Head Coach Brian Daboll
September 9, 2022
Daboll: Alright, so finishing up with our prep with a normal Friday. We have the same four guys limited as they were the last couple days; we’ll just try to take it right up to game time as long as we can to see who’s going to be active and who’s not going to be active. So, that’ll be really the next 48-hours if you will – let it go as long as we can let it go. So, with that, open to questions.
Q: What do you need to see from guys like (Outside Linebacker) Kayvon (Thibodeaux) and (Outside Linebacker) Azeez (Ojulari) in order for them to be ready?
A: Just need to see them be able to do the things they need to do without the pads on: the movement skills, the holding the edge. If we have to work them out before the game, we’ll work them out before the game if that’s something we need to do. But we’re going to give them as long as they can to see if they are ready to go.
Q: Is that decision your decision? What I mean by that is: is it you what you see? Or is it what (Senior Vice President, Medical Services/Head Athletic Director) Ronnie Barnes sees?
A: It’s a collective. It’s collective. I think you’ve got to put the player’s health and safety first and foremost. So, lean on Ronnie, but also at the same (time) do some things out on the field, whether that’s a workout before the game or not. So, if they’re ready to go, they’ll be ready. And if not, the other guys will.
Q: Have they opened it up yet?
A: I’d say whatever we’ve asked them to do in the rehab process, they’ve been doing. I don’t think there’s any setbacks with that. Again, we’ll give them a couple of days here to figure that out.
Q: If (Tackles) Andrew (Thomas) or Evan (Neal) get injured, is (Offensive Lineman) Devery (Hamilton) your guy off the sideline?
A: We have a few candidates for that. Devery is one of them.
Q: Have you decided who your left guard is?
A: We’ll let it go here again today. I think both those guys, (Guard Ben) Bredeson and (Offensive Lineman Josh) Ezeudu, have done a good job all week. So, we’ll practice today. We’ll reconvene tomorrow morning with the coaching staff and watch practice today and then decide which way to go with it.
Q: How much does Josh’s lack of experience factor in? You know, rookie, didn’t get a lot of snaps in the preseason.
A: We don’t talk about it like that. These guys have gone out here the last couple of days – three days – to make sure they know what to do. Obviously, he didn’t play a lot in the preseason, but a lot of guys didn’t play. I know he’s a rookie, but he did a good job for us up until the point where he kind of got dinged. But he’s practiced well these last few days.
Q: Where are you overall with your offensive line? I mean five guys didn’t get to play a lot together because of injuries and what not. It’s a pretty good defensive line that you’re facing.
A: Yeah. They usually are every week, and this week is a big challenge. With Jon (Feliciano) playing center and the two tackles have been out there and (Offensive Lineman Mark Glowinski) Glow’s been out there. So, four of the guys have been out there a lot. And the other two guys, again to (the previous) question, I know Ezeudu hasn’t been out there a ton, but he knows what to do. Bredeson knows what to do. So, that’s why we work all the combinations we do in training camp.
Q: (Tight End Dane) Belton. He’s out there in the red jersey. Is that just a matter of he needs to get cleared for contact, and then he’s good to go?
A: No, if guys are – I don’t want the guy to take an unnecessary shot from anybody. So, it’s more of a precaution than anything else.
Q: So, he’s cleared for contact then you’re saying?
A: We’ll see. We’ll see. I’m just keeping him in a red jersey for precaution, too.
Q: What’s your philosophy on if you rule guys out on Friday, will you still bring them on road trips when it comes to that wanting these guys to be with you on the team?
A: Probably. Probably. We’re bringing everybody this week because we’re going to let it go as long as we can let it go, too. But most likely if guys were ruled out prior to the trip, unless it’s more advantageous to stay here and get rehab and it helps them a little bit more. But for the most part, we’ll try to take them.
Q: And what about practice squad guys? If those guys can’t play, obviously someone like (Outside Linebacker) Quincy (Roche) will have probably have to go up. Will you bring select practice squad guys, or how do you do it?
A: Yeah. I’d say select guys that we think have a chance to be brought up, we’ll bring with us on the trip.
Q: The way that you’ve had shorter practices this week, is that going to be your norm? Or are you just doing that this week because you’re keeping guys healthy?
A: What do you (mean)?
Q: Like shorter than your allotted time. Like say you’re practicing 12:30 to 2:30, and you guys will come off the field at 2:05.
A: I got you. Yeah, I think it just depends on how we’re practicing in the team periods. I always allot for a little bit more time in case we need to redo a play or have a repeat, but it’s the schedule that we use is really consistent with where I was the last four years. It’s been a good schedule for the players. I maybe give a little bit more time in those periods just if we need a repeat. If I put eight minutes, maybe we get done in six minutes. But I still have time to (say), ‘Hey, let’s repeat play number two, or let’s do this one again.’ I could cut it down a little bit in terms of the minutes and maybe it hits, but I’d rather just err on the safe side for repeats, if you will.
