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Conference calls (11/24): Coughlin, Manning, Kiwanuka


Coach Tom Coughlin

Coughlin: It's a difficult day, there's no doubt about it. As I spoke to our team today, if you didn't know the final score and you looked at some of these numbers, you'd be surprised to know the outcome. Twenty-seven first downs, 69 percent on third down, 74 plays, 35 minutes time of possession – those are actually the goals as you start out playing against the Cowboys because of their nature of running the football, they keep the ball away from the opposition and rest their defense. Here we are with officially 74 plays and a chance to be on the field as long as we can be on the field offensively, play a game that goes plus-zero with them having a turnover and us as well and ours obviously being probably whether you call it a three or seven-point and then the fact that they run the ball back to midfield and score a touchdown on the same drive… those points come down to being huge plays for us. When we don't make them and they turn into a turnover, it ends up coming back to haunt us without a doubt. I'm disappointed in the two-minute offense. I think that there have been years that we've been very, very good at this and last night we had two sacks in the two-minute drill. That's very bothersome to be because all points are critical. I felt that with 2:17 in the half that we could take the ball down and at least get a field goal out of it and those points would have proven significant without a doubt. The interception that we should have had in the first half that they kicked a field goal with, that's another three points that could have been, something could have been said about, and so it goes. We had five penalties, they had seven penalties. The only blemish, they were two-for-two in the red zone and we were three-for-four in the green zone. We had the fourth and four, who knows what the outcome might have been. A lot of outstanding… I don't question for one minute the preparation nor the effort on the field last night. I thought our players were really focused, they wanted it badly. Divisional, we had talked about not having played well on the big screen and there it was, Sunday Night Football in the division and we were very excited about that. I'm very disappointed for our fans and all Giants that we weren't able to win the game. So we continue to seek the winning circle.

Q: How do you stand health-wise, two offensive linemen left for a little bit, Adam Snyder and Will Beatty, and Jameel McClain obviously had a knee problem.
A: Beatty came back in, so you know the answer to that. I think Snyder will be fine. I don't know if he'll miss a little bit of practice or how we'll do that just yet, but I think he'll be okay, okay to play.

Q: And McClain?
A: He's got a couple of things going on but it doesn't stop him. At this point in time I would project that he would be able to practice.

Q: I know he came back in, too, but is there any lingering concern about Odell Beckham's back?
A: Well, there's always concern. He's sore, he's very sore today. He had mentioned to me that he had something like this in college as well. He seemed to feel like he was going to improve each day to the point that he would be able to go. I don't know if there will be any restrictions. We'll have to see how that goes throughout the course of the week.

Q: How did Geoff Schwartz play in his first game?
A: He did okay for a guy who has not been involved for as long an amount of time as it's been for Geoff, for him to go out and see the fast ball the way it is, not only in the league but in the division. I thought he stood up and did well. He certainly would be a guy that would tell you honestly that there are things that he definitely can improve upon but for him to go out and do the things he did with as little practice or play time that he's had in the last two-plus months, I thought he did a fine job.

Q: How important is it in these last five games to get back to .500 and maybe finish the season there? Is that a goal for this team going forward?
A: Well, the goal is to win, to win a game. That's what we've been talking about for quite some time. We've played in, depending on your own point of view, we've had…at least two of the last three have been extremely competitive for four quarters, one was for three quarters. That's all fine and dandy, but the bottom line is what everybody seeks and that's exactly where we are. We'll do everything in our power to focus on and be goal-oriented about winning when we travel to Jacksonville this weekend.

Q: The goal is obviously to win, but the long-term, in the bigger scheme, the goal is to win a championship. In order for you to go forward here, is there a point where you have to look towards building towards that and look at some of the things for the future?
A: We've got a lot of young people that are involved right now, if that's what you're trying to say. The more that we can do that within reason, the better off we are. There are not many spots right now where the young people aren't involved. As we try to win, these young guys are getting a lot of opportunities to participate.

Q: When you look at the amount of time Tony Romo had on that last drive, I know it's looking back, but would you have preferred any more aggressive playcalling or personnel that perhaps included Robert Ayers, your sack leader?
A: Those things have been discussed long and hard in the meeting rooms today, and I think that you're right, hindsight is 20/20, I can just tell you there were reasons why perhaps Robert wasn't in there. There was sound thinking behind that. I can tell you that there was, if you remember the play in which we jumped, there was a pressure called there. I, quite frankly, think that we scared ourselves out of that because of the penalty. We know Tony Romo very, very well. When allowed to stand back there and have no pressure on him and wait for people to run and get open, he's made a career out of that. I hear you and, on paper, theoretically I agree with you. We all feel that there should have been more done, more accomplished perhaps even throughout the entire game but definitely in that last drive. We'd love to be able to do it over.

