General Manager Joe Schoen & Head Coach Brian Daboll
July 27, 2022
Daboll: How’s everybody doing? Hope you had a good summer. Hope you guys had a good summer. It’s good to be back. We’ve got a lot of work to do here in training camp, but excited to be here. It’s really the start of football season. We’re going to try to build off of things we’ve done in the spring. I think the guys are excited. They came back in shape. Took care of some logistical meetings today and we’re ready to go today. We’re going to work on the in the red zone.
Joe obviously a big part of the season is going to be evaluating Daniel Jones. What do you need to see from him to determine he is the quarterback going forward?
Schoen: Again, we’re just in day one here. I appreciate the question. Again, there’s a lot from a continuity standpoint. Getting (Wide Receiver Kenny) Golladay and KT (Wide Receiver Kadarius Toney), getting back out there. We’ll see where (Wide Receiver Sterling) Shepard is here over the next couple of weeks. Right now, it’s just about building continuity with the guys. You know we missed some reps in the spring. Really just coming out and executing the offense is what we’re looking to do. You know getting better each day. And that goes for the entire (Quarterback) position group, Tyrod (Taylor) and Davis Webb as well.
Q: You didn’t pick up his fifth year option, so what does he need to prove to you?
Schoen: Listen, we’re just – we’ve been around Daniel for – what were we on the grass for? Six weeks, you know, in the spring? There’s a lot to learn from the offensive standpoint and you know the ability to execute the offense. And again, I think continuity is important. And to have him out there with some of the guys that weren’t out there in the spring is important. Again, it’s just getting better each day. That’s what training camp is about. Install the offense. Daniel’s still got a lot to learn from a scheme standpoint. And our offense has done a tremendous job working to learn it. And we look forward to seeing him getting better each day.
Q: Coach, Joe, what do you want the identity of this team to be?
Daboll: We talked about this during the draft, and we talk about it now. We’re looking for smart, tough, dependable people in our organization. People that make good decisions on and off the field in terms of intelligence. Doing what they’re supposed to do when they’re supposed to do it all the time. And then have some mental toughness, some resiliency about them. Those are three qualities that we covet when we’re looking, whether that’s draft pick, free agents, coaching staff, players. That’s the identify of what we’re trying to build.
Q: Very often the first day of training camp, you hear a lot of players talking about expectations: “We think we’re a playoff team. We think we’re this. We think we’re that” Are you an expectations guy or when you give your overview – I know you talked about redzone today – do you set some kind of standard for them?
Daboll: I learned a long time ago, you have to take care of today. Being in the league for 20 plus years, there’s teams that people thought that were going to go all the way and didn’t make the playoffs. And there’s teams that people thought they weren’t going to. And what we try to focus on is getting better each day, like Joe said. Focusing on the things that we can do and we control, which is going out there, having good meetings, having a good practice, trying to string good days together. And that’s really where our focus is going to be.
Q: In a series of firsts as a head coach, is today’s first practice something sort of meaningful for you? Or very meaningful?
Daboll: I haven’t really thought about it. There’s a lot of things that come across your desk when you’re in this position and you just try to do the best you can. And this is certainly one of them. I’m excited – just like I think everybody else is – to get going. Really the official start of this season, albeit these couple practices will probably be more similar to what you guys saw in Phase 3 with no pads on and the ramp up period. But certainly excited to be here.
Q: Pretty much all the players that we spoke to during the earlier phases of minicamp spoke about the energy within the coaching staff. How do you carry that momentum over, or is that put in the past and this is a fresh slate?
Daboll: Yeah, I think just being yourself and taking things day-by-day and working as hard as you can with a good, positive attitude and being able to deal with things when they come your way. And it’s fine, and I appreciate the energy and all those types of things. But you really find out what kind of team you are when you start fighting through adversity and a loss or a bad thing happens. But we’re going to try to be as consistent as we can as a leadership group – scouting department, coaching staff, organization. I think consistency is key. Have high energy, be positive, but also be real about where we’re at and what we need to fit.
Q: In your limited time around (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley), how excited are you to see him get going?
Daboll: Yeah, I thought he had a really good spring. And I think he came in in shape. Did a really good job on the conditioning test, so he’s a good player for us. He was a good player in spring for us, and it’s good to work for him.
Q: John Mara has openly acknowledged that this is not going to be an overnight rebuild. So now that you’ve been here and had your hands on this team for a little bit, what is your feeling on where things are and how far you guys have to go and what you have accomplished so far?
