Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin Conference Call
Q: What do you see from this Patriots team as you start this process of preparing for Sunday's game?
A:Well they're obviously a very good football team. They do so many things very, very well. And defensively they've shored themselves up, there's no doubt. The front has done well, look at the sack number, 27 sacks being second in the league. Any number of outstanding skilled athletes out the secondary to be involved in all the coverage that's necessary now today in this league. Linebackers that have good size and do penetrate the line of scrimmage. An offensive team that keeps on going even though the offensive line has changed, but the quarterback is the key. He's doing an exceptional job as always. I know they lost an outstanding contributor in Lewis the other day, but they have many, many people. LaFell is coming on certainly helps them in that regard. They still have outstanding threats with Edelman having a great year, Gronkowski etc. etc. And their special teams is very impressive, I do enjoy watching their enthusiasm, their speed, their ability to celebrate with one another when someone makes a big play and of course the punter and the kicker are outstanding as well. So it's a very good team.
Q: You mentioned Julian Edelman, I'm curious if you have any recollection of when you guys had him in.
A:Very much so, very much so.
Q: What do you remember about that day?
A:Well I was very, very impressed with the young man. He was very serious, I kind of like those kind of guys. He was serious, he was serious about his business and the game of football and what he was looking for. I certainly regret the fact that he's not in this uniform but that's the way it goes.
Q: When you think about what he's doing now obviously he was at a different stage then. What do you see? Obviously the health is the obvious factor, but could you have projected what eventually happened with him?
A:Well I think you project how hard he played, the contributions that he made not only as a receiver but in the special teams area and many different categories on special teams. You always appreciated the toughness that he brings to the game.
Q: You've been reunited with Steve Spagnuolo who is a local guy from here. Your thoughts on Spags coming back to New York and maybe just your relationship you've had with him over the years?
A:When Steve came as our coordinator way back in '07 it was an opportunity to talk to a guy that worked with some outstanding defensive coaches—Jimmy Johnson in Philadelphia, and had that type of experience in winning with Andy Reid and that type of thing. And then I discovered in doing the research that Steve had coached with Jack Bignell in Europe and of course I was fortunate to be hired by Jack at Boston College as an assistant coach back in the early 80's. So I did enjoy the fact that we did have an experience with Jack in common. Steve wasn't with us long and it was very obvious that not only was he an outstanding coach, but a very good communicator and players liked him. He was very positive, very upbeat. So we're glad to have him back.
Q: You mentioned the Patriots offensive line undergoing some changes. I believe your offensive line went through that last year with a lot of injuries. When that happens, do you almost have to simplify things to keep it going?
A:Well the Patriots certainly haven't. Their pass game and the speed with which the ball comes out and all those type of things are very indicative of what they want to do in the first place. I don't think you have to necessarily change what your basic concepts are, you may not feature a whole lot of things that force you to hold the ball but you can do things about that as well which the Patriots have done—keep more people in, that type of thing.
Q: Maybe you could speak to Shane Vereen and the impact he's had on your team this year?
A:Well he's an outstanding young man, he's very team-oriented. He's been a very good addition with regard to his attitude, his work ethic. He's done a nice job running the ball, learning this offense, and obviously coming out of the backfield. So we were happy to have him.
Q: Speaking of running the ball, I know statistics can be deceiving but your run game certainly at least statistically looks like it's not up to typical Giants standards. Just wanted to get your thoughts on that.
A:Well we're trying like heck. Last week we had a little better effort, we ran it 33 times with 114 yards. I like that part, I like that distribution. I like the fact that contributing with the running game does help everything—it helps your pass protection and it helps your play action pass, it helps in so many different ways. I'm one that I'd rather stay in a certain dimension or range in terms of throwing it and the only way that can happen is if you're steadfast in your belief that you want to be able to rush the football and you're willing to invest in that. The old-fashioned thinking and after Thanksgiving and this part of the country, you never know what's going to happen weather wise. You'd better be able to at least accomplish some things with the run at those times and have a ground game. It's taken us some time, we haven't necessarily done as good a job in opening up or creating opportunities as we'd like, but we're working at it and hopefully we'll continue to get better.
