Coach Tom Coughlin
Q: How is Victor doing? Is it still the concussion?
A: No. He went for a second opinion and perhaps we’ll have something for you this afternoon.
Q: Second opinion on the knee?
Q: Has the concussion cleared up?
A: I really haven’t seen him today.
Q: Is the knee the more pressing issue versus the concussion?
A: No. He’d have to pass all the tests. But as I said, maybe we’ll have something for you this afternoon.
Q: He went in the city for the second opinion?
A: Let the medical people tell you that. He has one opinion and then he went for a second opinion.
Q: Is Diehl getting any better?
A: I think so. I think he’ll work tomorrow. Brewer worked today, which was good.
Q: How is Peyton Hillis coming along?
A: Not very good. He still has issues.
Q: Is it going to help Justin Pugh significantly with all the playing time you’ve been able to give him?
A: I hope so. That’s something that should be a tremendous asset to him and us going forward.
Q: If Hillis can’t go on Sunday, you’re down to two running backs and a fullback. Does that change anything that you might be planning to do?
A: I don’t think so, but we’ll see.
Q: Do you still have any eligibility?
A: I never was good enough, and I doubt if I am now. Thank you for asking.
Q: What have you seen from Andre Brown in terms of his perseverance and all he’s been through?
A: That has been a huge plus for him to come back like he did. Obviously he made his mark a couple of weeks ago and certainly we’d like to have more. Obviously not all his doing, but nevertheless, we’ve got two games to go and I’m expecting him to do well.
Q: Has Justin Pugh been a bright spot for you?
A: He has. Yeah. As I try to say every time I get asked this question, he gets a little bit better every week. Last week wasn’t as good as you would like, but nevertheless with the experience he’s gained and his determination, his focus… He’s a football guy. He’s in there grinding.
Q: Eli’s consecutive game streak is at 150 now. What do you attribute that to?
A: Toughness, mental toughness, desire, competitiveness. He’s a tough guy. He’s played through an awful lot of things. If you remember earlier in his career, one time it was his shoulder. I didn’t know if he could even throw and, boom, by the end of the week he’s… He’s done a great job with that.
Q: Is Adrien Robinson close to being active on game day?
A: Maybe. He’s had a couple of good weeks of practice.
Q: When you’re in a situation where you’re out of the playoffs and playing a team that is still in the race, is there a responsibility to other teams to play your best?
A: I think there’s a responsibility to our team to play your best, be your best. There always is. That’s what we’re in this business for, to do the very best we can and not listen to what people tell you about why you’re playing and the questions that you get asked in this situation. It’s our responsibility to play as well as we can, the competitiveness of it, the pride that goes with it, what kind of statement do you make as a man in terms of you living up to your responsibilities and the example you set for others. There’s an awful lot to play for.
Q: Do you embrace the role as spoiler at all?
A: I just want to play as well as we can play. We have two games to go and it would be wonderful to be in a position to win two games.
Q: Eli said yesterday that winning these two games might be able to erase some of the bad memories of this year.
A: Well, you’re always going to have the issues that took place this year, but it certainly helps going into the offseason, I’ll tell you that one. I don’t have to remind you back a few years.
OC Kevin Gilbride
Q: Eli’s been getting a lot of the blame for what has been happening, but how much of it boils down to Eli in this offense?
A: As we’ve said many times, it doesn’t matter who is being blamed. The bottom line is that we all have to do better. He’s doing the best he can. Could he perform better in some cases? Sure. Could the line perform better? Sure. Could the receivers perform better? Sure. Could I have called some plays differently that would have helped them out? Yeah. We’re all contributors to this thing, just like when we have success, we’re all part of the reason for the success. I always feel badly because certain positions always get singled out because everybody is always looking to assign the blame. It’s not as simple as that. It comes down to, on one play someone could have done a little bit better, on the next play somebody else could have done a little bit better. The bottom line is that we have to do well enough to win a game.
Q: Could you talk about Jernigan and the game that he had last week?
