HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN…
Tom Coughlin addressed the media by conference call on Friday:
We’ve talked to our team this morning and we’ve had a chance to look at the tape, and we did a lot of good things and we left some things out on the field that need to be corrected. I spent some time, obviously, congratulating our team and telling them that the effort for the most part was outstanding, and that’s got to remain right where it is. The passion, the effort, the believing, the rallying around each other and realizing the importance of the game, not only the divisional game, but just to get on the board here to become hopefully relevant. But once all those things were pointed out, I did spend some time talking about the end of the game, and how I realize we’re under construction, but the patience factor is really—we’re into our third game here. We do need to understand how to finish better than we did. I pointed out that with 11 (minutes) and some seconds left in the fourth quarter with a 25-6 lead, the Washington team ran something like 39 plays, our offense ran 10. That’s not the way it’s supposed to be. You’d like to think you can finish the game with the ball in your hands and we would certainly like to erase the kickoff return against.
But that having been said, we did do a good job against the number one rushing team in the NFL, and we played solid defense. We took care of the ball, we were plus-three, we got a punt block for a safety which was an outstanding play, we got Rueben Randle involved in the offensive scheme. We had some rushes that we thought were going to come right out the other end, but the ball carrier was tripped up and didn’t advance as far as we had hoped we would have. We did hold the ball longer than the number two team in the league in time of possession, which was a good thing. We ran the ball 31 times, which was something I was glad to see. We threw it 32 and ran it 31, I liked that balance completely. We were not sacked, our offensive line did a good job. Justin Pugh in a midstream-type adjust type thing went out to left tackle and did a nice job. I thought Marshall Newhouse against a very, very good outside rusher in Kerrigan did a good job as well. So that having been said, we were pleased with a lot of the contributions made by a lot of people on the defensive side of the ball on a night in which we had to rise up and play well. Their play action pass game was outstanding off the run, and they opened the game up opening and breaking some formations, going to empty and doing some things that they hadn’t necessarily shown. We did a pretty good of adjusting to that.
Q: What about Victor Cruz’s status coach?
A: He’s improving and we’re hoping. He’s running. He’ll be running all weekend and we’re hoping that there’s nothing but straight ahead positives in all his activities and we’ll see next week if we can get him on the practice field.
Q: Tom, right after the two-minute warning, you guys faced a third down and Eli threw the ball downfield. The Redskins did not have any timeouts left. Looking back, should you guys have maybe run the ball and drained the clock with an 11 point lead?
A: No. We threw a ball on third and 10 for a touchdown in the series before that. We ran the ball twice, we milked as much of the clock as we could. I wanted a first down that we might keep the ball even longer, and I felt confident that we would be able to achieve that. We put the quarterback in as safe as possible position. We ran a very conservative route with Odell Beckham. It just didn’t work out. I think the quarterback probably had to release it a little bit earlier than he wanted to. I understand the strategy you’re trying to get at just as much as you do. Believe me, it went through my mind, but we’ve got to get this thing flipped around a little bit. We’re going to have to play to keep the ball as much as we can in those situations and not just punt the ball back to the defense.
We did have an 11 point lead, as you said. It’s not as safe as earlier on when we had a 16 point lead and they couldn’t touch us with two touchdowns, or at least it would have been very difficult. We’re trying to win the game and keep the ball, and have the ball at the end of the game. I weighed all of those things and I felt like this is the way we should play it. As I said, we had thrown a touchdown pass—a much-needed touchdown pass—prior in a third and 10 situation as well. You ask a strategic question, which certainly is something that should be considered, and I did consider it, but I did not agree that that’s the way we should play. I would want this offensive team to feel more responsibility. We’ve been in this situation before this year. There’s something about shifting gears and playing like that, it bothers me. If you can dominate the run, it’s very difficult this day to do that because you’re going to face eight, nine people in the box, it’s going to be very hard to run. The four-minute concepts that you and I both had 10 years ago, those things have pretty much come and gone. It’s most difficult to do just that.
