Head Coach Tom Coughlin
November 20, 2013
Good morning. We’ll talk a little bit about the injury report right off the bat. The guys that are not going to work: John Conner has a hip flexor. He’s not going to work. He’s sore today. Trumaine McBride has the same. He’s not going to work. JPP has the shoulder. Terrell Thomas… This is his normal day. Corey Webster is going to go through individuals, we hope, and then we’ll see where we are with that, and Brandon Jacobs is not going to work today as well.
We are excited about being in the division with Dallas coming in here. Dallas is 3-0 in the division. We’re all very much aware of that. They’re 5-5. They’ve played some classic football games with a couple of one-point losses and the shootout game with the Denver Broncos. They are a team that has done a lot of very good things offensively, averaging 27 points per game, only 11 turnovers, 22 sacks, which puts them in the top 10 in that category as well. Defensively, they have 22 takeaways. They’re plus-11. That puts them way up there in the league as well. That’s the focus for them. They’ve done an outstanding job of that, taking the ball away from people, as unfortunately we’re aware. They’re a physical football team. They’re an aggressive football team. Their special teams operation is top eight in all four categories, Dwayne Harris being the outstanding kick returner and punt returner. He also is the leading tackler on special teams. They’re coming off their bye week. I’m sure their focus has been right here in the division, and as I say, we’re excited about this opportunity as well.
Q: Are you two different teams between the first game and now?
A: Are you talking about our team or theirs?
A: I think they’re getting some people back. At least that’s the statements as we receive them. We’re trying like heck and have been in pretty good shape here for quite a few weeks with injuries, but not anything that has been catastrophic. I’m hoping we get our guys back. I don’t know about the ‘two different teams’ thing since we really battle week to week in this league. Everyone goes through this type of cycle and everyone hopes that they can just line up with their players, and it is most difficult to do. But that having been said, there have been adjustments by both teams and away we go.
Q: What does this mean for your team to have a meaningful game from where you came from as a club as far as record goes?
A: We’re very much aware of having dug ourselves a very, very deep hole, have started to make a little bit of progress to get out. It’s nice that we do have a challenge of this nature. We call it an opportunity and all we can do… We have a six-game schedule, one game at a time, and just prepare ourselves as best as we possibly can for each opponent. Do the very, very best we can and hopefully keep our dreams alive.
Q: When you look back to the post-game of the opening game against Dallas and where your mindset was, could you have ever foreseen the way your season unfolded from that point?
A: All I did was take the one game… You’re talking about the night of the Dallas game, and our expectations were extremely high and we had, quite frankly, just kind of wrapped it up and handed it to them and that was the devastation of it for me. I knew the game would be tight. I knew it would be hard played. I knew both sides would fly around as they always do, but I was somewhat shocked by the circumstances surrounding it and even the fact that we were in the game as far as we were with an opportunity. So that’s where I was and then from that point on, I can’t really take you through too much of that except that it was the disappointment week in and week out for a while, but thank God now things are happening a little bit better.
Q: How different would the season have been if you somehow won that game?
A: That’s conjecture too. Who knows? Speculation. Can’t go there. I don’t know much about that because it didn’t happen.
Q: Are you anxious to see how your defense responds to a starting NFL quarterback like Romo?
A: I didn’t hear this one for a while. I’m just starting to hear this one. I’m anxious to play the game. We’re looking forward to playing the game. We know full well what Tony Romo has been able to accomplish and he’s having an outstanding year. 21 touchdown passes. 6 interceptions. A plus-15. We have our work cut out for us, but these games have a way of being tooth and nail and they go right to the end and we’re looking forward to the challenge.
Q: Is Jason Pierre-Paul in any worse shape than he was last week?
A: Just sore, just sore. I’m not a doctor, but that’s what I would say.
Q: The first game started Eli on a cycle where he spiraled a little bit. Is he now playing much better or is he still looking for his best game?