Schoen: I mean, that’s a good question. Again, I would say revamped roster just looking at some of the players we’ve brought in and some of the guys we’ve had to move on from for various reasons. Again, we haven’t been in pads yet. We get in pads on Monday. Is that right? We get into pads on Monday? So again, from an O-line and D-line standpoint, you know, seeing guys actually blocking with pads on. There’s a lot of things we still need to evaluate that you can get a feel for in the spring, but again to Dab’s point: How are we going to respond to adversity? How are we going to respond to success? Every year the team is different, and they have a different identity and a different attitude. And those are all the things that we look forward to evaluating and find out what we’re going to be about over the next month.
Q: You had a bunch of players in the spring who were in red jerseys. And they did not go to the PUP list, which is good news obviously. But are any of them going to be limited?
Daboll: Well, first of all, I would say our training staff, our medical staff, our sports science, our strength staff do a really go job in the spring of mapping out what we kind of needed to do to try to get to this point. And we knew the three guys who are on PUP right now were going to be at pretty much on PUP, and really everybody else who was in those red jerseys, there was a plan in place – I’d say a very detailed plan, and those guys did a great job. Everybody should be ready to go. You know (Linebacker) Azeez (Ojulari) had that little ding there getting ready to, you know, work out to come back. So, he’ll be he’ll be down a little bit. But everybody else that were in red jerseys will be able to participate and practice and we’ll keep an eye on them as we go. But credit to those people in the organization for their plan and getting those guys ready to go, which is where we wanted to be today.
Q: How do you balance with Daniel teaching him the offense, instructing and coaching him and evaluating him? Do they go hand in hand?
Daboll: Yeah. It’s really with every player. You do that no matter who it is training camp wise. You teach, you go out there and they have to perform, and then you evaluate. And then you teach and correct and then they go perform and then you evaluate. I’d say, everything will be evaluated for how we practice to not just Daniel but with everybody. But certainly, I know it’s the quarterback, and it’s an important position. But that’s what we’ll do. We’ll teach him, and let him go out there and play. There’s mistakes in every practice, and there’s mistakes in every game, and you keep a cool, calm head. You correct him, and you let him go out there and do it again.
Q: Kadarius Toney, you get him on the field today. There was a lot of talk last year about his maturity and off the field stuff. What are you hoping to see from him on the field and off the field?
Daboll: Similar to what I just talked about with Daniel: Come in, get the plays, know what to do, go out there and execute them, fix them. KT’s been great. I wasn’t here last year or anything like that. But he’s done the rehab he’s needed to do. He’s been working hard in the meeting rooms. Again, the plan – I’m not talking about injuries or what we did in the spring – but the plan was set in place. And he’s out here without a red jersey ready to practice.
Q: How do you handle him this summer though? With that knee and rehabbing and the injuries because he’s obviously had a string of injuries here?
Daboll: Yeah, I think you let him go out there and practice. And if we need to make modifications based on the training staff, but he’s good to go.
Q: Since you both got here, you talked about being in lockstep given your previous relationship. And also obviously you guys being here together today on the first day projects an image that you guys are working together. I’m just curious, do you have to put a plan in place now that training camp starts about how you guys are going to handle day-to-day between the two of you? Between your leadership group of guys that are involved, or does it just kind of happen organically? Because I know Joe, in the spring you were out here a lot. It’s not like you’re sitting in an ivory tower watching.
Schoen: I would say it’s organically; I mean, we talk. We’re in constant communication throughout the building. This morning, we’ve had several conversations already about just a plethora of things. So yeah, it’s easy. It’s important. You have to communicate. Whether it’s him and I communicating and then down to his coaching staff or the personnel staff, whichever it may be. But yeah, the communication has been good so far. And again, that’s a positive for us so far, and we’ll continue to do that.
Q: Is that important for you? Like I said, you were very visible in the spring, on the field and the players were seeing you out there. It’s not, “Go see Joe upstairs”. Are you conscious of that? That the players are aware you are there, and you’re involved, not just kind of pushing papers?
Schoen: Absolutely, and we’re always evaluating so being around the players. We’ll have a walk through tonight. And I’ll be out there too. Just always being around the players, interacting with them, getting to know them on a personal level, you know, letting them know I care about them professionally, personally. You know, I think that’s important. It’s an important part of the culture. It’s not transactional. You want to get to know these guys as human beings. Get to know about their families, what they did all summer. So, I think that’s important.
