MARVIN LEWIS (with Cincinnati media)
ML: “Our focus really has to stay on us. We’re playing a good opponent, a good football team. Obviously they’re a very disciplined team that makes few mistakes – few penalties, few turnovers. So we’re going to have to play our best to date this season. The guys are excited about it. It’ll be a good Sunday.
“Offensively, they can still run the football effectively, and obviously in their passing game they make a lot of vertical throws and run after the catch. So if they do catch it, we have to do a good job of tackling. Defensively, they’re led by the pressure that their front four applies. They do a good job of pressuring and blitzing around that. But it kind of stops and starts with those front guys. They have six guys up there that they roll through, so they’ve got a good rotation of guys. They’re big, strong, fast, so it’s going to come down to playing both sides well up front.”
They’re saying in New York that Eli Manning is in a slump. When you look at the tape, how do you think he is playing right now?
ML: “Your slump lasts about a week in the NFL, generally. You’ve got to pull out of it. But they didn’t throw the ball last week as efficiently as they have in other games. They hit a big play three weeks ago to beat Washington at the end of the football game. They got off to a great start against Dallas, then Dallas fought back in the game. So it kind of comes and goes. He’s a good player, a good quarterback, and he knows where the ball should go. We’ve got to do a really good job of coverage and get pressure on him.”
You played Peyton Manning last week, and now you play Eli Manning this week. Can you compare and contrast what you saw last week to what you might see this week? Is there a big difference?
ML: “It’s different style of offense.”
The Giants front four is generally regarded as the best in the NFL:
ML: “They’re very good. They’ve got Osi (Umenyiora), and then obviously (Jason) Pierre-Paul, with what he’s done since he’s come to the NFL. (Justin) Tuck has been consistent. (Mathias) Kiwanuka, who plays linebacker, rolls up in there. They have the other big guys that go in there that play. They’re an impressive group. Big, long guys. The kid from Virginia (Chris) Canty, if he’s in there – he got injured last week. It’s a deep group, and it’s a very effective group. Then they’re backed-up by guys like (Michael) Boley, a really athletic linebacker and a guy that makes a lot of plays.”
When you look at their offensive line, you don’t see the big-name, perennial Pro Bowl players, yet they seem to play very well together as a group:
ML: “They play really well together. That’s one of their battle cries, their strengths – how well they do together. They’re kind of interlocking on the run game and on the protection scheme. Everybody sees it through the same eyes. You don’t see many unblocked guys coming clean on them. They do a good job that way. They all have seven or eight years of experience – I guess there’s one guy with three or four years – but just like their defensive front, they’re all guys with seven or eight years of experience. They’ve been at it for awhile.”
The Giants defense is ranked among the bottom of the league in yards allowed, but among the best in the league in points allowed. Why?
ML: “Turnovers. They do a great job with takeaways – they have 17 interceptions. That’s been big. They’ve given up some yards. They’ve also had some leads in games, so you give up a few more yards a lot of times in those situations. But taking the ball away as well as they are doing it, that’s huge. At the end of the day, it’s the points you give up that really matter and give you the opportunity to win.”
How solid is their kicking game, compared to other teams you’ve gone against?
ML: “It’s good. They’ve got an effective returner on both sides. Their specialists are experienced players. Now, they’ve had some different guys in the coverage because of some of the injuries they’ve had on defense. But they’re solid as far as the skill guys in those spots – the returners and specialists.”
Where do you stand injury-wise?
ML: “Our two centers will not participate fully today, but we hope to have them back and ready to go tomorrow in practice. Other than that,
Could Marvin Jones play this week?
ML: “We’ll have to see how the week progresses.”
With the signing of C
ML: “Not an emergency center.
What are your impressions of Victor Cruz?
ML: “Good player. Great quickness, long speed, competitive at the catch, runs hard after the catch. He’s a really good player. He’s one of those great stories, where he made the most of an opportunity.”
