Head Coach Tom Coughlin
The first comment I'll make is about our final team meeting (yesterday), which we met with our team and all our IR guys and all the coaches, etc. The first thing we did was analyze the Philadelphia game and there were various things that I pointed out. Obviously, you're not going to win very many football games when you get a punt blocked and get an interception and they say, 'wait a minute it's a penalty and we're going to give the other guy the ball on the whatever yard line' and then you throw a pass and get it in the end zone and get called for holding. There were some errors there, things that have to obviously be cleaned up before you go forward. There was good excitement, good progress and we felt good about going into the game. Unfortunately, we didn't win it.
The second thing we did was we went over the rules of the CBA and the dead period, the next few months here in terms of making the players understand what they can and cannot do and what we as coaches can and cannot do, which was very important because they have to understand the amount of football we can talk is very limited by the CBA. And then the importance of the systematic progress of the weight program as handed to the players as they leave here. The importance being that we stressed to them that there is a process by which you go through, but you must get started on this. We, as a team, in my opinion, we need to be a stronger football team and I felt that we needed to obviously start much prior to the nine weeks we're allowed for our offseason program in this day and age. So we emphasized the strength program and the approach to it and how the calendar will affect their ability to get back to work and taking the first two or three weeks and making sure their body is healthy and then beginning in a light process and moving on into where they should be before they report. So we did cover that.
And then I spoke to them about the fact that I was proud of the way they hung together. There couldn't have been any more adversity than we faced during the course of those seven weeks, but they stayed together, they supported one another, they fought for each other and I was proud of that and I mentioned that to them. I thought they demonstrated maturity and professionalism in doing that. And then I mentioned discontent. Discontent is the first necessity of progress. We must be determined to come back even stronger from this situation we find ourselves in and do not be accepting. Don't be accepting of where we are because this certainly isn't where we want to be.
I know you have no questions for me, just having followed the owner, so thanks very much Pat for this lineup the way it is.
Q: What more can you do to get a handle on the injury situation?
A: We're going to practice at dark, so then we can get a few more reps in… It's a good question. We depend an awful lot on the strength program and obviously that's been reduced. The player really, really has to prepare a lot more on his own. We've done the science. We're going to continue to do it. Our medical staff is the best in the league, in our opinion. We have the GPS system. We listen closely to the expert in that area and we do monitor a player accordingly. As John [Mara] mentioned, we have cut down on our soft tissue injuries. However, there are bones and there are tendons and muscles and knees that didn't listen to the GPS program, so we'll continue to do our work in that area.
Q: Do you make any changes in the strength program?
A: We certainly did, a lot of changes. But still at this coming time of the year there are segments here where you can get into the very heavy weights progressively moving towards the season when you do back off, but the strength development part of it would be in the offseason.
Q: Can you talk about being back next year?
A: I never considered not being back. As I said the other day, it's business as usual for us. We're into the massive evaluation process where everything is being evaluated from top to bottom and we'll continue that. That will take us quite a while, to be honest with you, as we move through going back over everything, with the coaching staff obviously being a part of that.
Q: John Mara told us that on the bus back after the Jacksonville game that he wanted to fire everybody.
A: Well, we stopped the bus on that bridge and we were all going to jump in the water anyway. Quite frankly and honestly, everyone wants to talk about the defense. What did the defense have to do with losing that one? The ball was on the ground, they pick it up and run it into the end zone twice. You all thought I was making jest after the game when I said we could have knelt down in the second half and won it. We could have knelt down in the second half and won it instead of handing the ball to them and letting them run in the end zone. They ran it in from midfield and they ran it in when the ball rolled in the end zone after the sack fumble. You've got to understand that while we're going to be very critical of everything, don't forget that there are four major areas that our defense is in the top 10. Can you imagine being fourth in the league on third down? We are. Turnovers, red area, red zone… All year long we were in the top four or five in the red zone. Sacks, and so on and so forth. You have critical areas of defensive football. Quite frankly, the numbers in those areas are outstanding. Now the other numbers are not and I agree. I have a problem with that. But I think you've got to balance things off when you start talking about… Don't throw it all into one bucket because it doesn't belong there. How did get all the way back in sacks? We went forever without any sacks. We're fourth. How do you do that? How do you get all that done? How about turnovers? We're tied for 10th in turnovers. How did that happen? We talked about it all year long. When are we going to get some? We're tied for 10th. You've got to take it all into consideration.
