The Coughlin Corner, Giants.com's exclusive weekly interview with head coach Tom Coughlin:
Q: The players have certainly heard enough reminders this week about the Giants' recent history vs. Philadelphia. Eli Manning said the players don't think about the past, because they're focused on preparing for the next game. Is that how you want them to approach it? Or do you think they could derive extra incentive from losing six consecutive games to the Eagles?
Coughlin: "You've got all the incentive in the world. You don't have to go back to worry about incentive. You've got the idea that you're in the division against the rival that you've had incredible games against over the last few years. You don't have to be reminded that they haven't gone the way you want them to. But many of them have been knockdown, drag out affairs – lots of drama, lots of that involved. So you want to focus all your attention on this game and what the strengths of this Eagles team are, and there are many. And you want to try to prepare yourself for this. You don't need any weighted burdens about someone reminding you about what happened in the past. You can't do anything about the past. What you can do something about is this moment, this preparation, this day, this practice and then eventually this game."
Q: I asked you a similar question earlier this year, but in light of Domenik Hixon's injury, do you specifically remind the players that injuries cannot be used as an excuse?
Coughlin: "It's been done many, many times. That's repeated. I don't say anything like that anymore because I said it a long time ago. I said what we have is good enough, let's go play and win. That's all there is to it. I feel bad about Domenik. But somewhere, some way, somehow this stuff is going to end and our team will approach two consecutive weeks with the same people. Then we'll see how we play."
Q: Eli had a rough stretch early in the game Monday night, but rebounded to complete 10 passes in a row. He always wants to do the right thing and in light of all the injuries, do you think he's trying to take on too much?
Coughlin: "Well, he always does and he's going to feel that way. He's the captain of the team and he's the quarterback. That's a pretty good combination. He is always going to try to do – whether it's intellectually, whether it's physically – he's going to try to do something to help this team win. Now you say he had rough start. Well, he may have had a rough start with his passing accuracy, but he didn't have a rough start taking us down the field because it was a no-huddle and he was in control. And he got the ball down the field. Now the interception was very unfortunate, and it was something he'd been looking for. The tip that he had, he knew what he was going to get. I'd rather give credit to the safety. (Quintin) Mikell made a heck of a jump on a play that nobody even figured he could be there that fast and he was."
Q: But would you say to him, "Don't try to do too much?"
Coughlin: "I don't say that to him. It's not about doing too much. It's about taking the information that you have, the tools that you've been provided with, maneuvering those tools and those abilities into being the most productive we can be. And I have great faith in him that he will do that."
Q: Question about this process after a Monday night game. Do you feel at all squeezed in your preparation for the Eagles game?
Coughlin: "The squeeze is the - you do a lot of research. A lot of this doesn't necessarily apply to this team. There are so many new members on this team. So you put an awful lot of stock in preseason, you put a lot of stock in the first two games. But there still is an element of, 'It's the Eagles.' And you know what they've done in the past. It's not really a matter - until the players gather on Wednesday - of us feeling that squeeze because the schedule that we've developed maximizes what we can do. Even though it's a Monday night game, the amount of time that we can have, it's after that Wednesday practice that you start feeling, 'Man, I hope I have time to communicate all the things I want to communicate' because now all of a sudden it really is Thursday. And you haven't had a day-and-a-half where your staff just met and talked about everything in great detail. You haven't had the Wednesday nights that are full of decision-making in so many situational parts of the game. You grab a guy here and you grab a guy there and you communicate that way. And then you have to deal with the injury situation in the short week – how are we going to accommodate our team to the best of our ability given the situation medically? Those kinds of things make you feel a little bit pressed for getting it solved to the best of your ability."
Q: The strength of your defense appears to be up front, which will presumably get stronger when Osi Umenyiora returns. When you have a strong front, does that allow you to try a lot of different things in the back of the defense?
Coughlin: "What that hopefully allows is that there's only so much time for the ball to get released. It's not that you're going to do less or more in the back, you're going to do what you have to do in the back. But you're counting on 'tick, tick, tick, quarterback down.'"
Q: When Aaron Ross was removed from the game the other night he sat down on the bench and was obviously unhappy. You mentioned you were going to talk to him. Are you more understanding with a player who reacts that way now than you might have been earlier in your coaching career?
Coughlin: "Yes, but you'd still like them to be able to think and understand the way that you see it and the fact that there's a reason for everything you do, that there's nothing personal about it. It's trying to solve an issue, trying to solve a problem, trying to create some answers for some things. I've talked to Aaron. I think he understands that.
"Do I know how he feels? I can understand how he feels. Would I react differently now than I would have 10 years ago? Maybe, probably. I certainly wasn't exasperated by what he did. I went to him and said, 'We're going to need you to win this game now. So let's see if we can get ourselves collected here.'"
Q: With Hixon out, Ross is now the punt returner, which he used to do at Texas…
Coughlin: "He's always wanted to do it here. He is a very secure catcher of the ball, which is the number one priority."
Q: So you expect good things from him back there?
Coughlin: "Absolutely. That's right. That's why he's back there."
Q: You've gotten a good pass rush at times. What do you think of the play in the secondary? Sometimes it appears it's a matter of not paying the ball. Are you frustrated by that?
Coughlin: "There's a time to play the ball. But there's also a time to utilize the proper technique and get in position. You certainly do have to see an end to the five big-play passes a game, and we're working on that as best we can."
Q: A lot of attention has gone to Greg Jones, because he's the starting linebacker. But the other rookie linebacker, Jacquian William, is athletic and he's leading the team in special teams tackles. Are you pleased with what you've seen from him?
Coughlin: "Yes, I am. He's got a lot of things to learn. He is very fast. He seems to be picking things up fast. He is a force when he is rushing the passer, and we think he does have good cover skills. So we're expecting his continued development, and he also contributes in a big way on special teams, which also has to continue to happen."
Q: You are obviously very familiar with the Eagles, but they have made some significant changes.
Coughlin: "They've changed in a lot of places. They've changed (assistant) coaches, they've changed philosophies to a certain extent. The offense is not changed. There are some personnel changes. The defense appears to have made some changes, but how they play us will kind of confirm our thinking going into the game about what changes they have made from a philosophical standpoint. I'm still going to reserve the right to make an opinion on that when we play them."
Q: Is it difficult to prepare for two quarterbacks (Michael Vick and Mike Kafka) who are not similar?
Coughlin: "Yes. One right- and one left-handed, too. So there are some strong differences. But we'll do the best we can with that. We'll have to prepare for the starter and then we'll go from there."