Giants coach Mike Pope does a great job with the tight ends over there, and now he has Martellus Bennett, who is becoming a big weapon for them:
ML: “Through their offense, Eli has had to rely on their tight end to be part of their passing game out of their regular stuff. Bennett is a big target, he can run, he’s obviously a good receiver of the ball, and he’s second on their team right now in receptions. They feel a lot of comfort with him, and he’s come in and given them a lift and done good things.”
They have another big outside threat in Hakeem Nicks:
ML: “They do. They have the three receivers. The other two guys are bigger in stature, physical guys, and have good run speed. Similar to last week, probably a little faster than last week's two young players.”
With their defensive front being so good, is that something for your young defensive front to watch and aspire to be?
ML: “I think they do. This is one of the groups that you want to watch their rush style, their rush schemes against people you play when you play common opponents, like we are this year.”
How are your young guys on the defensive line coming along?
ML: “We’ve got to have a good week. This is a big week. We didn't have a great week last week – both sides of the ball, offensively and defensively. It’s going to be a key to this football game this week. So, it's important that we play well as a football team, led by our guys up front. But everybody needs to play well.”
ML: “We’ve got to get off the football and go. Those guys continue to progress, but we want it to happen as quick as we can.”
You still have half of the season left, but considering your four-game losing streak, have you had to play psychologist a little bit for the team?
ML: “No. That's the thing, our guys are where they need to be, doing what they need to do. We’ve just got to do it repetitively. We are seeing it on Sunday, but just not repetitive enough and in critical moments. We got to make critical plays at critical moments and finish these games out.”
So you don’t need to be a psychologist?
ML: “No, no proctologist here (laughs). Or orthodontist. I’m keeping all my doctors hats in reserve (laughs).”
You guys haven’t beaten a team with a winning record in the second half of the year for three years. How do you get over that?
ML: “I want to say that more than half the football team hasn't been here for three years. That's probably the first part. Nor a third of the coaching staff. There isn't a psychological thing in any way, you just got to go do it. You can go back and write stats, and that's a fact. Until you do it, it becomes a stat you can point to, and we need to get it done. It's imperative that we get it done. Let this be the week.”
Is it concerning to you that this game could be blacked out?
ML: “I can't control that. That would be disappointment to I think a lot of the people locally. Hopefully they'll get out and see a great football game. (We’re playing) a team that won the Super Bowl last year, versus a team that is aspiring to win the Super Bowl as quick as possible and get back in the playoffs. This is an important game for us, an important week. Our fans have been great – they've been out, they've been loud. It's been effective. And we’ve got to put it out for them and get the W for them.”
ANDY DALTON(with Cincinnati media)
Is the Giants front-four the most talented that you have seen?
AD: “Yeah. Everybody has seen what they’ve been doing for awhile. They’ve got big guys up front. They’re athletic. It’s going to be a good challenge for us, a challenge to our offensive line and backs in pass protection that you have to come to play this week, because they’re really good.”
Do they blitz more than people think?
AD: “They rely on those guys to get a rush and they do a good job of that. The blitz percentages aren’t as high as some teams, but they still do mix in on stuff.”
Their defense thrives on turnovers. What do they do to create them?
AD: “It comes down to guys trying to make plays. Some third-and-longs where they are trying to pick up first downs. They do a good job of putting guys where you think they aren’t going to be. That’s why they’ve had the turnovers that they’ve had.”
They’re tied for NFL lead in interceptions and they thrive on big defensive plays. Does that all start with the pressure they apply up-front?
AD: “They try to get you uncomfortable in the pocket and make you move around. They try to make it tough on you to have time back there to throw. It’ll be a good test for us, but we should be ready.”
When you look at their defensive front four, do you get a similar look in practices in terms of the size, athleticism and ability of the Bengals defensive front?
AD: “Yeah. We’ve got some big guys as well. It’ll be good to simulate in practice.”
The Giants haven’t been very stout against the run recently. Is this a good week to get the ground game going?
