Head Coach Tom Coughlin**
Coughlin: Good Afternoon. What can I do for you today? Who do you want to talk about— which one on the list do you want to talk about?
Q: Let's talk about the new safety you signed?
A: Yeah— Brandon Meriweather, who we've played against before. He's a very physical safety— comes down in the box very well. He'll bring a degree of toughness to our secondary, to that position, so we welcome him.
Q: How much did you feel that you needed to get a veteran at that spot?
A: Well, it worked. It helped. It'll help to have a veteran there— a guy that's played and can share information with a lot of the young guys who are obviously trying to play but haven't been there yet.
Q: He was not signed by anyone. How much does he [Meriweather] think— his legs and everything— how much does he think he has left?
A: Well, he [Meriweather] had a toe issue, which he had corrected. He's 31 years old— he certainly doesn't need to be put away to rest. He's a young guy.
Q: He's been on the other side of the NFL disciplinary system for a lot of hits that he can't seem to have corrected…
A: Can't seem to have corrected?
Q: Well, he's been fined multiple times. I think he was suspended. What do you do with that? How do you coach that?
A: Well, the toughness part you want. The penalties and the issues, you don't want. And he's a young man who has expressed thanks in being here and having the opportunity, and I think he'll take coaching. He's competitive, he's very competitive. And to a certain extent, obviously, we want that, but we don't want what goes with it, obviously.
Q: Did you have to say something to him?
A: I will talk to him, yes. I will talk to him.
Q: How does he fit into the defensive system here?
A: How does he fit in?
A: He's a safety. And we're looking for safeties, so there you go. When they blow the whistle, 11 are supposed to go out there, so that's what we're looking for.
Q: What has it meant for you to have had one quarterback [Eli Manning] your entire career here, and where do you see Eli as far as how much longer you think you two might be together?
A: Well, I think he's better than— I think he's prepared to be better than he's ever been, to be honest with you. I thought last year his improvement was outstanding. His conditioning, his offseason work. Even right now, his recovery cycle work and flexibility is better than I've ever seen it. Again, he's young, he's obviously very driven, and he's in a great frame of mind. (something bangs off the ground) That having been said, that's an exclamation point.
Q: What do you— or I guess the medical staff at this point— need to see from Victor [Cruz] to get him into a preseason game?
A: Well, I think he's showing it. We'll pick when he goes, but he's done everything. Yesterday he did everything— we didn't even have a… he and Odell both had a full practice yesterday, and both did well and both are back ready to go today.
Q: Is that the plan again today? Not to be limited at all? Or do you have to back off a little bit after a full day like that?
A: He [Victor Cruz] is going to practice. That's all I'm telling you. They're [Cruz and Beckham Jr.] going to practice.
Q: Do you want to limit Victor to one preseason game?
A: Not necessarily. He has to do things gradually, and he's doing them gradually. He's getting to where he needs to be, and his mindset is outstanding. We brought him to the game [preseason opener at Cincinnati] for a reason. We put him into the workout in Cincinnati for a reason. He didn't get a chance to play in the game, but he saw it. He was in it. He was involved. He was mentally involved, and he's looking forward to going to the next step.
Q: We're three weeks into camp now— where do you sort of gauge where your defense is at this point?
A: Well, obviously after last weekend, both offense, defense, and certain parts of special teams need to improve. And that's what camp is for. So let's take what we have on tape, let's teach, and let's go back out and correct some of the mistakes that we made.
Q: How did [Geoff] Schwartz come out yesterday after his first workout?
A: He's practicing today.
Q: Is that a positive sign for him to go back-to-back [practices]?
A: Definitely. Definitely.
Q: Where do you see him on the line? Is he a guard or tackle?
A: Both. He's played all those positions his whole career— both sides— so, wherever we need him. He's smart enough, he understands it, he can play multiple positions.
Q: How's [Marshall] Newhouse doing today?
A: He seems he's going to be ready to go. We have to watch him, but he's going to be ready to go.
Q: Is it an extra challenge when you have to add these new pieces in on the fly, during training camp? You know, the secondary…
A: Well obviously you can't go back to day one. So it's an issue for them— they have to catch up. But again, it's the language. It's the language— he's [Brandon Meriweather] done it, he's played all kinds of coverages— particularly in Washington. It's just a matter of him understanding what the terminology represents and what his responsibilities are, and I'm sure he'll be accelerated because of his number of years of service in the league.
Q: Would Geoff Schwartz— he obviously has a foot problem that he's been dealing with— does that factor in for you as to how much you can use him at right tackle and how much more difficult maybe does that make it to put him out there?