Q: We all saw what you did with (Bills Quarterback) Josh (Allen) and the amount of time he carried the ball in Buffalo. Daniel has had some injuries in his career. How will you approach him and the idea that he can create with his legs? It obviously puts him in some jeopardy if and when he does.
Daboll: That’s a great question. When you have an athletic quarterback that can move and make plays, whether it’s loose plays or designed plays, you want to try to take advantage of it because it evens up the playing field with the defense. And you’re constantly coaching and teaching when to slide and when to get down and when to do it. And I think it’s definitely an advantage when have a quarterback that can move and do those type of things, so I’d say we’ll implement some things that utilize his skillset. And then we’ll coach him up and make sure that he is doing the best he can do to protect himself. But he’s going to have to do that as well.
Q: Director of College Scouting. Is that a position you plan to fill?
Schoen: Yeah, we interviewed probably three or four candidates for that, and we’re just going to move forward without one for the season.
Q: Will you primarily handle that?
Schoen: Dennis Hickey will fill that role primarily for this year, and we’ll evaluate it after the year. But between him, (Director of Player Personnel ) Tim (McDonnel), (Assistant General Manager) Brandon Brown, will kind of head up the personnel department. (Director of Pro Scouting) Chris Rossetti will be doing the pro department. All those guys are outstanding additions, all the new guys.
Q: You two guys have spent around the last six months putting together a staff and a team and it is what it is today. Is there a board in your room where you two guys look at the team and go, “We’ve still got to get better here or satisfied here?” And is there something you can share about that?
Daboll: Well, there is a board. (laughs). It’s a magnetic board. He has one in his room, and I have one in my room. And Chris Rossetti, who he was just talking about – the pro person – is constantly updating it. We’re always going to try improve the roster in any way we can. And that just goes back to your question with the relationship between the two of us being in constant communication. We have workouts today. We had workouts two days ago. Anything we can do to try to improve it. And you’re always talking about, you do this maybe once a week during training camp, somewhere around there, of an evaluation of what we’ve done up to this point. Whether it’s scheduling, whether it’s the players, what we can do better just to try to improve your organization as a whole.
Q. Joe, you brought in four guys yesterday, talking about upgrading the roster? In particular Andrew Adams and Nick Williams, what did you like about those guys?
Schoen: Again, we are constantly looking to upgrade the roster and are in communication with agents. Some of these players, we’ve been trying to get in for a certain amount of time and for various reasons, we weren’t able to. So again, to add another veteran safety that’s an outstanding kid, he is smart, tough, he’s played ball in the league, and the people that were here before us that have interacted with him spoke very highly of him. So, we are happy to add him.
Nick Williams was in Miami, actually with me, previous in his career. Another guy that’s a veteran player that still has gas in the tank and also is a very good culture fit. So, we are excited to add those two guys. Again, we’ve been in constant contact with their agents along with many other players and we’ll continue to do that. Sometimes when the circumstances are right, the deals can come together.
Q. Are there certain positions where you don’t want to be too young and you kind of need veteran leadership at certain positions moreso than others?
Schoen: Yeah, I think we talk all the time about leadership and we would like to have leadership in each room if you can, but it doesn’t always work out that way. If you can add leadership to each room, you will look to do that, but it’s not a must. There are some players, maybe it’s the tight end room or whatever it may be, you look and say do we have enough leadership in there? Do we need to add somebody to maybe show these guys the way? Those are conversations we are having on a daily basis and we’ll continue to evaluate those positions. Like Dabs was just saying, we will have a weekly meeting where the coaches and the personnel will get together and we’ll just go through the roster, player 1-to -91. We’ll talk about each guy, where they are, how they are learning, how their health is, and their contribution. Then, if there is somebody we need to move on from or we are interested in, we will have another workout and see if we can get better at certain positions.
Q. Joe, during the spring when you guys dialed back so many rehabbing or injured players, is that more a coaching and medical decision or are you involved with that as well?
Schoen: Yeah, we are in constant communication on that stuff as well. To Dab's point, the medical staff since we got here, they had a great plan, the strength staff as well, mapping out not only the spring but to get us to this point. There is a calculated plan to get us through August to week one so we are fresh. So, that’s the three of us basically constantly communicating on that. We have tweaked it a lot. Dabs and his staff did a good job and, again, the main thing is getting the guys healthy for Sept. 11 when we play Tennessee.