AD: “It is. The Steelers ran the ball well on them, and hopefully we can do the same. If we get the run game going, it opens things up. I feel like we can throw the ball as well, and we match up with them, but it would be good to get the run game going.”
You guys were more consistent with the run game last week:
AD: “I thought we did a good job. We were a lot more consistent. That’s the one thing we needed to be. Hopefully we can keep improving.”
Jay Gruden was talking about having a balance between the run and pass. Do you think you guys are throwing it too much?
AD: “I don’t think we’re throwing too much. It depends on where we are in games. Usually if you are playing with the lead you will be running it a lot more, and if you are playing from behind you are passing more. It just comes down to where we are in games. The goal is to be balanced, but in the end it will come down to certain situations.”
Do you watch tape of Eli and Peyton Manning? If so, how similar or different are they?
AD: “I do some. I haven’t watched enough to make a big comparison. Eli has done a lot of good things. He has control of the offense, and you can tell that. He’s been consistent throughout his career. He got hot at the end last year, and you saw what happened with that.”
Eli struggled against the Steelers, much like you did the week before. Does that make you feel any better when you see an accomplished QB like him go through the same struggles against the same defense?
AD: “Nobody’s perfect or going to be perfect. That’s what you strive for. It can happen to anyone.”
You and Eli seem similar in that you’re both level-minded and don’t get too high or low. Would you agree?
AD: “I haven’t got much into it. If he’s that way, then I guess we are the same.”
Looking back at Washington, Marvin Lewis said that game was the gold standard in terms of getting a lot of people involved. Are you pleased with the number of contributors you have on this offense?
AD: “I’ve said it for awhile: we’ve got a lot of guys who are talented. Last week, it was good to see Jermaine (Gresham) come out and have a big game. A.J. (Green) is A.J., but we have a lot of guys rotating in and getting catches. I trust all the guys we have.”
With your top two centers battling hamstring injuries, how much does that change things for you?
AD: “I’m still communicating the same. Still on the same page. The only thing different is them snapping different. The communication has been good with both. Jeff (Faine) has been around a lot of years, but Trevor (Robinson) has also done a good job when he’s been in there.”
You’ve had four straight losses, but there’s plenty of season left. How do you keep the negativity from creeping in?
AD: “It comes down to getting one win at this point. That’s the goal, to win one. We have lost four in a row, but it takes one to get you out of that streak. You can’t worry about anything else. Our goal is to get a win this week.”
Throughout high school and college, you’ve played on very successful teams. It’s probably been awhile since you’ve lost four in a row:
AD: “I’ve never lost four in a row. Never lost three in a row. This is the first time, and we have to find a way to get out of it.”
GIANTS QUARTERBACK ELI MANNING (with Cincinnati media)
How are you doing after the storm? Have you gotten settled?
EM: “Everything's getting back to normal. I’m back in my place and back with power, so yeah, a little bit more of a normal routine this week.”
How did it affect you last week?
EM: “I adjusted well and kind of made arrangements before the storm hit. I had all my film preparation and a place to stay just in case. I kind of prepared for the worst, which occurred. So I was able to make do. I think the team actually responded well under the circumstances and prepared well for last week. But a lot of people are getting back into their homes and getting power back, so we should have a better week this week.”
Have you talked to Peyton about the Bengals, since he played them last week?
EM: “Yeah, I talked to him a little bit yesterday. Sometimes it's nice to have a quarterback to talk to who just played the game, and some of their ideas and some of their tips and preparations. We have a little bit different styles of offense, but there always might be a tip or two that you might have eventually found. But coming in, you can look for certain things. So we definitely talked a little bit. And then they're playing Carolina, who we've already played, so I'm trying to give some thoughts from mine as well.”
In what ways is it helpful to get those pointers from him?
EM: “It could be helpful. Just maybe there's an idea or two, or if there's a certain look that they give, or if there were any tips to know what was coming or when it was coming. So that can always be helpful. But again, we're not doing the exact same thing in our offenses or in our plays, but it can be helpful just to get thoughts from another player.”