A: I hope not. I hope not. I'm not thinking that way. I'm not thinking of any restriction. I'm thinking where he can best help us, and we'll take it from there.
Q: Is it something you have to manage long-term with him? I know you kind of mentioned that before, that maybe you might have to do that.
A: Well, whatever happens, we'll manage it. Whether he can go without anybody being concerned, whether he does have concerns and he gets a restricted amount— that's all to be seen. But for now, after the time that he's been away from the field, he's ready to practice and we need him to practice to get going to see whether we can count on him.
Q: How long had Meriweather been on your radar, just as far as being an option?
A: There's a list. Who's available? Who isn't? It happens everyday. Some come off, some come on. He's been on that list since the non-signing in Washington, but he did have the toe issues, which anybody and everybody in the league, I'm sure, was monitoring. He hasn't worked out that many places, to be honest with you, so the timing is just about right for our need.
Q: Is this the first time that you had him in to work out or did you have him in here beforehand?
A: First time.
Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo**
Q: What were your thoughts on the first preseason game?
A: I knew we were going to get general. Well, I'll be honest, like I told the guys, I didn't think we started out like we should have, that was a little disappointing—we talked about that the other day. Cincinnati came out and jumped us pretty quick, I thought got us on our heels a little bit. I think the guys felt that, too. Of course, in a preseason game, you're taking some guys out, and it kind of gets out of whack a little bit. We did settle down a little bit. I thought the young guys did some good things. It was encouraging to see us play good in the red zone. Not encouraging to give up all of the long run plays, I think a lot of that can be fixed. There was a couple of pass plays where we challenged, our corners, we went into it saying, look, we're going to stay very vanilla. We might do some things man-wise, it'll challenge the corners on the outside. But that's okay, we want to find out where we are. So some of that was planned, and it wasn't a deep game plan to stop Cincinnati's offense. We practiced against them for two days. All in all, I think we've got a long way to go, but I think the guys are willing to do the things they need to do to get there.
Q: When you have players talk about not playing fast and they wish they would have, why wouldn't you?
A: You know what I attribute that to? And we talked about it. I think they were thinking too much because they wanted to be right, and it's the first game, and there's a lot of youth on our side of the ball. I think it was more that. Look, we focused a lot on that and we're talking about it now. I'm hoping in this next go-around, that it will be think fast and just go. That's what the defensive game is all about. I told them, don't worry about making mistakes. Maybe I didn't say that enough going into the game. If you're a guy and you want to make the football team, and they're always being corrected for an error, they want to be perfect. But we're going to chase perfection, but we're going to rely on relentless. That's what we're going to try to do.
Q: Is a guy like Trevin Wade kind of embodying that mentality right now? It seems like he's always around the ball.
A: Yeah, I'm glad you brought Trevin [Wade] up, he's done a nice job. When a guy steps up, he's around the ball, he's making plays—he made a big one at the end, I think you have to recognize that. At first I don't think anybody really knew where he was, as a player. But it's good to see him, I'd like to see more guys do that.
Q: What do you guys like about Brandon Meriweather?
A: You know, Brandon, I've seen from afar, obviously as an opponent. Very aggressive football player, experienced, has started in the NFL. From guys that played with him in college, because we've got some Miami guys here, obviously, the feedback from them was he was very vocal—I like that in a safety. I think Coach Coughlin and Jerry [Reese] like the same thing. Not afraid to make a mistake, bold—I think all those things are good attributes. We'll have to find out where he is with all the other things, he hasn't been in football for a little bit right now.
Q: How was the communication, especially among the first team defense, in getting everything lined up and what not?
A: Not too bad, could've been better. I think the first touchdown, I'm going to take the onus on that one. Again, we didn't game plan against Cincinnati. Had we been game planning, we would have played that bunch route they had a little bit differently. In the way we were playing it, made it real challenging for our guys. So we certainly could have played that better, that wasn't the players' fault, it was just that particular play. We shouldn't have let them down that close, but that particular play was really on the coaches, my fault.
Q: You're more familiar with Jeromy Miles probably than anybody. What did you like about him to bring him here?
A: Well, Jeromy [Miles] has always been more of a special teams player, he was never really a pure starter in this league. But I felt he could at least provide depth, some veteran presence, and certainly special teams. We'll see where it goes with regards to playing safety and how much. There was a comfort level there, when you know people, I knew what kind of effort you were going to get from Jeromy. I know he's a pro, I know he works at it, I know he studies the game. I think that's all been evident. And he'll tell you he'd like to be playing a little bit better football than he did the other night.
Q: So he's got a ways to go on defense?
A: Yeah, we all do. We all do, myself included.
Q: What do you see from your defensive end group? Does anybody stand out?
