Coach Tom Coughlin**
Good morning. We're going to get a couple of people back to practice today. Limited but nevertheless, David Baas, Jayron Hosley, Adrien Robinson worked the other day, Cooper Taylor is going to work, Corey Webster is going to be brought along real slow, but he will work. We do have a few extra guys who are going to work today, which will help. I'm looking forward to a good day on the practice field. The attention was very good this morning, good energy. I hope to have the same thing when we get to the practice field here in a couple of minutes.
Q: Tom, you have a Thursday game followed by a Monday, it's almost like having a bye weel. Was it an opportunity to galvanize...?
A: It's not a bye week. It was an opportunity for us to be able to have some downtime, for players to recover, if you will. Hopefully that's going to be a plus for us. We worked Monday and now we're here, this is officially a Wednesday for us, so hopefully as I said, we've got a few more guys out there and what we're looking for is the progress thing, from one day to the next with no setbacks.
Q: Can you talk about the addition of Peyton Hillis and his knowledge of your offense a little bit?
A: Hillis knows the offense, he knows the terminology, that helps a lot. He's a bigger back. He caught the ball very well in the workout. He's been around. He's a veteran football player. We know he can handle the first and second down stuff, and hopefully he'll not be too hard pressed to pick up the third down stuff as well.
Q: What's Brandon Jacobs' status?
A: He's practicing.
Q: Tom, could you share your reaction when you were asked on the Minnesota conference call yesterday if you'd consider benching Eli?
A: I believe I said, 'If I heard you correctly, no.'
Q: What did you think of that question?
A: Like many other questions that I get, you would not want to know what I think, but I just quickly dismissed that question and let's get on to the next one. He's the guy. We're going to win again with Eli.
Q: How do you prepare for Josh Freeman? Do you look at tape in Tampa?
A: Sure and we played him last year, so we have that and we have all the cutups from that. We have all of their games from the beginning of the season this year. We'll know the player.
Q: Tom, we were talking last week about Eli. Is there ever an issue with a guy like that, despite what he's accomplished? Do you talk to him about his confidence level or anything like that?
A: No. I don't talk about that. We talk about some of the issues, some of the problems that we've had and how we can handle that going forward and usually it's a pat on the back and let's see if we can change this around?
Q: Coach, you mentioned the running backs need to pick up the pass blocking. How far along would you say Jon Conner is in that regard? Could he be a help in that?
A: He could, yes, he could. We've talked about that as well. He does give us a security blanket, if you will, if that's needed as well and he'll be prepared to do that also.
Q: You mentioned last week that you were going to look at the pass rush. What did you see when you evaluated it?
A: I see obviously we don't have many numbers. We're not getting to the quarterback. There are some pressures that don't go without a stat next to them. People do different things and obviously I think if you want to take the recent game, the ball came out quickly, which it does. If you see someone coming and some of the protections are geared to take care of that for the quarterback. I think what has to happen, for us, is we've got to do a better job in these one-on-one situations and also be alert there's always a chipper around, particularly on the one side, but winning that one-on-one operation and, quite frankly, some of the max protections that we're facing. Some of our pressure packages we're not getting home with the kind of speed and timing that we need, so it's a combination of things.
Q: Tom, do you feel that opponents have maybe figured this pass rush out?
A: I don't think so. It's obvious there's a lot of tape out there to look at. As far as figuring it out, it basically comes down to, I've got to beat this guy, or I have to beat this guy and a half. When you bring five, you do have a chance to get singled up and we have to win when that takes place.
Q: When you do bring extra guys, either linebackers or safeties, would you like a higher percentage of them getting some pressure on the quarterback? It seems like the blitzes...
A: I would like if you're going to bring them, let's get home. Let's be a factor. That's been missing as well.
Q: You talk about the confidence of Eli, how is the confidence of those defensive linemen who are used to winning those one-on-one battles?
A: I think they're pretty resilient. I don't see that as a major issue although they do understand where criticism is being directed as well.
Q: Is there a way to challenge a player just to play better?
