Coach Tom Coughlin**
Good morning. The Carolina Panthers are an outstanding football team. They've lost two games by six points. Their defense has given up 36 points. Their offense has scored 30. Seattle scored 12 points on them. You all watched the game the other night, I'm sure. Their offensive team is sixth in rushing. They're fourth in the league on third down. They're doing an outstanding job of that. Over the past two seasons, they've had the most plays in the league over 20 yards, so they do have that capability as well. They do not beat themselves. They only had seven penalties, two fumbles and an interception in their first two games, so they're a solid football team. They're obviously a very, very good defensive front and front seven. They've had some nicks in the secondary of late and we'll have to see how that plays out in terms of who is available and who isn't. Of course, they hang their hat on rushing the ball. They do a great job of that. D'Angelo Williams is very powerful. Tolbert is very powerful. Their quarterback, as you know, has the ability to run the ball. He has a very, very strong arm. They do a lot of things off of play action and they have really improved their return game with Ted Ginn coming over in free agency. He's an outstanding returner, punt returner and kickoff returner. You saw him in the preseason with his 74-yarder, so they do have the ability to do that as well. Gano is an outstanding kicker. He had a nice… I believe it was a 54-yard field goal in the preseason. They're a well-balanced, well-structured team. I think they're a good team on special teams as well. They're battling and scrambling just like we are, but I certainly do recognize the fact that they're a good team.
Q: Why have the Panthers struggled?
A: They've had a couple of things happen, as some of the teams that are in that predicament have. The Seattle game, for example, they're driving, they fumble the ball inside the 10-yard line with a chance to take the lead with a score. The other day against Buffalo, Buffalo throws the ball down the middle of the field and it was intercepted, which would end the game. Whoops. Wait a minute. Defensive pass interference. Let's do that again. Down they come to score and win. They've had a couple of things go against them and I'm sure they're well aware of that, but as I said, not many. They haven't made a whole lot of mistakes. When they have, it's definitely hurt them. Their games have been very, very tight, very competitive and so they've had chances to win in both games, I'm sure they would say that.
Q: What do you see from their linebackers? Kuechly is having a good start.
A: He's not a rookie any more. He led the league in tackles a year ago. What do I see? I see two veteran players on the wings that are good football players in Davis and Beason. Kuechly is an outstanding player in the middle and has an interception. He had a bunch of tackles the other day. He had 11 tackles the other day. He's a good, aggressive football player. Godfrey, as you know, just went on IR and he was a real force in the secondary.
Q: You have lived by the phrase 'balanced' since you've been here. Do you think the team will achieve that?
A: We're going to work towards it, for sure. I believe it is. I believe we've got a lot of work to do to get there, obviously, but it's something that we have to have. That's critical to the ability to be in position where we can at least hold the defense at bay in terms of what we're going to do. It's very important. We've understood that. We have not had a lot of success. That means we really do have to put more emphasis into it.
Q: A couple of the players in their radio interviews, or on Monday, talked about how they're not feeling enough emotion, I saw that from Antrel Rolle and Justin Tuck. Do you agree with that? Where do you think that's coming from?
A: I'd like to see better play. I think there will be plenty of emotion. Thursday, last week, was a very good practice for us. We'd all like to see that. I'd like to be able to say that as well. The fact of the matter is we need to play better. Through three quarters of that game the other day, it's a very good football game. Finish the game. I'd rather talk about finishing and playing four quarters than I would about needing more of this, needing more of that. I know the guys who said that are trying to encourage that on the sidelines and that's a good thing. I'm all for that. I think the number one thing we stand for is 'team' and that would be a very good example of more people being involved in a singleness of purpose and one team. I'd like to see us play better, too.
Q: Is the pass rush where you'd like it to be?
A: No, of course not. How could it be? We didn't sack the guy the other day. We're better than that. When we do get there we have to get them in our grasp. We had two or three times the other day where we had the quarterback in our grasp and didn't quite get it done.
