Good afternoon. I think to a man today the players, all of us, are searching way down deep inside to try to come up with an answer to why you see these inconsistencies on the field. I did spend some time with our leadership council. There were a couple references perhaps to confidence and playing from behind and that kind of thing. But really nothing that you could say was a great benefit that I could use, for example, in a planning way going forward.
I do think the one thing I want to say to our fans is that to a man also we would like to apologize for yesterday. I think for whatever reason a team that had an awful lot to play for, that had opportunities there, playing in Giants Stadium for the last regular season game of the Giants, didn’t play up to our capabilities.
It has been a very frustrating thing. I think I mentioned, perhaps I didn’t, I spoke to our team as early as Wednesday and as late as Saturday night about the inconsistencies in what I called the graphic display of the way our team has played. The last previous outstanding game where we dominated in all three phases was the Oakland game. Of course, the graph went down the next week and of course it did the same thing here after Washington.
It is very frustrating. It is very humbling. There is a lot of room for being embarrassed, if you will. But, nevertheless, we have one game to play. I spoke to the players after today’s meeting. We have been in the playoffs four years in a row. It is very, very difficult to get to be one of those teams that play in the playoffs. By virtue of yesterday’s loss, we eliminated ourselves from that race. I think that those who have been around here for awhile, perhaps, will all of a sudden realize how precious it is to be in a position to be in the playoffs. To have a chance to advance to play for the world championship, the Super Bowl title, is a great, great honor and great privilege. It is not extended to anyone. You have to earn it and it is most difficult to accomplish.
Q. You talk about the leadership. Do you think you're lacking in that area, that veteran leadership that you had in 2007.
A. It probably could be considered one of the reasons. I think there is, not the numbers you are referring to. There are strong, certainly Eli (Manning) has tried to be a strong leader. Jeff Feagles in his own way has tried. He doesn’t have as much contact with as many players, obviously. But, there isn’t any doubt, there is a void there from not having Antonio Pierce around. Many people have had an opportunity to step up but probably because of the lack of success, it hasn’t happened.
Q. You talk about going to the playoffs. Do you think that you had a number of players who took that for granted?
A. I don’t think so. I wish I could tell you. There is a part of me that wants to agree with some of that, but not exactly the way you are saying it. I have heard reference made by some of the players that all the hoopla that was made of the defensive line and the offensive line. You have to earn your stripes every year. It doesn’t matter what’s said about your team in the offseason. It doesn’t make any difference what opinions people have about things. You have to go out and win games. You’ve got to go out and ply your trade. That is just where we are. It is just a matter of being able to evaluate at the right time all of the things.
Q. Harry Carson’s criticism. He challenged that your team did not show enough pride. Do you take that to heart and agree?
A. I didn’t hear that. You are telling me this probably for the first time here. The unfortunate thing is it’s probably as inconsistent as our season has been. You have some very, very good examples of our pride. You have the Dallas game, I thought was well exhibited and certainly Washington was well exhibited. We tried like heck against Philadelphia here at home and if it wasn’t for the turnovers and the punt return, I think that would have been a game that came right down to it as well. We talk about New York Giant pride, we do know what it is. Perhaps it hasn’t been shown in all respects this year. Believe me, it is talked about and it is there.
Q. Is this the most disappointed/frustrated you have been in your coaching career?
A. It is very frustrating. It is very frustrating. When we were 5-0, for 10 straight weeks I have come in here seven of the 10 and talked about losing, why we lost and tried to gain some knowledge for our team about how to correct and so on and so forth. I think all you need to do, again, is look at the other day. We were minus-four in turnovers; you are not going to beat anybody with minus-four. I don’t care who it is. Against a team who in the beginning of the year was something like minus-14. But that aspect of it, it is very frustrating and it is difficult because there really isn’t any, ‘Oh yeah, if we do this one thing, we will solve that.’ No, that is not the answer.
Q. Re-evaluation of the talent level here. Maybe the expectations were too high?
A. Well, we are going to evaluate everything next week when we have an opportunity. This week we have a very important game to play. This is a very important game for our team because this a game in which we have a chance to gain some pride and gain some respect, to finish the season on a winning note, if we can do that, and against a very good football team up in Minnesota. It is a very important week for us. I think the players do understand how important it is.
Q. How do you assess the postgame comments from Osi and how did you address them with him today?
A. Osi was a part of our leadership council meeting. I did not spend any individual one-on-one time with him today. I am familiar with what he said and he is very much in our plans. I would just tell you that he is a very, very important asset to our team and just leave it at that.
