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Coughlin's Corner: Redskins


Q: What does it mean to have control of the division race and control of your playoff fate with three games to go?Coughlin: "We've always preached to our players you have to take care of your own business. You don't want to ever rely on someone else. So we're in a position where that's really what it is, what I call 'being in position.' We're in position, and now we've got to perform. We have a three-game schedule. Each game is critical, and it's December in the National Football League. If you were going to design it, you would design it this way."

Q: In the last month, you have played games against some of the NFL's best teams, including the emotional win in Dallas on Sunday. Several players in the locker room were asked about the potential for a letdown this week against Washington, which is 4-9. I would imagine with the time of year, what's at stake, and the opponent, you think that's ridiculous.Coughlin: "Well, they beat us the first time around. That's a pretty good indication of how I feel about it. I told the players, I told the media, I told everybody – don't be fooled by their record. They've challenged everybody, literally. Look at their two Dallas games, overtime and 18-16. Look what they did with the Patriots the other day. They had 36 minutes-plus time of possession against the Patriots, had the ball at the five-yard line second-and-goal to tie the game and didn't get it done. They had a penalty and threw an interception. They've played, even against the Jets, the score doesn't look like it was a close game. Believe me, it's 16-13 in the fourth quarter and they're in the lead. They're a good team. They're scrappy. They're outstanding. They're 10th in the league in defense. They are very good in the red zone. They are physical. They've got the run game going again, which when we played them the first time around they rushed for 74 yards against us. Against the Patriots the other day, they rushed for 170. So it'll be a tough divisional game."

Q: The other day when you fell behind 34-22 after an interception and a long touchdown pass in rapid succession, what was it like on the sideline after those two plays?Coughlin: "I didn't notice anything different. I went to the offense and I told Eli we'll be on the ball and we've got to go fast. I mean we had five minutes and 41 seconds. So he nodded his head, the offensive team went out there with the idea of scoring and just giving our team a chance. We did score with enough time fortunately to be able to make the call on whether to onside kick or not. That was huge in the game. We kicked off, touchback, and went three-and-out, got the ball back, put pressure on the punter and got the ball back. There was plenty of time if we did things the right way."

Q: Eli Manning said coming from behind all the time in the fourth quarter is a bad habit. But is it good in the sense that you're never out of the game and you've shown you can win under difficult circumstances?Coughlin: "It's good to be able to rely on your two-minute offense to give you a chance to come back from behind and score. And that kind of pressure in the fourth quarter is what we talked about in the preseason – about finishing. We hadn't finished in a few games. We were close a couple of times, but we didn't get it done. So we made a big, big point of finishing again last weekend, and we did. We finished the right way."

Q: In some ways, this is not a typical Tom Coughlin team because you're not running the ball well and the defense is not as strong as it's been. But is it a typical Tom Coughlin team in that you do whatever it takes to win?Coughlin: "We saw it the other night. We scrapped and we fought and we created some situations for ourselves. Yeah, it wasn't going very well, but we did run the ball 31 times. We had the ball a lot, and we moved the ball a lot. We had a lot of yards, and they did, too. It was one of those deals where I think what we have proven is that in a short amount of time we can take it down and score. And that's really critical when all these games are so close. Now we've also allowed the other guy to put himself in position with not much time, which is bothersome to me. But, nevertheless, it's something we do have to deal with."

Q: Eli threw 47 times and was not sacked. You ran the ball 31 times with a five-yard average. Was that the offensive line's best game in a while?Coughlin: "They played very well. They were very, very solid. You have to remember that whenever you have a game in which there are no sacks against a team with that kind of prolific rush – one guy (DeMarcus Ware) has 15 sacks, for crying out loud – you're doing something right up there. And what you're doing is your five are playing very well. Your tackles are obviously challenged and playing well, but you've got your tight ends involved. Your backs are involved in your protection schemes. Your quarterback is doing a pretty good job of directing the protection scheme. And then also Eli moved around and was able to avoid with some very timely movement in the pocket and outside of the pocket and threw some outstanding, very accurate passes coming out of the pocket, particularly the ones right on the boundary."

