An Interview With:
Q. From a quarterback’s standpoint, is it you’re concerned more about the wind? In other words, if there’s no wind, you can deal with the cold?
ELI MANNING: I think so. I think our mindset this week is ‑‑ the weather will be what it is. You can’t control it, you can’t worry about it. Our focus is on getting ready for <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Green Bay</st1:place></st1:city>, studying their schemes, studying what we have to do to prepare for them.
If it’s cold, if it’s windy, then you can make adjustments. You can deal with that when that time comes. Again, we’ve played in cold weather, we’ve played in wind, we’ve played in snow, we’ve played in rain. We’ve played in pretty much anything they’ve thrown at us this year, and I think whatever the conditions are on Sunday, we’ll be okay.
Q. You said a couple of days ago that you hadn’t spoken to Peyton since the Cowboys game, but have you spoken to him in the past couple days about being in this moment since he was there last year?
ELI MANNING: I’ve talked to Peyton, but it wasn’t really a whole lot of just being in the moment. He said, you’ve just got to go out there and play. It’s nothing ‑‑ don’t do anything differently this week that you weren’t doing the last two weeks. Just go out there and try to get a win.
Q. How comfortable were you with the glove this week and are you set on wearing that on Sunday?
ELI MANNING: I wore a glove on my hand this week. Yeah, it felt fine, it felt good. I think it’s mostly just to try it out, get some work on it and make a decision whether I want to wear it or not.
I think really the main purpose of that is just securing the snap. If it does get cold, if those balls get slick and whatnot, just having that little extra grip on your left hand just so you don’t drop any snaps or drop any balls.
Q. Are you worried about wearing something for the first time in a game, that you would do it in the biggest game of the year?
ELI MANNING: No, I don’t think because it’s my left hand. Hardly ever is the ball in your left hand throwing‑wise. If anything, it just gives you some more grip on the ball. I think if it got wet or if conditions or rain or anything got it slick, I could always take it off. I could always take it off, that’s not a problem.
It’s just something I tried out where if I do want to wear it on Sunday, I’ve practiced it, I’ve had some reps in it handing the ball off and doing whatnot, so I don’t think it’ll make a big difference if I do wear it.
Q. So many questions this week about you, your maturity, your growth, your development, articles, you see stuff on TV. Do you absorb any of that? Do you digest it? Does it mean anything to you or do you just go your own way?
ELI MANNING: No, it doesn’t mean a whole lot to me because I’ve learned that it’s all what have you done for me lately. What about this next week? That’s going to be the most important thing. What’s happened the last two weeks or three weeks or last year, it’s important for me and I take it all in. But what’s being said about me, how I made a dramatic change or anything that’s happened in the last three weeks, it doesn’t affect me, doesn’t concern me. My focus is on <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Green Bay</st1:place></st1:city> and trying to prepare myself for the best for this game.
Q. There are a lot of similarities in the way you’ve played the last few weeks and the way Simms played here during some of the big runs. Are you old enough to have any recollection of Phil Simms and the way he played, and does that have any effect on you?
ELI MANNING: No, I don’t have ‑‑ I know Phil and I’ve talked to him and been around him. I wouldn’t say I remembered him playing games and grew up watching him play in cold weather games and those type of situations. To say that that means a whole lot, it doesn’t mean a whole lot to me.
Q. How prepared were you for that game in Week Two?
ELI MANNING: I was mentally prepared. I didn’t get much reps that week. The only day I practiced was on Friday, and even then was limited to certain throws.
But during the game I felt good. I made some throws down the field. I thought really that game, we started off pretty well. We moved the ball decently. We got into the red zone a few times, and we just had to settle for field goals, had a miss, we missed a field goal, just didn’t get many touchdowns.
We did some good things, just didn’t finish drives. So hopefully this time if we get down there, we can get in the end zone and get touchdowns. It’s going to be a new game, it’s going to be a whole different feel. I think both teams are playing better football now than they were at the beginning of the season. So we’ve just got to go out there and see what kind of game it’s going to be.
