Giants Coach Tom Coughlin Conference Call Transcript - Jan. 16

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(What do you remember about your days here as wide receivers coach under Forrest Gregg?)

I was really proud and happy to have the opportunity to come to Green Bay, to kind of bask in that great tradition, the wonderful community, the historic Lombardi mystique that was everywhere and the people were wonderful, and I remember all facets of the guys that we worked with - (defensive coordinator) Dick Modzelewski and (quarterbacks coach) George Sefcik and (defensive backs coach) Dick Jauron was there at the time. All the guys that were there working with Forrest. I enjoyed my time with Forrest and he was very good to me and to our family. You know we didn't win as many games as we wanted to win, but it was certainly a very, very memorable experience and I was very honored to be a part of the Green Bay tradition and to be in the NFC Central.

(Any of that mystique still concern you this weekend?)

I'm more worried about the team myself, the coaching staff and the team.

(Those who aren't around you every day don't know what may have changed out there but can you shed some light on how you changed your approach?)

I think the big thing that happened this year is I brought in a group of guys in the very beginning of training camp - actually it was at the end of training camp before we came back to the stadium. (I) called them our leadership council and communicated with them on a lot of issues pertaining to the players, our schedule. I remember in great detail our trip to London and trying to inform the guys well in advance of what was coming and what they needed to know and if they had any thoughts on certain parts of it. I think it's more of a communication thing and an attempt on my part to involve everyone as best I can to do a better job of communicating, to delegate more responsibilities, to take a deep breath before I say something that might be better served to address in a different way. I mean those to me are the major things. The players might see something different but nothing has changed in terms of the principles that I believe in and the way in which I believe you win in this league. But you know we try to do a better job of informing and involving the players.

(So we shouldn't depict you as having softened?)

Whatever that means, softened is not the word that I would choose.

(What word would you choose?)

I think I've just said enough about that topic. You can choose whatever word you want.

(How are the Packers looking different than when you saw them in September?)

Well they're playing very, very well. They have any number of people involved in how they play. Special teams is very effective. A number of return men have been utilized, all of which are very talented guys. Brett is playing extremely well, and of course, in Ryan Grant a runner, a ball-carrier has emerged who really has done an outstanding job all down through the stretch and into the playoffs. The defense is just as stout as ever, playing very physical, very stingy defense, contesting every ball. (They're) very difficult to run against. They've improved and Mike McCarthy and his staff have done an outstanding job, and you can see the quality of their team.

(What were your thoughts on Grant the first couple years and where he stood?)

We liked him very much. We liked Ryan very much and always did, and we were glad to see the progress that he was making. We were excited about him. The simple fact of the matter is we did have a position, one position where we thought we had five and possibly six players that were NFL-caliber runners, and that was at the tailback or the running back position. So, our people obviously thought that this was an opportunity to gain a draft choice, but we have great respect for Ryan.

(What's the secret to your team's success on the road?)

We have been a team which has gone on the road - I think the key factor right there is team. It's a group of young men who really I think have come together as a team, support one another, play for one another, try not to let each other down, try to go ahead and any individualism has to be stepped backwards in terms of quality of doing everything possible for the good of the team. When we go on the road, we have good character, we have good leadership. When things start to go wrong we have some guys who can really refocus our players and get us back on track if you will. We do have some mental toughness, some physical toughness that we play our way through some very difficult times, so I think those have been the things. We are resilient and we do play hard, and those are the things that have been factors.

(How different is the team defensively than in Week 2?)

I think we're very different. We've gone through an awful lot of learning in terms of the progress that we've made and the first two weeks of the season were not very good for our entire team, let alone our defensive team, but we also played two very outstanding football teams in those first two weeks of the season. But we progressed and we've made progress since then, and as I've said, the No. 1 ingredient for us is that we play hard and we play together.

(How did Grant handle the year he missed with a hand injury and did the circumstances make him slip in the coaches' eyes?)

No, really he handled it very well and came right back to the offseason program after the conclusion of the '06 season, jumped right back in there, and was with us all through the spring and into the camp.

(How have you seen Eli grow up or evolve or mature this season?)

