You said this week, "We have three crucial games left." Not to be a smart-aleck about this, but people are going to say, "How can they be crucial games if you're 5-8 and not going to the playoffs?" Is your mentality such that you consider every game you play to be crucial?
"Absolutely, and nothing's going to change for me just because we're in the situation we're in. Every game requires every ounce of energy and preparation and practice time and thought, and the mentality has to be that you're building a confidence level that is going to be there for you to have an opportunity to win, have a chance to win. We go over everything, we pick those (Seattle Seahawks) games apart, their two losses, we take the Tampa Bay game apart, when it was 21-0 (Buccaneers) and they lose on a field goal and to have the day that they had - they actually out-rushed Seattle. So no, the mentality doesn't change. You can't afford to change. Your constitution, everything you're about is set for a 16-game schedule and for beyond, you hope. If that's not the case, then you still have the responsibility of preparing and sticking to your absolute belief and preparation."
It's a cliché that you learn a lot about your players in times of adversity. They no longer have the playoffs to strive for. Do you believe that we will see what some of these guys are made of and how they respond to a situation like this?
"Well, there are all kinds of situations throughout the course of the year. We've certainly been through a lot of them here. This season, the way the players responded when we were, I don't even want to talk about it, but 0-6, that was a tremendous statement about who they are and what they believed in. Then building on that and creating some confidence and so on and so forth, and we had it for six games. We lost one of them (to Dallas) in a very close game, but nevertheless we had it for six games. We didn't play well last weekend against a team (San Diego) that was very focused and had their back against the wall and all that kind of stuff. So now we go from that game to arguably the number one team in the NFC. We have a great opportunity here. Every challenge is a great opportunity and there's an awful lot to be accomplished in a game like this."
Eli Manning has not had his best year. During the offseason, you can look and work on particular facets of his game. But during a normal practice week do you have time to work with him on things that you need or want to see him do better?
"You do. Everything is cumulative in pro football. You play a game, you study the results of the game, you go over the pluses and the minuses, the good things and the bad things. You stress improvement in the areas that need to be improved. You might gear your individual period toward that type of improvement, perhaps it's movement or ball handling or faking or recognition or whatever, accuracy, any of these things. Do you have a lot of time to do that on the field? Of course not. It's not geared to be that way, there's only X amount of people and you have your structure in terms on how much time you spend in the classroom and how much time you spend in jog thrus, etcetera. When the opportunity occurs then you have to take advantage of it."
Hakeem Nicks has no touchdowns this year, Victor Cruz hasn't scored since Sept. 29 in Kansas City. But Rueben Randle has six touchdowns and Brandon Myers has four. Does it matter who is scoring the touchdowns? Or if the players like Hakeem and Victor, who you depend on to make big plays, are not doing so, does it put a drag on the entire offense?
"No, I don't think so. Last week, for example, Hakeem made two or three really big plays. And Victor gets a lot of attention. He has his opportunities and he makes plays when he does. The issue is, where are the points? We're not scoring enough points."
Will Beatty struggled in the previous game in Washington and seemed to bounce back last week in San Diego…
"He did. His technique was better and he played better, he pass protected better."
Your career turnover differential is plus-48. This year it is minus-13. Is that a tremendous source of frustration for you?
"It's incredible. Everybody knows what I stand for. I walk in the meeting room if it's Saturday night or Monday morning, it's the same thing. You start out with that, where are you on the turnovers. As I've said many times this year, for whatever reason, the turnovers are touchdowns. And they might be on the same play. The other day we had two turnovers in the first half and they turned both into touchdowns. Two for two."
Those are killers.
"They're killers. That's a 14-point turnaround. It's not good football, it does not breed good football. Especially when you're talking about interceptions, you don't have people on the field that are normally capable of keeping the other guy from getting some kind of yardage after that. We got great hustle out of Justin Pugh the other day and normally Beatty gives great chase."
The weather Sunday could be windy, could be snowy. At this time of the year, do you have to have contingencies in a game plan in case weather is bad?
"It's all anticipated. You make your plan and one of the great reasons to have the inside facility is because I believe in practice, I believe you've got to practice, you've got to practice well. So you make sure, to the best of your ability, you can control that with inside. Now you don't play inside, you play outside, but the toughness concept and the game situations, guys have done a pretty good job here of making that conversion and the practice naturally has paid off."
The Seahawks are 11-2. Are they a bit unusual in today's NFL because they are so run-oriented? They average 32 carries a game and prefer to play with power, not passing.
"You can call it unusual if you want, but it's not, it's football as I know it, as we know it. It's winning football in the National Football League. It's always been that way. You have new wrinkles, take a look at the people…everybody tries to think about this new innovation in Philadelphia. The guy (coach Chip Kelly) is rushing for 200 yards a game. You've got to have that, you have to have that balance. You think people can just go out and throw it? No, there's no way. Never for me has it been that way. You've got to have the balance. Now the (Seattle) quarterback (Russell Wilson) runs and does run some of the option stuff, which is new, but it's still rushing yardage."
You've done pretty well this year against top backs like Lesean McCoy, Adrian Peterson and Jamaal Charles. What distinguishes Marshawn Lynch from the others?
"He's a powerful, physical runner who is a tackle-breaking back. He storms up into the line of scrimmage and he's one of those guys that you don't want to see get started. He gets started and he's very difficult."
The Seahawks have the league's number one pass defense. Is their secondary as physical as any you've seen this season?
"Yes, that's how they play."
One thing that stands out on special teams is they have 461 punt return yards to just 15 for their opponents. Does the punter (Jon Ryan) just make it very hard to return punts?
"The punts are way up in the air, but they cover. They do a great job, that (Jeremy) Lane kid is as good of a gunner as you see. Double teams, whatever, he gets through. He's down there making tackles, making it hard on people."