Know Your Opponent: Washington Q: Mike, this is obviously not the season either of these two teams had been hoping for. What's the attitude of your guys heading into a game when the numbers are against you in terms of playoffs, etc.?
A: I think you just want to go out there and win a game, especially within your division. Everybody's got a lot of pride in the NFL regardless of what your record is. Everybody wants to win and I'm sure the Giants feel the same way.
Q: Is it a challenge at all to get the players to buy into that? I would imagine their expectations off of last season were much higher.
A: I don't think so. When you play, you're paid to do a job and everybody's fighting for their jobs. Regardless of what your record is, especially if your record is (poor), everybody wants to finish the season strong and show people what type of character they have and hopefully finish up the season the right way.
Q: Mike, there's a perception that there has been a lot of finger pointing down there with the quarterback and one of your receivers. What do you say to that? Are you seeing that? Are you feeling that in the locker room?
A: No, I'm not. It's not there.
Q: What do you think the net result of the growing process for Robert will be moving forward, after the struggles of this year?
A: I think especially at the quarterback position, every snap that you get, you get better. Robert has missed a full offseason at getting healthy, coming off of the ACL and LCL. I think he'll look forward to the offseason as much as you do to the reps that you are getting now. At quarterback the position is a constant growing experience and I think he'll take full advantage of it, his reps this year and obviously going into next season.
Q: Did you think missing the offseason would have this kind of effect on him?
A: I think it's hard for anybody to miss an offseason, especially the quarterback position. I think it's very hard to miss unless you've been in the league for a long time, but even that is pretty tough. That's why you have an offseason program, so you can improve and get better. Especially as a quarterback when it's your second year, when you're starting to feel comfortable with the terminology, comfortable with the system. Now, it's time to get your reps in different phases of the game.
Q: Eli is a guy that has been here for a long time and hasn't had an off season. This year, he's struggled. What have you seen out of him when you look at tape?
A: We know what he's done. Anytime you're a two-time Super Bowl champ and he's played exceptionally well, we know what he's capable of doing, but it's everybody playing together. It's your football team, it's not just the quarterback. It's 11 guys getting on the same page and everybody pulling the trigger. When one guy is a little bit off, your offense is off. We know what Eli is capable of doing. I've got the utmost respect for him.
Q: You've worked with a lot of prominent quarterbacks over your career, could you talk about the status of your relationship with Robert and how it's been an adjustment for maybe both of you?
A: Well, like it does with everybody, as a head coach, it's a little bit different than being a coordinator. When you're a coordinator, you're with that guy 18 hours a day and you're putting in a game plan. As a head coach, you spend time together, but not like you do as a coordinator. Robert is a great worker, does everything you ask him to do, and now we're hoping to find a way to win some football games.
Q: Have you sensed any frustration with him at all, with things not going the way he wanted?
A: I think you'd better be frustrated when you're 3-8. You keep working and you keep on fighting and there's always a little bit of frustration, offensively, defensively, and special teams. You have to find a way to close some games and the only way you do that is to work extremely hard and I think our guys will do that and hopefully we'll find a way to win.
Q: You've been doing this for a long time, can you talk about a little bit about what your respect level is for Tom Coughlin and for as long as he's been doing this?
A: Tom and I came into the league around the same time. When he came in, I think he came in in '84 from Boston College. In fact I had interviewed out there and Dan Reeves had offered me a job at Denver and the only reason I went there over Philly at the time, I interviewed before Tom, was just because I had a chance to coach quarterbacks at Denver. Tom took the job over there, so I've been following Tom's career since '84 and we've played a lot of games together. I've got the utmost respect for him, how he handles himself, as a coach and as a person. I just have a lot of admiration for him and his family.
Q: How difficult do you think it is when you get in your early-60s to be able to still sustain the energy and overcome the disappointments, like what has gone on this year for him?
A: I think it is always tough because you're used to winning. Anytime I got used to winning and go through a so-so season, it's tough enough. That's why you're in this game, to win, and you've got the drive and the passion, as Tom does, to be the best at what he does. This game is so competitive, but it is tough when you're used to winning and go through a very average season. You enjoy the competition and you enjoy the game. That's why you're in it.
Q: You've been in this long enough. When you guys don't win as much as you'd like, people say get rid of the coach and things like that. Do you ignore it or how do you look at that?
A: You have to. You just have to concentrate on your job and if you start listening to things on the outside, just like players, you get distracted and you don't do as a good a job as you should. If you don't have the ability to do that, the chances are you're not going to be in this profession very long.
Q: There's been some speculation about your situation. Do you have every expectation that you will be back next year as well as future years?
