Coughlin: “Huge difference. Finishing the season with pride is a huge difference. Playing our best would be a tremendous lift to the entire organization because I am, quite frankly, still dismayed at the number of questions that I get and I understand the questions. But from the New Orleans game to now, what’s going on? We’re playing teams that are championship quality teams that are geared for the playoffs and we’re not playing that way. We’re not playing like a team that’s in that same framework or mental frame of mind. We haven’t stopped the run all year long and other people who don’t run it necessarily as many times as they do, they’re doing it against us and they’re having…Baltimore had a huge day (running the ball) last week.”
Q: Your focus has been on finishing strong…
Coughlin: “Let’s play a great game. We can’t control a whole lot. We have one thing we can control. Let’s play a great game, let’s win the game and let’s come off the field feeling good about this last game and then see what happens. Quite frankly, the three scenarios (needed for the Giants to reach the playoffs) and all that business, that’s as far away from me as it can get. What my mind is focused on is how we can find a way to play a superb game here in Week 17 at home, against a huge rival team (Philadelphia), who regardless of what people think is playing pretty damn good. The last five games they’ve played very well. They reversed it from where they were earlier in the year.”
Q: The Eagles have won eight of the last nine games in the series – can that provide extra motivation for your team?
Coughlin: “Anything can at this point. Sure. It’s in the division. We know how they play. I just went over a series of five games in which they have won one game, but they have been either in the game or lost it because they turned it over. They’re talented. They’re fast. They’re physical on defense. They run well as a team.”
Q: You always say that you don’t like to assume anything and you’ve said you’re paying little attention to the playoff scenario. But did you discuss the scenario with the players so they are aware?
Coughlin: “They know. They know better than I. I told them what would have to happen, but that’s not my concern. If you remain consistent to what I said since day one, you would not think that I would reflect on those things. You have to take care of yourself. That’s all I ever told them. On Friday, if it’s in the division, they know who is playing who. So they’ll know again this weekend and, quite frankly, Dallas is playing lights out. They have just as good a chance as Washington.”
Coughlin: “It’s just like anything else. The quarterback feeds off of the receiver play. The receivers feed off of the quarterback play. And yet it’s a two-edged sword. Hakeem is a great competitor. He wants to play every week. He can’t see the side that’s not able to perform the way that he has performed in the past. But the quarterback can and the rest of us can, too, and we’re sitting here and we’re in professional football and we try to do the best we can and he’s trying to do the very best he can. And we’re giving him tremendous credit for what he’s done and the way he’s tried to play each and every week. The fact of the matter is the production is so limited that it’s hurt our overall production. Look at the plays he made last year and how important they were to our success.”
Q: The Eagles have posted some good numbers on offense, but turnovers have really hurt them.
Coughlin: "Turnovers have been their team nemesis. They’re minus-23 (in turnover differential). They’re not getting takeaways and they’re giving the ball away and you can point directly to different games and you know why they lost the game. They could have beaten Cincinnati by what would look like a heck of a score, but there are 24 points in the span of I don’t know how long where they had turnovers and Cincinnati scored. So that’s been their problem.”
Q: They’ve made changes on the defensive staff and at end and tackle, but that front is still quite formidable.
Coughlin: “Very and they’re playing as hard as ever. I think they’re back to being real comfortable. They got (new line coach) Tommy Brasher there. He was there a few years ago. He was on the staff there when I was there (in 1985) and he’s a good coach and they rotate their lines and they’re very physical. They’re coming off the ball and they attack as well as anybody. That’s how it all starts for them. They create pressure and they harass and do those things and that’s before they even bring anybody else over. They haven’t brought anybody yet and they’re still there.”