Q: Given all of that, can you say whether Perry Fewell will be back as your defensive coordinator?
A: I'm evaluating everything. That's what I say.
Q: How much do the injuries factor into it?
A: It's never an excuse, okay? It's not an excuse. But it is a fact and the facts have to be dealt with.
Q: Do you believe the components are here to turn this around quickly?
A: I believe we're going to be a better football team next year. What does turnaround mean? Winning season? I certainly hope so. Why am I here? I'm here because I want to win. What do you think I'm doing? Sitting up in the office with my feet up? The competitive spirit… You're in this to win. You're in this to try to beat the other guy. You've got to win in your division. You've got to beat Philadelphia and you've got to beat Dallas now. We win three games in a row and there's some bounce again in people's feet. I'm excited about getting in there and talking to our team in a little different version than I have to talk to them after losing seven games. We're here to win. That's what this thing is about – the competitiveness of winning. I'm as sick and disappointed as anybody in the last few years, but you know what? How are you going to do anything about it other than fight and swing and get back out there and try harder? What else are you going to do? Are you going to go crawl in a corner? No, I'm not going to do that.
Q: How do you view the job Perry Fewell did with the defense this season?
A: Perry had his hands full. There's no doubt about it. Our staff did, when you want to look at the facts. But regardless of that, first and goal against San Francisco with the score 16-10. That's a pretty good football team being held to 10 points. I understand the last drive against Dallas. That's happened a couple of years in a row. We have some issues, no doubt. And you'd like to be able to think we can solve them, but you can look at the other things, too.
Q: You seem going out of your way to defend Perry?
A: I'm trying to introduce balance. That's all. If you're going to look at the bad… and I see it, too. How about the first four plays the other day? We spent a week working on stopping that stuff and they ran the bootleg like we've never seen it before. I saw that, too.
Q: Can some of those defensive problems be helped by a stronger offensive line?
A: By an offensive line that can run the ball and keep the other team on the sideline? Sure. It all fits. There's no better example than Dallas this year. Everybody has had great stats because they're running the football.
Q: Where do you put the emphasis on upgrading personnel?
A: That hasn't been thoroughly talked about, but when I say we'd like… We've got to be able to run the ball and defend the run. How about defending the run? Do you think we'd be better if our (defensive) line was better defending the run? Probably. You do have to do a few things that you would like to have a little bit longer opportunity, whether it be training camp with more than one practice a day to get all of this stuff in. But yeah, that's one area. I'd like to run the ball better and I'd like to defend the run better. That would be a pretty good start. If you stop the run and you do attack the quarterback and you do have a team that really didn't do much for a while and then all of a sudden finishes fourth in sacks, you might have a chance to defend the pass a little better. It's happened before.
Q: It seems at times the defense was a little frustrated with how things were going. Do you feel they responded well to Perry all year long?
A: Yes, I do.
Q: What are your thoughts on special teams?