Q: You mentioned that it all starts with Tom Brady and the offense. You've seen him in some big games over the years. Is he playing as well as he ever has and are you surprised at 38 that's what he's doing?
A:I'm not surprised but I do think he's playing as well. He's obviously leading as well as he's ever done. He's just a competitor and a great player, there's no other way around it. Am I surprised the way he's playing? No.
Q: What improvements have you seen in the Patriots run defense since the first two weeks of the season?
A:They're certainly ranked… What are they, third in the league against the run? There's a combination of reasons for that, they're better and they certainly have some personnel that are very physical up front. And they have size, they have some size inside that you've got to deal with. You got to move people in this business if you're going to be creative in terms of being able to run the ball. That's all I can comment on. Obviously we haven't played them for a while, but from what I've seen, I would say that.
Q: How much are the two Super Bowls part of the preparation process for you in terms of going back and watching those as you prepare your team which a lot of these guys weren't in those games, but as the coaching staff prepares your team for this game?
A:No, then is then, now is now. I really don't see any benefit because we're always looking at the personnel. We're looking at the people that play and the people that are manning the positions. When you're doing that and keeping track of personnel first and foremost and then scheme, I just don't see any benefit from going back.
Q: Along those lines then, can a guy like Vereen be extra helpful for you this week based on his knowledge of his time up here?
A:You know what, we have a half of season of games to look at. We've experienced preparing and playing for Bill Belichick in the past and New England. I don't really think anybody has spent a whole lot of time asking Vereen anything to be honest with you.
Q: We see Odell Beckham in commercials and the highlight plays and on Sunday and what not. What's he like during the week to work with?
A:He's good. He's focused, he loves to play, he loves to compete. He's been very good, he's been very good. He's adapted to and adjusted to all the things that tug upon him. I think he's done a pretty good job of keeping things in their place and when he comes to work, he comes to work.
Q: Obviously a completely different player than Rob Gronkowski, but in many ways a lot of people think he's essentially uncoverable. What kind of different things have you seen teams attack him with?
A:Well he's seen it all. We've seen the double coverage and all the attempts people make to eliminate a guy or minimize the impact that an individual can have on a game. So we've all of that stuff.
Giants quarterback Eli Manning Conference Call
Q: What has Shane Vereen brought to you guys? What were your perceptions of him before he came and maybe something that you learned that not necessarily surprised you, but something that you learned when you got him on the team?
A:Obviously seeing him play and thought he was good out of the backfield, caught a lot of passes out of the backfield, but once he got here I've just been impressed with his football awareness, his knowledge, and his feel for route running. He just has a natural feel, how to get open, where the lanes are, where the openings are, and has been impressive with his playmaking ability and what he can do rather out the backfield or splitting him out wide, or running the football, catching the football, he's an impressive football player.
Q: When someone like that comes over from a Super Bowl, obviously you think that adds something to your locker room to as well Eli?
A:I think coming from a team that has had success and use to winning, obviously they prepare very well, so I think just having a guy that's used to having great preparation and knowing what it takes to play at a high level, and to win games. That is good leadership and a good quality to have in the locker room.
Q: I'm curious Eli, 12 years in the league, can you kind of believe it I guess so to speak?
A:It's going by quick, it's going by fast, and it's been a fun ride. I still enjoy the preparation, the work, everything that goes into getting ready to play a game and going out there. I have a great feel for what's about to happen, or what the defense is doing, or what plays you're going to get to. I enjoy every moment of it and just everything that goes into preparing and getting a win each week.
Q: Speaking of being out there each week, your durability has been remarkable. I just wondered if you can speak to how much pride you take in being available to your team on Sunday's?
A:Yeah, that's a lot of it. You just want to be there for your guys and over the years I've had a lot of guys that have played banged up and hurting. They showed great toughness and I think it's my responsibility to be there also, and be there in practice, and get up and be there and show I'm playing for those guys. I want to be accountable and be there every snap to try and do my job and to get us a win.
Q: Eli, in games that matter you seem to have this team's number. I wouldn't think there are too many guys that can say that, why do you think that's been the case?
A:I think I just happen to catch them on the right day. We've played some close games, our defense has played outstanding against them in the games, and so we've had the opportunity to get the ball back with just enough time to go get a score. We've been able to make some plays in that situation. They've all been tight games, could of gone either way, and we just found a way to pull them out.
