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The Coughlin Corner: Back to football


Q: With the devastating storm and its aftermath this week, do you think the players might be more focused when they're working, because it provides a respite from what is happening outside the complex?
Coughlin: "That type of stuff is beyond me. I think that what we tried to do with our people was to give them time to get organized in their homes and be safe and secure. Nobody can correct the power situation. Three-quarters of the players don't have power. Some of them have gone to hotels, the whole thing. They were off Monday and Tuesday, and I backed Wednesday up so they could take care of things at home. We still had an issue Wednesday afternoon where a player had to go to assist his family, because of what was happening at that point in Hoboken. What I try to tell the players is we'll help if we can. We'll help do whatever we can for you. Everyone is in the same boat. Thursday morning was outstanding. Whether they had power or not, they were all here on time. Everything went well that way. I tried to give them a heads up with the gas situation, which is critical for all of us. I'm going to be in the same situation as everybody else, out of gas Saturday morning for sure. We're trying to do the best we can, but when they come in, they know that the National Football League is moving forward. The team we're playing (the Pittsburgh Steelers), they're full speed ahead. We're trying to do the best that we can and today we're on schedule."

Q: Sports franchises can sometimes provide a helpful diversion to regions hit by natural disasters – the New Orleans Saints after Hurricane Katrina come to mind. Do you think the Giants can do that here on Sunday?
Coughlin: "I haven't really spent a lot of time talking about that yet, but I will get to that. People are devastated and you think, 'Where do you start?' A foot of sand in your living room, water up to the top of your steps…If we can provide something like that, yes. But do we fully comprehend what's happened? I know I don't. I see the mess and that's the thing I see is that hasn't even started to get cleaned up. I mean here we are and it's Thursday. You've got the power situation…in the little town I live in, they taped the roads closed and I mean big intersections. They taped it and it's all dark. You can't see where you're going. That's what everybody is going through. I'm just giving you an example. My kids don't have power. They haven't had power since the first of the week. I stayed here until Tuesday night, but I never thought I could leave. …You can't help but ask the questions. What the hell have we done to the environment? It's unheard of. This is not hurricane season. I lived in Florida on the ocean. I know what that's like. You're holding your breath from whatever it is. I went through the blizzard of '66. I was a student. You couldn't go back to school for a week. The snow was eight feet deep. I've been around those kinds of things. This is the same thing. People can't go anywhere, can't do anything. They're desperate for food, for milk, for bread, for gas. This is the same thing. The disruption is unbelievable."

Q: We're at midseason….
Coughlin: "I don't even talk about that because for us with our schedule, I don't… I may say something to that effect during our bye, but for now, we're on schedule. We just play. We have games."

Q: Understood. But when you look at some of the statistics that are important to you - turnover differential (plus-13), the penalties are down, you're not allowing sacks…do you look at those and say those are areas in which we're doing pretty well?
Coughlin: "Yes. Then I look at the green zone and say, 'We're not doing so well.' I look at the yardage we're giving up in the air, we're not doing so well. We were the number one big play team in football before last weekend. We couldn't get away from anybody. That's a concern to me. Every game has got some kind of shock power that you just look at it and you say, 'Wait a minute. What is going on?'"

Q: You had a nice run there with the passing game, but in two of the last three games you've been under 200 yards.
Coughlin: "We're not playing at the same level. We're not executing. We're not winning. We're not separating. We're not putting ourselves in position where it's a very confident throw for the quarterback. Everything is so tight. The two jerseys are meshed. That's not how you operate in the pass game. The pass game is about getting open, getting separated."

Q: You mentioned the other side with the pass defense. Those numbers are…
Coughlin: "Astronomical. They're ridiculous. We've got to plug better than that. We have to contest better than that. We've got to contest the ball. Make it tight, make it close."

Q: You always talk about the ability to take the ball away, the turnover differential.
Coughlin: "That's how we won in Dallas. Plus-four, we win. The whole first half we had the ball and we had it almost in their territory (but kicked three field goals in four trips inside the Dallas 20). As I told the players on Wednesday, 'One touchdown in place of one of those field goals and the game is over.' They're not going to make it back with even a touchdown. You can't leave those things out. You have to finish."

