Print and Go Back ESPN.com: NFC East [Print without images]

Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Breakfast with Tom Coughlin

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

DANA POINT, Calif. -- It should come as no surprise that Tom Coughlin was running about 10 minutes ahead at the NFC coaches' breakfast. While reporters staked out Wade Phillips' table, Coughlin quietly took a seat at his table and waited at least three minutes before Daily News columnist Gary Myers came trotting over.

Because I bumped into Jim Zorn on Tuesday, I started out at Andy Reid's table, had a solid run with Wade Phillips and then spent the last 15 minutes with Coughlin. It worked out great because I asked him about 14 consecutive questions, only one of which produced an icy stare. In this type of setting ($600 per night resort), Coughlin is remarkably relaxed and forthcoming.

When someone at the table remarked that they were concerned former Giants assistant Steve Spagnuolo was too nice to be a head coach, Coughlin deadpanned, "That may be a problem for him."

He then praised Spagnuolo for several minutes and talked about how he persevered through a lot of grunt jobs to eventually become successful. But enough about the charming side of Coughlin.

Now that he's had time to gain some perspective, he's very proud of the way the Giants overcame a series of setbacks to earn the top seed in the NFC playoffs.

"We were challenged from the [2007] Super Bowl on to see whether we were going to be complacent. Were we going to rest on our laurels? We overcame some issues with injuries and suspensions. We were able to overcome all of that, and when we had a chance [to clinch the No. 1 seed], we beat Carolina. And we had a great chance to beat Minnesota even though we were playing a lot of different players."

Coughlin also talked about how bolstering the defensive line was a huge priority after watching it wear down late last season. He noted that defensive tackle Fred Robbins was playing with an injury the last several games and that Justin Tuck was also banged up.

He said he realized that Chris Canty had the potential to play the three-technique after playing against him in the NFC East so many times.

"He seemed to have some of his best games against us," Coughlin said.

Obviously I had to ask about the Plaxico Burress situation. His court hearing is coming up next week.

"There's nothing new," Coughlin said. "It's all been documented. We're waiting just like everyone else is waiting."

Coughlin said the Giants will have a plan no matter what the outcome of Burress' case. I asked him point-blank whether he wanted Burress if he was willing to make some personal changes and Coughlin responded, "I've said all I'm going to say on that topic."

OK, I'll be back with some classic Wade Phillips quotes in a moment. I had a long visit with Andy Reid, but you'll see most of that in my Thursday column. Thanks for your continued support.