A lot of the players have talked about how you kept everybody together when the team was 0-6. Now you're 4-6 with a big game this week against Dallas. How confident were you of getting to this point when you were 0-6?
"I was confident because I knew that the core of our players was going to perform better and that their leadership would help us direct these people who were either young or were new to our system and our team. They would help direct them in our beliefs and our values. That's what I believed in. But we've got a long journey here. We've got a six-game schedule, one game at a time. It helps to win and immediately look forward. But this is not a time to reflect."
Antrel Rolle said that this game is going to determine the outcome of the season. Jason Pierre-Paul is calling it the Giants' Super Bowl. It's obviously a very important game, but do you want the players talking about it in those terms?
"It is a very important game, but it's one game of the final six. When you look at where we are, we certainly are trying as hard as we can to think of it as one at a time. We've got six games to play. And this word 'relevance,' which is a nice word, it's good to be playing an important game, it's good to be involved in it. Tell me one that wasn't. When you're 0-6, aren't you standing on the edge of the cliff every week? That's what we've always felt. We're all excited about playing this game but, again, there are six of them and there will be no evaluation until the end of the season when the six games are played. We've got to believe that our best games are in front of us."
During the 0-6 start you were averaging 19 rushes and 39 passes a game. In going 4-0 since then, you've averaged 32 rushes and 34 passes. Do you think you've re-established your identity as a physical football team?
"Well, we're getting there. Defensively, we've stopped the run consistently. Offensively we've had 32, 31, 38 and 24 (rushing attempts). I would have liked to have had more last week, but the result is the key. That certainly is a starting point. Now there are others, kickoff coverage, punt coverage, those are indicators, even our field goal block team has always been a great indicator of physical presence and play, so there are a lot of indicators. But yes, it's more in tune with that. I don't care what you do. Everybody thinks, for example…the Denver Broncos, find me a game where they don't rush it 30 times or 28 or 31. Against Dallas in that shootout in Dallas, which was incredible, they rushed 31 times. The whole idea is to have the ball enough. We had 35 minutes time of possession last week with what, 63 plays? They had 53 recorded plays. If you do have some balance and you do have the ball and you are making some first downs, then you do have a chance to, again, establish that part of your game.
"The offensive linemen need, in my opinion, which obviously is archaic, to come off the ball this way (pushes arms forward) and not just do this (pulls arms back to simulate a lineman in pass protection) as if in pass all the time. The game wasn't designed to back up. It's a big part of it today, but you've got to have this part (arms forward) of it, too. Because that's what they really want to do in the long run. The tough ones want to go that way."
We've talked about the run defense and you just brought it up again. Is the success in that area simply the result of your defensive front controlling the line of scrimmage?
"We're doing a good job with our responsibilities, our fits. Our linebackers are fitting, our safeties are down in the box and making tackles for us, so it's a team effort. Last week, Prince (Amukamra) made two outstanding tackles on the big back (Eddie Lacy), outstanding. I think one for a loss, too, maybe both for a loss."
Will Hill, Jon Beason and Jacquian Williams all stepped into the defensive lineup for reasons that had nothing to do with injuries. That's quite a makeover in the middle of the season. Have you had anything similar in your career?
"Not to this extent. Will Hill was in every meeting, he just couldn't play (because of an NFL suspension that forced him to miss the first four games), but he was here and he studied and he knew what the game plans were. He was able to watch practice. But Beason is new and the way he's come in here has been such a plus because of his effervescent personality that is confident, that speaks with authority and he learns things quickly. He wasn't worried if he got something wrong right away. He was going to be heard, and I thought that was a plus. Jacquian has been here, too. He's playing better, he's playing consistently and he's on the field."
What was the difference in Eli Manning last week? Was he more decisive?
"I think he was decisive, determined. He's always focused, but I think determined is probably the best word. He was glaringly determined to play well. … The first touchdown pass (to Rueben Randle) was terrific. He looked two different directions and he and the receiver were on the same page on the read. It was a coverage adjustment that was terrific."
Truamine McBride has been starting at cornerback for Corey Webster. McBride is listed at 5-9. Dallas receivers Dez Bryant and Miles Austin are each 6-2. What does a shorter corner have to do when he's covering a taller receiver?
"He's got to be physical. You've got to take people out of their rhythm. I don't care if you're 6-foot-4 or 5-foot-10, people have to be taken out of their rhythm."
You said Monday that you challenged the special teams last week. How do you do that? Is it in the meeting room? Is it on the practice field?
"Both, everywhere. Every period that they're up, every meeting that they have. Basically, we went from one team that played the way that we thought they should and the other not to the opposite. They all played well except one team and that one team has got to come along now, we've got to get something done."
The Cowboys seem to have an offense that is scary good and a defense that is struggling. How do you look at this Dallas team now?
"I don't look at any stats, not in this game. What's the stat that you're worried about? Twenty-two takeaways. That's how they play. The whole game is full of that stuff. We just watched Detroit (vs. Dallas) with the team this morning. A receiver catches the ball for about an 18-yard gain and they rip the ball out at the end. You watch Denver, (Eric) Decker catches the ball over the middle, runs down 20 yards and they hit him and they take the ball away. That's what they do, that's how they play. They count on it.
"And they're in the top eight in special teams in every category. They're number three and two in kickoff return and punt return? Do you know how many yards they had against Washington? 213. They had a kickoff return for 90 and a punt return for 86."
Dwayne Harris is second in the NFL in both punt and kickoff return average. What do you see in him?
"I think he's one of those, for lack of a better phrase, he's one of those lump-in-the-throat return guys because he's physical. He's fast and he's physical and he's quick and he's got good instincts. And he's a receiver in their pass game. He scored the winning touchdown against Minnesota."
(Friday)is the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's assassination. You were 17 years at the time. What do you remember about the day?
"I was a senior in high school at Waterloo Central High School. I remember how it started. You know how you start hearing stuff when you're walking in between classes and stuff and you're going to your locker and you hear this "shhhh…" Finally, somebody told me and it was the shock of shocks, because at that point in time as a kid, the mystique of John Fitzgerald Kennedy was incredible. It was his rise and when you looked at him and listened to him and so on and so forth, he was going to be the savior. He was. It was a little bit unsettling even as a high school senior to think about what does this mean, what's the significance of it, what are my mother and father thinking, are we all safe, is something going to happen. But it was incredible how the morale of the country went like this, just dropped. And you weren't interested in really doing much except going home and being with your family and listening to what else was being said on the television and what your mother and father were doing. And all you could keep thinking about was Walter Cronkite in those black glasses, taking them off, looking at the clock and telling you, choking up with emotion himself, and telling you that President Kennedy has died. We had a basketball game that night and it was cancelled. Football was over, it was basketball season and we had a basketball game and they canceled it. We watched it all on television. The swearing in of (Lyndon) Johnson, it was all on the black and white television."