Marvin Lewis News Conference
"The Giants over the last three weeks, winning three games in a row, have really been impressive getting their offense going. They are doing a great job at the line of scrimmage. A lot of 'check-with-me' type plays with run-pass options and power of choice for the quarterback. He's doing a really good job of that and really delivering the football. People say they aren't running the football, but they actually are because a lot of these throws they are making on first down are off run plays, and he's been delivering the football. Guys are doing a good job making the tight catches on those kind of looks they are giving the defense. And they are hitting some vertical plays. That's impressive as well. Their receivers all do a very good job of run after the catch. They are physical runners so we have to do a very good job of tackling the catch with them offensively.
"Defensively, they are maturing into what Steve (defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo) is trying to get done. You can see them fitting into the scheme, and the guys are doing a very good job of not only being able to slow the running game down, but applying pressure on the pass and the quarterback. They are doing it through their four-man looks and some of their five or six-man looks. They are doing a good job mixing both pressure and coverage and the execution of that. They are coming up with plays on balls that are being tipped. They are coming up with receptions on those plays. They are doing a really good job of those things, which is why where they are right now."
Does (Leon) Hall look the same to you?
"Leon has done a good job for them. He was not active last week, but the games he was active, he's been effective. Against Minnesota, he played nickel, safety and dime -- three different spots on defense -- within that game."
Were you surprised at how fast they were able to take all the different pieces and put together a solid defense right away?
"The guy inside, 98 (Damon Harrison), is an impressive player. He was a good player at the Jets now he's good with them. (Olivier) Vernon is an excellent pass rusher, very explosive. We seem to follow them a few weeks in a row in our schedule, so we've had a chance to see him against the other offenses we were preparing for again. (Jason) Pierre-Paul has overcome his injury from a year ago and back to looking like himself. On the back end, Janoris Jenkins, who they brought in as well, is a really good athletic cover player. He has great ball skill; he's around the receivers all the time. He's not afraid. He has what it takes to be a quality cornerback in the National Football League. He does a nice job, and obviously their draft pick from a year ago, (Landon) Collins, is playing excellent football. He's grown into the player I think everyone expected him to be, which is both physical as a tackler and a good player at the line of scrimmage. He's been part of their pressures and comes up with the interception. He's really doing a nice job all around and brings a lot of energy and spirit to their group right now."
Is it a harder job than people realize, to make all that work together?
"Guys make a decision to go where they go, and there's one thing they want to do, and that's win. That's important to them."
Do players consider teams based on how their defensive coordinator will make their talents stand out?
"I think it depends on the position. If you're a 4-3 defensive end, you want to get into a 4-3 front -- as Vernon is -- to give yourself opportunities. It depends. There's different schemes, but I do think they did a great job of selling their vision to those guys. Their players inserted themselves into that vision."
What can you point to with your improved offense? Is it Tyler Eifert?
"We're doing a good job of execution, which always makes things better. When we last played, Tyler's addition to the offense was great as a blocker. He was very physical at the line of scrimmage. It gives you another two-fold to defend."
What are some keys vs. their #1 ranked red-zone defense?
"They've done a good job of mixing things up. Against the Rams, they had two possessions down there on fourth down, and gave up zero points. Against the Eagles, the same thing, and the Ravens before that. Teams have finished the game inside the 20-yard line against them. They've done a great job of mixing coverage and pressure, and the players have executed it."
What is it about Coach Spagnuolo's teams that have such strong defenses?
"He does a really good job. He cut his teeth as a secondary coach. He had time with Jim Johnson in Philadelphia. Jim had a great mix of both coverage and pressure, and you see that with where Steve has been coordinator."
With the players, have you driven home the point of finishing this second half strong?
"No more than any other year. Nothing has changed, it's always important."
Does the bye week reset things nicely for you?
"I think it was a good opportunity to reset. I wish we'd reset it at 4-4, but we didn't. We have to move forward from here. It came at a good time for us in my opinion. They always do. We have to take full advantage of it coming out of here, and be next to perfect in the second half."
Is it encouraging for your team, at 3-4-1, to look up during the bye week and realize they're only a half game out of first place?
