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The Coughlin Corner: Set for Browns


Q: When you've been an NFL coach for 17 years, you're inevitably going to have disappointing games like the 19-17 loss last week in Philadelphia, but you have the next game. At this stage of your career, is it harder or easier to move on from those games?
Coughlin: "It's 10 times more difficult."

Q: Is it really?
Coughlin: "Losing, it kills you. For whatever reason, whether there's somewhere in your mind back down the road about having success…you just think, particularly based on our experiences, that when we're in that position, we're going to win. We had a minute and something left. We're going to win the game. Now, to be honest with you, we always have our timeouts preserved and if we had one timeout in our pocket, I believe we're going to win the game.

"Everybody wants to know about (the last) 15 seconds. Well, let me just tell you about the 15 seconds. With no timeouts, the ball cannot go inside. You're not going to get another play off. We practice what we call 'cobra' all the time and 'cobra' means the guy who catches the ball gives himself up and declares himself down. You run up on the ball, but when we do it on the practice field, there's no umpire. There's nobody that has to put the ball down. There's nobody waiting for the signal. Eighteen seconds – maybe you can do it. Maybe 15 seconds. I don't care if it's a five-yard gain, that's the last play of the game.

"Over all the years of experience that I've had in this league, if you get to one play - I tell this to our defensive coordinator - you get to one play and the team has no timeouts, you're going to have people stacked along the sideline. Now does that mean you don't try it? No, of course it doesn't mean you don't try it, but what it means is the chances…there are two or three things that can go wrong. One is a pick if you're forcing it. Two is if you don't get out of bounds and three – you're taking a chance. We're right on the cusp of what his (kicker Lawrence Tynes) distance was. You're taking a chance on anything happening. Of course, if you're sacked, the game is over. If it's a tip-ball interception, the game is over. Whatever it is. They know where the ball is going. You have to go to the sideline. So there's risk involved in that, too.

"The third variable that people don't think about is you're on the road. If there's anything in terms of management or anything like that type of a thing, it just doesn't factor in the way you want to operate. My number one thing was we were going to kick a field goal to win the game. I was not going to put our team in a situation where we walk off the field, saying, 'Well, we never really had a chance to kick it.' Were we able to react well after the (Ramses Barden offensive pass interference) penalty? No. Obviously, we didn't. That would have been the time for, and we almost did get it out of bounds when he scrambled and threw it up and it was right off (Domenik) Hixon's fingertips, but those are the kinds of things that happen in a game like this.

"When we're in that position, we believe we're going to win. The other factor you have to understand is that if you normally send somebody out to kick a field goal on third down, the other guy is a little hesitant about what you're up to. Which means there is a chance you may not get the rush they normally would have. Now, that's not what happened. They came with everything they had, but there are people that will play that in a more conservative role because it's third down.

"To your original question, which I didn't spend any time answering, the losses are much more difficult to get over the further you are in your career. They're killers. You don't sleep. I went on that couch right there at 3 o'clock in the morning and I could not get to sleep because, to be honest with you, I kept going over, over and over saying, 'How could I have helped our team when it was 15 seconds left?' Of course, I've got all the scenarios the next morning. Sure, it's easy. But who's telling you a 44-yarder is an easy field goal? We had made two yards on a run and they know we're throwing the ball."

Q: So you keep replaying these scenarios in your head…
Coughlin: "You do, over and over and over and over, and it's not healthy, because when I make a decision like that, I'm basing it on years of experience. There's no way we can do anything in the middle of the field because the clock will run out on us. I know what people are going to do on the sideline. How are we going to fit one in there when you probably have at least two rolled up defenders covering the side. So the percentages for me in my mind were to put this…there have been a ton of long field goals kicked this year and I get asked about it by the media every week. What's the explanation for some of these field goals? I don't know what it is, but it's still early enough in the year where the ball will carry. There was a little wind there, but whether it was cross or whatever, it was a little different in the second half than it was the first half."

Q: The first kick (nullified by a Philadelphia timeout) had the distance.
Coughlin: "It was just left. That was our best shot to win, I felt. We took it. Now, of course, the next day I'm going to blame myself for everything because that's the way I choose to do it. No one play determines the outcome. My opening statement to my own team is penalties will lose games. We had the ball on the second drive of the game at the 11-yard line and had a (holding) penalty that brought that back (to the Giants' 41). We had a penalty at the end of the game. We threw a foolish interception, which was so uncharacteristic. The corner is sitting deep in the end zone. He did the same thing on the touchdown to Bear (Pascoe) underneath. The corner was back so far there's no way you're going to get the flag route. You're not going to get it. They played differently, obviously. When they're going to be playing from ahead, they played a little differently in our tight green zone, too. They were really interested in drawing our timeouts and they got them. They got them. You're going to get it. Milk the clock, the game is over. So it's a shame. It's a game that they played well. They didn't even turn it over. They averaged four turnovers a game. We never got one. The first half, we were tremendous, but we didn't play good run defense in the second half at all."