Q: Eli's preparation doesn't get a lot of attention. He'll come in here on a Tuesday (the players' day off) and spend hours in that little room looking at the upcoming opponent. How important is that in your mind and do you confer with him on Tuesday?Coughlin: "He does that with Sully (quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan). Most of the time I catch him when he's just getting ready to go in. So I just tell him a little bit about what I've seen and what he should kind of be looking for. But he's done this since his rookie year. He sets his day up and he has his family time and then he sets aside time for his strength program. He does a big chunk of that on Tuesdays. And he'll have lunch with somebody, whether it's another player or something like that. Then he locks himself in the room for any number of hours and he'll catch up with Sully. Sully will go grab him and give him maybe first and second down. He'll slide it to him, and maybe about nine o'clock we'll fax him some of the third down stuff, if not all. So he's always at least one full day ahead of where we are in terms of presentation."

Q: How important is it for Eli to get ahead like that?Coughlin: "It's very important, because obviously he has his own thoughts and he's already prepared with questions and so on and so forth about what he feels or what he sees and how we would address it. So in order to get the kind of feedback you're looking for as a coach, for him to be ahead like that is a good thing."

Q: You've been asked a lot about Jason Pierre-Paul. But from the sense that he came in so raw and it seems you can see him improving game by game – if not by series - have you ever had a player improve as rapidly and markedly?Coughlin: "Probably not, no. I would say not. But you have to know this is a very unique case. The young man had not played a lot of football. Under difficult circumstances I'm sure, one of the great things about him is he is a young man who is very humble. And while his and our expectations are extremely high, he's very coachable. He's very good with (defensive line coach) Robert Nunn and his position meetings and (defensive coordinator) Perry Fewell. He's very, very good with them. He's very good with his teammates. But the beauty of it is he just keeps on working, keeps on going, keeps on going. You'll see some series and say, 'Where is JPP?' All of a sudden, boom, he makes a play, like the sack on the safety to start the game. Actually, it looked like Romo was going to be able to stay up but he wasn't."

Q: You were asked about the pass defense the other day and called it a "grave concern." At this point in the season, what can you do?Coughlin: "Just become more sound and stop with the errors. Be in the right position at the right time. Communicate well with each other without any type of misunderstanding. That's really what you want. Again, continue to really take what we do best and try to continue to do that and also whether we come with pressure, no matter how many it is, guys realize that they've got to get home. The Giants have always banked on that as a big part of our pass defense."

Q: This one is a little out of left field, but it's something I've been wondering about. Since I've been around here, when there's a timeout the quarterback will go over to talk to the coaches on the sideline. When you call a timeout, Eli stays on the field.Coughlin: "He's on the receiver (listening to offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride)."

Q: Can he talk to you?Coughlin: "He doesn't talk to me. He occasionally will call him over, but he gets what he wants right there. All you've got to do is listen to coach-to-quarterback."

Q: But can he talk back to Kevin?Coughlin: "He just acknowledges it from the field. I talk to him when he goes to the field or I talk to him when there's something like when there's a timeout or something when we're in the green zone and he comes over. My discussions with him are about scope – how many timeouts, what's the circumstance, is there any chance we're going for two, make sure you don't take a sack here, those kinds of things. Those are the things I give him, that kind of stuff."

Q: Has (rookie running back) Roy Helu made the Redskins more balanced?Coughlin: "He has. He has three 100-yard games in a row. They started the year wanting to run. They got a little bit away from it. They made a quarterback change. They're back to the quarterback, back to trying. They did an outstanding job, I thought, last week. You talk about a team that did a nice job of game planning. They did an outstanding job against the Patriots. They've done a good job adjusting to the fact that their first two tight ends are no longer there. (Logan) Paulsen was the third in the beginning, he's the one now."

Q: You mentioned DeMarcus Ware with 15 sacks, but this team is a little different. They have four guys with at least five sacks.Coughlin: "And two with over six. Yeah, they do. But the big guys are those outside backers (Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo), just like they were last week. Barry Cofield has 2.5 sacks."

Q: A lot of guys to pay attention to.Coughlin: "Always. Last week, what are you going to do about (Jay) Ratliff? Ignore him? There are lots of people."

Q: This is another team with a good returner, but Washington stands out because its coverage teams are very good…Coughlin: "First in the league in kickoff coverage, seventh in punt coverage. They're physical. (Lorenzo) Alexander is their number one tackler on special teams and he's 300 pounds, or almost 300 pounds. They've always had a guy like that. You remember we had Tuck, we had JPP on kickoff coverage. Everybody wants one of those guys to be a part of your coverage team because it's hard to block them."

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