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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 Friday’s media sessions with the following players:
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.