Head Coach Tom Coughlin
I think I said mostly everything I would say yesterday and today what I tried to do with our team is to point out what I call the keys and the things that we did not accomplish and what we expected to be able to accomplish in yesterday's game against San Diego. Not to take anything away from them, they played very, very well. They were obviously very focused because of their loss at home to Cincinnati the week before. They played very, very well. We played well in spots, but not consistently and I think that's about exactly the way I would say it and once we complete our study, which is as of five o'clock this afternoon, we have to move forward with the three-game schedule, two of three at home and Seattle… arguably the best team in the NFC coming in here on Sunday and we need to focus and prepare for the very, very good Seahawk team. Here we go. What can I answer for you today?
Q: How much stake do you put in these final three weeks as far as setting up your plans for next year and thinking about the future?
A: You obviously go as hard as you can each week and then you assess the season when the season is over, so each one of these games is a critical game for us. It's a critical game for our team, for our franchise, for all of us and so we certainly will throw everything we have into these individual games and then we'll assess the entire season when the time comes.
Q: How odd of a feeling is it to go through these last three games knowing you're not going to be in the playoffs?
A: As I've tried to say many, many times in the past, we have to deal with reality, too. The truth of the matter is we've got to apply ourselves and hope again, I've used the word 'respect,' that we can gain and earn some of the respect back by virtue of how we play in these last three games and that's all we can possibly think about right now.
Q: Are you going to take this time to get a look at some of the younger players at all?
A: Certainly we'll look at as many players as we possibly can, but again, our team is our team and we may be able to do some things in terms of maneuvering some numbers of plays or perhaps even getting someone a suit that hasn't had one. But we're going to try as hard as we can to win football games and the guys who deserve to play are going to play and if there are some people that haven't been involved that can make a mark here in practice or whatever to gain what we think has earned them a right to have 'X' amount of snaps, then that will take place as well. We're not going to change any of our objectives or goals.
Q: Does your situation regarding the playoffs make you think differently about a player such as JPP where you may not play him the rest of the year?
A: We were asked that and I think that's up to the medical people. As far as I know right now, that decision has not come down. As a matter of fact, JPP feels better and as of last weekend, thought that this week he would be perhaps in a position where he might be able to practice and prepare himself to play. That's the way the weekend was left. I don't know anything different just now, but we will assess each one of those circumstances and I'm sure that the medical people will allow us to look at it if need be and make those kinds of decisions going forward.
Q: How difficult is it to not be in the playoff mix with three games to go?
A: I thought I just tried to answer that. To be honest with you, the pride factor is the key always and your competiveness never changes. When I tell you that each game week to week is the most important game of the year, I'm honestly telling you the truth from my standpoint, and that's the way in which I deal with our team and it's not going to change anything. I was asked last night, I was asked on the plane by just interested people, but to be honest with you, we've got a three-game schedule and we're going to try to play and coach as hard as we can and take these things one at a time and then at the end of this season we'll reflect, but right now is not the time for me anyway.
Q: Do you think the fact that you are playing the Seahawks with them being the number one seed in the conference will help motivate the players?
A: I don't think there's any question about the fact that we'll be motivated because of the nature of the team that's coming in here. We'll be excited to play against the Seahawks and we'll be excited to prepare. I just think it's again… We try to be excited and motivated and inspired for every team and that's been the case… I was telling the team today, six out of the last seven weeks, physically, competitively and every way we've done a reasonably good job on the field and we've gained respect and so on and so forth. We felt good about ourselves. We didn't play well yesterday, but that's not going to change the way in which we approach each game and, yes, we're excited to host this outstanding Seahawk team and to prepare for them and it is no doubt a tremendous gauge for our team or for any team playing against a team that has the record and has accomplished what the Seahawks have.
WR Victor Cruz
Q: Do you think that the fact that you guys have the Seahawks up next and they're a team that has Super Bowl aspirations will help or hurt your team moving forward? You know it's going to be a tough game obviously, but does that actually help with incentive and things like that?
A: I think it definitely helps. I think in order for us to continue to measure how good our team is and how much pride we play with and how much character we have on our team, trying to get the Seahawks is going to be a true test to that and will continue to keep us ready to play and our morale high to continue to play good football and play a good team, like Seattle.