Q: In the first half you kept Dez Bryant relatively in-check and then in that third quarter he had that touchdown grab, then the game-winner. Was that something that was dictated by what the Cowboys did? How would you try to take the ball out of his hands?
A: Well, you take a look at it on tape. You've already said it. In the first half we did a very good job of it. We really had an opportunity with a deep crossing pattern to play that a little bit better, deep to short and have someone in position where he probably would have gone to that flat rather than to the deep cross. We hung a little bit too long on the flat receiver and gave them a little bit too much room to throw it in there behind us and it resulted in a touchdown. The last one was really a truly scramble type of idea where we were in good position and all of a sudden he reversed his field and we were a step behind that reversing of the field and the ball was thrown in there. I would say the answer to the second one is the pressure answer. At least make him throw it on time. If we throw it on time, we are in position to defend the ball.

Q: Eli cuts down on the interceptions dramatically obviously in one week's time but the one was still pretty painful. Is this team at a point where it just can't afford the lone mistake Manning made last night?
A: Well, we're in such tight games that one play or two plays is making a difference in the game. Even though it may be true, to focus on it is not something that you do when you're 8-3 versus where we are. Because we're in the position we are and we're losing, those plays are magnified. Rather than recover from them, what happens is what happened last night – they run it back to midfield and they score on the drive. Instead of us having seven and quite frankly we should have had seven on the play and the play wasn't all quarterback. There was a little bit more of an adjustment that had to be made in the route and that was the expectation. As a result, the ball was thrown high and it ended up being a tipped ball. They run it back to midfield and score that particular time. Yeah, I think you could take four or five plays from every game and point to them as being critical plays in the outcome of the game. They are certainly magnified when you're in the position we're in.

Q: is there any point when you're watching Odell Beckham and the special things that he's able to do out there where you wonder how the offense might have looked or will look in the future when he's got Victor Cruz in the lineup with him?
A: Well, we ask questions about that and I'm often asked that in the production meeting, whether it be about Victor's rehab or whatever. But I do tend to, at that point in time, I might be a little bit reflective or going forward, if you will, as to those two being out there together. I'm more of a realist. He's not out there. We've got to go ahead and do better things with the people that we have.

Q: Eli was talking about the 2006 team that went 8-8 and then the next year you guys obviously won the Super Bowl. Is this a team, a core, that you still see the ingredients for a quality team even though it hasn't really shown as much on the field as maybe you'd want?
A: Well, there are always adjustments to be made with any team. You look back and see… I always mention that no two teams are ever the same, but heading in the right direction? I would certainly hope so, yes.

Q: A lot was made of Odell Beckham's catch in that second quarter. He was held to only 19 yards in that second half. Do you attribute that to something the Cowboys did schematically or maybe was it a factor of Odell's back flaring up? What do you attribute that to?
A: Hey, the guy caught 10 balls for whatever. You're trying like heck to win the game, he's involved in an awful lot of things. If you're trying to say, 'Can you get the ball to him more,' I suppose maybe we could have but we do have other guys on the field, there are progressions, there is an opponent pass rush that has to be dealt with. There are all kinds of factors involved. It's a team game and it's going to remain that way.

Q: Does this week mean anything special to you going back to Jacksonville?
A: Every game that we play is the most important game on the schedule. That's the way I look at it. Jacksonville is next for us, we've got to do a heck of a job preparing. We're all well-aware of the fact that they went over to London and lost to the Cowboys, 31-17, and turned the ball over down close a couple of times when they could have had points, so we've got to look at all of those things. The main concern right now for me is our team. It's all about our team. That's where it has to start.

QB Eli Manning

Q: Obviously, everybody is still buzzing about the Odell Beckham Jr. catch. When you saw that on film today when you broke down the game, did you see anything different that you may not have spotted last night?
A: No, it was a very impressive catch. I don't know if I have quite seen one like it. To truly catch it one-handed where you don't have to pull it into the body and really just catch it with a couple of fingers. It almost looked like he was ready to catch it like he was ready to throw it. He kind of had the grip on it like he is about to make a throw, pretty impressive.

Q: How did you think your offensive line did last night with all the new parts in there?
A: I thought they performed well. I thought we did a good job running the ball, getting some positive yards. We stayed in good third down situations. Protected on third down pretty well, had to hold it a little bit on some third and longs, and was able to get the ball down the field. They got a little pressure at times, and got a couple sacks, but that is going to happen in a game. I thought that guys competed and played hard and did a good job. We had a lot of plays, and we were going up-tempo, and they responded well to that.

Q: How do you guys approach this final stretch of five games mentally? Do you compete for that outside chance at a wild card?
A: You compete to get better. I think we are doing a lot of good things. Offensively, we played well last night, just not well enough to win. We've got to find ways to get better in some areas and compete and we want to get a win. We work hard, we prepare hard, we are doing good things at practice, we are doing some good things in the game. You see the effort, you see the determination. We want to get a win to get that feeling back. We have to build off some of the good things that we are doing and put it all together in a game.

