Coach Tom Coughlin**
Q: How closely are you monitoring the Panther's secondary, their banged up cornerbacks and safeties?
A: How close? Whatever they tell us about how they practice. We take a look at it and record it. We don't have a guy at their practices if that's what you're asking.
Q: Your offensive line is a veteran group other than the right tackle. What is your level of confidence that they will get this right eventually?
A: I think I see us getting a little bit better each week. Is that fast enough? Of course not, but I do see progress. The more the communication goes, the better off we are. You say veteran, but take a look at the snaps and the amount of practice time that David Baas has had, for example. That's almost like moving a new guy in, too, until he gets to where he feels good about it. I see a little progress every week.
Q: For years, when you've had success, that group has had an identity. Not always the same players, but the same kind of guys.
A: No question. On both sides of the ball, both fronts.
Q: Is it hard for them to get it right then even when they're not playing as well?
A: I would say yes. That would be one of those you go anonymous until you make a statement. We need a statement. Your first question was, do I see it? Yes I do. Maybe small little moves, positive moves, but I do see it.
Q: What kind of challenge do your cornerbacks and safeties face this week? Deciding whether to come up when Newton starts to act like he's going to run and then …?
A: Everybody has a key that they look at for run or pass and you better believe what you see. That doesn't account for scrambling, but if it's run, it'll bring them up.
Q: This is the first of the scrambling/option quarterbacks you are going to face, so how much more prepared are you for them this year than you were last year?
A: We've studied in the offseason and studied a lot of these option-type quarterbacks and we have a plan. As you say, we haven't really been tested in that area, but we have worked in training camp on responsibilities. I'm confident we'll have a guy in the right place, hopefully at the right time. For as far as the ability of the quarterback to just pull it down and run, that's another circumstance where, do you have him in the pocket? Does he stand in there? Are you putting pressure on him? Does he have time to stand there? All of those things are factors as well.
Q: Did you do anything in the offseason to kind of prep for these types of quarterbacks?
A: Sure, we studied the heck out of it.
Q: What have you seen from Steve Weatherford and the special teams this week?
A: He's punted the ball better. We've worked hard at it just like we always do. The number one thing we always do is punt team. That's the number one thing we do. The first thing we do is punt team. That sends that kind of message. That's why it's so disappointing from last week. He has worked hard. He's been very serious about it, so we'll see.
Q: Could you see his punts slipping a little bit in practice last week, or was that just the game.
A: I don't necessarily think he had a bad week. He might have had a bad day, or part of the day. Not anything where you could say, holy cow, the whole day was a waste of time.
Q: There was a big trade last night. Why do you think those are so rare in the NFL during the season.
A: There was a trade? I'm worried about our team.
Q: Does the fact that Cam holds onto the ball a little bit longer than the first two quarterbacks you faced, might that help the pass rush get going?
A: I think it depends on the type of pattern that they're running. He has the quick game. He has the five-step. Occasionally if things are covered, it looks like he's holding it a little bit longer but that's not their intention.
Q: What have you seen from Allen Bradford?
A: He's worked hard. He's caught our attention a few times. He's willing and we've tried to get him involved as best we can and he's made some progress.
RE: Distribution of pass targets by Eli Manning
A: He has, according to coverage, a priority that he goes to. If he follows that progression, the ball goes to the guy that we want the ball to go to. Coverage dictates a lot of it. Sometimes there are individual matchups which we've already predetermined. You take advantage of that, but the distribution, in my opinion, is not out of sync.
Q: Is it hard for the pass rush to get going in a game like this, when you face a quarterback who, when you face the option, you can't be as decisive or aggressive?
A: I don't know. If you read pass, you're going to go. There are other people that take care of some of the other stuff you're talking about, but you have to crank it against any quarterback. We've got to be improved in that area. We have to do a better job.
Offensive Coordinator Kevin Gilbride**
Q: The Panthers are pretty banged up in the secondary. Do you say to yourself that you don't care that the running game isn't producing and the Panthers' weakness is their secondary?
A: They have a very strong defensive front. There's no question about it and they have some pretty good linebackers, so they're fairly impressive up there. We're going to have our hands full. I think what Tom is alluding to is obviously you're better off when you can do both and when you can dictate to them that we want to run now and when they react to that it opens up some passing game opportunities down the field. It makes your protection easier and everything else. So you'd love to have it, but you've got to play the game as it comes, as it unfolds, and if you're not doing something very well, then you've got to try to take advantage of the thing that is a matchup maybe in your favor. We're definitely going to make an effort to run. We're definitely going to do whatever we can to be as balanced as we can, but most importantly of all, we'll try to win the game.
