EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ
Q: You are preparing to play Jacksonville with several key players out because of injuries, a situation you've experienced before. Do you specifically discuss the injuries with the team? Or do you proceed as you would in any normal week?
Coughlin: "Guys that are on our team - they're in position, they're healthy - have to do the job for us. That's how it's presented. I don't elaborate on anything in terms of trying to hold it off until certain individuals get back, no. We try not to play that game, but just the guys that are here have got to play. They'll play and they've got to do the job."
Q: Eli Manning said, among other things this week, "I have to play great." Do you need to talk to him about not putting everything on his shoulders and remind him he doesn't have to win the game by himself? Because he's obviously putting a lot on himself to help get through this.
Manning: "Well, he does take responsibility, and that's a good thing. No, he doesn't have to press. He has to take what the defense gives us, because what we're really drastically trying to do is emphasize the ability to stay away from the errors that beat you. If we stay away from the errors that beat you, then you can go forward and beat the other guy. And that's basically the approach we take. Do we talk about things like that? Yeah, sure we do."
Q: At the same time when the team is facing adversity - two losses, injuries - do you think the other players look to Eli?
Coughlin: "Yes, certainly you look to him. You look to him for leadership. You look to him for playmaking. You look to him for getting us through whatever circumstance there is. He's our quarterback, he's our leader, and consequentially, everyone looks to him, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. But on defense and special teams as well - to steer the ship, to keep us out of harm's way, put us in position to win the game."
Q: You said Brandon Jacobs will start at running back this week. Not to be specific, but do you change a game plan based on who is starting at running back?
Coughlin: "Not necessarily, because we've always tried to incorporate all three runners in everything that we do. We don't, no - the answer is no."
Q: You've had success before curing running backs of fumbling issues. Is it particularly frustrating to you that Ahmad Bradshaw has had this problem and you haven't been able to fix it?
Coughlin: "Yes. It is something that sticks in my craw a little bit. It obviously takes a 'stop everything and solve this' mentality. That's what it takes. The effort, the second effort, all of those things take a backseat to this issue because this issue - not just Bradshaw - this issue is beating our team. This is what's beating our team. (Last Sunday in Philadelphia) it's 17-16 in the fourth quarter, an opportunity to win. Whatever the circumstance might be, we are preventing ourselves from having a chance to realize this final outcome that we seek, because of the mistakes that we're making with the ball."
Q: In the Dallas-New Orleans game yesterday, the Cowboys lost a chance to clinch a victory when Malcolm Jenkins forced Roy Williams to fumble after a long gain. Can that be a teaching tool for you?
Coughlin: "That was the first play we showed them this morning. On the tape I also showed them a play from the Cleveland-Jacksonville game in which a Jacksonville receiver stripped the ball from a defensive back who had just intercepted the ball. This is a league-wide concept right now. What does it take to get to that? It takes nothing more than the big screen. Everybody sees every play. Defensive players are not even going for the tackle. They're going for the ball, and they are reinforced because they are getting the ball. You have to have a sense. It's a sixth sense, if you will. Anyone, it could be a defensive back with an interception, could be a kickoff returner or a punt returner, could be a wide receiver, could be a running back, anybody who has the responsibility. And it is a big responsibility. It's winning and losing as exemplified by last night. You have to have a sense about where the defenders are, and when you have that sense, nothing else matters except the security of the ball. Whether your stride becomes a half stride rather than a full stride, it doesn't matter. What matters is when the whistle blows and the play is over that you have the ball. And you probably will find out that when you shorten your stride a little bit and you secure the ball with two hands, you're widening your base, you have people trying to rip the ball out rather than tackle you, you're going to continue to go. You're going to continue to move forward. And it's even to the point where - and this is not an easy thing because it's not instinctive to do it this way - but when you fall, you can't take away from both hands. They've got to stay there. So you're going to take some awkward looking spills, but you know what, it's the ball at the end of the play that makes the difference - the ball."
Q: Why do you think trying to strip the ball at the expense of tackling has become so prevalent?
Coughlin: "Because you see it every week. You see it every week. Everybody looks at - you're looking at highlights, you're looking at plays, you're constantly reinforcing your position by looking at other teams in the league. Everybody sees this now, and this is what defenses are taught. Strip, strip, strip, strip, strip, strip, strip. I also showed it for our defense – 'Come on, get the ball out. Second man arrive, get the ball out.'"
Q: You have a home in Jacksonville, your charity foundation is based there, you have family and some of your closest friends are there, and the Jaguars are a franchise you built from the ground-up. I know it's a very important game to the Giants, but - I don't know if "special" is the right word, but is it at all different for you this week because it's the Jaguars?
Coughlin: "No, not at all. The importance of the game is the importance of the game. It's the most important game of the year for us. No friends, no family, no living there, nothing, no consideration except our team playing against this opponent on Sunday. It's a big game."
Q: In the NFC, there is an 8-3 team, an 8-2 team and four 7-3 teams ahead of the Giants. Have you talked to the team about the big picture as it relates to the postseason?
Coughlin: "Got to keep the pace. You have to keep the pace."
Q: You haven't scored a first possession touchdown this season. Do you feel like you need to start games more successfully?
Coughlin: "Naturally, you'd like to take it the first time you get it and drive it and score. Until last weekend, scoring really - with the exception of maybe one or two other games - has not been the problem. Hanging onto the ball has been the problem."
Q: The Jaguars are different from most of the teams you've faced this season. They're a very run-oriented team that runs between the tackles more than any team in the league.Coughlin: "They've got a good runner (Maurice Jones-Drew) - powerful, balanced, moves the pile. They have a good offensive line that obviously helps them run the football well, and yes, that's what they like to do. They also have had a lot of yards. They've amassed a lot of yards. The quarterback (David Garrard) has almost 70 percent passing (completion percentage) and he pulls it down and runs with it when he can, so that's a factor, too."