Q: Do you have any thoughts about trying Damontre Moore to jumpstart the pass rush, since he played so well in the preseason?
A: That's a novel thought. Whoever's on our team is going to be in that position. Let's have a good week of practice there. Let's make sure the kid is really ready to go and then let's see what we can do about that.
Q: Justin Tuck said it might just be a case of being a little bit more aggressive, is that the best way to go after Cam Newton do you think?
A: What case? What's the question originally?
Q: Is it better to be aggressive against Cam or is it better to maybe sit back and make sure he doesn't get out of the pocket?
A: You've got issues with both, but you've got to close him in there and put pressure on him if you're going to be able to control the pass aspect of the game as well. You can't sit there and let him throw the ball.
Q: You mentioned in describing Carolina that they don't beat themselves. To this point, through two games, how much do you think your team has beaten itself?
A: Well, I don't think it's any question. Any time you have turnovers like we have, I don't think anybody in the room over there would say any different. Let's face it, we've played two very good football teams as well, but you can't have the field position, the lack of opportunity, even it's something that hasn't been crippling in terms of the other guys taking advantage of it, it's kept up from being what we need to be.
Q: Am I right in kind of sensing that this week for you is about a lot of just correcting football stuff as opposed to telling them, "we're 0-2, but we're not desperate." Is it more…?
A: We've got to get our football right. We've got to get the football right, we've got to stop hurting ourselves, we have to play as one, we've got to finish the fourth quarter, play four solid quarters. And yes, we do have to be focused and in tune on the sidelines and engaged on the sidelines and supportive of each other throughout the four quarters and all of the things that go along with being a good teammate as well.
Q: You talked after the last game about the fact that you've been here before as a football team, 0-2 to start the year. Do you talk about that during the week again or do you go forward?
A: I don't think so. That statement was made and is over and done with. It's a whole new season, a whole new year. Fortunately we came out of the one you're talking about but it's a challenge for all of us to get this right, right now.
Q: How would you characterize the mood on this team? You have a lot of young guys.
A: The young players are going to look to the older players. That's how it always works. They don't know how to act. First-year players don't know what's expected right now. It's not good but they don't know exactly how, so they'll look to the older players and the older players have to give them a good example.
Q: From your experience, going into Week 3, can you fix a lot of football problems?
A: Yeah, sure you can. We can fix a lot by hanging on to the ball. A lot of what we can accomplish for ourselves would be to be able to take better care of the ball.
Q: You have only two players on the injury report. Do you expect anyone else to go full?
A: I don't think there is… there are a bunch of guys that would say limited but they're out in practice.
Q: Two games into the season, how much does that help you not only today but on Sunday when your team, unlike the Panthers, your team looks very healthy right now.
A: I hope it helps. I hope it pays off. This is what you're after. You'd like to be able to have a full menu every week. Is that possible? Well, maybe not. Let's not limit ourselves verbally. This may be a week where, God willing, we have a good week of practice, everyone stays on their feet without getting in any trouble in that regard and perhaps that will happen. Perhaps we'll have some good choices to make at the end of the week.
Q: Is the running game a mentality that you have to develop yet?
A: Well, it's a mentality, but it's also a physicality. And you have to communicate well, you have to recognize in split seconds, you have to be physical enough to reject the fronts and the linebackers as they attack the line of scrimmage. You have to knock a hole in the defensive front. You have to break an arm tackle, which very few have. So you have a lot of things. You've got to block down field. Your receivers have got to get their faces in front of somebody down field, push toward the opponent's goal line. You have a lot of things you have to do very, very well.
Q: As you move forward with Eli, he kind of said he's almost starting the season over statistically in his mind because there have been so many interceptions for him. As you move forward with him, is there anything like that? Like a reset or any mental thing for him in terms of getting out of that interception-prone play?
A: Well, it's not going to start over because you can't. But let's just keep working at it, let's keep working at it, let's be smart, let's understand, let's think about the circumstances before they come up.
