Coach Coughlin and DE Justin Tuck speak to the media a day after the Giants win over the Washington Redskins
Head Coach Tom Coughlin
I’ll just make a comment or two about last night. I thought we said pretty much everything last night, but we’re excited to win, very excited to persevere and show some resiliency. The start of the game certainly wasn’t the way we expected it to start. We expected the no-huddle offense. We didn’t know when and when it came right out of the box, it was a very good move on Mike Shanahan’s part and it took us a couple of series to settle down.
I’ve been asked my reaction… what was said on the sideline, and all we did was reiterate our purpose and our objectives in terms of how we were going to defend, and I think after we scored the first touchdown and made it 14-7, we all felt a little bit better about our chance to get back into the game.
The two-minute drive was a very good drive. The first touchdown drive was a mixture of run and pass. Peyton Hillis had a nice run and, of course, the touchdown run, which was an Andre Brown run, was an outstanding run. It was very well blocked. The two-minute drive was timely. We thought we were using about as much clock as we could. We left a little bit too much off and they had a chance to come back down, but did not score. That was basically the way the first half went.
I thought we played good, solid football in the second half, only giving up three points, giving up really less than 100 yards on defense and the total for the night being 17, which we’ve been able to do with some kind of consistency and really haven’t scored enough to help our team in that regard. Last night we had the 24 points. I was squeezing for another one that we thought we had opportunities for. Give credit to the Redskins. After those first runs that were effective, they did a nice job against our running game and we averaged… We did have about 80 yards for the night and that was it.
But we hung in there and then the final drive with the play by Will Hill was an exceptional play, certainly a play above the X’s and O’s and you saw it defended by Jayron Hosley, but it was still going to be a first down and Pierre Garcon in his competitive way was fighting to get more yardage and Will just happened to appear on the scene and have an opportunity to get the ball out and he did and then Garcon reacted back and they struggled and I was at that time thinking ‘hang on to the ball, Will. Secure that football.’
But we did some very good things and we had some people play very well, whereas the week before I didn’t think we had a lot of people that played exceptionally well. Some of that was taken care of last night. Justin Tuck, certainly, with the four sacks; Jon Beason… we accredited him with 13 (tackles) and five assists, which was a huge night as well. We held the outstanding runner to 27 yards… Alfred Morris, who is a guy that once he gets it going and running downhill, it’s very, very difficult to stop him.
I thought we had a very high pass completion percentage on the offensive side of the ball, which was an outstanding thing for the evening. I’m disappointed in the interception. We’d like to eliminate those completely. But we had the two-minute drive, we had success on short-yardage, we did go one for one in the green zone and that was a good thing. That was an objective and, of course, special teams came in with the blocked punt after the bad snap and a penalty, which gave us outstanding field position which allowed us to drive it in and score right there. So the defense rose up after the turnover and played very well, held them to a field goal, and we gave ourselves a little bit of breathing room with the final field goal that we were able to make to go up by seven. But there was plenty of time… There was even plenty of time when Will Hill stole the ball, to be honest with you, because we knelt on the ball for a minute and 31 seconds and that is plenty of time to score a touchdown from where they were. Those were big plays. Our net punt was good for the evening. Our third down percentage offensively wasn’t as good as we would like it to be, and you do know when you play the Redskins that you’re going to have to struggle for and make your drives worthwhile because they’re going to have the ball a great deal of time and they did win the time of possession last night as well. I’ll answer any questions you might have.
Q: On that third and one play at the end, I guess it looked like it was a first down. What was your take on that play? Were you playing it like it was a first down?
A: To be honest with you, we were playing along and trying to react to what they were doing and we did feel that the marker was wrong and as indicated by the referee, he was not going to stop the game. So when it was corrected, it didn’t take us any time to make that kind of an adjustment because we knew what it was originally; however, it does throw a little bit of a concern and if you don’t treat it like a distraction, you’re okay and that’s what we tried to do.
Q: The NFL said that the refs should have stopped the game there and cleared up the confusion. If he stops the game, is that an advantage for the Redskins there?
A: You’re asking me all these hypotheticals. The thing that I would say is, yes. Let’s face it, they don’t have any timeouts. The clock is moving. It should have been straightened out in the first place, but it wasn’t. There’s a lot of things going on out there and the referee allowed that the game would continue to play and then made the correction and we would have been upset had the clock been stopped. Sure, we would have, not that it would have made a difference, but we would have been.
Q: The offensive line has given up at least one sack in every game this season. Are you seeing anything consistently leading to that?