*Q: How unusual is it to be in this position where you're not playing for a playoff berth? It's the first time in your career that you've been in this position this soon in a season. *
A: It's unusual, but just like any other season you have to continue to play, continue to keep a positive mindset and continue to just play football. Enjoy these moments that you have and enjoy being out there on the field, because you never know what could happen. You just want to go out there and enjoy this time and continue to play some good football.
Q: Do you anticipate that there will be a number of changes on this team moving forward into next season?
A: I don't know. I can only worry about myself as far as things like that are concerned. There's a coaching staff, a front office that makes all of those decision. I have no idea.
Q: Does it ever cross your mind though, Victor? You've been with these coaches for a long time and you haven't experienced a season like this before. I guess it's just kind of human nature to think about are all of these guys going to be back. Do you even allow that to cross your mind?
A: That hasn't crossed my mind. I'm just worried about playing football with the coaching staff that I have and everybody that surrounds me and I kind of take it from there. That really hasn't crossed my mind, to be honest with you.
Q: How stunned are you to be in this situation? This organization has always been in the mix until the final week pretty much.
A: It's unusual, but like I said before, you just have to continue to play football and continue to stay positive and finish the season strong and keep everyone healthy and do the right things from a football standpoint and cherish the small moment that we have together and keep it going from there.
Q: Are you angry, are you frustrated or are you disappointed? What is the best way to describe how you feel?
A: It's definitely a little disappointing. Obviously you want to go and have a good season and put some good things together and hope you can make it through the playoffs and all of those good things. To not do that is obviously disappointing. All we can take care of is what you can do each and every week on Sunday. Offensively, all you can do is continue to put your best foot forward and do the best you can to help your team win. That's all you can ask for. It's a little disappointing.
Q: When you look back did you guys do this to yourselves, or was this just the injuries or what?
A: I think it's a little bit of both. Those first six games in the beginning of the season is all that everyone is going to look back on and wish that didn't happen. The injuries definitely play a part in that as well. When you lose a multitude of guys like that, during the grit of your season, is not the best thing and is not something that is going to help your football team.
Q: How surprising is it that the passing game, you never really fully seemed to hit your stride? How surprising is that?
A: It's been a little surprising because obviously the amount of talent that we have and the things that we've done in the past, you would think that would remain with a consistency between us. Every year is different and every season is different. Every personnel changes from year to year. You just have to take it as it comes and see what you can do and unfortunately this wasn't our best season statistically, at least from a passing and offensive perspective.
Q: You talked about playing for pride and Mathias said the same thing. You guys have been saying that for a couple of weeks. Does pride become more of a motivator now that you guys are officially eliminated? Does anything really change?
A: Obviously pride should always serve as the motivator, but obviously now at this point, it's all you play for. For your pride and for your character, you understand that for people and teams and coaches to understand this team isn't one that is going to crumble inside, we play for pride. We have immense character on this team and we're going to play each and every play until it's over and until our season is done.
Q: Is there any sort of spoiler role? This team is not used to that. You mentioned with a team like Seattle coming in, a team that's really playing for something, do you think you personally and the team in general would relish any kind of spoiler role to kind of knock off a team that has big hopes?
A: I guess so. We just want to go in there and win it. No matter what role we're playing, whatever title you want to put on it, we want to go in there and put some things together and put some points on the board and win the ball game. I don't know if we necessarily want to call ourselves a spoiler team or a spoiler role, but we just want to go out there and put our best foot forward and win the football game.
Q: Would beating a team like Seattle in your mind make you think, man this is what we can do if we're at our best? Beating a team like Seattle, would that add to what has been a disappointing season?
A: Yeah. Obviously it would put a smile on our faces and understand that this is something that we could have done all year with doing the right things. If we beat that team, it would kind of make it more disappointing because we didn't take advantage of playing like this all year long, from an entire team perspective. Obviously it would just put a smile on our face and have us know that when we play at our best, we can beat any team in the league.
DE Mathias Kiwanuka
Q: I'm guessing that was one of the longest/worst plane trips of your career, coming home last night?
A: Yeah. That was a tough one. Obviously you always want to get a win, especially when you make the trip out there like that you want to have something to celebrate on the way home and we didn't get it done.