I think his progress has been steady since Day 1, since the time he came here and since he took over as the starter in his rookie year. There have obviously been some ups and downs but he is a guy who stays away from the real highs and the real lows and knows the game very well, works very hard at it, and what he's done here late in the season is to recognize exactly what had to be done and what was necessary in order for us to have a chance to win and he's done it. That's the thing that I'm most proud of and the thing which I think has rallied our team around him the most.

(Can you touch on the Packers' corners, particularly Charles Woodson and the perception that he was slipping when he came to Green Bay?)

No that's not the case with Charles. He's an excellent playmaker, he continues to do the things that are necessary in terms of coverage, you know an awful lot of man coverage in their scheme, and both he and (Al) Harris do a good job of that. And Woodson continues to be the guy that has a majority of the punt returns, so you know that he's very much excited about doing that. He's had an outstanding year and he's a tough, competitive guy.

(What do you see with the Packers' two veteran tackles and the match-up with your terrific defensive line?)

You know, the two tackles that the Packers have are really good football players. They're veteran football players. The guys that we have manning our wings are outstanding football players as well. It's going to be a real interesting match-up without a doubt. But I see two guys that complement their team very, very well. Clifton is a large, athletic guy who really contributes in a lot of ways, has obvious skill and the ability to play over there on the left side. Brett's involved in this as well, but to think that they only had 19 sacks in the course of the season, which is a tremendous feat - I know that the ball comes out quickly - but boy, that's something else. And Tauscher on the other side is a big, strong, physical guy who just gets after you and they really do a good job in spearheading that offensive line.

{sportsad300}(Is the temperature on Sunday even an issue?)

No, that's not an issue. We're not going to spend any time thinking about something we can't control. You're not familiar with it, but we went to Buffalo just before the season ended in Week 16 and we caught about every type of weather you could have. We had ice, we had sleet, we had 40 mile-an-hour winds, we had wind chills really low and we had two quarters when you could throw into it and two when you couldn't. We had probably weather that was extreme, so we've been in that and then the first week of the playoffs we played in 78 degree weather down in Tampa. So we've had some extremes of cold. It was cold in Chicago when we were there. The night that we played the Patriots here at home, it really wasn't too bad of a night. We caught a good night, but it was probably the same as you had last week (although) I know that we didn't have snow. Both teams are going to play in it and that's an area where we really don't have control over, so we're trying like heck to focus on the things that hopefully we can control.

(Are you working outside this week?)

We were outside today.

(But there'd be no way to try to simulate anything like it's going to be here on Sunday?)

Well, you have to use your imagination on that one. It's not in the single digits if that's what you mean, no.

(How important do you think leadership is and do you look at the Packers as a young team or a team with veterans in the right spots?)

I look at them as a good team and I look at them as a team that complements each other, and I think it is important to have leadership -- skilled, veteran leadership that's 100 percent focused on your team and your program and trying to do whatever they can in the best interests of the team. Because the young players do look to the veteran players in so many different ways, and that helps to have a good, solid example and not only that, someone who can direct, if you will, in some of this uncharted water for young guys.

(What concerns you most about the Packers' run defense?)

The fact that they haven't given up a whole lot of yardage. You know, they're a good, physical front seven or eight guys, whatever you want to say, and they are solid, fundamentally sound, play good, tough defense. So it's the fact that over the course of the season they've done a good job against the run and so much of what we do is based on balance.

(What's the health of your secondary like right now?)

Aaron Ross practiced today and Sam Madison did not. (Kevin) Dockery did not. I thought we might get something done there, but it's day-to-day with some of the other guys.

(How late in the week can you wait for those guys?)

What time's the game?

(Can you talk about how some of your reserves stepped up on Sunday?)

They played well. Corey Webster's played well since the end of the season, to be honest with you, and done a good job, and Aaron Ross has been in there since way back in his rookie season and has done a good job of competing week in and week out against some of the best receivers in the game. Guys like Geoff Pope played the other day and played well, and did the things that he had to do to help us win, so we've had some young guys who - whether they've had the advance notice or not - have had to step up in the course of the game to help us win and they've done it.

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