Head Coach Scott Linehan

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

(Opening statement)

“The injury report, actually nothing real significant this week which is nice for a change. Leonard Little and Richie Incognito both suffered a couple bouts with some stingers that caused them some discomfort, but shouldn’t be anything that keeps them out. All of our other players that played in the game came out fairly healthy; nothing to report. Again, our approach this week, really no different than previous weeks. We’re focused on getting our eighth win of the year. I know if we win the game we’re going to need some help to get in, that’s the position we’re in. But if we don’t win the game then it doesn’t matter. That’s got to be our approach, and then maybe some luck falls our way, then who knows. Like I said before, and have said in previous weeks, it doesn’t matter unless we win the game.”

(On how DE Victor Adeyanju and S Jerome Carter came out of the game)

“Both those guys came out okay. We are going to try something different with Victor’s cast. He wasn’t real comfortable with the one he used. He was able to use his hand somewhat, but I think it was a little uncomfortable. He’s actually got a new one on. Just something to try to help his effectiveness with using that. Jerome Carter came out just fine.”

(On how much Adeyanju played)

“He got about 15 snaps, so he played quite a bit. Spelled some guys in there, Leonard, in some situations he was able to play; but significant enough to where I think it was beneficial for us, especially in the second half. I think guys were wearing down with…we had six linemen up for a couple games there. You could tell we were wearing down in the second half and I think it helped keep us somewhat fresh.”

(On Adeyanju’s new cast)

“It’s going to be a little smaller. It’s still got to protect it, that’s the primary reason. He just felt it was uncomfortable with the way he had his hand. It was set so he could use his hand. He really doesn’t have a lot of function with it. He’s got to have something to protect it so it doesn’t feel uncomfortable while he plays with it. Got another one on there; see how it feels during practice this week.”

(On G Adam Timmerman going in for one play)

“That’s when Richie (Incognito) got the stinger. He came out for one play, and that’s when Adam went in.”

(On RB Steven Jackson being named offensive player of the week)

“They just said Steven is offensive player of the week, which doesn’t surprise me. You don’t have a 150 (rushing yards) and 100 (receiving yards) too many times. Maybe once in a career.”

(On trying to keep Jackson fresh throughout the week)

“We’ve been doing that with a lot of our players, especially guys that are taking a number of snaps, to keep them fresh. This time of year it’s tough; especially the older players. Steven’s carried a big load with the number of plays he’s been playing, and like you said, touches. That’s what we do in practice. We get him as many as we think we need to get him. Kind of push him through it too, but try to keep him as fresh as we can at this time of year because it does start to wear on him.”

(On S Oshiomogho Atogwe)

“I think the expectation for him now rises every week because we just see an improving player. He’s one of our emerging young players that is starting to really handle the role that he has. He was basically a rookie going into this season as far as playing, and had his ups and downs for the first half or two thirds of the season, but he’s one of a number of players who’s started to really come on here at the end of the year. He’s played very consistent. Now all of a sudden we’re being ultra hard on him like he’s played for 10 or 15 years, but I notice that he’s playing with so much more confidence. He’s blitzing well. He’s getting guys lined up. Two weeks in a row he’s come up with a real critical forced turnover when the other team’s penetrated. This one was certainly a game saver. The guys that play in the backend on defense are playmakers too, and that was a big-time play.”

(On why Little was credited with the Oakland forced fumble instead of Atogwe)

“Just because he got in there…I think they assisted each other. Leonard was there, but O.J. got in there and stripped that ball. It was clear to me from the sideline that it was two guys that were involved in making the play, but O.J.’s…that’s a knack he has; something he did very well in college, and is now starting to get it done here.”

(On Atogwe’s six forced fumbles)

“He practices that, and we practice that with our secondary; punching the ball out and getting it out. O.J., he has a knack, has a feel for where the ball is. The fumble on Sunday, the guy actually…if you watch the tape, he had the ball locked away pretty good. He just had a perfect punch on it from behind, which is something we teach. But you’ve got to go execute it. He’s got a knack for that and hopefully we get many, many more.”

(On still having a chance at the playoffs)

“We talked about it in here and we talked about it as a team as well, but we focused mainly on taking care of the next game because we knew we were close to being out. I guess it’s not beyond the realm that a 7-9 team would make it, but I’ve never heard of one. We knew if we were going to get in, we’re going to have to end up with eight wins. Until someone says you’re eliminated, you’re not. We had a very good example—this particular team made it to the playoffs in 2004, and it wasn’t 5-8, they were 6-8, but they ended up getting in, going on the road and beating Seattle. Nothing’s impossible, and you never look at it that way. We certainly kept our focus there. We’re no different now than we were then. We’ve still got another game to take care of that will give us, at least, a chance to get in. Our guys have held on to that.”

