Good afternoon, guys. I haven't had a chance to visit with you since the game the other day. I just want to say that following the loss to the Philadelphia Eagles – a really hard-fought game, a game that we had an opportunity to win – I felt very strongly about that. I told you that I had expressed feelings to the team. I was proud of the team and the way in which they had battled, in the way in which they had stuck together and in the way in which we had come through some adversity in Washington to get ourselves – to have the opportunity to be in the playoffs. (I'm) disappointed certainly in the loss to the Eagles in the playoffs. (I'm) disappointed in our 8-8 season, wishing that it would have been better, but nevertheless recognizing that we have been in the playoffs two years in a row. It was a very emotional time – hard-fought game, the conclusion of a season, sitting here even now just three days removed…But having had an opportunity, as procedures do follow, to sit and talk with ownership, I'm certainly very appreciative and very grateful to Jonathan Tisch and John Mara for the opportunity to sit and visit with them, and for their support. We've had a couple of days of very healthy, productive meetings which allowed, as (is) normal at the end of the season, an opportunity to answer questions, express our thoughts for moving forward, for improving our football team. And really everything that we talked about was about getting the New York Giants better – being better and improving so that we could move forward. And everything that was said in those meetings was addressed according to those lines.
Q: John Mara and Jonathan Tisch told us before they made their decision, they wanted to hear your plan for making this better. Did you go in assured that you were going to come back another year, or were you at all worried about what was going to happen?
A: I really never worried about – as I told you on a couple of occasions – I never really worried about my job as such. I worried about the next opponent. I spent all of my time trying to work with our staff and our players, trying to find a way to win, and I really don't look at time spent in that fashion – worrying about my future – as time well-spent. I really did not. I felt that we worked very hard as a staff and as a group this year. It certainly wasn't what we expected it to be, but going into the meetings, I felt they were end of the year meetings that gave me a chance to be with ownership and still didn't have any feeling that I was not going to be retained.
Q: Have you made any decisions about assistant coaches?
A: The process is on-going. We evaluate everything. I'm in the process of doing that now. I've expressed some things of concern as we've gone forward in our meetings, and they're continuing. You'll know as soon as those decisions are final.
Q: The owners said that part of those meetings were to discuss your visions of the future and how this team is going to get better. What are the main points that you pointed out to them?
A: I think it's broad in scope, but one is my belief that Eli (Manning) will improve. He is the quarterback of the future, and that certainly we have work to do there in consistency, in offensive point production, along those lines, but I'm very confident that we will achieve in that area. I think you realize that the picture is brighter than it was when I first came on board, with the two playoff appearances. The competitive nature of our league is a most difficult one. I do think that improvement is in the offing. I think we get some of these people back, we add a strong draft class, we add a few quality people in terms of the opportunities extended to us in free agency. I think we move forward, and so everything that we talk about is all about improving our football team and they go from, again, reevaluating everything, assessing the injury situation and so on and so forth. I realize the questions and the answers are somewhat broad in nature, but they have to be right now.
Q: When you first took over, you talked about having a team that played smart, was more disciplined and having fewer injuries. Do you feel that that's something that has to improve?
A: Well, I always do. I think we weren't the least penalized team, for example, in the NFC East. I think we were second by one penalty. I think that that certainly can always improve. I think that the injury situation, all you can do is continue to research that. I thought that our guys maintained a great level of focus, even through the injuries. We never used it as an excuse or developed any kind of a mentality along those lines. We continue to put forth with – The players that were on our team went forth and played as hard as they could, and that's the mentality that you're after. It would be a wonderful thing if somehow, some way we could devise in our game that no one was hurt, but that's unrealistic so we'll continue to research and try to understand how these things occur and do a better job of trying to prevent them, but the nature of the game is such.
Q: The two owners did say that they would at least discuss or get your opinions or impressions about their general manager search. The fact that you're in place now before the new GM comes into play --does that concern you at all, that you don't have a GM there now who is already on board with your retention?
