Head Coach Brian Daboll
September 28, 2022
Q: When you interviewed for the job in Chicago with the Bears, just wondering if you could share what intrigued you about that opportunity and what maybe you remember telling them made you a possible good fit for their organization?
A: That’s a long time ago. I’ve interviewed at a lot of different places. (I have a) tremendous amount of respect for Mr. McCaskey (Chicago Bears owner George) and the people that were on that call. Each interview is always a little bit different. Again, you’re honored, you’re privileged, you’re humbled when you get those opportunities with any one of the teams. I certainly was. I know Matt Eberflus (Chicago Bears head coach) well. I’ve worked with him, and I think he’s done a fabulous job. He’s an excellent coach.
Q: Did you talk to Ken Dorsey (Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator) since Sunday? Or did you see his outburst, and what did you think of that?
A: I have seen it. I do talk to a lot of guys, a lot of coaches around the league. I don’t really have any thought on it. Ken’s a great friend; I think he’s a great coach, and I’d leave it at that.
Q: Coming up to the end of a four-game stretch, do you break the season down in quadrants even though it’s now a 17-game season? Do you evaluate by games or stretches? Just curious of your philosophy in that regard.
A: Yeah, that’s a good question. I’d say we look at ourselves after every game, figure out some of the things we do well and some of the things we’re not doing as well. When you have three games in, you have more sample size to that. But historically we’ve looked at it in, here’s the first quarter of the season, second quarter; obviously, there’s an extra game, so we’re ending up here on the fourth game here on the first quarter of the season. I think you learn a lot about yourself when you play, when you coach, and like I said, we’re a work in progress. We’re still working to improve in a lot of different areas. I think we’ve done some things well; we’ve done some things we can improve on, all of us. This is our fourth game, really the most important game obviously because it’s the next one. And we try to take things from the past, the previous games, and make sure we tighten those things up whether they’re good or they’re not as good as you want them to be and use them when you’re preparing for the team you’re about to play.
Q: I know you’re a fan and a lot of people are fans of Daniel’s (quarterback Daniel Jones) toughness. I’m wondering if you keep track of the hits that he takes. If there’s a number in your head where you’d like to see him, talking about running with the ball and in the pocket. Or, how much of concern is building up considering he hasn’t finished a season in his career?
A: Well, you never want your quarterback to take any hits. But I’d say Daniel has a unique skillset too in terms of his athleticism. I think he’s done a good job of taking care of himself when he does run with it. I would say there’s not a lot of design runs in there, there was a couple; there’s not a lot of design runs. There’s a fair amount of scrambles, and he’s got a couple of different choices (with) what he can do when he scrambles. One is, obviously, throw it down the field if people uncover. Two is try to throw it away, and three is to make yards. If he has an opportunity to make yards, you can tell a quarterback, ‘Don’t take this hit’ or ‘Do this’. And then they start thinking about things. I think Daniel’s making good decisions, when to take off. He’s tried to protect himself. Is that always going to happen? No. But certainly you want to eliminate or limit the amount of hits. Guys that can scramble and make loose plays cause problems for the defense in that regard of keeping chains moving or making some loose plays. I’ll never take that away from him.
Q: With (outside linebacker) Azeez (Ojulari) and (outside linebacker) Kayvon (Thibodeaux), first of all, there are no ill effects of them playing in the first game, I would imagine. Along that with those two guys, do you look at that and say, ‘Okay, this is where they should’ve been a month ago, but they couldn’t play. So, this is where they are now,’? Do you kind of judge them on a curve in that game because of the rust factor and things like that?
A: No. When they’re out there and they’re ready to play, they’re ready to play. Every player – whether it’s an outside linebacker, an inside linebacker – they have roles to do (with) how we want to play the game. I think those guys are two young good players and knowing that it is there first game, they’ve been out a little bit. That happens with a lot of guys when they’re coming off injury, getting back in the flow of things. But they’re two good players. (I) have a lot of confidence in those guys and looking forward to seeing them play this week.
Q: You would expect their workload to increase appropriately as we move forward here?
A: Yeah. As we get going throughout the week, that’s conversations I’ll have with the training staff. And if there’s a target number or we need to limit them, we kind of have those conversations throughout the week. So, then when we have our final meeting on Friday evening, we’re lockstep in what we want to do.
Q: You said yesterday the (Dallas) Cowboys did a good job blocking you, which obviously is a one game thing. But here as we go towards the Bears, we know Wink’s (defensive coordinator Wink Martindale) thing is blitzing, but I look at the Cowboys, and they got 10 pressures on you guys with just four-man rushes. How much does your pass rush need to ‘get home’ besides the defensive backs coming? How much do your core pass rushers need to ‘get home’ to disrupt the quarterback moving forward?
A: I’d just say whatever play call or defense that we call, that Wink calls, we expect them to perform what their responsibility is and do what’s asked of them. Whether that’s rush, whether that’s cover, whether that’s fit a gap. That’s team defense.
Q: One more here, changing gears. What kind of opportunity could be here? I know they don’t necessarily play the same X, Y, F position in receiver, but Shep’s (wide receiver Sterling Shepard) out, Wan’Dale’s (wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson) out. What kind of opportunity could it be for (wide receiver) Darius Slayton, and how has he handled his diminished role so far?
A: Slay’s been a pro. All those guys will be out there working this week, and we’ll try to put them in the best positions we can. But he’s been a pro, and he’ll be ready to go.
Q: Just curious, where are you guys at health-wise at cornerback? Is that a position that you think you’ll need to add some reinforcements at this week?
A: I would say, looking at it here, we could.
Q: Any new injuries from Monday that are to be concerned about there?