A: We gave up three the other night. We’re not real pleased with that, but it’s not just the line; it’s your tight ends, it’s your backs, it’s your ability to get in the right protections. But they have two outstanding outside linebacker/defensive end types and in addition to pressure, those two players are very, very good. Orakpo certainly made his presence felt and he made it felt right away with a minus-nine yard sack. Our first quarter offensively was a start on the minus-one and a second and 19 because of a sack on first down. We’ve had our share of those. We’re doing the best we can to try to straighten that out. It’s not always the newer guys who have entered into the picture either, but that doesn’t take anything away from the ability of the people we’re playing against.
Q: Is there anything Will Beatty can do during the week to help cut down on that kind of stuff. He’s got a lot of good defensive ends in house to practice against.
A: That’s what he does. He practices against them and he works on his technique and his skill in that regard. So whoever you matchup on him he’s gone throughout the course of the year basically against JPP and he’s gone against Damontre Moore and sometimes it’s just a speed linebacker that works with him to allow that he sees as much speed as possible during the course of the week, so that’s all being done.
Q: Is it a technique issue with Will Beatty?
A: It’s one of the things, but when you see an outstanding rusher… Will got beat inside and I would think you’d categorize that as technique. Yeah. You can’t overset.
Q: Do you expect to have JPP back this week?
A: I have no idea. We’re going to have to wait and see.
Q: Did you guys come out of the game pretty healthy?
A: As far as I know, yes.
Q: Can you talk about the right side of the line? Can you talk about Pugh and Diehl? It seems like you were running that way primarily.
A: We try to go both ways. We try not to get locked into anyone thinking that we’re only going one way. But on the right side you have a couple of guys that have played longer together side by side than on the left side, but that usually doesn’t deter. The fact that Kevin (Boothe) is in the middle helps on both sides and James Brewer did a fine job. He played well. There’s always things that you need to correct and there may be some inconsistencies, but I wasn’t completely disappointed in any of their play up front. I would have liked to have more success in the run in those series that we were not able to be successful with it. I certainly was thinking that we do have to take full advantage of every possession that we have because of who we’re playing.
Q: How are Justin Tuck and Mathias Kiwanuka feeling today? They played every defensive snap. That’s pretty unusual for them.
A: As far as I know, they’re feeling well.
Q: You have always had a rotation for those players. If JPP is not around for a couple more weeks, can they sustain that?
A: We did have an available rotation. We just stayed with what was working and utilized…for example, Damontre had 17 plays. Now he played in pass situations with Kiwi and with Justin in the game, but we do have some flexibility.
Q: What did you think of Damontre’s play?
A: It was good for him to be out there and he did a couple of good things and got an opportunity to play some in that regard, as well as special teams, so those are all positives.
Q: Can you talk about what the last six weeks have done for this team in restoring faith in your system?
A: Well, we never questioned that part of it. We certainly did not like the way in which things were happening and how we were contributing to that ourselves. I’ll say it again, the old adage about, first, you have to keep from beating yourselves. That’s the thing that we fought the most. As the turnovers have diminished, and they aren’t completely gone I’ll grant you, we’ve seen more contributions from different people and from all three phases. That’s what the intent was and the way in which we would play from day one.
Q: Would you like to keep giving defensive snaps to Damontre Moore, regardless of when JPP is able to return?
A: I would like to, yes. If we have the ability to have a four-man rotation, then so be it.
Q: What’s the deal with JPP? Does it reach a point where it might be best for him to shut it down?
A: I don’t think so. I don’t think it’s in that position, but I’ll repeat what I said earlier, I can’t answer these questions any more than I’ve tried to. We really don’t know what his status will be this week until we get a little bit, probably closer to Wednesday. He hasn’t done anything in a week. He’s been treated and he’s rested and hopefully there’s going to be some progress made and we’ll see what that looks like when we start to practice.
Q: It looked like Peyton Hillis sparked the team with his long run. Are you still amazed that he was available during the year in terms of what he’s brought to the team?
A: He’s a good, solid player and he helped us right away and then he got involved in the normal rotation about how many people you can dress and to his credit, his attitude remained great and when given the opportunity, he did perform and he did help us and that run was certainly a big part of that as he maneuvered around a couple of guys and actually ran through a tackle and continued down the field and that was a big plus.
Q: Is there any update on David Wilson? Has he had any checkups since the last time?
A: I don’t think there’s been another since his last checkup, but we see David from time to time and he’s doing the best he can with it.
DE Justin Tuck
Q: Justin, I know you keep in touch with guys like Osi. I’m curious, did you hear from some of your former teammates after last night’s performance?