A: Yeah, sure. You're constantly doing that, you're constantly picking and probing and trying to pick some way in which that individual, whether you take them aside and look at some of the isolated situations that have happened and how they're going about their business. Yeah, you just keep working at it. You keep trying and your defensive line coach and your coordinator, they continue to emphasize it and work towards it and put people in the right positions, perhaps move people around a little bit, although that's not always the answer. Sometime's it's familiarity that's the best course.
Q: Is that an odd position for you to feel yourself in this year? That there are that many individuals who need to play better?
A: Team, team. Everybody's got to play better.
Q: Your defense has played pretty well against Adrian Peterson. Is there any one, two or three...?
A: We've got to get a lot of focus to the ball.
Q: They've been struggling in Minnesota. Is there something that you see that makes you feel like they're better than their record?
A: Well, they're a good, physical football team. They've been in every game, they've led in the second half in four of their five games. Their style is what it is. They want to run the football, they want to take advantage of the running game to get you down in the box and then be able to throw the ball. Defensively, they come hard. That's what they've always done, that's what they'll continue to do.
Q: Do you see good stuff in these last few games but just not through the full 60 minutes? Is that part of the challenge?
A: Well, I've been saying that forever. Four quarters of championship quality football is what our objective has been for a long time. I've seen it get better, believe it or not, but it hasn't gotten home yet obviously.
Q: With Andre Brown and Markus Kuhn obviously things will start happening in these next couple weeks.
A: Bring them along slowly, yes.
Q: Do you have any timetable set in your mind of what you want?
A: There's a legitimate window there that we would have to follow anyway. But if it happens faster, then fine. But we're going to move it slow so we can have a chance to get them in the best possible position when we do turn them loose.
Q: How much do you think Hillis can contribute?
A: I think he can contribute right away. I do. He's a veteran player and we expect that of him. Getting him ready and the opportunity to use him, that's two different things but I think we can get him ready.
Q: But you anticipate Brandon being ready?
A: I do.
Q: Could Cox be that change of pace, do you see him developing and getting closer to being that change of pace running back to this offense?
A: Let's hope. That's what he was drafted for. He's certainly going to get the practice time that he needs and he's gotten some more practice time. It's getting closer.
Q: Do you have a clock in your head on David Wilson and when you might have to make a decision on him?
A: No. We just have to allow the time that's necessary for the complete and total medical analysis and evaluation. I don't know when that would be. There's been no magic number told to me. They're going to look at it continuously.
Q: Brandon seemed to turn the clock back a little bit last game. Can you talk about what you saw? He seemed to have pretty fresh legs.
A: He did. He ran hard and he was spirited. He was physical, he gave our team a nice lift, defense, offense, special teams, everybody got involved in that. That's a good thing. That's a huge plus. I hope we can keep doing it.
Q: What does Josh Freeman do for that offense that they haven't had before?
A: I think they're looking for a consistent passer. Cassel threw the ball pretty well against Pittsburgh and not so well last week, which happens in this game. I think that they brought him there for this reason, Freeman's been brought to Minnesota for that reason and I think they're ready to give him a chance.
Q: Is there anything to be said for maybe sitting Eli down for a quarter or a half?
A: Not in my opinion, no. I don't see it. No.
QB Eli Manning
Q: Where would you say your confidence is right now?
A: It's where it always is. I feel good, feel like I can make plays and make all the throws and do my job and lead this team to a win.
Q: It seems like in the locker room you're getting asked about how the club has made its way to an 0-6 record and if you've started to lose the team, but it seems like you guys are all together.
A: Yeah, coach Coughlin has done a great job. The players in here have done a great job in hanging together, continuing to work, staying positive and knowing that we have to turn it around. And we can, we believe we can, we can start winning. We need to get one this week going against a good team. We've got to play well.
Q: What do you like about Peyton Hillis?
A: Peyton is a hard-nosed tailback that catches the ball well out of the backfield and is an athlete. He was in Tampa and kind of knows the system a little bit so he can come in and hopefully give us some good work.
Q: How does a team minimize the mistakes?
A: You just have to play hard and play smart. The other team's going to make some plays and we have to make sure those plays aren't interceptions and fumbles and turnovers and giving them the momentum and short fields to work with. Offensively we have done a good job at making some plays, we just have to all be one the same page and compete every play.
