How do you feel about your team’s chances going into the game against the Giants?
They are a tough football team right now, hungry, it is a division game and last year they beat us twice. It is definitely going to be a challenge this weekend. From my perspective, I think they are going to come in here and play their heart out and give us their best shot.
When you look at the Giants defense what are you seeing?
From week to week things can change and things can happen differently. I know last season we started out 0-2 and then all of a sudden things just began to change for a little while. Week to week things change and we understand that they are a dangerous team right now because of that and you don’t know what to expect from them on Sunday. We just have to come out and play our game and do things that we do best because we know that we are going to get their best shot. They have a strong leader, Antonio Pierce, in the middle playing middle linebacker. We know that he is going to get the guys around him to rally around him and step up and make plays.
Given that the Giants have had trouble containing tight ends over the first two weeks, how does that affect your connection with Chris Cooley?
Cooley is a great receiver for us, definitely, most definitely, but at the same time when you are dropping back as a quarterback the one thing you don’t want to do is get held up and try to throw the ball to certain guys based on what their defense has done the week before or two weeks before. The one thing you have to do as a quarterback is to drop back, read coverages, and throw the ball to the open guy; the guy that is getting open for you. It is not a thing where you go into a game and feel like you have to give the ball to a certain guy because of things that have happened in the past. When I approach a game I take everything one play at a time. Whatever the defense gives you is what you take.
What are you seeing from the Giants’ defensive front?
I have all the respect in the world for Strahan and those guys. Strahan is a guy who has been in the league for a long time. I think right now it is just a tough situation that they are in at this point. Like I said, the NFL is a long season, things can turn in a minute and things can change in a minute. Right now we are sitting 2-0 but we hadn’t been getting any attention before that and right now with the attention that we are getting, we aren’t trying to listen to all of it or take it as our perspective. We understand that we are still a football team and try to get better ourselves and continue to work on the things that we need to work on.
Are you guys more of a running team this year?
We are closer to being balanced. The two backs that we have kind of lean more towards the run because of the guys that we have and the guys that we have up front doing the blocking, but at the same time we also throw the ball quite a bit. At the same time you just have to continue to stay focused and whatever plays the coach calls we try to go out there and run it to the fullest. We probably have leaned more to the run in the last two games.
You had a good second half in the last game of the season in 2006 against the Giants. How much did that help you going into the off-season?
It helped me out a lot. To have the opportunity to play those last seven games last season was huge because it gave me the opportunity to see what the NFL and the speed was like. It is totally different watching it on the sidelines than actually performing on the field. When you are able to be in there the one thing you can’t teach at the NFL level is experience, so to have the opportunity to get out there and get some experience and being able to play in those division games was huge because that is one thing you don’t learn on the sidelines or taking notes. To have the opportunity to play the Giants last year and the Eagles, playing against all the division opponents, really gave me an opportunity to see what I need to improve on in the off-season to help get me over the edge and help my team.
Do you think the time you sat and watched before you played helped your development?
Yes, I would say so. You come in as a rookie quarterback and there are a lot of things going on in your head; the most important thing is trying to build chemistry with your teammates. You are trying to get situated with the community, you are trying to find a home, then you are trying to find furniture, and a lot of those things you are trying to do at the same time. My rookie year having the opportunity to sit and watch Mark (Brunell) perform helped me out a lot. Of course, I wanted to play because of the competitive nature on the inside of me. Coming off of an undefeated season at Auburn, any competitor always wants to play, but at the same time I understood my situation and the best thing for me, because I was trying to find a home and get situated. Once I was named the starter those were things I didn’t have to worry about because they were already taken care of. All the things off the field and all the things of getting along with teammates, getting to know everyone, I already knew everyone so I was able to just focus on playing football.
Are you happy with your furniture selection?
Yeah I am pretty happy. It is just like anything else. Everything gets old after a while and you want to change up.
Why did you guys seem to tone down your expectations coming into this year?
We did it because we felt like last season after coming off the playoff season before outsiders said we probably just didn’t work as hard as we did the year before. They probably thought we could just show up and win games and that wasn’t the case. My last year we lost at least five games by three points or less and we just wanted to say, ‘what is it that we need to do to win those games, turn those losses into wins this season?’ Ever since then we just have more chemistry as a team this year. There is just more chemistry right now as a whole unit, as a whole team, and we just feel like we have a better mind about ourselves. We feel like we just want to change everything, 5-11 didn’t sit well with anyone last year, we all felt bad about it. Coach Gibbs, with his legacy that he has, we definitely didn’t want him to have a legacy of having a 5-11 team so that really didn’t sit well with any of the guys this season and it made us come back as a stronger team. To be honest with you, I think the one thing that it did for us last year was to humble us as a team.
Do you guys know what to expect this year after starting 2-0 and still having some question marks?
We are 2-0 but at the same time we are just like any other team. We are improving week to week. The more that we play together the better that we become. I feel we continue to grow in a lot of areas: offensively, defensively, and special teams, but there are still a lot of plays that we can still hit and get better at. That is the whole object of the game, the one thing that you want to do is grow from week to week and get better, and you don’t want to sit back. We are headed in the right direction right now, we are doing all the things that we need to be doing, but like any other team we still have a lot of things we need to do to improve.
What kind of a guy is Chris Cooley?
Chris Cooley is an outstanding guy. He is a very competitive guy. He comes to practice every day; he probably is one of the hardest players on the team. He doesn’t take reps off in practice. He will go the whole practice without probably sitting out a play. He is one of those guys that comes to work with the mentality everyday to get better and he understands that the more that he runs a route or the more that he catches balls, the better opportunity that he has to be successful. The more he is running a route you can get a feel for it. He definitely is an outstanding guy to come to work with every day and is an outstanding team player. He is very unselfish when he is out there on the field. When we played Miami he caught one pass and he said, ‘don’t even worry about it,’ as long as we win the game that is all that matters to him is getting a W. He said his catches would come later on. Any time you have an unselfish player, a team player, like that, it goes a long ways.
He is not the kind of guy that is going to be waving at you downfield and getting frustrated if the ball doesn’t come his way?
No, he won’t get frustrated he will just come back to the huddle and be like, ‘Jay be alert. Next time we run this play or get this certain kind of coverage just be alert that I might have an opportunity to be open.’ It is nothing like anything where he throws his hands up or he cusses at me. Sometimes a quarterback is going to make throws and a receiver is not going to be where they are supposed to be and they drop passes, sometimes they are going to be where they are supposed to be and the ball doesn’t get to them like it should. That is all part of the game but you don’t get frustrated at each other, you just keep a level head about it and just move on.