A: The first text I read was from Osi last night.
Q: What did he say?
A: That’s between me and Osi, but I’m sure you guys can figure out what the gist of the text was about.
Q: Did he think you probably should have had a lot more than four?
A: He politely said that I was close.
Q: I’m sure at the end of last year you weren’t happy with how things ended with you. Can you just talk about your resolve going into this year and just wanting to fix it and show people that you were still very much the same player that you’ve always been?
A: Like I always say, I don’t worry about what critics say, just as long as my teammates support me and know how I go out and play the game. At the end of the day, you want to have a successful season, you want to lead your team to victory. That’s basically what I focused on doing this offseason and last night it finally came together a little bit.
Q: Was there anything in particular that you changed that you feel has really made a difference for you this year?
A: I was healthy. I was able to train completely this offseason and that’s pretty much it. Everyone knows my struggles to get healthy the previous two years and how that affected me on the football field, but this year I’ve stayed out of the training room and started eating the right things and trying to do the right things. Fortunately I’ve stayed healthy this year. I think that’s the biggest adjustment.
Q: Justin, what have these last six weeks told you about this team and do you almost view the 0-6 start as a bit of an aberration?
A: We’re a team full of resilient individuals, that starts with Coach Coughlin (…). We understand that it’s a long season and we have to keep fighting. Regardless of what our record is, we have to keep fighting. I think that’s the approach we’ve taken. Obviously being 0-6, it really put us into a deep hole and it’s hard to get out of that, but I’m pretty proud of the way we fought the last six games. We had an opportunity to go six in a row. We got five and it didn’t happen for us last week, but we bounced back and got a win this week and picked back up on that momentum going out to San Diego this weekend.
Q: Can you characterize the mood and the vibe of the team with the way it’s bounced back these last six weeks?
A: Honestly, the mood has been great. I think guys have played loose and are having fun out on the football field, which I can’t say we did do the first couple of weeks of the season. I think this team is very close right now and we just have to play into each other. I think that’s our tremendous difference.
Q: What do you think has been the key for the defensive line and the linebackers who have come together and being on the same page more now that you’ve gone on through the season a little bit. You have two guys back there, Beason and Will Hill who weren’t there at the start of the season. It just like the front seven is playing that much better.
A: Yeah. (…) Beason, he’s been a tremendous asset to us since coming over. I think just him and Antrel, they’ve known each other for a long time, they play off of each other, and that has kind of solidified our back end. Upfront that confidence with the back end has allowed us to do what we need to do upfront and made things a lot simpler for our front four, making sure we have to be in our gaps because we trust that everybody on that end is going to be on the same page and that’s how we play fast and play a little bit with less mistakes on the defensive side of the ball these last couple of weeks.
Q: Do you remember the last time you played every defensive snap in a game?
A: It would have had to be the year that Osi got hurt. I think the year after Strahan retired.
Q: That’s a long time ago.
A: I think it was ’08. The good and negative thing about the New York Giants is that we keep a lot of high quality defensive ends around, so it’s hard to play every snap. It was fun last night being out there the whole time because it allows you to get into a rhythm and I think I kind of benefited from it in some regards. My body isn’t telling me that right now, but it was fun last night.
Q: How do you feel right now? How sore are you compared to a usual game?
A: I’m pretty sore, but it’s nothing I can’t deal with. (…) inside your body, getting your workout, getting in the cold tub and you’re ready to go next week.
Q: If JPP can’t go for the next couple of weeks, can you and Kiwi sustain that kind of time? You usually have a pretty good rotation.
A: I think we can. I think one thing we have done all season is keeping our body in great shape, making sure we’re on top of things in the weight room, make sure you’re eating the right stuff and we run in the weight room and out to practice a lot. I think we’re in good shape to go. Obviously playing that many snaps does break your body a little bit. (…) the normal snaps we play. I think we’re up for the challenge and we’re looking forward to it.
Q: Damontre talked about asking you guys a lot of questions, trying to learn from you guys. What has been your advice to him?
A: I think the thing for Damontre is not everybody is going to come out of college, not every stud in college is going to be a stud in the NFL in the first year. God knows I wasn’t. God knows I had a lot of (…). I’m just trying to keep him positive. I said to him that his time will come because he’s a tremendous athlete. He does have that desire to learn. I think he has a lot of great guys around him that are going to continue to teach him and show him the ways, the way Michael and Osi showed us. Maybe you won’t immediately see him break out, but I think he has a bright future.
Q: Do you feel like you’re a more complete player this year?
