Head Coach Brian Daboll
September 6, 2022
Daboll: On day two of our preparations here with Tennessee, and we’ll be in full pads today outside. And look forward to having a good practice.
Q: Is today your normal Wednesday basically? Is that how (it works)?
A: Yeah, today is normal Wednesday. So, first and second down day for the most part, and then get on to the next phase tomorrow.
Q: Why are you outside today? The grass is pretty wet. You see a lot of teams come inside when it’s wet.
A: Well, we haven’t been outside. If we were playing in 85 (degrees) and sunny, but there’s a 60 percent chance of rain. We’ll work the ballhandling, our footing. And we’ll see what we do tomorrow. I thought for at least one day, get out there. Let the quarterbacks handle the wet ball, let the receivers and the skill guys, the returners, DBs keep their feet. That’s the only reason why.
Q: Should we expect to see (Outside Linebacker) Kayvon (Thibodeau) or (Outside Linebacker) Azeez (Ojulari), and if so, what should we expect to see them from them?
A: Yeah. They’ll probably be out there. We’ll see. We’ll just keep rehabbing them. But they’ll be out there I think today.
Q: Working or on the side with the trainers?
A: No. They’ll probably do a few things individual with coaches.
Q: Do you have a better sense of their availability for Sunday?
Q: Looking forward to game, how unique is (Titans Running Back) Derek Henry?
A: Very. It’s well documented what he’s done so far. He’s just a really good football player. I know him as a person, too. I met him down a few times in Alabama. Got a ton of respect for him as a man and certainly as a player. He’s one heck of a player. You name it, he can do it.
Q: How comfortable are you with the amount of work your offensive line has had together. It has been kind of mixed and matched all of preseason. Are you comfortable going in? And you haven’t named a left guard. To you, is that still A – a work in progress and B – a competition?
A: I’m comfortable with the players. They’ve been working hard. Everybody that we put out there, I’m comfortable with. That’s why they’re on the team. I’d say that you’re never comfortable going into a game ever. You’re always trying to cross your ‘T’s and dot your ‘I’s, and they have a very good defensive front, and we’re going to have to play really well.
Q: With a guy like Henry, is there a way to slow him down?
A: Yeah, if he’s not at the game (Laughs). We’re going to have to have all hands-on deck and do the best job we can of running to the football and gang tackling, and you even see him on plays, he might have three or four guys on him, and somehow, he squirts through. He’s just a unique player. He’s very, very good.
Q: I realize that you’re just focusing on the opponent that you’re facing Sunday, but in some ways, this week is a 25-year in the making process for you. What are your emotions as you’re going to be a head coach for the first time?
A: I’m just trying to do the best I can to help the players out in terms of their preparation, practice schedule, and really not focus on that. I’d be lying to say that I’m not honored, again, to be standing up here. But my focus is on the game and the players. There will be a time and place for that. I want to do everything I can to get ready for this game.
Q: Is there a routine you usually do on game day? And are you going to pivot away from that in any way because this is your first opportunity and getting a chance to coach?
A: No. I think those three preseason games, I know it’s a different time 4:30, 4:25. But it’s been pretty consistent. Maybe a little bit different from when I was a coordinator, but consistent on these last three preseason games.
Q: What are those differences from when you were a coordinator?
A: Well, when you’re calling plays, it’s just a different mindset. When you’re calling the play and you have your call sheet and you’re going through tons of different play calls. I’m going through tons of different situations and time outs and challenges and when to go for it on fourth-down, and just reviewing the stuff that I have to do a good job of before the game. And the difference when you’re calling plays is there’s a thousand things going through your head the night before and usually during the game. So, it’s different things.
Q: How much are you still going to be involved in the play calling? What do you anticipate?
A: My job is to know all the offense, the defense and the kicking game and go through it with the coaches before the game starts. Obviously, there are adjustments that need to be made, decisions that have to happen quick when you’re a play caller. But I certainly have input on all three of those areas. But you try to do that work before the game the best you can so that the play callers have not a lot of people in their ear; they can get it out quick to the quarterback or to (Safety Xavier McKinney) X, and those guys can have as much time as they can to process the call.
Q: I’m curious how much suggestion you plan to give in that regard because you’ve been a play caller. You said you don’t want to hear too many people in their ear. So, where’s the line for you – ‘Okay I’ll give suggestions to (Offensive Coordinator) Mike (Kafka) but also, I don’t want to be too overbearing.’?
A: We try to map it out the best we can prior to the game, and then in between series I’ll talk with all three of the coordinators about things that come up. But during the series when you’re calling a play, you don’t have much time to think. And the more you hear, I’d say as a play caller, the harder it is. Again, we’ve practiced it throughout preseason games; I think Mike needs a clear head. (Defensive Coordinator) Wink (Martindale) needs a clear head; (Special Teams Coordinator Thomas McGaughey) TMac in a different regard. So, I try to give my suggestions in between series or when you’re planning for a game. And everything changes. I think there’s good dialogue. Is it hard not to interrupt at times? Yeah. Certainly, it is.
Q: Will you miss not being the play caller?
