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12/30 Transcripts: Coach Tom Coughlin & QB Eli Manning

Coach Tom Coughlin

Q: Is anybody practicing today that didn't practice yesterday?

A: Fred Robbins will practice today. I think that's the only one that didn't practice yesterday that gets clearance today.

Q: Is anybody that is able to play going to play? With the last game will you try to push it with some of these guys to get them on the field or is there some level of caution?

A: Well yeah, but we do have a game to play, a game we're trying to win. It's our 16th game and guys want to play, they want to be part of this game and if they can physically play and they're cleared by the medical people, just like any other circumstance during the course of the year, then they will play.

Q: Considering the goals you had set at the beginning of the season are you a little surprised where you are now?

A: Surprised? That's not a very good word. Disappointed in where we are right now, but that's the nature of reality and we're always trying to stay in front, looking ahead, looking at this game. The last two games we've played very competitively, we've been in positions where we've had a chance to win and haven't made the plays to win. We'd like certainly to be able to do that. That would be a major accomplishment for us, a goal that we would set for this weekend.

Q: Is it hard for a coach to get his team to play in a situation like this?

A: I don't think so. Pride is a factor and this is a divisional game, it's our last game of the year, it's on national television and guys want to play and they want to do well and perform. That's always asked at this time. It's like one of those rote questions that comes up this time of year, but as I said yesterday, hopefully guys are focused on this game, their responsibility, their role in the game and they want to play well.

Q: How important is it for Eli to get his first win before the off-season?

A: It is, but obviously a win for everybody is important. I think that's the key. What we want to do is win the game and then we'll talk about how the game was played. Who improved and who didn't and so on and so forth. For Eli, obviously his growth certainly would lead him to this game being a game that if we won, it obviously would be great feelings for the off-season.

Q: Will Eli go into the off-season as a leader and do you expect him to become a little bit more vocal?

A: He will. He's even more now. He's grown into that role a little bit week by week as we've gone along here. I think the first thing that has to happen with a young guy, which is really not a bad role for a lot of people to be honest with you, is play well…do your talking with your play and that helps an awful lot. When a guy gets himself into a position where he's playing at a very high level, those around him really have to play at a very high level as well and that's what everyone really should shoot for. And in the position of the quarterback, particularly a young quarterback, this is a big hurdle for him because once at that level, I think his actions will speak very loudly.

Q: Can you talk about whether or not you're concerned about free agents coming here in the off-season given recent reports about players in the system?

A: I'll talk about free agency when the time comes.

Q: The Eagles record in this division over the last three years is something like 22 and 3; do you think the gap between them and the rest of this division is that big?

A: Obviously by the record you just mentioned, it is. I think when you have a situation like that, that is what everyone in the division is shooting for. The Philadelphia Eagles are the standard right now for our division and teams are constantly trying to look at the Eagles in the off-season and trying to find ways to become more competitive and to close that gap. That's exactly what you do when you're in a division with a team that's clearly the distinct leader of the division.

Q: How much has it hurt not having Michael Strahan not only on the field but off the field as well?

A: Anytime you have a player of that ability, you're going to miss him, there's no doubt about that. In this case it's two-fold, a guy who really was a leader in the locker room and on the field by virtue of how he played, other people have respect for him and other people look to him. You're going to miss a player like that, no doubt.

Q: With all of the stories in the press about players not wanting to play for you and players who may not like you; does that get to you? Do you care? Do you believe it?

A: First of all, in reference to who cares for me and who doesn't care for me, we've lost eight games in a row. I think sometimes the media needs to look at that. There are frustrations, they are frustrations among individual players and I think you see some of that come out at this time of the year. Do I pay attention to it? I don't read it, but I do know about it. Does it affect me? It doesn't affect my work at all. It bothers me, but it doesn't affect my work.

Q: If you had a chance to go back to the beginning of the season what would you do differently?

A: Nothing.

QB Eli Manning

Q: How badly do you need to get a win this week?

A: We want to win; we're going to try our best. We had a good practice yesterday and we're just going to try to prepare and go out there and play hard and try to find a win. We just want to get that feeling back and end the season on a good note and that's all we can do.

