POSTED: Wednesday December 31st 2008


December 31, 2008

Q:  This time of year when you have this break, getting ready for your game on January 11th, what is the overall focus for the ball club?

A:  Well, it is definitely on – the first thing we talk about doing, okay, is recognizing the areas that we really have to improve upon.  And knowing that we only have this moment to improve; that is all we have. And this is why we have to focus on improvement and we talk about different aspects of it; what we have done as coaches is we have taken the big areas, the big areas of our team – first and second downs, third down, the green area, two-minute – we have taken those things and we have analyzed them over the course of the season.  We selected different areas where we want improvement; things that we really count on that maybe aren’t being done as well as they should be done.  And we study them; we present them to the players.  Today was mostly first and second down with a little third. We will get third down and green area on Friday when we come in.  We did defensive two-minute; we will do offensive two-minute.  So the whole thing is, “how is the other guy looking at us right now; what does he see when he looks at us and can we improve in those areas?”

Q:  How is the approach different than last year, especially since you guys had to go right in and play during the Wild Card?

A:  I think I just said it.  First of all we have some guys that we are trying to make sure get healthy.  And then we are taking other areas.  Because I want them to understand – we are working, we are working hard.  I want the practices as fast as they can possibly be at game speed.  I want everybody working extremely hard so that we know that we have accomplished something right here this week.  And it is very important to me.  And then next week obviously the enthusiasm, the excitement will come into bear as well.

Q:  Does it make it tough to prepare knowing there are three possible opponents?

A:  Not really, not really.  We will go back to square one.  Basically as you know, there are three teams we could end up playing.  And we are going to look at pretty much every snap for the whole year for those three teams.

Q:  You mentioned that you wanted to see practices fast. Were you satisfied today?

A:  I thought we had good energy; and rightfully so.  We had two days (off)—- we haven’t had really that in a long time.  There have been a lot of days when we have had just one day off.  But I thought the energy was good.  You are always interested in quality and team. That is what I talk about all of the time – the quality of work, making sure we finish things, making sure we have that idea that if it is an offensive drill, the offense finishes, the defense finishes the defensive drill.  Special teams, let’s get rid of the mental errors.  Let’s just be solid, solid, solid in our practice week.

Q:  With the number of big plays you have given up lately, is it one person being out of place?

A:  No, there are any number.  When we talked about that today there is no – I’m not putting the blame on anybody, I’m just telling you it has to stop.  That is basically the way I say it.  And also on the other side of the ball we have to make plays.  There are plays there to be made now.  It is not like we are – I realize where we in the big play category with the past, but there have been plays there to be made and we have to make those plays.  So when you get into the playoffs you are in a single-elimination tournament, you have the opportunity to make those plays, they are going to be there for you but you have to take advantage of it.

Q:  From a health, from a momentum standpoint, where are you at in terms of that?  Do you feel good about where you are?

A:  I think that hopefully by the end of this week we will be in pretty good shape.  We have some guys that have some nicks but some of those guys are practicing, some are not.  And hopefully at the end of the week we will be in good shape.  By the time we start next week I’m hoping to have all hands on deck.

Q:  Is it flattering when you hear Steve Spagnuolo’s name being mentioned as a candidate for a head coaching job in this League?

A:  I don’t know about the word ‘flattering.’  Am I surprised by it? Of course not, not at all.  So we will see where that goes.  Steve is very, very well thought of by our organization and he knows that.  So we will see where that goes.

Q:  Does that create any sort of a distraction?

A:  No, not at all; not at all.  He doesn’t miss a beat.

Q:  is there a chance you might use two kickers in the postseason?

A:  It is always a consideration.  But we will see.  We will take all of that into consideration.

Eli Manning

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What is it like standing around for a week before you even know who you are going to play?

It is a great opportunity for us.  We had a great practice today.  It is really a time to work at things, look at some things we have done over the last four or five weeks and evaluate that to see where we can improve, really get specific with things we have to work on.  That was our goal today, I thought we did a good job of doing that.  We will watch the games this weekend and see what happens and get excited about our game next Sunday.

Do you see the extra rest as a benefit for everybody?

I hope so.  I think it will be a great opportunity for some guys to get healthy.  Guys who get back where everybody is practicing next week, everybody knows what they are doing, we will get some young guys some reps this week and get them doing a few things to see if they can help us out in any way through the playoff stretch.  We knew that was a big help for us last year, getting some guy guys back and playing well.  It should be a great advantage for us, but we have to use it smartly.

How do you prepare to stay sharp with only having two practices this week?

Well, just what we did today, you work on things.  You have goals, you have mindsets to what you want to improve on, and I think we did that today.  I know I had my goals from a quarterback standpoint and throwing the ball and getting on the same page with receivers and just continue to work on our timing to make sure we are hitting all the plays that we need to hit.  That is what we are focusing on and trying to get better.

How is the sense of preparing for the playoffs different this year than last since you have a bye?

Obviously having a week off is a little different feeling.  A little bit more relaxed this week.  You are thinking of it as a playoff week and it is time to buckle-up and get serious, but we are trying to get better.  We are practicing seriously, but obviously a little bit more relaxed this week than a normal playoff week, but we know that intensity is going to have to get picked up next week when everything counts and everything is you are either in or out.

Is it difficult preparing when you don’t know who you are going to play?

Yeah, you don’t know who you are playing so you don’t have a specific team that you are practicing for, but that is why we can work on things that we know we need to improve on.  It doesn’t matter what team you are playing, on some things, you have to improve your mechanics and improve your timing on things and those are things we are working on this week.

Will you watch all the games this weekend?

Yeah, I will watch all the games.  We have nothing planned Saturday and Sunday and it is a great opportunity to sit and watch a lot of football.

Is this almost like a short mini camp of back to basics?

I don’t know if I would take it that far, but it is back to basics a little bit.  It is just improving on the things that you do and things that you kind of look back to see what plays have been successful these last weeks, what plays we haven’t been as good at, what can we improve on, so it is really trying to work on the things that you need to get better.

Does it help that you have played four of the five playoff teams in the NFC?

It is all going to come down to who we are playing.  We don’t right now, but next week we will see who we are going to play.  It is still going to come down to how you prepare, how well you play in the game, and so we know any team we play is going to be a good team and we are going to have to play great football if we expect to win games.

How important would having Brandon Jacobs back be for this team?

I think Brandon is a big part of this offense.  A great runner, makes plays for us, and so to have all your weapons intact for a playoff game is very important.

How happy are you to have home field advantage this year?

We are excited about it.  It is going to be a great opportunity.  Playing at home, having your own fans, and they will be fired-up and excited so hopefully it should be an advantage for us, but it is still going to come down to how well we go out there and play.

What is it going to be like for your younger receivers going into these playoffs without Plaxico Burress?

I think these guys are ready.  Steve Smith has played in playoff games, Amani (Toomer), (Domenik) Hixon has played special teams in playoff games, so they have all played in big games and I feel very confident that all our guys will be ready for the challenge.

Is it better to be an underdog or the favorite?

It doesn’t really matter.   It doesn’t make a difference for us.  We still have to go out there and play the game and that is the only thing we are worried about. 

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Keywords · NFL · New York Giants · football

Name: Avis Roper
Organization: New York Giants
Phone: +1. 201-935-8111

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