Coach Tom Coughlin
Coach Tom Coughlin: Good afternoon. Just a couple thoughts about yesterday afternoon's game. The significance of the plus-four turnovers and the fact that we had no turnovers on offense or special teams was obviously huge in the game. We only had three penalties in the game, all three on defense, all three on the same drive. We had a defensive touchdown, a special teams touchdown. And we had a spark, which I thought was very, very instrumental in our ability to win the game. The spark being, one, DRC and his two interceptions which we talked about, it could have been three. And he had the sideline with the first one, too, if he had been able to hang on to the ball. But his defensive touchdown there was a real spark. Dwayne Harris, his kickoff return was a real spark. He also had a nice tackle on special teams as well. He had a 38-yard pass play which put us in outstanding field position right as we got close to the end of the first half. I thought that our offensive line play and rushing for 132, which was the first time we'd been over that mark this year, but I thought we had some good, physical runs. And I thought Orleans Darkwa gave us a spark. There were a lot of things in the game, as I told the players this morning. We're real happy today because we won the game. We knew, in the division, the kind of game it was going to be. We had speculated 35 plus runs in the game, and actually Dallas had 41 runs and they were very good at it. They got after us pretty good in the run game. We knew the physicality of the game, the talent of the defensive team of Dallas, the talent of the kicker and the punter, in particular, and the talent of their offensive line. It had to be the best rushing game that McFadden's had in quite some while, but you can see the acceleration and the speed—how that fits what they're trying to do with their offensive team as they go forward. There were many things that we need to do a much better job of. Again, I thought there was a critical drive where we had the ball after coming off our minus-one yard line. We had the ball in a position where scoring a touchdown there would have been key. We were not able to do that. That little bit about the green-zone does continue to bother me. Even though we were running the ball pretty well in that sequence, we didn't score. We won the game, we're excited about winning the game. There's a lot of things we can do better. We congratulated our team and then, as we always do, we talked about the areas that must be improved, because improvement is the key. We talk about that every week as we get ready to play—we want to play better than we played the week before, each week. It kind of goes back and forth but in this game I thought the major contributions of all three phases and how they complemented each other was radically different from the experience we had down in Philadelphia. So we're happy to win, we have a lot of work to do.
Q: The last three games or so, the run defense has given up, I think, over 100 yards to the opponents. What have you seen to be the difference these last three games versus earlier when you were holding opponents to under 100 yards?
A: We made some mistakes in terms of our responsibilities and how we play certain aspects of the run. There were some things that Dallas did coming off of a bye week, which you knew was going to happen. They introduced a couple of different thoughts in there. By in large, they blocked us and we've got to find a way—and they're a good offensive team, don't get me wrong—but we've got to do a better job of holding the point, of being where we're supposed to be from a gap responsibility, of recognizing the style run that's coming. We lost leverage on the corner consistently. One of the reasons was that as much as you want to tell somebody how fast an individual is, McFadden did just run around us a few times. When he hit a couple of plays off-tackle, we were holding our breath there to try to get him down, particularly when he got started through the line of scrimmage. It's a number of things—they blocked very well, we were sometimes out of position, and sometimes not maintaining our leverage and our contain responsibilities. Our tackling at times was shoddy. We didn't get away with block tackles, which you don't like to see anyway, but some of the people in the secondary were trying to implement that and it wasn't successful. There's a bunch of reasons why.
Q: This wasn't Eli's most prolific passing game, but he avoided the costly mistake. Can you talk a little about the offensive line's ability to protect him and keep Dallas out of the backfield?
