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Conference Call (10/29): Coach Coughlin, Eli Manning


Head Coach Tom Coughlin**

Q: Do you get excited for these Monday night games? Is it still kind of a showcase game in the league?

A: "I get excited for every game, whether it's Monday, Sunday, whatever. It's an honor and a privilege to be in this league and to be able to play on Monday night certainly is, it's an opportunity for our players to understand the way in which our league operates and obviously an opportunity for them to give their family and all their friends and so on and relatives the chance to see them play."

Q: It wasn't their best showing last Sunday against the Steelers, but what have you seen from the Colts defense throughout the season this year?

A: "Well they're aggressive, they really are. They're aggressive. They do, according to our studies, have a very high number of pressures that they believe in as a base to their defensive scheme. They've covered well. They've done a lot of things very, very well. The Steelers played an outstanding football game, what are you going to say?"

Q: Is that just one of those things that happens from time to time when you're playing against professionals at that level?

A: "Well I don't know about that but we had one happen to us, unfortunately for us, with the Eagles. They played super and we didn't play well at all."

Q: When you look at your team on the offensive side, is everything starting to gel with the new system and new coordinator?

A: "Well those things I've felt good about since day one. The production on the field hasn't been as good as I would hope. As you know, when we put the three wins together, we played very well, we had turnovers, we had takeaways, we had good field position. That's kind of slowed down for us. We had good balance with the run and that's what we're hoping for anyway is good balance. We didn't do much of anything in Philadelphia but in Dallas we did protect the passer pretty well. We gave ourselves some chances, some opportunities but we didn't run the ball very well and we need to be able to do that."

Q: What type of role did Ahmad Bradshaw and Hakeem Nicks play in your run to the Super Bowl at Lucas Oil Stadium a few years ago?

A: "They were tremendous football players. When I watch the tape and I see the way that they progressed and the way they're playing this year, there's no doubt that it sends us back a couple of years to when they were both here. They're outstanding young men, they work hard. You know that in Bradshaw you have a very tough, tough guy who loves to play. It's interesting, I would kid him that, you know he's caught as many balls as he has and he's had success with the catch and run after the catch, and scored a number of touchdowns, and he used to yell at me for wanting to run it more. I wonder now if he wants to catch it more (laughs). But he's done very well and both of those guys meant a great deal to our team."

Q: Coming off the bye week, is it somewhat of a fresh start? Did you get the chance to look back and do some things internally, and get ready for the second half of the year?

A: "Well that's what you do. You study yourself and you try to come up with reasons, ways in which you can improve. You have a chance as a staff to sit and talk about things that you normally don't have that opportunity. Then when the players come back you have a chance to apply four or five things that you've decided are very important for them to maybe structurally or strategically go ahead and take a hard look at and try to improve, adjust or whatever you think is necessary. So those things are good. You hope you're coming off it and if it's at the right time, you hope you've had a chance to recover and to get some people who perhaps have had some ailments, to get them back to where those things are behind them. But it's a week off your normal schedule and you do have to get back on it."

Q: When you look at the Colts offense, they have a lot of weapons to spread the ball around to. How do you prepare for them defensively?

A: "Not easy. As you said, they do have a lot of weapons. They have the outstanding young quarterback. They have the combination where they run the ball. They've got the two tight ends working very, very well, the two runners working well. They've gone ahead in (Donte) Moncrief, they've demonstrated some confidence in another young player. T.Y. Hilton is playing very well. You do have the Reggie Wayne influence on their team, which is very obvious to see. You've already mentioned having Hakeem (Nicks) as an addition to that as well. They're playing well, they're well-balanced. They utilize any number of personnel combinations and they do a good job with it, and their quarterback is very, very good. He's able to recognize defenses and put the ball where he wants it and he's had big play after big play made this year. So it's not an easy thing to try to defend."

Quarterback Eli Manning

 Q: Do you get excited for these Monday night showcase games?

A: "Yeah, it's definitely exciting to play Monday night. Growing up it was kind of a big deal in our household, Monday Night Football. It's still a primetime game and the only game on Monday. I really haven't played many Monday night games at home for whatever reason. It seems like a lot of them have been away. It'll be good to have a Monday night game in our stadium and have the home crowd. It should be a great atmosphere."

Q: The Colts defense blitzes a lot. Is that something to be concerned about as you prepare for this game?

A: "They do a good job. They have a good scheme and they do a good job getting pressure on the quarterback. That's whether they're bringing pressure, bringing blitzes or just bringing a four-man rush. You've got a lot of different looks to prepare for and to plan for. They do a good job with their coverage, play a good bit of man coverage and feel confident in their corners. We've got to do a good job of protecting things up and everybody winning their one-on-one matchups. That's all our linemen with their blocks and receivers getting open."

Q: You guys have gone through a big change offensively this year. Do you feel comfortable with where you guys are at?

A: "Yeah, feel comfortable with what we're doing. We've still got to make some improvements and be a little bit more consistent with things, but I feel like we're doing some good things. But there's always room for improvement."

Q: When you look at that 2012 Super Bowl run, how important were guys like Hakeem Nicks and Ahmad Bradshaw?

A: "Both those guys were key players. Ahmad's been a key player in two of them for us. He was such a tough guy, a running back that did everything in protection, caught the ball well, so I've been happy to see him get back and playing at a high level. He's been playing outstanding this year and it's been fun to watch him. Hakeem the same deal, that year had a couple big games in the playoffs and in the Super Bowl, had 10 catches I think in the Super Bowl. Playoffs, Atlanta game had two touchdowns, couple other touchdowns, so both those guys were key elements for us."

Q: Have you been surprised at all how much Ahmad Bradshaw has contributed in the passing game this season for the Colts?

A: "Yeah, I watched a couple games where he got a couple touchdown passes. I think he's caught like six touchdowns passes, so that's more than he had his whole career here. Obviously Andrew's (Luck) doing a good job getting him the ball and Ahmad's running good routes. They've got some good schemes to get him open."

Q: Is there anything at all you can take from the preseason game?

A: "Yeah, I think anytime you play a preseason game, you're definitely going to look at that game and see what they did that game, what they had success with, what we had success with. You can't rely too much on it because both teams are just trying to run some of their base plays and not a whole lot of preparation going into that game. But we'll base more information on their more recent games."

Q: Jerry Reese talked about being more aggressive offensively. How important is it to hit some more deep balls and get more chunk plays?

A: "Well, I think it's important for us just to play smart football and find completions. If there's opportunities to take some shots down the field and hit some shots down the field, it'd be nice to hit some big plays. We still have to find completions. Some of that's just hitting guys in stride and having a little bit better first down and second down production so you can get into some situations to take some shots. We've just got to keep finding ways to make some plays."

Q: How do expect the Colts to come out and play defensively on Monday after their performance last week?

A: "I expect them to come out fired up on Monday. They'll be excited because it'll be a good atmosphere. We've got to match or have greater intensity than them. It's a big game for both teams. We're going to expect their best, and we've got to have ours."

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