Defensively, their 3-4 scheme, they have a ton of pass rushers, Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Trent Murphy and Chris Baker. Will Compton does a nice job directing traffic. Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland are both playing at a high level. Special teams, they're an aggressive unit, they'll take some chances, as we saw out here in the first game, and Jamison Crowder is a dynamic returner.
Q: How do you plan on approaching this game with potentially resting guys?
A: We have 53 on the roster, we're going to activate 46. We have to go down and win the ball game.
Q: Are they going to be your normal 46?
A: Yeah, we're going to play to win the ball game.
Q: When you were in Green Bay, Mike McCarthy rested guys when you were locked into a spot. So what makes you change that up?
A: We're going to play our players and go win the ball game. That's what we're focused on.
Q: So Eli will play the whole game?
A: Eli's going to play the game, yes.
Q: Are you going to approach it based on health status and maybe put guys on a snap count?
A: Yeah, the injury report always figures, but we have one roster. We don't have two rosters. We're going to play the players active in the ball game.
Q: To clarify, you said Eli will play the whole game?
A: Eli's going to play the ball game, yes.
Q: Would it mean anything more to keep a hated division rival out of the playoffs?
A: Hate is a strong word. We have a division challenge this week. They're a good football team. They're going to be hungry, we're hungry. It'll be a heck of a ballgame.
Q: We haven't really talked to you much in the last few days. Since we talked, your team clinched a playoff spot. How do you approach that, how satisfying is that and how do you celebrate that with your team?
A: We'll take it one week at a time. Talked to the team, told them it's exciting to earn a 17th game. Can't play that game this week, we can only play one game this week and Washington is on the schedule.
Q: Does the way everything turned out in 2011 when you were in Green Bay and they rested guys. Does that at all play into your decision here?
A: 2011 in another city has no impact on what we're doing here.
Q: Compared to what you've seen from your offense, where would you like to see strides made Sunday?
A: We were excited about the opportunity to play on Thursday. We had 88 attempts at the plate, had a chance to move the ball a little bit. We need to finish drives better, finish plays better and finish the game better. So we need to finish.
Q: What else did you learn from that game? Historically, that's not a desirable number of passing attempts (63) in terms of earning a win, for example, and you were running the ball at times pretty well. Did you take some lessons from that game?
A: Our run-to-pass ratio in the last four games has been favorable on first and second down. When you look at the ballgame, 40-45 of those attempts were in situational football. We didn't get a ton of first downs on first and second down, we had a lot of third downs in the ballgame. And when you have 88 plays, you're going to have some throws in there, so I'm comfortable with it.
Q: You are going to have 10 days between games. Do you think your players have taken advantage of the extended time off?
A: Absolutely, every team plays a Thursday night game. It was good for us to get away from football a little bit after the game, spend some time with our family and the holidays, and get refreshed, recharge the batteries, get ready to go. We had a good day today out there in the elements and tomorrow we'll have a chance to get physical with the pads on for a little bit. It's good to be back.
Q: Do you think the Thursday night game came at the right point in the season?
A: The last one of the year. It's subjective.
Q: Is it important to put together a better effort on the road going into the playoffs?
A: We're going to prepare to win the ballgame. It's always good to play well, no matter where you're playing.
Q: How is Janoris Jenkins' back coming along?
A: He was limited today.
Q: How close was he to playing against the Eagles? Saw him working out before the game, how close was he to playing Thursday night?
A: I didn't feel he was ready; we didn't feel he was ready.
Q: Is there a balance there with a guy like that with deciding whether it's worth it to play him in this game or get him even healthier?
A: We'll have to see if he's ready to go.
Q: Are you more inclined to err on the side of caution?
A: This is pro football. We get paid to coach and paid to play. That's what we do, it's what we do for a living. Another game on the schedule, it's a division game, it's an important game.
Q: Did losing in Philadelphia create an extra need to win and create momentum this week in Washington?
Q: Over the last seven games, in five of them, you've run the ball for 100 yards or more. What's been the biggest difference, improvement, you've seen in the running game over that period?
A: We're committed to it. We're comfortable and confident in our ball carriers. The offensive line is working hard, the tight ends are improving, the receivers are working at it; they understand how important they are in the grand scheme of things. We had a couple of runs that could have come out on Thursday for big ones and we need to finish better on the perimeter and that's the focus for us.
Q: How important is it to be an ascending team in the playoffs? Do you think you’re an ascending team right now?
A: I think that it’s important to take a step forward this week and how we play on offense, defense and special teams. I think every week is a new week and every team is a different team. You have to prepare for each week, it’s a new week every week.