A: I do. I think a lot of the time you’ve got so many different techniques and responsibilities, I think (…) play calling and the game plan is more important to be more focused on the run. It kind of shows sometimes, but I feel like this season I have been more of a complete player. I feel like I could have had a few games like the one last night, if everything fell into place. I feel like I’ve had games where I was in the backfield a lot, disrupting plays and was (…) or half a second away from sacks. I think I have been more of a complete player this year.
Q: How ticked off would you have been if the Redskin’s didn’t have any timeouts, if the referee had stopped things, it seems like it would have been a big advantage for them at the end of the game.
A: I think (…) who tackled Garcon that play, they marked first down, I think it was Terrell. I remember turning to the referee and saying that’s not a first down. Obviously they’re hurrying up, you don’t really have time to argue it. I think at the end of the day, it was actually the right call. It might not have come across in the right manner, but I think it was the right call. And when the ball is getting snapped that fast, it’s very tough for a referee to get all of these calls right. I know it’s easy to go back and hindsight when they should have done. In the heat of the game, it’s going really fast out there. I think it’s unfortunate that it had to happen that way, but lucky for us, Will took the field, came in and made a play. It really is, we needed the point honestly.
Q: Did the guys around you notice what was going on?
A: I don’t know if we didn’t notice, or if they didn’t care to put up a fight right there. Obviously (…) everybody wants to know the play because you want to get guys in place. I would have to go back and watch the film and see how guys reacted to the film. I really don’t know.
Tackle Justin Pugh
Q: Can you talk a little bit about the progress you’ve made from the beginning of the year to now? It seems like you’re more comfortable with what you’re doing out there.
A: Yeah. I think it’s just learning. I think it’s being out there, getting those live reps. When you’re thrown into the fire like I was with Dave Diehl going down, me having to step up, you learn what you’re made of. I think the NFL let’s you find out real quick if you’re going to be able to compete or not. I’m just trying to learn from the best, the guys in front of me, and go out there and play physical. I try to go out there and fight every play and just learn from my mistakes and learn from things I do well and trying to repeat those things.
Q: How much has it meant to have Dave Diehl on your side, unlike the left side, where there has been shuffling around there?
A: It’s been great. Having Dave there, he’s been around a while, he’s played a lot of football and being able to make those calls and we’re on the same page and we’re out there playing for each other, I think that’s something right from day one when I first got here, Dave’s kind of taken me under his wing and tried to show me what it takes to be a professional. I think that’s definitely something that’s helped me out.
Q: A couple of those big runs were right to your side last night.
A: It’s an effort from all guys. Guys blocking backside, making sure they’re doing their job, receivers blocking downfield. He may have found that one little hole on our side, but at the same time if someone else isn’t doing their job, blocking downfield, those runs may never happen. I think as offensive linemen, you have to always talk about the five guys, not just one side or one guy.
Q: What kind of advice has David been able to give you?
A: He tries to help me out and tell me what kind of moves those certain guys will make, or how I can adjust my set or get an advantage on certain plays. I really think it’s just him showing me how to go out there and battle. You have to be a fighter out there in the NFL. Every guy, week in and week out, you’re going against a top-notch player. Obviously, Kerrigan last night was a great player and he did give me some trouble at some points in the game. You have to be able to respond. I think that’s something where you don’t ever put your head down and let one bad play affect the next one. You go out there and start fresh every play.
Q: How are you feeling? Have you hit the rookie wall?
A: I feel great right now. Obviously the day after a game you’re a little bit sore, but that’s just natural. Our training staff does a great job of getting us in there, getting us in the cold tubs, getting us the massages in the weight room that we have. The rookies actually do yoga every Monday. That’s something that helps keep the flexibility, which helps prevent injuries when you’re more flexible. I think doing those things, taking care of your body, eating right, I have a chef that makes me my meals on Mondays. I keep right by eating the entire week. I put meals in a freezer, so I’m eating and making sure my weight is staying at the right level. I think doing all of those things is something that has helped me out a lot.
Q: When we look at Eli, we see the 18 interceptions. As an offensive lineman, how many times have you looked at the film and said that’s on us?
A: I say when you go out there all eleven guys are out there working as one. There’s times when we’re putting guys in Eli’s face, or we don’t pick up a pressure the right way and he has to get rid of it. I think that’s definitely on the offensive line. We have to play better. I think as we continue to grow and just keep getting better, you win as a team and lose as a team. I don’t think you can ever point to the quarterback as the only reason for throwing interceptions or having turnovers. That’s something we all have to get better at eliminating those things.