A: I have so much on my plate right now. I loved calling plays. But I think Mike’s done a good job. I have a lot of faith in him like we talked about yesterday. And I think he’s got good rapport with (Quarterback) Daniel (Jones). That’s the voice that Daniel’s been hearing the last preseason games and every practice. And I’ve been pleased with Mike and really the entire offensive coaching staff.
Q: What kind of camp did (Cornerback) Adoree’ Jackson have, and can you see him embracing the number one cornerback role that he’s never really had to have in his career?
A: He’s been out there; he’s been dependable. He’s made a lot of plays on the ball. He knows our defense. He’s a good communicator. And he was another guy that… Corners, you’re kind of out there on an island a lot of time. And I think his teammates really respect him, and he’s done a good job.
Q: In your experience, when a guy is facing a team that gave up on him, cut him – like the Titans did with Adoree’ – are there extra emotions for that player?
A: I don’t know. I think you’d have to ask him. I think it’s probably different for everybody. It’s kind of the norm in this league for coaches and for a lot of different players that you know people on the other side, or you’ve been there before. And I certainly don’t think about it when I’m going against other teams that I’ve coached for. But that’s probably a good question for Adoree’.
Q: Do you see a difference in your players this week? You’re playing for keeps now. Do they have like game face on, an edge to them and anxiousness?
A: No. They’ve been pretty consistent. We’ve tried to put as much stress on them as we can this spring and then obviously in the summer with a wide variety of things. And we preach consistency and dependability. I think those guys have done this. I don’t want to speak for all the guys – I’m sure there’s a heightened sense a little bit because it is the regular season. But you try to preach that and teach that before it gets to this point, so it feels like normal. But certainly, the opening day is a very exciting day for all of us.
Q: What do you think having a game plan smaller menu will do for Daniel on Sunday as opposed to what we’ve seen from him playing either vanilla in the preseason or in practices with the whole playbook?
A: Well, I’m not going to make a prediction. But I’d just say you have more time to really study the things that you’re going to do in a game. You’re focusing on certain players. It’s a lot more detailed in terms of what you’re trying to get accomplished. But Daniel, since I’ve been around him, I think he’s got the right approach really every week. Certainly, we weren’t game planning in the preseason, but the way he approached things, I’ve been impressed with.
Q: Were you surprised at all with his input – not the level of input? But was there anything – I don’t expect you to give us the plays specifically – but were there things he said liked or didn’t like that you scratched your head?
A: For this week? Or just in general?
Q: For this week.
A: I think there’s constant communication on that. He comes up when people leave, and he goes through things with Mike and (Quarterbacks Coach) Shea (Tierney). Or he’ll tell me something; you want to have the quarterback feel as comfortable as he can, and you also want to tell him some of the reasons why you’re doing things you want to try to do against the opponent you’re going against. But he’s had really good dialogue with us; I think he’s in a good spot.
Q: What do you know about him today that maybe you didn’t know when you took the job?
A: I’ve heard he was a hard worker. I get to see it. He is at it extremely hard. He’s here all the time. He’s more on the quiet side, but he is ultra, ultra-competitive. He does a really good job in the huddle with his teammates when you just step out and listen to him. I think he’s a good leader.
Q: Have you talked to him about the balance between trying to get extra yards, putting your head down, or risking himself? In the past, he’s not shy to put his head into a linebacker and try to run him over, which in this league is a difficult way to live.
A: Yeah. I think you always try to be smart, particularly with that position. I’m not going to take his competitiveness away from him. I think that’s what makes people good, too. But you’ve got to make executive decisions sometimes. And, obviously, we’d like to have him get down rather than take a big shot. But that’s the nature of playing quarterback – making good decisions whether it’s with the ball and you’re running or you’re throwing the ball.
Q: In your mind, do you know who your starters at left guard and (Inside Linebacker Blake Martinez) Blake’s old spot will be, and you don’t want to say it yet? Or are you still trying to determine who those starters will be?
A: I have an idea, but we’re going to go out here and practice and let a few guys here compete at it. And by game time, we should be ready to go.
Q: What was it like coaching (Titans Head Coach) Mike Vrabel.
A: I was on the defensive side. I was a defensive assistant qc (quality control). It’s not surprising where he is, how smart he was as a player. He was extremely smart, extremely dependable, extremely tough. He kind of was one step ahead of everybody. He kind of knew what the offense was doing quite a bit; a great leader. He played on offense and caught a bunch of touchdowns at tight end. I’m not surprised what he’s done. He’s had four winning seasons. He was a great teammate. He was a fun guy to coach. He was a leader. I can’t say enough good things about him. He was impressive 25 years ago or whatever it was. It goes by in a split second, and obviously he’s done a great job here. Last three years playoffs, AFC number one seed last year. None of it is surprising.
Q: In any way do you consider this a barometer to see where your team is going up against the number one seed and testing your skills off the bat?
A: No. Every year’s a new year. We’re just going to try to do the best job we can of preparing. We understand the difficult challenges that this team presents both schematically and, in particular, with the players and go out there and do our best job we can do on Sunday.
Q: You talk about focus. Do you leave the family home, or do you say, ‘Come along and see my first game,’?
A: I don’t really give too many instructions at home. I kind of take them (Laughs). Yeah, my wife will be there with the kids.