Q: Is there any importance in managing to get to .500 on the season?
A: No doubt, there is definitely, to try to win these last five, definitely. I think that is a great challenge, whether it is playoffs in the picture or not. We've got a job, we are football players, we have a job to do, and let's go out there and practice hard, compete and try to win every game that you are going to play in.

Q: Have you noticed defenses playing Odell Beckham Jr. any differently and does it amaze you to see someone that young, given his experience, adjust the way he has?
A: The last few weeks we probably have seen a little bit more two safeties and kind of keeping an extra safety over his head a little bit more than what the teams have shown going into the breakdowns and what they have been doing. I think they do know he has some big play potential and they might kind of start that way but they are going to get back to some single high and give him some opportunities to have some one-on-one matchups and he is doing a good job winning those matchups.

Q: Have you at all pondered the thought of what Odell Beckham Jr. might be able to do if Victor Cruz was still in the line up?
A: Yeah, I thought about it a little bit. Having both of those guys on the field at the same time, it would be a pretty good duo. You throw Rueben Randle and Larry Donnell and Preston Parker, and all of those guys, a lot of weapons. We are still doing some good things with this receiving corps and they are making plays and we will see what happens. We will keep working with Odell Beckham Jr. and hopefully Victor Cruz can heal up quickly.

Q: What can Odell Beckham Jr. do better? He has made some amazing catches but I am sure there are areas that he can improve on. What else can he do to improve his game?
A: There are some areas, he is still a young receiver. Missed a lot of time coming into this season with training camp and OTA's, and the first four games of the season. He is doing a lot of things really well in his route running, and winning. There are always a few things, just on the depth of a couple routes, being patient on a couple of routes, the conversions of what the route is versus certain technique and coverages. There are always a few little things like that show up on the game film, which happens to young receivers sometimes, but overall I have been impressed with not just his playmaking, but his understanding of the offense, and playing at a high level and doing some of the little things really well.

Q: Does Odell Beckham Jr. remind you of anybody that you have played with in the past?
A: It is hard. He is a little bit different, different type of receiver than we have had with his explosiveness that he has coming out of breaks, the speed. Getting down the field, the catch ability, catches the ball very naturally. Obviously, big hands, he is a pretty rare kind of combination of speed and explosiveness, with also really good route running and being able to stop on a dime as well out of his breaks.

Q: What about the reading of the body language, which I think had been a big topic considering that he missed all that time? It seems like the two of you, you're able to read his body language, and he is able to read you.
A: I think it is a credit to him for the most part being at the right depths. He comes out of his breaks very sharply. He doesn't drift on things, you are able to see right when he is making that cut and he is coming out of his breaks very well, very smoothly. It is easier to read his body language. Sometimes it is the guys that aren't as crisp on the routes and that is where you have a harder time and it takes longer to read their body language and know how they are going to come out of things, so that it is maybe not as precise as it should be. His breaks are very precise; it is much easier for the quarterback to know where he is going to be out of the break.

Q: Your team is 0-8 against opponents with winning records. Now you drop down to teams with losing records. Is that a relief? Is there an added pressure to play a team that has won only one game?
A: I think it is the next game. We are going to Jacksonville, they have one win, and we have three wins. I don't think we are in a position to label anybody or to think we are better than anybody. We have to play well. We've got to find a way to get a win, we've got to put 60 minutes together and play great football for that whole time.

Q: You have played on championship teams, both of which were to some degree defined by the offensive and defensive line play. When you look at what is surrounding up front and also the defensive line, how does this group compare to championship level players?
A: I really don't know how to answer that question. I think we are doing some good things offensively. At times we have been in some close games, especially these last two weeks. We felt we had opportunities to win these last two games and just fell short. I think guys have competed and played well enough, and put us in positions to win those games. I think you look back to our 2006 season. We went 8-8, we weren't a very dominant team, next year without really much adjustment with players and personnel, we win a championship. I think that is kind of the way football goes. Being with the same crew for a year, two years, or three years, it is going to make you stronger and more comfortable. We had some new guys on this squad and hopefully we will be able to stick together for a few more years and make something special. I think it can start right now. It can start at this time. I think we have made some improvement, we are doing some better things, but it is not too late to get on a hot streak, and get things rolling right now.

Q: How do you sell guys on that, that you are almost building towards next year?
A: I think everybody wants to win. Everybody wants to get that feeling back. I have seen that these last few weeks, we haven't got discouraged, it is frustrating. Everybody is disappointed today that we didn't get that win. We didn't make every play we needed to get that win and left some plays out there on the field. I think guys understand every game is important, everything you are doing is important. You never play for next year. Right now we are playing for this year, playing for right now. That is the mindset. I think you just have to understand that it is not too late to get on a hot streak and feel good about what we are doing.

