Q: I thought you were a little feisty at your Wednesday news conference…
Coughlin: "I was trying to indicate – by talking ahead of the questions – that I wasn't really going to be very patient with all these, 'What are you going to do, coach, against a team that's 0-6?'"
Q: But were you pleased with how your team came back after the five-day bye break?
Coughlin: "Monday was very good. Monday was a good practice – spirited, good energy. And yesterday, you always have to temper a little bit with the new learning (of the game plan). So it was good and I think it can be better. I think our detail work can be better. I think that as we get some of these people back that haven't played much, they've got to get themselves involved with the rest. You've got to see how they're going to be able to do."
Q: The last three years coming off the bye you've scored 44, 34, 41 points. Is there a secret to coming out of a bye so productively?
Coughlin: "I don't know if there's a secret. We follow a formula. We came back Monday and practiced. It's not like we didn't get two practices in, we did. So I just think you treat the bye like a bye. In other words, you talk to your team about, 'Hey, I want you to get away, I want you to have a break, but when you come back, I want you to be focused and ready to go.' And that's kind of where we are. Our emphasis is on our team. We want our team to perform at a very high level. We want to be a team that has a consistency of how we play. And, again, reflecting strictly on our preparation and our performance."
Q: I'd like to go back to the victory over Buffalo. This year, you have put so much emphasis on finishing well. You did that against the Bills, not just offensively, but defensively too.
Coughlin: "Well, we've had quite a few good finishes. We're never going to let up on that. That's really what it takes at this level. You've got to finish. You can't leave it out there. You've got to find a way to get the job done. Finish what you've started. We've had one occasion where we didn't, but we've done a pretty good job of that. And that's where we've got to continue to place major emphasis. And that is throughout the game, the fourth quarter and then finishing as the stronger team. That's what we want."
Q: You've talked about finishing games and finishing the season strong. Is it too early to address the team and say, "The way we're finishing games, that's the way we have to finish the season?"
Coughlin: "We know that. We know exactly what we have. We have a 10-game schedule and every game is a critical game. We have to have the ability to practice, sacrifice, self-discipline, accountability to each other. But we do have to look each other in the eye and apply this to the next 10 weeks that, yes, we're going to prepare properly and we're going to play the game knowing what our formula for winning is. The one emphasis will always be, 'Don't turn it over, get yourself some takeaways, and provide yourself with opportunities to win the physical battle.' And, of course, we're striving to get some respectability to our run game and stop the run. We've given up big plays."
Q: With everybody on the roster able to practice, do you have to decide early in the week which players will be inactive?
Coughlin: "You always do that. I do that as soon as we possibly can. It's not easy sometimes based on the injury situation, but we prepare who our scout teams are – offense, defense, our substitute scout team. Then I look at the overall, the way in which we'll be able to go on the weekends. Sometimes there are a couple guys that are possible, but you're basically going to nail your formula down and then you're going to look at who are the possible extras if there are some that could be included in the actives. So I do that all the time."
Q: I don't know what your plans are for Ramses Barden, but could you just talk about him in the sense that he's a young player who's missed almost a year and it can't be easy to work on the side when everybody is practicing. It seems his attitude has been good and he's excited to be on the practice field.
Coughlin: "Well, let's hope he is. He's been given the green light to practice. He's doing basically half of the reps on the scout squad. Really, there's been no attempt at all to limit anything that he could participate in, which is a good thing. And for him, it's got to be that he practiced, that he comes back the next day and practices again and practices hard. Like for example, (Thursday) we're inside (because of rain). He's going to have to learn the surface and how does that affect him. But it's a confidence builder for anybody that's been injured this length of time. He's got to go on the field. He's got to get knocked around. And over the course of whatever amount it's going to take – whether it's the whole three weeks (the time frame the Giants have to activate him off the Reserve/PUP list, if they so choose) or whatever – that he gains that confidence and then puts himself in position where he can help us. To be honest with you, he needs to show that he can contribute on (special) teams as well. That's a critical thing."
Q: Eli Manning is having an impressive season statistically, including his passer rating and completion percentage. Do you look at specific statistics when you study Eli? Or do you not look at stats at all, and judge simply on what you see?
Coughlin: "I know without knowing anything about what his rating will be. When I come off the field, I know exactly how he's contributed to our team's win and then I do look at everything. I keep everything every day. I chart every practice, every throw, everything. So I've always got that. I keep track of that stuff."
Q: In your mind, is he playing as well now as he ever has?
Coughlin: "He's playing very well. We want nothing to get in the way of him continuing to play especially well. And if you look at his fourth quarter numbers (his passer rating in the quarter is 116.0), then you know why we're finishing, too."
