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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
A: No, no I have not. I had a staff meeting –
I’ve had staff meetings – but those discussions will be going
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
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