A: We knew the type of rush we were going to get. We knew how important it was to get the ball off. You adjust your style of play when that's the case and we did that. The offensive line did a good job of that. There were occasions where I thought that Eli really demonstrated a learning experience when he was under pressure and really had no place to go with the ball and thought more about taking care of the ball than trying to find a way to get us back to the line of scrimmage. Both times he secured the ball to his body and went down. Nobody likes to see that, but it's much better than a turnover or a penalty. I thought that he did an outstanding job of that. He made an outstanding throw down the sideline to hit Rueben Randle. He made a couple of key throws at key times. Really I thought there was probably one opportunity in the green zone that we did not take advantage of, for whatever reason. He managed the game very well, he made a number of adjustment calls at the line of scrimmage—had a lot to do with more run game than perhaps at any other time this year. From the standpoint of the guy who was in charge of the game and directed the game etc. etc., he did an outstanding job.
Q: Do you think going forward you'll need more production, more explosion out of that passing game to sustain success?
A: Oh, I think so. I don't think there's any doubt about that. The issue that we're having is obvious. We've got some guys that are not able to practice full-time and it's difficult when there's not practice time to go ahead and just go out on the field Sunday afternoon and play as if you've had all those days and those opportunities that you normally get throughout the course of the week where you communicate well. Particularly if you're introducing something a little bit different, you don't have that. That's a little bit of an issue right now and hopefully we can overcome it.
Q: Going back to the running backs for a moment. Obviously you knew what Orleans Darkwa could do, but having seen it now, you have four running backs who can really give you production in the running game. So how do you approach the responsibilities moving forward or how do you use these guys? Do you stick with that committee?
A: Well, committee is a word that—we're fortunate to have four guys that can play. And of those four guys that can and do play, they also have special teams commitments, which is a huge plus for our team as well. We have a number of guys who have game experience, who some of which have different roles and they'll continue in those roles, and they will continue to help us on special teams.
Q: Do you think it's realistic though to use all four guys running the ball every week or is that something you're going to have to pare down at some point?
A: I think right now it depends on the plan and the type of game we expect and how we strategize and plan on using. But the four healthy guys…that's a great thing, believe me. When you look around at the different positions, four guys that continue to maintain good health, that helps an awful lot.
Q: What did you see from Darkwa during the week that gave you confidence to put him in there?
A: He had an outstanding preseason. So during the course of the week, he had some carries in first and second down. The coaches felt strongly that he should be given an opportunity. It wasn't right away in the game, but eventually he played and he played well.
Q: What would you say to the idea that yesterday was not an impressive win or that perhaps you were lucky to win that game?
A: The luck part…there's a lot of hard work that went into winning that game. It had nothing to do with luck, it had to do with us being in the right spot at the right time. Again, I attribute that to the turnovers and to the lack of penalties and us not turning it over—that's not luck, there's a lot of hard work involved in that. So we won the football game, we won it in a forthright manner. I'm not overly concerned with any of those other comments.
Q: As part of an answer yesterday, you mentioned, "Especially when no one thinks you can do it" type of attitude. Does that fuel your group?
A: Occasionally, it does. It's a known fact that starting out 0-2 and then not playing as well as we had hoped in Philadelphia created more of that. If that is the case, then that's a position we'll take. You have to prove the doubters wrong.
Q: Seven games into the season, you're almost to the midway point, what do you feel like you can hang your hat on with the team? What area of this team—
A: We play hard. We play hard. We play hard, it's not always pretty. I think that with the kickoff return, the way in which our punt team has operated—it's unfortunate that we had two touchbacks yesterday, we need to take just a little bit off of that. Balls hit at the one and I think around the three, you need to back that off a little bit to get that ball down inside the 10. But I think we can count on that going forward as well. But we have a bunch of guys who love the game, like what they're doing, and play hard. That's a pretty good starting point. Effort is a great starting point for anything. By in large, I think we're getting very good effort.
Q: By not listing like one of the facets of the offense or defense, are you still learning about what these units are though?
A: No, no. No.
Q: The kickoff return by Dwayne Harris obviously was a big play in that fourth quarter, a momentum changer. How good did you feel for him having such a big moment against his former team?