Q: Are there things that you can take from those experiences, those games against these guys, and fast forward them to Sunday?
A:I'm not sure, just seems like even the game four years ago, a lot of new faces on both sides, on our side, on their side. Some different schemes going on so I think we just have to know we have to play smart, on offense don't make it easy for their offense, they're good enough already, so hopefully our defense can play outstanding again and we can make enough plays to win the game.
Q: Speaking of moving parts, a lot of new parts in the Patriots secondary this season. What have you seen from them so far from them through the first eight games?
A:They've played good. They've done a good job in the secondary playing physical and trying to disrupt the timing of the offensive passing game. They've done a good job of getting a pass rush from their front four and so they're bringing some linebackers, showing different looks, and so that always helps the secondary when they're getting sacks and getting to the quarterback, making him throw before he wants to. It's been a combination of just playing well all over defensively and making it tough for the opposing offenses.
Q: Eli I'm curious, have you ever worn your two Super Bowl rings at the same time before?
A:No, I don't think I have.
Q: Not to like a family reunion or something?
A:No, I haven't worn them both.
Q: Coach Spags [Steve Spagnuolo] is back in town, just wondering what have you seen from him now that he's back in the building again?
A:It's been good to have coach Spags back and just the energy he brings. We had a close relationship when he was here earlier and a lot of respect for him, just talking football with him. It's always challenging to go through training camp with him and the different looks and I think it just makes us better as a team, everything we had to go through and prepare for him during training camp, so it's been fun to have him back out there. The defense is doing a good job. They're getting a lot of turnovers and that's what we need. We need them to get turnovers and we have to protect the football and we'll have an opportunity.
Q: As a quarterback how much fun is it knowing you have someone like [Odell] Beckham [Jr.] to throw it to?
A:Odell has been playing well and he's a great athlete, and works hard, and practices hard. He does everything the right way so it's not a surprise that he has success on game days because he puts in the work and the effort to put him in that situation.
Q: I was wondering how much of a benefit it is getting rid of the ball quicker, or how much more of an adjustment it has been this year getting rid of the ball faster, keep getting the sacks down? How much has that helped you as the season has gone on?
A:It's something that we talk about. We're trying to hit guys in stride and get the ball out quickly when possible. You have to take some shots down the field or hold it some but we're trying to have a plan and be able to execute it. It eliminates some hits on me, which is always good, and lets me get the ball to the athletes and playmakers, and let them break some tackles and make some big plays.
Q: Was that a big adjustment at first for you?
A:It was a little bit, just some of the footwork, just being ready and making quick decisions, and having a plan and sticking with it. We had some similar concepts before, but probably not quite as many in different ways to get the ball out quickly, and making those decisions.
Giants running back Shane Vereen Conference Call with Patriots Media
Q: Shane, what's life as a New York Giant been for you?
A:It's been good, it's been great. I've been enjoying my time here. Came along, still coming along, still trying to learn the ways and everything like that, but so far so good. I've enjoyed it.
Q: What were your perceptions of the Giants when you signed with them and what have you learned that's impressed you about their organization?
A:What I knew about the Giants before was that they had a very storied organization and when you think of football you think of the New York Football Giants. Since I've been here I've learned so much about how this organization is very family-oriented and just how they go about their day and how they work and how they practice and just learning the small things.
Q: I wanted to ask you about the third down back position on the Patriots. It seems like guys like you, Danny Woodhead, Dion Lewis earlier this season, Kevin Faulk before that, there has always been some type of success. What would you attribute to the run or streak the Patriots have had with recent third-down backs?
A:You attribute that to the offense that they played in, the offense that they still use today. It's changing each week, it's something completely different, they can attack you in so many different ways and in order to do that you need backs that can catch the ball, you need backs that can move out wide, and do some different things. It opens up a whole other option for them as an offense.
Q: Tom talked a little bit about the trust that has to be earned when you're in that position. How quickly have you been able to earn that with Eli and how important is that in general?
A:It's extremely important, it's almost everything. Everybody has to be on the same page, especially running back and quarterback. It's been a learning process for me. I've slowly but surely made gains and strides towards getting on that same page and really thinking the same way, but I still have some steps to go and we will get there.
