Coughlin: “My whole deal was when we went away (for the bye), having played as poorly as we did, we took the break and I sent the players out of here. I said, ‘Get away, enjoy your families, relax, get yourself mentally and physically rested.’ When we returned it was a six-week season. There isn’t anybody that can’t focus and bust their tail for a six-week season. Is that saying that it’s any easier than it is? No. It’s never easy in this profession. That’s why it takes everything you’ve got every time. One game is done. We’re not going backwards. We’re a little bit more experienced as a team than a group of guys that is going to let a win, even though it was a good win, affect us going forward. The very next day you’re on to the next opponent, because unless you do everything in your power to have the best preparation you can have -- because preparation is where success truly lies -- you’re going to stumble and you can’t afford to stumble. So that’s where I am. Am I an idealist? Yes, I am. I’m also a realist.”
Q: You played 10 weeks without a break after playing into February last season. Did you need the bye at the point it arrived? Was it a good time for the bye?
Coughlin: “Absolutely. I was asked that question and I said looking back it would have been good after eight (because the Giants lost games nine and 10). I’m being facetious. But yes, 10 straight weeks. Who goes 10 weeks without a bye?”
Q: You can’t seem to find a happy medium. The bye’s either too early or too late.
Coughlin: “Well, I’ll take it after eight games every year, or nine or seven. The ones that get you are the (byes after) two and three (games).”
Q: Immediately after the Packers game you remarked about how well the team played. I’m going to assume that opinion held true after watching the tape. How many times when watch a tape does it change your initial opinion of how a team played in the game?
Coughlin: “There’s the game and the emotions (puts his hands down on the left side of his desk) and here’s the reality after you look at the tape (moves his hands to the right side). You’re never happy.”
Q: Really? Every time?
Coughlin: “No. Not every time, but you’re rarely - because you bleed with every play when you’re grading the tape. You look at it and you ask, ‘Why did that happen? Why did he do that? How did that happen? How did we get away with that?’ But then there are the great plays, too. Chase (Blackburn) is batting the ball away. Those are great plays. You just have to remove yourself from the emotions so you can be real about what has to be improved on.”
Q: Are there games when you look at the tape and come away thinking the team played better or worse than you thought?
Q: When you watch a tape, do you start opening kickoff and go to the end? Or do you do offense, defense and special teams?
Coughlin: “I do special teams first and then I do our defense and then I do our offense.”
Q: Why do you do special teams first?
Coughlin: “I always do. Even when I prepare I do special teams first, because I want to know exactly what we’re up against in that regard and then I want to know how the players prepared and played in that critical area as far as field position goes, and how the guys that are on this team that we count on to do that job are doing. How did they do?”
Q: You mentioned Chase. Is he getting better with age? He seems to be in the middle of so much?
Coughlin: “He’s into it. He’s so into it. He’s such a great example for other players, young and old. You watch him even through the jog-thru on a Wednesday against a complicated team like the Redskins and he’s all over it. He’s making all the calls. If one of the calls isn’t clear to him, he’ll turn around and talk about it there. You can’t help but know and he works himself right into it. Everybody relies on him. They rely on him. They look to him, because he doesn’t ever back down from that responsibility no matter what it is - special teams or defense. And he’s smart. He has to be for what he’s been able to accomplish.”
Coughlin: “Sure he does. No question he does, but the number one thing about him is his competitiveness and his toughness and because he’s consistent in terms of how he plays, how he prepares, his effort; you know that he takes full advantage of opportunities. The fact that the rush was strong last week from a number of people provided that he was the right guy in the right position, and that’s how it happens sometimes.”
Q: You converted 50 percent of your third down opportunities last week, the highest percentage since the first Washington game. How important was that to what you accomplished on offense?
Coughlin: “If you’re going to do the things that we felt we had to do, it was very important. We did win the time of possession and you’re not going to do that without the continuity of making third downs. So the ability to keep the ball away from the potent offense that the Packers present was critical for us and we were able to do that.”
Q: You walked into the locker room after the game and
Coughlin: “It’s sad.”
Q: How big was his contribution this year?
Coughlin: “He’s played well. We’ve asked him to continue to have more responsibility and he’s gladly done that and he looked forward to it and he’s gotten very good at it. He came within a whisker of two runs breaking out of there for the big long run (last week). Rarely do you have a guy with size and speed like that who catches the ball as well as he does. He was getting very good at blitz pickup and recognition and he had done a great job of that. That’s why I said on Monday that it really took away from our win to lose a player who you felt so strongly about, not only from an emotional standpoint because here’s a guy that literally…I mean, everybody in the league had perhaps written him off. And he came back to us and we knew through the preseason that he was talented and he was more mature than at any time we had ever seen him. He was focused and wanted it. He wanted it, but he’ll be back. He’ll be back.”
Coughlin: “He’s worked hard and he’s been open that he believes he’s ready, which is a very important part of it. And he has done a good job in practice of recognition and pickups. So it’s time. He’s got to go and he’s got to be productive.”
Q: Everyone focuses on RG3, but the Redskins are one of the best rushing teams in the NFL. Do you look at them as a run-first team?
Coughlin: “They are run first. But they’re multiple in terms of how they approach that run and because of the fact they’re so good at it they create some opportunities with the pass that are just incredible when you see how clearly open people are. It’s scary. Hell, they’re running around with nobody within 20 yards of the receivers.”
Q: You said on Monday you’re interested in studying how RG3 had improved since the Giants-Redskins game in October. When you looked at the tape, is he doing things differently now?
Coughlin: “He’s doing it better. I said the other day he may not be throwing quite as many times, but his accuracy is extremely good and he throws the deep ball and he’s very strong armed.”
Q: You mentioned that Mike Shanahan has been a coach that likes to use gadget plays. How do you prepare for gadget plays?
Coughlin: “You’re alert, but you’re trying to find some common denominator as to when it might come whether it’s down and distance, formation, the alignment of key personnel. Why is this guy in the game? What’s he doing at that spot? You’re aware of who’s throwing the ball from the other positions, the receivers that have thrown it. All of those types of things. I don’t know that you can be totally prepared. You show some of them in practice. You can’t show them all. Whenever someone has this much time (11 days) of preparation, you’re going to see something different.”
Q: Most of the Redskins’ defensive rankings are in the twenties, but their run defense is third in the league. Why are they so good at stopping the run?
Coughlin: “They’re good. They’re solid. They’re technically sound. They have veteran players that know their job and fulfill that responsibility. They’re good up front. Barry Cofield is having a very, very good year. Of course, London Fletcher is nothing but a tackling machine. So those guys are good. They’ve overcome, as everyone has had to do. They’re just solid, solid in how they approach it and well coached. You name it.”
Q: Lorenzo Alexander has been credited with 20 special teams tackles. Is he someone you must be aware of at all times?
Coughlin: “Yes, and he’s also playing defensive end in the sub package. So he plays a lot more. His role has been extended and he’s embraced it, but he always has been a pivotal guy on their special teams outfit. When he was 285 pounds and he made those hits on kickoff coverage you just kind of shook your head. He’s in terrific shape now and he still hits very hard and he no doubt runs better. That’s what you’re facing. He’s always going to be in the mix with everything you do from a coverage standpoint. He’s always right in the middle of it. Good player.”