HEAD COACH BILL BELICHICK PRESS CONFERENCE
BB:Alright, well we've spent quite a bit of time on the Giants the last couple days. Their ability defensively to create turnovers and get the ball out and score is obviously very impressive, by far and away the best in the league at that. They've also made a lot of plays in the kicking game – blocked punts, kickoff returns, their overall coverage units and field position have been impressive. And offensively, they have obviously a good offensive system, well coached, good players, good skill players. They're big, they're physical, they run the ball, they use all four backs, they have explosive on the perimeter, they have guys that make a lot of yards after the catch, an experienced quarterback who makes a lot of good decisions with their no-huddle offense or their up-tempo offense, whatever you want to call it. A lot to get ready for this week, they use a lot of different people, particularly defensively, they use a lot of guys in the front, seven or eight defensive linemen, they use multiple linebackers, multiple guys at the corner positions. A lot of personnel things to get ready for as well as scheme-wise, they do a lot of things defensively with their various secondary pressures, change-up coverages, disguises, things like that. This will be a big preparation week for us to know a team that we don't know.
Q: What are some of the unique challenges in trying to slow down a guy like Jason Pierre-Paul, when you don't know what his conditioning will be like?
BB:Well I think he played 50-some plays last week against Tampa, so his conditioning looks fine. I'm sure he'll be in there most of the time like he was last week, so he'll be there. He's long, he's athletic, he's got good feet, good quickness, good edge speed, so he's definitely a force. We're going to have to do a good job on him.
Q: Is Steve Spagnuolo's scheme similar to what he did in 2007 or has it evolved?
BB: I don't think they've changed their playbook. It's just a question of when they dial up what they do based on the team they're playing and what they want to try to stop or how they want to try to attack it.
Q: How much have the tight ends on this team helped out in pass-blocking?
BB:Our tight ends have really taken a well-rounded role in everything – running game, pass protection, pass patterns, long, short, inside, outside kind of things, so it's a pretty versatile group and each player kind of has his own strengths and weaknesses, but as a group they've all been involved in the running game, been involved in the passing game, been involved in protection and tried not to become too overly predictable on who's going to do what to the defense. It's definitely given us some versatility offensively and the ability to create some different matchups or attack different parts of the defense because of their ability to do different things. It's been good.
Q: Is there anything specifically you can point to for the improved run defense the past couple games?
BB:It's team defense. It's not like one guy can stop a running game, so it's team defense, technique, each person taking care of their responsibility, guys that are on the outside not letting the ball get outside, and guys in the inside getting good run reads, playing with good technique, controlling their blockers, tackling – all the above.
Q: What have you seen from Alan Branch since the beginning of the season?
BB:He's made steady improvement in everything – his technique, his conditioning, his overall consistency. But those guys have all played not the same amount but approximately the same number of plays – Malcom [Brown], Alan, Akiem [Hicks] and Sealver [Siliga]. And [Dominique] Easley has really been part of that inside rotation, too. Although he's a little different type, he brings a little different dimension to that. But those four big guys, they've all played as I said approximately the same amount of plays and roles. So I don't think it's one guy playing a lot and another guy not playing much, so they've all contributed there. So Alan has been a part of that, not more, not less, but a good contributing part of that four-man group.
Q: What kind of route runner is Odell Beckham Jr.?
BB:Good, really quick, tough kid, goes inside for the ball, very good after the catch, makes a lot of plays with the ball in his hands. He's a hard guy to tackle, has good quickness and a good ability to separate, but I'd say the thing that's impressed me the most about him is his toughness. He's not a big guy, but he competes well, he goes inside, goes after the ball, takes a hit, hangs on to it. He's a tough competitive player and very good with the ball in his hands, not just going up and getting it, he's got obviously a bunch of highlight catches, but when he catches the ball he can run with it and make plays with his quickness and with his open-field running ability.
Q: How has Joe Cardona balanced his responsibilities to the team and the Navy?
