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Playoff Edition: Coughlin's Corner - Packers


Q: You have won three games in a row, the running game has improved, you've had no turnovers two weeks in a row and the defense is playing better. What happened?

Coughlin: "That was the whole point – to be playing our best football right now at this time of the year. Over the last few weeks we have, and I think that we've gained confidence. We've gained confidence from the fact that our defense has played well and our special teams have done their job and the trust in our quarterback has risen even higher because he's done such an outstanding job taking care of the ball. Even though we've had slow starts, we've been able to run the ball by the persistence that's involved in that, knowing full well that the defense is playing well."

Q: You mentioned the trust in the quarterback. If you talk to the players in the locker room, they said as long as we have No. 10 we have a chance. How important is it for a team to have that kind of faith in a quarterback?

Coughlin: "I just mentioned the word 'confidence' - that's what it does for the team. They have confidence that at any time, under any circumstances, he can lead us to accomplish whatever we have to accomplish. We've seen it this year late in the fourth quarter. We've seen it countless times in these second-half drives that have given us a chance to be in games or win games."

Q: I asked you last week whether you wanted it to be a normal week or a special week because you were in the playoffs. You said you wanted it to be a special week. As you go further, every week becomes more special. How do you get that point across to them?

Coughlin: "They understand that it's a natural buildup. We do talk immediately about keeping the dream alive and all things are possible for those who believe. So it is a natural buildup, and I think the guys, as the closer you get to the game, the more exciting it is – that's why it is so important to get your X and O work done. Get it done, get it learned, understand it, and then have the exhilaration of getting closer to the opportunity and yet have the confidence knowing that when you're put in the pressure positions or situations, once you truly feel like you understand what your responsibilities are, you can play to the highest level of your abilities."

Q: Anytime someone brings up 2007, you deflect it. The players, too. Have you told the players not to talk about 2007?

Coughlin: "We're talking about this team trying to remain faithful to the 2011 New York Giants and their quest to try to identify exactly who we are and what will be our historical significance in the history of this franchise."

Q: At the same time, you have 15 players who were in uniform for the 2007 NFC Championship Game. You played at Lambeau Field last season, but can they be helpful in explaining to the young players what they can expect in a playoff game there?

Coughlin: "Sure they can. And as I said, as you have the ability to make reference to, or to analyze and by virtue of a comparison make reference to, that gives the veteran guys a chance to explain it even further. So as they're watching tape together or as we're talking about the things we think are most important in order for us to win, as they can relate to that stuff, it makes a big difference. And I hope some of these young guys who naturally have been, however you want to view it, have been brought along as we've gone forward here and are battle tested, I'm hoping that some of these guys start to figure it out for themselves. It may be a first time in a place, but we have played in some very significant away games, and these young guys have had to perform, and they have helped us win."

Q: You won in New England, you won at Dallas, you won at Philly. What is the key in your mind of why the team plays well on the road?

Coughlin: "It's the mentality. It's the mentality, it's the spirit. It's the bond among teammates. It's the singleness of purpose. It's the mental toughness of the individuals, the ability to maintain their focus and concentration despite whatever goes on. It's not always going to be pretty or perfect, and you have to be able to rise up above the bad moments as well as the good and maintain an even keel and realize that it's a long game. It's a 60-minute game, and you've got to play well for a long, long time. Just one good series or whatever is not enough. Again, all three phases have got to help each other out."

Q: On the first touchdown drive in the victory over Atlanta last week, on fourth down, you decide to go for the first. Sometimes in the past you've gone for the field goal. Did you just want to send a message to the team about being aggressive?

Coughlin: "That's exactly what it was. We were playing good defense. It could have been a statement to go ahead and kick the field goal. But we felt, or I felt, we were in position. I felt like we were close enough that we would go ahead and utilize the strength of our runner and our front and pick it up and we did. That was a confidence booster as we scored very quickly after that."