Q: Can you set up the run through the pass?
A: Yeah, absolutely.
Q: Does it feel like you have done that here a few different times?
A: Many times. We're just not as in synch right now as we need to be between all the different positions up front and you have a new running back who's struggling on some of his reads as well. It's a combination, as it always is. It's never just one thing, but it's not good enough obviously.
Q: Is there a huge hurdle whenever you have a new running back like that even if he had some experience in the system?
A: Yeah. I think every running back is a little different and you've got to try to find the niche for him and the things that he can do well. We lost Andre, which would have been a guy that would have complemented David, and now you're trying to find somebody else that can complement him and then allow him to do the things that he does most easily or most successfully. But in order for that to happen, he's got to make the right decisions, the line has got to block better, the tight ends have got to block better, it's got to be called at the right time. We're all responsible for it; the coaches, players alike. So it's not one area. You wish it was just one thing. Oh good. We'll fix that. It's all better. But it just doesn't work that way.
Q: What's your experience like as an offensive coordinator when you go against a secondary that's so badly depleted? Does the defense play with more aggression?
A: Probably, more often than not, they'll play a little bit more conservative and try to be a little safer in their approach rather than letting guys hanging them up one on one with receivers. But I've certainly gone against guys that have taken the other approach. You really don't know. But they've been certainly a high percentage at two-deep anyway. That's something with that front that they've got they can do that and be a little more conservative. Not maybe quite the high percentage of blitzes that we faced last week and somewhat during the preseason, but you never know. I've certainly gone against guys that have gone the other way.
Q: How has Brandon Myers responded to what you want him to do in this system?
A: I think the numbers speak for themselves. He's done a pretty good job for us. I don't know where he's at, but I think he's leading the league or tied for the lead for the tight ends. He's done a nice job.
Q: Does that include how he's blocked or the other responsibilities that he's had?
A: I think he's always going to battle. He's not as big and strong as some tight ends in the league, but he's always going to give you a great effort, he's always going to be technique- sound. He's always going to know what his assignment is and try to do the right thing, so you always appreciate guys like that.
Q: He performed very well last year. Were you surprised that you got him as quickly as you did?
A: Not really. I don't know what choices he had. I'm glad he's here.
Q: Is there any common thing you've seen with Eli's interceptions?
A: No. It's a couple at the end and I think he's just trying to get us back in there, which I wish he wouldn't do. He's just trying to think maybe we get a interference (call) or Rueben goes up and gets it. But the one before the half was very costly. I think he was trying to throw it away and then the one that got kicked up in the air was kind of reminiscent of what happened the week before with the two screen passes. It's hard enough to win when you're not helping and aiding the enemy and so we've got to cut down on those things and certainly getting the running game better will improve the odds of us doing that.
Q: Do you ever worry with Eli when he has that many picks that something might get into his head?
A: Do I worry? I worry about, as I've said many times, everything. Yeah. Obviously I worry about it, but if ever there's a guy that has his feet firmly on the ground and seems to be able to handle the vicissitudes of the game and life, it's that guy. He's about as stable as you can go. Does it bother him? It's killing him. If you get too many, does it get to a point where it affects and detracts from your confidence? There's no question. I don't care who you are. It does. But if there's ever a guy that you're not going to worry about or will take a long time before that happens, it's him.
Q: Were you immediately aware of when Hakeem dislocated his finger last week and had to go out?
A: Yeah. I was disappointed we dropped the ball. That's what I was worried about was the first down, but then I found out about the injury. I didn't realize what he had, but of course he took his eyes off and started to run beforehand. But fortunately we've got some guys who can play with him. We put Louis in. He's playing well for us. Right now, we've got a pretty good receiving corps. Obviously you want your top three out there, but if one goes down, I feel very good about the backups.
Q: You lost Hakeem going into this game last year.
A: I think we're much better off this year than we were last year.
A: Because we've got better backups.
Q: Do you feel you need to get David Wilson more than seven carries? Is that on your mind?
A: The only thing I care about is: are we moving the ball? If he's running and making yardage, then he'll get it. If he's not, then somebody else will get a chance to carry it or we'll be throwing it.
