Tom Coughlin Press Conference
You have earned the right to be in the playoffs and then to lose and lose the way we lost and to come back in the morning and to have the season over, have the exit interviews and meetings with the players and the medical information and look at the tape ? it is not a pleasant process. But on the other hand, I think, what I tried to do yesterday, postgame, was to not go so completely off the board in terms of that one game, but to try to keep in perspective the fact that we had 11 wins. We won the NFC East Divisional title. We earned the right to be in the playoffs. We played hard all year long. We were 8-1 at home. Our fans were fantastic. Our fans were great yesterday and they would have been superior all day long had we given them something to be excited about. So I think it is more important for me, in balance, to maintain that position and to tell our players this morning, as I did, that as many things as we had accomplished this year, that yesterday was a devastating loss (and) it hurt. It will hurt. And the only positive can be that we use it as a motivator to count days until the offseason program starts, to count the days that we are on the field again, to count the days until we have the opportunity to play once again so that we might use this as a motivator to try to accomplish great things in ?06 and to get to the playoffs again and prove that we belong in the playoffs.
Q: Tiki said that he sat down and watched the film with you. How difficult was that?
A: There was nothing difficult about it. I had seen Tiki, brought him upstairs and sat down with him and looked at the tapes. We looked at the reason for the lack of success offensively. We talked about it. I pointed out the opportunities that were there that weren?t taken advantage off, the number of negative plays. And I tried to say to him that, ?This is the reason why you lose football games because you don?t execute and you don?t take advantage of opportunities that are given. It is one person on one play, it is another person on another play. This is the reason that you lose.? You go from being a team which finishes fourth in the NFL in total offense, the second all-time leading scoring team in Giant history, the second all-time leading total yardage team in Giant history, averaging 29 point-something per game at home. And you play a game in the playoffs, against a good football team, no doubt, but you play a game in the playoffs where you don?t score. That is extremely unacceptable.
Q: Did they do anything that you didn?t adjust to?
A: No, they didn?t. No. They did exactly the things that we had prepared for and seen, the same tips were there. They rushed the passer with four people. You are thinking you might get more blitzes, but some of their most effective plays were with four people. We didn?t play well.
Q: Were you upset by Tiki saying you were out-coached?
A: I was upset because in the true concept of ?team? it is not about pointing the finger. It is not about that. We are all in this together. There is one person that loses ? that is me. I lose the game, okay. Nobody else loses the games. I don?t win them, but I lose them. That is the position that I tried to give our football team. No one individual wins; no one individual loses. We win or we lose as a team. And that is the way it shall remain. We don?t point fingers. We handle these stressful situations with class and distinction, or at least we try to. We have tried to engender this thought process since we have been here about team. And occasionally out of frustration, something happens where someone says something that they haven?t thought out well. Maybe they are frustrated. Maybe they are angry. Maybe you have caught them with a bad question and they responded in a way that they are not happy about, but it is out there. From time to time it is important, again, to re-emphasize to our players that we can handle any form of adversity there is, as long as we remain together and we move forward together. We went from a 6-win season to an 11-win season. Raise you hands in here all of you who thought we would win 11. I don?t see anybody?s hand in the air. Isn?t that amazing?
Re: notion that there was a lack of effort
A: No it is not true. I am going to go there with you. Let me just tell you a story. I am so concerned all week long, and you knew I was, with special teams. I am worried, because with each depletion ? okay, we lost two more guys last weekend ? with each depletion I have to move someone ? let?s say Marcus Lawrence ? from the practice squad up to the 45. He is active on game day. Okay, he doesn?t even go inactive and then active later ? he goes active. And I am worried about these guys. How are we going to cover Steve Smith; how are we going to cover kicks? Can we hold up? Special teams played very well. One play, one play, the ricochet off of Gibril?s leg, which in that noise and in that stadium, how do you get the message, ?The guy shanked the kick fellas, watch out.? You talk about it, but if you are trying to vice the gunner, which our guys are trying to vice our gunner, give our guy a chance to return, you are not seeing the ball all of the time. You don?t get that opportunity. They played very well. We didn?t tackle well. We played the run with seven guys. We thought we had to in order to defend Steve Smith where we had two involved all of the time. And we played the run with seven, basically. And we didn?t always tackle well. They did a nice job. The individual who had two gaps sometimes got blocked and didn?t get to the gap that he was responsible for. But it wasn?t an effort thing, believe me.
