Head Coach Tom Coughlin
Conference Call, September 26, 2014
Coughlin: Iíll just start off by saying again, based on last night, I thought the players focused well last week, I thought they were excited about having won the week before and the taste of victory and I think that they were motivated and determined to want to continue to improve and to have a game on the road in the division, they knew the challenge that was to be in front of us based on the outstanding games that Washington had the two prior weeks, one with Jacksonville and one with Philadelphia. We prepared well, they were anxious to do well. When you go plus-five and youíre playing with the lead, youíre forcing people to try to play catch-up. Sometimes good things happen and in this case, to become plus-five in one game I thought was outstanding. I think one of the things that I would share with you is in the last two games combined, weíve had 10 drives start in the opponentís territory, six touchdowns and two field goals, and the opponent has started zero drives in our territory, which tells you a little bit of something about doing a better job with ball security, taking care of the ball and then also on the other hand, the takeaways have improved tremendously in the last two weeks.
Q: To what do you attribute those takeaways? Are the guys being more aggressive? Are they justÖ?
A: As I just said, pressure from the front and the quarterback not always being able to be settled and throwing the ball and our guys being in the right place at the right time.
Q: Could you talk about the effect that Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie has had on Prince Amukamara and how well those two are working together?
A: I think Dominique has come in and heís been a young man thatís been very coachable. He wanted to be here, has come into our secondary and that group, he has accepted them and those players have accepted him and they work very well together. I think as he gets more and more to the point where he feels very comfortable with all of us and you see a little bit more of his personality, he really becomes an integral part of that unit and he becomes one of the group, he becomes more and more accountable and responsible to his teammates and this is a good thing as well. Heís come in and heís added one very, very good football player to the mix. Prince is a young man whoís improved year in and year out and heís improved this past year to this point. He made some nice plays last night, had an outstanding game last night. They work well together.
Q: When you look at the short week, thereís only so much you can do scheme-wise. You have a veteran quarterback, they have a guy whoís I guess a rookie in terms of playing experience. How much did that sort of work in your favor? It seemed like Eli knew exactly what was going on with their defense and where to go with the ball and was making really quick decisions.
A: Well, Eli studies, studies hard. The coaches have done an outstanding job with him. His knowledge of the system and his ability to communicate, his ability to direct, if you will, the no-huddle offense, being over the ball and communicating the entire play to all 11 and then to turn around and even adjust within that, thatís all thought out in advance, what you want to do in terms of what you see. There isnít any doubt that he is growing in confidence in the system and how it can be utilized, so I speak from a veteran quarterback position knowing full well that he prepared very, very hard. A lot of it was mental, as you have stated. There were opportunities to show exactly what the opponent would do on the field, a few opportunities for us to make adjustments full speed but the guys did do a very good job of paying attention, staying focused and as I said, being very hungry to win.
Q: Did you come out of the game healthy? I donít think you had any injuries that you guys reported.
A: I havenít seen anything from downstairs yet. There was a 12 oíclock medical so I think probably in another hour Iíll hear.
Q: What kind of luxury it is to have a guy like Trumaine McBride, who started for you last year. Heís now playing a backup role and in the nickel.
A: You know in the beginning of the season that every man that makes your 53 squad is going to be called upon to have to perform a service for you at some point during the course of the season. Walter Thurmond was doing an outstanding job, another young man whoís come in here, really gotten very much, very comfortable in our setting and the way we do things. Then itís just a sad thing to have to lose him but thereís Trumaine and Trumaine knows that role very well. He comes into the game and he plays the corner position, plays the nickel position, knows them both very well. Heís had a very good season coming off of a very good season for him, so we knew we could count on him and heís going to have to continue to be in that role. Itís good to have a veteran player that you know at some point in time youíre going to have to count on and here it is.
Q: Some of your offensive linemen were saying last night that they know that if they give Eli time, no matter what the offense or whatever, that heís going to make everybody look good. Itís a simplistic way to say it but is that really basically the formula, that once you give Eli Manning some time, whatever you do on offense, thereís going to be some success?
A: Well I think thatís a great attitude and thatís exactly what you try to do. The more simple you say it, the better it is everybody to understand. You do a certain amount of things that, of course, incorporate different timing, whether itís the three-step, five-step or whatever, and so you understand a little bit about what has to be accomplished under those circumstances, whether it be pressure or a regular defense with just a four-man rush like we saw last night. The protection has been good for the most part the last couple of weeks and certainly weíve benefitted from that because Eli has had time to recognize his keys and make a decision on his progression. Heís gone there very well and of course last night he was very accurate in terms of his over-the-shoulder throws, his back shoulder throws, so I see a lot of those things coming together and am very hopeful that we can continue to make progress.
Q: Has it come together at all faster than expected given the struggles that the line seemed to have in the summer?