What were Peyton's general thoughts about the Bengals?
EM: “I don't know exactly his general thoughts. It was more scheme-wise. But what I see is they're very talented up front, they're big up front, they do a good job of controlling the run. And a talented secondary – you've got first-rounders all over the secondary. And they do a good job of getting to the quarterback and getting sacks and causing problems. When you get pressure on the quarterback and have quality secondary players. That usually leads to a good combination. So we need to make sure we do a good job of blocking things up and that the receivers are very sound in their technique in getting open.”
Is this unusual to have so many common opponents? Does that give you guys a chance to find out little things about defensive players?
EM: “Yeah, you can definitely get some personnel stuff on a lot of corners and stuff, if there's anything you saw in your preparation for a certain guy. It's a little unique because we both play the same division. They're playing the AFC North and NFC South, which we play also, so there's eight games right there. I don't think we've ever had that same combination before. Up to this point, we haven't played a lot of the same teams – Pittsburgh. Sometimes if it's been a few weeks, or early in the week you might have some notes or little things. It might be little tips here or there. But it's still a matter of me doing my own preparation and us going out there and having great execution that's going to make the difference.”
The Bengals have
EM: “We’ve had a lot of battles against each other and faced each other a number of times. He’s a good player, he’s made plays. Obviously he played real well last week and had a couple of interceptions, had some other good pass breakups and defended some plays. Even some of the completions were tight coverage. He’s a guy who prepares and studies, reads concepts and does a good job of being aggressive if he thinks he knows the route.”
What makes Victor Cruz so different from the norm?
EM: “He does a great job of understanding the technique of the defense and giving good moves to get open. He’s got a good feel in his reads and body language of when he is going to come out of breaks, and he’ll continue to do that and have success.”
After the run you had last year, how much more confident are you this year?
EM: “Well, I think we’re always confident going into games, but it is still a matter of going out on each Sunday. We gain our confidence from our preparation during the week and having a great game plan. Trying to understand what the defense is doing and what they do out of certain looks. Having an understanding of how plays are going to turn out and how they cover certain looks, so that you have a better chance of where the ball is going to go and what runs should have success.”
Does that confidence play out in a week like this, where you guys are confident in what you can and can’t do?
EM: “We have to overcome these circumstances. Hey, it’s a loss, but it happens during the course of a season. You can’t let one lead to another or be the reason why you are not playing at a high level because you are losing confidence or thinking you are in a funk. We are going against a good team who is desperate for a win as well. They’ve played every game close – every game has been tight and we need to play great football if we are going to be expected to win.”
You had one bad game last week, and suddenly the papers have you in a slump. Are those just the perils of playing in New York?
EM: “You learn that can be the deal around here. Just the way it goes. We didn’t play well. We had a chance to win in the fourth quarter and we didn’t come through. That’s what it boils down to. We’ve been good in those circumstances and last week we were behind and couldn’t catch up. That’s part of football and a learning experience. You might not make every play that is there but you prepare for it, and if you are in that situation again you rely on the confidence to make the plays to win.”
Is that your fourth-quarter approach?
EM: “It’s a great job by our team of understanding the circumstances and rising to the occasion. Sometimes you know there’s no more time to be patient or conservative. It is all out in that situation. If you can avoid being down in the fourth, you try to do that. And if you are, you get excited for it because it comes down to winning a football game.”
GIANTS HEAD COACH TOM COUGHLIN (with Cincinnati media)
You faced some hurricanes during your coaching tenure at Jacksonville. How different was the situation last week, as you prepared your team for Hurricane Sandy?
TC: “To be honest with you, we got back here at probably 2:00 in the morning. We were pretty fortunate, because I think we might have been the last plane to land in Newark at that time. And then, what we did was take some precautionary measures, just trying to be smart. We didn’t have the players report until late in the morning on Wednesday, so that they could go and take care of their families. There could be power out and all kinds of things along those lines. Children at home, and that stuff.
