Head Coach Tom Coughlin
December 16, 2015
Good morning. After a Monday night game, we’re excited to get started preparing for the Carolina Panthers, as you well know. You probably know all the stats. The 13-0 Panthers, led by head coach Ron Rivera, Dave Gettleman as the general manager. They are plus-18 and leading the National Football League in turnover margin. They also have scored a league-high 117 points off those turnovers. They’re second in the league in rushing. They rush the ball over 50 percent of the time, which makes them the only team in the league that does that. They’re 25th in passing. They’re first in scoring at 31.6. They’re fourth in the green zone, TD areas. And they’re led by Cam Newton and Greg Olsen, Jonathan Stewart, Trai Turner etc.
They’re third overall on defense—fourth versus the run, fifth versus the pass. Third most sacks in the league at 40. Eighth on third down, ninth in the red zone. They are led by Thomas Davis; Luke Kuechly; Kawann Short, the defensive tackle; and Josh Norman on the outside.
They’re 13th in punt return at 9.3 with Ted Ginn. Fourteenth, allowing 8.0 in opponent punt returns. Brad Nortman is their strong-legged, right-footed punter with a net of 39.9. And Graham Gano, 62.8 (percent) touchbacks, 26-31 on field goals.
So they’re a very good football team. They’re a very well-rounded football team. They’re balanced. They’re a very strong defensive team. They run the football. They’re ranked highly in time of possession. In Cam Newton, they have a young man that runs the ball and runs the zone read, but also a number of plays that are designed, whether it be the lead, the quarterback draw, quarterback counter. They run the ball very, very well. Newton has seven touchdowns rushing himself. They’re very good at play action. And Cam is very good at if he doesn’t like what it looks like, moving in the pocket or moving outside the pocket, gaining more time to be able to throw the ball down the field. They have quick strike capability. Ted Ginn starts at wide receiver and has exceptional speed even now at the ninth year that he’s been in the National Football League. As I said, their defensive team, if you really study games in which they have gotten turnovers, they’ve given their offensive team a huge advantage—the Dallas game being one of those to be able to look at.
It’s an exciting time for us. We are in the hunt here in the NFC East. This is a very, very good football team, an undefeated football team. We are excited to host them this weekend.
Q: They appear to be a very physical team up front. Can you talk about that challenge and challenging your guys to meet them?
A: Well, they are physical up front. You can attest to that by the numbers not only from the run standpoint, but also from the 40 sacks and the way in which they’ve played the run. They are physical. They have a good front seven, if you will. Secondary is very much involved in that. And their offensive line has responded very, very well to their style of game, including the tight end. And Jonathan Stewart, they have a guy with a lot of carries, ranked very highly in rushing yardage and carries. It’s a very good team and a good test, no doubt.
Q: Is Cam Newton like any other quarterback you’ve faced this year? Is his skillset and what they do with him so different from what you’ve faced on a regular basis?
A: On a regular basis, yes. But we saw the option the other night, the zone read the other night. Did not defend that particularly well, but it is something that we will see. And then an extension of that is the various other runs which are designed runs on which he carries the ball.
Q: Can you clean up the missed tackles?
A: We need to. Yeah, that was an obvious the other night. We need to do a better job of that. If you look at this particular team on the defensive side of the ball, they do an excellent job of swarming to the ball carrier and gang tackling, opening field tackling etc.
Q: How can you improve tackling this late in the season?
A: You can improve anything that you make an emphasis and continue to talk about the fundamentals and the basics that are involved in it. Be in the right position, have leverage by virtue of the other people that are coming towards the ball carrier so that he doesn’t have all the maneuverability. Sometimes it’s important just to make sure that the ball gets turned back inside and you can then assure some type of a physical tackle. But you can improve anything no matter what, as long as you make it very important to you and you drill accordingly.
Q: You’ve been on this side of it a few times, going against an undefeated team late in the season. Do you expect to see the Panthers going all out?
A: Oh, I do. And I don’t know what questions they’re being asked down there, I can only imagine, They are in the playoffs. But still, I think they’ll play. Obviously they have something to secure.
Q: What is it about Josh Norman that has made him such a difficult guy for those number one receivers?