Q: Is Brandon Jacobs running differently than he was early in the year?

Coughlin: "He's running well. He's doing an outstanding job. He's powerful. He's getting what he sees. He's running up in there with knees and thighs and elbows and shoulder pads. He's banging his way around, and he's doing a very good job."

Q: You never like to see a player suffer an injury, but if Mark Herzlich hadn't hurt his ankle, you might not have reached out to Chase Blackburn. He was sitting at home for four months and to come in here and play as he has, it's as if Chase has become the glue on the defense. Do you see that with him?

Coughlin: "Oh, I do. There's no question. I mean you talk about the guy who's the spirit of the team. He's running up and down the sideline cheering for the offense. He's cheering for special teams. When he's out and we're in a nickel or a dime situation, he's cheering for the defense. He's one of the most supportive guys on the field, and he's always been that way. He's always had a marvelous attitude about how he's approached everything. He's one of those guys that will do whatever you ask him to do. From the moment he got here, it was just like he never left."

Q: The other players have been pretty complimentary toward him.

Coughlin: "They should be. Plus, he's been very significant in doing a great job against the run when you watch how he's played."

Q: As you analyze the game you played against the Packers last month, what do you have to do differently to win this time?

Coughlin: "First of all, you would hope to eliminate some of their big plays. You'd hope to have more. Certainly we don't want to turn the ball over for a touchdown. But it was interesting. I thought the way that they played us was a little bit different. We still scored substantial points, but you really don't want them to have the ball for as much as they had the ball. I think field position is significant, but it's still the physical battle, making plays in the green zone for touchdowns rather than field goals. Kansas City beat them but was only one-for-five down there. So you've got many things. They ran a kickoff back on us out to the 40-yard line. We can't let that happen. You just can't let that happen. So there are lots of things that have to be tweaked and done better - the end of the game plays that let them have the opportunity that they had. They made two big chunk plays there and you just can't let that happen. You have to, first of all, be aware of it – what they see and what they're trying to do and where they're trying to go and be in position to be a step ahead of them."

Q: Some quarterbacks you want to chase out of the pocket. Some you want to stay in because they're dangerous on the run. Where does Aaron Rodgers fit in?

Coughlin: "He's athletic. He can move now. He'll come out of the pocket. Look at the number of times he's run. I think he's got 60 runs this season. And he's dangerous. He can extend the play. He forces you to plaster, stay on your people, stay on your people. He will run. He ran twice on us. You'd like to contain him. He did see it was '22 man' and stepped up in there and ran one time and he got a big chunk. So he's athletic. He gives them that other dimension. We've got to rush and contain and push and have him in there where if we do a good job of coverage and we do have pressure, there's really no place for him to go and he starts to think about dumping the ball off."

Q: Defensively, everyone talks about the record number of passing yards they allowed. But I would guess you're more concerned with the takeaways, especially the interceptions. Do they gamble a lot? How do they get so many interceptions?

Coughlin: "First of all, people are coming from behind all the time when they play them. So people are throwing the ball. You want to maintain your balance. But they will gamble, they will. In (Charles) Woodson, you've got a guy that's seen it all. He studies, and he puts himself in position and sometimes he's not buying what you're selling and he goes to a spot and he's good at chipping away at the ball and when you see that you have tipped interceptions. I mean 31 interceptions, plus-24 (turnover differential), is an incredible number, let's face it. Most of us are trying to get to plus-10."

Q: You mentioned the kickoff return. Last week, you covered kicks, particularly punts, well. Randall Cobb didn't really hurt you on the punt return in the first meeting. When you look at him, against some of these other returners we've talked this year, where does he…

Coughlin: "He fits right in there with all the outstanding returners we've played against. He's got a long kickoff return for a touchdown, a long punt return for a touchdown. He's an aggressive runner, an aggressive ballcarrier, a dangerous guy, another weapon that, quite frankly, you've got to do the best you can to try to neutralize."

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