(On if he knows the scenarios that have to occur for them to get to the playoffs)

“I’ve got the scenarios down, but again, if we take care of ourselves, we know there’s no guarantee and we’ve got to get some help, but that’s all we can do and that’s all we can ask at this point.”

(More on the scenarios)

“We read through them. We’ve got a couple guys on our staff who have become playoff scenario experts, so they give me updates on it. These games had to be completed this weekend so we knew exactly where they were. At least we have an idea of who’s going to need to win for us to get in. Again, the focus is, for us, it doesn’t matter if we don’t win the game, and we need to take care of that. Then we’ll pay attention to everything else that’s going on.”

(On keeping the guys motivated to play if the Giants win on Saturday and playoff hopes are gone)

“I’m not concerned about it. We know we’re working on a lot of things, one of them being to go 8-8 and give ourselves a chance to get in the playoffs. We know we’re going to need some help, and if that doesn’t happen, we’re still playing for a lot of things. One of them is we wanted to improve this year based on where we were when we started the year as far as where the team ended up in a previous year and things like that. There’s been some trials and tribulations so to speak to get there, but I think they’ve done it the right way. Managed certainly a tough stretch. Put ourselves in a position, at least, to talk about the playoffs at this point. If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen, but our guys will put out a great effort regardless.”

(On being able to say he won four out of his last six games his first year as head coach)
“It’s always important to see improvement, and we certainly had a dip in our performance. We started of 4-1, went into the middle part of the season and didn’t play our best football, and lost some games; and we lost some tough games too. I think the biggest thing is our guys have stayed as patient as you can within that stretch, worked at improving…we made a lot of adjustments. Some of it personnel, some of it scheme, just to give ourselves a better chance to have success. It’s good to see everybody within the organization strive for that. You want to see improvement as the year go on, and you want to see the ability to make adjustments too. I think our staff, and our players, and our organization have worked very hard at that.”

(On RB Steven Jackson making adjustments to increase his success this year)

“I think we all know he has some exceptional skill and talent, but some of it he needed to refine somewhat as far as being an inside or a downhill runner. I think there was a perception that because he was a big back that he was this physical downhill runner. At times he was, but at a lot of times he was a perimeter player. He developed a willingness to go inside and not always be looking for that big play. I think what he’s able to do now, is be able to hit the play inside pre-snap because he has an idea that they’re playing him a certain way, or he knows that he’s going to have three or four hard, four yard games and that’s going to give him the ability in the third and fourth quarter to create big plays out in the perimeter. I think he was going into the game as one of the better short yardage carriers in the league. Going into the year, I wouldn’t have thought that would’ve been his strength. I think that says a lot about him making adjustments in his style. I don’t think anybody would have thought that he was going to be the receiver that he was, coming into the year. He worked very hard in becoming a dual-threat player, and I’m not surprised he was able to do it, but I’m surprised at how effective and dominant a receiver he’s become, to go along with his running skills. I think he’s one of those guys that has backed up his commitment in having a great year and taking his game to another level.”

(On what’s responsible for Jackson’s success this season)
“I think his position coach Wayne Moses has a lot to do with it too. I think what Steven is a very confident young man, but he’s also a guy that is willing to learn to be coachable and make the adjustments necessary to improve. He made an improvement unlike anyone else in the league in my opinion based on where he was at the beginning of the season to where he is now. I credit a lot of people, Steven himself being one of them because of his openness and willingness to make adjustments and improve his game, and I think he’s done that.”

(On being informed about all of the playoff scenarios)
“They took it on their own. They knew I needed some help so they came to me. There are so many things that had to happen and this weekend had to be complete so you knew exactly where we were, what teams were still in the running, and what teams weren’t. We knew going into it that it was a little bit of a stretch because we needed a lot of help. I think we got enough to make it a very good possibility. A lot of us are on the road, so maybe that gives us a better chance. I don’t know if it matters. It’s still nice to know that we still have a chance. Whether the Giants win before we do is really not our biggest concern. Our biggest concern is approaching this game like it is a playoff game because if we win we have a chance to be in.”

(On the status of injured G Claude Terrell)

“From what I’m told he’s going to be here by tomorrow or Thursday and hopefully there will be something done by the end of the week.”

(On this season being full of hot and cold streaks)

“I think things go in streaks. I think we had our share of things not going our way in the middle of the year. I think what’s happened at the end of the year, in our case, is that we stayed pretty focused on the task at hand and didn’t get too concerned about things happening outside of our control. With that said, some of those things have worked in our favor to give us a legitimate shot at making the playoffs, which really supports what we were preaching from the very get go. You just have to keep playing the games. Here we are, on the outside looking in, needing some luck for things to go our way, but we’re in a lot better position than you would’ve thought when we were 5-8 talking about it as more of a dream than a reality.”