A: Well I think there are a couple of factors. One, that weíve played this one group together for a few weeks and they have experienced a little bit of success a week ago, that has done a lot for them. To win home against a Houston team, to rush the ball the way we did, I think that the offensive linemen took great pride in that and I think once that starts to develop and you get that group that has the camaraderie and the pride in what they want to accomplish, that helps an awful lot. I donít know about speed or how fast or has it been before we expected. We would have liked to have had it in Week 1. It wasnít to be. Weíve had a couple of pretty good weeks in which everybody has been on the same page and itís got to continue to grow.
Q: In regards to Jon Beason, itís obviously something heís going to have to deal with, the foot, probably the entire season, but the way your defense is playing right now, does it make it easier to maybe not have to rush him back?
A: In the ideal world, yes, but Jon is a competitor and he wants to compete and play and contribute to his team. His teammates thought enough of him to elect him captain and he brings a real personality and a real energy to our team. We want to be able to utilize his talents and his ability when he can help his team. He does have an injury that we have to deal with and weíre going to have to take a look at this on a weekly basis.
Q: When you look at Will Beatty, hereís a guy that admittedly didnít have a very good year last year, at least from what he expected. How has he done so far in your eyes this year? Has he totally wiped away any concerns you had about him, either injuries or performance-related last year?
A: Well, Iíd say this, I thought that both tackles battled last night against two very, very good outside rushers. You win some and weíve been able to, in the last couple of weeks I think, Eliís been hit maybe once in each game, so you know that there are some good things that are going on that way. I think that as we go into the season, Will develops much more confidence in his own ability based on coming back from a serious injury, and I think you see the improvement and the fundamentals, the athleticism as it grows on a weekly basis so hopefully that will continue.
Q: Two weeks into the season there were probably people ready to write your team off. Now two weeks later, there are people saying, ĎThis is a definite playoff team.í Where do you see this team?
A: Well, I see us 2-2. I donít enter into all of that. As a matter of fact, I guard our team against that. For a couple of weeks weíre told that weíre not very good, etcetera, etcetera and we donít believe that. Weíve battled our way, at least right now, into a 2-2 season and weíve got to continue that attitude about having a chip on our shoulder and having a lot to prove. I donít pay a lot of attention to that knowing full well you look at the schedule we have in front of us and game in and game out the level of challenge that confronts usÖ I do know this, in order to accomplish what we would like to, the improvement meter has got to go up weekly and hopefully we can continue to do that.
Q: You said last night that Larry Donnell had not exceeded your expectations. When did you set those high expectations? When did you come to realize that he could be that kind of player?
A: Weíve always had that in the back of our minds because of his athleticism. Grooming him into being the all-purpose tight end, thereís a lot of responsibilities there. Thereís a lot to have to accomplish, the blocking part of it, the knowledge of the game, the routes and how to run them from that inside position against defenders, whether they be big, strong linebacker types, safety types, whatever it might be. Thereís a young, inexperienced player thatís eager to learn and has athleticism, has speed, has outstanding hands, so weíve always had a high level of expectation for this player and how he can develop. Heís gotten started along those lines. Thereís a long way to go, but it doesnít change what we think this player can be.
Q: As a coach, do you take more pride, do you take more joy in seeing a player develop like that under your tutelage than say somebody who comes out of college a little more polished maybe?
A: I like to see them all come in and improve and get better. I donít think it hasÖ once they get there and theyíre a part of the program, everyone is challenged to improve, to take their level of experience and knowledge of the game and ability to function against outstanding competition, take it to the next level. I enjoy seeing any player advance. Youíre either going to get better or youíre going to get worse. Itís a daily thing, itís a daily challenge and players have to learn that it comes fromÖ itís an internal thing. Youíve got to challenge yourself to be the very best that you can be and thatís part of what it means to be a professional.
Q: What kind of an improvement have you seen from Rueben Randle just from the last few seasons to this one, and especially last night?
A: Rueben continues to improve. He frustrates you at some points. Iíd be interested to see what the ruling comes back from the league office on the play last night, but he does some very athletic and some very, very good things, and weíre always after Rueben for consistency. I think heís a very talented young man and I think that his best football is in front of him, but weíre going to continue to challenge him to be the best that he can be.
Q: The moments of frustration, have they declined?
A: Yeah, I would say they probably have.
I bet Coughlin much prefers these types of questions to what he typically gets at these pressers.
What comes out of it all though, is it just seems like doing this gives him wood.
I think he is at the point in his life that he does this because he enjoys it. He'll stop the day it doesn't, but for now it's clear he is still hungry.I suspect Tom secretly thinks he knows something the rest of us don't, or at least he's hoping.
Now he's here actually keeping things positive as the world was crashing in on the team. He still has the drive and detail, but is more human. He's among the oldest coaches, but he is far from losing the team. Players like that you know where you stand with TC, he doesn't play games. In pressers, he's able to inform, coach speak, parry, and even joke with the press in an almost Parcellsian way (no one is as good as early Tuna at it.). It's really nice to see.
You play harder for your buddies.
I'm not saying everyone is everyone's friends, but it makes a difference.