Q: I know you don’t know your opponent yet, but does anything this week have to do with the 17th game?
A: Upstairs, it does.
Q: On Saturday, were you watching games? What was your reaction when New Orleans won?
A: I was shooting hoops with my kids on Saturday. I spent a little time at home on Saturday afternoon, so that was good. Other than that, had the opportunity to watch a couple of ball games. I’m happy for the Saints, it was a big win for them.
Q: Now that you’re in the playoffs, do you view that as an accomplishment?
A: We’re fortunate to be able to play a 17th game when it gets here. Until then, we’re focused on Washington.
Q: Can you talk about Paul Perkins. He looks like he’s getting to the point where he’s more comfortable, he’s ready to break a big one?
A: He’s a young back, he’s learning each and every week. He had some ups and downs today in practice, but we expect him to get better as the season goes on.
Q: I know you said momentum is not a factor for you. You play to win the game, that’s why you’re going to play this week. Considering there are potential benefits of resting, I guess I’m wondering why play to win the game?
A: That’s what we do for a living. We only have 53 players on our roster. It’s tough to go through a game if you rest your starters. We think we have 53 starters. Everyone plays a role on the team and you go in, you have an opportunity to play this week, we have to win the game this week.
Q: Why risk the guys that are banged up then? Not necessarily your starters, but guys like Jonathan Casillas who for the three days going into last week was stuck in a bed with his knee. Why not give him the extra time if that’s an option?
A: If players are cleared to play and healthy, we’ll play them.
Q: Some of your players have expressed they do want to play on Sunday, does that factor into your decision at all?
A: Yes, I mean that’s what they do for a living. They like to play games, games are fun, practices are work. Games are fun, that’s what we do for a living and it’s exciting. We have an opportunity to go play a division opponent, we’re 7-1 at home, they knocked us off at home. It will be exciting to go down to Washington and play a game.
Q: How is Jason Pierre-Paul progressing?
A: He’s getting better; I haven’t had an update on him recently.
Q: Are you seeing him? Obviously you’re focused on what’s in front of you?
A: I’ve seen Jason (Pierre-Paul), yes.
Q: Any idea when he could get back?
A: When they tell me. It’s a medical question.
Q: Back in September when you saw the Redskins, so much was made about Odell (Beckham) and Josh Norman, we asked you too constantly. This time around, I don’t know if it’s an understated storyline for you to even pay too much attention to it. Do you have to say anything to Odell (Beckham)?
A: No, our focus is on our football.
Q: Given that the game after this one will be extremely important, do you have any concern with Odell (Beckham) that he might do something that will hurt his chances?
Q: Do you have a preferred opponent in the playoffs that you’d like to see?
A: We’re excited to play Washington this week. We have some coaches upstairs that are working on some things for down the road. We’ll be ready to play whoever we play in that 17th game.
Q: What do you want to see out of Eli (Manning) this week?
A: We want to take steps as an offense, we want to move the ball and finishing drives just better. Finish throws, make good decisions, and take care of the football. The Duke’s like a bar of gold this time of year, and we need to take care of the ball, that’s the most important thing.
Q: You’ve gotten to know Eli (Manning) pretty well, but you’ve never seen him as a playoff quarterback in person, as his coach. Do you notice a pep in his step at all now that he’s going back?
A: Unfortunately, I saw him twice. Again, we’re focused on Washington.
Q: Coach, with the Pro Bowl selections, the Giants had four players go, what can you say about the seasons those guys have had? Do you believe anyone was snubbed from the Pro Bowl roster?
A: That’s a great question. I think it’s a nice accomplishment for the players and their teammates.
WR Odell Beckham Jr.
Q: How are you personally approaching this game? You are the fifth seed. You can’t move up and you can’t move down. How do you approach this?
A: Same way you approach every game. You want to go out and win. You want to go out and find something to get better at. Just get everyone on the same page. Work on what you need to work on. Just take it for what it is.
Q: You have a chance to become the first Giants receiver to lead the league in receiving in 80-plus years. How important is that to you?
A: It’s whatever. Stats and numbers, they’re all going to come at some point in time. What I’m really focused on, for the first time in my career in the NFL, is having the opportunity to go to the playoffs and play in those bigtime games. It’s hard to not look past this game knowing what’s at stake and the position that we are in. You can’t move up and you can’t move down. It is very difficult to not look past that and look forward to next week. You just have to keep in mind that any play could be your last. You have to go out there with the same approach that you would any other game.
Q: Where were you on Saturday when you found out about the Saints game?
A: I think I was at the house. I was probably asleep.
