Recently, Michael Eisen of Giants.com had a conversation with head coach Tom Coughlin about the offseason and the Giants organization moving forward. Below you’ll find a handful of meaningful responses taken directly from the transcript:
Q: Are you more concerned with X’s and O’s, learning the offensive and defensive systems, or getting the new players accustomed to the culture you’ve created here and what you expect of them?
“The culture’s going to change, too. The culture will change. Now, the principles and the values will not change, but how we go about our business has to change, because we have so many new people that have to be integrated into the system. Am I concerned about the X’s and O’s? Yes, I’m concerned about the X’s and O’s. That whole situation in terms of the new system and our new offensive coordinator (Ben McAdoo), those things are all going to have to be presented to our team, both veterans and new people. It puts them basically in the same boat, because they’re all learning from scratch, there’s no advantage to anybody.
“Our defense has learned an awful lot about our players and how to best utilize them. We rose from 31st to eighth (in the league rankings during the course of the 2013 season), but there are a lot of changes on the defensive side of the ball. We, again, have to be in a position where we’re evaluating our talent so we know how best to go ahead and try to utilize them. Everywhere in the organization there has to be a marching to a little bit faster step, if you will, just to be able to incorporate new people in a short amount of time and to learn not only a new system on the offensive side of the ball but the defense will change according to our personnel. Now terminology isn’t going to change, but they will have new things to learn.”
Q: When the offseason began did you anticipate this much of a roster overhaul?
“It was easy to see the number of free agents that we had. That part of it was. And again, we’re all a part of the evaluation process and our team from a year ago was evaluated and the difficult assignment of making decisions on personnel takes place. Then to go out and execute it is extremely important, because if you’re going to follow through on your process and bring players in that are going to make a difference, and obviously we’ve gone through some of that and we have a ways to go, but nevertheless, that’s what this is all about.”
“Sure it did. You saw when we lost (David) Baas and Snee at the same time, we had two new people to integrate right now after what, three games? You had to go through that process with these guys. As young people, you’ve got to go play. They have to go play. It doesn’t happen any other way. One of the guys that really helped us that we will miss is Kevin Boothe, because of his flexibility.”
“No doubt. The corner position more than the safety position. The fact that Antrel (Rolle) and Will Hill and Stevie Brown and Cooper Taylor (are returning at safety), that makes a lot of sense being able to come back and have those guys together. But to get (Trumaine) McBride back, to have Dominique, to have Thurmond, to have Zack Bowman, to have guys who have played and played at the highest level, been in big games – sure they have to learn the Giant way, but they’re talented and they can help us.”
Q: The Giants started six different running backs in 2013 – David Wilson, Da’Rel Scott, Brandon Jacobs, Peyton Hillis, Michael Cox and Andre Brown. Do you think you will have some stability there with the acquisition of Rashad Jennings?
“I think he’s an all-around back. Whatever question I asked when I was looking at the tape got answered. In other words, he went 80 (yards for a touchdown last season for Oakland in a game at Houston). Is he fast enough? He goes 80. Does he catch it out of the backfield? Yes. Does he run the screens well? Yes. How is he from scrimmage as a runner? Good. First and second down, can he play on third down? Yes, he can. What does he need? Well, he’s 230 pounds with a great attitude. He needs a little work on his pass protection, but I think we can get that done. I think he’s an all-purpose guy that fits us very, very well.
“All in due time with David (Wilson). Just pray, you’re praying that he has a return to excellent health and that the doctors are totally convinced that he is recovered and ready to go. When that time comes, you’ll have another contributor who, if he gets a step, he’s gone.”
Q: Robert Ayers started three games at right defensive end last season for Denver. Your incumbent left end, Justin Tuck, signed with Oakland. Can Ayers play on the left side?
“Sure, he can. He’s played right, he’s played left, he’s played inside on third down, he’s played in a lot of spots. He’s a powerful player. He’ll be very, very good against the run. I really, quite frankly don’t think there are any tight ends that will block him. He’s really got exceptional hand position, does a nice job with that, and he can be used in a versatile manner and he has consistent effort. He’s got the hunger and the desire and he’ll make up for a lot with hustle.”
Q: How has it been working with a new group of offensive coaches?
“It’s good, because if nothing else it’s a reflection. If you take the guys that I’ve kept on the offensive side of the ball and kind of maneuvered them around into different spots, except the offensive line, you know what I mean. It’s good because you watch the guys, they’re learning. They’re like sponges. It’s a foreign language, there’s no doubt. Ben’s done a very good job of introducing every aspect of it to the staff. He’s done an excellent job with that. It’s been good and it will be good for the players, because they’re going to have to sit up in the front of their seats and get it.
“I’ve been in the same system since 1988. We have incorporated whatever we can from our system that we’ve always had here, but there’s a lot of new terminology. There will be lots of new teaching just in terms of the way in which it’s presented, which will force people to study and to learn and to be anxious. When the huddle breaks you’ve got to go do it. They’re going to have to learn it to be able to do it. The plays will become familiar to them once they recognize what the responsibility is. You have to be able to talk it, discuss it and communicate. That’s different.”