Q. Can you characterize how you think coach Coughlin’s game plans have evolved over the years as far as you’re concerned? How have his demands on you have changed?
ELI MANNING: I don’t know if they’ve changed a whole lot. I think he probably has ‑‑ between he and Coach Gilbride probably more confidence in me. Hey, we’re going to call a play. If they show certain looks or have faith in you to check out or get us into a better play where you have more command of what’s going on, and that just comes with having a better feel for the game, having a better understanding of what your offense is.
This will be my fourth year in the same offense. That helps. And it’s not only me, but having the offensive line, having a lot of the receivers, tight ends, being able to understand your checks and being able to get on the same page. We don’t do a whole lot of checking, but certain times, certain looks, it’s put on my responsibility to get us into a good play.
Q. The Packer corners like to press. How does that affect you as a quarterback? Do you have to hold longer or what?
ELI MANNING: Possibly. With them pressing, getting their hands on the receivers, it can affect the timing of your routes. We like to drop back five steps, get the ball out, where you might have to hold it another half a count just so the receivers get their depth or get off the press. But I think we should be okay.
I think if you think of our receivers, they’re pretty physical receivers themselves, Plaxico and Amani, bigger guys where they’re going to get pressed up and that’s fine with us. We have our answers, and we should be able to be physical with their corners, also.
Q. I know you talked about this a couple days ago, but going up against Brett Favre in a game of this magnitude, do you relish the opportunity to be on that stage with him in this environment, this game?
ELI MANNING: Again, our mindset as an offense is on their defense. That’s our concern. That’s what we’ve been preparing for. Obviously you know Brett is on their team; that’s his team and he’s the leader and he’s a great player and a fun player to watch. I’ve grown up watching him and still like to watch him play football.
But again, our mindset as an offense is, hey, we’ve got to find a way to score points. We’ve got to find a way to keep the ball in our hands and keep the ball away from him and keep their offense from getting hot and having a lot whole of opportunities with the ball.
Q. What do you think of all the fans‘ focus on Brett Favre in this game?
ELI MANNING: I think it’s great. He’s deserving of it. He’s a great player. You know, he decided to comeback for another year and has had an unbelievable season and has led his team this far, so that’s fine with us. The more focus on <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Green Bay</st1:place></st1:city> I think the better for the Giants.
Q. On the road we’ve seen what you guys have done this year. Obviously you still want to win the Super Bowl this year, but do you see a future this team has built, not just for this year but for years to come?
ELI MANNING: I don’t know, my focus is on this week. We’re not thinking about the future. We’re not thinking about next week, we’re not thinking about next year. Our focus is on Sunday getting ready to play the Green Bay Packers.
Q. You’re on the road, in a big spot, Lambeau Field, the whole bit. How do you expect your team to respond now that we’re 52 hours away?
ELI MANNING: I think we’re going to respond the way we’ve responded every game on the road and every game this year. We understand it’s going to be tough conditions, we understand you’re playing at Lambeau Field, it’s going to be loud. You’re playing against a good team. You know, you can’t ask for a much harder situation to go into, and I think we’re prepared for it.
We’ve been game tested and put through a lot of things this year. And the last couple years with a lot of these guys we’ve gone through a lot of situations, and I think we’re ready for this opportunity.
Q. What’s it like for your family, your dad? Every year it’s Peyton playing in the big game. Now you’re playing in this game. What’s it been like for your dad, your parents?
ELI MANNING: My parents, my mom, my dad, Cooper, my brother, Peyton, everybody has been very supportive. I’ve gotten tons of phone calls, tons of text messages. My dad, he stays away, though. I talked to him earlier in the week, but he’s not calling every day or giving different advice. We’re staying with the same schedule, same routine. You know, they’re very supportive of me, and they’re supportive of me and Peyton the same and proud that I’m in this situation.
Q. Is Peyton coming to the game?
ELI MANNING: Peyton is not coming, he’s just going to watch it on TV.