Q: You were sleeping when you found out?
Q: How did you find out?
A: Just look at your phone. You see Twitter going off, Instagram going off, everything going off. After I heard the scenario, there was never really a doubt that we were going to be in. We’re in now.
Q: Has the feeling of clinching a playoff spot taken over yet?
A: You put a check by it. You keep going and you look for the next check. The next check is to, first and foremost, beat Washington. After that, you just start looking at the playoffs and win one game. That’s all we have to do. Just win one game. The week after that, you win one game. You just have to look at it as a one-game mentality. This is the most talented team I’ve been on since I’ve been in the league. It’s been something that came together a long time ago and you just see the relationships build between everyone. We have a pretty good rapport.
Q: Considering the ramifications for the Redskins in this game, how much would it mean for you guys to keep them out of the playoffs with a win?
A: Obviously, you want to win the game, period. Not looking at what’s at stake for them or anyone else. You want to win the game. Definitely knowing that you could keep a team out of the playoffs, that’s a big deal in a sense. Just have to come out and do what we’re capable of doing. The rest will handle itself.
Q: What have you thought of the season Sterling Shepard has had?
A: It’s been great, in my opinion. There’s plays here and there that we all could’ve made better and things we could’ve done better. This season has been, in my book, a pretty good one. With the team we have, everything we have going on and certain situations, it’s just been nothing less than what I expected from him. Obviously, everyone wants to always do more. I’m sure he feels that way. He wishes he could’ve done more or could do more. You have to take it for what it is and keep it moving.
Q: Is it going to be difficult to focus on this game?
A: You can’t sit there and sugarcoat it and say that anyone in this locker room is not thinking about the playoffs mid-play running a slant. You can’t hide the fact that we’re in there. You don’t have to be oblivious to it. Just keep it moving. Obviously, we know our roles and where we’re at. We know what’s going on and all the implications that are behind this game. Just find a way to win.
Q: Do you expect yourself and the rest of the starters to be playing the full load?
A: If they say you go out there, then you go out there. You never know. It’s not something that is so much talked about. I’m sure it’ll come up in conversation, but I expect to play.
Q: No one has asked you once about Josh Norman about 10 minutes into this. Is there a relief that he’s not the focus of this game?
A: Now he is. Since you brought it up. I don’t know what to say. Yes. It’s always been about a bigger picture than two players on the football field, in my mind. It’s something that was kind of created. It stuck and it has been run with ever since then. We’re going to go out and do what we’re supposed to do. We’re not worried about anyone else besides the 53 on this team.
Q: As competitors, it would seem that even if you were not that into the game, you couldn’t because both of you guys want to be winners?
A: Yes. I’m going to compete if my little sister or little brother was out there. I’m going to compete. I’ve never been one to ever half-step anything or just go out there and have fun. I’m going to compete. He is a great competitor and he is a great player. It’s always a great matchup.
Q: Have you and the guys been able to take advantage of the 10 days off between games?
A: I’m sure they have. Holidays are around, so I’m sure everyone got to celebrate a little bit with their families. You get some time to just relax and get your mind off everything. Now, you’re back in, so you just refocus. I don’t know if it’s beneficial or if it’ll be worse for us. We’ll have to see on Sunday.
Q: Do you think you’re in a good spot mentally heading into this game against Norman? Do you think things will go okay with him this time?
A: I think they went okay last time. I don’t really see a problem with it except for when you point your finger at something, then you notice it. It’s never really been an issue, in my mind. I don’t have any ill feelings towards him at all. We just like to compete. That’s the bottom line. This is football. We’re competitors and you want to win. Like I said, if we’re playing marbles, whatever, I want to win. I don’t want to lose. It should be a good matchup, like it always is.
S Landon Collins
Q: How do you approach this game?
A: We are putting the pedal to the metal. We are playing it like a playoff game, treating it like a playoff game and coming out and firing on all cylinders. That is our mindset and we are trying to get the W.
Q: You have guys that are banged up. Are you surprised that they won’t get a week off to rest up?
A: That is for the coaches to decide. I don’t know. They make that decision, but at the same time they are going to be on the field, we expect the best from them, whatever they can give us.
Q: Do you feel that guys are dialed in to Washington and have been able to successfully block out the playoffs?
A: Definitely, because we already announced that we are already in the playoffs and our mindset is that we are in and now our mindset is on Washington and playing a great game against them because momentum is everything going into this playoff run.
Q: DeSean Jackson seems to be one of those guys where everyone knows about him, but he stills manages to get deep on opponents. What is it about him?
