Q: At your news conference Wednesday morning, you spoke about all of the players' eyes looking at you in the team meeting that morning. Is it a different look when the team is struggling, as it is now, when you look out there on a Wednesday and they're looking at you for answers?
Coughlin: "They're looking to see how you react to the circumstance, good or bad. It's no secret for me that, and it has in the past gone good here, I go the other way. I'm picking and prodding and I'm not quite as gracious and I'm harder sometimes on individuals and on situations and circumstances than I am this way. This way, I'm very straightforward with what and why, but I am definitely supportive and I am definitely going to… the players are going to know that what I always say is it's not about me. It's about the team and where the team is and what in the world can I do to help this team be better than we are. That's the approach. Because we have a lot of people that we haven't been through it with before. Where they are mentally is a concern to me, because if everybody is on the same page, then we can make progress. But they have to recognize, too, they have to eliminate the idea of the self-defense mechanism, join in in whatever capacity they are responsible and get it better, make it better, be honest about it."
Q: You talked about keep fighting, keep fighting. Do you try to remain consistent in your message at all times?
Coughlin: "Every time, every time. Consistently upbeat, consistently analytical, consistently telling us how we can win, why we haven't won. Consistently approaching the next opponent with what it's going to take to win and consistently trying to make sure that the level of excitement in terms of our preparation, preparation, yes, but the level of excitement about who we are going to play and what a great opportunity it is."
Q: The loss to San Francisco last week was a little different than the others, because you had a good start with a takeaway and a touchdown right away. Was it a letdown you weren't able to sustain the success after the fast start?
Coughlin: "Sure, it was. It's like when you kick an onside kick and then three plays later you throw an interception. That's not much fun, either. You try to create opportunities to not only deny the other guy, but also to enhance your opportunity. We did get that first loose ball on the ground, it was very aggressive. I like the way we went and did that."
Q: Last week was at least the fourth game you lost in which one play or a few plays were decisive. You had four shots from the San Francisco four-yard line and didn't score. In Dallas last month, you lost a fumble when you had a chance to drive down for the tying score. Are those games harder for you to let go than the more lopsided outcomes?
Coughlin: "How do you let go of this one? The ball's at the four-yard line, you're number five or six in the green zone scoring touchdowns. Jeez. A lot of it is accomplished with the things that we did. Larry Donnell has been a huge part of that. I guess we've decided to make everything so hard. Athletically, you just have to make the play. But yeah, four shots from the four and the game is on the line? Jeez, somebody step up and do it. Just do it for us."
Q: Eli Manning and you have been together for 161 starts over 11 seasons. When he has a poor game, is there anything new or different you can say to him that you haven't already discussed?
Coughlin: "It's just basic in terms of talking about fundamentals and talking about what did you see, what are the issues? A couple of them (Manning's interceptions), it appeared that he took his eyes away to set up the throw back there and then when he came back, it was a different picture. It's those types of things. He knows. I say basically what I would say to any one individual in the Monday meeting as I analyze the yeas and the nays. You're not going to win a game turning the ball over five times. Look at how many times we were denied. It's just too many. Punting gives you field position, you'd rather do that."
Q: Rashad Jennings was a little rusty the other day, you've got Geoff Schwartz coming back this week. In your experience, does it usually take a player who has been out a month or six weeks a little time to get up to where they were pre-injury?
Coughlin: "Sure, because everybody else has played those four games, the defense as well."
Q: So you would hope for a little more this week?
Coughlin: "I would think, yes. Plus, I would think the individual learns to trust himself a little bit more after coming back from an injury."
Q: I don't think anyone would have guessed after 10 games that Robert Ayers would be leading the team in sacks. Do you like what he has brought to the team?
Coughlin: "He plays hard and he works hard at the game. He has pride, he wants it. He's made some plays. Whether he's been inside or outside, he's made plays. Is he in the right spot all the time? No."
Q: Is anybody?
Coughlin: "Well, it's all part of it, though, knowing what your primary responsibility is and not taking the cheese if something else appears in front of you that seems to be a better idea. But then when you're caught, when you're caught in that move, then you say to yourself, 'Whoa, wait a minute. I didn't contain.' That's when you have your issues with consistency. But does he play hard? Yes."
Q: Devon Kennard got his first chance at training camp when Jon Beason was out and you moved Jameel McClain inside. What initially caught your eye about Kennard?
Coughlin: "He was drafted because of the fact that he is a good football player and he's played different spots in his career. When we got him and we got him on the field, he's a player. He likes to play and he's physical. He got hurt, that's why he didn't keep playing there. He got hurt. It's hard for a rookie once you miss games."
Q: This week, you face Dallas again. Among the several things that jump out about the Cowboys is their third down conversion percentage (50.8). Do you need to get them in more third-and-long situations?
Coughlin: "Yes. That's why their running game is so good, because it limits what they have to do on third down. Yes, you'd like to make sure they're in third-and-long. Anybody that's got 50 percent on third down is doing pretty well. Although it's interesting, they're saying the league average is about 40 percent this year. The league average was never that high. I would expect it would come down a little bit."
Q: So offensively, they're pretty much the same as they were a month ago?
Coughlin: "I would say with what they want to do, yes. They've had spots where the individuals have been out of sight. There are plays in the game where (Dez) Bryant refuses to get tackled and runs down the field. But, by in large, they want to control the clock, they want to control the football, they want to use play-action, they want to hit you quickly with the pass. But at the end of the day, if there are 30 passes and 35, 40 runs, that's good enough for them."
Q: Has the defense changed much without (injured linebacker) Justin Durant in there?
Coughlin: "No, they do have the ability to keep right on going. No matter who's in there, there are different names that show up there at linebacker and they continue to do well. They seem to have an ability to run. Whoever they put on the field runs well and they run well on their defense. What's very impressive is their offensive line, they're all back together again and they play very well together."
Q: Today is the 10-year anniversary of Manning's first NFL start (against Atlanta on Nov. 21, 2004). Do you remember what you were thinking prior to his first start?
Coughlin: "Sure, I remember. I remember exactly. I remember being in Arizona (where the Giants lost the previous week, 17-14, with Kurt Warner at quarterback), coming away shaking my head. We didn't play all that well, we didn't do much offensively. It's a game that I thought we could win. What were we, 4-5?"
Coughlin: "Right in the hunt there and all of a sudden, we didn't play well. Then I thought, 'It's time to move this kid in there. He's the future of the franchise. Let's do what's best for the team, for the franchise.' We had some growing pains, no doubt about it. But coming back the next year, winning 11 games, I think, was a critical part of moving our franchise in the right direction."
Q: Do you remember that first game of his?
Coughlin: "I remember that and I remember those two games against Washington and Baltimore. I remember him sitting right there (in front of Coughlin's desk) telling me, 'Coach, I can do it. Believe me, I can do it.' Because what they did, they pressured him every down, those two teams. He did not handle it well. It's hard on a rookie, that's for sure."
Get to know the Giants' opponent for their Week 12 matchup against the Dallas Cowboys