Q: Jared Allen has had some big years in the past, this year his numbers are down. What do you see when you look at him on tape right now?
A: Jared's still a great player. He does get to the quarterback. He might not have as many sacks but he is causing quarterbacks to step up and move in the pocket and scramble around or throw the ball a little earlier than the quarterback wants to throw it, so he still does a great job getting pressure and we have to be very aware of him and make sure we account for him.
Q: Do you think maybe sitting down for a half or a quarter would benefit you at all?
A: No, I don't think so.
Q: Have you done anything differently in terms of self-scouting just to look at what's going on? You haven't been in this position since you've been here. Have you done anything differently?
A: No. Just continuing to work and try to have a great gameplan going out there this week, go out there and execute it. Just be engrained to play smart and practice, don't force throws that aren't there, don't throw it before guys are ready, move in the pocket and just reinforce making smart decisions.
Q: Have you ever been in a rut like this? As a team? Personally?
A: I don't think I've ever lost six in a row, but hey, we're going to bounce back and I think we've been playing better these last couple of weeks. We just have to find a way to finish the games that get into the fourth quarter and start playing even at a higher level in the fourth quarter.
Q: You've had plenty of times over the years when we've put you on the spot to support coach Coughlin if he was coming under fire or suggesting that there was time for a change. He's actually in the position now with you. The reporters from Minnesota asked if he thought about benching you and he was taken back. Is it odd for you to hear him say that? Does it mean a lot to you that he's been definitive, unequivocal… you're the guy.
A: I'm not reading the papers so I don't know it, but coach Coughlin knows that I'm going to work hard, I'm going to do everything that I can to try to do my part and play well and hopefully make the plays that I need to to win the game.
Q: Could you describe it all? What's the level of trust between the two of you?
A: I know I have great trust in him and obviously getting this team prepared. He is going to work extremely hard and he's going to do everything that he thinks is best for this team. I hope he feels the same way about me.
Q: Do you find it remarkable, though, you're a two-time MVP, you're almost the leading passer in team history and people say, "OK, they're 0-6, let's find somebody else?"
A: I'm not listening to what's being said. I know in the NFL or in anything you're doing, it's always a case of what have you done for me lately and each year you have to go out there and prove that you deserve to be at the position that you are and earn your (support) and earn your role, so you know, obviously I have to play better at a higher level but I know I can do that.
Q: Have you ever gotten to the point where you've watched some film of past games where you look at a mistake and wonder where that's coming from? Do you get to that point where there's a frustration level and you're kind of questioning where that's come from because you haven't done that before and that had not been a habit before
A: No, I haven't. I think sometimes… each play you can get into a different situation. It's not just where you're making a bad read. There's always a reason for a bad play and sometimes you've got to play above the play and make the smartest decision based on what's going on, whether that's take a sack or throw it away. Sometimes as a competitor, you want to try to make plays and sometimes you've gotten away with it in the past and you feel you can get away with it again. But sometimes you don't.
Q: The schedule was a little different obviously going from Thursday to Monday. Did you take any time away? Did you do anything differently?
A: I had the weekend off so I just tried to get away from it a little bit and just get some rest and come back with a fresh start and hopefully come in and have a great week this week and play well and get a win and go from there.
Q: Is it family time for you? Does that kind of take your mind off things?
A: Yeah, pretty much. Just hanging with the family.
Q: And when you come back you seem to be very optimistic that you can win a game, you can do things right. Is that what you're sensing? Have you tried to spread that?
A: I think everybody has that feeling. I think our practices are good and energetic. Guys are upbeat and enthusiastic about our play and what we're trying to do, so I think guys have done a good job in being confident that we can go out there and we can play at a high level and win a game.
Q: Today Tom was saying pretty definitively that the team was going to win with you again. What does that mean to you when you hear that?
A: I feel the same way. I guess it's good to know that the coach has my back and I have to go out there and do my part and play the way that I know and he knows that I can play.
Q: You've always leaned on hard work. It's what you say about yourself, it's what you say about coach. That's your way through things. Can you remember a time in your football life where you're doing the hard work and just not getting the results that you wanted?