"I really don't know how much players pay attention to those things, unless it's put before them. But it is evident that we've just got to take care of ourselves. That's my message to them all the time. It was no different a year ago, and the year before that and year before that. Just handle our own business, and we'll be fine."
How would you assess the first half of the season for Tyler Boyd?
"I've been pleased. His production has been above the guys he was compared with as rookies. Things will continue to happen for him. From the Pittsburgh game, that might have brought some low points — there was production and then the low point of the fumble. But he's really grown above that. You've got to be proud of him for that, and how he's handling himself as a pro.
"And now it's the second half of the season. We need him to continue to step up and do great things for us. With (Tyler) Eifert, and (Tyler) Kroft and (C.J.) Uzomah and all these young guys who have been in there and working a lot of times against the interior part of the defense. It's important for them to take advantage of opportunities they get, to win the one-on-ones in there when we get them, and for the quarterback to have the confidence in them as he reads the coverage and goes through his progressions, so that he can count on that guy winning. That's important."
There's so much that goes into the slot receiver position in particular. Boyd's had the first half of the season to feel out his comfort zone and understanding, so does that set the expectation level a little higher going into the second half of the season?
"For a smart guy and a smart football player like Tyler is, that's something he's got to build upon and get excited about. Just the fact that he's in that position. Three weeks ago, I took all of Randall Cobb's plays and showed him, 'This is what we expect.' And that's great for him to see someone who has parallel physical abilities and see what he's done through his career."
Did you see those similarities between Cobb and Boyd when you were evaluating Boyd in the draft?
What does it mean to have Wallace Gilberry back?
"Wallace has been, since we brought him here however many years ago, one of those nuts-and-bolts guys. Hard-playing. Physical. Tough. Good for the rest of the team. Drives guys. Smart on the field. Can extend the things that you try to do during the week, and talk to (the defense) about it in the huddle and at the line of scrimmage and help the other guys around him. That's good. He brings not only his ability to continue to make plays, but also to enhance others."
Paul Guenther said he thinks Gilberry can get some snaps on Monday night. Would that have been possible had he not had prior knowledge of this defense?
"Yeah, that probably would've been a little tougher (laughs). Obviously it happens. Unfortunately, if you get guys banged up at a position, you bring in a guy off the street and have to get him ready to play in a week. But in this case, this is an easy transition. He's not been away from us that long."
Andy Dalton News Conference
Is there a sense of urgency coming off the bye week?
"It's big. It's the start of the second half of the season. There's a lot out there for us to go take. It's the first opportunity in the second half to go take it. It's important to get a fast start."
Were there talks within the team about making a point to start strong in the second half of the season?
"Absolutely. We know the importance of it. We just have to get it done."
You're going back to a place where you had some success earlier in the season ...
"We'll be familiar with it, but the colors will be different this time. We'll know the hotel, the travel process. It can only help."
Does it feel like the playoff race is just starting?
"Absolutely. I feel like with the position we're in, it's going to be decided in this last half. That's why there's such a huge importance on it, because everybody is in it."
What makes the Giants so tough in red-zone defense?
"They aren't allowing the big plays. Their guys have been tight in coverage, and that's a reason I think why they've done well."
What has helped in revitalizing the running game?
"The importance of knowing that we have to get it going. We put a lot of time and effort into it. The guys have been working hard on it in practice, and it's been showing in the way we've played in games. We put an importance on getting it going, and we've been able to improve a lot on that area."
The Giants do a good job of affecting the passing game with pressure ...
"They are. They give you a lot of different looks. They may not be getting to the quarterback as much, but they're getting pressure and guys in your face. That's why you see the numbers the way they are."
How's Leon Hall looking?
"Leon's done well. It's weird to see him in a different uniform, but he's done a good job for them."
Did you ever feel his instincts in practice?
"Definitely. He's such a smart player. He understands route concepts, disguising different things that he does. I saw in practice what everybody saw in games. That's the type of player he is."
Landon Collins is being used in a variety of ways ...
"He's a big key part of their defense. He's all over the place, and you have to know where he is. He's been playing well for them. For a guy to lead in sacks and interceptions, it shows how great a player he is."