A few years ago, the naked bootleg was a part of the four-minute package and gave you a chance to throw the ball as safely as you possibly could. I still agree with that to a certain extent. If you make a mistake and they come off the edge on you and you’re unprotected there, that can be disaster, too. But there does come a point in time, I think, today where you change formations and you open up a little bit—as safe as you can be—don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking about some foolish throw, I’m just saying you want to end the game with the ball in your hands, you don’t want to keep putting your defense in a position where they have to make stop after stop when you know what’s coming. People are opening up and just throwing the ball all over the place trying to get back in the game. So I mean, that’s just the way I feel about it. I normally would entertain any thought you might have about that, I do understand it’s a strategy call, but I don’t bat an eye about what we did last night and I would defend our actions to anybody.
Q: In a relatively short period of time, how far do you think Landon Collins has come?
A: You can see him improve in confidence and play each week. You can see him become more aggressive, you can see him more confident in communicating with the other members of the secondary each week. So from that standpoint, I think he’s made progress each and every time he’s played. I think he gets a little bit better at his position each week.
Q: How did you determine the rotation between Jon Beason and Uani ‘Unga? Is that going to change going forward?
A: You know, I don’t know. They’re both outstanding players and we need them both. We had personnel combinations that we had Jon in, and Uani was in other combinations. And Jon was coming back for his first actual playing time, and we wanted to make sure that he was extended and got a chance to line up next weekend in anticipation of some more snaps. We have a young player that’s made two outstanding interceptions, that’s athletic, that is fast, and is growing into the position. And we have a veteran that is so extremely well-thought of, he’s voted captain of the defensive team, and we feel like we’re fortunate in that we’ll be able to utilize both of these players.
Q: Your run defensive is obviously something you wanted to improve this offseason. What did you see yesterday that made it so effective, and why has it been so much improved this season in general?
A: Well, it was the number one thing we had to stop, and we knew that. So that’s our number one objective, there were many objectives, but that was number one. And our guys rose up against a very, very good offensive line. They had their runs, but we did a good job. The guys in there did a nice job, whether it be Selvie, whoever it might be. The guys did a very, very nice job. Hankins did a nice job, Bromley did a nice job. Guys that were rolled in there in those roles, Kerry Wynn did a nice job. The linebackers, Kennard did an outstanding job at the point of attack. We dressed eight people on the defensive line and we dressed seven linebackers and there was a reason for it.
Q: I’m curious, when you brought the players together, did you observe a sense of relief or change in mood?
A: No, not really. Not really. I think that most players, the day after a game, certainly when you win, they’re reinforced and they feel very good about that. But they are intent on listening to what you have to say about the evaluation of the game and they did look forward to that today again. Fortunately, we could compliment a lot, but we also had a chance to do some teaching, and we did.
Q: Going back to Cruz for a second. When he’s ready, when he’s healthy enough to play, will there be less emphasis on Rueben Randle such as there was last night or can all three of them play?
A: Oh, all three of them can play. There wouldn’t any less of anything, I hope. I hope we’d have more.
Q: One in the slot and the other two split?
A: For the most part. They all move around, they all get in different spots.
Q: Victor talked about his goal of being ready for this week. Is that the way you guys are looking at it as well?
A: I hope so. That’s what we’re being told.
Q: We also saw DRC doing some running. How is he? Is he cleared?
A: Yeah, he’s going to be okay. He’s going to be fine.
Q: Is Prince alright today?
Q: How about Flowers while we’re talking about injury guys?
A: Well, we’ll see. We’ll see. Hopefully this will be a good weekend for him in the training room.
Q: You don’t find many 250-pound defensive tackles anymore in the NFL. Is Nikita Whitlock a legitimate player there or is he a desperation player there?
A: No, no, he’s legitimate. He played defensive line in college. He’s a tremendous energy player who’s very quick, very difficult for these offensive lineman to just be in position and stay with because he does have the spin moves and the acceleration and those types of things. In a limited capacity, he is an excellent change of pace, and you saw that he can generate some pressure.
Q: What did you think when you saw him play on film?