BB: Good. I think Joe has done a real good job of that. He's here when he can be here and when he's not here we know where he is. So he's balancing those, but I think he's done a good job of managing his time and working as hard as he can on the things he needs to improve on, which again it's a big jump from what he did last year to what he's doing this year and the precision, the execution and the timing and so forth. So he's done a good job of all those things and I still think if he continues to work hard and continues to work on the things that he needs to work on, I think he's got a real good future. But he's improved a lot and there are still things he can continue to work on, which he is, and get better at.
Q: When you draft someone like that, do you do it because you know he can handle the responsibilities?
BB:Yeah, I think each situation is different. You've got to look at each individual. Just because somebody goes to an institution, I don't think that defines that person necessarily. You've got to see what that individual brings himself. So I think Joe definitely does that. I think you could see that in evaluating Joe, but I wouldn't say that is necessarily carte blanche the case. Each situation is different. And really he's one of the first guys that's really been in this situation, I would say. [Kyle] Eckel was out, [Eric] Kettani was in, but he was out – he wasn't doing quite the same thing Joe is doing. [Phil] McConkey was out, [John] Stufflebeem was in, but he was only in for training camp. He was in the Navy, but he was only there for training camp, he didn't play a full season. I wasn't with [Napoleon] McCallum, but McCallum was out. [David] Robinson was out when he played basketball. So again I think each situation is a little bit different. [Roger] Staubach was done. In this case, Joe's responsibilities are really going on at the same time.
Q: Tom Brady is being mentioned as just about everybody's midseason MVP. Is there something satisfying about seeing him do this at this stage in their career?
BB:Look, I mean that's great, but honestly I don't think anybody's really focused on that right now. We're focused on the Giants, not some midseason report card. Like, who cares? What difference does it make? Give me an F. Give me a C+. I mean, it doesn't matter. Right now, I'm focused on the Giants. That's all I really care about.
Q: What grade would you give Tom?
BB: I don't give grades. I'm worried about the Giants. We're trying to beat the Giants. I don't really care about some midseason, midterm grade. Give me whatever you want. I don't care.
Q: What is it about their defense that allows them to create so many turnovers?
BB:Yeah, I think it's the techniques that they use. They do a real good job of standing the runners up. A lot of times they don't tackle them. They just bear hug them and wait till the second or third guy can come in and poke the ball out. In the passing game, they do a lot of trapping where they're kind of in a zone but they really have another zone. It looks like they're in one zone but they're actually in another zone and they're very fast to converge there, things like that. It's one thing when the offense just fumbles the ball, they fumble a snap or they drop the ball. They're turnovers, but they're not really caused turnovers. It's just poor ball handling by the offensive team. I would say in the Giants case, a lot of their turnovers have come from really good plays like [Dominique Rodgers-]Cromartie's interception against Dallas, his interception against Philadelphia – the ball is thrown all the way back across the field and he went up and really made an outstanding catch, a catch you would see a receiver make. Those kinds of plays are not gimmies. Those are good plays to intercept the ball or to force a turnover. Same thing on the strip sacks – you go in there to tackle the quarterback or you can go in there and find a way to get the ball away from him. It's a combination of the individual techniques and also I'd say some scheme things that lend themselves more to possibly creating opportunities where they kind of give you something but then they take it away quickly. If they get there in time, it's their ball.
Q: How much different is Eli now than the last time you saw him?
BB: I think the offense is different. I don't think he's changed dramatically as a player, but the ball has come out quicker, fewer sacks, higher-percentage completions, quicker throws, hitting a lot of guys on the run so there is run after catch. They still run play action, but I'd say maybe a little ... There is some play action, I'm not saying that, but the percentage of it is maybe a little lower than just quick timing throws and also the fact that there is so much no-huddle and the plays are controlled by the quarterback that if he sees a bad play or a bad look that he can change the pay to something that's better. So rather than run a play-action pass against a heavy blitz look where you know you're going to have to protect and hold the ball and throw it down the field, on that play they can go to something else and come back and run that play-action pass when they get a better look and maybe they think there are going to be fewer people rushing. So things like that – I think it's a combination of all those things.
Q: How has Shane Vereen looked this year with the Giants?