Q: I thought he came in and did a terrific job for not really having a lot of opportunities to play as much as he did. After Victor got hurt he came in and showed the quickness that we always knew he had and I thought he made great decisions in the zone coverages. He obviously can run after the catch, which we tried to exploit and take advantage of. Some of the those things where we throw a ball underneath and let him catch it and run, that can offset the pass rush that they had and then you got an example to see his toughness when they unloaded on him with just about as hard a hit as you can hit anybody. He not only didn’t go down, but he turned around and spun, got an extra five or six yards. It was great to see him play like that. We’ve been kind of waiting and feeling that he has that ability and just anxious to see it come out, and manifest itself the way it did was very encouraging.
Q: Moving forward, is he going to step in for Victor in the slot?
A: Yeah. He’ll definitely be the guy. He’s the one that most closely embodies the qualities you’re looking for in the slot position, the quickness, the toughness, and you just hope the things that come up each and every game – it’s a little different; he hasn’t been through them as much as Victor -- but that he’ll react and respond to the different coverage disguises in there. As I mentioned many times, outside, you have a corner, maybe a corner and a safety. Inside, you have a nickel, you have a linebacker, you have a safety. You have a lot more variables that come into the equation. To be able to respond with the speed that you have to react is a lot more challenging inside. There’s no question there’s a lot more opportunities inside, but there’s also a lot more things that can alter or modify what you’re being confronted with defensively. To see him react and respond accurately, as intelligently as he did, as well as make the physical plays he did was good to see. This week will be another challenge for him.
Q: What’s the option behind him?
A: I don’t know. You got any eligibility? We’re looking for guys. We have other guys we’ll move in, we’re just not identifying them right now. Not that it means that much of a deal, but we’ve got other receivers that we certainly rehearse for just that occasion, if that happens. As much as he’s had limited opportunities, experience, and exposure to get in there, those other guys have had even less. It’s difficult, but it’s what we’ve had to contend with all season long in different positions. It’s just part of the job of trying to get whoever’s up and ready, as physically able to go, as prepared as you possibly can and give them a plan that gives them the best possible chance to be successful.
Q: You guys have had injuries before, but this year with where the injuries are, has it been more problematic for you than some of the others?
A: Obviously it has affected us more. I haven’t counted them up this season, numbers-wise, but sometimes you get overladen with one position. We certainly have been beaten up a little bit in a couple positions that made it hard to get it going. You just keep on swinging, you keep on preparing, you keep on working as hard as you can and you hope you’ve done enough to give your guys the preparation and the encouragement and the plan that they can go out and have a chance to be successful.
Q: In the situation at running back, you may not have Hillis this week, how confident are you in where Michael Cox is?
A: We’ve had six guys start at that spot, so it’s not something new. I’m as confident as you can be. We’ve been bringing him along, he’s been working at it. He’s certainly made progress until you put him out on game day and ask him to do extensive work, but we started him, I forget when it was, but it was probably about six weeks ago. He’s had a chance to play some, in a prominent role, and he did a very good job when he had that chance. You obviously would like to have your starters. You deal with the hand you’ve been dealt, and I think he’ll give you as much as he has. He’ll give you the toughness he showed in the games that he started. He’ll give you the speed if there’s an opening there. Everything’s new and he’s trying to learn as best as he can. He has certainly developed a little bit, but would you rather have your starters come in? Sure. I think he’ll do a good job.
Q: What can you say about their front four’s ability to get to the quarterback, as well as stop the run?
A: You’re trying to make this as difficult (…). They’re good. We faced a terrific front last week that could rotate eight or nine guys and have a totally different flavor to them. They’re going to have the same guys in more often. Their line coach likes to make mass substitution changes, but you have two of the best defensive tackles in the league and they’re a physical presence that you have to deal with. Like in any game, how do you help the guys where the matchups are going to be challenging and most challenging for your team? You try to slide and double as best as you can, just like you do with your tight ends and your receivers. What do you do to give your guys the best chance, and then the problem is they have a couple of ends who are rushing up the field and are very effective. If they can get your quarterback to step up, you have those two monsters upfront that are pushing the pile back. There’s a reason people haven’t run the ball very well. There’s a reason they get after people very well with their front. They’re good.
Q: Despite the interceptions, does your confidence in Eli, the way you call the plays, is that exactly the same as it’s been?