Q. Do you have a Seinfeld DVD?
ELI MANNING: Yeah, a bunch has been said, but I already had the set anyways, so it didn’t really matter.
Q. Did it make you smile, seeing all this reaction?
ELI MANNING: Yeah, it’s pretty funny. You’ve got to enjoy it. They said they’re not playing it Saturday because they heard I liked it. I don’t think it matters. I’ve seen every episode anyway, so I’m not going to miss anything on it. Again, you take it all in, you smile at it and you don’t really give it a lot of thought.
Q. Have you ever talked to him, Jerry Seinfeld?
ELI MANNING: I have not talked to him, never.
Q. The way <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Green Bay</st1:place></st1:city>’s corners like to get physical with receivers, will that change at all the way you approach the game?
ELI MANNING: No, it doesn’t change the way I approach the game. You’ve just got to know that they are going to be physical, they are going to get their hands on you. They’ve been called for a lot of defensive penalties, also. So we’ve just got to understand if they do get their hands on you, you can’t give up, you can’t quit fighting. You’ve got to try to keep fighting to get open; either they’re going to call a penalty or you’ve just got to keep working. We have some ideas to try to take that and use it to our advantage, and it’s just a matter of can we do that on Sunday.
ELI MANNING: Predicted it? I had high hopes for our team. I think at the beginning of the season I knew we had good players, I knew we had talented guys. It was just a matter of being in the right situation and catching a few breaks here and there, so I don’t think this is out of the ordinary or this is a total surprise for our team. I think we have high expectations for ourselves and think that we’re a pretty good team.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports
An Interview With:
COACH TOM COUGHLIN
COACH COUGHLIN: Good afternoon. We’ve just completed our normal Friday routine, our practice on the field. Preparation has always been the real key to success for our football team, and of course we put an awful lot of emphasis on that this week. Green Bay Packers are an outstanding football team. They’ve done so many impressive things over the course of the season in terms of their statistics, where they’re ranked, whether it be their special teams, whether it be their defense, whether it be their offense. They’ve done an outstanding job under Mike McCarthy and his staff, and they are a very, very worthy opponent in this the NFC Championship game.
That having been said, our players are extremely excited about this opportunity to go to Green Bay and to play in this game, and we all look forward to wrapping things up tomorrow morning with our routine, our jog‑through if you will, our meetings in the morning and then going to Green Bay.
Do you have any questions?
Q. Can you talk about what it’s been like, the biggest game for most of these players? Has it been normal? Have they been able to get business done?
COACH COUGHLIN: Well, it has been a very normal week, and one of the things that I think I’m most proud of this group is we do have some veteran leadership that seems to have the ability to bring them into focus even when there’s an awful lot going around them, and that’s basically what has to happen.
I think that for the most part we’ve done that. Now, there is obviously all this going on around the outside, and I have to remind them once in a while that it’s about the game, and what we’ve done all year long is prepare ourselves for one game, and we’ve done it each day where the meeting is the most important thing, the practice is the most important thing, et cetera. So nothing is going to change from that standpoint.
Q. You’ve won nine straight on the road but you’re going into a totally different environment, a rabid, crazy environment. What will you tell them how to deal with that?
COACH COUGHLIN: We’ve dealt with rabid, crazy environments for quite some time, so when you talk about going into a different environment, if you want to pick the weather situation, we’ve been to <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Buffalo</st1:place></st1:city> in that situation. Now, perhaps not the extreme temperature, but nevertheless a very, very difficult day with rain and ice and snow and wind, et cetera. So from that standpoint we’ve done that.
But we’ve been on the road, for quite some time, very successful to this point on the road obviously, and there’s good reasons for that. I think we’re a team that has good character. I think we have good leadership, as I’ve said many times before. I think our leaders are able to bring our players right back into focus when something doesn’t go our way. We do have some toughness; we’ve got some mental toughness. We are resilient; we’ve proved that many times. So this is a great challenge going into <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Green Bay</st1:place></st1:city>, but we look forward to it.
Q. Can you give us an update on <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Madison</st1:place></st1:city>, Ross and Dockery?