A: Yeah, that's just the way it goes. Football, on the offensive side, it's 11 guys doing the right things to be successful. When one guy does something wrong or gets beat, it affects everything else. It affects my play, so it's everybody being on the same page and I think we've gotten better at that. We just have to continue to grow and when something goes wrong, making the best decisions possible. That's where some of the mistakes are coming up.
Q: What is your impression of what Brandon Jacobs gave you guys offensively?
A: I thought Brandon ran hard. He ran hard and physical and just gave us positive yardage. Even the plays where there wasn't a whole lot there, he was still falling forward and getting three, four yards. I thought we had much better down and distances. Second down and sixes, third and threes and fours and that kind of stuff. Just more manageable situations. I think, for that reason, we converted more third downs than we had in the past. Our offense was a little bit more efficient.
Q: It almost seemed like a little step back in time. That was a performance reminiscent of…
A: Yeah, he can hard, ran well and hopefully we can continue to get that from him and the other guys in there.
Q: Does he still bring that burst of energy that we used to know the first time around?
A: Yeah, he's started running and started getting some big runs…
Q: But even in the locker room, he would always kind of yell at the huddle or run out first, that kind of stuff.
A: Yeah, he's got good energy and kind of gets everybody going.
Q: The stuff with the benching, does it make you think, does it make you react in any way?
A: I haven't heard it, so I'm trying to go out there and do my job and compete and try to get a win.
Q: As these losses pile up, does it become harder and harder to sort of break the ice?
A: I think you treat it the same every week. You try to go out there and get a win and whether you won the week before or lost, you just keep going at it and have the attitude that you're going to prepare and go out there and try to make corrections. I guess you kind of feel that eventually we're going to win, we're going to get a win, we're going to put everything together and play at a higher level.
Q: Is that hard? You must have rationalized that you are 0-6 and it's getting harder and harder to win these games.
A: No, I think you just keep going about your business. You just keep competing and keep working to try to solve the problems.
Q: Are you the type of guy who will seek out a coach and look for support?
A: I'm not looking for a pep talk. You make corrections, you look to see if there's anything, whether it's fundamental, whether it's decision-making, those types of things. We talk a bunch in our quarterback meeting room and try to solve the problems and put us in a good situation to win.
RB Peyton Hillis
Q: What's it like to join this team to help the running game?
A: It's good. It's good to finally get another opportunity. I felt the past couple of years I really haven't had an opportunity to show what I can do and I think I'm going to get my shot, so I better do it well.
Q: You made a big splash and then you fell off the radar. How much does a second chance mean to you?
A: It means a lot. I don't feel like this is my time to go. I feel that I've still got a lot more left to give and so I'm going to go out there Monday and try to give it all I've got.
Q: What do you expect come Monday night for you?
A: I expect to be in the playbook and play as much as I possibly can. I think that as long as I get the playbook down, they'll let me play. I'm really looking forward to it because I think I can help this team.
Q: I'm sure having played under Tampa Bay's offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan, who was an assistant coach here, has helped you learn the terminology here.
A: Most definitely. I was lucky to play enough in Tampa to learn the terminology and learn the playbook and I feel that now I'm getting that heads up and coming here knowing that I can get on the field faster.
Q: How tough have the past couple of years been for you coming off the big year in Cleveland and then not playing much?
A: It's been tough just because I feel like I never had a real opportunity. I went to Kansas City and I was playing behind a great back in Jamaal Charles, so I really couldn't see the field a whole lot and that's what they brought me in for was if he got hurt again from his knee injury or if he went down at all, I'd be in, but he never got hurt. And then I went to Tampa behind another good back in Doug Martin. I never got to play either there. I feel like now I have my opportunity. I like my coaching staff here and I feel like I can do something positive.
Q: How much do you feel you need to show the team in order to take the full amount of snaps on Sunday?
A: You always have got to show them a lot and that's just because when you're a new guy that's never been on this team and you come in the middle of the year you know you're going to have to show a lot for them to trust you and I understand that and I understand that I've got to do a lot of positive things to be on the field. That's what I'm going to try to do this week during practice and I hope I can be out there.
Q: I'm guessing in the offseason when you were looking at teams and looked at the situation here, where they had Andre Brown and David Wilson, this is probably the last place you thought you would wind up at some point.