Defensive Coordinator Perry Fewell
Q: What can you take out of last year's game plan against Cam and use this year?
A: Definitely have to stop the run. That's what we have to take out of it and have the opportunity to rush him. They're a very diversified offense. They have a new offensive coordinator, so the offense changed just a little bit, not a whole lot, but it has changed some. You have to make sure we can handle two of their guys, Smith and the tight end, their primary targets, and we have to be a hell of a …
Q: How has Paysinger done with relaying the calls and just playing outside linebacker?
A: He did a nice job with the calls. He's on the job training, sort of speak, but I don't see any weaknesses in him. I thought he did a good job last week in communicating. I thought he did a good job the week before in communicating. We're getting better. We're working to get better. I think we'll become better.
Q: Are you making the calls?
Q: A couple of players are talking about last year against the option, there was more of a gray area and this year there is a lot more concrete assignment football. What changes have you made just in terms of facing option offenses?
A: I think it's just become more of a focus of the defenses now because of what's happening in Washington, Philadelphia, what's happening around the league, so it's become more of an emphasis. We emphasized it more in the OTA's, as well as training camp. We hit on certain segments of it throughout jog-through practices.
Q: Are you curious to see how that plays out now that it's your first real chance against a quarterback like this?
A: Yes. It will be a good test run for us for the weeks coming up. No doubt about it.
Q: Did you do a lot of studying in the offseason of college offenses and stuff to help you prepare against this, or was it mostly just watching a lot of these read option offenses from last year?
A: We watched a lot of college football film in the offseason. We tried to get ideas of what coordinators and teams throughout the college ranks were doing, to try to contain the option offense.
Q: That's so backwards. They usually study you.
A: Yes. Well, the college game is now coming to the NFL. It is somewhat backwards, but I always think it's healthy when you can have a conversation with someone outside the box and get ideas from them. It was helpful.
Q: How hard is it to jumpstart a pass rush against a quarterback like this, where your guys can't really just pin their ears back and go after him because he could have handed the ball off?
A: I think because of the style of quarterbacks that we have coming into the league now, the RGIII's, the Newton's, that litany of quarterbacks, it is very difficult. In old pro football you didn't account for the quarterback because he was going to stay in the pocket. Now you have to account for the quarterback, so it changes your thinking and your mentality a little bit. He becomes a viable part of the run game as well as the pass game.
Q: How much harder is it to stop DeAngelo Williams when he's getting 25 carries as opposed to how he's been splitting them the past couple of years?
A: I'd rather just see DeAngelo than both guys. DeAngelo is a good football player. When they had both DeAngelo and Stewart, that's a tough, tough chore. So we'll be focused in on him and we have to do a good job again in stopping the run as well as in stopping Cam because Cam will run the football also.
Q: Have you seen any improvements in Cam Newton's game?
A: I think he just gets better as the weeks go on. It seems like he's somewhat of a slow starter. I know we watched him the last four games last year and he was on fire. I'm saying wow. That's a good offense. That's a good football team. Man, that quarterback is really growing and it just seems like as the week's progress throughout the season he gets better and better and better.
Q: Can you describe in what way he was on fire?
A: Just like in his play action pass. His run. His decision-making. He seemed more poised. He seemed in control of his offense.
Q: Has the lack of pressure been a byproduct of playing guys who get rid of the ball faster or is it you guys aren't getting the pressure?
A: I think the ball is really coming out fast. If you look at yards per catch right now, it's under seven yards a catch. The ball is really coming out quick. So you can pressure, but if the ball is coming out fast you're negating the pressure part of it and sometimes we've been pressuring and we've gotten there and we haven't gotten there. We missed a couple of opportunities the other day. We're working to try to fix that aspect of our defense right now. We feel like if we can fix that aspect, then we can definitely get off the field now and not be on the field as much.
Q: What does Greg Olsen bring to the table? Is he similar to the previous tight ends you've faced this year?
A: I think he is. I think he's improved himself as a blocker because our mentality was he was just a good pass receiver when he was in Chicago and now being at Carolina I think he's a good blocker as well as a good pass receiver and he can make all the catches. He can run all the routes. He's a vertical threat guy. He's a short threat guy. He's a threat, period, as a pass receiver. He's just improved his blocking and so you got to respect that part of it now.
