Head Coach Tom Coughlin
Good morning. In the division, for the lead in the division. Mid-December. It's exciting, very exciting. The Eagles are an outstanding football team. They obviously played well the other night in their win over Dallas. Dallas gave them a heck of a game. The Eagles were able to hold on to the ball late in the game and drive it down the field and secure the victory. They are an offensive team different from the last time we played them – they were third in the league then, now they're one. They are a defensive team that is very steady right there at 11 or 12 in the league and they have outstanding special teams with the real threat in the return area, so here we go.
Q: How is Steve Smith?
A: Well, you've gotten the news. Steve is injured and will not be able to play anymore. He will have surgery on the knee. I feel bad for Steve. He fights his way back, he gets back on the field, he gets a little bit acclimated to game conditions again and then is injured, so our thoughts and the entire thoughts of our team are for Steve at this time. I did not and I tried to encourage him after the game because the first news was that it may have been a hamstring or something like that or that type of injury there in the outside back part of the knee. Unfortunately it turned out to be more than that.
Q: Will he go on IR today?
A: I don't know when. That decision will be made.
Q: Was there a gray area on whether he could return?
A: Not according to the medical people, there wasn't.
Q: What's the recovery time?
A: I'm not sure. Don't ask me those kinds of questions. I don't know the answer to that right now. That was never discussed.
Q: Mario Manningham?
A: He does have an issue and hopefully he can progress a little bit each day. I haven't seen any of them yet this morning. They're coming in. There's a little bit later start on Wednesday after a Monday night game, but I'll see them here shortly. Hopefully he'll make progress and hopefully he'll be able to go tomorrow.
Q: Losing Steve is a continuation of different receivers rotating in and out. How much of Eli's interceptions are the result of his receivers being out?
A: Well, there is a part of that. Each time you have an interception, you analyze each one individually. At the beginning of the year there seemed to be a lot of tipped balls. You could look at one and say that wasn't a good decision, you could look at another and say if the receiver had followed through with what he was supposed to do there, at the very least we would have had an incompletion, not an interception, so there is some of that, but he's done a good job of working with all of these guys and has faith in all of them and these new guys that are on board and that have been on board for a couple of weeks now, they've got to step up and help us.
Q: In the weeks Nicks played without Steve Smith, was he affected by that?
A: No. I don't think so. I mean, he's probably going to draw a little coverage, but still.
Q: How did Nicks come out of the game? Any restrictions?
A: Seemed to be okay. At this point, no.
Q: What about the opportunity here? You've had to do a lot of things since you played Philly last and you've got another chance.
A: Yeah. That was the objective, to be in a position where we would add significance to this week and to the credit of our players and coaches that has happened, so we're excited about the key word that you used, the opportunity.
A: We're going to move him along further and we'll see.
Q: Can you overstate what Seubert has done in O'Hara's absence?
A: Well, there is no way to overstate what Rich Seubert's contribution has been. When Shaun is down and he moves into center and we really don't miss a beat, that says a lot about him. Rich loves to play, he loves any challenge, he's a competitor, he's physical, he's tough, he's a great example for everybody. The more the merrier. If we can get Shaun back in the mix, then that will be a good thing.
Q: What is your approach to playing Michael Vick? Is he still giving you stomach aches?
A: Well, I don't know how he can not. It's their whole team. They're a very talented team. They do an awful lot of things that are done very well. We did a decent job over there and we would hope to be able to build on that.
Q: Do defenses do more of what you did against them last time? How have they schemed against that?
A: They've adjusted by continuing to scheme and come up with different ways, particularly in the early downs, of creating problems for you with his movement. Every game is studied in the NFL and the good things are kept and the not so good are eliminated, so as we go along and from the last time we played them until now, we're looking at things other people have done that have helped them.
Q: You talked a lot about the freshness of your running backs. What besides that has made a difference?
A: I haven't talked about their freshness. You have. You've asked about it. I said that the distribution has been pretty good.
Q: What else has made a difference?
A: I think we're doing a good job up front. It's difficult and it's not always consistent, it's not always every play, it's persistence, perseverance – continue to keep banging away. We've done that and that's paid off. The other night with the two long runs, you don't always get that. Not against as good of a defense as Minnesota was.
Q: It seemed like Bear Pascoe had his best game.
A: Bear had a good game and has had a good run. He's done a nice job of filling it at a job that at the beginning of training camp you just have your extra tight ends learn to play so that you can use another whole personnel combination and still in effect run the same offense. Well, it's become a whole lot more than that for him.
Q: He's learning to be a fullback.
A: Yeah. Plus, he made two contributions in the pass game. The ball in the flat both times and tried to demonstrate his leaping ability, which was probably a vertical jump of six to seven inches.
Q: The breakdown on special teams, was that a result of heavy legs?
A: That's what I was talking about. We didn't cover well. We had been doing a decent job – not a great job, but a decent job of that. I expect that to change.
