Coach Tom Coughlin**
Coach Tom Coughlin: As we spoke to our team this week, I really gave them a couple of goals. One of which was that our preparation and our focus be as good as it's been all year long in this, our last game of the year, even despite all the things that are going on on the outside. And obviously knowing what took place in Philadelphia last night in terms of Coach Kelly being dismissed. I always respond right away that I don't like to see anyone lose a job. Coach Shurmur is there and Coach Davis is there. I'm sure that they'll have, after they settle things down today and midstream adjust, they'll come forth with a good week of practice and be prepared to come here to New York for a divisional game, which is a very, very important game for both of our teams, both sitting at the same record. The Eagles feature outstanding special teams play. This is the second week in a row that I've talked to you (about that). This time, three of their big four are located in the top-six in the National Football League. They're third in punt return, they're fourth in allowing 5.1 per punt return, and they're sixth in allowing 20.7 per kickoff return. Even though they're ranked 24th in their own kickoff return at 21.6, Josh Huff, who is currently their kickoff returner, is at 24.2. Their offense is ranked 15th in the league. You know all about their outstanding players—Jason Peters, Jason Kelce up front. Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles, who is getting a lot of work as an offensive player as well as a special teamer, DeMarco Murray, of course, who we know well. The wide receiving group with Jordan Matthews, Agholor, Riley Cooper, tight end Ertz. Sam Bradford, who in five of the last six games has had a 90-plus quarterback rating. Their defense is ranked 29th in the league. It's kind of difficult to understand that regarding the quality of their front. Their front is outstanding. Of course, it's led by Fletcher Cox, who is having an outstanding year—63 tackles, 9.5 sacks, 20 quarterback hits. Brandon Graham at 6.5, Connor Barwin at six sacks. DeMeco Ryans, the MIKE linebacker, and Malcolm Jenkins, the leading tackler on their team, is the strong safety who also plays nickel in their nickel team. Our goal, as I mentioned, one part of it. The other is to have all three phases. It's been rare this year that this happened, and I'm very disappointed in that. But all three phases play their best game, and that we not beat ourselves. And that we win the last game of the 2015 season here at home against a divisional foe. If that could happen—beating Philadelphia—then we would have split with all three of our divisional foes.
Q: How taken aback were you when you heard about Chip Kelly? There really wasn't a lot of rumblings about that.
A: Actually one of the guys that works for us had been listening to ProFootballTalk and came in and said it. Quite frankly, I'm not surprised by anything in this business, but that one was close.
Q: Do you have any idea what kind of system they're going to come out in on offense?
A: I think they continue to play the system that they have. Why would they change? They practiced yesterday.
Q: You talked about addressing your team, how you didn't want to make it about you. What was your message to them this morning in that regard?
A: The message was the goals that I talked about right here and where the focus should be. That's basically the message I left them with today.
Q: Your situation, obviously, is a hard thing for them to just push aside. They obviously hear a lot about it. How confident are you that they won't focus on what's happening with you?
A: As I asked them this morning, I said, 'Look, first of all, it's not fair, you're young men. I'm the head coach, you're the players. I appreciate the sentiments.' I've seen where a couple of you have gotten out of them. I appreciate the sentiments, but that's not where I want them focused this week. Basically I said, 'Don't worry about me or my situation. Let's prepare ourselves to play an outstanding football game and try to win a game against the Philadelphia Eagle team.' Hopefully when you ask those questions, they will say, 'We are focusing on preparing for the Philadelphia Eagles' and leave it at that.
Q: Would you at all want your situation resolved before that game or would that not be a help?
A: Before that game? That's not anything to do with me. I'm going to prepare myself and our team as best we can for this game, period.
Q: Did you talk to John Mara this week?
A: No. Anyone else have a question that has anything to do with the game?
Q: Is it hard to push aside how you feel personally about uncertainty?
A: To be honest, this is the 16th game of the season and that's where I'm focused. I won't let myself go in those other directions because we have a job to do, and that's what we're going to do. All these other issues will clear up in time, but not before then. Okay, the questions, I understand what you're trying to get at. That's not my position to say that. I am preparing for this game and that's the best I can do.
Q: What was it like having Odell Beckham back today? Did he say anything to the team?
A: Oh no. He just attended the meetings and he was very quiet, to be honest with you. Took part in everything. The guys, I'm sure, welcomed him back. He just came in, took his seat like he always does, and we went to work.
Q: Do you expect to see anything different from him this week outside of your meetings?