Q: Corey Webster had two interceptions against Buffalo. He seems to have the perfect temperament for a cornerback. Good or bad, he seems to quickly put things behind him and move on to the next task.
Coughlin: "It takes time. You have to work at that. That's not an easy chore. But he certainly has displayed the mental toughness to be able to do that this year. He's done a good job not only in terms of how we've played him and who we've matched him against, but he has a rare ability that he may give up a completion once or twice and then when he gets to a key time in the game, like he did at Arizona, he shows up. He's seen it. He's tried to defend it a couple times. He's anticipating where the ball is going in the key situation and he's been able to come up with a key stop."
Q: Looking around the NFL, do you have any sense at all that the league is more wide open than it's been?
Coughlin: "I don't know. I just stick with what our division is doing and who the people are that we're playing and continue to analyze that. I'm certainly very well aware of what some people are doing."
Q: I was curious after watching the Jim Harbaugh-Jim Schwartz incident whether you've ever had a confrontation during a postgame handshake. And what do you think of the notion that the coaches' handshake should be abolished?
Coughlin: "No, I haven't. It's an expression of sportsmanship that has been long-preserved and is supposed to be an example. The game's over, you walk across and you extend. You're either the winner or the loser. It takes five seconds and you're on your way."
Q: Also, after watching Sean Payton suffer a serious injury as he stood on the sideline, have you ever come close to getting hit during a game?
Coughlin: "I have. I got it one time when I was at Boston College on the sideline. A defensive back came flying off the field and got me. I tried to get away, but I couldn't quite get back far enough. I remember the first thought I had was, 'How the hell am I going to get off the field? How am I going to walk out of here?' Because I thought I tore my ACL."
Q: What was it?
Coughlin: "I didn't ask anybody and I didn't do anything. I just went to work, took a couple of aspirin, and the trainers came around the next day and tried to figure out what happened. They asked me, 'Do you need anything?' I said, 'Nope, you're not touching me.'"
Q: So you never got help?
Coughlin: "Nope. Never got it looked at."
Q: After you've coached a long time, do you get a sense of when you have to back up on the sideline?
Coughlin: "Let me tell you something, it is so easy to get caught, you can't believe it. Suppose one of your own guys distracts you. I mean, if it's a punt, you better pay attention right now. I've had gunners go behind me – behind me. Oh yeah. The ball is coming at you on the sideline, it's a wide play, and you're thinking, 'Yeah, you'll have time.' Phew. All of a sudden they're right in your lap. You've got to be aware. You don't want to be distracted one second. It's unfortunate that it happened to Sean. And it usually is friendly fire. That's what it was with me. It was our own kid flying off the field, missed tackle kind of thing. Before you know it, there they are."
Q: This week you play the Dolphins, who have Reggie Bush, Brandon Marshall…
Coughlin: "A lot of weapons, a lot of weapons, and a lot of potential big play people. They have their punt returner and their kickoff returner (Davone Bess and Clyde Gates) basically as the third and fourth receivers. So you know that they have explosive abilities. The young kid (Daniel) Thomas is playing well. He's a factor in this thing. So, yes, they have a lot of weapons. The tight end has played – you look at the New England game, he made some great plays down in the hash, really playing the seam game. So there are weapons, no doubt. Four of their front five are first round picks."
Q: Tomorrow night is the Champions for Children gala to benefit your Jay Fund Foundation. Some people might be surprised you host such an important affair two nights before a game, but it has become such a big night for you…
Coughlin: "Here's the whole thing. You have to put yourself in a position where you ask yourself, 'What's the priority?' I fought this too, and I did it. For years, I didn't want to do anything during the season. But it became very clear to me that this was an opportunity that we had through the Jay Fund to raise some money, to help these families who have leukemia or other forms of cancer. The best opportunity was the moment, and it's not about me, it's not about anybody else except doing the right thing and giving the Jay Fund an opportunity through the tremendous generosity of so many different people to make an impact on a community. We want to make an impact wherever we are. We want to do it here. This is our seventh (gala). We've been doing it since '96 in Jacksonville. But it's not about me. It's the best night of the week, quite frankly, in professional football to try to have some kind of a function. If you're going to spend a Friday night during the season, to me, there's no better way to do it than to do it in a fashion where you're trying to do some good. To stay within the spirit of Jay McGillis and the mission of the Jay Fund."
Download the FREE GIANTS MOBILE APP by texting "Giants" to 51288 or by visiting iTunes, Android MarketPlace, Blackberry App World!