Q: You spoke at your news conference about a number of shortcomings - the run offense, the run defense, punting, you didn't punt well. You were dissatisfied with several areas the other night. When that happens, how do you deal with all these issues where you seek improvement? Do you go to your coordinators and say, "I want you to work on this?"
Coughlin: "You do it, first of all, in your initial staff meeting right after you grade the film. All of the coaches are in there. You spend an hour talking about who played well, who didn't play well. What is your expectation level? Why didn't this happen? What happened here? How do we improve this? It's not about the individual that made the error, it's about correcting the error. It's always that way. So you start out with your team that way. Let's get this corrected.

"But you have to realize that it's a difficult team to run the ball against and they have outstanding personnel in the secondary and probably, if you were to just analyze it, you'd say, 'Well, the success in the pass game was there.' The only thing is, there were no sacks in the game, but the quarterback got hit many times and he also, on occasion, had to throw the ball before he was really ready to throw the ball. We had a couple of things down field that were there, but he couldn't get it off. There's not enough time."

Q: Four different wide receivers have 100-yard games this year at a time when the running game is mostly struggling. Is this the best depth you've had at wide receiver? There are a number of guys that are stepping up for you.
Coughlin: "We have some people that have been here that are veterans of a year or a couple of years that have gotten their opportunities and they're trying to do the best they can with it. We also have a talented young guy that's trying to understand it, trying to get to where he can contribute. He wants to."

Q: David Wilson was very quick to credit his blockers the other day after his kickoff returns. He had a 36-yard average and I don't think they're blocking any different for him than anybody else. What is it about David Wilson that makes him a dangerous returner?
Coughlin: "He's so fast. He's quick, he's fast, he's also powerful. He runs hard and he has good balance. He is a threat. We felt it was coming to that point. As a matter of fact, I'm disappointed that there were two scores out there. The safeties ran back and got him in a funnel and caught him twice or he was on the kicker. He was on the kicker and when he moved off of the kicker, one of the safeties was in a funnel position to be able to tackle him. But I thought at least one of them was gone (for a touchdown). I'm disappointed in that. We were counting on that. We needed it, but there isn't any question about the fact that he is a weapon and he gave us outstanding field position which, largely, was squandered away. Sometimes you look out there and we start inside the 10 and drive it 90 and you shake your head and sometimes you're at midfield and we don't go anywhere."

Q: The inconsistency must be unsettling.
Coughlin: "That's the thing. Plus you're striving for execution to come along to always be there. Sometimes it is and sometimes it isn't, but boy, it's frustrating. It's not about yardage. It's about you're convinced that if you play a certain way, you will stop the other guy and then you're convinced if you play a certain way, the ball will move and when it doesn't happen, it's frustrating. There was one turnover in the whole game. It was our turnover. It didn't have to be, but it did happen."

Q: The defense gave up just one touchdown in each of the last two games. If you allow only one touchdown a game…
Coughlin: "You should win. We scored 17 points. You're not going to beat anybody in this league at 17 points. I point blank told our team, 'You're not going to beat anybody with 17 points. You have to score.' When you're down there, you have to score. Preferably touchdowns."

Q: Stevie Brown is expected to play a bigger role this week because of Kenny Phillips' knee injury. When you studied Brown prior to signing him, what impressed you?
Coughlin: "He's fast. He has size. He's talented. He just hadn't been in the right situation yet. He can contribute on special teams."

Q: Last week, before going against Andy Reid for the 20th time, you said the opposing coach is a factor you consider when preparing for a game. On Sunday, you will face Cleveland's Pat Shurmur for the first time. How do you kind of learn about a coach you're going against for the first time?
Coughlin: "Just take the (coaching) tree. What tree is he from? He's from the Philadelphia tree. So you know a little bit about how they plan on playing or how they are actually designed. And, of course, I know (defensive coordinator) Dick Jauron very well (Jauron was on Coughlin's staff in Jacksonville from 1995-98)."

Q: The Browns are 0-4, but they've played everybody close, played everybody tough. Players are human. They're going to look at an 0-4 record and…
Coughlin: "Sometimes it's not even worth telling them what the record is. You look at the scores. I follow the record with the scores and the scores are all, with the exception of the Buffalo game, which was 10 points, they're all very winnable games. As a matter of fact, against Philadelphia, if the linebacker catches an easy interception, right in his hands, Cleveland beats Philadelphia in the opener. So they're talented. They play hard. They've been in every game. They have a good, hard, tough runner (rookie Trent Richardson) that you're going to have to really gang tackle. You've got a great return team. Their return game is outstanding and the field goal kicker (Phil Dawson) is six for six over 40 yards and four for four from 50. He made three 50-yarders in a row in one game (at Baltimore) in the rain."

Q: Last year, the same questions were asked when Miami came in at 0-6 and it was a fourth quarter game.
Coughlin: "Every one of Cleveland's games is a fourth-quarter game, so I don't see this being any different."


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