Q. Do you intend to be cautious and try to strike a delicate balance to get to Week 1, or would you rather hit the ground running now and see these guys compete?
Daboll: Yeah, we need practice and we need to compete. Look, you can’t buy insurance on all of these injuries. Some of them are flukes, we do the best we can, I think. You know, those meetings that we had in the spring in terms of what we want to do with each player and how we want to go about it and then the sports science coming in with the practice schedule. You know, as a coach, you always want to have as many reps as you can get so you can get as many different looks and the players can get as many different opportunities to go out there and show what they can do. But there is always give and take. Really leading up right here in this ramp period, there was a lot of give and take just doing these schedules in terms of the amount of the reps, the amount of rest time, recovery in between meetings, what we can do in the building to help the players recover, whether we get more massage chairs. There’s just so many different conversations that come into place and everything we do should be for the players. We are servants for the players to try and help them out in any way we can. Whether its from PR, coaching, scouting, we’re trying to help our guys be the best versions of themselves and then let them go out there and be themselves. So, relative to what we try to do in the spring, there were red jerseys and it was all those things but again, credit to (VP Medical Services) Ronnie (Barnes) and his staff and to (Director of Strength & Conditioning) Fitz (Craig Fitzgerald) and his staff and the strength staff. Those guys had a really good plan and we tweaked it as we went. We pulled back on some things and we let other guys get going. But our whole goal was to get to today with as few red jerseys so we can hit the ground running.
Q. Joe, you have had seven months to revamp this roster, what can fans reasonably expect from this team this year?
Schoen: Again, I don’t want to get into the predictions, but to Dabs’ point earlier, we are going to come out this week, we want guys to run to the ball, play hard, not beat ourselves, take care of the football, and be fundamentally sound. If they can do that, the rest will take care of itself. We’ve got a lot of evaluating to do, we haven’t been in pads. Again, the continuity part, some guys are still learning the defense, (Quarterback) Daniel (Jones) hasn’t thrown to some of these receivers. We just signed four new players so there are a lot of moving parts right now. So, that’s what training camp is about. We may run some plays that we throw out and that’s what this time is for, to test things and see how they work. Again, just the biggest thing is to not beat ourselves, play hard, smart, tough, dependable, whatever he (Head Coach Daboll) talked about. Other than that, the results will take care of itself if we can do that.
Q. Brian, how would you answer that question in terms of expectations? There are going to be some bumps in the road.
Daboll: Well, there always is in an NFL season, right? Whether you go 15 and 2 or (not), it’s a results business, we understand that. It’s our job to make it a process for our team and for our organization. We are just taking steps and the next day we want to take a bigger step. I don’t look too far ahead; I’ve already told you that before. We’ve got a redzone practice today and tomorrow we’ve got 3rd and 2 to 5. After that I’m not even sure because I’m just focused on this and that’s what the players need to be focused on too, is their individual improvement and collectively building a team together. It just doesn’t happen. You have to go through some ups and downs and work as hard as you can, be a good pro, do things right and give everything you got each week. That’s what it takes in this league.
Q. How is Shep (WR Sterling Shepard) doing and are you counting on him to be ready for Sept. 11 or is he going to be the second half of the season?
Daboll: I’d say his rehab is going well and we are day to day. Good question.
Q. What are the expectations with Nick Gates? That was a serious injury. Are you expecting him to come back this season? Is it sort of let's see what happens as the season goes along? What’s the approach with him?
Daboll: I’ll say this, this guy has been rehabbing unbelievably, he has made a lot of strides. Where he is at and when he is ready, I couldn’t answer that right now. I just think that his mindset and what he has done up to this point has really been remarkable.
Q. It’s pretty safe to say though it's into the season with him?
Daboll: We’ll see. You (GM Joe Schoen) want to answer that?
Schoen: I would just say when I got here, I was just worried about his quality of life. The fact that he is where he is and may be able to play in the preseason is amazing and a credit to the kid. He has been working his butt off.
Daboll: It’s not a guarantee but he has been working unbelievably.
Q. When you say it’s not a guarantee, what do you mean?
Daboll: It’s not a guarantee like it’s pushed back so far. It could be before you think, it could be before any of us think.
Q. He’s going to make it back?
Daboll: Yeah, it's been remarkable what he has done.