A: Pretty much just what I said. He had a couple pressures and he plays hard in there. He’s fast, he’s very energetic, and he has outstanding quickness. So that’s what people have to contend with.
Q: Was there a point, and I ask this good-naturedly, when you had to kind of get over the fact that you could play him on the defensive line but he that doesn’t weigh 300 pounds?
A: No. As a matter of fact, we had him in pass-rush circumstances during camp. Everybody wanted to see more, the defense wanted to see more. So we’ve extended a little bit as we’ve gone along here, not to a great extent, last night was the most. But he does have that unique ability, and you know what, he plays so hard on special teams. As a fullback, he’s very physical, throws his body around up in the line of scrimmage. He can wear different hats.
Q: You said before you didn’t sense a difference in the mood of the team. But don’t you feel more alive today?
A: Well, I didn’t say that part of it. I thought I was trying to answer a question, I don’t know what I was trying to answer, but I was not trying to tell you they’re not excited about having won and they’re not excited about winning a game and having a weekend off. No, they’re very much that way. I just tried to say that they present themselves in the meeting at first knowing full well we won, and looking forward to the comments that the coaching staff would make. I’m not trying to take anything away from how they react, this is certainly a lot more fun than it’s been the last couple weeks. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to say we didn’t enjoy our meeting time today.
Q: I’m guessing you’ve gotten out of Brad Wing what you hoped to get when you acquired him?
A: Well he’s gotten the ball of quickly. You saw last night we were under pressure a couple of times and he got the ball away, which was outstanding. We had a ball downed at the one-yard line two weeks in a row. His hang time has been good, his get-offs have been good, his location has been outstanding. He’s giving people a real interest in flying the field and being in position. So yeah, he’s helped us.
THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts or audio of Monday’s media sessions with the following players:
- Giants snap counts: How much Jon Beason played, Nikita Whitlock’s defensive cameo and the RB split by Jordan Raanan for NJ.com
- Coughlin’s history lesson motivates Giants past ‘Skins for first win by Mike Garafolo of FOXSports.com
- How Rashad Jennings got on the punt return team, and why it reflects a key Giants trend by James Kratch for NJ.com
- The Giants’ strategy that led to Rueben Randle’s breakout game by Bart Hubbuch of The New York Post
- Giants’ Nikita Whitlock on playing defensive tackle: ‘That’s my dream’ by James Kratch for NJ.com
- Why Jon Beason’s return meant so much to the Giants by Bart Hubbuch of The New York Post
WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The players are off on Saturday and Sunday and there will be no media availability to the Giants this weekend. The Giants return to work on Monday in preparation for next Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills.
NEW YORK GIANTS 32 – WASHINGTON REDSKINS 21…
The New York Giants may have saved their season with a convincing 32-21 victory over the Washington Redskins at MetLife Stadium on Thursday night. The Giants improved their overall record to 1-2 while the Redskins fell to 1-2.
The Redskins received the football to start the game but could not pick up a first down. After offsetting penalties negated the first punt, the second punt attempt by Washington was blocked by running back Rashad Jennings for a safety. New York was up quickly 2-0.
The Giants crossed midfield on their first offensive possession but were forced to punt. On the second snap of Washington’s second drive, cornerback Prince Amukamara picked off quarterback Kirk Cousins at the Redskins 20-yard line and returned it to the 14. Four plays later, running back Andre Williams scored from one yard out to make the game 9-0.
The Redskins went three-and-out on their third possession. The Giants responded with an 8-play, 47-yard drive that set up a 35-yard field goal by place kicker Josh Brown as the Giants expanded their lead to 12-0. The Redskins then finally moved the ball on their fourth possession, putting together a 10-play, 54-yard effort that resulted in a 44-yard field goal. Giants 12 – Redskins 3.
Both teams then exchanged field goal drives again, the first a 9-play, 47-yard possession by the Giants that resulted in a 36-yard field goal by Brown and then a 13-play, 61-yard possession by the Redskins that resulted in a 37-yard field goal. The Giants once again crossed midfield on their final possession of the first half but could not score. At halftime, the Giants led 15-6.