Q: When you have a game like last Sunday when the outcome is determined before the last few minutes, do you keep Eli in there as a message to the team that this team doesn't quit? Do you do it for situational reasons?
A: We're trying to win. At one point, it was, what, 30 something to 23. Go score a touchdown, make it 41-30, get the onsides kick. You're trying to win a game. There's no, I don't know what you're asking. Do you want me to take him off the field? Here we go.
Q: You checked off a lot of things that are involved in running well, is it a general breakdown of those things that you've seen?
A: Well you're at the games. 19 rushes for 23 yards, I hope we can do a little better than that.
QB Eli Manning
Q: Did Coach tell the team about his brother's passing?
A: The team is aware. He informed the team today, so obviously his family has been in our thoughts and prayers and obviously it's tough on the coach when you lose a loved one, lose a family member, especially his only brother. He'll obviously deal with that, but he's been focused on getting us ready to play this game.
Q: What was his message to the team trying to get out of a 0-2 hole?
A: We've just got to get better in every way. Our practices need to be better, our focus, our play on game day and we've got to start playing the quality of football that he expects and he demands of us, and we've got to do our jobs.
Q: You started 0-2 back in the first Super Bowl year for you guys. Are there any similarities to the feeling of the room after two games?
A: We feel that we're close. We feel that we're close to playing good football. We know what the mistakes are, what the corrections that we need to make to get better and so I think there's still a positive energy around this team and we feel that we can straighten it out and start playing really good football real soon.
Q: What do you see from Carolina on film?
A: Their front seven is very, very talented. They get a good rush on the quarterback. Their linebackers are good. Their secondary is a little banged up right now, but they have a good scheme and have good players and they're playing good defense and they've been really good in the red zone so far.
Q: Is each season its own entity or is there a concern that this is a continuation of what happened last year?
A: No. I thought there were some good things this year in our first two games, some positives, and we just haven't won. We've been right in the games in the fourth quarter in both of them and we just haven't performed very well at the end of games to give us our chance to win and so I feel that everything can be fixed very quickly and we'll do that.
Q: What are you expecting out of Carolina, who is 0-2 like your team?
A: I expect a tough team. They've played two very close games. It came to the fourth quarter. They had a lead last week at the very end and Buffalo had a last-second touchdown to win. I think they probably feel the same way. They can easily be 2-0 right now. We'll be getting their best and we've got to expect to play our best to win.
Q: Can you work on the turnovers in practice or is that a mindset thing?
A: You definitely have to work on it in practice to make sure we're not being careless with the football and we're playing smart and we're conscious of it and we've got to make sure that whatever happens during the play, we've got to make sure we have the ball in our hands after the play.
Q: The running game has been such a hallmark for the team over the years. Do you feel like you're getting close to getting the running game going?
A: Yeah. I think so. I feel like we've just been one block away or six of the guys are doing a great job and one guy is maybe missing. We're very close to getting that back on the roll and obviously you're playing against good defenses. They have good players and they're going to make some plays sometimes, but I think we are close on a lot of them and we'll get that going.
Q: Do you see the passing yards as a positive or is that a symptom of not having a balanced offense?
A: I think our offensive line has done a good job in protection. I think guys are getting open, so I think it is positive if that's something we need to go to and we have to throw it. We feel very good about it. I think if we can get a mix, it will help us out.
Q: What do you think needs to happen to win this week?
A: We just have to have a great week of practice and we'll do that. We'll have a great game plan and just play better football. We've had a lot of good plays these first two games. We've just had too many bad plays, so we've just got to eliminate that. But we've still got to go out there and play hard, play fast and do whatever it takes to get a win.
Q: Do you have confidence that your rushing attack can come through?
A: Yeah. I think we'll run the ball better this week and we'll get that going, but we've got to throw it better. We've got to keep the ball in our hands. There are a lot of areas. Third downs, obviously, have to be better. Our red zone has got to be better, so we're going to work on all of those things and hopefully we'll put a better and complete game together.