A: Yeah. It’s the confidence, it’s the team. What can your team do? That’s what I don’t know that everybody understands. You have to compensate for a lot of things. You’re adjusting for a lot of things. The one guy that I know, if time presents itself, that will put the ball to the right person, will be Eli, so I don’t worry about that. It’s the other things. Can you win outside when it’s one on one? Can I hold up long enough to throw it down the field? Do I have to move the pocket? You’re constantly adjusting and trying to adapt to whatever it is you have to do. It’s not like defense. In defense, if one guy beats a block, he can go and compensate for everybody. Here, all eleven guys have to play well enough to give the guy who has the ball the chance to perform, to function, at a high enough efficiency level. Trust me, Eli is going to be prepared. He’ll know exactly what to do. He’ll try to do whatever he can, but we all have to do our part too.
Q: Does it mean anything to you that Tom Coughlin and Eli have kind of expressed confidence in you, despite the difficulties of the season?
A: I certainly appreciate it and that’s great. I think they know that we’ve performed in a lot of games for 25 years, doing what we’ve done. All I care about is now. What are we doing now and the struggles that we have now. What can I do to help this team succeed, that’s my only focus.
Q: You’ve been in the game a long time. Have you had a season like this with the injuries and where they are?
A: Again, I don’t know numbers-wise, but it’s been a challenge, there’s no question about that. It’s been difficult. It’s part of the thing going into this thing, knowing that you want to compete, you want to beat the challenges that you’ve been dealt. Sometimes it’s the quality of the opponent, sometimes it’s the injury factor, sometimes it’s the situation in a game, or the situation you find yourself in, in a season. This one, there’s no question that has been a factor in our play and we just keep trying to do whatever it is we can do to adjust, so we can give our guys a chance this Sunday to win this game.
Re: The significance of the role of injuries in the performance this season
A: That sounds like an excuse. You don’t have to be too intelligent to figure that one out.
DC Perry Fewell
Q: What are the challenges of facing Calvin Johnson?
A: He’s tall. He’s got great hands. He runs good routes and so you really have to be on your game and even if you’re on your game, he’s just capable of making the difficult catch. It’s one of the tougher challenges that we face this season because just of his skill level and his ability to break the game open.
Q: You’ve got a pretty big cornerback in Prince Amukamara and not so big cornerbacks in Jayron Hosley and Trumaine McBride, if he can play. You typically don’t matchup. Is that no good?
A: I’m not saying it’s not good. The problem… He lines up in a lot of different spots and I think that’s smart on Detroit’s part. He lines up at the number one, number two, number three and so to try to follow a guy around and match your coverages and stuff like that against a guy that lines up in multiple positions is a very difficult thing to do. So obviously we’ll have a plan of what we’d like to do, but they do a good job of moving him around in different spots on the field.
Q: Multiple guys are going to have to deal with him.
A: Yes. That’s the real challenge they present to you because of the multiple places that they move him on the field.
Q: Did the Eagles and Ravens both play him over the top using a lot of double teams?
A: The Ravens put (Jimmy) Smith on him. They may have played a lot of man against him and I saw Smith on him a lot. Sometimes he had people over the top. Sometimes he didn’t. Sometimes when he went inside Smith wasn’t on him, so they used some different combinations, but Smith was on him for the Ravens a large portion of the time. I can’t speak for the Eagles because that was a snow game and I couldn’t make out who was on the field in that game, so that game was not very helpful to us when we watched that.
Q: They have a lot of turnovers. Is that something you guys feel like you can take advantage of?
A: We’d love to. You’ve got to put your offense in positions and we’ve got to score on defense a little bit and we’ve got to do some things to generate some turnovers obviously and we hope it’s an opportunistic day for us from that perspective.
Q: Did you talk to some of the defensive guys this week about not getting down? Some of the guys were frustrated.
A: When you say getting down, no. Again, this group is a pretty resilient group. Obviously I think guys get frustrated. We’re human. Everybody gets frustrated, but when we assembled again on Wednesday, they were ready, they wanted to know what the plan was and they were looking forward to this next challenge and they were looking forward to ‘let’s win this next football game.’ So I didn’t have to address that or I didn’t talk to them about that or anything like that. It is what it is and they came ready to work again this Wednesday, so I was okay.
Q: Do you get frustrated by that when your defense puts out a good effort?
