EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ
Q: If you defeat the Redskins on Sunday but don't make the playoffs, will you walk away feeling better knowing that at least you played well and you got to 10 wins?
Coughlin: "Well, we're focused on that. We're focused on winning. We know that the two situations that we had absolute control over are no longer there. We've lost them. The only thing we can do is to play as well as we can to erase the bad taste in our mouth and do something that we're proud of. Hopefully, it will work out for us and we'll get in the playoffs and it'll be an opportunity to continue to play."
Q: When you win the last game, does it give you a better feeling going into the offseason?
Coughlin: "It does. There's no question it does. It always does. Ten wins is nothing to look the other way at either; it's a real accomplishment in this league."
Q: Is it tough to be in a position where you don't control your own destiny and have to rely on other teams? Is it frustrating?
Coughlin: "I'm just focused on this one game, on winning a divisional game. I'm not frustrated by anything other than our inability to perform at the level we wanted to last weekend. That provides me with all the frustration I need."
Q: You talked a lot in the offseason about getting back to Giants football. Is this team's identity still evolving in the 16th game?
Coughlin: "It's back on the plate. It's back to something that we really need to do, because it was all associated with the way the season ended a year ago (with two losses). That feeling of trying to put ourselves in a better stead is still very much there for us to at least feel good about our last game."
Q: You have outscored your opponents in every quarter but the fourth. What has happened in the fourth quarter in particular that has given the team trouble?
Coughlin: "The only one I can relate to specifically is the Philadelphia game, and we didn't control it. We didn't control the fourth quarter. We always talk about winning the fourth quarter because so many of the games in our league are so close and are decided in the fourth quarter, so we always talk about that. I do believe you have to be strong as a team in the fourth quarter."
Q: In the two games you played without both Hakeem Nicks and Steve Smith, the team ran the ball very well. You did not run the ball well the last two weeks. Is that something you have to recapture this week?
Coughlin: "One thing that rubs me the wrong way sometimes is you do have to give a little bit of credit to the defensive team. Let's start out with that. We didn't run it as well as we wanted to run it, for sure. Last week, we didn't run it anywhere near the way we wanted to. We didn't win the line of scrimmage. The previous situation where we had a number of new and different people playing on the left side (of the offensive line) and we had some injuries that we were overcoming, we wanted to do that by playing good, solid football. We wanted to be able to run, we wanted to be able to defend the run. We wanted to win the physical battle. We played these people (the Redskins) the last time, we were plus-five (turnover differential), and that's really why the score was what it was (31-7). The statistics weren't that different. They threw the ball for 250-plus that day, which they've done a lot of. They threw the ball well against Dallas and scored 16 fourth quarter points to tie the game."
Q: Eli Manning has thrown for 30 touchdown passes and could throw for 4,000 yards. Are those impressive statistics mitigated by this interceptions and fumbles?
Coughlin: "Can't help but think that. When you play that game, and when we come to Fridays and we look at our takeaways and the fact that we have improved in that area (the Giants are second in the league with 35). If you then compare other teams that haven't turned the ball over like this and you look at what that number could be, it (the Giants' turnover differential) could plus-15 (it is minus-six). What could it be? Then, you realize the field position that's been squandered and the points off turnovers that didn't have to happen. This is a team game. It's all about team. You have many reasons for these things to happen. It's no one individual. You wouldn't separate Eli out. It's a reality, you have to deal with it. You don't want that, and you're not going to win when you do that."
Q: Do you think Eli puts too much pressure on himself sometimes to make plays?
Coughlin: "I'm sure he does. That's a relatively natural thing. We would like for that not to be. The other guy's moving the ball pretty readily. That's the other issue – keeping up."
Q: You just had another very unusual road trip. When you stepped into your office at about 11:30 on Tuesday morning, were you where you would normally be at 11:30 on Tuesday in your preparation for the upcoming game?
Coughlin: "It was about 12:02 I got up here. There were organizational things that had to be done just getting back here. Was I where I normally would be on a Tuesday? I was very close. I had two special teams games still to look at that. I would say that our defense and offense were probably behind a couple of hours, but that's all."
Q: You've played some very good games and some games you'd like to have back. Has establishing a consistency been the hardest goal to achieve? Why do you think it's been hard?
Coughlin: "It's so hard because there are so many different factors involved with being consistent. There are so many different things. And consistency can be looked at in a lot of different ways. It doesn't always mean that you're going to be superior in one phase over the other. The consistency may very well be good, solid football. Putting yourself in a position where you have a chance to win in the fourth quarter. It may not always be that we did this well every time we played, it doesn't work that way. The other guy is looking at what you do well and trying to come in and say, 'What you do well, we're trying to stop.' It goes for what our defense does and what the opponent does to us. It goes for what the opponent does against our defensive team and what we do well. How do they stay away from letting us just rush the passer? All these things are major considerations. You see what last week was when they were able to pretty much hold their third downs to a minimum and they made considerable plays both pass and run on first down. You see what that is. That is a direct objective, to stay away from the long yardage situations. When they got in a third down, they loaded up their protections and did a good job with that. And they had a pinpoint accurate passer. So yes, everybody wants that. But there are so many factors over 16 games. The health and wellbeing of your team - who's lining up week to week and how you have to adjust to accommodate that. And then, it's who is it that performs above what you expect or above the X's and O's and allows your team to be in position to win. Much has been said about our offensive line during that stretch, in which we took Kevin Boothe and Will Beatty and put them out there and they did fine. They battled and competed and were able to do some good things under those circumstances."
Q: Are the Redskins a different team with Rex Grossman at quarterback?
Coughlin: "They are. I just think they've played good football since they left us (on Dec. 5). They've played very well. In reality, they should have beaten Tampa Bay with those two (missed) field goals and an extra point. They had a nice chance to win there. They played very well against Dallas and lost by three. They played very well against Jacksonville and won by three."
Q: They've had a lot of injuries on defense…
Coughlin: "They've ratcheted up the pressure to try and take advantage of all the people that can really run on the defense, with their backers. They've been a talented secondary although they've had some injuries at safety. Their three corners have played well all year along."
Q: London Fletcher always seems to be in the middle of everything.
Coughlin: "He is in the middle of everything and he's counted on. He's a huge part of their coverage."
Q: How do you think you did with returner Brandon Banks during the first game?
Coughlin: "He's a dangerous guy. We were able to maneuver our kicks around a little bit which kept their kickoff return a little bit out of sync, just from the standpoint of the rhythm of their blocking scheme, and you have to do that against this guy."