Q: David Diehl and Shawn Andrews?
A: Dave was sore, which he better be since he hasn't played in a long time, but he'll bounce right back. Shawn is going to work this week. He's going to be limited at first and we'll see how far he can go.
Q: Diehl did a good job against Jared Allen. Were you pleased with his performance?
A: He did. Yeah, the continuity. The one breakdown shouldn't have happened.
Q: Did Canty have any issues?
A: Didn't appear that way.
Q: Has he been fighting a pectoral injury?
A: Nothing serious.
Q: Understanding the importance of this game, how dangerous is it to put all of your eggs in one basket because you do have other games coming up?
A: I don't think you do that. I don't think you do that. It's the most important game of the year because it's the next game, but last week's game was the most important game of the year and the week before was the most important. There are plenty of games to play here. There's a lot to be accomplished in these last few games of the season.
Q: Is running the ball the key this week? You didn't have much success with that at Philadelphia last time.
A: We didn't have much success running or throwing and our defense was able to rise up and hold them to one out of five in the end zone. The turnovers were ridiculous, to be honest with you. The numbers were way down, yet we're ahead in the fourth quarter. They have made quite a habit of winning in these close games in the fourth quarter if you look and study and see where they're at, including the other night. There are a lot of clear objectives here, one of which is that offensively we've got to get going, we've got to do our job, we've got to hold the ball, we've got to move the ball, we've got to be able to run the ball against a very good defense.
Q: Is the lost day of preparation significant?
A: I don't understand why all of this has got everybody going crazy here. We adjust. You adjust just like anything else. It becomes all of the sudden a Monday night game, so you kick into a Monday night game schedule and that's exactly what we did.
Q: Could the team going through the weekend together actually have a positive effect?
A: Yeah. I tend to think we're a pretty tight team as it is, but I think that there isn't any question that going through that particular part of it together and doing a good job with it, hopefully it just melded us together a little bit more.
Q: What did the players do a particularly good job with in handling the unusual circumstances of the trip?
A: They were patient, they accepted the fact that they didn't have any control over it, so we waited and once we got word, we came back up on the bit.
Q: How much of a blow is it to know that Steve Smith will not be back at all this season?
A: As I said, you'd prefer it the other way, but unfortunately there is nothing that we can do about it right now. Our thoughts go to Steve and hopefully we can help Steve over this great disappointment for him and our team just has to march on. Someone else has got to step up there and do the job that we would have asked Steve to do.
Q: Is Hagan still a replacement player in your mind or has he earned a legitimate top three spot?
A: Well, when called upon, no matter what the role is, whether he's a gunner or whatever, he's done a good job and we will continue to call on him.
Q: What are your thoughts on DeSean Jackson?
A: You're trying to ruin breakfast and lunch? DeSean is DeSean. The big play aspect of his game, of what he's done particularly on a first down and did again the other night for the 60 yarder on the first play of the game. You go back and look and see. That aspect of their game hasn't changed. He's their big play guy and McCoy is playing very well, Maclin had a big game against us the first time around. There's multiple talented guys there.
Q: How close are Michael Clayton and Devin Thomas to getting your whole playbook down?
A: They're going to learn week by week. You're not going to give them the encyclopedia. They're going to learn the game plan and they've done a good job of that and that's the way that it will continue. How the game plan applies to what you're seeing from the opponent and all the adjustments that go with that. That's how they'll continue to learn that.
Q: Was the best pattern the other night the one run by a Viking, the one by the center?
A: Actually, he was running a curl route 15 yards deep, moving inside… I was totally wrong on that, by the way. I was. I shouldn't have been out on the field, but I got carried away with that because I could see it from my sideline – he's standing over there in front of his bench. God forbid we should miss one of those.
QB Eli Manning
Q: Giants/Eagles with the division on the line. How exciting is this?
A: This is a big game. These are the situations you want to be in. You want to be playing in these types of games in December, and we have to be excited. We have to have a great week of practice and get prepared. We know these guys, so a lot of it just comes down to Sunday and being prepared for all their looks and going out there and playing smart football.
Q: Do the losses in the last few meetings stick with you a little bit?
A: No, you know every week that you have a chance to go out there and win. We've played some close ones. The one earlier this year, we had a shot to win and had a lead in the fourth but we couldn't hold onto it and couldn't get it back. They're a talented team, they play great football, so we have to go out there and beat them and play better than they do.
Q: Does your familiarity with this team help offset the lost day of preparation?
A: Yeah, definitely. With this team, we're going to have our game plan and we know a lot of the things they do. They'll have a new wrinkle here or there, but we have a good idea of their personnel, their schemes. It's just a matter of can we see it, do we have an answer for it. This will be about getting our bodies back healthy, getting our minds set, and going out there on Sunday.
Q: How demoralizing is it to lose Steve Smith for the rest of the year?