“They had some things to do to prepare, and we thought that when we got them together, even though there wasn’t one person who wasn’t affected, that we could pretty much hopefully get back on schedule. Thursday was a normal schedule. But to be honest with you, there was such devastation here, and such constant reminders that no one could go without being distracted from exactly what was taking place here. It was estimated at $50 billion worth of damage.
“Of course, anybody who had friends or family with shore homes, those things were pretty much wiped out. So there was a lot, I’m sure, on people’s minds. We tried to stay as focused as we could. I thought we did a good job on Saturday night. In addition to that, we were recognizing and honoring our military on Sunday.
“But we obviously didn’t play well, and there’s no real excuse for that. As you look back at it, it certainly had to be a troubling time for the players. Even the single players have issues. You know how that goes – they have vehicles, they have renting. Who do they speak to? How do they take care of things? What if they need auxiliary power? How do they go about that? So there’s a lot of issues like that.
“Then, where people lived also made it most difficult. We had a couple players living in Hoboken (N.J.) that were flooded so badly that they were concerned whether they could make it here on Wednesday afternoon. So there was a lot of that. It was a very, very serious time. It is a very, very serious time. People lost their lives, they lost their homes. A bunch of our players went out yesterday down to the shore and brought food to people down there. The high schools have people sleeping in the gymnasiums who have been there for a week. So it’s a most difficult time, and we tried to do the best we could with it.”
You and Eli Manning have been together in New York since the beginning of his NFL career. How do you feel he is playing this year, compared to past seasons?
TC: “He’s playing lights out. A couple weeks ago, over in Dallas, we didn’t have a good game in terms of the throwing game. But we did win the game, and that’s the objective. Last week, we didn’t throw the ball well, didn’t run the ball well, didn’t do much well on offense. We had a setup where there were four minutes to play, (leading) 24-20. We had won so many games in the fourth quarter that kind of the expectation, to be honest with you, was that, ‘We’re going to drive it and win.’ It didn’t happen.
“He’s a young man who’s very conscientious and very serious about how he plays, very responsible. It was a learning experience for him, and hopefully it won’t ever happen again. He’s back working hard, just like he always is. We’re practicing at a good tempo, and hopefully we’re going to be able to learn from that experience and the things that we didn’t do well. We didn’t cover kicks well. We didn’t do a very good job of stopping the run. We didn’t advance the ball in any way. We did win the turnover battle, but it wasn’t enough in this game. So we have a lot of improve upon, not just Eli’s play. There’s a lot of it that needs attention.”
You’ve been doing what the Bengals have had trouble doing in the last 16 games – you’ve been winning games in the fourth quarter, they’ve been losing leads. How does a team turn that kind of corner?
TC: “It’s obvious that if you do it a couple of times and have success, it becomes a confidence thing. When the guys step into the huddle, they believe it’s going to happen. That’s the objective. It starts with your quarterback playing very well. A year ago, we had seven come-from-behind, fourth-quarter wins, including the Super Bowl. That’ll do it for you. That’s what I say,: we’ve become accustomed to those last-second drives.
“We did the same thing a couple weeks ago against Washington. You comment on it, you talk about it all the time, you go over the rules, you talk about how efficient you have to be in that situation. You can’t have penalties. You can’t have holding calls. The ball has to be advanced down the field. You have to be up-tempo. You’ve got to hand the ball to the official. All these things you have to do in order to have that circumstance. You work about it, you talk about it, and for us it’s been a very good situational part of our team. We work at it hard in training camp; we work at it hard every week. But nevertheless, we didn’t so well last weekend.”
How is Keith Rivers doing?
TC: “He’s been on and off with injuries and unable to play on a consistent basis. When he has played, he’s done well. He’s been a good special teamer. For the snaps he’s had on defense, he’s done OK. I’d like to see him get on the field and stay there, and I’m sure he would, too.”