A: I think they're all kind of clumped together. When I say that, I think we have some guys that will play relentless football. I was kind of impressed with some of the things that the guys did up front. Now, there are some tweaks and some mental errors that we have to get ironed out, and I think they'll do that. A lot of those guys are ready, set, go—that's not a bad quality in a defensive end, to do that. And Coach [Robert] Nunn is working technique with them. We've moved some guys around, I think you saw some of those defensive ends played inside the other night, which we like to do. We'll continue to do that. We have to get into situations that will allow us to do that. But we'll keep moving them around, I think all of them are doing about the same right now.
Q: What kind of leap has Kerry Wynn taken against the run, in particular?
A: Yeah, I didn't know a lot about Kerry [Wynn] coming here. I'd seen him on film as I studied the Giants from last year. But he's a solid football player, he knows what he's doing. He made a couple of uncharacteristic mental errors in the game, and even in practice yesterday. But I trust Kerry because I know he knows what he's doing. I think he's getting better as a football player, as we start talking about technique and things he needs to do out there. I think he's improved as we've gone on in training camp.
Q: Jon Beason almost sounded like a rookie the other day, saying he's really trying to do the right thing and show you he knows the defense. Do you see it's not quite there yet for him?
A: I think anytime it's new language, new system—but look, I love Jon Beason. We do individual stuff, him and I get a lot. He's a football player, he loves the game. When you're passionate about football and want to do the right thing, that's what comes out. I think he said to me, it might've been in the walk-through here. He was moving the trash cans around that we use and getting them perfect. I said, "You wanted to get those right?" He goes, "Yeah." He goes, "I'm like that, I want it to be perfect." He goes, "It's a blessing and a curse." And it is, we all know that. Sometimes you can try to be too perfect. But I love working with him. I watched him out here yesterday, and coming off a game, having a day off, and everybody being sore, it's a little sluggish. I felt we were sluggish yesterday, but you watch Jon Beason, and he was flying around like a rookie. And good for him. I pointed that out in the meeting, and all the other guys need to follow suit. I love working with him.
Q: How much do you miss JPP?
A: Well, it's hard for me to calculate that. I really haven't worked with him. So we'll keep our fingers crossed. Our prayers are with him for health. Until we can get him back here, we'll just focus on the guys that we've got.
Q: You mentioned Meriweather with his aggressive play. Obviously he's gotten in trouble in the past for being too aggressive. He's also said that he doesn't necessarily want to change his style. Is that a fine line for you to walk as a coach?
A: Very fine line for a coach, very fine line for a player in the league that we play in nowadays. But it's all about target, and it's a low target area, a strike zone. We're talking from the chest down to the thigh. That's what guys have to begin to do. I think that a lot of aggressive players in this league have adjusted to that, I think a lot of them are doing it. And we need to. So it's preached, it's talked about, and, again, we haven't had him here but for a day. But that will be a focus, and I'm sure when you're away from football for a little bit and you realize where that may have been one of the reasons—I don't know if it is or not—I'm sure he'll find a way to get it corrected.
Q: When you're dealing with the issues in the secondary, how much can the ends help by getting pressure on the quarterback?
A: Yeah, all secondary players appreciate good defensive ends, we all know that from the past. We need that. It needs to all work together. I mean, look, you've got to cover them for a certain point, certain amount of time, so the defensive ends can get there. And defensive ends needs to get there quick enough so they're not back there hanging out. It all works together, and hopefully with some things that we'll do and some plays that we'll have, and when we get all the guys where we want them, that'll piece together and we'll have something good.
Q: How concerned are you with Landon Collins' knee and how it may kind of hold back his progression?
A: Yeah, the biggest concern is all the time he's missing. I let Ronnie [Barnes] handle how long and when. He is staying in tune, he was standing by me most of yesterday as the calls went in. He gave me the feedback, he's trying to stand behind there in the walkthroughs. That's about all he can do right now, until he can get healthy. It's just one of those things that sets you back. I don't know where we are with game time and all of that, as far as these preseason games. But that's valuable, valuable experience for any rookie, but especially a safety who we're depending on to make calls and changes and adjustments, so it'll be a challenge.
Q: There were obviously mistakes in the game, did you see the little things like hustle and physicality that make a defense?
A: Yeah, I did. I saw more of it in the practice against Cincinnati, to be honest with you. I don't know if we—I'm not really sure in the game. I think if you were to ask every one of our guys to a man, we would've thought that we would have played more physical and faster. We're all trying to put our finger on that, and I think everybody has to look in the mirror first. But that is the goal. I think you can make up for a lot of mistakes if you do that, we all know that. That's the goal, that's been a goal right from the beginning.