Q: (Running Back) Saquon (Barkley) has carried around a pretty big chip on his shoulder all offseason. Do you like that in a guy?
A: I like the guy to be himself. I want them to feel comfortable with how they are on the field, how they are off the field. Again, what motivates one player is different than what motivates another player. All I ask those guys to do is come in, work hard, be a good teammate, learn the system, and he’s done all that.
Q: I think the word that you and (General Manager) Joe (Schoen) have used is “lockstep” with everything you guys have done. But you obviously have different roles. But when there’s a business decision, like with (Wide Receiver) Darius (Slayton), I’m not going to make it a hypothetical, do you just let Joe handle that?
A: Make it what?
Q: I’m not going to make it a hypothetical because it’s real life, but do you just like say, ‘That’s Joe’s lane?’ Or do you have to talk to Darius? Because there’s still feelings involved.
A: Absolutely. I think we try to communicate with all our players, whether it’s football, business. We all have roles in the organization, but Joe and I talk a lot – more than I probably talk to my wife during the day. So, we’re in lockstep with the decisions that we make, and we communicate on a lot of different things. And again, it is a people business, too. So, if something like that happens in that situation, I certainly will talk to the player, too.
Q: I know it’s not a carbon copy of what you did last year, but was there anything that you saw last night that you could use as a teaching tool for your offense here now that you got to see what (the) Buffalo (Bills) did?
A: I wouldn’t say necessarily the offense, but it’s always good to be able to watch those first games where you’re actually playing for the full 60 minutes. Everybody’s playing, and to coach off some of the things. What were there, seven turnovers last night? So usually in the early part of the year, there’s guys out there that haven’t played a lot in the preseason that are getting tackled now or the ball stripped. And I think there’s good learning tools to teach your team, regardless or whatever area it’s at or who’s playing.
Q: You told a pretty funny story at your intro press conference about how your wife watched your first press conference in Cleveland and said, ‘You’re not yourself in this.’ You remember this?
A: Yeah. I remember it.
Q: What does she think of you as a head coach? Does she feel like you’re acting like yourself? What’s been her opinion of you being comfortable in your new role?
A: I haven’t asked her that.
Q: Well, she hasn’t said?
A: I mean she said, ‘Take out the trash and make sure the kids are brushing their teeth.’ (Laughs) Certain things like that.
Q: She hasn’t volunteered any feedback?
A: No. The first one she was on me pretty good.
Q: Wink (Martindale) is obviously a very established defensive coordinator. But you worked with (Patriots Head Coach Bill) Belichick and (University of Alabama Head Coach Nick) Saban, who maybe are considered two of the defensive genius minds in football. Did he try to pick your brain about those two at all when you guys got together? Has he mentioned that at all?
A: No. We haven’t had talks specifically about those guys. I have a lot of confidence in Wink; I think in a lot of ways we have the same type of competitiveness. He does a great job with his players. He’s really personable. But just in terms of those two guys, no. He has his system. I think we’ve added and tinkered based on the personnel we have here, but I don’t think he’s ever worked with either one of those guys.
Q: As a coordinator in your history, game weekend, obviously Saturday night you go to bed. You wake up Sunday morning. Are you or have you been a guy who closes the book and says, ‘Ok, let’s get to kickoff,’ or do you keep the book open right up until that last minute of (it, saying) ‘Here’s what we should do’ scripting, that kind of thing? And how does that work as a head coach?
A: As a head coach?
Q: Well, what you’ve done in the past versus what you may do now.
A: I have a book with all the game plans from all three areas, other analytic stuff that I meet with (Director of Football Data & Innovation Ty Siam) Ty and (Offensive Assistant/Game Manager) Cade (Knox) on every single day. Two-minute situations, four-minute situations, officials, field conditions. No, I don’t turn it off. No.
Q: Even right up until the gametime, you’re still looking at it?
A: Yeah. I have this book, and if there’s something I have to kind of go back and refresh or grab somebody to talk on. I like to say, ‘The hay is in the barn here’ after a Friday practice for the players, but for myself, there’s just so many situations that I try to go over in my head over-and-over again. So, if it happens, I’m as ready as I can be.
Q: This is your first go around, right? You went through the spring, the summer, preseason and everything. What do you see that makes you think your team is ready for the regular season now?
A: I’d just say they’ve worked extremely hard. They’ve picked up the offense, the defense. The kicking game is fairly similar. They come out here, they give 100 percent every day in practice. I think they learn from their mistakes. I don’t think you ever really know, no matter where I’ve been, how opening day is going to go, whether it’s been a team that’s won a Super Bowl or a team that hasn’t won many games. I think you do your best job to prepare the players both mentally and physically and do everything you can do to go out there and put your best foot forward and then go play a good game and not focus on ‘What if this happened’ or ‘this bad play happened.’ Just be very positive in your approach, be real, and go out there and trust your preparation.