What was your first reaction when you found out you would be playing the Eagles for a third time this year?
Well, I was excited, I think, just to know who we were playing. To be honest with you, going into the weekend I think a lot of us were kind of already mentally preparing for Philly and that is the way it turned out so we are excited that we know who we are playing and now we can focus on them.
What have you seen in the way of definitive improvements with Eli this year?
Eli has been himself. He has been doing what he does best, win football games. I think probably the first thing that jumps out at you, it is also a team stat, but along with the Dolphins, we set a record for least amount of turnovers and I think he is somebody that takes a lot of pride in that and he did a great job of that this year.
Were you mentally prepared for Philly because you figured with the way they had been playing they would advance?
I think that we understood the scenario. I think that they are a team that is playing extremely well. They have found some rhythm. They are playing extremely well on defense obviously and offensively they are finding ways to score points. You look at the games that they have won down the stretch, with the exception probably being the Washington game, but what they did to Dallas and then the Minnesota game, I think that we all felt that there was a good chance that we were going to be playing them and that is the way it turned out. We are looking forward to getting to work this week and looking forward to a big game.
Is there a concern about the Eagles having all the momentum or do you feel like you guys have momentum even though you lost three of the last four?
I don't think this team really looks at it like we lost three of the last four. We are done with last year. That was 2008 and this is 2009 now and it doesn't matter what you did during the season. If you were 8-8, if you were 10-6 like we were last year, or 12-4, what matters is now, and I think Philly did a great job with that last week. Obviously we did a great job last year, but this is a whole new ball game. Momentum, fine, whatever it is, confidence, whatever that is, the bottom line is it is the team that wants it more, the team that plays harder on Sunday and makes the plays. That is really the challenge this week. It is going to be, can we do the things that we have done in big games in order to win.
You guys have gotten a lot of mileage out of the 'us against the world' mantra. Do you like that Philadelphia in some circles is becoming the 'it' team?
You know what, I really haven't paid any attention to it and I think that we all know that they are playing well, but we can't control who people want to talk about or who people want to favor or whatever. I think that it is a great matchup. The Eagles versus the Giants, that is always a great matchup, and we are aware that we split those games this year and to have a division rival in a second round playoff game is exciting.
Do you like it when there is some measure of doubt to contend with?
I think that this team has handled that well. I think that we definitely thrive on challenges. I think obviously last year with the position that we were in there was a lot more opportunity for that. I think when you establish yourself as the number one seed, in my eyes that really doesn't mean much, but I think a lot of people can make something of it. As far as I am concerned, this is about as evenly-matched a football game as you could ask for.
Do you think that your last poor offensive performance against them was an exception to the rule or did they do something in particular that gave you guys a lot of trouble?
I don't know. We will find out on Sunday. I think I can speak offensively that we were very displeased with the amount of plays we had in that game and the lack of time of possession in that game. We went into the first game with them talking about controlling the time of possession, running the football, and basically keeping their offense off the field, I think that is what you need to do, and we didn't do that with the second game. I think that is really what had a big influence on the outcome of the game, but just like last year, the great thing is we have an opportunity to rectify that last loss.
Is it going to be a very familiar situation for you guys since you have studied them and play them twice a year?
I think that we do know them well, but I think you have to look at the flip side of it, that they know us extremely well. Knowing that there are things that you have to do and you have to prepare for and it can become a little bit of a mind game and a little bit of a chess match, but I think in this league there are a lot of games where defenses know what we are going to do or we may know what a defense is going to do and really what it comes down to is can you execute it? Knowing is just half the battle. Can we execute, can we win that physical battle, and can we establish our offense in the way that we like to do that in running the football?
Do you think in any NFC East rivalry game knowing is a lower percentage of the battle than it would be in a game where you are less familiar with your opposition?
I think it always plays into the game. Do you know your foe? Know your opponent; do you know what they are going to try to do? I think that again like I said knowing it you can put any percentage you want on it, but really what is going to matter the most and what is going to determine the outcome is the execution part. Can you make those plays? Can you outperform the other team regardless of whether or not they know what you are doing?
How much more difficult is it to make the line calls and the protection calls against the Eagles than some other teams because of all the different exotic blitzes they have?
I think that is what you have to prepare yourself for. You can watch as much tape as you want and study all of that, but they do a good job of a lot of one-time blitzes so that is where you really have to be on your toes. You have to be ready for anything and I am sure we will see something that they haven't done in the past few games. Really I was surprised at how little they pressured the last time we played them. I think that we were expecting a little bit more and I think that it is going to be two similar style defenses so we see some of the same blitzes from our defense that they run. It is going to be an offensive battle really for both offenses kind of facing similar defenses and it is always going to come down to a couple of big plays. Can we pick up the blitz and hurt them on a big play? Or does their blitz become effective and cost us a big play?
Burress was always a big play threat against the Eagles. Do you have the guys that can make the plays instead of him?
I don't think anybody on this team is concerned with, 'hey, can I make the same plays Plaxico made?' I don't think we have anybody that is trying to fill Plaxico's shoes. There is no doubt about it that he is a physical threat when you put him out there and I think Brian Dawkins even mentioned the last time after we played them that they had to account for him and he has always had big games against the Eagles. I don't think anybody is going to sit here and say, 'I have to do this because Plaxico did that,' but I think that as an offense as a whole there are going to be times when we are going to need guys to step up and make big plays. That could come from anybody.