Q: What's your impression of Damontre Moore?
A: I love Damontre. I love guys that like to have fun, I really do. Look, he pulled me aside in the walkthrough—because we had put one or two little wrinkles in, and he wanted to make sure he had it exactly right—this is what I'm hearing and this is what I'm doing. So he's passionate, he wants to do well. We're looking for him to do good things. We'll fit him in there where we can, and fit him in the right spots.
Q: What had Landon shown you before he got hurt?
A: I'll tell you what, he was progressing like you would hope when you take a guy as high as we did and with the expectation that he would fit in there. I'm normally—I'd prefer not to slot rookie's right in there as starters—you make them earn it. But, it was obvious here that Landon is ahead of the game, playing at Alabama, I think, helps. He had come leaps and bounds in the verbal part of it, the mental part of it, handling the volume. I think some of the guys were starting to get confidence in him. It still has a ways to go, and then when you lose this amount of time, I think that sets him back a little bit. So he's going to have to come back in and play catch up. Hopefully he can do that, and get everybody back on the same page.
Q: Had he kind of emerged as the voice of that safety group?
A: Yes and no. I think there's a couple of safeties back there doing it, and certainly Jon Beason, in the middle, has a big part in that.
Q: How much will a guy like Brandon Meriweather help to develop the other safeties?
A: Well, I don't know that yet. I'm not sure I know him well enough to know if he's that kind of guy. Some veterans come in and look, they just worry about what they're doing. And certainly he's here trying to keep a job or get a job. I don't know where that will go just yet. I've got to learn a little bit more about him.
Q: He's been in the league a while, but you didn't know him at all?
A: No, other than talking to him at the Combine, way back when. I know it seems like forever ago, when he came out. He's played a lot of football, and that's a good thing.
Q: How do you see using Devon Kennard?
A: Devon Kennard, in a lot of places right now. He's a good football player. He looks like they're supposed to look. He's versatile in that he can play off the ball as a linebacker, in my opinion. He plays up on the line as what we call a SAM linebacker. And sometimes, we put him down there to rush. That means we've got a pretty good football player. So keep him healthy, don't overload him. And yet he wants more and more. So I think those are all good qualities.
Linebacker Jon Beason
Q: You were able to come in right away when you were brought here. Did you give (Brandon Meriweather) any advice in that regard?
A: I think when you really want to do something, you're going to get it done first-off and I think that is the case with Brandon. In terms of terminology, you come in, you hear something, 'okay, what does that mean?' If I say 'hi,' everyone knows what that means. If I say 'hola,' well it's the same and you understand Spanish. So it's two different ways of saying the same thing and that's the terminology of football. What does this word mean? This morning we were meeting before meetings earlier this morning and he said, 'hey, what does sync mean? What does the call sync mean?' I said, this is the technique in this coverage and, boom, and when I give it to him, I'm sure it's in the bank. He's going to know it. If I asked him right now, he's going to know it. Just a guy I know is going to pick it up fast and help us out, especially with all the injuries.
Q: Sounds like you expect him to lean on you a lot? You're really going to help him and stuff.
A: Yeah. I wish I could say coming in, for me, it was Antrel, it was Herzlich, it was Jacquian (Williams), it was guys who'd been in the system. So when he asked me a question, I was like, 'yeah, this is what this means and blah blah blah.' Well, I was just learning the system too so I feel pretty confident in what's going on, especially being a linebacker who happens to understand coverages. I think I've helped him just with a few things. 'Hey what does that mean?' and then I start, this is our base package, this is what we're going to do as our staple and this is some of the other things we're going to do in terms of our blitz packages and some hairy things, some unconditional things that we do that don't make sense. This is like an OBW. Just like little tidbits that I think are going to help him.
Q: You're obviously a leader in this defense. How much did you think it was necessary to get a veteran guy back there? Have another veteran voice or figure in that room?
A: I wouldn't say it was necessary. I think anytime you do something new, obviously there is a transition period. We had guys back there that hadn't played, but they were doing an outstanding job throughout OTAs and even going into the preseason and training camp. Guys were very vocal. You've got Landon Collins coming in right away, you make him a starter, that means we're going to lean on you to step up and be a vet. You bring in Jeromy (Miles), a guy who knows the system, right away you felt his presence. So we were good, but the injuries are always tough. That's the hardest part in this game. You can't bank on that, you can't count on that. God forbid someone gets hurt and it's a mad shuffle to try and make it happen. The young guys always have to be prepared knowing that their opportunity is coming and not thinking so-and-so is a starter, he's older, he's a veteran, he's getting paid more. If you have that mentality, you're going to miss your opportunity because you won't see it when it comes.