A: It's obviously unfortunate for Steve. I feel for him. That's a tough situation. The good thing is we have a lot of receivers because of the injuries earlier in the year who have been here for the last month or so who are up to date on what's going on. We have Hakeem back and Mario, those guys are playing well. Hagan has been here for a month and is playing well and Michael Clayton. We have numbers now where we can put guys in different positions and they can go out there and play well.
Q: How important is it to not turn the ball over and not get yourselves in a hole?
A: Yeah definitely. With their offense, you don't want to give them anything easy. Our defense is playing great football these last weeks, and you don't want to give the opposing team a short field. We have to protect the ball but we also have to know that we have to move the ball and go down there and score some points.
Q: What was it like to have someone as reliable and talented as Steve Smith to throw to the past two years and now he's gone for the year?
A: It's unfortunate but you can't dwell on it. We have other players and other receivers and guys who can make big plays for us. These last few weeks we've been without them and been able to win some games. We know we can win, we'd love to have him here obviously, but it's the situation we're in and you move forward.
Q: What do you think of how good Michael Vick has been this year?
A: Michael is playing great football. He's exciting to watch whether it's running, scrambling, or throwing the ball, he's playing at a very high level. Our defense has a great challenge. That's why offensively we have to move the ball, get first downs, keep our defense off the field, and get some points.
Q: Any positives you took away from the defeat in Philly in November?
A: Yeah definitely. You definitely learn from that game what things work and when will they try to make adjustments and what works for them. We did some good things and moved the ball well at times, we just have to get better at third down conversions. There are definitely some things we can take from that and know we had a chance to win that game but we didn't do it. We have to find a way to win the fourth quarter.
Q: What specifically does Asante Samuel do that makes him dangerous?
A: He's just got a great feel out there. He reads the patterns, he reads the quarterback, he jumps things. They let him roam a little bit and do his own thing at times, and he does a great job of taking educated risks. Once the ball gets anywhere near him, he does a great job of tracking it down and making a play.
Q: How hard it is not to put all your eggs in one basket knowing the implications of the game in the division on Sunday?
A: Obviously we know it's a big game and we know what is at stake here. Our focus is this game. It's a big game. Go out there and play our best football, and hopefully we can get a win.
Q: You said you know this team can win without Steve Smith. Does that come from playing without Smith and Hakeem Nicks over the past few weeks or is it having faith in the people that you have now?
A: One guy is never going to decide whether you win or lose a game. We always have confidence once the game plan is in that with the talent we have on this team, we can go out there and win. We are better prepared now since we've had some new receivers in the past month. We're working with them and we're not scrambling to get guys in different places. I think it's a combination of both.
Q: Are you guys scaling back at all on the game plan to compensate for the injury and having the newer guys in the mix?
A: I don't know. We haven't met yet so it's a matter of being selective in our personnel and smart about getting the best guys out there. The fact we have guys who have been there the past month and these receivers now have more confidence understanding our offense. We should be able to do everything that we need to do.
Q: How confident are you in your own game right now?
A: Feeling great. We're finding ways to win and we're doing some good stuff. We feel excited about this opportunity.
WR Hakeem Nicks
Q: With Steve Smith out, does that put the pressure on you?
A: I don't feel like it puts more pressure on me. I just have to rise up to the occasion. Mario Manningham will step up, Derek Hagan will step up. I'm just going to continue to hold it down on my part.
Q: Talk about this weekend's game with the two teams fighting for the division:
A: There's a lot of stake. We know what we're playing for, it's obvious. We have to go in with the mentality that we have to win this game.
Q: Any positives come out of the last road trip?
A: I definitely feel like it helped us come together closer as a team. We faced a little bit of adversity. We overcame it as a team. I think we came out pretty good.
Q: You come out of the Vikings game okay?
A: Yeah, I came out of the game pretty good.
Q: Just soreness?
A: No issues. It was a little sore from it being my first game back but nothing that will limit it.
Q: What was your reaction to the Steve Smith diagnosis this morning?
A: I actually heard about it yesterday. I called him yesterday and he told me about it yesterday.
Q: How deflating was it when he told you?
A: Very deflating but at the same time it's football. Stuff happens. I wish the best for him and I hope and pray that it's a speedy recovery for him. I know he'll be fine with his mentality.
Q: Won't you guys miss him quite a bit?
A: Definitely. His presence will definitely be missed in that slot on third down situations and other situations as well.
Q: You expecting to see more of Asante Samuel being the number one receiver?
A: You never know. That's something when you come out on game day that you see. I'll approach the game accordingly.
Q: Why do the Eagles have so many interceptions?
A: That's a good group of guys on the defensive side of the ball over there. They play well together and they have some good schemes. It's just up to us to prepare well all week and come out there and play.
Q: How do the defenses change for you once Steve Smith isn't on the field anymore?
A: I've been seeing a lot of two-high with safety help over the top. It just makes me work harder, and Coach Gilbride does a good job of moving me around a little bit. It'll be fun.