The Giants received the football to start the second half and promptly expanded their lead to 18-6 after a 15-play, 50-yard drive that took up half the third quarter. The Redskins responded with a scoring threat of their own that was dramatically stopped when linebacker Devon Kennard deflected a pass by Cousins that was intercepted by fellow linebacker Uani’ Unga at the New York 27-yard line.
The Giants then took charge of the game with an 8-play, 73-yard drive that ended with a 30-yard touchdown strike from quarterback Eli Manning to wide receiver Odell Beckham. The Giants led 25-6 early in the fourth quarter.
The Redskins looked to make things interesting on their ensuing possession by driving deep into Giants territory. On 4th-and-1 from the Giants 7-yard line, running back Matt Jones picked up the first down but fumbled the ball out of bounds in the end zone, resulting in a touchback and a turnover. The Giants went three-and-out on the following possession. Washington then drove 74 yards in 12 plays to cut the score to 25-14 after a 4-yard touchdown pass and a successful 2-point conversion attempt with 3:40 to play.
Running back Shane Vereen recovered a Redskins onside kick attempt at the Washington 41-yard line. Three plays later, on 3rd-and-10, Manning hit wide receiver Rueben Randle for a 41-yard touchdown to give the Giants a 32-14 advantage with 3:21 to play. However, the Redskins returned the ensuing kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown. The second Redskins onside kick went out of bounds. After a three-and-out by the Giants, the Redskins received the ball with 1:43 to play and advanced the ball to the Giants 14-yard line before the clock expired.
Offensively, the Giants gained 19 first downs and 363 total net yards (279 passing, 84 rushing). The team was only 4-of-12 on third down (33 percent). Manning completed 23-of-32 passes for 279 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions for a QB rating of 119.1. His leading receivers were Randle (7 catches for 116 yards and a touchdown) and Beckham (7 catches for 79 yards and a touchdown). Jennings gained 31 yards on 11 carries, Williams 29 yards on 14 carries, and Vereen 23 yards on six carries.
Defensively, the Giants allowed 22 first downs and 393 yards (305 passing, 88 rushing). The Redskins were 6-of-15 (40 percent) on third down and 2-of-3 (67 percent) on fourth down. The defense forced three turnovers (two interceptions and one fumble). The only sack was by linebacker Jonathan Casillas
Running back Orleans Darkwa left the game with a knee injury and did not return. Cornerback Prince Amukamara hurt his ankle but returned to the football game.
Transcripts and video clips of post-game media sessions with Head Coach Tom Coughlin and various players are available in The Corner Forum and at Giants.com:
- Head Coach Tom Coughlin (Video)
- QB Eli Manning (Video)
- WR Odell Beckham (Video)
- WR Rueben Randle (Video)
- LB Jon Beason (Video)
- CB Prince Amukamara (Video)
Inactive for the Giants were WR Victor Cruz (calf), TE Jerome Cunningham (knee), DE Robert Ayers (hamstring), DT Markus Kuhn (knee), DE Owamagbe Odighizuwa (foot), RT Ereck Flowers (ankle), and CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (concussion).
The Giants have won five games in a row over the Redskins.
The Giants improved to 15-7-3 on Thursdays, including 4-2 under Tom Coughlin.
For the second time in three games, the Giants did not commit a turnover.
QB Eli Manning increased his career touchdown pass total to 263. That broke a tie with Dave Krieg and moved Manning into 12th place on the NFL’s career list. Joe Montana is 11th with 273.
Justin Pugh made his first career start at left tackle. John Jerry started at left guard.
Middle linebacker Jon Beason made his 2015 debut after missing the first two games with a knee injury. Beason split time with Uani’ Unga, who led the Giants with nine tackles (six solo).
Jayron Holsey started at left cornerback for Rodgers-Cromartie.
Fullback Nikita Whitlock played several snaps at defensive tackle in the fourth quarter, as he did in the preseason finale in New England.