Head Coach Tom Coughlin
Good morning. We're preparing this week for a very talented Minnesota Vikings football team, a team that Leslie Frazier has taken over. In the last two games that they played, they're 2-0 under him, they've averaged, I believe, 39 carries per game, they are a talented outfit, whether you look at special teams with Harvin as the return man. On defense, I believe they are fourth in the league against the run, they are eighth in the league with the run. They are playing at home, so it is an exciting week and a really thorough and necessary preparation for this very good team.
Q: Are you surprised how well teams like the Cowboys and the Vikings have responded to an interim head coach?
A: I don't know if that's the word. I've obviously seen one first-hand and I'm studying the other one. You know off the bat they're talented, whatever the reasons are. The Vikings are minus-11; that does have something to do with the situation that they're in.
Q: What's the difficulty not knowing Favre's status?
A: Well, you have similar preparations in some ways and in others you have to have special preparation. Jackson is an outstanding athlete. We played against him a couple of years ago. He does and has demonstrated the ability to pull the ball down. I believe he had 55 yards rushing the other day himself. He has a very strong arm, the ability to throw the ball up the field, which accommodates some of what they do – whether it be Rice or Harvin or however they go about their business. There is a little bit of that. You do know the history of Brett Favre and the fact that based on that alone, you think that he will play.
Q: Do you expect to see both guys?
A: We'll see.
Q: You guys let the Dolphins use your facility this weekend. Any comment on that?
A: I really don't have any comment, but I do know that the idea or I think the idea, the understanding I had was that in granting permission, the hope was that if we're ever in that situation someone would accommodate us.
Q: Do you credit Eli's durability to his toughness or his smarts on the field?
A: Both. His ability to sidestep, his ability to recognize, to point out changes in protection, his ability to get up after a hit. He's had those as well. I think it's a combination.
Q: Status on Diehl and Smith this week?
A: Diehl is practicing and I'm trying not to even consider any kind of limit. We'll see how he does. Hopefully he is in a position conditioning-wise where he can just practice and go. Steve Smith is going to practice. We'll see how that is. He does have a limitation on his practice, but that could easily change if we see that he is doing well.
Q: O'Hara and Nicks?
A: O'Hara is going to try. He's going to go. He expects to start out and move gradually because this would be his first week. We'd like to see where he is and then hopefully we can go from there. Nicks is going to go through individual. If that works out, he may take a couple of snaps. The doctor comes this afternoon for an update on all of these.
Q: Is it difficult for a coach to prepare when the opponent's quarterback is a question mark?
A: Well, you obviously have to be very aware of what each quarterback is capable of doing. The one thing that does strike you though is that to me, because of the emphasis on the run, there have been a number of bootlegs involved. If you remember a couple of weeks ago, I guess against Washington they went into a four-minute drive, Brett Favre pulled the ball down and ran with it and made the first down, which allowed them to kneel with it. They were putting Brett on the corner, he was running nakeds, he was doing a lot of that kind of thing that they would do the same kinds of things with Jackson, so there are similarities in that way.
Q: Would it be difficult to be the coach who might not start him and have to end the streak?
A: I think it was explained very well, that if he can play he will play.
Q: So it's not an emotional thing?
A: I don't think so. Leslie said that would not enter into it. The streak would not enter into it. If he can and he's ready and he himself thinks he's ready, then he would go.
Q: Is that how you would approach it?
Q: Can you talk about the progress of Justin Tuck on the field and his leadership off the field?
A: I think that the progress, to me, is very obvious. It's very good. His intensity level is very consistent. He's taken very seriously his leadership role and the fact that his teammates have elected him captain. I think that resonates in the way he plays and I think that he has set a very good example.
Q: How much does the dynamic of the offense change with Sidney Rice?
A: Well, Sidney Rice has always been a 'here we go, downtown' guy. He made a great play the other day stealing the ball away over the top of the Buffalo defenders, so that is a big factor and you have some very talented people in their receiving corps and their running back corps with Peterson and so on and so forth, so I think that you creep up close to the line of scrimmage and think that you're going to be okay against the run and then the ball is going to go up over the top.
Q: Shawn Andrews?
A: He feels better, he's doing better, he's going to come out and run, work on the side.
A: Blackmon does have some limitations, but he's going to go.
Q: Have you thought about Devin Thomas as a kick returner?
A: Yes. The other guy didn't do too bad.
Q: Eli has never beaten the Vikings. Does he have a little extra fire then?
A: Well, this year, one factor, this game – how important this game is to us, facing a championship quality team, that environment – all of those things, I hadn't really thought about the history of all of this, but the competitor that he is, even if he hasn't thought about it, if you mention it to him, he'll have some inner thoughts anyway.
Q: Are they not committing to Peterson as much recently?
A: 39 carries a game. 39 rushes the last two games. Over 100 last weekend coming off an ankle. I think they're committing.
Q: Is your running back rotation still the same?
A: At this point, yes.
Q: How valuable has Richie Seubert been by being able to slide over?