BB:Good. He's quick, athletic, obviously catches the ball well, has given them some plays in the return game, kickoff returns, so he's used primarily as a sub-type back, third down, two minute, although he's in there in some other situations, too – it's not exclusive – and also kickoff returns. I'd say pretty much the same player that we saw here doing similar things and doing them well.
Q: Has the sub-type, receiving back always been a big part of your system? Can you identify a time when it became a big part of your offense and other offenses around the league?
BB:I'd say it kind of started in the 80's as I remember it. In the early 80's and 70's, usually the same 11 guys were on the field for every play, and then you got a little bit to the third receiver, but the tight ends were pretty good and those guys were good receivers – they weren't really guys you were looking to take off the field. So you played the same 11 guys on offense, you played the same 11 guys on defense. There was a little bit of nickel defense in the late 70's where teams would put in a defensive back for a linebacker, but it was the same thing. It was just kind of a one-for-one substitution. Then I think you saw teams like Washington when [Joe] Gibbs was there have the big back, whether it was George Rogers or [John] Riggins or whoever it was, and then they had [Joe] Washington or Kelvin Bryant or that type of player as their sub back, and it would be a true one-for-one situation. We did that at the Giants, had a lot of success with [Dave] Meggett, Tony Galbreath, guys like that. That was into the late 80's and the 90's and then a lot of teams started doing it where they found that third-down back first of all was less of a load for one guy to be out there for every single play, and then secondly the skills of that player, ability to separate and have quickness and make plays with his hands in the passing game as opposed to just the ball carriers, sometimes you could have both instead of just trying to find one guy to do everything, which is harder ... There are always going to be some backs in the league that can do that, but I think it was a little easier to find two guys rather than find one who can do everything or find two – one to do it and one guy to back him up. It was a way of splitting the load. So I'd say that's kind of evolved, evolved trough the mid-80s and by probably a decade later it's the way a lot of teams were going. When you had guys like Tony Dorsett and Billy Sims and Thurman Thomas and guys like that, you didn't need to sub anybody. You put them in there, do whatever you want with them – throw it to them, run 20 times a game. They were all really good at that. But the specialization gives in particular with Washington and the guys that went on from his system like Dan Henning and guys like that. They adopted that same type of philosophy.
Q: Who is the best one that you've coached?
BB:We've been lucky. We've had a lot of good players at that position. Certainly Meggett was ... And again it depends on what the guy's role was. The thing about Meggett was he gave you all those plays in the kicking game – kickoff returns and punt returns, as well as third downs – so he was a very impactful player in terms of the number of times that he would catch the ball. Kevin [Faulk] probably caught more passes than Meggett did, but he didn't have the same production in the return game. Probably had more production as a running back, actually carrying the ball. But going back to Tony Galbreath, he did a great job for us at the Giants.
Q: Eric Metcalf?
BB: He was a little different. He ended up being a receiver in Atlanta. He was a little different. I mean, he was, but he wasn't. He was a little different style of player there. Those guys, they all kind of have a similar skill set but then what their role is as it relates to the kicking game. Metcalf was a great returner – seven, eight career touchdowns – whatever it was. So probably more impact in the kicking game than in some cases on offense. But those players are explosive.
BILL BELICHICK CONFERENCE CALL WITH NEW YORK MEDIA
BB: I just wanted to say that in watching the Giants, kind of one of the first things that I noticed was the patch on the jersey and the number 16. I know that Ann Mara and Frank have meant so much to the great tradition of the New York Giants, and I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to get to know and work with in varying degrees both people. The recognition of Ann and Frank to me just really touches the great tradition that the Giants have, have always had and how important those two people were and the part that they played in that. That's a part of this season for them and certainly for me as well. I've recognized it and I know all the fans and all the people that know what those two people have done for our league as well as that team respect and appreciate their contributions. So, fire away.
Q: The last time you faced the Giants and you were undefeated, in 2007, things didn't turn out in your favor. What is it about the Giants that your teams have struggled against them?
BB:Those games were a long time ago. I don't think it really has any bearing or influence on what happens this week. I think this week is about the matchups with these two teams, and so that's what we're really focused on.
Q: What have you seen from Eli Manning and the Giants offense this year that can make them a dangerous team?