(On all of the 7-8 teams playing on the road and being underdogs)
“You know how those favorites go. The games get decided on Sunday. The prognosticators do their jobs during the week and we have to go out and either prove them right or wrong every week. We understand that it doesn’t really matter and anybody can beat anybody regardless of who’s favored.”

(On worrying about teams resting their starters for the playoffs)
“I’ve seen it. Last year when I was in Miami, we played New England and they only played their starters in the first quarter. It was a very competitive game still, but they don’t rest everybody. I know a couple of years ago San Diego won a game after sitting a bunch of their starters. There’s nothing we can do about that. That’s something that just happens. I think this league’s so competitive and the players that do play are playing to win. Those things are out of our control, though. We just have to take care of our part and hopefully win the Minnesota game.”

(On getting of to quick starts in games)
“It would certainly help. Our plan is to play faster and start faster, but it certainly hasn’t happened. That was a big focus of what we were trying to get done this week. I haven’t seen the results of that emphasis yet, but I think our guys are coming out with a little too much ‘wait and see’ instead of taking the game to our opponent or trying to take it that way early in the game. You have to credit the other team for their ability to start fast as well. We just keep looking for solutions and finding things we can do or ways we can mix it up. Someone’s got to make a play early too. I think we relax and get more comfortable, and as the game goes on we figure out what people are doing. I think it would certainly help us to get off to a fast start and take the lead early in a game for once. We’re working on it.”

(On preparing for possible playoff opponents)
“Our quality control coaches will work on it if we make the playoffs and we have an idea of the most likely game and we’ll do some preliminary work just like we’re getting ready for another game. It won’t be wasted time. There’s a good chance that you’ll play these people again sometime. You have to do it or you’re going to be behind going into the playoffs. We would have a quick turnaround getting ready for another game, so you have to do it.”

(On the performance of the young offensive lineman)

“They played very well again. I think Brett (Romberg) played his best game. He hasn’t played that many, but he played very solid, probably as good as anyone as far as how he graded out. That can be a little deceiving or overrated, but I think he played very well. I think Mark Setterstrom’s setting in to being a very consistent player at his spot and I think Richie (Incognito) is getting more comfortable at right guard. It’s a natural position for him to play guard and I think he played better than he did the last game. It was more comfortable for him not being the guy snapping the ball or making the calls. They’re improving. It’s a good sign to see young players improve. That’s a big goal of our football team, offensive line or not, to see young players start to emerge and develop more increased roles.”

(On possibly shuffling the offensive line again if G Adam Timmerman is ready to play this week)
“I would think we would keep it the same. We have a little continuity in the offensive line and sometimes that’s how things work out. I talked to Adam (Timmerman) about it last week and he was in a position where he was available, but based on how those guys were playing up front, you don’t want to disrupt that. I would think that we would keep it the same this week.”

(On the Rams capitalizing off of big plays)
“There are ways you categorize big plays. I think big plays that score from outside the red zone you don’t have to work as hard on. You don’t have to call another play to get in there and it takes quite a bit of pressure off and puts points on the board. Those are all things we’re trying to continue to improve on. In this particular game there were a number of big plays. We’ve had a number of big plays that effected field position in a positive way this year, but maybe we didn’t score on that particular play. I haven’t been disappointed in our ability to be aggressive and to create chunks in our offense. I think we’re getting better at it than we were early in the year for sure. I think one of things we’ve been harping on is turning one of those short gains into a big play and not make it so hard on you so that you need to keep sustaining long drives. It’s really hard to sustain a long drive. To execute for that long against an NFL defense and score really is (difficult). When you can get the big ones it certainly helps because it puts points on the board.”

(On TE Dominique Byrd’s performance in Sunday’s game)

“We put some things in for him. His first catch, which happened to be a touchdown, was something that he does in practice and did in college. It happened to be a good situation for it and we actually ran a similar type of play just before it, so it was set up pretty good for the second call to go to him. I think it was just appropriate for him to kind of show a taste of things he can bring to the table. When he brings the rest of his game together and becomes a more consistent player, which a lot of young players struggle doing, I think you’ll see a guy that can be effective in that role and even have a more increased role. He gave a great effort in special teams, which is part of it. He’s in kind of that position where he’s got to get on the field in different ways other than a receiving tight end. It was nice to see him get in the end zone and make a couple of catches, but was more impressive to me is that he was pretty consistent and pretty willing when he did play in special teams. If you want your role to increase, get good at the role you have and you’ll get more snaps.”

(On why Byrd received the opportunity to play in Sunday’s game)
“Some of it was from practice and some of it was the opportunity that was in front of him because of Paul Smith’s injury. Paul had been a very consistent special teams performer, but hadn’t done a whole lot offensively, and this was another chance to get another offensive weapon on the field. We still had to make sure that we held him accountable to his role of a starter or a backup on the special teams. He’s figuring that out and he’s improving now.”