Opening Remarks:Good afternoon. We met with our team today and the thing that I told the team was out of all the things that we did and a lot were very, very good, the thing that I was most pleased with was the effort. I think we really flew around to the ball on defense. We had many people to the ball and did know that the run was something that we would have to make as a priority. We had to shut the run down and we did a good job with that and the score helped a little bit there. We held them to 49 yards rushing and we held them to 14 points. We only had three penalties and we did not have a turnover, those were the things that were most impressive to me as I looked at the tape and I studied the statistics from yesterday's game. I think of the three penalties, two of them were unnecessary and special teams penalties. If we can do something about that and control that, we had two outstanding plays to get the ball back when the ball was on the ground. Jones getting the ball back and Eli getting the ball back were huge plays in the game. The special teams play was especially critical because of where the ball was located. Eli's play was significant because we were close and close to the green zone or at the edge of the green zone and we didn't give the ball away there either. Those were huge plays in the game and the combined effort throughout the game. I think one of the things that I would say was emblematic of what I am talking about was Tuck's play at the end of the game where he chased the quarterback in one direction, the quarterback evaded him and he turned and sprinted with the score 31-14 and made an all-out effort to get to the quarterback and make the sack. He knocked the ball out and we recovered the ball and that's how we were able to end the game in the formation we like the most. We are excited about that. We talked about how important this time of the year is. We are in the playoffs and you really have a good handle on what the opponent is seeing in your play. In fact, for example our first week in the playoffs with Atlanta, we really need to do a good job of studying them because we have not played them in a while and we need to do a really good job in a short amount of time of being informed about this outstanding Atlanta Falcon team.
Q: What do you tell the younger players about the playoffs outside of what you have said about the last two games of the season?A: I think we have been in playoff games, we have been in playoff games for the last three weeks. We are battle tested in a lot of ways because we have played some really outstanding football teams all down through the second half of the season. What I told them was the straight up truth, this is the playoffs. There are 12 teams in the playoffs and 20 teams go home, it is a single-elimination tournament and if you win, you go on. If you lose, you go home. It is reality. I think a lot of the young guys have a feeling for that. I really felt that what was very good about our football team was the building throughout the week and the outstanding practices and then the peer pressure. Not only the pressure to perform but to play smart and do the smart thing and I thought that was prevalent everywhere on our team.
Q: Do you think the team established its identity in terms of physical play?A: I hope so, I hope that we have and I think that the resurgence with that part of our game for the last couple weeks has really put the smile on their faces. There is confidence in the three units and all three units need to play together and I think we are starting to see that take place.
Q: Can you talk about Victor Cruz's development?A: I think you look at it in stages and his preseason was okay. The start of the season was about exactly where he fit and that question and then I think he just kind of got an opportunity to play. He got a taste of it and knew that he had a lot to learn but was willing and had the ability and put himself in positions where he could take full advantage of that. He just started to grow and develop. When you look at this last part of the season and the number of plays the young man has made which has given us a spark or put us in position to win games, it is truly amazing. My hat is off to him. He goes on IR and he has no offseason although Eli has been working with him, all he has is the preseason and yet he is able to have the kind of season we have all witnessed.
Q: Do you think Victor is quicker than people realize on film?A: I think that's one of the attributes that he does possess - that and obviously the speed. You hear those terms all of the time – quicker than fast; fast, but not quick; doesn't start fast. This guy starts fast, is fast, is quick, can make people miss, obviously, and runs the ball with some authority once he has it. [Victor] is not easy to tackle.
Q: Was Kiwanuka a point of interest for stopping the run?A: That was really an outstanding game for Kiwi. Penetrated, you saw him run through the back side, make the play on the power right off the bat, first play of the game – did that with some consistency throughout the game. Had some good rushes in the third down package as well. We put a lot of time and emphasis into stopping the run. One of the packages was what you saw right away early in the game with Kiwi. He certainly did respond and play well.
