Coughlin: “Well, we’re 2-1 at home this year. You’d always like to win all your home games. I really don’t have an answer for why that’s not the case. But I’m not worried about the past. I’m worried about the future. This game features a divisional game plus a conference game, so it is a game of double importance to us. We’re 0-2 in the division. It’s Washington’s first divisional game. You have a team that’s averaging almost 30 points a game, giving up almost 29 points a game, but nevertheless a team that we have had a lot of difficulty with and you can stretch it all the way back to ‘07. It’s the same kind of deal. So we’ve got to snap out of this thing and play good, solid, opportunistic football against this team and win a game at home for a very, very important divisional game.”
Q: You’ve fallen behind by 14 points in all three home games this year. I would imagine that’s a trend you are looking to break.
Coughlin: “Quite frankly, starting fast is something we’ve been trying to do in each and every game that we’ve played. A few times, it has helped, but it hasn’t really helped at home. It hasn’t happened at home for whatever the reason might be and it’s not something that isn’t an initial goal, but it’s something we continue to focus on.”
Q: The NFL cliché is if your rushing attack isn’t producing during a game you should stay with it, because eventually it will be worth the effort. It seems you did that on a broader scale when the run game struggled last year and in the first month of this season. In the last two games, you’re finally benefitting from your commitment to the run game.
Coughlin: “You’re not going to do something that you’re not having much success with on a four-quarter basis. The fact that we’ve had some success in the run gives us more confidence because you’ve run the ball a week ago against a very difficult team (San Francisco) to run against. And to be honest with you, this team Washington is no different. They’re eighth in the league against the run, so they’re a difficult team to run the ball on. You not only have to block them, you have to move them. They’re very good in their gap responsibilities. Their personnel is well-spotted, well-placed. They have the tremendous leadership of London Fletcher there at the mike backer and he is a solid hold-them-all-together kind of a defender. But you’ve got to have a good mix. If you look at what they’ve been able to do, because they run the ball, they throw the play action pass very well off of the run and their action really looks a lot like the run. So that is, in fact, what everybody that runs the ball would like to be able to do, have the quick and easy yardage that comes off of the hard play action fake. And that’s what you mean when you say the ability to run the ball does give you a better opportunity in terms of keeping the down and distance manageable and allowing you to have the potential to make plays off of play action.”
Q: Have you seen that, even in the last two weeks, the balance that you’ve…
Coughlin: “Well, we’ve seen good run-pass balance, but we haven’t really taken full advantage yet of our play action ability and I’m holding out for that.”
Q: You’re tied for the league lead in 29 trips into the green zone and you’re third in the league in scoring, yet you have scored just 13 touchdowns on those opportunities. Do you feel good because you’ve scored all those points or frustrated because you haven’t capitalized on more green zone chances?
Coughlin: “One category at a time. There’s no overall feeling. We’re glad to be down there as many times as we are. We’re glad to have the points that we have, but we think we should have more. Just like the other day. What a nice thing it would have been to score 21 in the third quarter rather than 13 (because the Giants kicked two field goals after getting the ball at the 49ers’ 12 and five-yard lines). I’m not complaining. Being there and getting there no matter how, the defense contributed greatly. You talk about a (Washington) defensive team on the other side of the ball that has scored four times on defense this year. They’re plus-nine (turnover differential) and have scored four times. That’s the ultimate when you have that kind of thing happen for you. But we were really pleased to get the point blank field position with the two
Q: Do you think some of the momentum is taken away when you get a play like that, but then you end up kicking a field goal?
Coughlin: “No. You've got to keep doing this. You have to keep getting points, getting points, getting points.”
Q: Antrel was the NFC Defensive Player of the Week. He comes across as a very blunt, accountable, stand-up guy who is a defensive leader. Do you see him that way?
Coughlin: “He’s very positive, very gregarious, very enthusiastic. Loves to play, doesn’t ever miss anything. He’s one of those guys, he practices, he plays, he enjoys all of those things and he did a good job the other day responding to his success that he had and how he contributed to our win and he was very team-oriented. I was very pleased with that. He’s really done a good job of keeping the focus on 'team.'”
Coughlin: “He had the big pick, which ended up with it being a nice drive and touchdown for us and that was outstanding. If that’s the way it is, then leave him alone and let him play solid football over there and stay on the field.”
Coughlin: “I don’t think it’s that. I think he contributes still. He doesn’t have any statistical plays, but he did contribute. If you watch what he does when he’s picking for one of the other defensive lineman, that’s not bad. What he does is he enables the inside rusher to come around and be in good position. He was responsible for a couple of those. I thought he definitely played better and I think those other things will come for him. He’s a player that really does not need to respond to every question about that, because he is focused on our team success. These other things will fall naturally in place as everybody starts to play better and he becomes a beneficiary of some of the things that he’s helping the other guys with. So he definitely played better.”
Coughlin: “He gives us an outstanding veteran player inside to go along with Linval (Joseph), who is very adaptable to any kind of scheme or change you want to make. He’s tall, he’s rangy, he gets his hands up in the air and bats balls down. He is a good pass rusher. He’s anxious to play. He’s a very, very solid team guy. He gives you all of those things. He gives you great locker room participation. He gives you great veteran presence on the field. He gives you one more outstanding football player, basically right there in the middle with a couple of young guys trying to learn how to play.”
Q: You’ve seen a lot of rookie quarterbacks. When you study RG3 on tape, what jumps out at you?
Coughlin: “Speed. He’s got incredible speed. He’s got very good poise. He has exceptional speed and play-making ability. He’s a threat as a runner, whether it’s the option or whether he pulls the ball down. Look at what he did the other day (when he ran for a 76-yard touchdown vs. Minnesota). He’s just pulling the ball down. He did the same thing against Cincinnati in the same area of the field. He didn’t go as far, but he pulls the ball down when he’s in a drop-back mode. If he notices that the contain is gone, he runs up into the line of scrimmage and then around or around right away. It’s that thing that drives you crazy as a coach on the other sideline. You have everybody covered and the quarterback runs and to run with his speed is…you have to pressure him. You have to keep him inside. You have to get your hands up in front of him. You have to, hopefully, shut the lanes off. Occasionally, you’re going to have to have someone searching for him. But they’re averaging almost 30 points per game, so they’re doing something right.”
Q: Is Brandon Banks one of those return guys that worry you every week?
Coughlin: “Absolutely. He’s also the pitch man on the option. He’s being used in a lot of ways with that kind of speed, and he’s had success as a punt returner and a kick returner.”