Special Teams Coordinator Tom Quinn
Q: What does Steve Weatherford have to do moving forward to eliminate some of the issues that came up last week?
A: Obviously he's got to punt the ball better. He knew that coming out of the game. His technique wasn't what it needs to be or can be. So he went back and looked at some of the little things he's doing; his stance, weight distribution, where the drop is and everything else. He's done a much better job so far on Wednesday and Thursday.
Q: He punted a lot in the preseason. Is there a possibility that maybe he was over-kicked?
A: No. I don't think so. He manages his body very well. He's in very good shape. It's more technique than it was wear and tear on his leg.
Q: With Chase Blackburn on their special teams, do you have to come up with wrinkles so he doesn't know what you're doing?
A: You know who he is and what made him such a good player here and obviously he sat in all of the meetings for a long time and he's probably one of the smartest guys I've ever been around. You do have to be aware that he does know all of the return schemes, coverage schemes and calls. So you do have to make adjustments that way.
Q: What makes Ted Ginn so dangerous?
A: The ability to stop and start. He's got excellent straight line speed. He's very, very elusive. It's up to the protection to let the punter put the ball where he needs to put it and to get there and cover it. You've got to play with leverage on all sides of him because he's the quickest I've seen as far as just darting a right angle and getting out of a mess and it's on tape with both kickoff returns and punt returns.
Q: Would it be safe to say that the plan is to kick away from him? Similar to last week's plan?
A: We try to keep the ball outside the numbers and if you can get it out of bounds, that's even better, but that's easier said than done. Yeah. You definitely don't want to give him the field. You give him the field and then you're playing right into his hands because he can attack you so many different ways. So we try to keep it on one side with a lot of teams. You try to do that and so we've been studying exactly where the ball is and how he handles it. It's a tough job, but we're going to be ready for it.
Q: With the way placekickers are kicking the ball these days, is the kickoff return becoming almost a lost art? It seems like there's only one or two a game.
A: Right now because it's hotter and the balls are flying, but with where we play and where we live, the balls will start coming to closer to returnable balls. It feels that way always at the beginning of the season with this new rule the last couple of years, but I think once the weather starts to turn and the balls aren't flying as much, then you'll see more returns.
Q: How did Brandon Jacobs do on special teams last week?
A: He did well. That's probably the most special teams that he's played in a long time. He was gassed a little bit, but he came in with a great attitude and we put him in a lot of familiar positions that he's done. He did a good job and we've got to continue to get him honed him and get him in shape so he can contribute.
Q: He's a big body.
A: He's a big guy. We've got a lot of big guys. So he kind of fits the mold that we have, but we're just trying to use all of the 46-man roster that we can.
Q: On the punt return for a touchdown, did your gunner run past him?
A: He ran past, the ball hit the ground and obviously Trumaine would have liked to push the guy into the ball, number one, so we can maybe get it. The thing we said is that Trindon Holliday is a returner. He doesn't play any offense and so any ball that he can get his hands on, he's going to get his hands on. Even if it hits the ground he's going to do it, so obviously we would have liked to play that better, but it's everyone. It's me, the snap, the punt, protection, coverage, so we all had a hand in that.
DE Mathias Kiwanuka
Q: Are we going to see some sacks this weekend?
A: That's the game plan. Obviously the production from us hasn't been what we wanted it to be, so we're determined to get that changed.
RE: Two sacks in two games
A: There are guys out there working their butts off. The point of the matter is that we've got to do enough to win the game. We pride ourselves up front as being that group that can take over a game. We haven't done that we we're ready to put it together this week.
Q: What have you seen with Paysinger calling the signals?
A: I went up to him this last game and I told him that I appreciated what he was doing because he's got the checks when the calls come in, he's got them out to us. No, you know, when you get into an up-tempo offense, obviously it makes it a little difficult on him, but he's not playing like a young guy. He's got all the confidence of a 10-year vet and he's obviously got all of the physical abilities so we have all the faith in him.
Q: Chase was filling that role last year, was it a drop off?
A: Whenever you have a different signal caller there's going to be a little bit of an adjustment period. We had Connor in there calling them and then we had to make adjustments when he went down. We miss the guys who aren't here but we're definitely ready to move on with the guys that are here.
Q: When you look at the film of Cam, is he the same guy you saw last year or is anything changed?