Q. For either of you, did you go back and look at Saquon maybe in his rookie year the way he was used? And maybe even back to his Penn State days where he was asked to do a whole lot more maybe than what he was asked to do in this offense?
Schoen: We came from Buffalo, and (Bills CEO) Terry Pegula is a Penn State grad and has donated a lot of money there. So, we were well aware of Saquon Barkley even before he came out. He was super talented, he went number two in the draft and he is a rare talent. We were aware of him during his rookie year when he came out. We played him in 2019, we played here (MetLife Stadium), and he is a guy you had to game plan against. You were worried about him as defensive coordinator. Again, he has had a really good spring and he has been a joy to be around. I look forward to seeing what he does in this camp and how he will be able to contribute for us this year.
Q. When you sat down and you put together your year one plan as far as what you needed to accomplish this year. How important is sticking to the plan and have you found yourself challenged at all with that idea and reminding yourself that it’s very easy to veer off and maybe do something you said you wouldn’t do this year based on philosophy. Is that just the process through the year and is that important to remember?
Schoen: Yeah, we are at the season now, we are at training camp, so leading up to this point and constant communication with him (HC Daboll) and where we are and what our plan is moving forward. Again, we will see how it works out, but you know a lot of the plan has been executed to where we are now and will see us through the next off-season as well.
Q. You laid out things of what you would do and what you would not do, like you wouldn’t compromise the salary cap for next year, that kind of thing. As the general manager, do you find yourself in that position at times where you almost anticipate, “I’m going to be challenged, we may have a move where we have to go against the grain of what I wanted to establish here and then we have to decide if that fits.”
Schoen: Yeah absolutely. We’ve had a few of those. You weigh the pros and cons. When it comes down to weighing the pros and cons, sometimes it doesn’t make sense. you know, what does it look like short term, what does it look like in 2023, what’s it look like in 2024. We approach most of our decisions with that mindset.
Q. You guys were in Buffalo, and it was at some level when you guys left almost as high of a level as you can get. Do you have to constantly communicate to each other that you are back at square one again and you guys built this thing up and part of the reason why you are both here is because of that. Now its almost like okay, we ran that race and now we are way back at the starting gate again?
Daboll: I think we’re in pretty good shape with that. I think we understand where we are at. Are there times where he might say, “Hey, we’re in year one or vice versa”. I think a lot of times it happens with myself and the offensive staff. Particularly the guys that came from Buffalo. There are times where I am going through my mind and doing things and motioning and shifting and doing all these different things. I told them they better remind me that we are in year one of this and not year five of this in terms of designing plays and tempos and different things like that. We are starting to crawl here, we are making progress, but we’ve got a long way to go.
Q. With where you are with the salary cap, are you going to do more restructures during the season? Are you comfortable with that?
Schoen: We’re tight up against it when you add in replacement costs throughout the season as injuries occur. So, that is a possibility down the road depending on what injuries we have and who the players are. Again, the roster is never final. We have the entire preseason; 1,300 and some players will be cut this month. We have possible trades, we are fifth in the claim order, so there is some roster maneuvering we can do and again we’ll continue to upgrade the roster. But, the reality is we are just under 5 million dollars in cap space and we have to operate under the same rules as everybody else. So, that is a potential option, I know I said it early on that was a last resort. It’s not something I want to major in, but it’s something we may have to do if we need to.
Q. Is it going to be odd at all to have fans at practice?
Daboll: No, it’s going to be great. I think we have a great fanbase. I think the setup is really awesome and I think it brings juice to the players. When you are out there and you’ve been going through the spring the whole time (without fans), and you’ve got some thousands of people out here to support you. We are very thankful and grateful for that. I know the guys are excited about it. It brings some life and juice to practice, which is always good.
Schoen: I can’t wait. It’s been a couple of years since we have had the fans out there. Brian and I are very thankful for the reception we have gotten from the fans since we’ve been here. Whether it was some of the (NHL New York) Rangers games in the off-season or throughout the summer. Just the excitement from the Giants fanbase and the love they have shown us, it’s been great. I can’t wait for them to be out there and get to see us practice again.
Q. Is Kayvon a full go?
Daboll: Yes. Everybody is pretty much a full go besides guys that are on PUP or (Linebacker) Azeez (Ojulari). So, like I said before, we will manage who we need to manage, but there’s no red jerseys, we are ready to go.
Q. Can the PUP guys participate in the walk-throughs?