Q: What kind of respect do you have for the Carolina defense?
A: They're good. They're a really good defense and the first two games, they've played outstanding. They held Seattle to 12 points and they did really well against Buffalo. The two-minute drive at the end and a penalty was a big part of Buffalo getting into the game in the first place. They've played very well. We've got to go out there and play our best football.
Q: There's no panic in this team?
A: No. There's no panic. Obviously we know we've got to get going. We've got to start playing better football now. We dug ourselves into a small hole, but there are 14 games left. It's a long season. We're still right in the mix in our division and we've just got to get back to playing. Just worry about playing better football than what we are right now.
Q: Are you guys more focused because you're 0-2 or is it about the same as the first week?
A: I think you should be the same. Your focus should be the same week in and week out. It doesn't matter what your record is or who you're playing. I think our focus is good, our practices have been good and it's not a lot of mistakes or guys are doing the wrong things. It's just a few plays from playing great football.
WR Hakeem Nicks
Q: Week 3, you're 0-2, how do you guys get going?
A: First thing first, it's got to start on the practice field. I thought we had a nice practice today but we have to go out and have that translate over to the game. It's not the start that we wanted, but it's still early in the season. We've seen teams turn around plenty of times, we can't just bank on that though. We have to go out and perform.
Q: How do you get rid of the sloppiness and start to execute?
A: We have to stop doing, for one, the turnovers. I think the turnovers can be nipped in the bud. We have to start creating more turnovers on defense. I think things are going to start going our way pretty soon. I'm confident in that and I think that everything will be okay.
Q: They're 0-2, they're a desperate football team, do you expect them to give you a hard-fought game? You went down there last year and did extremely well.
A: We're 0-2, too, so we're desperate, too. In my eyes we want to win, too, just as bad as them, so we're going to go out there and play hard and the best team is going to win.
Q: How frustrating is it to see the running game struggle like it is right now because that's been such a hallmark for this Giant football team over the years?
A: I think it's something that we can definitely fix. Once guys get in sync, Jacobs gets in sync, David Wilson, those guys will do a good job in turning it around.
Q: Do you look at this as a must-win?
A: It's definitely a must-win game. Every game is a must-win game. Being 0-2 right now is definitely not fun but I think we're going to turn it around.
Q: You've noticed their secondary is kind of banged up, what do you see back there?
A: They have guys they've been rotating in and out. But we just have to take advantage of our plays and run our offense and handle everything accordingly.
Q: You were injured for this game last year. Is it going to be special playing in Carolina?
A: Yeah that's home for me, so it's going to be a good one. I look forward to it. I have a lot of family that are going to be there to support me, so it should be fun.
Q: Last year you were close to playing. That was frustrating, wasn't it?
A: Yeah, it definitely was. Last season, period, was frustrating. That was the hand I was dealt, I dealt with it. It's a new year, I don't think about last season anymore. I just have to continue to try to get better and turn this thing around.
DE Jason Pierre-Paul
Q: The pass rush in general, only five sacks in the last seven games, how much responsibility do you personally feel for that number?
A: I'm a big part of the defense. Just not getting to the quarterback or not stopping the run is half of the D-line's fault. It all starts up front. If you can't get to the quarterback or stop the run, that's a loss. Period. Me personally, I know I'm not playing as well, like I did in the past, but it is what it is. I'm just doing my best, no excuses, I just have to get healthy. If you were all in the same position, you would all do the same thing.
Q: Is it hard coming off a surgery when you really don't know how your body is going to respond?