A: I think year-to-year when you're watching a quarterback, he's definitely gained some ground and improved a bit. Everybody knows about his feet and when he escapes the pocket, that he can still look down the field and he can make people miss, so our job will be to push the pocket, get people up in his face and make sure we get him down on the ground.
Q: How challenging is it to get a pass rush going against an option quarterback where he could throw or pass?
A: That's part of the challenge of being in the NFL. We're seeing that a lot lately, especially in our division, so it's something that we're prepared for. The coaches make the calls, we have all the trust and faith in them, and we just have to go out there and execute.
Safety Ryan Mundy
Q: A receiver such as Steve Smith, he's been in the league, done everything, he knows every trick of the trade. What is the number one priority in trying to contain him?
A: You've got to compete with him. He's a very fiery, feisty, competitive type of guy. He's going to be out on the field going hard every play so we have to match his energy. I've played against him before and in watching tape on him, he's one of those guys that, when it's time to play, he plays hard. You've just got to compete with him and go out there and execute the coverage.
Q: In years past in watching him, he likes to get into defensive backs' heads. Can you turn the tables on him and can you take him off his game?
A: I think, just by our execution and competing, I think we'll be just fine. We don't need to get into a shouting match with him, going back and fourth with any of the antics on field. We just need to focus and play hard.
Q: It looks like Cam is throwing a lot of high percentage stuff underneath. He's averaging less than six yards a completion. Is that, do you think, by design or just that that's what defenses have given them the first couple of weeks?
A: I think it was the first two go's of the regular season, so I think they're still implementing their offense. We know he has a great arm, can make a lot of throws necessary, can throw the ball down the field and they have the receivers and tight end to go vertical. We're paying attention to that and we know that they are talented at those positions and have the ability to go deep.
Q: A lot of guys talk about how the defensive line can help the secondary by putting pressure on the quarterback. They've had trouble putting pressure this year, how can you help them get some pressure?
A: Rush and coverage work together. I feel like sometimes you hear the word "coverage sack," because that back end, there's nowhere to throw the ball. And also, if those guys are putting heat on them, that can force some bad throws and maybe we can get our hands on some balls. We just have to go out there and continue to work together. I can't go out there and do a spin move or rush the edge or anything, I have to worry about what my job entails. We just focus on our job and we know that things will come together for us.
Q: Given Cam's mobility, do you have to do anything different or be on your toes, especially on your toes, to make sure he's contained?
A: We definitely have to respect it because he is a special athlete and he can bring the ball down and get five yards or he can get 70 yards. That's something we've been preparing for and I think, as he grows and matures, he's trying to throw the ball a little bit more, take some of those hits off his body. When it all boils down, he can definitely still pull that ball down and run.
Guard Kevin Boothe
Q: I think a lot of people, when you guys talk about chemistry and stuff along the offensive line, they say that this group has been together and they have been successful together. What is it about the offensive line that, even though you have that history, struggles to update it or keep it going?
A: I think it's one of those things where all five of us have to execute. It's not like other positions where you can get an outstanding play by one player and it kind of masks the other things. We all have to work together in unison and all be successful in order for the ground game to work. For whatever reason, we haven't been as successful, obviously through the first two games, but we're a confident group and we saw a lot of good things out there. We're confident that we will do better.
Q: When you say that you're a confident group, you've said that before. You're still a confident group? You still feel that this next game is going to be…?
A: Sure. I think that's the way it is around here. You expect to do well and to perform at a high level, so that's always our mindset. Obviously it's shocking to us when we don't play well. You learn from it and you have practice and that's what practice is for, to get better. We're looking forward to Sunday.
Q: How is the communication?
A: The communication has been fine. It's been fine. That's not an issue at all.
Q: That carries over for the….
A: Sure. Its almost less communication when you know the person you're playing with. You don't have to talk through everything at the line of scrimmage. I don't think that's an issue.
Q: It's more on the other side.
A: Yeah, I give Justin Pugh a lot of credit. I don't think it's as drastic or as far off as you might think. He's a sharp kid and he's been in there for a while. I wouldn't use communication as an excuse for why we haven't performed at a high level or to blame Justin for our lack of success so far.
Q: Is there anyone you care to blame?
A: No, myself, no.. that's the thing. In the NFL, with the Giants, it's high performance so if there was one person not playing well, I don't think that they would last too long. It's breakdowns here and there so we have to all be executing at the same time on a more consistent basis.