A: Most definitely, especially in my career I found out that anything can happen. Just because a team looks like they can have backs, I'm assuming here they didn't expect to go 0-6 either. Things happen and you have to rebound from that and we just have to take it one game at a time right now.
Q: What have you been doing the last month or so?
A: I got released from the Bucs in Week 3, so I've been in Tennessee, where my wife and I live now, for three weeks. I was helping with the local high school, working out and stuff like that. I really wasn't expecting a call, but I've got it and I was talking to my wife about it and we feel that this is a good opportunity for me to show what I still have and we're taking a positive outlook towards this right now.
Q: Does this look like a 0-6 team to you?
A: I've been on a lot of teams and this team really holds itself together well. I don't know if it's been years in the same system, same people banding together, but it's really good. Nobody is down or feeling sorry for themselves. We're still focusing on this game and taking every day from here on out.
Q: Do you feel like you can make a positive contribution right from the beginning here?
A: I think so. If I can get back into shape and learn the small things on third down and stuff like that, I feel like I really can.
Q: How long do you think it will take you to get up to speed where you're 100 percent in the offense?
A: I wouldn't think it would be more than a few days. Physically it takes about a week or two to get back into shape, but I don't have a week or two. I have until Monday night, so we'll get it done then.
Q: How exciting is this opportunity for you?
A: It's very exciting. I feel like if this opportunity didn't come along I probably wouldn't have another opportunity. I'm looking at this in a positive light and hopefully good things will happen from it.
Q: Did you think you might not get another chance?
A: Physically, I know I can play. But the way the league is constructed now with the CBA, a lot of guys are not getting opportunities anymore and so it's just one of those things where I'm very lucky and blessed to be here.
Q: Isn't it weird at your age that you might not get another opportunity? You're fairly young.
A: It's the NFL. It stands for 'not for long.' But I still feel like I can help a team out. I just really haven't found the niche that I need to stay with a team and produce for them. I'm here now, so I've got to make the best of it and hopefully I can be here.
WR Victor Cruz
Q: Can this team find a way this week to get a win?
A: I think so. I think we have to. Day one of preparation went really well and I think everybody is on the same page, on the same accord. I think we've got to get this done. I think we just all know what's at stake. We all know we have to get our first win under our belts. We need it, and I think this is going to be a good start for us.
Q: Is the cohesiveness on the team still there?
A: The cohesiveness is definitely still there. We all believe in each other. We all understand that we can get the job done and we believe in this locker room. So I think it's just going to take a full team effort,
and I think this is going to be the first week we get our victory.
Q: Is it hard to just look at this as just win one game or is the mountain so big that you can't help but look at the hole you're in?
A: No. I think we just have to take it one game at a time. I think we understand that we dug ourselves a pretty good hole and we're truthful with that within ourselves, but I think we've just got to take it. We
want to take it one game at a time and once we get our first win, we feel like we can get on a little bit of a roll. We've just got to focus on getting our first win and then we can go from there.
Q: Do you shake your head at the idea that people outside of the locker room and outside the city are questioning if Eli should be the quarterback going forward?
A: No. This city doesn't surprise me at all. The media doesn't surprise me. People outside of this locker room don't surprise me anymore. People say a lot of things and we believe in our quarterback. We believe in Eli Manning. He's our guy and we're behind him 110 percent and we don't think anything otherwise.
Q: How much of an impact do you think last week's running attack with Brandon Jacobs will have on this game Monday night?
A: I think it's going to have a big impact. I think they're going to crowd the line a little bit, especially if we have early success. I think they're going to crowd the line and we're just going to put some ownership on our receivers to catch the ball well, move the ball down field and so it's going to be a full team effort.
Q: Do you wonder what the reaction from the fans is going to be on Monday night at the game?
A: No. I just want to go out there and play and take care of what we can take care of on the field. I know when we do that our fans will rally behind us and rally around us like they always have when we've been successful. I'm a firm believer in that if we get the things done that we have to do on the field, the fans will get behind us.
Q: Are the fans showing their frustration just part of it?