Your offensive line doesn’t have the perennial Pro Bowl players like some teams, but they seem to do a great job of playing together on the same page:
TC: “They do. They have. We’ve had our issues up front, too, in terms of guys being able to stay out there. Our veteran group that’s been with us – we’ve got (Chris) Snee, (David) Diehl, (David) Baas, who was with us here last year for the Super Bowl. Kevin Boothe has done a great job for us over the years. Will Beatty was here last year and got injured – he’s a talented young man that’s growing in his position. It all starts up front, now – defensively and offensively. These guys have done a really good job. They’re going to be challenged this weekend again.”
What are your impressions of
TC: “They’re very talented guys. They put their franchise in the playoffs a year ago. They’re capable of the big play and consistency and all of the above. Dalton has the ability to extend plays, and that’s troublesome to a defense. They’re good, young, talented guys.”
Have you ever had a defensive line, from top to bottom, as athletic as the one you have now?
TC: “That’s what we try to do, especially even in our tackles – have people that are mobile and athletic. If need be, you can exchange positions. We do have some guys that are talented. We were a little slow to get started this year, but we’re starting to come around, we’re starting to get the balance we need, with each individual contributing in his own way. The No. 1 thing you have to do in our business is stop the run. If you stop the run, you can rush the passer. Last week, we didn’t stop the run, and we were vulnerable.”
Is this one of the most vertical receiving crews you've had, with Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz?
TC: “They have been. Up until two weeks ago, we were leading the league in big plays, and we've got to get back to that.”
Did you think a few years back that you'd be celebrating two Super Bowl titles with Michael Strahan?
TC: “He's one of the all-time Giants. Many of his teammates are still here . Gosh, he texted me last year during the playoffs and he was just as excited and proud as anybody could be. We're so happy that he's back in New York working and that we can get him over here once in a while. With that personality of his, it’s just a tremendous, tremendous thing for his teammates to have him around and be able to visit with him and just feed off his experiences, and with the personality and energy and positive thinking he brings to the table.”
What's the secret of coaching longevity in this league?
TC: “I don't know. You'd probably be better off asking somebody else. I think you do have to surround yourself with outstanding people. Good coaches, good players. And you've got to be able to adapt and grow and never stop that process. You learn as if you're going to live forever. John Wooden. That process never stops.”
What's tougher: building a team from scratch and going to a conference title game the next year, or winning the Super Bowl?
TC: “They're both very, very difficult. A lot of good things have to happen to you. Again, you have to surround yourself with the right kind of people. Once the message clicks, it's a real exciting time and a fun time to be in this profession, to be honest with you.”
When you hear people say the two Super Bowls are enough to get into the Hall of Fame, what do you think?
TC: “I don't know. I'm not paying much attention to that right now. We've got a job to do, and if that's to be, then so be it. That will take care of itself. Right now, we're just trying to win games.”
Do you notice a change in Eli's demeanor or confidence now that's he has two rings, and all the talk about ‘elite’ QBs has been put to rest?
TC: “I think he's always had that (confidence). He's always had that deep belief inside him, no matter what was being said on the outside. He's a guy that has great constitution and great confidence. He's certainly been raised with his mom and dad the exact right way. He's always been a guy that's been able to turn around and rely on himself, and he's always been able to move his teammates that way. He's not arrogant at all, but he is confident.”
The papers are saying he's in a slump. Would you say that?
TC: “(Laughs) I don't know. We'll see about that. I don’t know what that is, except for the fact he hasn't played very well and the guys around him haven't played all that well, either. We're a team. First, it's a team. It's not any one individual. It's a team concept, a team game. We've all got to do a better job. Coaches, players, everybody has to do a better job. And we've got to get this offense back where it was. I mean, a few weeks ago we were the cat's meow.
Last year at 7-7 did you think at that point, ‘Man, when are they going to get the message?’?
TC: "It just clicked at the most opportune time.”
Did that surprise even a guy with your experience?
