The Coughlin Corner: Goals for season finale

Posted Jan 1, 2016

The Coughlin Corner,’s exclusive weekly interview with head coach Tom Coughlin

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Coughlin Corner,’s exclusive weekly interview with head coach Tom Coughlin:

Q: I assume to you a 7-9 record is much better than 6-10, second place much better than third, and splitting the season series with the Eagles is much better than getting swept.

Coughlin: “Yes, it is. All of those factors, all of the above. That’s exactly how the meeting started with the players on Wednesday morning. Absolute breakdown of what we talked about in the very beginning of the year, which was, at that time, there were two teams, Dallas and Philadelphia, we needed to go through to get to where we wanted to go. This opportunity here (in the season finale Sunday) gives us a chance to split with all divisional foes, gives us one more win than we had a year ago. Certainly not what we planned to be where we are, but it still is significant. The other factor is winning the last game of the year. Let’s face it, our business is based on hope and things to think about for the future. It’s a lot easier to spend the next six months if you have accomplished something at the end of the year in terms of a win in your last game, especially with the type of season we’ve had.”

Q: You haven’t won all your division home games since 2005. That would be a nice accomplishment.

Coughlin: “I didn’t think about that. It would be nice. What would really be nice is to win our 16th game at home for our fans, that’s what would be nice.”

Q: The Eagles have had success up here (winning seven of their last eight Meadowlands games vs. the Giants)…

Coughlin: “They’ve also had it down there. We played a little better over here a year ago than we did down there. But you’re right. We go over there, if you put the first 20 offensive plays on from the first game, you can’t even relate to the final score (27-7). We go up and down the field, we have a chance to go up 14-0. And what do we do? (Larry Donnell) catches the ball and gets it stripped out of his hands.”

Q: Pat Shurmur will coach the Eagles after Chip Kelly was let go this week. Shurmur was the offensive coordinator. Do you expect them to make major changes on such short notice?

Coughlin: “Oh, I don’t expect major. They had instituted part of their plan, a third of their plan whatever you want to say, in practice on Tuesday. It’s very difficult. They can tinker with what they have in, but as far as making a major change, I don’t see that. The real question is, how will the game be adjusted because someone else is calling the plays? That’s one you don’t know. You don’t know the answer to that. There’s a couple of things they could do, one of which is, again, when they balance the run and the pass, they’ve done better.”

Q: The games they’ve won, they’ve run the ball very well.

Coughlin: “And the games they’ve lost, they haven't. Sometimes it’s a question of leaving it too early. Or sometimes the score dictates that. You don’t have a choice a lot of times.”

Q: You were very candid Wednesday in your news conference, saying you talked to the players about your situation, which you normally don’t do.

Coughlin: “Well, I was aware that the players were being questioned about my situation. We weren’t even gathered, it was Monday and Tuesday. To me, that’s not right. What I needed to address with them is, ‘How do you handle that question? Here’s exactly what I would ask you to do. Tell whoever asks you that question that you are focusing on the Philadelphia Eagles and this game. And that’s where your focus and concentration goes, period.’”

Q: Knowing this group as you do, are you confident that they’re going to do that?

Coughlin: “Oh, I think they will. I don’t read everything that’s out there. But I see that as an easy way for them. Everybody knows what I said, what I said to the media, what I’ve said to the players. Therefore, if the media want to crossover, that’s fine, but I don’t think they’ll answer.”

Q: All of us think about job security at some point. Is it your makeup not to worry about it? After 45 years as a football coach, do you just consider it part of the business? Do you just deal with it, and move forward preparing for the next game?

Coughlin: “That’s the approach that I take. My circumstance, we have a full schedule to prepare for, that’s my responsibility. My responsibility will be fulfilled completely, there will be no distraction. We’re going to game plan and we’re going to mentally be ready, we’re going to get our players ready to play. We’re going to do everything in our power. Then the season ends and that’s what football is all about - what’s next?”

Q: Odell Beckham Jr. said yesterday, “I don’t think I’m going to change the way that I play, but I think I’ll change the actions that were on the field that Sunday (against Carolina, for which he was suspended).” Can he separate them?

Coughlin: “The actions as demonstrated against the Carolina team are not him, not his play on the field. He’s saying that I want to play my game on the field to the best of my ability, but I want to leave all that other stuff behind. The game is very important to him, and he loves to play. You can’t do anything more severe to him than take the game away. So when you do that, you make a tremendous impression on him. Because he said all of those things. and because of the way that’s been approached, I do believe that that’s what he intends to do.”

Q: Last week without him, the wide receivers caught five of Eli Manning’s passes. Was it that much different because he was not there, or did the other receivers not step up? Coughlin: “You have to include the whole group.”

Q: Tight ends, running backs?

Coughlin: "Quarterbacks. Everybody.”

Q: Robert Ayers has had a late-season surge (6.5 sacks in the last four games). Has he picked up his game?

Coughlin: “He’s done a good job, I think, in that regard for most of the year. Whether he plays inside or whether he plays outside, he does give outstanding effort, he is fast, he does know how to maneuver inside. Quite frankly, his situation would even be better if they would throw the flag against New England. He had two in a row at the end of the game that ends the game. Robert, he has good production. He has good production, and he has certainly done a good job, regardless of where we’ve put him, of rushing the passer. He demands attention.”

Q: Is the biggest difference in the Eagles’ offense from your first meeting with them that Ryan Mathews is now the No. 1 running back?

Coughlin: “All three backs (including DeMarco Murray and Darren Sproles) play a lot. Still, the guy with the most carries is Murray. In terms of what they’re all about, what they want to do, how they go about it, (quarterback Sam) Bradford is more into their system. And as I said, five out of his last six are 90-plus quarterback rating, so he’s playing better. (Tight end Zach) Ertz is a huge factor. The slot receiver (Jordan Matthews) is a huge, big time factor in their offense and has outstanding speed – he had a 43-yarder the other day. They’re doing what they do.”

Q: Defensively, Fletcher Cox has 9.5 sacks and was just selected to his first Pro Bowl.  When you watch him on tape, is he a force?

Coughlin: "Oh yeah, he’s a force. A huge force. The thing with him, you can’t let him rush the passer every down. Their whole front, that’s how they get. You can’t do it. Even if the runs are for two yards, you have to do something else. Because otherwise, all they do is tee off and run and get after you. They keep you hopping now, because of the fact that they’re good. They have a bunch of people who can rush the passer."

Q: They have very good special teams. Sproles has two punt return touchdowns this season.

Coughlin: “Against good people, too. New England and the Jets, two teams that are very good on special teams, he’s got two long punt returns. He’s playing a lot out of the backfield. He’s caught, what, 53 balls? He’s caught a lot of balls.”