A: The area where you're dissatisfied there is we didn't cover punts very well and I think there are couple of reasons for that and our return game was just a little better than average. But if you look at the body of work, we improved in every statistic, in every area from 2013 to 2014 and, of course, you can't go without saying our kicker had an outstanding year. He kicked a 53-yard field goal at the end of December in MetLife Stadium. Okay, it was 50 degrees and it's normally 15, but it still happened and the guy did do a good job with all of those things. We had the outstanding kicks, a variety that we're prepared for, who knows when you're going to need it. I called it historical. Let's kickoff from the plus-35. When have you ever done that? I've never seen that one and we recovered that ball and we had the other one against San Francisco with just the little middle kick that [Mark] Herzlich pulled the ball out. We tried to get the hideout play in the other day. When you're pushing the buttons, let's try to score this way. I'm not down on the way things are coached and the variety of things that are ready to go. We thought we had a bunch of returners here and all of a sudden, we started losing them. Preston Parker, who had some problems with ball security, ends up being the guy and he's a tough son of a gun, but he had to take that duty pretty much over himself. Over the course of the year, I think with Odell [Beckham Jr.] in the punt return area and you saw Rueben [Randle] back there… Rueben was there a year ago, a guy that when you think you're in a game, that's a fair catch game. Rueben is going to catch every ball and is going to give you great ball security. I think we could anticipate being better in the punt return area in another year. Our kickoff coverage team was outstanding. We've been very good at that. There are always ups and downs and certainly we'd like to have better field position. We talk about field position all the time and turnovers from our special teams outfit. We got one in St. Louis that put us up 10-0 and that was a nice way to start. We certainly would have liked more.
Q: Would you prefer to have an extension in your contract?
A: A 10-year extension? Yes. I would like to have that. I don't think he's going to speak to me about that one.
Q: What goes into the decision making process when you're evaluating coordinators and your coaches?
A: I think that you can tell many times when the way in which the process takes place is not being handled the way it should be, the fundamental part of it. You're talking about a guy… Perry is a very good football coach. He's been doing this a long time. He's had his ups and downs. He's had his ups and downs right here with this franchise. We've gone from here to here. A year ago we were eighth. Same guy, same coaches – eighth in the league. This year we're 29th. But he's a good football coach and if I felt that it wasn't being properly introduced, taught etc…. But I haven't finished.
Q: Would you have any problem coaching in the last year of your deal? Is that anything that would be an issue?
A: Walter Alston, maybe. Some of you guys don't even know who he is. Twenty-one one-year deals, not bad. Motorcycle rider. Hell of a manager. What else you want to know? Managed in Brooklyn. Couldn't hit the ball very well.
Q: Going back to what you said about needing to run the ball better and stopping the run, do you have the ingredients now to accomplish that?
A: Well, we need a little help, there's no doubt. We have a draft, we have an offseason. Hopefully, we can add to it. Got some young defensive linemen. Got some young offensive linemen. Got to get better in some spots. Got to be stronger.
Q: How do you look at Jason Pierre-Paul and Antrel Rolle and their free agency? Would you want them both back?
A: I heard what John said and we'd like both players back. I know that there are issues. There are cap issues, always.
Q: You mentioned the Cowboys earlier. Is that sort of a model for rebuilding an offensive line? Is that what you're looking for?
A: My point was the balance. They rush the ball, rush the ball. They do a heck of a job. The quarterback is well-protected. But not forcing anything because he's pretty sure next time you hand it to that guy [DeMarco Murray], you're going to get at least five. That helps, that helps.
Q: What do you think about Eli learning the offense this year?
A: I thought he progressed well. I thought early on, we didn't have the numbers that we wanted to. We weren't doing as well as we would have liked to. We stayed with it. We hammered our way through a lot of that. Eli got better and better in the offense. I've said before that this is exactly the way…if he can sit down and write how he would like to be in charge of an offense, this is it. Because he pretty much has control of everything, and by not huddling, he tells pretty much everybody what to do. And he's good at it. Our protections were fine. When we had pressure coming, he adjusted the protection and he would slide away from the unblocked rusher and delivered the ball in the direction that it needed to be delivered in. I think from the second half on, the offense showed itself a little better. Still inconsistent with the run. One week we would run it well, the next week we wouldn't. That's an issue, but still I think there's no question about the improvement from last year to this year just in Eli's numbers alone. So I think he enjoys this system. I think he looks forward to taking this offense further, improving. We had a bunch of yards, but we still don't feel like we're getting enough points.
