Coughlin: “It wasn’t an unusually long bye. After 10 games? In my judgment what they really needed was not to go out there and have another practice, but get their heads clear mentally and physically.”
Q: You entered the bye with several self-scout objectives. Did you come out of it having accomplished everything you wanted to get done?
Coughlin: “Yes, we did. From the standpoint of evaluation of our own self-scouting and the things that we didn’t do well, we got a lot done. It’s like another playbook (holds up a three-inch binder with the results of the bye-week work). The coaches did that in like a two-day session. They wrote a book on offense, defense and special teams. We do what we call our worst to best (evaluation). But yes, we did get a lot done. We spent about an hour and a half with the players on those evaluations and then you have to be selective, because you can’t cover a lot of ground if you aren’t. The little details of what is good, what is bad and what has to be improved, I think we’re all over that. So from that standpoint, the couple of days we could spend on that were good.”
Q: You said you got excited and upset watching football on T.V. during the bye. A lot of us were watching the Dallas-Cleveland game. When you watch games like that during the bye, how much of you is watching as a fan and how much of you is sitting there hoping Cleveland wins?
Coughlin: “I’m past that. If you get too far involved in trying to think someone else is going to help you, you’re crazy. That’s not the way this business is. In this business, you have to take care of yourself. You can’t depend on anything or anybody. So from that standpoint, I’m not into it that way. But if I’m watching a game of which I may not have any particular interest, I’m more of a fan and sometimes when I look at a game even that I’m very interested in, the Green Bay vs. Detroit game or the Cleveland vs. Dallas game, I find that if I just try to look at the whole picture instead of constantly making a note or two, it makes a bigger impact on me.”
Q: Is that what you do during the bye? On Sunday do you like to just watch football?
Coughlin: “Well, Sunday, I do. Sunday, I start. Usually what happens though is that I’ll take a laptop home with me. For example in this case, the Green Bay stuff. I look at their special teams during the course of the week, but I would have my laptop with me and then I might for an hour or an hour and a half on Sunday morning come back from Mass, throw that up there, look at that and then take a break - maybe not even watch anything or, for example, I was at a soccer game. One of my grandsons played soccer, so I was there for a little bit and didn’t really get into the football part of it until the second half of that game.”
Q: You’ve mentioned several times that you now have a six-game schedule. Do you enter every season thinking it’s going to come down to the final six games, four games or two games?
Coughlin: “You usually end up saying it after Thanksgiving or the month of December. That’s the way it normally goes.”
Q: As we start this stretch, do you believe you have to get the offense going?
Coughlin: “We have to get everything going. Based on the last two weeks, there’s nothing that escapes the eye of analysis in terms of the improvement that has to be done. It’s not just the offense, but it would help tremendously if we got back to playing good, solid football. It still stings to go into a game plus-14 (turnover differential) and the opponent minus-five and they come out plus-three (which happened in Cincinnati in the Giants’ loss to the Bengals prior to the bye). How many points do we give away in those situations? You can’t play like that and so you’re ripping the heart out of the team when that happens. So somehow, some way, we need to get back to that (plus-14). There are five or six things we really believe in and that’s one of them, so that’s got to be corrected.”
Q: In Cincinnati, you had just one penalty, though it was costly (a call on
Coughlin: “The one penalty, yes, that was good. Minus-three, that’s not very good. You don’t take any satisfaction in any one thing when the final score is 31-13. But one penalty, that’s what we’re striving for. You have a spike every now and then, but we’re under five and we’re trying to get under four per game, which is all good. You don’t want to beat yourself.”
Coughlin: “That’s exactly what we talk about. I had about 20 guys in here in the last two to three days. Every one of them with a little different topic, but all recognizing the same thing - that if we’re going to be and have an opportunity to be the team we think we are, it’s got to happen right now and for six weeks every one of us can make the sacrifices and commit ourselves to the preparation that’s necessary for us to win the division. That’s what we’re talking about doing. Win our division. Yeah, we’ve been here before. We’ve had bumps in the road before and that’s been thrown in our face too to the point where I politely said the other day that I really, quite frankly, am tired of talking about what’s wrong. I know that they feel the same way, although I’m telling the players in anticipation of this, I started out Wednesday morning and one of the keys I told them was, ‘Look, you have to prepare yourself now with NBC coming in here (for the Sunday night game vs. Green Bay) to answer all these questions about what’s wrong. Well, we have to find a way, each of us, to do so in a polite and positive way and here you go.”
Q: It always seems as if nothing bothers Eli, but do you think the negativity and the questions wear on him?
Coughlin: “Well, we talk about it and we’ve been down this road before. You’re going to get praise. Some of it is unwarranted. You’re going to like it. You’re going to get criticism. Some of it is unwarranted. You’re not going to like it. If you let either one of them disrupt you, disturb you or have anything to do with your preparation or how you play, then that’s wrong and that’s my position.”
Q: When the assistant coaches spoke to the media, (offensive coordinator) Kevin Gilbride and (running backs coach) Jerald Ingram said
Coughlin: “I think he’s made good progress. Whether or not he’s totally prepared for every situation, that’s probably another issue. But he definitely does have to contribute going down the stretch here and we’re prepared to try to do that. The thing of it is that you have a young talented guy like this. You’d love to unleash him and turn him loose out there and let him play and we need to try to get closer and closer to that. He’s young and he’s growing. He’s getting better.”
Q: Is this the time in the year when rookies…
Coughlin: “Yes, yes, yes. This is the time you should be getting more out of them. For sure.”
Q: Have you challenged the coverage teams to play as well as they did earlier in the year?
Coughlin: “Naturally, we’re challenging them. Run down the damn field and don’t stop at the 25-yard line and go make the tackle. Naturally, everybody is challenged. Everybody in the building is challenged.”
Q: The Packers used their first six draft choices on defensive players. Do you think they’ve made a big improvement on defense?
Coughlin: “Definitely, they have. They’ve attacked an area that they didn’t think they were very good and you take from this point in the season on, when we were getting ready to play them a year ago, they were what, 28th (actually 30th) and this year they’re 12th. Now they had an incredible amount of takeaways last year. They’ve provided themselves with some good young talent and it’s showing up on the field and they’re playing well together.”
Q: Offensively it all starts with Aaron Rodgers. In your opinion, what separates him from most other quarterbacks?
Coughlin: “He’s a playmaker. He’s got very great accuracy. He’s a 67 percent passer and he has a 107 quarterback rating. He’s got 27 touchdowns and six interceptions. That’s not bad.”
Q: On special teams, is it safe to say Randall Cobb is the player you’re most concerned with?
Coughlin: “Cobb is having a heck of a year, but they also have outstanding cover teams. They’re covering well. They’re covering kicks and punts well and they’ve always been a team that you have to be aware of the gadget. The onside kick came in the divisional playoff game last year and we recovered it, fortunately. They tried the fake field goal against Chicago and scored a touchdown with it, shovel pass. They’ve always done that kind of stuff. You have to be on your toes.”