TC: “No. We were always in the hunt and we were always in position to win our division, even though the record was very modest. Because of that, we had great motivation, great belief, great inspiration to try and complete the job. But when we started playing well, starting with that Jets game, and then the Dallas game the week after, there wasn't any question we were practicing the way we should be practicing. We were focused. We were all in. We had a singleness of purpose. It was a wonderful thing to experience when it did happen, and we had a group of young men better than any group I'd been around that listened.”
How is former Cincinnati Bearcat Adrien Robinson doing?
TC: “He's doing OK. He's a guy that, because of the rules, wasn't able to be here until almost the middle of June, and the only thing he got was the mandatory minicamp, which was a shame. But he'll be a fine player. He needs an offseason and a spring, and he'll develop.”
MARVIN LEWIS (with New York media)
Q: With the Giants’ defense being so up and down this season, what have you seen on film from them and how do you attack their defense, which has done a good job of forcing turnovers?
A: Well, they’ve done a great job with pressure and creating pressure and takeaways. I think when guys have had the opportunity, generally they’ve come up with the play and made the catch or the strip-sack, fumble. You want to be in position where you can maintain that and slow them down a little bit by playing with great down and distance and so forth. Don’t get behind the cadence, as you would say for that. Stay in control of the situation, field position, etc.
Q: For a Week 10 matchup, this game has big implications. The Giants are looking to avoid a November slump and your team is trying to rebound from a four-game losing streak. Who is this game more important to and what have you been telling your team?
A: Well, it’s important to the Cincinnati Bengals. We know for both teams, it’s an important game. When the schedule came out, you knew it was going to be an important game. They all are. We’re playing a really good football team, well put together, makes few errors and we have to play better football than what we’ve been playing.
Q: We talked to Andy Dalton about his interceptions this season, have you guys done anything to make it easier on him?
A: Two of his interceptions have come on the last play of the game; not necessarily one I can point to Andy’s fault. Two have come off hands. That’s four right there. As long as he continues to not throw the football into coverage and take care of the ball the way we would like him, he’ll be fine. Even though the numbers seem to be up, they’re not necessarily reflective of the quarterback.
Q: A.J. Green has been doing his part on the offensive end, what do you hope to see from Gersham and Hawkins in the coming weeks?
A: Andy’s going to let the coverage dictate where the ball goes and so forth. When these other guys, whoever it may be, get in matchups that are favorable, he needs to deliver a good ball; they need to make the catch, have a good route, have a good release, whatever it takes to get themselves clean and open early in the down to get opportunities for the football.
Q: Eli Manning and the Giants offense have struggled in recent weeks, does that make a guy like him more dangerous or do you feel you can take advantage right now?
A: Well, again, you guys use the word struggling, but I know he didn’t have the best game that he wanted to have a week ago against Pittsburgh, but I don’t think he necessarily threw the ball into coverage. He had the interception that they came back and got. We’ve got to play and do our thing and play the way we need to play. They have an effective offense with effective players and we have to do a good job of limiting their explosive and vertical plays. They pride themselves on that and that’s going to be important. We have to win on third down by applying pressure and being in the right coverage spots on the quarterback. The quarterback is a fine, fine player.
Q: Does Eli continue to be regarded as one of the most dangerous quarterbacks to face?
A: I believe so.
ANDY DALTON (with New York media)
Q: The Giants secondary has been allowing a lot of yards in recent games, but has still managed to force turnovers. How do you find that balance of looking for the big play downfield but limiting the turnovers on your end?
A: Yeah, they’ve done a good job of turning the ball over. It’s just something that we notice. They try to disguise some things on some of those third and long situations where they’re getting their guys in the right spot and guys in spots that you don’t think they’re going to be. You have to know when to take the chances and know when to check the ball down.
Q: In this Week 10 matchup, with the Giants looking to prevent another November slump and you guys on a four-game losing streak, who is this game more important to?