BB:They're a really good football team. They do a lot of things well. Manning is obviously having another outstanding year in terms of high completion percentage, a lot of production, uses all of his weapons, handles the line of scrimmage, no-huddle operation well. They run a lot of the right plays you want to run to attack the defensive looks that they get. They're well coached. They have good players. They're a good football team.
Q: What do you see that's different about Eli Manning in this offense compared to past years?
BB:I mean, he's been a good player. He's still a good player. The offensive system has been modified a little bit. We saw that system in preseason, different players, but still their basic system and basic plays. He continues to do a good job, and as I said, he has got a lot of good players around him and they're very productive.
Q: Is it weird for you to come back to New York and play in a different stadium? I know Giants Stadium held a special place in your heart.
BB:Yeah, but time marches on. Things change for all of us. It's been several times I've been back there, so the newness has kind of worn off.
Q: We've been honoring this year the 1990 Super Bowl Champions that you were a part of. When you think back to that team, what comes to mind?
BB:Well I mean there were a lot of great things about that team, but for me it was really about the defensive players that I was most closely associated with. And that's not taking anything away from Phil [Simms] and the job that Jeff [Hostetler] did and all the other great players and great plays that came from that season on offense and special teams. But the group that I was with defensively was really a special group. They worked well together and we got a lot of leadership in the secondary from Everson Walls – I mean, the tackle he made on [Thurman] Thomas in the Super Bowl was a huge play. But [Carl] Banks and Pepper [Johnson] and L.T. [Lawrence Taylor] and our front, we had a lot of good days defensively that year and particularly in the postseason. I was proud to coach that group and we had a good coaching staff, guys I really enjoyed coaching with, and the players, it was good chemistry. It was an amazing year.
Q: Your game plan from that Super Bowl went to the Hall of Fame and has gotten a lot of credit over the years. Do you feel your game plan got too much credit or the right amount of credit? How do you feel about that?
BB:I think games are won by players. Players are the ones that go out there and make plays, so it's always about the players. As a coach you try to put the players in a position where they have a chance to compete, but players are the ones that make the plays, absolutely. We have a lot of great players and they're the ones that made the plays, and that's why we won. You can put anything you want down on a piece of paper, but you've got to have players go out and make them and we had it.
Q: How would you describe Tom Coughlin as a coach?
BB:Tom is very intense, smart, obviously offensive oriented. He always has a good plan of attack and he does a good job of making the defenses work and attacking the weak points of whatever the defensive scheme or personnel is. They're sound. Their blitz pickup is always good. They have a good balance with the running game and the passing game. They always have a lot of big players on the field – full backs tight ends – guys like that that force you defensively to defend everything. They've used all their backs this year, so there are a lot of different matchups even though it could be the same formation on paper, but it could be a big difference between [Andre] Williams, [Shane] Vereen, [Rashad] Jennings, which guy is in there. Same thing with tight ends and skill players – they move them around, put them in different spots. The matchups, the schemes and I'd say the overall soundness there in their system – they don't run a lot of bad plays.
Q: I know it's only been one game, but what have you seen from Jason Pierre-Paul and how he's come back from his injury?
BB:In the Tampa game, on the road, on grass, I'm sure he'll be faster and quicker and more explosive at home. But he's obviously very athletic and has great length, balance, speed, quickness, good motor, so he's a tough guy to block in any situation and I'm sure he'll be better this week than last week with another week of practice and that first game under his belt. We'll expect his best and try to prepare as best we can to handle him, but he's a great player.
Q: You guys defer the coin toss and the Giants have followed suit. Does that overall trend surprise you, considering that offenses have become more and more important?
BB:Yeah, I mean, I don't know. I can't speak to what other teams are doing or what they think. I don't know about that. We do what we think is best for each individual game. We talk about it before the game as a staff and depending on what all the circumstances and factors are that play into the game, based on all that, taking everything into consideration then if we have the option, which a lot of times we don't, we decide what we want to do. We've done all the above – some more than others, but it all depends on the individual game and situation and how those factors, once we weigh them all out, what our decision is. So, I'm just saying it's not a cut-and-dry thing for us.