A: We’re all looking for our best game. I don’t think we’ve played it yet. The idea of all three phases playing as well as they can and accomplishing things at a very high level, we’re still looking. I tell the team that the goal is perfection, we’re not going to attain it because we’re human but that’s the objective. We’ll continue to have that.
Q: Is he playing better though?
A: He’s solid, yeah. Someone asked me to describe Eli last week. I think I finally said that just flat-out determination was the impression that I got as I watched him practice and prepare, etcetera. I hope it doubles this week.
Q: Was last week the closest you think you’ve gotten to playing a complete game?
A: I don’t know. There were some good and there were some bad. We did some good things, a lot of good things, didn’t like the big play passes we gave up, didn’t like our kickoff return. I can always tell you that kind of stuff. The one thing is the preparation was good, the guys were really into it, they played hard, so we just come in, evaluate and try to take those things that aren’t done as well and get them to a higher level.
Q: Did you get a chance to speak with Hakeem Nicks yet or do you feel the necessity to speak to him?
A: About what?
Q: About the sideline incident.
A: About the play on the field? That’s the only thing that I recall in terms of what was asked of me the other day and I said I wasn’t going to comment on the correction, we’ll get it straightened out. We’ll coach it and straighten it out.
Q: No, I wasn’t talking about on the field; I was talking about on the sideline. From what we understand, he was frustrated and Jacobs and Andre Brown went over and had to calm him down a little bit.
A: Well, if that was the case, I didn’t notice it. I did hear what Brandon Jacobs said as, ‘I hope somebody would help me understand, too.’ I’ll leave it at that.
Q: The core of your team has played in a lot of big games, big late-season games that you have had to win. Do you think or hope that will help in a game like this? That these guys have faced this kind of fire before.
A: I’m counting on it. I’m counting on the same fervor that we’ve built up here over the last few weeks, that it just gets better. And that that leadership group is in the core of pointing this thing in the right direction.
Q: What have you seen from Romo? Is he a different quarterback at all than he was in the past?
A: He’s playing really good, he’s playing really well. It looks to me like he’s done that most of the year.
Q: With their defense, you look at the plus-11 and at the same time I think they’re ranked last in the league in defense. Is it just a couple games that are throwing the numbers off or what?
A: Well, I think they have, as a lot of people have, gone through that cycle and they’ve lost some players and they’ve given up some yardage. There’s no way around that part of it. But they do gang tackle, they do get to the ball, they do force turnovers and that’s what they said from the very first game on. That’s what they really tried to and wanted to do. I look at the physical nature of the game, I look at the idea of the competitiveness in the division and the rest of it. I pick and choose what I think is good to reveal and what I think is, in a game like this, perhaps irrelevant.
Q: Do you get the sense from the players that there is a feeling that the stakes are higher in this game?
A: This is what you play for. You play for this, you play for the opportunity to be in games that are important, and I think it grows as you go along.
Q: Can you talk about the offensive line, particularly in the interior? It looks like Jim Cordle has been getting a little better each week.
A: Yeah, he has. He’s been solid in there. He’s gone into each game, does a good job of studying, he prepares very well for the opponent. Right from the first time he played, what looked like it would be perhaps a mismatch of some proportion, he’s held his own and he’s hung in there. I give him a lot of credit.
Q: When the team was winless you talked about how you would show them the standings and show them how close you were. Did you stop doing that at some point? Brandon said yesterday that he liked it when they weren’t looking at that.
A: I don’t know what you want me to say. Do we look at our division standings at the end of every week? Yes. Sure we do, it’s just part of the routine, being aware of where you are.
Q: You also talked about pressure being a key to each game, is this game or the pressure even more important because you’re going against a guy like Romo who has those 21 touchdown passes?
A: Every game is. Every game in this league is the most important game of the year. Every game. So unless you go in feeling that way and knowing the most you can about the opponent, you’re not helping yourself be the best you can be. So every game is that and you better know the opponent inside and out and since we’re in the division, there’s no reason not to.