A: No. There have been plenty of times when we didn’t play very good and our offense has bailed our (ass) out and I was loving on them and thanking them for that. It’s a team game. We all work together. Some days we’re going to have good days and some days we’re going to have bad days. If Seattle wouldn’t have scored then it would have been a tie game and we’d be sitting here with a different result. We had some work that we left out there, too.
Q: How much growth have you seen in Johnathan Hankins?
A: I got on him this week. I don’t want growth that way because he’s going home and he’s 318. I asked him what we were having for dinner because he’s from Detroit, but he’s come on. He’s been a solid guy. I think our defensive tackles have played well for us this year and once we got Johnathan active and he was able to accumulate more snaps, he’s been a solid, steady guy in there for us. Obviously, we’ll look to do more things with him as he continues to get older and grows. I think you have a big body that has a lot of energy. He played with good energy last week. He had a couple of plays in there last week that made you go, ‘wow, I didn’t know you could do that.’ We knew he could do it, but he brought it to the forefront against really good competition. He’s steadily gotten a little better each week and he’s gotten more plays each week.
Q: This year you faced the top seven rushers in the league and not one of them has come close to 100 yards. Is that almost like night and day from last year?
A: Inside, we’re better. Our tackles have been good. Linval Joseph, Cullen Jenkins, Hank, Mike Patterson, those guys have been really good inside and that’s helped us tremendously in the run game. With the addition of Jon Beason, he’s a very smart football player. We keep saying to you guys that he’s been a voice for us, he’s brought some good stuff to us, so that has been really good for us. We’ve tackled well throughout the season. If we can keep that combination going for the next two weeks, our run defense is improving, as it is night and day.
Q: You’ve had a lot of moving parts. Linval has not been a moving part. How do you assess what he’s done in these 14 games?
A: You don’t miss a guy like Linval until he’s not in there because he’s steady. He doesn’t get a lot of press, he doesn’t get a lot of attention, but he’s always there. He’s solid each week. He did a good job in rushing the passer last week, too. He pushed the pocket, we asked him to push the pocket and get in the face of the quarterback last week, and I thought he did some of that. He’s one of those guys that’s kind of underappreciated, that you don’t talk a whole lot about, but if he’s not there, there’s that big void.
Q: You say you asked him to push the pocket last week. Is that something you don’t ask him to do normally as much?
A: Sometimes we have games and things like that going on, so we have different approaches versus different quarterbacks. For instance, last week we felt like the quarterback couldn’t see as well over the top because of his height so we wanted to push the pocket a little bit more. Some quarterbacks, like a Romo, he wants to get outside, so we ask them to do different things to contain the quarterback outside. There are just different little plans that you have, that you emphasize more than others. It’s a base fundamental, you always want to push the pocket, but sometimes you have little plans for quarterbacks based upon what you see on tape.
Q: One of those little plans seemed to involve Ryan Mundy. Were you impressed with what he was able to do? It seemed like he confused Russell Wilson, at least a little bit?
A: We think Ryan played well for us last week. We’ve been trying to find a way to get him active again, and I thought he not only played well in the pass game, but also in the run game. I thought he was very physical in the football game and he brought another physical presence that helped us in the run game.
Special Teams Coordinator Tom Quinn
Q: With all the injuries on the team right now, how does that affect your part of practice? There are obviously not a lot of bodies to go around at the moment.
A: No there’s not, so you’ve got to be smart with the reps. We’ve got some new guys to work with, but they’re guys that have been in the meetings, that have been on the team for quite a bit of time, so it’s kind of exciting to see what they can do because obviously they’ve shown enough in practice and so hopefully they can still show the same thing in the game.
Q: A couple of your return guys like Michael Cox and Jerrel Jernigan might have to have more of a role in the offense this week. Would that change their role and would you have to get somebody else back in there on the return just in case?
A: We don’t have a whole bunch… We’ve got the same numbers, but a lot of those guys are going to have an increased playing time with Rueben, Michael Cox and (Jerrel Jernigan) so it’s going to be a committee, but there’s not a bunch of guys you’re going to bring in that are going to do that.
Q: Is there a reason why you liked Jernigan back at kick return last week?
