EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Coughlin Corner, Giants.com's exclusive weekly interview with head coach Tom Coughlin
Q: Regarding Odell Beckham Jr.'s appeal of his suspension, were you hoping for the best, but realistic about what could come down?
Coughlin: "You have to be prepared for both, that's the whole circumstance that surrounded that. You certainly are trying to be as optimistic as you can, but you have to be prepared just in case it goes the other way, and the other way came."
Q: Because they're competitors, the players are saying, "We're going to miss him, we understand he's not going to be here, but we can still beat Minnesota this week, and we're going to do everything we can to win the game"
Coughlin: "That's exactly the position that you have to take."
Q: Do they need to hear you say it?
Coughlin: "I said it. It's already been said. They do know. And the fact is the strongest thing we can do about this game is the bond that happens when you're a team, and you have to overcome whatever the obstacles are. And other people have to step up and be in position to make plays, and to take up some of the slack. So that's where we are."
Q: In a different vain, given the respect you have for the game of football and the NFL, is it safe to say you think individual skirmishes like the one we saw between Beckham and Josh Norman have no place in the game? **
Coughlin: "I never have believed they do, and I said as much. You listened to me say it five times this week: personal battles have no business in our game. They detract from the entire purpose. They take away from team. They point to the individual and not the team."
Q: To win the division, the Redskins…
Coughlin: "They have to lose twice, and we have to win."
Q: The Redskins play Saturday night…
Coughlin: "I want to win two games, that's what I want to do. I want to win two games. We don't have any control of the other thing. We need to win two games. If we can do that, then we can regain some of what we need."
Q: When you saw how productive the running game was last week with (Rashad) Jennings running for 107 yards, did you kind of feel like it was an old friend you hadn't seen in a while?
Coughlin: "For three quarters, that's what we had, the running game. That's about all we had. We were running the ball. Obviously, we had gotten something accomplished that way. We hope we can continue because there's nothing like that balance. There's nothing like what happens when you are able to do that. You had versatility going for you."
Q: Was that a carryover from the Miami game? **
Coughlin: "It was a continuation of the emphasis that's always been there, but has never broken out. We had some games that were decent, but we haven't even had a 100-yard rusher. All of a sudden, we have a 100-yard rusher, which was nice."
Q: With Nikita Whitlock on injured reserve, you don't have a fullback on the roster. A few years ago, that would have been inconceivable. Is that an indication the players are more versatile now, or that there just isn't enough good fullbacks? Or has the game changed?
Coughlin: "That's part of it. Your tight end, they're trained to be in that position now. Are they going to be as effective? Nikita, for two weeks in a row, had done an outstanding job. He had been an excellent lead blocker, and he spilled some bodies going up in there, which was good to see. He's one of the reasons we did have some running game going. You have tight ends that are supposedly trained to do that by formation. You would hope that you can continue to have some success."
Q: Jason Pierre-Paul got his first sack of the season last week. He's played six games now. What have you seen from him?
Coughlin: "He's improved every week in terms of his preparation, his knowledge, what was expected, and so on and so forth. Some games he's had, and parts of some games, he's had some very, very good play. We're just striving to continue to get everything that we can get accomplished here with him, and with everybody else in terms of improvement. He's got to get better, he's got to get better. There were times last week when he was coming down the middle, just kind of floating. That's a change-up move, it's not an all-the-time move."
Q: You've had receivers here who said they want more of an opportunity. With Beckham unable to play, they now have it. Do you go to this group this week and say, "This is your opportunity."
Coughlin: "I've already said it. I talked to a team of people who have opportunities now. And I don't say it from a standpoint of, 'Well, you've been saying this, now you can…' That's not the point. The point is that there will be some opportunities, there will be challenges. What will the opponent think of our team in terms of that? I guarantee you, no one will give us a chance to win, which fine. Take that position. But it's a great chance for our players to, first of all, show the team concept, which I keep stressing over and over and over. And again, step up now into this opportunity, and show the world what you can do."
Q: You won a very important game once in frigid weather, which you will be playing in again in Minnesota. Is the key for the players to try to block out the cold?
Coughlin: "It's really, as I remember so well, the entire focus of the group has to be so in-tune with what you're trying to accomplish. How do you explain Eli (Manning) thriwing the ball like it was 75 degrees. It was unbelievable. It was minus-24 (in Green Bay for the 2007 NFC Championship Game). You can't sit over there in a hood and win a game of this nature. You have to come out and play."
Q: When you watch Adrian Peterson on tape, what is different about him than other running backs? **
Coughlin: "He looks so quick. He does, he looks like he's 25 again. He's taking the ball all over the place. Then he's got long runs, he's got it all. They do a nice job with him, and they have two other guys (Jerick McKinnon and Matt Asiata) that play situationally. He'll run in there with those big wide formations where they're doubling, doubling, and he's looking for a crack. All of a sudden, he'll bounce it or he'll take it up in there. He's in excellent condition. He's fast, he's versatile."
Q: The way they play with Peterson - running game, bleed the clock, minimize mistakes – is that a little different than what you see most weeks in the NFL now?
Coughlin: "Well, it's the old-fashionedtides of rely on the run, bootleg, play-action pass. But don't fall asleep on their receivers now. They've got young, speedy people. The tight end (Kyle Rudolph) is good. They play three tight ends, they're one of those of teams. They've got a fullback (Zach Line), a big, old horse. And they play it that way."
Q: On defense, they have studs at all three levels…
Coughlin: "Absolutely. Horses, big time horses, at all three levels. (Defensive end Everson) Griffen, he is tough. He is tough. (End Brian) Robison is good. We know Linval (Joseph), big, old load in there in the middle. The linebacker level, you've got a rookie (Eric Kendricks) playing in the middle. They've got (Anthony) Barr back, and he's a good player. He's long and lean, he's not a traditional guy. He's more athletic than he is a thudder. (Chad) Greenway has played forever, so you have him. You've still got (cornerback Terence) Newman there. The unbelievable thing, Newman is still very quick. He's 37. His plant and drive is still very good. They have two safeties they talk about, (Andrew) Sendejo and (Harrison) Smith. They're both back, they'll both play against us."
Q: With their combination of returners and coverage players, could they be the best special teams you've seen this year?
Coughlin: "Wow. Their gunners are great, they're fast. The punt returner (Marcus Sherels) is one of the gunners, and (Trae) Waynes, the rookie from Michigan State, the corner, is the other. In the middle they have (Adam) Thielen; he is the personal protector. He runs down the middle of the field and with the two gunners, there's no place for the punt returner to go. They do a nice job with that. Of course, the two returners - one guy is amazing with his size and speed, (kickoff returner Cordarrelle) Patterson. Sherels is the punt returner. He's 175 pounds, but he's fast. They've given up four kickoff returns over 40 yards. The ball is going to be harder than a rock, so maybe it stays in play."
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