A: My body is right, my head is thinking but my body isn't responding. It's getting better and better. I go out there, I was rushing the passer very well today, I was playing the run excellent, that's all there is to it. I just have to go out there and each day I have to play harder. In practice I have to go even harder than I think I'm going to go in the game because you don't know how that person is going to react to you in the game. If you do it out in practice, you'll do it on the field. If you lack it in practice, you lack it on the field. I'd rather get hurt in practice than get hurt in a game. That's how I've been looking towards and approaching the situation. My back is getting better each day. That's basically it. We're getting better. Everybody wants to get better. From the first game to the second game, you can see a big difference. The first game, I thought I played like crap, the second game I played okay. I'm getting better and better every day and that's all that counts. I'm going to be out there and support my team and help my team win, hopefully, win a football game.
Q: How much different do you feel from last year when you were playing…?
A: I don't feel any pain at all. That pain that I felt last year, I don't feel it at all. When I got in my stance I felt it; driving a car, I felt it; sitting on the plane for hours, I felt it; walking or standing up, you know, I couldn't sit up straight. That pain is gone to this day. The only thing now is for me to get back to that old JPP playing mode when I'm just getting after the passer relentlessly. Right now nobody has seen it yet. I watch film of myself so I can critique myself and I know I'm not doing a bad job but I'm also not doing an excellent job.
Q: Do you feel like you're close?
A: I feel like I'm close. There have been times I have gotten to the quarterback. It was like a second too late. Like I said, I'm getting there, I'm getting my step up in a game. It takes time, but that's no excuse. I'm out there, I have to do whatever it takes to win, to help my team win. Right now I'm not doing a good job. Hopefully this Sunday I'll be out there practicing, out there running and getting the quarterback like I used to. Like I said, it starts in practice. I've been doing a great job, especially today when I got out there and I think I did well. I'm going to look at the film and we're going to.
RB David Wilson
Q: Is it up to the lin, is it up to the back, is it up to…to get the run game going?
A: It's a team effort. Everybody has to do their job.
Q: What about the nature of being 0-2? Do you think there is any panic in the locker room?
A: No. Like I said, we just have to focus on taking it one day at a time, one play at a time. Go out there and execute each week.
Q: When you see a team give up 149 yards on the ground, are you kind of licking your chops or do you look at the film and say, "look, I can hit those holes and I can do just as well?"
A: It comes down to our team, doing what we need to do when we get out there on Sunday and executing our plays. Seeing another team do what they do is one thing, but until you go out there and take advantage of it and do it, it's kind of irrelevant.
Q: You've been able to watch and see what's going wrong. Do you guys think you'll be able to correct that?
A: Yeah. We look to make corrections. Guys know what they have to do. It comes down to going on the field and executing and actually making the plays.
Q: Running the ball, how do you guys feel? Can this be the week you get back on track?
A: I really just want to get back on track with winning. The whole thing is about winning games, it's not about going out and running the ball well, it's not about passing the ball well. Whatever you have to do to get a win, you have to go out there and execute.
Q: Eli says you guys are close, maybe a block here or a block there, from getting that running game going. Is that how you feel, too?
A: Yeah. We had a lot of close ones. Everybody has to do their job and prepare and come on the field with confidence and be prepared. It comes down to execution. Everything, you can be close in so many areas, the running back could have been faster, somebody could have held a block a little bit longer, until it all comes together and work as a team, that's when you get points on the board.
Q: How is your confidence?
A: It's great. I'm really looking forward to going to North Carolina and going down there and getting this win with my team.
Q: What did you see in watching film in terms of what's holding back the running game?
A: Like I said, we're close. It just comes down to execution.
DE Justin Tuck
Q: The sense I get from talking to guys is that Sunday will be, not only are you 0-2 and you need a win but Tom needs a boost, too.
A: Absolutely. Anytime you have to heal somebody in your circle, whether it's a coach or player, whatever it may be, going through a hardship, you always want to do your part to pick them up. If that's winning a football game or that's saying a kind word, whatever it may be, you always have to try your best to pick their spirits up. That's what they did for me, and obviously, I was better for it. Any way I can return the favor or we as a football team can return the favor, we need to jump on doing that.