A: Yeah. Playing in this city, you just kind of get it. You understand you've got to take the good with the bad and you understand when things are going well they cheer and they love us and everything is great.
When things are going bad, they're going to let you hear it. We get it. We understand what market we play in, what city we play in and the type of fans of this city and we enjoy it.
Safety Antrel Rolle
Whatever decisions coaches make, that's between Eli and coach. As far as how do I react to it? It really doesn't involve me.
Q: When you look around the locker room your focus is also the team, as a group, morale, confidence, whatever it might be. What do you sense? What is the feeling around the bunch of guys right now being 0-6?
A: I think right now, we're not focused on being 0-6. We're focusing in on trying to get better as a team. That's our focus right now. Our focus is the Minnesota Vikings. We're trying to go out there and get our first win of the season and then we'll see what happens from there.
Q: You play a lot of good football, but you don't end up playing 60 minutes of football. Tom has been talking about that a lot. Does there need to be some type of commitment to just
play the whole game and play it well?
A: Our commitment should be there, no matter what. This is a football game, we're professionals, this is what we get paid to do, this is what we love to do. Playing 60 minutes shouldn't be something that should have a certain significance of (…). It's something that should be automatic, especially when we're playing this game. It's something that we definitely have to figure out and something that we have to hop on and make sure we play a full 60 minutes.
Q: So how fired up are you for this game? To get out there, get a win and get something going?
A: I'm always going to be fired up. That's how I play the game. I'm always going to play the game that way, despite our record. I'm just trying to go out there and get a win, be on the same page at the same time as my teammates. Be the best player I can be, whether it's safety, whether it's nickel, whether it's practicing, it doesn't matter what position I'm going to be playing, and try to have this chemistry. Get this sideline fired up and give our fans something to cheer about and something for us to look forward to, brighter days within this locker room.
Q: Antrel, can you talk about a team that has a starting quarterback for the first time with them?
A: Whether he's the starting quarterback for this team for the first time, we all know Josh Freeman and what he presents. He's been a starting quarterback in this league for a number of years now. He's a great quarterback, strong arm, big and physical guy. We're not looking at him as his first time being a starter. That guy has played a lot of football in this league and he's played a lot of good football at that.
Q: The last thing you want to see is Adrian Peterson going out into the backfield where you are because you have to worry about the receivers.
A: I play ball. It doesn't matter who comes my way. I'm going to play ball. I'm going to attack Adrian Peterson like I attack everyone else. We all know what he brings to the game. Outstanding running back, but at the same time I'm coming to play ball. We fear no one. That's the way I approach the game.
Q: Justin was saying with the pass rush that all of the guys are kind of struggling, there's something else they need to look at. Is there anything the secondary can do to kind of help the pass rush start to get going?
A: We all complement each other. We all complement each other. As far as us helping the pass rush, I think the pass rush ought to help themselves. I think the secondary needs to help themselves, linebackers need to help themselves. That way you know, each (…) is taking care of their own job, their own responsibility. That way you become better collectively and you have a successful defense.
Q: You talk so much about focus on one game, in order to win one game. Is it hard to leave your won-loss record behind when you take the field, or is that an easy thing for you?
A: Is it hard?
Q: I mean is it in your mind?
A: Throughout the course of a game, you're not worried about being 0-6. You go out there and play ball, and try to get a win no matter what. No matter what circumstances.
Q: Are there things that happen on the field where it's like "oh, this again?" Is the big picture easy to leave behind?
A: We come to play ball. That's it.
Q: Tom talked about getting a little pressure when they are sending blitzes. Is there anything you can do to work on that? To help fix that?
A: You have to win. You have to find a way to win. When you get those one-on-one matchups you have to find a way to win your one-on-one matchups. Disguise it a little bit more. All of those things can help out a blitz. We just need to find a way to get to that, get more efficient with that and make sure the blitz hits home.
Q: Would you like to see a little bit more? I know you guys are traditionally that four-man rush team.
A: I play whatever is called. We've had blitzes dialed up a lot of times. It just doesn't happen to get home or the quarterback releases the ball extremely fast, or something may go wrong within the blitz. That's what we have to do as a defense. We have to be more dominant with our blitz scheme and be more efficient with what we're trying to do.