Q: How many Patriots games have you watched this year?
A:I've watched a couple, but not too many because a lot of times we're playing after or at the same time. I've literally seen a couple of them.
Q: Has there ever been a time since you've signed where you just thought, man I wish I was still with the Patriots?
A:No. There's been times when I miss the guys and so I call them and text them, but I still feel like I made the right decision for myself, for my family, and at the end of the day it's a business and you have to do what's smart for you.
Q: Your rookie year you only appeared in a handful of games and essentially caught on like year two, three. I think that James White it's been a similar situation for him. He appeared in three games last year as a rookie and now going forward he might have a bigger role. I guess what type of advice would you give to James going forward from here?
A:Just keep working, keep working. I know James, I know he works hard, he's a smart guy, he's a talented back. I'm sure the more they use him, the more experience and opportunity that he gets the more plays he'll make.
Q: Coach Coughlin was saying earlier that according to him there haven't been a lot of guys asking you a whole bunch of questions about the Patriots. Does that surprise you? If they ask, are you at the ready to offer any and all information that you have?
A:So much has changed – I mean the couple games I did watch so much of the communication and stuff has changed that I don't really think I would be much of an asset to be honest with you. Because, like I said, each week and each season they put so much new stuff in, they change calls, and it's an ever-changing type of thing so I don't really know, to be honest with you, how much my information would even help.
Q: How would you describe your role now versus what you were able to contribute when you were here?
A:That's a good question. I think the role is very similar in the sense to where it's a starting point, a similar off-speed type back catching the ball in the back field. I still need more time here to really see what the role transitions into because we're still midway through the first season.
Q: I know it's part of the business but is it kind of strange to be preparing to play this team this week?
A:Yeah in a sense it is. Yeah, absolutely because for four years that's where you practice, that's what you see every day, and now we're actually preparing to play in a real game. So it's kind of fun though.
Q: What's the biggest different between playing for Bill and playing for Tom?
A:I wish there was one, but, to be honest, they're more similar than different. The way they teach and coach and preach their principles about being a physical team and playing fast, stopping the run, and being able to run the ball. Those are all their basic principles and those are very similar between both coaches.
Q: Sort of a similar question but how about the same question with Tom Brady and Eli Manning? What's it like playing with both those guys?
A:I guess personality-wise there're some differences, but once you get onto the field both guys, they want nothing more than to be successful, be the best that they can be, and to win. They do what they can throughout the week of practice to perfect it and to get it the way they want it to be. Playing with both quarterbacks, I see the drive and I see the intensity of wanting to win.
Q: When you say personality-wise, is it like Eli more willing to crack the joke? What do you mean or could you elaborate on that just in terms on how they're a little different?
A:I guess it's just two different people. Emotional-wise, Tom is probably a little more emotional, Eli is more of a quiet speaker I guess you can say. Little more quiet than Tom is. Their personalities are different that's all. They're just not the same person.
Q: I know you touched on this at the start of the call, but the idea of the third down back in the Patriots and the system, what characteristics would you say you need to have to be that type of back in this system? When you think back to yourself, Kevin Faulk, Danny Woodhead, and all the guys you probably watched over the years when you were here.
A:I think number one is protection. Knowing your protection, knowing who you have because they're going to put you in there, you can't be having the franchise quarterback killed. Protection is number one, after that can you catch the ball. If we give you a route, can you run the route, how much can you learn about routes and concepts, can you be open when we need you to be open. I think that's kind of where you start and then you go from there. But I would say protection is the number one thing.
Q: Shane sorry I came in a little late, but what type of response do you expect from the Patriots defense when you get out there?
A:I think they're going to play Sunday just the way they play every Sunday; hard, fast, physical, and trying to win, obviously. Just the way that they play, the way they approach most games. I wouldn't expect anything less than that.
Q: We'll end you on one lighthearted note. Give us one thing you miss most from being in New England. Like a local restaurant or something around the area.
A:Shoot. Okay, one thing in Foxboro I would say is Skipjack's.
Q: What was your go-to on the menu at Skipjack's?
A:The chicken wings. Oh, off the chain. And with the bread, too? Oh, that bread is fantastic. Oh yeah. That was good stuff.