A: I expect the fact that he's learned a great deal from this situation. And that he will have taken a little of addressing himself in terms of how that happened, and plan on doing a better job.
Q: Do you expect the officials to be on high alert with him now? You saw last week, the second something happened, they ejected a guy (J.T. Thomas). Is that something he needs to be very careful about?
A: That's kind of the way it goes in this league. I'm sure.
Q: Does he have to do anything differently?
A: He's got to conduct himself differently, yes.
Q: Have you spoken to him one-on-one?
A: I will today, yeah. I will. I haven't done it yet.
Q: Did you at any point talk to the league about the ejection of Thomas, saying that it was an overreaction?
A: I talked to the referee when it happened. You could see that it was predetermined what was going to happen if one our players did something. Evidently they did not see the provocation, which a lot of times they don't. I'm not blaming them for that. They don't see what happens first and it's been that way for a thousand years.
Q: Do you go into Sunday thinking you can still learn something about this team considering the circumstances?
A: Sure. Absolutely. I challenged them on that today—to be poised, to really prepare themselves this week in terms of overlooking all of this, and to show their kind of focus, their ability to segment things, if you will, to understand what can be accomplished in this, our last game. And how they go about it and how our practices go and how our meetings go. The meetings were good this morning, let's see what happens with the practice. I'm hoping that that message will come across loud and clear, be it that they can concentrate and focus despite but what's going on around them.
Q: How did you think Ryan Nassib did on Sunday night and are you going to try and get him into this game?
A: Ryan did very well at the end of the game. Of course, the circumstances had changed, not that he didn't perform well—he did. He certainly did.
Q: Do you have any thoughts on getting more young players on the field than maybe you have because this is an opportunity to see some of them play in game action?
A: How many did you see the other night? They're all running around out there, you needed a scorecard. We'll keep doing that.
Q: Would you like to see guys like Ryan get more extended action?
A: That's not something that—I'm concerned with winning the game first and foremost.
Q: How significant is Jason Pierre-Paul's ankle?
A: He played with it last week, and I would think that he would get it under control and play again this week.
Q: Do you plan on activating Owa Odighizuwa?
A: We'll see, but that's a good consideration.
Q: If he wasn't activated, what would prevent that from happening? Is he healthy enough to go out and play?
A: Oh yeah, he's healthy. You should have asked that, you didn't ask that.
Q: I said, "What would prevent that?" That would be one of the possibilities.
A: You said, "He's healthy enough to play?" Yes, he is. He's been healthy enough. He's practiced for two weeks. I know you don't go to practice, but he's healthy enough.
Q: You don't let us.
A: You're out there, but I don't know if you're watching.
QB Eli Manning**
Q: Pat Shurmur is going to coach this week, obviously Chip Kelly not there. Does that effect the way you prepare for this game?
A: No. We're playing the Philadelphia Eagles and their players and their team. We've got to do a good job of getting prepared. Going against a good defense, good players, and make sure we know what our job is and go out there and play well.
Q: How important is it for you to end on a high note?
A: The whole team, everybody, wants to end on a high note and play well. Understand we've got a great opportunity to go play football, something we all love to do, and we cherish these opportunities. So let's go out there and play at a high level and enjoy playing the game.
Q: Are you surprised about what happened to Chip Kelly?
A: I didn't know about it, so I guess, yeah, I was surprised.
Q: How much do you think Odell Beckham is going to help being back?
A: He's one of our go-to guys, so definitely be good having him back, have him in the mix. Hopefully get him involved, but it should open up the other guys to get the ball as well.
Q: Do you have to talk to him in any way? Obviously to try and prevent anything similar to before? Tone down anything?
A: No, I think just, "Let's go play football." I think that's the mindset. I think he's learned from that. It's not something that was a recurring theme, it was a one-time deal. So I think he's learned from it.
Q: Tom Coughlin has talked a lot about trying to deflect the attention from him and obviously his status, he said he's talked to you guys about that. What does that mean to you guys and how do you take that?
A: Just understand he wants us to go out there and just worry about playing football, worry about having our mind on our assignments, our job, our practice, and getting ready to play this football game. He doesn't want us to be distracted with anything else.
Q: Is there a human nature element to it? Particularly for you, you've been here your entire career with him, wondering what might happen?
A: I don't think it helps to wonder. I think just follow his lead and listen to what he says, and just worry about going to play football and doing our job.
Q: Coach Coughlin described Odell as a little more quiet in meetings. It didn't look like he was dancing as much as he normally does on the practice field. Did you notice that? Is he a little bit quieter since he came back today?