A: When I look at him, he kind of lulls guys to sleep. He doesn’t use his actual speed when he is running his routes and stuff like that and then when he knows he is about to go deep, he hits it and hits you while you are asleep basically, and he gets behind you and Kirk just has to throw it up and he will go get it.
Q: Washington has to win to get into the playoffs, so their intensity is going to be sky high. Do you think that you have to match that?
A: Definitely. We have to definitely match them and be more aggressive and assertive than they are because we need the momentum of going into this playoff run and momentum is everything. Going into a situation like this, it is a big key.
Q: Is that what happened on the touchdown that DeSean scored last time?
A: I don’t know. You have to ask DRC that one because how the routes came out, it just played out differently.
Q: What about Cousins makes him so effective downfield?
A: His receivers making big plays, making big catches and him keeping his eyes downfield and not worrying about the pass rush that is coming at his feet.
Q: Does he seem more confident the last couple times?
A: I feel like he is more sure, definitely confident, and he is trusting in his arm and trusting in his ability.
Q: When the Pro Bowl selections were announced, how special was it to not only hear that you were going, but that your teammate Janoris Jenkins was going as well?
A: Fantastic, man. It was a great feeling because we worked out tails off and it is one of our milestones and just to have that opportunity to be playing in the Pro Bowl, being selected to go to the Pro Bowl, it is a great opportunity.
Q: When is the last time you played dodgeball? That is one of the Pro Bowl activities.
A: Dodgeball? I couldn’t tell you. Maybe middle school. (Laughs)
Q: If you go to the Pro Bowl, then you have to sharpen up on that.
A: Alright, bet. I appreciate the heads up. (Laughs)
Q: Dodgeball is probably something that Odell would be pretty good at.
A: Yeah, he has the big hands and he can dodge the ball at the different speeds and angles. But I have quickness, too, so I can dodge his balls.
Q: Hopefully you guys will have another event to prepare for.
A: Correct, man. Hopefully we won’t have to go there, so we will try to do that, too. Like you said, it is the mindset right now.
Q: Justin Pugh said that this is a pretest for the playoffs. As a secondary, when you go up against these receivers and quarterback, how good of a test is it for you guys to go into the postseason?
A: It is a big test because when you go into the playoffs, you are going up against the best teams that won their divisions and having to play the Redskins, just knowing so, means that we have to have the mindset that we are playing one of the best teams and it is a playoff caliber team. We have to know that and have the mindset that we can’t let them make big plays on us.
Q: They are not afraid to throw the deep ball. They will test you deep.
A: Correct. They will test us deep and we know that and we as the safeties have to help the guys to make sure that those plays get shut down.
Q: Do you guys have to prove that you can win a big game on the road before you go to the playoffs?
A: I wouldn’t say that we have to prove it, but we just have to set a tempo and a mindset for ourselves where we know what we can do and how we need to play when we go on the road.
Q: Would it mean anything extra to you guys keeping a division rival out of the playoffs?
A: I would think so. You don’t want to keep playing the same team over and over. You just want to play them those two times that you have to play them and then keep it moving, I think.
Q: Did you guys think that you were going to be this good of a defense?
A: We didn’t know how good we were going to be. We just knew we were going to be good.
CB Eli Apple
Q: Do the big games you played in college somewhat prepare you for the NFL playoffs?
A: Oh, for sure. My college career, we have played a lot of big games, especially towards the end of my career. The championship games, the games against Alabama, those games are NFL like games and crazy atmospheres, so once you get out here and you are playing an NFL system and games, it kind of makes it easier a little bit because you have been there before, so you aren’t going to freak out as much.
Q: You are surrounded at corner by real veterans in this league. How have they helped you?
A: They have helped out tremendously. Just with the mental side of it, technique wise and they are always critiquing me about little things and just staying on me and making sure that I am always right on stuff.
Q: Then there is Landon Collins, who had a rough rookie season. The two of you age-wise are pretty close. Can you take things from Landon’s experience last year and learn from it?
A: Yeah, we definitely connect a lot. He is somebody that I look up to a little bit. Just with what you said, his rookie season and how he has transitioned from his rookie year to his second year and really made that big leap and that is something that I would like to do.
I am still in my rookie year, of course, so you still want to make that improvement, but it is just kind of warming to see that he was able to do something like that and really pick up his game and he has just been telling me to try and get better every week, take care of your body – he is really on top of that. That is one thing that he prides himself on, more than anybody, is taking care of his body. He has been helping me out with that.
Q: Do you look at him as the leader back there?
A: Yeah, he is the safety, the general, so he kind of runs things a little bit being back there, so yeah, I would say that he is one of the leaders.