Q: What do you have to do to counteract the Dallas pass rush?
A: Their backers are like defensive ends - they're outstanding pass rushers. They're exceptional pass rushers. A couple of them, along with Ratliff...they're as good as we face. You put that in the context of the noise factor, we're going to have to do an unbelievable job just to keep them at bay and to give Eli a chance to throw the ball. Last year our line did a terrific job and we were able to get by without any sacks and as a consequence we threw the ball for 330 yards and won the game, but it's a challenge. We certainly are very cognizant of how talented they are.
Q: Jenkins had a great year last year, but this year he's committed a ton of pass interference penalties. Is he doing something different or getting a little sloppy?
A: He's a tremendous athlete - he's got great quickness - and I think that sometimes if you're not careful, they get a little bit overconfident and they think they can get away with some things that they maybe didn't expect to get called on, but he's right there - he's in contention for the ball almost every time.
Q: The Giants forced Tony Romo into one of his worst games as a Cowboy last year in Dallas, what do you remember most about that game?
A: The comeback. Winning at the end, that's what I remember. But most of the time when our defense is out there I'm preparing for the offensive side, so I don't really get to see our defense, but I know they ran the ball on us like crazy last year and for whatever reason he had a difficult time throwing, but all I know is that he came back and he threw the ball unbelievably well the second time, so I'm sure he's not worried.
Q: DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer are two explosive pass rushers. How do you compare what they do to a Dwight Freeny and Robert Mathis having faced the Colts already this year?
A: You had to bring up a bad memory, didn't you? Very comparable. Again, you just package that with the noise factor, and you get two guys who are outstanding pass rushers. Last year we were very fortunate that our guys did a tremendous job and as I mentioned earlier, we were able to get through the game with no sacks, which is almost unheard of down there. It's going to take a collective effort to slow them down. In other words, it can't just be our tackles, it's going to have to be our backs, our tight ends, our scheme, and maybe very careful with the selection of plays so that we're not throwing a lot of deep balls and we're mixing in some short throws, some quicker throws along with the deep ones.
Q: Last year Ahmad Bradshaw struggled to get the ball moving down in Dallas. What can you do to try to open up the alleys for you backs?
A: There's nothing easy. I wish there was an easy blueprint we could follow, but it is certainly the quality of the linebackers, but it's also a recognition that their two guys you mentioned as pass rushers do a tremendous job of bookending the plays. They stop the plays from getting stretched out, so they kind of funnel everything back to the inside. You try to do whatever you can personnel-wise with your formations, with your movement to get into a position where maybe you can create a flank that allows you to stretch the play enough where you start to widen the holes and maybe you get a chance to take advantage of some running room, but it's not easy.
Q: Hakeem Nicks has been dealing with a hamstring, what are you concerns about how that might impact him in terms of his big plays down the field on Monday night?
A: Well, if he can't run, obviously it's going to be a detriment and it's going to detract from what he can do, but I'm assuming that he's going to be able to go full speed and what he does is he gives you a big strong receiver that is able to physically battle those guys, so even if they are with him stride for stride, he's got great hands, he does a great job of adjusting to the ball, so he's able to make plays even when he's covered, which not everybody in the league can do, so hopefully that won't affect him.
Q: Is this the type of defense that you max protect against and bring the tight ends in to protect Eli?
A: We will certainly mix that in. It's an integral part of what we do anyway - we call it chipping. A tight end or a back - we'll do it with both - and sometimes we even use an extra lineman with Shawn Andrews, so we'll mix all of those things in and I think that that's the only way you've got a chance. You mix some longer throws with maximum protection, you mix in some shorter, quicker throws where you're getting everybody out. You have to keep them off balance, because if you fall into a rhythm that they can predict, then...they're too talented and we'll have our hands full. Hopefully we'll mix up things enough, keep them off balance to be able to move the ball the way we need to.
Q: Are we starting to see a little bit of what Travis Beckum can bring?
A: Yeah, I hope so. I think that we got him outside and he's finally been with us long enough after missing the entire preseason where he's familiarizing himself with what we do offensively, that we can see the athletic skills that he has, the things that we always thought he had, but it's just a matter of eliminating the mistakes, letting him grow in his knowledge and comfort of what we're doing. Yeah, I think you see a little snippet of his athleticism.
Q: What are some of the advantages and disadvantages of playing a team twice within a month?
A: From a schematic standpoint, you'd say, good, you just played them, so you don't have to go back that far to refresh what they're going to do. What I've found has happened, amazingly, is that when you play somebody - like last year or two years ago when we played Philadelphia near the end of the regular season and then turned around and played them right away or a few years ago when we played Buffalo when I was at the Houston Oilers, we played them the next game in the playoffs. Ironically, teams make more changes then than ever before and you would never think it would be that way, but it's like, hey we just played them, we're going to have to modify everything, so sometimes the degree of change is more than ever before, which wouldn't seem to make sense, but it's almost like there's a need that people feel - we just played them, they've got a feel for us, so we've got to change up some things. The only advantage is just the familiarity, otherwise there is no advantage.
Q: Do you hold some plays in your playbook and not use them and save them for the next game?
A: If you knew you were going to win, you'd do it. The problem is, you're usually pulling everything you've got out to get a win that day and then you hope you've got something left for the following day. In a perfect world, you'd do it. I don't know how realistic it is. I think you do whatever you have to do just to win that first game.
Q: You obviously expected Ahmad to be productive, but is there anything that he's doing that has exceeded your expectations?
A: Not really. We thought we had a good back. We think he's going to be just as helpful - staying healthy, continuing to play so he can practice, keep himself as ready mentally and physically as he needs to be in order to perform on Sundays, but I always thought that we have a special back if we can do that. Again, it's a long season. We're only six games in, but if we can keep him healthy, I think he gives you not only the toughness that's obvious, but there's a quickness and an explosiveness, and I think that his attitude is pretty important - I think our guys really respond well when they see the extra effort that he puts forth.
Q: Why do Jacobs and Bradshaw complement each other so well?
A: Their styles are different. One is a quicker, more darting, whirling dervish kind of a guy. The other guy is just best when he's running one cut, north-south, and when he's palming people and he's been doing that, so they've complimented each other well. Knock on wood it will keep going.
Q: You guys beat them last year with the pass. What have you been telling your wide receivers about what it will take to win on Monday?
A: We threw the ball very well last time. There's no question that we did, but as much as it was the wide receivers, we protected very well and it's hard to do that down there. Two years ago we got embarrassed down there with that and then last year we didn't give up a sack - our line did a terrific job and as I said, you can't just block those guys with your line. It's a collective thing - the backs, the tight ends, whoever, whatever, but we did a great job of giving Eli a chance and the receivers responded very well, so I think that if can do that again, certainly we'll have an opportunity to move the ball through the air.
Q: Is it more important to have Shaun O'Hara back this week?
A: Yeah, you're going against a great player. Ratliff is not only a great pass rusher, he's a great run stopper, so to have your starting unit back is obviously a great advantage and certainly in pass protection, just seeing things - they do a terrific job of moving around and making it difficult to...they don't just line up here to here with a defensive tackle and a defensive end, they're moving all over the place. They do a great job, so having a guy who can identify and call out who is where is probably as important as anything that we do in our protection.