Head Coach Tom Coughlin
Coach Coughlin: I just have a couple thoughts to talk about today. I think, for one thing, it's very important for everyone to understand we win and we lose as a team. There is none of this pointing the finger, there's none of that. I don't believe in that. What we spent last week trying to do, obviously, our goal—well not obviously, but our goal and our objective last week was to raise the level of our execution on all fronts, on all three phases, knowing full well that when you get to this time of the year, you better be playing your best football as you go through these more difficult games versus divisional, non-divisional, conference, non-conference opponents as you go through the meat and potatoes of your schedule here right in the middle of the year. You've got to be playing your best football or approaching that. So that was our goal. We did not accomplish that, obviously. We had some difficulty on the defensive side of the ball, no doubt, and some errors did occur, but we played hard and their passing game was very sharp, they had the ball right on the money, right where they needed to, they did rush the ball when they needed to, as well, but I can tell you that we continued to battle. I really felt when we scored our defensive touchdown that we were going to win. The end of the game pointed out another lesson for us, and we do come by our lessons in a very difficult and hard manner, we managed not to finish. We've always talked about finish, finish, finish and we needed to finish the game. We tried, even with 36 seconds left, we were trying to move the ball down the field to get our chance for a last-second field goal attempt ourselves. We had a couple of opportunities right there in that last three-and-out drive where the ball was very close, it was right on the finger tips twice, one would've given us a big play probably to midfield, another one would've given us a play to get us out-of-bounds and keep the ball, but that didn't happen either. Then the only special teams thing, which I didn't like in the game—well, there were a couple things—for them to have a 24-yard punt return at that time of the game and then to have a penalty, a face mask penalty adding another 15 yards, that's a very, very difficult way to lose and a difficult way for us to have gone in there to a very tough place to play, battled, and yet not be able to come away with a victory. So what I spoke to our team about this morning was we're still in first place in our division and we've got the Tampa Bay team coming up that just won a football game in overtime, obviously playing much better themselves than they had at the beginning of the year, and so we've got to get ready to play a very good Tampa Bay team.
Q: On a day when Eli Manning threw six touchdown passes, you mentioned the fumble return for a touchdown, would you ever envision that this game would go the other way with all the points that your offense and defense all scored.
A: You wouldn't, unless you were standing on the other sideline watching them put points on the board, too. I mean, remember we're down three scores twice and we battled back. Obviously, a very, very good score right before the half and then coming back after the half and making the big play to Odell down the middle of the field to give us the tying score, those things were outstanding. We had to scrap and we did. We scored 21 points in the fourth quarter, which normally you'd be in celebration. You'd be talking about an accomplishment that, I don't care who you are, is very rare for a professional or any other football team to be able to score of that nature in the fourth quarter. We did and we lost the game. There are a lot of reasons to be shaking your head.
Q: The defense has been doing a relatively good job of keeping tight ends at bay. What exactly was Benjamin Watson doing to find the seams in the defense?
A: They run a series of schemes with Watson and with the tight ends, I mean not necessarily just with him, but when they play, mobile tight ends they have a very good running attack but they also can spread you out and throw the ball to people, tight ends, that can run. This guy, he just got in the middle of the field from a 3-1 set, which gave him either crossing to the other hash mark, to the other seam on the other side of the field or right down the middle of the field and he was able to beat us down the middle of the field. There were a couple of times when that occurred. Colston hurt us up the seam one time and then back inside another time when he was really uncontested.
Q: How do you regroup defensively?
A: You go back to fundamentals, you go back to some basics that obviously we struggled with a little bit. A couple times we didn't line up properly or quickly enough, our communication sometimes was not as good as it should've been. I thought our guys basically did a nice job in a domed stadium, especially one of that nature where the noise level is such, but I thought we handled that very well. I just think there were a couple empty sets that they threw at us, a couple times we were late to the line. I think that happened a couple times in the game and those are the things that bother me the most. Get yourself lined up, get your eyes where they belong, play the technique you're supposed to play, be ready to be a reactionary football player on the snap of the ball, definitely know what your assignment is, whether it be zone or whether it be man, and try to be at the right spot at the right time. So those are the things when issues arise, you've got to deal with them. So we will make sure those things get ironed out.