Q. Do you think he said what he said out of frustration?
A. Probably. I think so.
Q. He has had a frustrating year..do you plan on talking with him?
A. Sure, absolutely.
Q. He wasn't on the field a lot yesterday. Was that the case due to the fact they were a running team?
A. There were a number of reasons. One is the fact that the ball was going to be run and we knew it was going to be run. There was a still a rotation in there. I can’t tell you exactly how many plays, it is not as few as he mentioned, it is more than that. Also, the personnel combinations that were involved. You had the ball being run, two tight ends, two running backs. You had the one receiver sets in the game, not a lot of three wides. A lot of third downs where they stayed in base or some kind of running personnel, which we knew they were going to do. So the rotation throughout was knowing full well that it was base and two tight. There was x amount of plays by Osi, it should have been more probably, but that’s the nature of the offensive team that we are playing.
Q. When you look at him do you think he is too good of a player to be a part-time player? Do you want him to be a starter? Can he handle being a part time player?
A. We are going to play our 16th game this week. We try to evaluate all those things. He is a very good football player. How all of those things fit together, I am not going to go into that right now. But he is a very, very good football player, always has been, great pride. Certainly, he does an exceptional job getting after the passer.
Q. Will there be more of an emphasis on playing some of the younger players this week?
A. There will be an emphasis on trying to win a game. We have played a lot of younger players all year long. To me, there is not any one guy that we need to take that guy. If it is part of our plan that we come up with to try and win a football game, then so be it.
Q. There are a number of reasons why a team has a great start and is not able to finish well. Not including 2007, there has been a developing trend with your teams of starting well but not finishing. Do you have any reason why that might be or what you can do to change that?
A. I think we have to win. If you are talking about, for example, how are you going to change your preseason or something of that nature, I don’t think that has a whole lot to do with it. I also say this to you and I do challenge, because I am not willing to accept the end of the ’08 season as not being a strong finish. When you are 11-1 and get to be 12-1 and you do some things because, quite frankly, you have to do them otherwise you are not going to be a strong enough team for the playoffs. Then we did get beat in the playoffs, I understand that, too. I don’t see it that way because even down the stretch in ’07 we had a couple of losses that were not very good for our football team. The Washington loss at home was not something that any of us expected. Without doing the history thing, I will look at everything next week. I do understand where you are coming from.
Q. You say this upcoming game is important, but you also said last week was important. Do you tell your guys that people are playing for jobs next week?
A. Not in so many words. I really don’t think we have to stoop to that. I think these guys, there is a lot of character in this room, and we do have a lot of pride. They understand how important it is to go out and win. That’s where it was left today.
Q. When you have a game like yesterday do you look back and ask yourself what you could have done differently?
A. All the time. All the time. You analyze everything. Yet I can stand in front of you with a clear conscience and tell you that we have a protocol. We take great pride in how we prepare our team. We pull it all together, for example, late in the week with our Friday meetings and our Saturday night meetings. There hasn’t been a Saturday night that I haven’t gone to bed convinced that we were going to win the next day.
Q. Leadership council- did you hope to get more from the conversation?
A. I wasn’t sure. If there was a legitimate thought there, I was looking for that obviously. I wanted to listen, I wanted to hear. There were a couple of things that were said that might be answers or something that I might be able to dwell on at the right time. That will remain private.
Q. What bothered you the most about yesterday's game itself?
A. Not stopping the run. Poor tackling. Not maintaining gap control. Not being physical when we arrived. A lot of soft, a lot of on the edge. To me that is where it starts. I think most of you know me well enough to know that I don’t like to play, when you are down 24-0 that is how you have to play, but I don’t like to play like that. They ran the ball 46 times. Usually if you can get to 35 runs, you are going to win. The percentage of wins, if you are able to rush the ball over 35 times, it is in the 90’s. If you can do that, you are going to win. When I look at us, it was dictated by the game, but 19 runs, that’s not enough for us. I am not happy with that. I am not happy with the way the game played out. I am not happy with our special teams. I thought that all of those things that we talked about bringing together into a game like this, not very pleased with.
Q. When you look at the defensive tape, is it X's and O's or is it effort that is lacking?
A. I don’t think that it is effort. I really don’t. I think that every man wanted to play and wanted to play well. I think there could be some question about when things aren’t going well, how do we do. Maybe we don’t answer, we don’t play as well as we can coming from behind. Or when we talk about coming out after the half and stopping them, and they go down in four plays and score. These things are emotional, as well. They are draining. Maybe, perhaps, you can talk about that a little bit, but I would not say that the effort was not there.
Q. Troy Aikman wondered on the broadcast about Eli being in at the end of the game. How do you calculate the risk/reward of Eli playing late in a game like that?
A. He is the starting quarterback and we are trying to win a game. We are trying to score. We are trying to do whatever we can do to come back. He must have had very little to talk about.
Q. Brandon Jacobs knee problem?
A. He is sore. I hope it is something that he can overcome in a week’s time, but he is sore, his knee is swollen.
Q. Is that something that just occurred?
A. He has had some issues along the way that he has had to deal with.
Q. How much will you push along some of the other injured players?
A. They all want to play. They are all trying like heck to. They still have medical issues.
Q. So you don’t expect them to practice on Wednesday?
A. We’ll see. They want to practice. They want to be involved. There are still some issues in each one of the four.