COACH COUGHLIN: <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Madison</st1:place></st1:city> did not practice today but that’s the way they wanted it from a medical standpoint, and I still remain optimistic about him. Dockery did not work, and we’ll rule him as out.
Who else was it.
COACH COUGHLIN: Ross practiced every day this week.
Q. Along those lines would you consider these two teams the most toughest‑minded teams in the NFC?
COACH COUGHLIN: I wish I could tell you that I really knew that about the <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Green Bay</st1:place></st1:city> team. I will say this to them, and I told our players this this morning: Wherever you are, you go down 14 to nothing, you have a couple of turnovers that end up being touchdowns, you’re a pretty tough mental team and you do have some outstanding leadership.
But that’s been the story of our team, as well. I would say that both teams do have that characteristic.
Q. Talk about Eli wearing the glove.
COACH COUGHLIN: Would you stop? What is with you (laughter)?
Q. He’s been practicing wearing a glove.
COACH COUGHLIN: He’s wearing a glove on his left hand because he feels a little bit more secure with it from the standpoint of the ball and the snap. If that takes place and he feels good about that on Sunday, then maybe he’ll wear it on Sunday. But whether or not that’s a key factor ‑‑ he didn’t wear anything in <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Buffalo</st1:place></st1:city> and he hasn’t worn anything yet, so we’ll see.
Q. How have your guys embraced the underdog role?
COACH COUGHLIN: We’ve been the underdog ‑‑ we don’t even talk about that to be honest with you because we’re always the underdog.
Q. Have you been able to have any kind of contact with Ross or are they concerned with his shoulder?
COACH COUGHLIN: Yeah, we did some bag work out there and he tackled and he felt pretty good about it.
Q. How do you think the youngsters and the veterans have blended together so well with this football team?
COACH COUGHLIN: Well, I think it’s been a real interesting process to watch as you saw the development of our veteran players as they worked with the younger players. The younger players start to come along, the younger players not even wanting to say anything versus the older player, and then all of a sudden the banter starts to take place as they got more comfortable with one another.
But I think the leadership with regard to that. Almost at every position has been a real key factor in the emergence of these young guys and the way they’ve approached the game.
Q. Some of the most famous games in history have been played in bad weather. We remember them almost more for the bad weather than for the games themselves. Is there part of you that kind of embraces what might happen on Sunday and how the weather might play into that?
COACH COUGHLIN: I’m very much preoccupied by the team, by the Green Bay team, but it’ll be one of those situations where both teams will have to play through whatever the weather brings, and I’m not going to tell you that I might embrace it or might think that it is something that I would sit back and put on my top five list of things that I’d want to have happen. But if it does, then so be it.
Q. I’m wondering why you haven’t discussed it with the team.
COACH COUGHLIN: That’s wrong. That’s been the perception ‑‑ for whatever reason that’s been said all week long. It’s been discussed with the team. What has been said is that is a topic that really doesn’t need any further discussion because it is what it is, and both teams will play in it.
Q. Why haven’t you discussed the idea of the underdog with the team as you said earlier? Do you sense that in a positive way your team plays with a little chip on its shoulder in that role?
COACH COUGHLIN: Well, I’m sure they’re very much aware of the fact that wherever we go, whoever we play, we’re normally the underdog. Now, some of that goes along with being on the road, there’s no doubt about that. But I think we look at that as just one more challenge. I would say that for sure.
Q. You obviously have your blinders on and are focused, but do you think about how big this game is not just for the organization but for the area, the tri‑state area?
COACH COUGHLIN: Well, I always think about New York Giant pride, and I do think about the idea that we represent a great franchise, a great city, the greatest city in the world, so therefore there’s an awful lot of people involved and interested in how the New York Giants play.
Q. How much time have you spent looking at game tape from Week Two?
COACH COUGHLIN: We looked at it, definitely. We spent a part of ‑‑ that’s a part of our cut‑ups, and we spent a lot of time looking at it. The reason is you want to make sure that you know exactly what took place in that game and then watch how the Green Bay Packers have progressed and how our team has progressed. And in doing so you formulate your ideas about what it is that is going to be necessary for us to have to do to win.