Q: What are you expecting this weekend? Both 0-2 teams.
A: It's going to be a battle. We understand that. It's a good football team. They're similar to us – a good football team and it seems like all of the breaks have gone against them. It's going to be a battle. We have to go down there, their crowd is going to be into it, I'm sure they're going to have a great week of practice just like I think we are and we're going to go out and execute. I've heard people say 'desperation' and that we're a desperate team. I don't believe in desperation. I think desperation makes you tight and I think it makes you make more mistakes. I think it's just the team that executes and that's what we're going to try to do.
Q: What worked against Cam last year and what can you take away from that performance?
A: I think we played a great game plan on a short week. I think we executed more than they did.
Q: You guys had heat on him right from the beginning of the game. Is there anything you guys executed in that point to get that pressure?
A: We executed the game plan.
Q: I think I heard you say the other day that you would like to see more of a sense of urgency.
A: Yeah, I would like to see us start faster on defense, offense and special teams and play faster. I would like to see that from myself and from everybody on this football team. There hasn't been a sense of urgency because we're not getting these two games back. We need to get this season started. Obviously I don't believe this is a must-win game but I think we need to approach it like that.
Q: They have given up some sacks in the last week…
A: We have to stop the run first. Teams who give up sacks are put in situations to give up sacks. This is a run-first offense. They have a great scheme, a great running back and you know that with the quarterback, when you stop him he can move, so for us, coming into this game, we can't allow ourselves to start thinking that this team has this and that sack-wise. Let's stop the run. You can't allow Cam to have, almost like Peyton last week. When we were stopping the run we were playing a whole lot better. When he started to get that run going in the second half and was able to get that play action, they started to move the football and score points. So, for us, our focus has to be run first.
Safety Antrel Rolle
Q: Does it force you to make sure you're playing smart against a mobile quarterback like Cam Newton?
A: You have to stay active more importantly than anything and stay and play within the defense. Don't try and do too much. If the opportunity presents itself, make the play that's given to you. Other than that, just play within the defense, play smart and play sound technically.
Q: When you look at the 77 points given up by this team, do you say you're a better football team than that?
A: Absolutely. We're a better football team. There's no doubt about it. Two minutes left in the third quarter last week and the score was 17-16 and then things just kind of went downhill. We understand who we are as a defense, but we also understand that we need to get extremely better and just play within the defense, play smarter, have a little bit more enthusiasm as a team and just go out there and make plays and just congratulate each other and just keep building. Keep building the momentum any way you can.
Q: What kind of battle do you expect on Sunday?
A: I'm expecting a huge battle. No team wants to go 0-3. I think they're playing great football, despite their record. We're also looking forward to a win. It's going to be a great battle this coming Sunday.
Q: There are a lot athletic quarterbacks, but where does Cam Newton fit into that?
A: Cam is a great quarterback. He can hurt you with his legs as well his arm. He's a multi-talented guy. We just have to stay disciplined and understand who Cam is and how he can hurt you.
Q: Is discipline the key with him?
A: Discipline is the key more than anything. Just play within the defense.
Q: Does it help that you saw him as recently as you did?
A: I think it can give you some insight, but at the same time I think they're a different team. They're doing a lot of things differently and they have multiple weapons. Just play within the defense that's called and everyone needs to take care of their assignments.
Q: Obviously you want to win for yourself, but is there something like winning for Coach Coughlin to pick him up?
A: Absolutely. We're all in this together. We win as a team. We lose as a team. Coach is the main part of it. When we win, he gets a lot of credit. When we lose, he gets a lot of the heat. Absolutely. We're looking to pick coach up, we're looking to pick ourselves up and, more importantly, just pick up this franchise.
Q: His brother dying was unexpected.
A: We're all family here. If coach has a loss, we all deal with a loss. We're here for him and our condolences go out to coach and the rest of his family. There's no better time now than to go get a win and just lift his spirits up, as well as ours.