Head Coach Tom Coughlin
Alright guys and gals, just to go back to yesterday, as painful as it is, after having looked at the tape, my concerns were above and beyond what I said yesterday about, for example, an offense that scores 21 points in the first half and then comes out and scores three in the second half. If I was offensive player, exactly what I told our team today is, if it was 21 in the first, then it should be 42 at the end. I don't know why it wouldn't be any other way. We did have some issues, some injury type things, but the methodical way in which the first half went, the rhythm that was established, the way in which the ball was (distributed) around the field to different people and the running game went, I expected exactly the same thing.
The second play that we had the ball, which ends up in the end zone, that is something that shouldn't have taken place. We had a blitz. We had two strong coming. I think Eli [Manning] saw the two strong coming. I think there were some issues there with the protection itself. It was a route that was down the field a ways. The ball wasn't going to come out quickly and ball security right there has to be the issue. When you see yourself that nothing can be gained from pursuing any further you either throw the ball away in a safe area or you have to get down. You can't stand and be surrounded by different colored shirts and get the ball ripped out. If the ball does come out, we had two players – Daniel Fells was right there and should have gotten the ball. We had two offensive linemen that turned and ran back. I wish they would have dived on the pile, too, because the end result might have been that Rashad [Jennings] was pinned down there with the ball.
So that happened and that was not a great way to start the second half, but okay, it is over, let's go. Let's take advantage of other things. Let's get back to the work of moving the ball and scoring points. Let's get back to the business of pushing their offensive team back to the goal line. The unfortunate thing is that our defense did not give up, certainly gave up a few points in order for us to win, but we handed [the Jaguars] another one later at midfield when, in fact, we had a fumble with a clear sideline and they took advantage of that. Even despite all of those things, without much of a second half, we did drive the ball down. It has been our opinion throughout the majority of this year that you can't allow for someone to beat you with a field goal. We didn't score a touchdown; therefore, we had to kick a field goal. We did.
We went up, and we really had to rely on our ability to stop them. I thought, first of all, when they got off their end of the field, which disappointed me with the long slant, when we got the penalty for holding, I thought, 'Boy, this is going to knock them out of field goal range and we can burr up here now and stop them and, of course, the quarterback run negated that and that is something that certainly has been a problem for us, but not in that regard. The person who is responsible for the quarterback has got to get himself, once he sees the zone read coming, in position where he can play it from the outside in and squeeze it back into the rest of the defense, so that the sideline or the outside is not available. We didn't do that.
It goes back and forth. I thought we punted the ball well. They punted the ball well. We were looking for a field position advantage and it didn't happen because we didn't turn the ball over. We didn't take the ball away from them. At the end of the day, minus-3 on someone else's home turf, you are not going to win. Going into the game, we had talked about this and really highlighted exactly what we preach every week, but we had a great opportunity to demonstrate it with this team because they had been beaten four times at home when they had lost the turnover battle. That was an objective.
As we went into the game, we thought if we could rush the ball, and we did run it well in the first half but not as well in the second half. When you run the ball 35 times, even though the average-per-attempt wasn't as good as you would like it to be, 90-plus percent of the time you are in a position to win the game. We controlled that. We didn't have the interceptions. As I say, we basically stopped their best runner, but the quarterback became the leading rusher of the day, and at the end of the day [the Jaguars] had 22 rushes, which weren't many rushes. They didn't have the ball much in the first half. I think we had 35 minutes [time of possession] to their 25 [minutes] with 21 minutes to 9 minutes time of possession [in the first half]. That is the way I would have liked to play in the second half. It didn't quite work out that way and, of course, they were picked up by the fumble recovery in the end zone that gave them life. We wanted to win the physical battle. We wanted to win the battle of turnovers. We wanted to rush the football. The one thing that we didn't accomplish, both teams started off their drives at the 26-yard line, was the field positon.
As a matter of fact, we let them off the goal line once, which really disturbed me because the ball was backed up to the six or seven yard line and they got off of the goal line. There were three things that prevailed yesterday. Our defense played well. They didn't really give up much. The bootleg hurt us. The read-dive, with the quarterback keeping the ball, that bothered us and the wildcat, which were basically the same plays, may have presented a little bit of a problem as well. Something that we need to work on. Our pass protection wasn't as good in the second half. They have a very good defensive front. They smelled it. They rushed the passer better in the second half. We got ourselves to two really critical, I thought, second half 3rd and 4 situations, and did not convert. The one I thought we had a great chance to score and we weren't able to accomplish that, although we made the audible at the line of scrimmage. Then we missed a field goal. The missed field goal in the long run came back to haunt us because in fact it did come down to a field goal. The only problem was that it was [the Jaguars].
I told our team today I have made the following statement way too many times, particularly the last three games, which have been extremely close games, as a matter of fact, all three of them coming down to the last two or three minutes. Our inability to play the full 60 minutes, to have a half disappear with only three points offensively, to not take the ball away from the opponent, not to get turnovers and put ourselves in a better field position, those things really did do us in.
It is a game on paper, if you look at it, except for the three turnovers, two of which were run in the end zone for touchdowns, you wonder who won. They were 0-2 in the red zone. We were 3-4. Had we been 4-4, we would have won the game. Our net punt was outstanding. Both teams did a good job with that. The rushing is almost always the same. We were 47 percent on third down to their 25 [percent]. There you have it. As I said, in the second half there were a couple of critical, critical third downs that we did not convert that I think would have made all the difference.
Q: That is the second week in a row you said that about looking at the stats and saying…
A: It is probably the third week. Might be close to the third week.
Q: What does that mean about your team when that is the case?