DE Mathias Kiwanuka

Q: How tough was it to go through that last drive when the Cowboys scored the winning touchdown?
A: That is about as tough as it gets, especially being out there and feeling personally responsible for the outcome of the game. That is a tough one to swallow.

Q: With the lack of a pass rush on that final drive, was that a product of the plays that were called and the coverages or was there a fatigue factor? What do you attribute that to?
A: It was a combination. I think the bottom line is I didn't make the play that was there to be made and that is the outcome. You can always go above Xs and Os. You can always play through fatigue. They made the plays. We can't take anything away from them. They came in and executed. They played hard and they got the win. I would have liked to have something better on that last play.

Q: Could the front group have used more help in the form of more pressure?
A: Hindsight is 20/20. I'm a defensive lineman, [so] I always feel like it is on us to get there and we obviously have to play the call that is called. If you have a four-man rush, you should be able to get there.

Q: You guys are in the bottom half of the league in sacks… Why do you think this year you have not had success in that regard?
A: There is obviously a lot that goes into it. The way that the games play out and the condition that we find and put ourselves in. The opportunities when they are there, we are not taking advantage of them. We have to find a way to create them. We have to find a way to make plays and create them for whatever the reason is. On a positive note, there is a lot of football left to be played and we could still change the story of this season before it is over.

Q: How important is it going forward to get back to .500 and finish the season 8-8?
A: The record right now is not the most important thing. The most important thing is playing every game lights out and winning every game that we have. Taking advantage of every opportunity to go out there and get a win because that will salvage or change what we have done in the fact of what we already put out there. It is not about getting to a certain number. It is not about changing or doing anything out of the ordinary. It is about playing hard and just getting wins.

Q: It seemed like DeMarco Murray was able to get to that second level quite a bit last night… Do you attribute that to some of his own greatness or his skillset or is there something you guys could have done to prevent him from getting to that second level?
A: Obviously he is a tremendous runner. We've seen it personally. We have seen it on film. We've played against it. We knew he had that kind of potential and that was something that we had to stop. You have to give him credit for everything he did, but there obviously were some mistakes and that is what we are focused on today; correcting whatever mistakes that allowed those kind of plays to happen.

Q: Given the set of circumstances last night, the way you guys played getting the lead back… National television and the great catch by [Odell] Beckham Jr… Is that the most frustrating loss in your mind from all of these?
A: Right now it is the only one I can think about. I'll go back and reflect later, but for right now, it is definitely the most frustrating. It was a divisional game. It was an opponent that we know very well. It was a game that we needed. It was a game we wanted. It was a game we prepared for and worked for. We let it get away. It is very frustrating.

Q: The past two weeks have been very close and arguably you could have won... Is that encouraging to you that you are a play or two away from winning or does it become that much more painful to be on the losing side?
A: I can speak for myself. Personally, it is painful and inspiring at the same time. It makes you want to work harder. It makes you want to focus more. It makes you want to run faster and play harder so that you can get that win and make that play that enables our team to win, and not put ourselves in that situation ever again.

Q: You have been around awhile… You know the ultimate goal is to win a championship. At some point as a veteran, do you start to expect the team to start looking at ways to build toward the future and look at younger players? How do you as a veteran handle that?
A: That is the nature of this business. There is a large scouting department. There are people who are constantly looking and evaluating the team. We are evaluated every practice and every game, so by the time you get to this point, it is not something you worry about. What I worry about is what I can control, which is going out there and taking care of my body and going out every day in practice and getting myself prepared and then just fighting and playing hard and getting the win. You never know when it is going to be your last play. That is the bottom line. It doesn't have to be something that everybody oversaw. It could be something as simple as falling down a flight of stairs, knock on wood, so no, I don't worry about any of that stuff. Going forward, [I am] just focusing on getting a win. It is frustrating and it hurts and all those things, but we have another game coming up this week and we have another opportunity.

Q: How many times did you replay that final play in your mind and do you look at it film-wise and say, 'Here is what I should have done and here is what I could have done?'
A: You are watching every single play. This one was obviously tougher than the rest, but just as in every other loss, you go through it over, over and over again and comb through it to see what changes you could make, what you did well and then by the time the new film starts coming around, you have to put it behind you. For tonight I'll still watch it and try to figure out in the entire game where I could have done better, where we could have done better, what I can do to help the team and then I'll have to get behind it and get on to the next week.

Q: What specifically have you seen from that last play when you go back and look at it?
A: There is a lot of stuff. Like I said, bottom line, there is a play there to be made. There was too much time and we put that on the [defensive] line. We have to get to the quarterback.

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