Q: You said on Monday that improvement is the key…**
Coughlin: "Every week, it is."
Q: Do you look for consistency in performance as well? Do you think the team has been pretty consistent this year, expect for the Philadelphia game? Or has it been too up and down for you?
Coughlin: "You would hope that there was something to build on. I don't think we've hit that word yet, and been consistently good. I'm not worried about inconsistently mediocre, no. It's got to be consistently better. But once established, it's got to continue to grow, it's got to stay at that level and higher. Right now, we're fighting for that, that's what we're trying to get to. We're using the old adage this week: 'Study habits have got to be better, everything about what we do has to be better.' Because the old adage about chasing perfection, knowing we can't get there, but if we chase perfection, perhaps, we can catch excellence. That's the whole idea right now."
Q: You talk about chasing perfection…last week you had no turnovers, just three penalties, allowed two sacks.
Coughlin: "Well, that's good, but we need more production. More production."
Q: Is that about as clean a game in that regard?
Coughlin: "It's clean, but the production - we did have seven big plays on offense, which is more than we've been having. So in that sense, yes, it's going in the right direction. We just need more. We need consistency of scoring in the green zone; when we get there, we've got to score. There was one real frustrating drive last weekend that we didn't score, and we had to kick a field goal. Gosh, we were there. We drove it the whole length of the field to get there."
Q: Along those lines, you lead the league with a plus-10 turnover differential. But you only have one touchdown on one of the last eight possessions post-turnover (not counting a kneel-down at the end of last week's game), after having five on the first seven such possessions. Do you think you're not capitalizing as much on these takeaways as you should?
Coughlin: "The major issue was Philadelphia. There were four of them and we didn't do a thing, nothing. And we had been doing well with that. So the idea is to continue to take care of the ball, and take the ball away, then obviously score or do something with the turnover. Not only deny the other guy, but score."
Q: Last week, you had 132 rushing yards and no back had more than eight carries, which is a little unusual. Do you prefer to spread the ball around like that, or was it just how the game went?
Coughlin: "I prefer the 132 yards. How we get it and who gets it? We're fortunate to be able to utilize the different personnel in different situations. We're healthy in that spot, we're relatively fresh in that spot, and those are all pluses. It's the accumulation and the utilization of the talents of the bunch of them. It's production, okay? Production. It was the first time we've been over 100 yards as a group. We had 99, but we hadn't been over."
Q: This week you play the Saints in the Superdome, which might be the NFL's loudest stadium. Is the key to taking the crowd out of the game controlling the ball and putting points on the board early?
Coughlin: "The crowd will be in the game, no matter what, that's just the way it is there. But the idea of, no question, keeping the ball away from their offense is solid thinking."
Q: What do you think it says about your players that Jason Pierre-Paul came in this week and after such a long absence, he was given a standing ovation by the players?
Coughlin: "I think it says he's a teammate, he's obviously gone through a difficult time, and his attitude in returning, his positive approach, his excitement about being in here, his desire to get back on the field as fast as he can to help his team - I think those are all indicative of the kind of person he is, and the way in which his teammates welcome him back to the challenges that we have going forward. I just think it's what one brother would do for another brother, that's what it is."
Q: Did you ever have any doubt that the players would welcome him back with open arms?
Coughlin: "Not at all, no. And the other thing is we went out and practiced and 'Okay, he's here. Okay, good. When is he going to play,' that kind of stuff. So it hasn't bothered us that way, either."
Q: The popular thought is JPP will step on the field, and the pass rush is going to improve. Is it safe to say you don't want to wait for him to see improvement, and that you need the pass rush to get better this Sunday?
Coughlin: "We do, we always need it. We need more, we need more pressure on the quarterback. This guy (the Saints' Drew Brees) is effective enough, but you have to get some people on him. Philadelphia sacked him five times, we've seen that act before, too. We have to get better at everything we're doing. Somehow, some way, we've got to make the quarterback uncomfortable. We kind of go in and out on that. We've gotten turnovers, we need pressure."
Q: I know sacks aren't always indicative of how much pressure you put on the quarterback, but you have 11 interceptions, which is the second-highest total in the league, and you have nine sacks, which is the second-lowest total in the league. Is that incongruent?
Coughlin: "I'll take the 11 interceptions, and won't accept the nine sacks, that's where I stand on that. We need more pressure on the quarterback, we need to do a better job of that."
Q: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has your two defensive touchdowns this year, one on a fumble return, one an interception return. He has seven in his career. Do you think some players just have a knack for attracting the ball?
Coughlin: "No. I think you make your own. I kidded him after the game, I wasn't really totally kidding him, but he should have had another one. That might have been a score, too, he had the sideline in front of him. He's Johnny on the spot. He's at that left corner spot where the right-handed quarterback is, and plays against some very, very good receivers, so you know the ball is coming out there. He's been able to take advantage of a couple. I hope he keeps going."
Q: New Orleans also has three very good running backs, as Dallas did last week. Is there any similarity to you in the two backfields?
Coughlin: "The talent is very good. Two very good, hard-nosed runners (Mark Ingram and Khiry Robinson) and a guy who can change the game. (C.J. Spiller). And he has, in overtime against Dallas (when he caught a game-winning 80-yard touchdown pass on which he ran for 62 yards after catching the ball). One play, game's over. So you have that kind of a player."
Q: New Orleans' stats aren't great, but they're fourth in the league on third down both offensively and defensively. What does that tell you?
Coughlin: "Their offensive stats are pretty good in every category you can think of, on and on and on. They're sixth in the league in total offense, fourth in the league on third down, fourth in the league on third down on defense because, what are the words people are using today? They have a number of exotic schemes that you have to be totally prepared for in terms of how they're using their people and the numbers game, in terms of the number of defensive linemen on the field and defensive backs on the field. But they've been very good on third down. They've given up some yardage, yes, they have. They've given up 129 yards rushing, which I hope we can take advantage of."
Q: Their defense has a lot of rookies…
A: "The two obvious are the two linebackers (Stephone Anthony and Hau'oli Kikaha). Their number one tackler is a rookie linebacker (Anthony), so he learned to play fast. He's played very well. They have another kid (Bobby Richardson) who plays rush end on third down and they use him in a lot of different ways as well. They've pretty much learned the system, and that's why they're making progress."
Playmakers on Saints first-team offense, defense, and special teams, presented by Nike