A: I didn't consider that part, I considered it a good moment for our team. When he came screaming out of there, we had an entire sideline of people who were not only inspired by it, but they were extremely happy and not worried about showing our joy. We were excited about that.
Q: Tom, are you expecting to meet with Jason Pierre-Paul in the next day or so?
A: Am I?
Q: Do you or the doctors…is he due in to meet you guys?
A: Again, I told you that I would respond as soon as I knew in fact that it had taken place or that Jason was here. To my knowledge, he's not here at this point in time. When he does, we'll let you know. And it's all going to start with the medical.
Q: Do you expect Damontre Moore to be back this week? And if there was any message intended on your part, do you think it was received?
A: Well, again, that stays between the player and I. Damontre Moore is a skilled athlete who we'll again look at the plan and see exactly where we stand. If we can include him, then we will.
Odell Beckham Jr.
Q: How happy were you to see Rueben Randle come up with such a spectacular catch in a critical moment to help turn the tide in the game?
A: I was probably as jacked as he was. It's kind of something that we talk about all the time. It kind of reminds me of one of my favorite things I have ever seen from him back in college. He made a catch exactly like that, in stride and everything, and just kept running kind of the same way he did. It was great to be able to see just such a big time play and such a big time moment by a big time player.
Q: Did you notice a lot of double coverage heading your way? Obviously from a receiving standpoint, it wasn't one of your most prolific games but what was Dallas doing to kind of take you away in a lot of situations?
A: Like you said, they did a lot of double coverage, and rolling safeties, and things like that. This team is so explosive and so dynamic that it's only going to last for so long before we just break out and just start making plays. I kind of think that's kind of what the case was last night, the offensive line did a phenomenal job finding time for Eli [Manning[, and run blocking as well. Blocking monsters like [Greg] Hardy is not an easy task. I think the offensive line came and they put their best foot forward last night, Eli controlled the game, and I think we ran the ball very well.
Q: I know you said in the past that you would rather practice if you could, coach [Coughlin] was saying before that practice can make the difference. Do you feel not being able to practice that maybe you're not as quite on the same page as Eli these last couple of weeks?
A: No, I definitely don't feel like that, but I definitely think that practice helps. You get to see it before you see it and that's just kind of one of those things, definitely understand as far as practicing and being on the same page, but I don't think it was the difference.
Q: How did you feel compared to last week in regards to the hamstring with not practicing all week and going out and playing?
A: It's kind of gotten better. It's being able to recover, and heal up, and it's definitely doing better. It's just something that you just have to maintain it. It's a maintenance job.
Q: How do you assess the second half? 19 offensive snaps, obviously you take the 17 points, two touchdowns, one with DRC [Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie] and then the kickoff. For you guys offensively, is it hard to assess where you're at in the second half because you really didn't get that many touches?
A: It is a tough situation for us going into the second half really only getting limited plays but just trying to make the most of them count. It's something that I think Dallas did a great job at staying on the field and just driving methodically, and they did that long drive, and our defense came up with some stops on some long drives. They had some long drives where they scored as well, so they did a good job at keeping the offense off the field and it's hard to maintain or establish a rhythm when you're not on the field as much.
Q: You said before that it would only be a matter of time before this offense, this passing game, breaks out. What do you think is missing in the passing game right now? What do you think you guys are not doing that you haven't been able to break out yet?
A: Just everybody being on the same page, everybody being on the same page, making contested throws, making contested catches, and just making plays. Bottom line is us as receivers, we have to make plays when we have opportunities. We got the W, so nothing is more important than that. I think things will come along when they come along.
Q: Coach Coughlin yesterday referred to the team as gritty and scrappy and that is its identity and then today he talked a lot about you guys just playing hard. Have you guys embraced that a little bit, maybe not being the prettiest team, but being a team that just finds ways to win?
