Tom Coughlin Wishes He Knew Why the Giants Struggle in November, Admits Things Must Change

November 21, 2012 – 5:45 am by Brad Gagnon

Tom Coughlin has work to do. His New York Giants might be leading the NFC East, but that gap between them and the Dallas Cowboys has shrunk to just a game, and Coughlin’s Giants have lost back-to-back games as part of another November swoon. Now, coming out of the bye week, they draw the Green Bay Packers, and the schedule doesn’t ease up much from there.

Tom Coughlin joined Mike Francesa on WFAN in New York to discuss the New York Giants’ recent struggles, why they can’t win in November, the passing game, the pass rush, the secondary, David Wilson’s inability to pick up blitzes, his feelings regarding the team overall, what has to change, and Hurricane Sandy’s impact.

On the team’s struggles and their mentality going forward:

“We know that we’re going to have be at our very, very best. We have not been for a couple of ball games, Mike. We gave some huge plays with our coverage teams, kind of anemic on offense, didn’t stop the run. Following week we go into a game where we’re plus-14 and the opponent, the Bengals, is minus-five, and we come out of the game minus-three. A lot of the principles we believe in — winning the physical battle, that type of thing, the turnover battle — we did not do most recently, and we’ve gotta get back on track with that. So that’s where we’re starting. We came back from the bye week, players were rested.”

On what’s wrong with the team in November:

“I’ve been asked that many times and I wish I had something novel to relay to you, but I don’t. Our byes have fallen at different times, and we’ve fought our way through that and still — as you say — been, in the middle of the season, perhaps 6-2, whatever, but have got into a little bit of a tailspin for a while and have — thank goodness — been able to pull ourselves out of it. But as to why it takes place, I could give you a litany of reasons that I don’t know for sure whether they’re correct or not. But everyone gets to a certain point of the season. In this case for us, this year, the bye came late. We looked at it as a positive. Didn’t expect to play the way we have the last couple of weeks, but it’s reality now. And so the best thing we can do is try to learn something from it and go forward. But if I had an answer, it definitely wouldn’t happen.”

On if opposing defenses have caught up with the Giants’ passing game:

“I don’t think they’ve caught up with our passing game and I don’t think it’s all on the quarterback. I think that there have been circumstances in games where we haven’t created the openings and been in the position that we were in in the first part of the season. If you simply looked at the big plays, Mike, you’d see a huge number of big plays in September, a little bit of a fall-off in October, and November — quite frankly — not very well at all. So that aspect of our game has gotta come back. We’ve got to make some plays down the field, some big plays. And so that’s something that we look forward to improving in.”

On the pass rush struggling at time this season:

“The fact of the matter is you’ve gotta keep pushing. You’ve gotta keep coming. We haven’t always done that and we’re counting on that going forward because that’s always been the signature aspect of our game on defense, has been the pressure from the front.”

On what he thinks has to change for the team to turn it around:

“We’ve gotta get back to taking care of the football and getting takeaways. We had tremendous takeaway numbers here just within a couple of weeks. So I think we have to get back to that. … When we play well, all three phases do. Our special teams gives us the ball in field position. … Our defense, we definitely still have to stop the run. Stop the run and take away the imbalance where people can run and throw the ball, and get back to where the pressure comes from our front. That’s an absolute. Protect the passer better, and do a much better job of being decisive, of making very good route adjustments, of creating separation, and then the ball being thrown at the proper time. But we’d also like to see our run game come along — give us the balance again. Because quite frankly, Mike, a lot of our big plays down the field come off of play-action.”

On rookie running back David Wilson:

“We would like to use him. We need to get him more involved, and we will get him more involved. He’s a young player who, quite frankly, the blitz pickup is not the No. 1 thing that a lot of these kids can do when they come out of college, but they have to. They have to be able to do that to be able to put them on the field. And he’s gotten much better at that. He’s really studied hard and worked hard and — with the exception of that early fumble — he’s taken care of the ball as well. So we want David involved.”

On how he feels about the team right now:

“I feel good about our football team. We’ve spent an awful lot of time on the mental part of this thing right now because you do feel you have to come back from a break like this mentally refreshed as well as physically refreshed. And I like the position our players are in; I like the fact that they’re working hard together. We’ve had what we call some debriefing processes where they’ve expressed themselves and had a chance to clear the air, if anything, that was on their minds in terms of our team being better. But we are well aware of this next stretch that we have and we’re calling it a six-game season. Our schedule is six football games, all difficult games, one at a time.”

On Hurricane Sandy’s impact on the team and the city:

“There’s no person — no person — who lives in this part of the country that was not affected by Hurricane Sandy. … Certainly we were affected. Now we tried to do the best job we could. We tried to back our week up and try to put our players in a better position mentally where they could take care of their issues and then come to work. And for the most part, when we were here, I think the focus was here. But to say that we weren’t affected, that’d be foolish; that’d be naive on my part.”

On if he’s comfortable with the secondary:

“Well comfortable is not a good word, Mike, but we do say this: So much of what we do back there is based on the front, and if our front can get going, we can create the one-on-ones, the matchups that we think we have a excellent chance of getting to the quarterback, then I think the pressure will help us, the ball will come out on the time that we want it to come out and not at the quarterback’s as he moves around back there and picks his own spots. If we can do that, I think we can definitely help ourselves in the secondary.”

Listen to Tom Coughlin on WFAN here

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