A: Let me say this: I had a wonderful relationship with Ernie Accorsi, and Ernie Accorsi and John Mara and Jonathan Tisch and Mr. Mara and Mr. Tisch were the people that brought me here. I had full confidence in Ernie and in the personnel staff that's here. I do have full confidence in John Mara and Jonathan Tisch that the right person will be selected. We all know that in this day and age you have to work hand-in-hand to see things exactly the same way – what the needs are, how we're going to go about accomplishing those needs. I have every confidence that when the decision is made as to who the general manager is, it will be someone that will certainly share my thoughts along those lines. But also, we all worked – It's great to have to be able to surround yourself with professionals, with people who can be on the same page trying to accomplish the same thing, which is trying to make our team better.
Q: Jay Feely on Monday pretty honestly expressed his disappointment in the fact that there were a number of players on the team in the locker room that refused to buy into and refused to follow your leadership and what you preached to the team. I'm wondering if you perceived that, and if that in fact was the case, how inhibiting was it to you in what you had to do?
A: I think, although I'm not sure what Jay said, but you always have your challenges and you always have players that you have to try to make them understand what your thinking is and why it is. I think the first question that was asked in the conference here was about discipline and about focus and about a team that can really control themselves and their emotions on the field, because if you don't, the smallest of errors can cost you a football game at this level and you can't afford that. That's all we really preach and that's all that we try to do. We talk about team, we talk about a team that controls its emotions and does the right thing at the right time on the field, obviously gives great effort and has superior preparation. It's an on-going process and I'm not sure what Jay is referring to, but it's very important in our game at this level with the parity in our league that everyone understand exactly what we're talking about and is in complete agreement with what is necessary for us to win.
Q: Were John Mara and Jonathan Tisch supportive of you from the start of your meetings this week, and what does their commitment mean to you?
A: They were very, very good. They were very supportive, they were intense in their desire to find out what our thinking was and what our thoughts were in wrapping up this season and moving forward. I appreciated very much, the way that the meetings were conducted, and the fact that at the conclusion on the meetings that the questions had been answered. I was, as I said before, grateful, and still am, for their support.
Q: Do you feel you need to change at all, and do you think that players will notice anything different about you starting next season?
A: I think I have changed, to be honest with you, and I will continue to do that because I think you have to grow and you have to study the circumstances and continue to improve, if you will, every year. I don't think – No two teams are ever the same and I don't think your approach can be the same with any two teams that are back-to-back teams. I think the players understand what is important to me, and I think that the more that we get to experience one another, the better off we are.
Q: Do you think they can expect a softer, kinder Tom Coughlin?
A: I don't know about…I've tried to be understanding and I've tried to make them aware of obviously the fact that I am concerned about each and every one of them in more ways than just in football. You don't get a lot of time to sit during the course of the season and do that, and I hope to be able to catch up on some of that in the off-season.
Q: Given the fact that you're losing the franchise-leading rusher and your Hall of Fame defensive end will be a year older next year, how difficult will your job be to get this team back to the playoffs?
A: You understand that about our business. Tiki (Barber)'s decision to retire is one that, while it saddens us, it's a part of our game. Michael (Strahan) will be back. He will be healthy. The process of improvement is always one where you have to be able to go out and bring players in that can help you, and that cycle begins right away. It's difficult for every team, and every team basically starts the same here in the off-season. We realize what has to be accomplished. We look at our team very closely and we'd like to make some decisions along the way here that will improve us, but it's no different than any other team.
Q: How do you rate Eli Manning's progression, and do you believe ultimately your success or failure at the Giants will be measured by his growth?
A: I think that our success will be measured by our team and what our team is able to accomplish on the field. I think that everyone has to improve. Everyone has to play better, to get better, and certainly I think Eli would agree with that. And the process continues. It's a continual attempt to try to improve yourself. Even some of the great players, the greatest players in the game always – I've heard them say that the challenge is with yourself. I think it's an on-going thing. Eli is coming out of his third year, going into his fourth year and I think that there's no question that we will have a very productive off-season in terms of, again, his improvement.
Q: In your first year, there were players who took swipes at you anonymously. Last year, not so much because of the successful season, but down the stretch here there were a couple of those. How sure are you that next year that won't happen again, and that these guys are on the same page with you?