A: One of the reasons I don't address those questions is because it takes away from our game at hand. Anytime someone wants to talk about my job or somebody else's job, if they're on a one-year or two-year contract, I say I'd be more than happy to address those issues at the end of the season, but let's talk about the task at hand and let's talk about the Giants.
Q: Some players you have faced have come forward and said RGIII isn't 100 percent, he shouldn't be playing. What do you make of that and does that affect Robert at all hearing that stuff??
A: I've only heard it from one person from San Francisco that I think was in the paper saying he didn't look normal to him. If you don't get a chance to look at him every day and don't know where his ACL or LCL is, so I think different people have differences of opinion, but what we do is we listen to the doctors and I think they've got a pretty good handle of where Robert is.
Q: Given the amount of hits he's taken this year, he seems to have held up pretty well.
A: Yeah. He's taken some shots and you can tell what type of shape he's in because he's been able to bounce back and a lot of quarterbacks aren't able to do that, but he's in great shape.
QB Robert Griffin III
Q: The season hasn't gone exactly as you hoped. How are you mentally dealing with that?
A: You can sit here and, as players, look at your record and be down about it, but I think what we've done is just try to make a conscious effort to realize we've got five games to make a difference and that's all we have. That's all we're promised right now and that's the way you have to approach it. You have to constantly tell yourself that and our team is doing that. We have to push forward through these five games and make the most of these five games and not really worry about what's happened thus far this season.
Q: How would you evaluate your own play so far this season?
A: We're not winning games, so it doesn't matter.
Q: How are you feeling coming off that Monday night game?
A: My body feels fine. We're just focused on winning and taking care of what we can these five games. Right now we've got the Giants. It's Sunday night football. It's another primetime game and we've just got to show up and show out for our fans and go win a football game.
Q: There are some people that say that with the playoffs very slim, you should be getting your body healthy for next year.
A: It's not in our thought process. You don't prepare for the next season during this season. Right now, we're trying to win games.
Q: What are your reactions to Ahmad Brooks' comments that you shouldn't be playing?
A: I don't agree. I said this in my presser earlier: I appreciate his compassion and they have a good defense and they played well and we didn't play well and we've got to play better.
Q: Mike Shanahan said he felt the big factor this year was not having an offseason. Can you talk about that and do you agree it did set you back just not being able to practice in the offseason?
A: I addressed that in my presser also. I don't use that as an excuse. Anyone can say you sit there and have an offseason… I get to practice every day. Of course that can help, but the coaches want to use that. I'm not going to combat that, but I'm not going to use it for myself as an excuse.
Q: What do you think will be the main thing you take away from this season with all that you have been through?
A: I think you have to fight through adversity. This is the time where you can see a man's true character. Guys that sit down and fold, those aren't the guys that you want on your team. I don't think we have any of those guys on this team. I know for certain that I'm not and a lot of these team leaders aren't. It just builds your character. The season hasn't gone how we wanted it to go and it's frustrating and it hurts, because we know that we're a better team than what our record shows. That means something. That means we have expectations and our expectations are higher than anybody else's. We still have to continue to work and use this year as a learning lesson.
Q: A year ago, you played so well and the Redskins were such a surprise. Everything that was being written about you guys was glowing and everything said about you guys was positive. Are you surprised at how quickly it's turned personally where now people are questioning whether you should play, or what your leadership is like and things like that?
A: Some of the stuff comes with losing in the NFL, the criticism, and you have to be able to handle that. I've been criticized before in my life and everything hasn't been glowing and just rosy, sunshine and rainbows, everything hasn't always been that way. These are times that can help you as a player and as a team, just sticking together and it can truly define you. You have to figure out how you want to be defined. Some of the other stuff that's gone personal, it's unprofessional, but it's stuff that I can't really focus on.
Q: Was that something like your father being in the locker room?
A: I still don't know everything that was said regarding my dad. Like I said in my presser, my dad was in there checking on me. My mom was upset. They were trying to figure out if I was injured or not and they didn't know. He meant no harm, he means no harm. He's never overstepped his bounds. He's my dad and like I told people in my presser, you don't go after my family.
Q: You've taken quite a number of shots this year and you've been able to get through that and have been able to come back and keep playing. Has that been a confidence boost, at least physically, for you?
A: No. I think anyone who has known me or has played with me over an extended period of time at any level of this game knows toughness has never been a question. You don't want to be getting hit that often and that's as far as you can say. That's all you can say.
Q: Have you had to cut back your running because of the injury?
A: No. Just going out there doing what the coaches ask me to do.
Q: Your relationship with Coach Shanahan, have there been difficulties? Where would you assess it right now?
A: Just like I said a couple of week ago. We're just two men that want to win football games and that's what we have to do. We're in this together. All of us are, coaches, players, the entire organization. I think everyone realizes that and we have to make sure we come together and find a way to win.