A: You are always the one that asks me what does it mean about your team. You are at the game. You see the game. The problem is that we turned it over and gave them touchdowns in the second half and didn't score enough points. [We] put ourselves in position to win again, but did not make the critical plays at the time of the game when we had to make the stop. We've gone back and forth. It is not just a defensive thing. It is an offensive thing. Against the 49ers, it was first and goal from the four [yard line]. In that sequence, score a touchdown and you win the game. Don't read anymore into it than what it is. There it is. The facts are the facts.
Q: In the last couple of games there have been a couple of players who have kind of questioned the strategy, whether it was a lack of aggression of defense or letting up a little too much on offense. Can you chalk that up to frustration or do you consider that to be something of an issue?
A: I think it's more frustration than anything else. I think that if you catch a player right after the game, perhaps I've said something in my attempt to be flat-out honest with everybody as to why we are in the predicament that we are in that could be interpreted by a player that way, but I don't think they're being disrespectful. I don't think that when you go back and look at it, when was it not the attempt at least made the way that it was in the first half? Where was there a big difference, other than the fact that the pressure got better from them and we did have a couple of long yardage plays that weren't converted but we gave ourselves some chances? We didn't have as many snaps in the second half because we didn't convert as well. We were going backwards sometimes with our issues with pass protection. Other than that, it wasn't because of… if it became a game like that and I sensed it, then I would have said something about it or changed it somewhat, but we were still trying as hard as we could to get the ball going, get it down the field and make some plays. Many times it really doesn't matter what the distance is. We were just as effective with the three-step drop play action rhythm in the first half as any of the down-the-field throws in the second half or potential down-the-field throws.
Q: Eli talked a little bit about your message today, part of it being for them to just keep focusing on winning, Tennessee and winning, and not some of the questions that we might ask about you or what might happen in the offseason. Why did you do that and what has it been like that maybe they will get asked those types of questions?
A: Well, again, my discussion with the players this morning was really diversified. That was just one part of it. What I really did think was very important is the players know together how frustrated we are, that we do know that the outside world will have a tendency not to speak very kindly of us and our support comes from each other and that together we're being tested perhaps like we've never been tested before. I've got some young guys in the room that have never been through anything like this, I'm sure. I referred to them and I referred to the old guy standing in the front of the room talking that's never been through anything like that. What I really do believe is that, and you come to these conclusions if you give yourself a little bit of time…right after the game is not a great time, as you well can imagine, when a game is that frustrating. Stand tall, represent what you believe in. Make sure that all your discussions and all of your comments are in the best interest of your team and supportive of your teammates, and my concern is really with all the young guys in the room, my concern is not about me and that's what I was trying to put them at ease about. Don't worry about me. I'm worried about you. I want you to be together and be strong and I want dignity in everything that we do. And I want to see strength, and remember this, the one common denominator in all of these circumstances, whether you go back and read about the great generals of World War II or whatever, is character. If you can stand tall and if you do believe in things, if you do believe in the cause, the integrity issue means that you marched to a higher drummer and that's what we're trying to preach.
Q: Do you have an update on the injured players: Robert Ayers, James Brewer…?
A: I don't have a lot of information just yet. They're all either distributed to the various hospitals trying to find some things out. It may be a few hours before I get anything of a solid nature back. I hear you and I'm in the same boat trying to figure out… Jerry (Reese) and I were just talking about the roster. At this point, I've got to hold off until I get the information.
Q: How about [Justin] Pugh?
A: Yeah, we expect him back this week, yes.
Q: What about Mathias [Kiwanuka]? What happened with him this week?
A: You saw that he didn't work two days and he came back and tried to work one day and he had issues with the knee. The knee was swollen and partially locked on Saturday morning and that's why the decision was made that he was going to be ruled out and would not travel. They didn't think it was smart to have him travel at that time.
Q: We talked about you not having been through this before. Frankly, what is this like for you from a personal standpoint?
A: Miserable. What else can I say? Miserable. But I'm not going to let it get me down.
Q: Coach, the last few seasons with the six-game losing streak and then this current losing streak, has any of that led you to wonder or question your ability to lead this team at all?
A: No. Not in the least.
Q: Does the criticism bother you?
A: To be honest with you, I don't listen. I don't listen to any of that stuff. I try to pay attention and do the job to the best of my ability and my concern is with my coaches and my team. Our organization, everybody in the Giants organization, lives and dies with how this football team does. I understand that completely. The responsibility that I have to my coaches and my players and to our owners, we're going to work our ever-lovin' off to try to find a way to win a game. That's all, at this point in time, that we can do.
Q: If they came up to you and said, 'You've got a year left on your contract, we want you back next year,' would you hesitate?
A: Don't start that stuff. I'm not interested in any… this thing is not about me and I'm not interested in discussing my circumstance whatsoever. I'm not worried or concerned. I am worried about my team, as I said.
Q: A minute ago, Eli said, 'It's not Coach's fault that I fumbled and gave up a touchdown. It's not our coach's fault that Larry Donnell fumbled and gave them a touchdown.' I know you always say it starts with you and to blame you. When you go to sleep at night, how do you rectify that as far as there are guys fumbling and doing things, you're the coach, you're responsible for everything. What kind of umbrella do you put on all this?
A: I don't know what you're asking. I am responsible for everything. It is within Eli to say something like that. I think every man in the room is responsible for their own job and really has to do their job to the best of their ability. When things go up like this, in my experience, some of the things that we've seen this year are bizarre. They're not; you have to go back to the absolute control. Do we talk about turnovers? That was the number one thing going into the game that has all been expressed but I am responsible, I accept the full responsibility and whatever price has to be paid for that responsibility, then it starts right here with me.