Tom Coughlin spoke with the media Monday afternoon, one day after his Giants were disemboweled by the Atlanta Falcons….
“Good afternoon. What we talked about with the team today was the fact that although it was an extremely disappointing loss, we are not going to hide from the facts; I did give them the exact facts, the statistics as they occurred throughout the game, the circumstances that evolved and was point-blank with them about that.
The thing that I wanted them to understand is that although some of my good friends last night mentioned that they didn’t think that destiny was in our hands, it is in our hands. If we win two games, we’re going to be in the playoffs. That’s what we have to focus on.”
“Unfortunately, we’ve had bad games in the past. We have used the theme of consistency, I pounded away on that on Saturday night and obviously that didn’t work. Consistency two-fold: one, in terms of our execution and our performance, but the second thing is, the passion and so-on and so-forth that we bring to each and every game knowing the circumstances. Our team does know the circumstances very well. We knew the quality of the football team we were going up against. We knew that they had won 10 in a row at home, that they were an exceptional team that has played very, very well this year and stumbled the week before.”
“(The Falcons) certainly were using the playoff game from January 8th as a form of motivation for their own team, wanting to be well-prepared — even though they’re in the playoffs — for the playoffs when the playoffs came. All of those things were discussed. To be honest with you, the first half was not bad. I contributed to that as well. We missed the first field goal. I was upset about that and disappointed. When it was 17-0, I felt we needed some form to give us a little jump start. Something good to happen, something to be excited about and felt we could convert on the fourth-and-one’s. We didn’t. That particular thing backfired as well. I thought we should’ve, but we didn’t. That’s what we were trying to accomplish there. In reality, we could’ve gone into the half 17-9, rather than 17-0. That would not have changed the second half. We talked in the locker room about going out, kicking the ball off, stopping them or getting a turnover; doing something to jumpstart us from that respect. They drove it and scored.”
“The thing that I wanted to do was give them the idea that our backs were against the wall. It is a playoff situation for us, if you will. We now have to win to have the opportunity to go into the playoffs. We’ve responded to that in the past. We’re going to have to respond to that again.”
How do you clean up the early turnovers in these past few games?
“You look at it. You see exactly what happened and what took place and you talk about how and why would we go ahead and throw that. You can kind of see that Samuel was going to jump the receiver. He was in front of it. It wasn’t a great finish to the route. Unfortunately, we kind of felt like there was a little pressure there and he had to get rid of the ball. Certainly Eli (Manning) would tell you, ‘I would’ve liked to throw that ball away.’ It didn’t happen and so that was one issue. The other issue was the ball was just a little bit behind. It was not the exact timing that you would like on the play. There was a little something to that. It was an outstanding interception by a very good safety. We knew that going in as well. How do you do it? You do it just like any other way in which you coach, you explain it to the player, you show him exactly what the circumstance is, you tell him why it occurred, how it should not have occurred and point out the fact that these are the things.two games in a row we’ve spotted people. We gave New Orleans a touchdown early on the other night. We gave Atlanta a touchdown. These things can’t happen. You can’t do that in games of this nature, which are against very good football teams that are extremely close. We preach, preach, preach and we turn around and turn it over three times and don’t get any yesterday. From four the week before to zero and from 52 points to zero. I mean, I think there’s a pretty good argument for consistency.”
What was the difference in the kick returns between the last two weeks?
“In fact, David (Wilson) shouldn’t have brought the first one out. You’re playing inside. You’re well aware of what’s going to happen. They’ve got a number of touchbacks and we were aware of that as well. The ball is kicked eight or nine yards deep, you have to have almost a 30-yard return to get it to the 20-yard line. I think even though that occurred on the first one, if we blocked it a little better, we had a chance. We had another chance later on in which we missed a block so the execution of that part of it didn’t start out as well as we would’ve liked it either. In fact, the first one, the off-returner really should have held him in.”
How soon after the game did you find out that the playoffs were still in your control?
“By the time I sat down on the plane.”
Did you figure it out or did someone give you the scenarios?
“We have people that follow that very closely and before I got to my seat, I was told that. I actually questioned it because the six are in front of us, at this point in time. I questioned it and was very, very careful not to say anything to anyone until I was absolutely sure of what the situation was.”
Does that give you a little spark after that loss?