A: I hadn't noticed anything yet. I'm not in many meetings with him. Still want him to bring the same energy and same enthusiasm that he brings to practice and to games. So just go out there and play football and do his job at a high level.
Q: Tom Coughlin is the only coach you've known here in the NFL. Do you go into this game thinking this could be your last game with him?
A: No, I think you go into the game just trying to listen and pay attention to what our coaches say. From the quarterback coach, to the offensive coordinator, to the head coach, listen to their words. He told us to focus on the game and going out there and playing well, so that's what we want to do.
Q: Odell is close to a couple of team records with this one final game to go. So many questions were, "What's he going to do in year two?" What was your impression of how his season has gone? Again, he's missed a game and yet he still has a chance for some records.
A: Odell, I think he's had a great year two. He's worked hard and definitely improved in a number of areas. I think it's fun having him at practice, at games. He's playing at a high level.
Q: You saw last week the second there was a scrap, they ejected guys. Do you feel in a way that Odell has to be careful in the way that he's going to be officiated at this point because of what happened? It was in front of a lot of people and the league obviously pined on it afterwards.
A: Again, I don't think it was a recurring theme, it was a one-time deal. I think we should be in good shape. He's just got to go do his job. He's got to block and be physical and go catch passes.
Q: Last game of the season, you know there's no playoffs. What does the difference between a win and a loss make in the season finale?
A: I think just going into the offseason and not feeling too down. Obviously you're disappointed, but kind of have that last memory to be something to be proud of. All you can do is handle the circumstances that you're in. This is our circumstance, so try to make the best of it and get a win.
Q: Does it ever cross your mind that this could also be Tom Coughlin's going out moment?
A: No. I think just worry about this one game and going out there and beating Philadelphia and doing our job.
WR Odell Beckham Jr.**
Q: Odell, there is a chance for you to set some Giants records this week, would you like to? The Homer Jones record, obviously the Victor Cruz receiving yards record, do you think about those things?
A: Actually, there's a lot that's been going on and I'm really just happy to be back. I really haven't thought about much besides Philly.
Q: When it comes to this game, rivalry game, final game of the season, how important is this game for you guys?
A: It's definitely important. I mean, it's a Philadelphia-Giants game, and we have a chance to be one win better than last year, so that's progress. With this being our last game, I think we'll give it our all.
Q: How difficult was the last week for you?
A: It was tough. It was tough just not being able to be here with my teammates. I think sometimes you're so fortunate to be able to do this and you may take it for granted like, 'Oh, I don't want to go into work today' and just having some time off, being able to sit back and you really miss this. You miss being here and I'm definitely happy to be back.
Q: What was your reaction when you found out you were suspended for a game?
A: I don't really enforce the rules, so I just kind of abide by them. Their decision was a suspension and all we can do is just move forward from there.
Q: Your apology was lengthy, it seemed heartfelt, it also seemed like you were a little bothered by your own performance. Were you when you looked back at what happened?
A: It's just unfortunate. You never want to do that on the field. There's so much more that's going on just to be caught up in such a moment. Like I said, it's not something that I would want to put my team in that position and I wouldn't want to give that influence to kids. Actually the other day, two kids came up to me and they were just talking about everything that happened, and I just told them no matter what, you're always responsible for your own actions, and you can only control what you can control, and the rest is really out of your hands. For the most part, make sure to take control of what you can.
Q: Have you and Josh Norman spoken since?
Q: There's been a lot of speculation talk about what happened before the game, but no one has actually come out, you haven't spoken to it. What exactly did happen?
A: What happened was I wasn't controlling myself and ended up hurting my team, big penalties, and it was a poor display of sportsmanship and not something you would want to put on film. All you can do in life is move forward, you can't get the moment back, you can't get the opportunities back, you can't go back in time, and you just learn from it.
Q: Were you threatened with a baseball bat?
A: It's really irrelevant now. The suspension has been held and everything is good.
Q: There were also reports of gay slurs being directed at you?
A: Words are words. Words are words.
Q: Odell, you've spoken in the past about keeping your emotions under control but that's kind of what you're about as a player. Do you still battle with yourself on that or did the time away kind of refocus on that?
A: I don't think I'm going to change the way that I play, but I think I'll change the actions that were on the field that Sunday. It's not what we should be doing, it's not what I would want to represent the Giants as, and like I said, most importantly it's not something that I would want the kids looking up to and learning from me that way. That's definitely not what I want to put out there for them.
Q: Is it as simple as saying you're going to change? Is it as simple as saying, 'I won't do that again' or do you think you need counseling?