Q: You brought up the green zone stuff and I know you've been dissatisfied with the production there. When you have an issue like that, can you devote more practice time to it, or does the schedule not allow it?
Coughlin: "It's cumulative. We devote, specifically on Friday, 16 snaps to the red and the green zone. Pay more attention to it. Be more diligent about the preparation. Get some energy in when we cover the routes, when we run the routes. Let's go. Get the run game going in there. Pound the ball in there. Make more people conscious of that. You've just got to try to stay on schedule. Sure, we're all aware of it. So you know right there that there is more emphasis, but as far as field time goes, there is no more field time."

Q: You talk about cumulative knowledge – what about cumulative confidence from coming back to win games? Two weeks ago you beat Washington on a late touchdown. In Dallas, you lost a 23-0 lead, 94,000 people screaming at you, but the players don't lose their poise and you come back to win the game. Is there a cumulative confidence in being able to do that?
Coughlin: "Sure there is. There's a belief in each other. There's a trust of each other. There's poise. You hang in there together, stay together, stick together. Keep your eye on the prize. Continue to realize what is at stake here. Reverse this trend. We had great momentum. They had momentum. Back and forth, back and forth. Well, fine. But the game is on the line and we've got something to say about it. For this moment in time, forget about the last snap, here's the most important snap of the game. So the one thing that our team does and the reason we won the game was the plus-four, but the reason we really won the game is because of our power of the will, our mental toughness. Those things that you talk about and you try to develop and you try to assert in terms of the team above self and the individual is just a part of it. It's a link in this chain and if you really believe that and you play as hard as you can and you put some faith in the guy next to you and he puts some faith in you, that's what we did. That's exactly what we did. We hung in there. We persevered. We believed and we found a way to win."

Q: Mark Herzlich started two games last year when he was an untested rookie. If he has to start for Chase Blackburn this week, is he better prepared than he was then?
Coughlin: "Sure he is, no question. He's older. He's been in that room. He's listened to all their corrections. He's a smart kid. He's a tough kid. He'll play."

Q: You've been asked about what happens to Stevie Brown with Kenny Phillips returning. You've played with three safeties for a long time. Can't you play those two and Antrel Rolle together?
Coughlin: "I'm not asking the questions. As many good players as we can, we'll find ways to play them. Stevie Brown is having a remarkable run here and his ability to be in the right spot at the right time has really just created tremendous momentum for his team. Kenny Phillips is an outstanding football player. The more, the merrier. The more good players we can have, the better off our team will be."

Q: The Steelers have long been thought of as an old-time running team, but now they pass the ball much more often.
Coughlin: "Yes, but they can run it and they've proven that. Their four-minute offense is outstanding. They've got an array of running backs that are all pretty much proven and they're still very, very physical. Their size is tremendous. Their defensive team is outstanding. They're a physical defensive team. They always have been. Their secondary is physical when they've got (Troy) Polamalu and Ryan Clark playing back there. They've got two of the most physical safeties in the game. Their style is a little bit different. Their ratio of pass to run is way up there pass-wise, but they're doing it because they're trying to control the ball and do the same thing with the run game that they do with the pass game. It's a new concept for them. They'll take their shots down the field. I disagree with what some people are saying. They had an 82-yarder against Tennessee, so you know the ball goes down the field."

Q: They're the best third-down team in the league.
Coughlin: "By far. The quarterback (Ben Roethlisberger) has a 117 quarterback rating (on third down). They've only turned the ball over six times this season." Q So third down is a big concern.
Coughlin: "You're not kidding, because third-down is the key in terms of their goal, which is to win the time of possession and keep their defense on the sideline and the opponent's goal is to make sure that that doesn't take place. Tennessee was even with them. Just a few seconds different, but they didn't win. So time of possession is critical and still turnovers are going to be critical no matter how few they have or how many we have; it's still going to be the idea that whoever wins that is going to steal a possession from somebody."


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