A: I like his run skills. He held on to the ball, which was an improvement, and he ran hard. We just missed a couple of blocks off the edge or outside. I thought he could have had a few more yards. He did have one last return and we do like his running style.
Q: Is their returner Jeremy Ross that good?
A: He is very good. A kid from Cal. He comes into this half foot of snow or foot of snow or whatever it was. It looked like a lot on tape and he did exceptionally well, but he’s a guy that we’ve seen when he was at Green Bay and I saw him when he was coming out of college. He’s strong and he’s very explosive and he’s got excellent speed, so he is a challenge. He’s really done well for them and really has helped their return game.
CB Terrell Thomas
Q: When you look around do you look at a place that needs some changing or do you think that stability can lead to the next title run?
A: I think a little bit of both. I think we had a little change this year and I think that’s why we struggled a little bit. We had a bunch of younger guys and a bunch of injuries so a lot of young guys had to step up. Maybe they weren’t ready but change can be good but also change can be bad as well. I’m pretty sure our front office does a great job of putting in the right people in the position. At the same time we’ve got a lot of people just coming up on contract so it’s going to be interesting to see what happens this year.
Q: How did you hold up your first year back?
A: I did pretty well. It’s been a struggle, it’s been a grind but the one thing I’ve always counted on is just my faith and just being blessed to play this game again. No matter how hard it got, I just said, ‘You know what, you could be at home playing Xbox, miserable like I’ve been the last two years.’ This year has been fun. It sucks that we couldn’t get to the playoffs and had a losing record and gave ourselves a shot and kind of didn’t finish the way we wanted to. For me, I’m just happy to play football again.
Q: There are times it has looked like you’ve had problems with the knee. Will the knee ever get better in the sense that you might have a bigger burst with another year under you?
A: Yes, definitely. The knee always gets better the following year. It gets stronger. You’re always battling the quad throughout the year, how to rehab and how to work out. Fortunately my number has been called a number of times and I’ve stepped up to the plate but I’m looking forward to the offseason just to rest and be able to catch up and not have to rehab. I can actually get ahead and be able to work on football stuff and not just trying to get healthy enough to play football again.
Q: Are you in position to have a normal offseason?
Q: Could you ever have a normal offseason?
A: This will be a normal offseason.
CB Prince Amukamara
Q: How different is the approach going against Calvin Johnson as compared to maybe some of the other superstar receivers in the league?
A: My approach is the same. I treat everyone like they’re the best and I happen to be going up against one of the best this week. We all are as defenders, so it’s the same, just being focused and you go about preparing the same way.
Q: Outside of Calvin Johnson’s physical talent, he’s obviously very talented, is it strictly the size and strength that puts him a notch above anybody else?
A: I say for sure. He’s 6-6, 230 or more. That right there, most DBs are 5-10, 5-9 so he already has an advantage, plus his speed, so he definitely has all the tools and he’s definitely been putting them to work for years now.
Q: At the same time, Matthew Stafford does seem to be very anxious to throw the ball, almost like they just want him to go make a play and catch it, right? It’s not necessarily designed, he just goes up and gets it.
A: I mean, I would, too. If you have a receiver of that stature that can make you look good, I would throw it up to him, too. Stafford’s a great quarterback, he does all the throws, the back shoulders, the deep ball, the precise passes so they work great together.
Q: Are you surprised how Baltimore shut him down last week?
A: Baltimore has a great defense and I think that they matched well with the Lions offense.
Q: That’s two weeks in a row that he’s been under 100 yards though, right?
A: Yes. I don’t know what’s happening, I couldn’t tell you the reason why but I guess teams have just been playing him well.
Q: Bill Parcells used to say he could take any receiver out of a game. Are teams doing that? You double him, you triple him and you say, “Somebody else beat me.”
A: Yeah, I’ve been seeing that on film. When we’re playing the Cowboys, you see the Saints do that to Dez Bryant. A couple teams just basically have two guys over that and the same thing with the Lions. You always see guys always on top just in case and I think that’s smart.
Q: You’ve pretty much stayed on one side all year. Is this a game where, because of his size, you may matchup with him?
A: I think our coaches have a great gameplan going into this week and Calvin Johnson, he does flip side to side, so I do anticipate matching up with him.