Q: Is he back at the level he was prior to getting hurt last year?A: Based on this past game, which he played very, very well. I know he's playing well based on this particular game right here and I hope to tell you that this is the start of something, that we're going to see the continuation of that kind of play.
Q: Was there an evolution of Antrel's value on the field?A: He certainly played well last night, again. He was a physical presence. He had the interception. I really liked the way he put himself in position for the interception because the quarterback, quite frankly, didn't see him. He was in one area of the coverage and as more time went on he kind of saw the eyes of the quarterback and started moving into the area where Witten was and made an outstanding play there. He tackled well. He had some physical tackles. He's an emotional guy and he wears it on his sleeve. He gives you everything he's got. Watching him develop and play and play wherever we want him to play, whether it will be down, whether it will be back, whether it's back down again like it is right now. He's playing very well.
Q: Has it taken awhile for Antrel to get acclimated to his new team?A: I would think that it takes awhile for someone coming into a program just to figure out what it's all about, who's who. Last year we had 10 wins, didn't get in [to the playoffs]. So there was some frustration. There's been some frustration that has been dealt with pretty well this year as well. Now we're seeing the result of having some patience and continuing to work, which these guys have done. This team has done that. They've worked through many issues throughout the course of the year and come back stronger yet.
Q: Is it important to approach the season as being more of a marathon than a sprint?A: Well, it is a marathon. You can't afford to be too high or too low. Over the course of the season you have to maintain. Sometimes you do, you unfortunately can't help, there's big wins and there's big disappointments. But somehow you have to come back and have some kind of an even keel.
Q: With the ups and downs of the season, what is your approach to getting this team to play its best at this point?A: I hope it's consistency. The approach doesn't change all that much, to be honest with you. It's always focused on ahead regardless of whether there are issues, problems, we lost a game. It's always the work ethic, the team concept. Right at this point of the year, without a doubt you're helped by the circumstance, too. People understand and know what the consequences are of their play. The motivation is incredible. It's a great time of the year. We've come down the stretch. We've had a million questions asked about our ability to finish, so that's always been in the back of our mind. We've talked about it openly. It was our goal at the very beginning of the year and the guys have bought into that, they see it. We have some people here that know how to win, that have done it in a very, very wonderful place not too long ago, that can share with a lot of others about what it takes at this time of the year to put yourself in that position or at least to get into the tournament. That's been the main stick.
Q: When did you decide you wanted to give Hynoski the ball more?A: Well he's shown from the very get-go he has good hands. So he is, many times, the third level of the particular play action pass. If it comes to that, as you read the progression from the top-down, he's running free, he gets the ball. He got the ball last night more than he had, but we do believe that he has good hands and we're very confident that if you throw it to him he'll catch it. And he's shown the ability to get some yards after the catch as well.
Q: How did Osi come out?A: He came out well
Re: making frustration a positiveA: It wasn't [forced] down at all. If anything, it was re-directed. It was made positive. That's what I think you have to continue to do. You have to try to continue to get people to understand how to express their frustration and to convert it into something very positive.
Q: The approach to Ballard this week?A: They're going to run tomorrow, he and Herzlich both, and we'll see.
Q: The players are saying it's a similar confidence to 2007.A: Well, if they're saying that, I hope. I think every team is different. Every year is a different year. I think the guys that are probably saying that are the guys that have experienced it. If they can share that feeling with the other players and the other players can understand what they're talking about, I'm all for it.
Q: Do you need chemistry?A: Absolutely. You have to have that, sure. That's what we keep talking about – team – whatever chemistry is. You're talking team.
Q: Is there a formula for bringing the right personalities here?A: Well there's a formula for everything that is done. It's very sophisticated, the way in which people are evaluated and the feeling that, 'Yes, the need is there. Is this the kind of person that we want wearing the New York Giant uniform?' There is a definite, definite formula to it.
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