A: No. Nope. We’re pretty much status quo. I’d say that guys that are going to be limited today are, again we’re doing a little bit of a walkthrough more than we are a practice relative to the short week. But (cornerback Nick) McCloud, (wide receiver Wan’Dale) Robinson, obviously Shep (wide receiver Sterling Shepard), (wide receiver Kadarius) Toney, (defensive lineman Leonard) Williams, and (defensive back Cor’Dale) Flott are the guys. We’ll see with (cornerback Justin) Layne and (cornerback Aaron) Robinson. I think they’re trending up. We’ll see where they’re at by the end of the week.
Q: With (tackle) Evan Neal, obviously it was an emotional game the other night. But he seemed to take it pretty hard. The last couple of months, various people have talked about how introspective he is, and he takes the criticism internally and is very focused on making sure he can improve the things that he’s getting wrong. As a staff or even as the head coach, I know you look at every player and you treat your relationships with your players. Is he the kind of player, as a rookie at his age, that you want to pay close attention to this week when you have a kind of game like that on Monday night and make sure that he’s improving and moving forward the right way rather than maybe taking it too hard on himself?
A: Yeah. I think you go back to the evaluation process of the reason why we selected the players we selected. Obviously, we thought they were good players with a skillset, but they also were good people that had really good intangibles and character. I think you talk to all your players, whether it’s a rookie, whether it’s a veteran, whether they play great or they probably didn’t play as well as they wanted to play. There’s a lot of good things that Evan’s done. I have a lot of faith and confidence in him, and we’ll just keep on working and improving just like all the rest of the guys.
Q: You talked about evaluating different things obviously through a quarter of the season, and maybe you’ll have a better answer for us on this next week. But I was curious what you’ve learned about yourself as a head coach through these first three games.
A: That’s a good question. I haven’t (thought about it). You try to be as consistent as you can be when you’re in this leadership role. There’s going to be ups. There’s going to be downs. I think you try to be honest with the players and the staff. I think you build relationships – trusting relationships – because again the foundation of any good organization, regardless of what it is, is the ability to build trust with a group. And I’ve tried to do that. I’ve leaned on a lot of people. I’ve leaned on a lot of staff members. I’ve leaned on the players. The one thing is I don’t have all the answers. I know that, and I lean on people that I work with. You know it’s easy in the first few weeks or the first few months to ride a roller coaster, and I’ve really tried hard not to do that and be a consistent presence for the people in our building and our organization. Again, though, the relationships, whether it be with (general manager) Joe (Schoen), whether it be with staff members, whether it be with players, whether it be people in the organization, that matters. Building that trust matters because I think you earn some respect, and it’s a two-way street. And if you have the respect, regardless of if you’re in my role or another role, you learn to be accountable to somebody. And try to work as hard as you can. Improve on really everything you can improve on. There’s a lot of things that come across my desk every day that you’re not expecting them to come across. But I’d say that the leaning on the people that I work with is very important. And I’ve learned a lot from them – from the players, the trainers. I’ll single out LY, Laura Young (Director of Coaching Operations); she’s been fantastic. She’s very, very helpful in a lot of areas. Ashley Lynn (Director of Player Engagement), (Director of Wellness and Clinical Services, Player Engagement) Dr. Lani (Lawrence) – our psychologist, Jessie Armstead (Special Assistant to the General Manager), strength staff, people that work down in the cafeteria. You try to build a team atmosphere where everybody’s accountable. That starts with me. But I really appreciate the people in the building, our ownership group, Joe with all the different things that come up, which are numerous. And you guys know that; you think you know that until you’re actually sitting in that seat. And you have a tremendous amount of respect for the people you worked for before, not knowing all the things that go along with it. But again, the culture in our building is what I’m most thankful for – the people that come to work every day that try to be consistent and that give everything they have to build a winning culture.
Q: You were just talking about accountability. I don’t know if you look at what guys say to the media or whatever, but to a man pretty much after that loss, you had a lot of guys pointing fingers directly at themselves for what had happened, starting with Evan. Not just him. Even Daniel was talking about, ‘I can do a lot of things better,’ after what looked like a pretty good game. Do you look at that stuff, and when you see what they’re saying, do you think that what you’re trying to build is getting through?
A: Yeah. I think that’s something that when you get here and you talk to guys – and look, everything starts with me – but you appreciate whether it’s the coaches, whether it’s the players, whether it’s support staff, we’re all in this thing together. And we have good, high character people in our building. And I appreciate that very much.
Q: Obviously it’s been a tough start to the season for Kadarius. I’m wondering how confident are you that you’re going to be able to get something out of him this season and soon? And how much is his mental state something you have to monitor consistently? Because we see he’s always making comments on social media, not exactly sure what they’re about, but it seems like they’re directed at the doubters and people that are talking about him.
A: I’d say this, I don’t look too far down the road. I just concentrate on this week and trying to get him as healthy as we can this week. And I know he’ll do everything that he can. In terms of the social media and stuff, you’d have to ask him. I don’t want to speak for Kadarius. He’s doing everything he can rehab-wise, and he'll be out there as soon as he can.
Q: And also, just for this week, I know it’s a weird schedule, how are you handling this week? And then even next week because I know you have the London logistics to kind of deal with?
A: So today we’ll do a walkthrough. It’ll be a fairly lengthy walkthrough. And tomorrow will be a normal Thursday, and Friday will be a normal Friday. The stuff going forward, I’ll deal with that when it comes. Obviously, I’ve had discussions. You have to in terms of planning and preparation, but that’s really not – that’s kind of the offseason before this thing starts. I’ll let the people that take care of those logistics and scheduling do their job right now, and I’ll try to focus on this week.