Q: When you went over the film with Tiki was that as a result of his comments?
A: No, I did that because I wanted him to see the nature of the game. I wanted him to be aware of exactly what he was talking about.
Q: Did you express your thoughts to him about what he had said?
A: That is private. That is private. We had a good conversation. It is always a good conversation with Tiki. He is a very positive guy. His attitude is great. He said something, hopefully, he regretted. I didn?t want to see it. I saw it. We talked. We looked at some tape together. We continued to talk. And it ended up as it always does, a unified situation. Tiki has been a great, great player here.
Q: Looking ahead, what do you see as reasons for optimism; causes for concern?
A: Reasons for optimism ? we won 11 games, we won the division. We have a lot of mixture between young and old. We have a quarterback who might as well have been a rookie. We had success with two outstanding pass rushers at defensive end. We have had times during the year when we played very well against the run, which is encouraging to me. We never did get William Joseph back to full strength. I think you know that. I look forward to that. (Antonio) Pierce is going to be coming back. Several of our injured guys will be back. Our offensive line has worked together for a year. I don?t think yesterday was the greatest of days up front, but nevertheless, for 16 weeks we did a good job and those guys will be back together. We had an opportunity with introducing Plaxico and Eli and Shockey and Amani together as a corps of receivers. They will be back. I am excited about that. Feely did an admirable job, a great job, particularly early in the season and again of late. He came through some bumps and I am excited about him back. I?m looking forward to it. As I said to the players, I?m very proud to have had the opportunity to coach and work with them. I really enjoyed the way that they responded this year, the positivenss, the veterans, the leadership that we had. I?m looking forward to the future. I?m looking forward to the opportunity, to again, and the challenge of playing in this great division and representing this great franchise. I look forward to continued success and greater success in the future.
Q: How do you deal now with knowing that the next goal isn?t Sunday, its months away?
A: Well, hopefully, after a couple of days I can put that in perspective. This disappointment is going to stay with me for a long time. But I will say this to you, and I just spoke to Eli about this, last year at the end of the regular season we had this meeting, you and I, and we talked about hope. In a way that this winning of the last game had provided us with hope because of the way that the young quarterback played and what he had gone through, etc, etc. That hope is even greater today because as I said earlier, I choose not to be totally off balance because of yesterday, but to try to put things into perspective in terms of a 16-game season and then a playoff game. And try to recognize the effort and they way in which the players played throughout this season and let that be a building block for the future. So I?m not going to forget this; none of us are. This hurts. But we will use it as a motivator, and that is where it will remain.
Q: Would you address the possibility of losing Tim Lewis as a head coach.
A: Tim is certainly well qualified, well prepared for these opportunities that will come his way. I will give him every support that I can in his quest to become a head coach in the league. He has done an outstanding job for us. As you know, he is a guy who, no matter what you hit him with, he remains very upbeat and positive about it. The juggling, sometimes, that has to happen in the National Football League. He has done a good job with that. He has done a very good job with our defensive team. They have great confidence in him. He coaches a very sound, solid, aggressive scheme, which the players like.
Q: Have you begun to line up candidates as his replacement?
A: No, I won?t do that.
RE: lack of safety help on Steve Smith?s first touchdown.
A: He was wide. He was over the top, but he was outside.
Q: Did he go the wrong way?
A: No, he just got too far outside of him. He was too far outside to get back in and help.
Q: In a game like that, what happens when you can?t get the ball into Plaxico?s hands?
A: We should have, though. It was about the fifth or sixth play in the game and you have it all set up and we get a sack. Obviously we are trying to get the ball into Plaxico?s hands. We are trying to get ball in Tiki?s hands, in Shockey?s hands. One of the problems, as you know, when you don?t make first downs, you don?t get a lot of rhythm. And that is the basic problem. When you look at that, it is ridiculous not to have gotten the ball in his hands. But, unfortunately, that is the way it was. It should have been solved right away in the game. We had the thing set up and it was there and so on. But it didn?t happen because we took a sack.
Q: At the end of last year you had hope; Eli looked like he was on an upward curve. Is his progress still heading in that direction?