Q: How valuable are these experiences for you right now? How much did you learn in the Cincinnati game that you now plan to carry over to the Dallas game?

A: I think I'm learning every week. It's not just in games, it's coming from practices and getting reps and seeing different defenses and just learning our offense versus certain defenses…what we like, how to go through your reads and the timing and the patience that you have to have. I think every week I'm getting more prepared and I'm trying to take notes on everything and just not make the same mistakes twice. So I think I'm getting better every week and it's just a matter of putting everything together and hopefully the last game of the season you go out and play your best game.

Q: Can you understand what Kurt said yesterday, that he doesn't want to be here anymore? Can you understand that he wants to go somewhere else?

A: Yeah, I completely understand. He wants to play and I think he has that desire and I know that he can still play and go somewhere and be successful. It's his life, he wants to go out there and continue to play football and I commend him on it. I think it's great for him.

Q: How do you feel your transition as a rookie went and with all of the things going on off the field how much harder has it been for you to make the transition?

A: I think I've gone through the transition fine and you just have to make adjustments. It's never exactly how you expect it, it's just a matter of seeing how things are and making the best of every situation that you're in and that's what I'm trying to do right now. Obviously we haven't had the season that we've wanted, I haven't played the way I've wanted, but you just try to improve and make things better than what they are and just try to get better every week.

Q: Can you appreciate a former MVP, a guy who has won a Super Bowl handling this situation the way he did?

A: Yeah and I appreciate Kurt for everything he's done this season. The way he's dealt with me, the way he's dealt with the team and everything with the media. He's been first-class and when I first came here I had never met Kurt and I heard great things about him and he obviously held up to his name and the characteristics that people talk about. He's a great person and he's made this very easy on me with me dealing with everything and being very supportive and it's definitely been a benefit having Kurt here for my success.

Q: Is there a part of you that wishes there were more than just one game, knowing how valuable experience can be at this stage of your career?

A: Yeah. I love playing football, I love preparing and obviously this is what I love to do so obviously you have to know when the season is over and we have one game left so you make the best of that opportunity. Hopefully at the end of the season you're playing your best football so hopefully that's what we'll get in our last game and then you just start preparing for next season by getting with the receivers and players and start working out and just keep building on where you are right now.

Q: What was the conversation like between you and Peyton this week?

A: I haven't really talked to Peyton a whole lot. I didn't get to talk to him after the game, I left him a message just congratulating him on the win and the record and then I talked to him a little bit on Monday. We really just talked about his game, talked about our game a little bit and I congratulated him. But he doesn't make a big deal about it, he's not bragging about it or talking about it, so obviously I'm proud of him and he knows that but besides that I think he's kind of glad that it's over with and he's now in playoff mode. That's his focus and getting into the Super Bowl.

Q: What will a win do for your confidence personally?

A: I don't know if it's a confidence thing. It's just to get that feeling back. It's been a long time since we've won, it's been a long time since I've won a game as a starting quarterback and you can't beat that feeling when you prepare all week. You watch film, you put in the extra work to go out there and play well and then when you see something with the defense and make an audible and make a play where you know exactly what you're doing from that preparation and you play your best game and win, that's what it's all about and that's what we will hopefully get this weekend.

Q: Can you talk about the Dallas defense and what kind of challenge they present?

A: They're very physical and do some different things. They do some all-out blitzes and mix up defenses, so it's just a matter of having a plan for what they're going to do and figure out what they're going to do defensively to stop us and you make adjustments and just make plays when they're there.

Q: We know this game is important but is it also important for you guys to see Tiki break his rushing record on Sunday?

A: You always play to win and that's the main focus but with Tiki and the season he's having you always want him to go out there and play well and there are things out there that he can break. Obviously I know that that's not his main concern but it's always fun to have those things. You do everything you can to win the game and hopefully those things just happen by themselves.

RE: Having an all-pro running back behind you…that has got to be such a relief for you?

A: Definitely, just to have a player like Tiki and knowing that you can hand him the ball and he can go get you yards. He can break a long one at any time, he's great out of the backfield throwing to, so he's a weapon and that's what teams are trying to stop. They're trying to game plan against him so it's great having him on the team and having him as that threat.

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