“Well, ‘hope.’ ‘Hope’ is the word. ‘Hope’ is a nice word. If you have that, and you have a circumstance which is obviously dismal and extremely disappointing, and when you put your heart and soul in it, it’s a heavy burden. When you create the scenario of hope, it hopefully is going to be an uplifting thing that when we do come back on Wednesday that we realize where we are there’s a little bounce in our step and we get back to work.”
How has your team been so successful in these situations in the past and what can they use from those experiences this time around?
“We can draw on the experience. We did a year ago, six times in a row. That’s kind of what we have to do here. If we’re going to have an opportunity to get into the playoffs at all, we’ve got to win the next two games. (It’s) sort of the way it was a year ago.”
Is there a reason why that team was able to do it that you can quantify?
“I can speculate, but you can, too. Their backs are against the wall. They don’t have any choice. If what we really want is right there for us, there’s only one way to get it. It’s not by playing like we did yesterday.”
Did you share the “hope” with any of the players last night when you found out that you were still in control?
Not till today?
Can the fear of not making the playoffs be used as a motivator to this team?
“Whatever it takes. Whatever, you know? We want to be there. That’s where it all started out. You can’t accomplish what you want to. Every team in the league starts out, they want one goal. You can’t even have that goal till you get in the playoffs. You spend your whole time, for us, it’s win the division. That is something that really is not in our control, but being in the playoffs is.”
Is there any reason you haven’t been able to pressure the opposing quarterbacks recently?
“The reasons basically are: we’re being well pass-protected. We’re not getting, and when we do get the one-on-one, we don’t seem to be able to get there. The rhythm of the throw is gone. The ball is off. Should that be the case consistently? No, of course not. We should have more pressure on the quarterback, but it has not happened for us and so we continue to strive for it to happen.”
Does it matter whether you’re a division champ or a wildcard.you’ve won a Super Bowl from both:
“Getting in is the important thing, but you like to be playing your best football when you get in. We have to go some to get to accomplish that.”
Is it likely to see Ahmad Bradshaw this week?
“You know what, I’m not sure of that yet. I, medically, do not have that kind of feedback yet.”
Any update on Chris Snee’s hip?
“Not yet. I don’t know that we’ll get anything. It’s being treated; being looked at.the doctors are in control of that. Hopefully, he’ll feel much better tomorrow and then we’ll know that if there’s progress, then we can think that if progress continues, we would have a chance.”
Why does the problem with missed tackles keep resurfacing? Is it frustrating at this time of year?
“It’s frustrating anytime. Defensively and special teams, that’s what you have to do. Yesterday, we made a specific point about it because of Michael Turner’s history and the quality of back that he is, but not only that, the size of the receivers and the power and speed in which they play. You had to swarm the ball and get them down right away without allowing them to have a chance to get going. Of course, Tony Gonzalez just keeps on going.”
What went wrong on the short-yardage plays?
“The first short-yardage run, I think we had a chance; a couple things had to happen. We had to combo-block and get off and we didn’t get up on the mike-backer. We didn’t really clean the hole out and so it was congested. He just never had a real chance of any kind of day light to squeeze through. The other two were passes and the one, there wasn’t real good separation and I don’t know that there was pressure to throw it, but it was thrown. That was an incompletion. Later on, we were trying to go in the right spot, but the ball was tipped.”
Do you have to guard against players thinking they can just turn the switch on and off?
“I don’t know that that would be the first priority that I would think to try to squash any thoughts like that. I would like them to think that at this time of the year, we can take our ability and the experience that we’ve had and share it with the young guys and have a good week of practice and have it carry over to the game on Sunday. It’s baffling to me in a way, to be honest with you, that we are not transferring from the practice field to the game field what I see in practice. Practices last week, Thursday was very good, Friday was good, not great, but good. Game day is not looking the same. That’s a concern for me.”
Did any of the players seem surprised with the situation, still being alive?
They were pretty much aware?
“I think they’re aware. They have a lot of information, as you all know, at their access. They were kind of sullen this morning.”
Are you surprised at Eli Manning’s inconsistencies this season?
“It kind of goes along with what I’ve been saying. We’ve tried like heck to talk about ascending and not having that very good game, then that not-so-good game and then a very good game. Evidently, we haven’t got that message across. Now there’s no way it can’t be. We’re going to have to all play at the top of our game just to be able to get in.”
Is Eli about as good as a “back against the wall” guy as there is?
What is it about him?
“Competitive nature. Competitive greatness. Focus. The steely-eyed focus of his, if you will.”
transcript courtesy of Giants communications dept