A: It is, it is, without a doubt it is. You have to remember where he is coming from. This is a young kid that, sure, he played some at the end of last season, but this is his first 16-game, 17-game stretch, if you will. And even though there were some inconsistencies, which we all know have to level off, the quality of the experience, what he has gone through, what he has seen, the opportunity to work with his teammates, the game management part of it, which he does so very well, these things are all going to be great assets for our franchise down the road.
Q: What does he do the next six, seven, eight months to get better?
A: First of all he has to rest. Everybody at this point in time needs to take the time necessary to get their body back. A young, healthy body if you will. And then he starts back by looking, not only at the cutups but looking at the game tapes and looking at them with the evaluation sheet in front of him so that he knows what was good, what was bad, talking about the things that he saw that he didn?t like or didn?t do the right thing with. And as I mentioned to him this morning, it is really, really important that the third-down area becomes something that he is very, very good and comfortable with, as well as the green area. But that is always a challenge in this league and that is something where I think you will see in the future that he will become very good at.
Q: Is there anything physically about him that you want him to improve on?
A: Strength is always the key. Last offseason he had his body weight up to 228, 226, right in there. And I think at the end of the regular season he was probably 222. So he will benefit from, obviously, another strong offseason program. He likes to lift and he does a good with it. By the way, he comes in on his day off and he lifts. He gets an extra day with Jerry.
Q: What would you say are your concerns as you head into the offseason? The back seven of the defense right now?
A: I would say that that is a fair direction to go in. When we were doing our best we were rushing the passer and we were keeping people in front of us and not giving up the big play. When we did have issues with that the pressure wasn?t maybe as great and we were forced to have to cover longer and then some of our inefficiencies started to show. We have work to do there, without a doubt. We do have some youth back there, which is good. Webster, I think, came back up a little bit at the end of the year, which gives us a real good fit there. Will Allen played well at the right corner and was aggressive in his tackling. So I am optimistic about that as well.
Q: You mentioned Will Allen, do you expect him back next year?
A: We?ll see.
Q: RE: Injured players ? Pierce and Peterson.
A: I see Antonio, I think, within a reasonable amount of time, at the end of this week, the cast is to come off and he is to start to exercise and strengthen that area. So I think within a few weeks he should be back to where you want him. I think the Will Peterson situation is something that has to be ? it is beyond me ? it is in the medical hands. The difficult thing is when you see Will, as I saw him this morning, again he looks great, he acts great. Everything is great and yet, you have this issue that has to be solved.
Q: Is his playing career in jeopardy?
A: I hope not, but I can?t tell you that. I don?t have anything in front of me right not to bring you up to date on his situation.
Q: When you looked at films with Tiki, could you have given your guys a better scheme?
A: No, I really wish I could say that. You look at something and you say, ?Gee, if this is 22-man, here is our number one play against 22-man.? But then you also accept the fact that within the route that you have on you have options that are good against that particular coverage. So there is always something. How did we get the screen ball tipped? That is a 25-yarder. We take a sack and we have Plaxico wide open. We missed an assignment on a blitz pickup. If we brought the edge just a little bit more, a 7-yard run becomes a 30-yard run for Tiki.
Q: Anything that the coaches could have done?
A: Not necessarily. If things are executed the way you would like them to ? for example, the first 15 plays are basically scripted and everybody knows what is coming within. If you look at that first page (of play calls) you have probably five or six plays that are really, really solid football plays and then another four or five that because of one reason or another are not accomplished. As I said, one third-down screen gets tipped; we come back on first down and throw another screen for eight. You wish you had the magical match up for every play against every defense. It doesn?t always happen that way. You do have built within some opportunity and some options within that you have to be able to take advantage of. And for one reason or another we didn?t get that done.
Q: Would you like to add more speed in your wide receiver group?
A: I would like to add more team speed. I would like to add more team speed.
Q: Aside from Tim Lewis, do you expect all of the assistant coaches back?
A: I expect that to be the case. I?m talking to you literally hours after the final game of the season. I have not had an opportunity to sit down and talk to anyone. I haven?t thought about that process at all, which will start, I?m sure, immediately. But I feel very secure and very good about the staff and the way that we go about our business and work. We?ll see.