A: This game is big for us because we’ve got to get a win at this point. We’ve got to find a way to turn things around a little bit and get a win. We need to do it at home. I think it’s set up nicely for us. We just have to come out and play on Sunday.
Q: Eight games into your sophomore season, what has been the biggest change from last year and what do you think you’ve improved on the most?
A: The overall understanding of the offense; taking control. There’s a lot of responsibility placed on me now, and that’s how I like it. The more time I’m playing, the more experience that I get, the better I’ll be, and the better understanding of the game I’ll have.
Q: You guys were off to a 3-1 start, but during this four-game losing streak, what has been the biggest problem and what have you guys done to correct it?
A: It comes down to consistency. We’ve got to find ways to make more plays, and when we’re making plays, we need to find ways to keep doing it. We haven’t done it enough in the last several games. We’ve got to turn that around.
Q: You’ve averaged over 250 passing yards over this losing streak, how do you turn that into more redzone points?
A: That’s execution there. We’ve got to make sure we’re making positive plays; keep moving the ball, and punch it in the end zone. We can’t keep kicking field goals. It’s definitely a focus. Now, it just comes down to execution at this point.
Q: It seems you’ve had some trouble with interceptions this season, what do you have to do to cut back on that?
A: There’s been some things, some fluky deals with the interceptions. I’ve got to be a better decision-maker, be accurate with the ball and get the ball to our guys; not give the defense a chance. I think it’s something that I notice and I’m focused on.
Q: Do you see any similarities between yourself and Eli Manning in terms of leading your team?
A: Obviously, Eli’s done a great job. He’s been doing a great job for a long time, especially that run they made last year at the end of the year. He was a big part of that. He played well at the end of the season. If there’s one thing I can take away from the way he was playing, late in the year he was playing well. I think that’s what it comes down to.
Q: With such a young offense, yourself and A.J. Green included, how do you incorporate some of these other guys to get more involved?
A: Jermaine (Gresham) showed what he’s capable of doing last week. It’s just when teams are taking A.J. away, these other guys have to step up. We need to get the ball to our guys. We feel like we’re talented enough to do it. It just comes down to making plays at this point.
Q: When you see what Isaac Redman did against the Giants last week, do you think that means you won’t have to shoulder the full load in this game?
A: We’d love to get the running game going. I think that’s one thing the Steelers did well, running the ball. They were making big plays, picking up first downs and moving the chains. Ultimately, at the end of the day, that’s what got them the win. You obviously want to be able to run the ball like that and hopefully we can do that on Sunday.
Q: Do you see similarities between your running game and Pittsburgh’s, in terms of toughness between the tackles?
A: Yeah, that’s what Pittsburgh’s been known for, for a long time. When they run the ball like that, of course you want to run the ball against the defending Super Bowl champs like that. Hopefully we can do that.
Q: Who gave you the nickname the “Red Rifle,” and when/where did that originate?
A: I got it last year. I think it was one of the TV announcers here somewhere. I’m not exactly sure where. It kind of just stuck.
Q: Has it carried over into the locker room?
A: A little bit, not too much. I’ve got some friends that just jokingly call me that and stuff like that. It hasn’t been too much.
Q: Where would you rank A.J. Green amongst NFL receivers?
A: He’s got to be one of the top guys. He’s so talented. He can do everything that you ask of him to do. He’s got such great ball skills when the ball is in the air. He’s got to be one of the best.
Q: You think his ball skills are the best in the league?
A: Yeah, I feel like if he’s not the best, he’s one of the best. He’s a special guy and a special athlete, really talented.
Q: When you look at the young guys that have come into the league the last few years, why have you guys been able to succeed so quickly and efficiently?
A: I think it’s kind of how we were raised. How we came in, our knowledge of what we’re doing. For me, I feel like my knowledge of the game is really what helped me. A.J., he’s so naturally gifted, and put that with the work ethic that both of us have, I think that’s what it comes down to, why we’ve been successful for the first year and a half that we’ve been in the league.