A: I definitely think it's in our character, as far as finding ways to win goes. It's something that we do take pride in and there are games we look back on that are learning lessons. We have to just move forward from them, but you take it and you understand that you put yourself in the situation again and you try and learn and correct it. I think we're doing that and it's just one of those things where the road to construction is never really finished. We're still building, and we're still constructing, and setting our path to where we want to go.
Q: What do you view as the identity of this offense right now?
A: I think we have a very explosive offense, a very dynamic one, we just have to all be on the same page and get everything going.
Q: Given the game being tied at 20, how important was that kickoff return from [Dwayne] Harris and what was your reaction along the sideline when you saw that he broke free?
A: It was one of those times where you know you needed a big play, and a guy who's been there plenty of times, I feel like, and they just stepped up big at such a huge moment in the game. I'm sure it's a very good feeling to be able to run that back on Dallas, at such a huge point in the game, a pivotal point in the game, and along with Rueben Randle's catch, probably the play of the game. I was just very happy to finally see him break one and Rueben kind of told me something before the play, saying, "This might be the one" and he sure enough called it. Everybody has confidence in Dwayne back there and it was great to see him be able to get one.
Q: What are you looking forward to the most? You're going back home this week, your first game at home, what are you sort of anticipating from that?
A: I'm just looking forward to playing football. It's another opportunity to get out there and establish this team and keep going in the direction that we want to go. It definitely should be fun and being able to go back home will be a fun experience.
LB Devon Kennard
Q: How did you feel in your first game back in a couple of weeks?
A: I felt pretty good. It definitely felt a little rusty out there for not practicing for two weeks and then being limited throughout the week, but it felt good. I was just glad to be back out there and be able to help the guys with this big win.
Q: Were you on a pitch count?
A: Yeah, I wasn't in every package. So as you could probably tell, I didn't play as much as I have been. That was up to the coaches, though. They just, I guess, were trying to make sure that they didn't have me out there too much.
Q: What did you make of the issues of stopping the run? Dallas seemed to run pretty much at will most of the game.
A: It's something we talked about today and we've definitely got to address. We're a defense that takes pride in being run-stoppers and we've done that all year, but we have slowly let it creep in to where Dallas was able to do that. It's something we need to address and it just comes down to everybody doing their job and making plays.
Q: Their offensive line really did seem to get a lot of push off the ball. Looking at film, did it seem like a little bit more than other teams have been able to get on you?
A: I mean, I would have to say so because they ran for a lot more than anybody else has on us all year. I think it was definitely just an issue with fits-wise and it starts with everybody, the d-line, linebackers and secondary. I think we can all do a better job in getting back to the basics on stopping the run.
Q: You mentioned the physicality of the offensive line up front, did that somewhat wear you down in the second half and as far as McFadden, how do you think he was able to consistently get to the edge?
A: We knew they were a good offense. They've got a great offensive line and they've got some backs that can really (tote) the rock a little bit, but I think at the end of the day it comes down to us and our fitness and how we're taking on blocks and if we're shedding and making plays, and I don't think we did enough of that.
Q: What do you make of the personality of your team? Tom Coughlin used the words gritty and scrappy. What does that mean to you?
A: Something that Coach Spags says a lot, and we kind of try to embody: we're a steadfast group, we stay even-keeled and consistent and we want to continue to do that. That is the mindset we take from the defensive side of the ball.
Q: Do you think this team responds to the idea that maybe a lot of people aren't giving the Giants a lot of credit for being in first place?
A: I can't speak for everybody, but for me, I'm fine with it. We just want to take one week at a time and see where we are at the end of 16. We're 4-3 right now and we've still got a long ways to go and we've got a great opponent. I'm just taking it one week at a time.
Q: Do you think this team has grown up a little bit in terms of dealing with adversity? You think back again to last year and how the loss against Philly and then things kind of fell apart and then this year, the loss against Philly but you bounced back from it.
A: I think we have a different group this year and we're hungry and want to be successful and we're not going to be marked by the same things that happened last year and we're resilient. We want to continue to show that every week.