A: I think it's, again, trying to point out the importance of family and remaining together, and if there is someone who has something on their mind that the door is open, and this is where it starts. There, for whatever reason, has been a process where people have gone to the media with questions about things that should remain in-house and should remain within family, not on the outside. I think that the players, they understood my explanation about that and why I thought it was so important for our team and our franchise, and I think we're making progress along those lines.
Q: The owners said that you received a one-year contract extension. Did you want a longer extension, and does a one-year extension, in your mind, basically mean a "make good" year for next year?
A: I think every year that you take the field is a year in which you put everything that you have into doing the best job you possibly can and winning. I don't think very many of us think very far beyond just the season that's at hand. I would even have preferred that that – I realize you need that information, but that to me is something that's a private matter, when you start to talk about contract(s). My focus is on right now and the upcoming season.
Q: In terms of your staff, are you going to be the sole evaluator over these next few stages--
A: --Yes, I am.--
Q: -- In deciding exactly what happens, then, to the rest of your coaching staff, will you be getting any input from anybody in the organization on that?
A: Obviously if I chose to bounce some things off, I have people that I can do that with. That's the nature of the business, and of course, that's the prerogative of ownership. But it's been stated very clearly to me that those decisions are mine.
Q: You've talked about your unhappiness with players speaking out in the press. Is there something to be said – sort of like addition by subtraction – by removing a veteran element who is not afraid of speaking out in the press and having a more uniform team?
A: I don't think of it in that way at all. It's our team, and it's a message to our team, period.
Q: Was there anything that came up in the conversations with John Mara and Jonathan Tisch over the last couple of days that they asked you to do something that you felt at the time might be unacceptable and that could get in the way of you returning?
Q: You obviously had success in making Tiki Barber a better football player. Why do you think, to date, you haven't had the same success with Eli Manning?
A: I just think that it's an on-going process, and there was one particular issue that Tiki was able to understand immediately. He was very open-minded about it. He was an outstanding runner, if you will, when I came here, but the issue was the idea of trying to help him with ball security, and we were able to do that. He worked the entire off-season on it and he made it a part of his body – he made the ball a part of his body. He put the ball in such a position where the opponent could not get to it and he lived by that religiously, even when it was not comfortable for him. With Eli, it's a process. You have a young guy that has the responsibility, if you will, of the ball on every snap. Whether it be the decisions that have to be made with regard to the fronts, the blitzes, the coverages, even as far as putting us in the right position from a run-standpoint, he's done an exceptional job of that. There are things which happen in the game that, one play you may master in the face of a blitz and the next play you may not. It's a process that we're continuing to work on, and I have great faith that he recognizes what it is we need to improve upon and he will work at it. It's not a question of him not doing what we ask him to do. He's completely reliable and dependable in those areas, and we have to get better. That's all.
Q: Did you ask anything of management in return, in terms of were you satisfied with the personnel that you had, in terms of the players? Was there anything on your mind?
A: Those things remain private. There are always discussions about all phases of job-responsibility and we covered any number of subjects, but nothing that wasn't discussed to make us better and nothing that wasn't well-received.
Q: Do you expect Tim Lewis to be back as your defensive coordinator?
A: We're in the position here where we're talking about our entire operation and our evaluation throughout the course of this week. We'll consider all of those things.
Q: Have you spoken to any of the assistants yet?
A: No, no I have not. I had a staff meeting – I've had staff meetings – but those discussions will be going forward.
Q: Would you admit that at least the defensive side needs to improve substantially over the next –
A: I think we need to improve in every area. I don't think it's just defense. I think improvement has to be…I mentioned earlier to you that, for example, we didn't score enough points. I think that everything needs to be evaluated and looked at and put in a position where we can improve.
Q: You said you're confident that whoever becomes the general manager, you'll be able to work with him. Were you asked at all on any input on that, especially with the in-house candidates?
A: You know what? We never really talked in any great detail about any of that. The idea of working together was expressed, but not to the point where it had to do with any individual.