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Philadelphia Eagles News

Defensive Coordinator Jim Johnson

On whether he sees a difference in Giants QB Eli Manning from last year:"I think he's still playing at a very good level. He's such a different quarterback than he was three years ago, and he has so much more confidence. He sees things better, and he has a good surrounding cast. He has more speed now at receivers and good running backs. Pretty complete football team. I think he has such confidence in his offense line. He doesn't worry about sacks and stuff like that. He's playing with a lot of confidence."

On whether he thought Manning would be this successful when he was first starting out three years ago:"You never know. You work at it and like they say, success brings confidence. They all of a sudden have success, but you never know. He was a young quarterback and threw some picks and stuff like that, but he's really come around and he's a very solid quarterback."

On whether their focus is on trying to stop Giants WR Plaxico Burress:"He's such a big play guy. They are such a balanced team we all know because of the running game. The thing about it, if you commit too much to the running game, you have single coverage on Burress, so you have to guess a little bit at what they are going to do, but yeah, he's their big play guy. The guy they picked up, of course, the last couple of years that (WR) Steve Smith, who has good speed now. They have some good skill people. (WR) Amani Toomer, of course, has always been a good possession-type receiver, so they are very balanced. That's the thing about it."

On whether he feels that they will have to double team Burress:"Sometimes you might have to."

On the fact that they have had trouble in the past defending Burress and whether CB Asante Samuel may be able to help out covering Burress:"I'm not going to get into strategy that much because I think that there's going to be times where we are going to do different things on Burress. He's a guy you have to pay attention to. I don't want to get into too much strategy here, but we know that he is a big factor guy."

On whether it's harder to play a team that keeps you guessing or if it's harder to play a team that you know is really good:"I think it's hard to play a team that's so balanced. Anytime that you can run the football as well as they do, and then have big play guys, that puts a lot of pressure on you. We've gone against the Giants and you talk about Burress – we've played tough and all of a sudden you stop the run and you give up a big play to him, so that's the problem. You have to make sure that we don't give up big plays to him, but we're still good against the run. To answer your question, I think that anytime that you are balanced like that, it's a lot tougher."

On whether he felt like they were able to shut down the Giants running game last year:"I think they broke one big long running play against us, but that's your objective. I think that they are still going to try and run the football. There is no question about it. They still make their bread and butter running the football, and you might stop them, you might stop them and all of a sudden they keep coming back. They are committed to the run."

On whether he was happy with how the defense preformed against the Giants last year:"Yeah, I was happy. You're never happy because we didn't win the football games, but I thought we did a good job, a decent job against the run. But they still broke a long one on us."

On whether CB Lito Sheppard's injury will affect the nickel and dime packages:"We'll have to see. It's a day-by-day (situation). I don't know how Lito's situation is right now, so we'll see how it is tomorrow. He's a little bit better every day. We'll have to see."

On whether the Giants have multiple receiver packages:"Oh yeah. (It) could be an issue."

On why the matchup against Burress is so difficult:"He's 6'6" and we've had the guy doubled and he goes up and they throw the ball high. I remember last year we had him doubled in the end zone and they threw the ball up, and we don't have that big of corners, so you have a guy that's 6'6" and he goes up and gets the football. So, that's the hard thing if you do single him all the time. He's a good receiver, and we know he's had a lot of big plays in this league. We've won some games against the Giants. We haven't won the last couple but when we have, we have done a good job on Burress, but you have to take the big play away from him."

On whether he thinks Burress is the same player this year as he was last year:"I still see him on the field, and I know sometimes you don't see him in the game because he didn't dress up or something like that or he didn't play, but no, he's still coming up with big plays. He's still very dangerous in the red zone. There's probably not a better receiver in the red zone than Plaxico."

On why Burress hasn't been a big playmaker recently:"It's like anything else; people are taking him away a little bit, double coverage. But again, that's what you have to do, there is no question about it. But again, he's still such a factor in the red zone, and he presents problems if you're playing a lot of man coverage too."

On whether he thinks Burress is trying to fight through those double teams:"I still see a guy going for the football. I don't see anything like that at all."

On what he thinks makes the Giants run game so good:"You have an offensive line that's been there together now at least four years, and you have three of the better running backs in the NFL, probably three guys that could play for anybody and start for a lot of teams. They know exactly what they want to do with that offensive line as far as picking up stunts, run stunts and stuff like that. (They have) a very solid offensive line, and they have good running backs and they are committed to it."

On whether the Giants have one running back that is more effective than the others:"They are all good running backs. I don't know if you face a guy that big in (RB Brandon) Jacobs, normally. Here's a guy that can just roll over you, so he's a special back just because of his size. You don't face a running back that big in the NFL."

On whether Burress is the hardest player in the NFL to defend:"He's one of the hardest, there are some good receivers like T.O. and that, but because of his size. The biggest thing is the matchup. If you have single coverage sometimes, you can't play double all the time and stop the run, so the hardest thing is just the size of the guy when he throws the ball up high being 6'6" like that, so he's tough."

On whether he thought that Giants DE Justin Tuck would the player that he has become:"No. I think that he's playing as good as any defensive lineman in the league right now. We knew he was a good player, but I think that he has really stepped it up."

On whether he has compared his defense with Giants defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo's defense:"No. I don't mess with that right now."

On what kind of matchup problems Burress presents:"You're going to have them in the game. Again, he's a big guy that can run with good speed. When you get three of the four of those receivers on the field, we have guys that can cover and we match up, so I'm not going to get too hung up on all the matchups. But like I said before, I do think Plaxico because he's such a tall guy and he gives you the most problems."

On when it was that he first started using defensive ends as defensive tackles:"Three years ago when we got (DE) Darren Howard. That's the first thing we did was put him inside in nickel. Darren was kind of a tackle/end. He played both. He was more of a tackle that played some end. We used (DE Juqua Parker) JP in there sometimes as a tackle also in nickel, but we've done it for the past three or four years."

On whether he got the idea to use defensive ends as defensive tackles from other teams:"No. Darren did it, that was one of the things that he did with the Saints. He was an inside tackle in a dime. Ever since Darren Howard came three or four years ago we've done it."

On whether he would consider Howard to be the most improved player on the team now that they have reached the midway point of the season:"I think so. He's given a lot of production in that nickel package and sometimes he's playing end, but he's probably the one of the most (improved). Biggest surprise and pleasant surprise too as far as how he is playing right now."

On whether he has seen progress out of DE Victor Abiamiri:"I saw progress last week. I thought he played much better last week, much more physical. He did a good job in the nickel. He'll still start in the nickel, but I saw a much better football player last week."

On whether they devote more time in the offseason to the matchup against Burress because they face him twice during the regular season:"No. I think we just have to get cover corners. I don't want to get so hung up on one guy; we have to do a good job as far as doubling him. If we do have him single, we have to make sure he doesn't hurt us. But like I said, there are times when we had him single and all of a sudden, on a blitz and that, and all of a sudden he hurt us. So, we have to be smart when we do that. I realize that there are times where he is going to be single, but also there are going to be times when we double him, but we go into the best cover corners on that side. We'd like to have a size guy but you have to get the cover corners too."

On whether it is more difficult to prepare for a team that uses multiple running backs effectively:"No, not really. We work on schemes more and that. We know the personnel, what they like to do with that personnel. But their offense doesn't change that much depending on what back is in there. It really doesn't."

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