A: You won't do it again and you're good. Everything is under your control and it's ultimately up to you.
Q: When you think back, could this could be a turning point in your career of some sort, going forward now?
A: I think it's good. I think things like this help you grow and they help you mature and like I said, you learn from it and you move on. In life you're taught so many lessons, good or bad, and you learn from it and grow.
Q: Do you really feel like you learned something?
A: You can't do that type of stuff. It's not what I would want to do for my team. I did not like not being here with them and it's just an unfortunate situation.
Q: Do you feel like you're going to be watched extra closely now with officials and stuff and you have to be on extra alert?
A: I don't feel like any more than I had been. It's a matter of just controlling what you can control.
Q: You always wear your emotions on your sleeve. Do you have to work hard at making sure you don't change too much?
A: I don't think I'm going to change the way that I play football. I don't think anything is going to change except learning from this experience. I don't think that I'm going to play with less intensity or I don't think I'm going to play with less emotion. This is football and this is what I love. I love it and like I said, you just learn from it.
Q: Do you regret at all, Tom [Coughlin] took a lot of heat for leaving you in the game, do you regret that he took criticism for what happened?
A: I don't like coach having to deal with anything like that. I wouldn't want even the players to have to deal with stuff like that and have to deal with questions about me. It just was an unfortunate situation and put a lot of people in a lot of bad positions. It's definitely something that I don't want to do again.
Q: How much of it have you seen since? Have you watched any of it? It was all over the TV.
A: I've seen it.
Q: What was your reaction when you saw it from that angle?
A: Reaction to what?
Q: What you were doing on the field.
A: Like I said, I learned from my actions and I take responsibility for them.
Defensive Coordinator Steve
Steve Spagnuolo: Philadelphia Eagles, always exciting to play them. We're knee deep in preparation for the Eagles. Having said that, I'm just going to let you open it up and fire away.
Q: So Pat Shurmur's going to change everything for this week?
A: I don't know. That's the, I don't want to say dilemma, but that's the guessing game right now. But I can't imagine they change too much. There will be a couple of wrinkles here and there. What is a little challenging is the tendency part of it. Normally we would try to get a beat on the play-caller has a tendency to run this and that. That won't be there. Maybe two years working with Pat in St. Louis will help.
Q: Does their offense look as explosive as it has in the past two seasons?
A: Down the stretch here, Sam (Bradford's) really been throwing the ball around real well. They've been throwing the ball quite a bit. With them, Coach Coughlin talked about it this morning, when they run the football effectively, that's when they've won, that's when they've been real effective on offense. I think it's always been predicated on that. They get that going and then it opens up a lot of things behind them. It does seem to be jelling, in my opinion.
Q: You know Tom Coughlin, you've been a head coach, and you've been in situations where your job security has been discussed. How does he handle it in your eyes?
A: Tom's great. Tom doesn't change. In my mind, he's a Hall of Fame coach and I'm blessed to be working with him.
Q: Do you even recognize it's going on with him or is he so totally introverted?
A: We're focused on the Philadelphia Eagles and, rightly, we should. It's Wednesday—first work day in the NFL. You move on to the next game, and that's kind of what we're focused on.
Q: JPP said today he thinks he's showed that he's still a dominant pass rushing end. In the seven games you've seen…?
A: We've all talked about it, it took a while to kind of get in gear. I think you see signs of that. I think he would probably tell you he'd like to consistently do that a little bit more. I'm not one to speak for him, but it can't be all that easy when you're playing with a club on your hand.
Q: Left side, though, is probably his future? Does it just work better for him because of the limitations?
A: I think he feels that way because he likes to put the hand down that doesn't have a club on it. There's disadvantages somewhere when you're playing with that. He seems to be figuring it out. He's got two fumble recoveries with the club. Maybe he'll have an interception this week.
Q: He said he's going for a procedure after the season.
A: I didn't know that.
Q: Yeah, his middle finger, to help with the grip so he doesn't have to use a club. Do you see real signs every play that the hand, he just couldn't do things?
A: I'd have to go back and look at them all specifically. My guess is, let's face it, the Good Lord gave us fingers and a thumb for a reason. In this game, it's good to have two hands to do things. When you've got one that you don't use, there's got to be times when it's a disadvantage.
Q: I know you're not a big numbers guy, but do you dangle anything in front of the team this week in terms of you have a chance to not finish 32nd or finish 31st in total yardage or anything like that?
A: No. I'm not a stat guy. I very rarely put anything up there. It's about winning the game. It's about winning the game.