Q: You only had a short period of time with JPP last week and saw some encouraging things. Can you talk a little bit about what you're looking for this week? What kind of things you might increase with him?
A: We'll increase everything. We'll increase number of snaps, we've had a couple sessions with him in pads when others are obviously not on the field, so we'll take a good hard look at that, but we'll have two good practice days with him and we'll push the envelope a little bit to test the conditioning level. We probably can't get, at this point of the season, a real physical practice but we can do some things and if we have to be creative in other areas, we would. But just the advancement of the player and the continuation of developing his conditioning in the uniform and then the ability to deliver a blow, to accept a blow, to have his hand placement be exactly where it has to be, and then, of course, the opportunity for him to gain his timing as he becomes a threat in the pass rush game.
Q: Is there any chance that he can show you enough this week that he could play on Sunday at Tampa?
A: Everybody words it a little bit differently, but, again, if he practices and continues to advance in the way that he has over the last few days that he's been with us, if we feel good where he is physically after he goes through this, then that would be a decision that we would be confident in making.
Q: You talked about the alignment problems on defense. How much of that is the fact you had to make the switch at middle linebacker?
A: Some of that is that. Some of that is that. That's a key communication spot and there were some occasions there where perhaps the communication wasn't necessarily the way you'd want it to be, but there weren't many. The guys playing in there, even though you don't think Brinkley's been in there much, he's been practicing, and also the other linebackers are involved in the communication process as well. So it's not just that one spot.
Q: You spoke to fundamentals, are missed tackles becoming a concern?
A: They're always a concern. You need to keep them at a minimum. Last week, the New Orleans Saints gained 57 percent of the yardage made in the passing game after the catch so that was a main concern going in, we were prepared with that and we had talked an awful lot about being able to tackle well. Tackling is, obviously, a very big fundamental. It's the first thing we do every week. We tackle and then the next day, we take the ball away so we're always practicing that particular fundamental, but when it occurs in a game, then you do have some missed tackles, certainly a concern.
Q: Do you have an update on Prince? Is he getting an MRI this week?
A: No. There's a bunch of guys who are getting MRIs.
Q: Is Victor Cruz one of them or is he cleared this week to practice?
A: I have no information like that, no.
Q: How about Larry Donnell and Orleans Darkwa?
A: They're being—all the tests are being done this morning, so hopefully we'll get something today or tomorrow morning.
Q: On the drive that the Saints tied the game, you had New Orleans at a couple of third-and-short and fourth-and-short, was that just a case of a big physical back kind of just running down the defense at that point? What did you see on a couple of those things?
A: We were there. As a matter of fact, on the first one in their territory, we were in position—Kerry Wynn had really almost got to the point where he had one of the legs of the ball carrier and he went up over the top and made it. That's always going to be the case like that. It was a physical match right in the middle there and certainly there wasn't a whole lot of yardage gained, but there was enough to secure the first down.
Q: Did your offensive line not play as well as you hoped they would?
A: I always have high expectations for them. Certainly, they were the group that protected the passer yesterday who threw six touchdown passes. We had 21 runs, averaged 4.1 yards per carry. It's not as many as I would like, but there's always—the thing you're not asking but you are asking is the goal line situations were not just a bowling ball effect where we knocked our way into the end zone. I thought they did a nice job of defending, but I also feel like where we were prepared to make an adjustment there, which really we just never got to because we didn't get into that type of personnel again. We weren't inside in the goal line situation again. Would I like to have run the ball into the end zone? Sure, I would. You bet I would. Would I like to see that our short yardage could be accomplished running the ball? Yes, I would and I'd give credit to what New Orleans was able to do in the goal line situation in their attempt to keep us out. We resorted to throwing the ball to score. But would I like to be able to line up and run it in? Yes, I would.