Q. When you look back at that game you didn’t have Jacobs available for that game. How much now, when you look at that, has your running game changed or how much different can it be this time around?
COACH COUGHLIN: It’s different from the standpoint of you’ve seen how Jacobs has played, you’ve seen how Derrick Ward has played, and you’ve how Bradshaw has played. Ahmad has given us a one‑two punch there that does cause people some issues in terms of preparation. That’s how the running game has changed. Thank God our front five is still the same. The tight end obviously with Jeremy gone has changed. But these kids do a good job.
Q. When you look back at that Week Two game, do you say we didn’t do the stuff that we could have done with <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Brandon</st1:place></st1:city>?
COACH COUGHLIN: Well, I say that to a certain extent, but we look at all those things from both standpoints, what we did well, what we did poorly and what needs to be improved upon.
Q. When you go back to week two and you look at how the Packers dinked and dunked their way down the field effectively, it looked like the receivers had a lot of room. Do you think that was more attributed to the fact that your defense at that point was not comfortable and not confident in understanding the scheme?
COACH COUGHLIN: Part of it was scheme. Part of it was the fact that they do, as you say, the underneath game very well, the quick game very well. But you have to be aware of the fact that it may be one or two quick shots and then boom, and then try to take the ball deep.
Q. The mantra all year has been one week at a time, one week at a time. This week have you ever mentioned the words Super Bowl?
COACH COUGHLIN: No, we have a pyramid. We look at the pyramid. We know what the top of the pyramid is. We talk about win one game. Win one game. That’s what we talk about.
Q. The routine you have on Saturday night, the whole rousing speech, kind of getting the final bit of motivation Saturday night, how much for a big game do you try to step that up?
COACH COUGHLIN: There’s still a conclusion of pulling the week together, and that’s all part of it. Some weeks are different than others. But this time of the year with so much focus, so much attention, we look forward to that Saturday night, as well, and the players do, as well.
Q. Do you go in prepared with what you’re going to say?
COACH COUGHLIN: There’s no question. You don’t walk up and ad lib a whole lot with your team. You prepare yourself for what they’re going to hear and under the circumstances exactly what the message should be, and you want them leaving the meeting that night with a couple of thoughts.
Q. Do you save up the best for last kind of thing?
COACH COUGHLIN: I might ‑‑ I start off the week with something very powerful, change it around a little bit during the week, and then say the same message at the end of the week in a different way.
Q. Will there be any Lombardi reference in there?
COACH COUGHLIN: I don’t think so.
Q. Is that totally your domain, or would you let others speak?
COACH COUGHLIN: Well, we’ve had Greg Gadson speak on a Saturday night, but that’s the only time I can think of.
Q. Your team has done ‑‑
COACH COUGHLIN: The evening goes in different ways. It starts with special teams and then it branches off into team ‑‑ into, excuse me, offense and defense, then it comes back to me.
Q. Your team has pulled a 360 in the playoffs with penalties and turning the ball over. Why is that?
COACH COUGHLIN: We did that during the year. What are you talking about? We’re sixth in the league in penalties, the fewest penalties.
Q. The turnovers ‑‑
COACH COUGHLIN: Turnovers I’ll go along with you, but penalties, no.
Q. Why is that?
COACH COUGHLIN: Well, I think the message, the focus, it’s very, very clear. When I stood before the team before our first playoff game, it was the idea of playoff teams that did not turn the ball over, playoff teams that did not turn the ball over won it 86 percent of the time, and I quite frankly told the team that you could end the meeting right here based on this.
360, good job (laughter).
COACH COUGHLIN: Oh, always, always Mr. Mara, always Mr. Tisch. There’s no question about it, how proud they would be of this team. How proud they are of this team, let me rephrase that. Those two gentlemen are not very far from anything that we say or do or think about, especially at this time of year.
FastScripts by ASAP Sports