A: He’s having an outstanding year, as is their secondary, because of the pressure exerted up front, to be honest with you. But he’s a very, very good cover guy. He’s a technician, he gets himself in the right spot at the right time. He does play the ball in the air well. He’s quick with his hands. He’s physical. He’ll time it up to be there as the ball arrives, either knock it out or position himself to make contact from behind and to ensure that the ball is not completed. He’s having an outstanding year matched up against the opponent’s best receiver the majority of the time, at least until he goes into the slot.
Q: He doesn’t go in the slot?
A: He hasn’t. He hasn’t, but that doesn’t mean he can’t.
Q: Can you talk about Cooper Taylor and what he is going to have to go against with Cam Newton’s ability to fake the handoff and go back and maybe try to bait you that way?
A: Well everybody has to go. We saw the flea-flicker again the other night. There are multiple keys involved any time the ball is going to be thrown, and you have to be very good fundamentally in recognizing that or at least hanging back there until you see exactly what’s coming.
Q: Do you anticipate Josh Norman versus Odell Beckham?
Q: And what do you think your chances are?
A: Well, that’s another one of those questions, we’ll see what happens. But certainly I would think that that would be that matchup and so you’re going to have a very, very good defender against a very, very good receiver.
Q: Is moving him to the slot full-time something you’d contemplate since you said Norman doesn’t go there?
A: No…no. We’ll continue to move him around in multiple spots.
Q: As Paul said, your teams have late in the year faced a few undefeated teams and played well. Is there something about your preparation that’s different? Why do you think that is?
A: I don’t think there’s anything about our preparation that’s different. It’s obviously the excitement about being involved in a game against a team of this ability and the natural competitive instincts that I would hope everyone at this level has in terms of playing against someone such as this and putting your best foot forward.
Q: Does the word “undefeated” mean more than if the team were 12-1 this week? Is that actually a point of emphasis, that you’re seeing an undefeated team?
A: Not sure what you mean. But I would say this afternoon I’m going to introduce this team to our team, and I will tell them they’re undefeated and they’re very, very aware of it, obviously. But that carries with it a significance as well.
Q: Will Ereck Flowers or Devon Kennard have a chance this week?
A: Kennard, no. Flowers, we hope—it is a short week.
Q: You’ve obviously seen some great tight ends through the years, Jason Witten comes to mind in terms of the battles you’ve had. How would you compare Greg Olsen?
A: He’s having a heck of a year, Greg Olsen is having a heck of a year. He is the guy that Cam will relate to. He’s their number one target. The run after the catch ability, ability in the red zone, all of the above. He seems to be making the big play at the right time for them. He has 18 receptions over 20 yards, which, that’s a lot of receptions for a tight end.
Q: Their record aside, is this the best team you’ve faced this year?
A: This is a very, very good football team.
Q: Cooper Taylor, you were rotating safeties you said, ended up playing three of the five drives in the second half. Was that a merit-based thing for him?
A: You keep saying merit-based. We’re going to play three safeties, he’s going to get his opportunity to play. You have guys that are involved in special teams as well. When it comes time for them to have a blow, they get a blow. And if it’s working out, they may take an extra drive. But they’re all three going to play.
Q: Has he impressed you? You cut him a couple of weeks ago.
A: He made two tackles on special teams. He was down at the line of scrimmage and made a nice tackle on a go-screen the other day. So he’s improving.
Q: Eli, Player of the Week again. He was vocal last week apparently, he obviously lifted the team Monday night. Do you expect to see that kind of Eli now again this week, perhaps a little more vocal?
A: Well, I don’t know about the vocal. There are certain times during the week when he does speak with a gathered group, but they come at basically the same time, whether it be a Friday afternoon or a Saturday morning or whatever it might be. But the way in which he prepared, and again, we’ll approach this somewhat the same way—we really don’t know much about the Panthers, we didn’t know much about the team we played last week. So it’s going to take extra time and extra study. He did a very, very good job of that last week. I think he practiced very, very well. And yes, I do expect to do the same.
Q: In watching the tape from Monday night, did you look at anything Odell did and say, “Wow.”
A: Say what?
A: I said ‘wow’ when he was running down the field the other night. I thought it was because of my jumping jacks that he was doing that.
Q: The dragging of the foot on the touchdown was pretty cool?
A: Yeah, it was outstanding.