Q: John Mara called you a borderline Hall of Fame coach, but you know you're legacy is on the line with what still happens here. Do you agree?
A: I don't know. I'm not going there. I don't think about that kind of stuff. My legacy. Year to year, how I'm viewed as a coach? Yeah that bugs me. It bothers me for sure. I don't want to be associated with losing. That's not why I came here, that's not why I'm here. We've done a pretty good job with the exception of these last couple of years where we dipped. I didn't expect to be 6-10 this year. We expected to be back on top. I didn't know what the final numbers would be, but that's what the expectation was. I don't like that "borderline" stuff. What do you mean?
Q: I apologize. The word was "potential." Is that better?
A: Not really.
Q: Do you want to get inducted now?
A: Can you do it?
Q: It has been two straight losing seasons. What does it mean to you that ownership just stood up here and said "we still believe in Tom?"
A: Well, I'm greatly appreciative of the support that I have received from ownership. Like I said, I didn't spend a lot of time thinking about the alternative. So I'm not trying to be a smart aleck or whatever, but when I say business as usual, that's what we're trying to do. Do I feel the support? Yes, I do and I'm greatly appreciative of that. Quite frankly, that's the only reason I'm here is because Mr. Mara and Mr. Tisch still believe this is the best way to go.
Q: Do you view next year as a make or break year? That's sort of what John said.
A: Every year is. Every year. Don't put words in my mouth, and I'm not going to say that in those terms. Why would you do it for any other reason? You're supposed to win. So win.
Q: Do you have an idea in your head how much longer you would like to keep coaching?
A: Probably 10-12 more years.
Q: There have been some flashpoints throughout your tenure here. 2006, maybe you're not coming back, then you win the Super Bowl the next year. Even in '11, 7-7 and you…you kind of had that losing streak. We don't know what's going to happen and you come out of it. You ever think there is something in your makeup or in the way you coach that lets you get to that point but makes you come out of it?
A: You're trying to be nice now with 'flashpoints.' Nice choice of words, thank you. I've sort of been asked that before and I don't have a great answer for that except that I'm standing on the edge of the cliff.
Q: What does it look like?
A: It's not adrenaline. What's the cliff look like? I usually look the other way.
Q: You never make it about you. You say that all the time. But after winning the two titles, how much of your desire to continue coaching is driven by just wanting to see Eli win his third one, wanting to see Victor win his second, and want to see some other guys win their first?
A: That's the goal every year. The goal is to get to the winner's circle every year. That's why you do it, you really do. You know what, I take every team at the beginning of the season and that's the goal. What other goal is there? Once you say that, win the world championship and win the Super Bowl, you have to talk to them about how you get there. Obviously, you can't get there if you can't function within your own division. But that's the goal, that's what drives you.
Q: When the question was how much longer you wanted to coach, you said 10 or 12 more years.
A: That's not real, I'm just being facetious. Probably eight or nine.
Q: I was going to ask if that was a serious question but since you took care of that. Do you have an answer, do you know?
A: No, I don't have an answer. Because there's so many factors involved. Which factor do you want to get involved in? Judy's health, my health, etc. All of those things are factors. But I'm not very good at golf. I'm not very good at a lot of stuff.
Q: Danny [Langsdorf] is probably leaving. What did he say to you? What does that do for you guys as a team and what do you say to him on his [first year here]?
A: He is leaving. It's his choice. You don't expect someone to be here for a year, but that's his decision. Wish him well. Let's go.
Q: Are you bringing someone in from the outside? Is Sean [Ryan] going back to coach the quarterback position?
A: I don't know. I'll think about that. Sean did a very good job this year. Very good job. And he is a very good football coach. Matter of fact, he had a lot to do with third down. We were 43 percent on third down. I need to look around and get a sense for where we are.