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Coughlin's Corner - Super Bowl Edition


Q: This week, you have been so focused on preparing the team for the New England Patriots, but through your interaction with the media do you get an appreciation for how big this game is outside of your insular world?

Coughlin: "I do get a broader view of what goes on at the Super Bowl. But only because – you land, boom, you have a press conference. The whole building is full of people from all over the world. A fellow stood up today from Japan and asked me a question. So I get a sense about that. You tell your players and you tell your family that this is the greatest sporting event in the world. The greatest. Then you take a step back and realize it is. It really is. So it gives you even more of an appreciation for what you have, because it's so rare to be here."

Q: Keeping with that theme, you've coached for more than 40 years and you strive that entire time to get to this game. When you step out on that field Sunday, do you take a few seconds to say, "This is what I've worked all these years for?"

Coughlin: "No, not really. At that point in time, it's about the opponent and the game and getting ready for the kickoff.  There are some pregame questions about the opponent that you're going to have to see in order to get answered. You're kind of anxious – it's, 'Let's see it.'"

Q: The players say they're nervous before the game, but they get that first hit and it becomes just another game. Is it just another game when you're standing on the sideline?

Coughlin: "The idea is to get totally engrossed in the game. When you do get totally engrossed in the game, it's not unlike any other game that you're involved in. But really, you get into a zone and you don't think about those things. You're not paying attention to the vastness of the game, the importance of the game. Even at halftime you don't think about that kind of stuff with all that time. You're trying to get your team right. You do, if you're fortunate enough, I think, to have that explosion that happens when the game is over and you've won the game. Now it becomes again, 'My goodness, we've won the Super Bowl, we are the world champions.'"

Q: The Super Bowl halftime is about three times as long as a normal halftime. How did you handle it in Super Bowl XLII four years ago?

Coughlin: "We just break up the time. With a 12-minute half, the coaches spend very  little time with the players. Now we just take more time with the coaches together, gather their information, be more efficient about it. And then we have a little bit more time to spend with the players in making a halftime adjustment. What happens is everyone has a little bit more time to take care of their needs, players and coaches. Coaches have more time to be together to bring about ideas and answers to problems that have been created in the first half. And then a little bit more time to share solutions with your players."

Q: You've been asked many times what you say to young players that are playing in their first Super Bowl. You had a lot of young players in the last Super Bowl – Steve Smith, Ahmad Bradshaw, Jay Alford - who made important contributions. What did you say to them?

Coughlin: "It's continuous. It's no one thing that you tell them. It's a cumulative thing. When you start to prep your team for single-elimination…that started with us against the Jets, we've been talking about that all along. The only thing is, as the games have grown in significance, then we have also grown in the intensity with which we describe what the game is about."

Q: You put in most of your game plan last week in New Jersey. Was this week used for repetition, tinkering with the plan…

Coughlin: "Making the subtle changes. We completed I'd say 80-90 percent. You come here and you get settled in and you're not quite comfortable. You're not in your own office. Then as you start to dig in, you go back as if you hadn't done anything with it. And you look at more tape and you take more notes and you make some more ideas and you see some different things. You adjust some things – some things go out, other things come in. That's the way it is."

Q: Because your son-in-law, Chris Snee is on your team, you have an opportunity very few coaches enjoy, which is participating in a Super Bowl with a family member. Ten or 20 years from now, you're going to have memories of doing this together. What does that mean to you?

Coughlin: "I've told the * team *that this is the stuff of legends. And that they have a chance 30 years from now to be sitting at the fireplace with their own grandchildren talking about this type of an event, this Super Bowl. I haven't really thought about it, that Chris and I would be not only playing in our second Super Bowl together, with our team – it will always be something that we have. No one can ever take it away from us. But winning the game is really the only thing that matters."

Q: The Patriots use an up-tempo offense that tries to create matchup advantages against the defense. They don't want you to get your desired personnel on the field. How difficult is it to combat that?

Coughlin: "If they substitute, you can. That's why if (tight end Rob) Gronkowski is healthy and they stay with what they've done, they would then have two tight ends and three receivers. That's how they really like to play. Now they got you out there and you know you're going to be in a nickel or a dime. That's when all of a sudden 81 (tight end Aaron Hernandez) becomes a runner, or 81 becomes a back out of the backfield and they throw him the option route.

"There isn't any question you have to spend an awful lot of time on the speed part of it – the no-huddle and no substitutions. But also, I think to a greater extent, your back room scratching is about your personnel, their personnel, how you're going to match 'em, how you're going to play 'em, what you can and can't do. And what do you do if it's not being successful?"

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