Quarterback Eli Manning
Q: What was the difference for you guys this week in the passing game? What did you think was the biggest difference after the last couple weeks when you guys were kind of in a little bit of a slump?
A: I thought we protected well, the offensive line played well. Thought we had a good down and distance, had some good play action, receivers were winning their one-on-ones. When the number one wasn't open, had time to get to my second receiver or check down. I think it was a lot of first and second down production and we also had a lot of opportunities. Had a lot of possessions and we were able to take advantage of it. I thought in the Cowboys game we did some good things, had some big plays. In the Cowboys game, just didn't have any possessions, only two possessions in the second half. It's tough to do much on two possessions where you're trying to score. So I thought we had a good game plan, good week of practice, and also having our receivers practice. Two weeks prior to that, Rueben and Odell did not practice all week, so it makes it tough. The other guys, the other receivers are running a lot of reps, they're also maybe running positions that they're not actually in in the game. They might doing other spots and moving all around. Come game time, they're back to their original spot, which maybe they hadn't been working at as much all week.
Q: A day later, is it kind of maddening that the offense had that kind of day and yet you guys couldn't win?
A: That's just football. Somedays the offense, everything is clicking; somedays, the defense is clicking. It's a team and we've got to help each other out. We knew we were going against a good offense in the Saints, they're going to be high-powered at home, they're going to score some points—that's just the way it's going to be. We knew we were going to have to be productive offensively. As good as we were, we could have been better, we left some plays out there on the field and some possessions where we had three and outs and could have been even more productive, even as well as we did play.
Q: On that last drive of the game, did the Saints do anything differently or just change things up a little bit to confuse you guys?
A: No, I don't think they confused us. First play, had a chance to hit a guy running down the field. And obviously in the game we're getting field position right there. So took a shot to Rueben, just missed him off his fingertips. Next play, they were dropping everybody out a little bit, threw a little check down, which is fine. Third down just had Dwayne open on the left and I definitely could have thrown a better ball, but had an opportunity to hit him. I don't think they did anything to really confuse us, had opportunities on every play to get a completion and get some positive yardage.
Q: Is any part of you able to step back and appreciate what you were part of yesterday? You and Drew Brees set an NFL record for touchdown passes in a game.
A: Yeah. It was a fun game to play in. Offensively, we felt good, we were moving up and down the field and had some big series where we knew we had to score and we were able to score. Kind of being down 14 a few times and firing back and tying it up. Defense gets the interception, take the lead. It was fun to be part of that, a high scoring game and back and forth and knowing we've got to keep going and feeling that we could keep scoring. Obviously we would have liked to have been on the winning side of it. But as an offense, you look at what you can control and we did a lot of good things, but it wasn't enough. We could have been better, we needed to make a few plays we needed to make that we didn't that could have been the difference. So we've just got to get back and get back to work and try to do better next week.
Q: When your team comes back the way it did, does that kind of tell you something about the quality of the teammates around you? You guys didn't get down, you kept fighting back, you tied the score despite the fact that the Saints were piling it on. Did that kind of open your eyes a little bit more to the quality of fighters you have around you?
A: No, I mean I'm proud of the way we hung in there. We went down 28-14, under two minutes left to go in the first half but had a great two-minute drive right there, took it to 21. Come out the second half and score a touchdown quickly on a big play and we tie it up. Again, the fourth quarter, they score and take a 14-point lead and we respond back and tie it up. Defense gets a turnover and we take the lead. So it was a great fight and just hanging in there and keep going. Proud of the way we responded to kind of the ups and downs of the game. We're playing teams tough and playing them close, we've just got to just find ways to win those close ones. We've done a good job lately of winning those close ones and let this one slip away.
Q: Is there a concern that this season is kind of evolving into a one step forward, one step back a little bit where you can't get yourself on a roll at all? You have one good performance then you slip back each week, can't find consistency.