A: You said it – very, very valuable. What he's done by sliding over and doing the job he's done. Again, another example of veteran leadership and the willingness to do whatever is necessary.
Q: He downplayed it. Is it really that easy?
A: No. It's not that easy, but the fact that we have any number of guys that are able and capable of doing that – the versatility there is what you're always looking for. You can't always get it.
QB Eli Manning
Q: This team has something going now with back-to-back wins, how do you continue that?
A: We just have to keep going out there and having great weeks of practice. Our preparation has been really good the last few weeks. We've managed the game well, played smart, so we have to continue to do that. This week's going to be tough. We're going against a good team. You can't really look at their record but you look at their defense and they do a lot of good stuff with good players. We have to be physically and mentally prepared. We go out there and have to play our best football to win.
Q: Does last year's loss stick with you a little bit?
A: I guess at some points you think about it, but our focus is this year. Have our game plan, go out there, and know how we have to play to have a chance to beat this team.
Q: The Vikings have a tough front four, especially with their defensive tackles:
A: Yeah, their front four is about as good as there is in the NFL. They're able to stop the run and get a good pass rush without bringing too many blitzes. Their front four is very talented so we have to be able to block it up and give us a chance to get the ball out. We have a good plan and had a good day of practice today. It's going to come down to Sunday. It's going to be loud, they are going to be jumping the cadence. Guys have to be ready to block and you can't be stuck in third-and-longs all day.
Q: The way the running game is going, it looks like that could be the key to getting a fast start and burying the opposition early:
A: Yeah, hopefully. Minnesota does a good job of stopping the run so we're going to have to mix in the pass, play action, and running the ball. Hopefully we'll be able to get some sort of running game established, otherwise it's going to be tough. They'll play their two high, and their good pass rush, so we have to have a good mix and a good combination going on Sunday.
Q: The Metrodome is one of the louder places you play this year:
A: It's up there. If they're playing well and they get things going, it can be very loud. Only way to control that is to get off to a good start, get some first downs and some long drives. That's really the only way to silence the crowd.
Q: A lot can change from year to year, but you've had some of your worst games against the Vikings. Does that factor in mentally and do you think about that?
A: No. You go in each year and know your game plan. You have different guys and different things going on, so you're worried about this game and going out there and playing well.
Q: How will it feel to start 100 straight games?
A: You don't get too worried about that. I'm worried about Minnesota and trying to get through this one and figuring out a way to get a win. I like being out there and I work hard trying to stay healthy and taking care of my body. Until you told me, I didn't know that was the case.
Q: You're only the sixth quarterback in NFL history to start 100 straight games, your brother is one of the other ones:
A: That's good stuff. In this league, you get hit. There have been a couple games where it's been kind of iffy and can come down to game time decisions. It's easy to get hurt in this game and I think part of it is a little luck and how you take care of your body on some things and trying to avoid the big hits.
Q: What the closest you came to missing a game?
A: Last year with the foot. In 2007 with the shoulder. Either one, I could've probably sat out. I want to be out there, and if I think I can play, I'm going to go play.
Q: This will be 100 for you, but 298 for Brett Favre. Can you relate to the magnitude of that?
A: It's more amazing in the amount of games he's played. That's about 300 games. For me, it's one third of my career so I have another 14 years to go. That's a long time. That's really the amazing part is how long that he's played and stayed healthy in consecutive starts and played at a high level. It's very impressive.
Q: Do you think intelligence or physical toughness goes into a streak like the one you or Brett put together? Luck?
A: I'd say it's all of them. I think you try to be smart and not take an unnecessary hit. You're going to take some hits and that has to happen. It's about your preparation and knowing what's going on with the defense. You know when you're protected and unprotected and the offensive line is doing their job, receivers are getting open in a timely fashion. Your flexibility and stretching, injuries that are preventable from that also that are not just from hits. You try not to get some that are preventable. And then, of course, it is a little luck and just not taking a hit that something goes wrong.
Q: How exciting is it to think about getting Smith and Nicks back on the field soon?
A: It's good that we're getting some guys back healthy. We can do a little bit more with our pass game. Some guys will be back at their natural position and that helps out a lot when you do go into multiple receiver sets. Hopefully, everyone is going to work. As you get on later in the season, the more guys you have who can play and step in, fill spots, moving guys around, the stronger we can be. We just have to keep everybody in-tune and knowing what's going on. Hopefully, we can start getting some guys back healthy. We'll see what the circumstances are. We have a lot of guys who can play. We have to keep working and understand what position they'll be playing and keep executing our routes.
Q: With all the injuries, somehow the offensive line has played better than any Giants offensive line before:
A: Yeah, our running game has been great. Hopefully we can continue to do that. We have to make sure we're still throwing the ball consistently. Our play action has been working well, especially last week in the first half. We had a good mix, and we have to continue to do that. Our offensive line and our run game with their run blocking, pass-game blocking, and receivers getting open, we had good balance last week and we have to make sure we continue to do that.