Coughlin 'proud' of Giants after Philly flop

Tom Coughlin was perceived as gruff and rigid when he took over as head coach of the Giants in 2004. It's safe to say his softened a bit in his seven years in East Rutherford.

You want evidence?

Coughlin said told his players that he was proud of them after their stunning fourth-quarter collapse against Philadelphia two weeks ago.

“This is my team and I love these guys one way or the other,” the coach said on Friday. “I told them two weeks ago that I was proud of them. They were shocked that I said that after the Philadelphia game.”

Coughlin later clarified, saying he didn’t think the players were shocked, but “they wouldn’t think that I could open with that statement, but I did.”

Do you think the old Coughlin would have used the same words? Probably not.

Coughlin addressed the notion that he has a better bond with his players now than he did when he first started with the Giants. He famously clashed with Michael Strahan and Tiki Barber early in his Giants tenure.

“I think over time you adjust and you work with people and I think it’s a natural thing when you’re all striving to do the best you can,” he said. “If all of your objectives are the same, if your goals are the same, if your purpose is the same, it naturally happens.”

Coughlin said he doesn’t address the speculation over his job with the team.

“No, it’s not about me,” he said.

Some believe the coach will be fired if the Giants fail to make the playoffs. They need to beat Washington and they need the Bears to beat the Packers to qualify for the postseason.

Coughlin was asked for his thoughts on the notion the Giants could miss the playoffs after what could be a ten-win regular season while the NFC West postseason representative will finish with a maximum of eight wins.

“We had two weeks when we were in control of our own situation,” he said. “We need help now. We pray that we get that help. The first thing we have to do is go to Washington and win and that’s all I've been focused on, not the other part.”

KENNY HAS COURAGE: Safety Kenny Phillips has been honored with the 2010 Ed Block Courage Award. Phillips recovered from microfracture knee surgery in 2009, rehabbing throughout the offseason. He has started every game this season.