?
A: That is really a question for Ben. I think that we have all gone through situations where you move on or may have an experience or an assistant coach has an experience. We are a little different, our coaching staff here because we have a lot of continuity on our staff. But that is really a question for Ben.
Q: What happened from 4-6 to 10-6? Did things just click? Did you get some players back?
A: I think that winning is never just one thing and no different when you are not winning, so it is a combination of things you mentioned in your question. We obviously were not very healthy during that stretch, we are a little healthier now, and like a lot of things, too, you know that injuries are part of the game, You would like them to be spread out a little more through the positions.
We just got into a situation where our corners, all of our cornerbacks were hurt and then all of our running backs were hurt, so we just had some positions that were really under siege and I thought that our players and coaches did a great job of pushing through that time period. We got that first win in Philadelphia and we just kept going and building off of that.
Q: You have seen Eli Manning twice now in playoff games. Is he a different player in the postseason and, in particular, what do you remember about that game after the ‘07 season when it was so cold there?
A: It was cold and did not turn out the way it was supposed to. He played very well and he has played very well here and, obviously, what they did as a team, they finished and won a Super Bowl in both those years. I think that like a lot of things, we are focused on Eli and the Giants and the offense that he is in and particularly the tape this year. We have watched all the tape, but it has all been 2016 tape.
Q: Is there something to quarterbacks raising their game in January and do you think he is one of those guys?
A: Well, if you look at his history, it would definitely point to that. Yeah, I think that is definitely a characteristic that Eli has demonstrated throughout his career.
Q: What have you seen from the Giants defense on tape this year and how much better do they look now as opposed to when you saw them in Week 5?
A: I think they are much better now than they were in Week 5. Obviously, they added a number of players to the defense, so excellent front both in the run and the pass rush, and they have a very talented secondary. Steve (Spagnuolo) has done a great job and always challenges you schematically and they are aggressive and I think you don’t have to go very far. You just look at their statistics and the statistics definitely line up with the video, so very impressive video.
Q: Is the fact that you have lost twice to the Giants in the postseason in the back of your mind going into this game or are you just focused on the task ahead?
A: Well, I am just focused on the team that we played earlier in the year and focused on the team that we are going to be on Sunday. Packers QB Aaron Rodgers
Q: What is the biggest key for you guys in this game to move the ball on the Giants defense?
A: Well, probably converting third downs. We had a good season, a good percentage, and so did they. I think they were Top 3, and so were we in third downs. So that is going to be the key, staying in manageable third downs and then converting. They do a good job of being stout up front, giving you some tough situations yardage-wise and they have a real nice pressure package. They have done a good job of that the last few weeks, especially, and obviously they cover really well.
Q: We talked to Ben McAdoo earlier this week and he said that although you two worked together for a number of years, he didn’t have any kryptonite, so to speak. Do you find it challenging going up against a coach who knows you so well?
A: Yeah, but Ben has not been here in a few years. Things change. Every single year you are adjusting, you are adapting, trying to evolve as a player and obviously your offense evolves along with it based on your personnel. Obviously, you have to be aware of self-scout, regardless of who the opponent is. But Ben was a great coach here and I got to work with him a couple years directly and had a lot of fun with him and we will definitely make sure that our self-scout is in order.
Q: You faced Eli once in the playoffs and saw him in another game in the playoffs at Lambeau. When you face a quarterback that has won a couple Super Bowls and plays well in the playoffs, what are your thoughts going into a game like this?
A: Yeah, I have a lot of respect for Eli and what he has accomplished, but I am more focused on their defense and how we are going to try and move the ball against them and block them up and run routes to win against their good secondary.
Q: What have you seen from the defense on tape and what do you think is the biggest difference on tape between the last couple of weeks and what you saw in Week 5?
A: Well, I think Landon is playing at a Pro Bowl, All Pro type level. He has had a great season. We played him earlier in the year, and as a young player, you just continue to get better as the experience mounts for you, so he has been playing really well. Janoris has had a great season for them. Having Rodgers-Cromartie with the big effort he had the last time we played them, both he and Eli (Apple) were banged up and both tried to gut it out. I think Eli ended up coming out, but Dominique was definitely dealing with an injury and playing through it, so those guys being healthy obviously helps their secondary even more and they are big time playmakers and cover guys, so I think that is the biggest thing that you have to be aware of.
Q: At 4-6, you said that you thought that your team could run the table. What had you seen at that point that gave you that kind of confidence and what would happen from that point forward?
A: It was more a feeling. It was more of a feeling that we could get things going if we just got that first one and knowing maybe that we needed just a little jolt of confidence in that moment that maybe if the guys knew that I believed it was possible, then they might start believing as well. We all stuck together and there wasn’t any splintering in the locker room or in the media or unnamed sources or any of that garbage. We just stuck together and won a big game against Philly at Philly and started that run, took care of our games at home and won a big game in the division on the road.
Q: Have you stayed in touch with Ben in the couple of years that he has been here?
A: A little bit, yeah. We have sent a couple text messages back and forth. I love Ben, man. I enjoyed working with him. He is a fun guy to be around and one of my favorite things is when you watch him on the TV copy and they show the kids in the crowd. Last week, especially, when they showed the kid wearing the Ben outfit with the mustache. I absolutely loved that. Ben is a character, man.
Q: Any communication between the two of you this week?
A: No, probably not.
Q: I know it was a couple years ago, but is the fact that the Giants knocked you out in 2011 going to be in the back of your mind during this game?
A: No, that was a number of years ago. I think that was five years ago now. We aren’t playing the 2011 Giants. We are playing the 2016 Giants, so that is what we are focused on.
Q: What about the conditions expected for the game?
A: Well, I think that both teams are fine playing in the cold weather. Obviously we have had a number of cold weather games here down the stretch. It definitely is a wrinkle. It just puts a premium on ball security when the weather gets cold and if there is any type of precipitation and wind. We have had it all this season weather-wise with wind and snow and really chilly temperatures, and I am sure that they have gone through their own stuff with weather as well, so it definitely won’t be an excuse for either side.
Q: Do you prepare any differently based on the weather?
A: Not really with the cold. With rain or high winds, you definitely will prepare a little bit differently. But just the cold, no. We have had success throwing the ball in the cold over the years and we do a good job dealing with it.
Q: Do you practice in the fieldhouse during this time of the year or do you take it outside?
A: We do both. We practice indoors for part of the practice and we go outside for part of the practice as well, just to make sure that we are catching it, throwing it and moving around in the environment.
Q: Earlier in the season when you guys were struggling and you weren’t playing as well, there started to be some whispers about if you had reached the point your career where there would be a downside. Then you end up leading the league in touchdown passes. What were your thoughts when you started hearing that stuff?
A: I would say that it was a little premature. As we have seen now that those comments are gone and those few, same people who get excited for stories like that haven’t asked for any interview requests lately.