Q: Your teammates talk every week about how things are correctable, it just seems like every week it's something else popping up and sometimes it looks like the same things popping up. Have you gotten a handle on it?
A: Yeah. If we talk about this week specifically, there were definitely some things that popped up that have popped up in the past. We just sat through meetings today. We made all the corrections and the goal is to make sure those don't come back up again now. I can speak for myself and the rest of the defensive line, some of those things are when you get in a situation where guys are trying as hard as they can to make a play and something happens because you're pressing and that's where we have to be able to stay focused and make sure that we play our responsibility and trust the man next to us and don't let those things happen.
Q: Why do you think there's pressing going on. Why is it that you feel that in your case, for example, and I'm not saying that you're always pressing, but why would somebody press?
A: Because we want to win. That's the bottom line. You have a bunch of professional athletes, guys who have been doing this their entire life and we have come to expect a certain level of success in our play. Whenever there is a play that needs to be made, we all take it upon ourselves to go out there and make that play. We have to be able to do that within the confines of the defense and that's what the issue is right now.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about that expectation you guys have had. You haven't really had catastrophic injuries this year. Eli's been healthy all year, obviously JPP has been hurt a little bit, but how surprising is this for you to have fallen this far here?
A: I actually want to correct you on that. We did lose Chris Snee, we lost Dave Baas, we lost Dave Wilson, we lost Stevie Brown, we lost Corey Webster. These are all guys who were starting for us. JPP goes down, that adds another. We're not at the point where we're going to make excuses but I do feel like we have taken on a lot of adversity. We've overcome some of it. We just haven't been able to do enough to get it done.
Q: How do you guys deal with these three final games here? How difficult are these three final weeks going to be?
A: Obviously this is not the situation we wanted to find ourselves in. I think the things we have to remember and understand, what we're going to continue to preach in the locker room, is the prideful organization. The greatest city, the greatest organization in the world and we're going to go out there and perform. We have a lot to play for. I think every time you take the field you're representing yourself, your family, your team and your city, in that order. You have to make sure you do it to the best of your ability.
Q: How much do you have to look at it as with only three games left and playoffs out of consideration that they're kind of evaluating you guys for the future and seeing who they want here going forward and to be part of the future of this organization?
A: I think that's one of the secrets about the NFL. We're always constantly being evaluated. There's a huge turnover, so we always feel if we're playing for our careers and for our jobs. That isn't going to change, but when it comes down to it, this is one of the toughest seasons we have had, so we have a lot pride at stake that we have to make sure we go out and show. I think that's the most important thing, to make sure we play with that sense of pride and passion.
Q: Defensively, did you guys try anything different? It seemed like there might have been a few more guys rushing from like a standup position, a couple of guys in different positions. Was that new, or was it something you guys had in your pocket the whole year?
A: We've always had those things in our hip pocket. I think you have to give credit to them. They caught us off balance a few times, so Perry (Fewell) went to some things that we kept in our pocket to make sure we had in a situation like that. We would have liked to have gotten a little more pressure, gotten a little more productivity out of those calls.
Q: You go against a team with the top seed in the NFC this year, a team that is trying to lock up home field advantage on Sunday. Do you think that helps or hurts your team? You're going to have a team that's looking to play in the Super Bowl.
A: I think it helps us. I think it helps us from an individual standpoint because you get a good team coming in. You get to see what you can do against what is touted as one of the best teams in the league right now. It helps us as a team because we get an opportunity as a team to go out there and play against the best and to kind of redeem ourselves a little bit from last week. That's where our focus is. We're going to go out there every single week and fight for that win. This is a great opportunity to get one.
Q: How strange is this situation for you? You guys have always been in the mix and human nature kind of plays into this. Also, how do you fight through that?
A: We just continue to fight because this is our job, this is what we get paid to do and this is what we love to do. I'm going to step on that field every time and give it everything I've got because I love to play the game and I love being a part of this organization. I know all the guys on that field feel the same way, so there's never any doubt in my mind that the guys out there are going to give it 100%. We just have to make sure we're doing it effectively and we're able to make plays when we need them and get stops when we need them and come out with a win.