A: No. I think we're going to play in some close games and we've just got to find ways to get better. Just have great preparation for the next team we're playing and just find ways to win. However way it comes up, you never know in this game which way it's going to be. It's going to be a high score and a low score or what plays or what series is going to make the difference. You're giving yourself an opportunity to win and so we've just got to take advantage of those situations. We're still in a good spot in the division and got a good bit of football left to play and all we can worry about is getting ready for Tampa this week and going down there and trying to play our best football.
Q: JPP, I know he's on the other side of the ball, but he's been back for a week. As a fellow player and teammate, is there an anticipation to see what he'll be able to do once he's out there on the field with you guys playing in a game?
A: I'm excited for the opportunity to get JPP back. He looked good in practice this past week, running the scout team defensive end and going against our guys, going against (Ereck) Flowers. He's out there and he's going to make Ereck better going against him in practice. He's going full speed and trying to get back in playing shape. Excited when he can get back and see if he generates some big plays for us on the defensive side.
Q: Is there ever a time when a player of your stature on the team can cross the aisle and go over to the defense and maybe say a few things to them and try and get them going? Or is it strictly on the offense and they're on the defense?
A: No. You can always lift up your teammates, just like they would do to the offense. If we struggle, they're going to have our back. On games where they struggle a little bit, we've got their back. We'll just stay positive, encourage them. They've made some huge plays for us and been a big part of us winning some games, and making stops and getting turnovers and doing a lot of good stuff. They went against a good offense that can do that sometimes. They can get hot and they're at home and rolling and things were working. That's why it's a team game and everybody has got to do their part. Our offense was rolling, too, we were scoring a lot of points. It's just the way it came down, ended up being a special teams play—they made a good play on special teams that kind of brought the game to its end. You go to overtime, you never know how it ends up.
Q: How does a defense rebound from a game like this, where you let up all these yards and touchdowns, historic numbers? How can you regroup after this?
A: You go back to the drawing board. You have to go back to the basics. I think what we did yesterday, we got away from the basics, the things that we do good, and you just have to go back to that and continue to build on that.
Q: Was there any confusion going on with plays coming in from the sideline or maybe being communicated in the huddle?
A: Yes, they did a great job of mixing up the personnel and running people in and out, going on quick counts, and that takes a lot of communication. They did a good job with that, but as I say, overall confusion, no.
Q: I know you've just had last week with JPP [Jason Pierre-Paul] back a little bit and I know he's new to you. Could you talk a little bit about your anticipation of seeing what he's able to do for you guys now that he gets to practice a little bit and when he gets on to the field?
A: I'm excited. A person like that takes the game up of everybody on the defense. When you have somebody who you know at any point can get a strip, sack, or could hit the quarterback, make a tackle for a loss at any time in the game. Whenever you have a player like that, that impacts the game in so many ways, which gives other D-linemen one on ones, gives the quarterback the anticipation that he has to throw the ball a lot quicker than he does, so I'm excited. I just can't wait to see him play.
Q: Do you feel that missed tackles are becoming an issue for you guys? There were a couple yesterday and it's been something that the team has struggled with at points this season.
A: Every team is going to have missed tackles. There isn't one team in the league who you can look at and say, "Oh, that team doesn't miss tackles." As long as people are running to the ball, and being relentless, and make up for their brother who is next to them, then we'll be alright.
Q: What it's like to the watch film on a day after you gave up 52 points. What was that like?
A: It hurts. If you ask anybody else and they tell you it didn't, then that means that their heart wasn't in it. Anytime you go out and you have a good game plan and they throw for seven touchdowns, that has to hurt.
Q: Are you concerned about the overall team consistency, kind of one step forward, one step back kind of mode, where you don't really get anything rolling? So far, that's kind of been the way it's been for you guys.
A: No, I'm not, I'm not concerned. I think we have a lot of veteran players that understand football and at the end of the day, we are going to pull it together. I wholeheartedly believe that, so no, I'm not. I'm not worried about taking one step forward and one step back.