Head Coach Brian Daboll
October 19, 2022
Daboll: How’s everybody doing? Normal Wednesday. We’ll get ready to play (the) Jacksonville (Jaguars). It’ll be a good practice today. So, we’ll go out there and try to have a good day.
Q: These are both really young teams. What’s, for you, the biggest challenge when you’re dealing with such a young team?
A: I don’t think of it like that. I think they’re well coached. I think (Head) coach (Doug) Pederson has done a great job of going down there. They’re playing really hard. They got good players. Each week, there’s a different way to play a game. That’s where our focus is: Trying to put together a good plan. Going out, having a good practice.
Q: I mean more like dealing with a young player? Like for you, is it getting them ready? Is it getting them – their knowledge base up? Is it the speed?
A: It really starts from OTAs, particularly with rookies. You teach them how we want to do things here, not just inside the building but outside the building. And then you constantly build on what you teach them from the day before. They get experience as they go. A guy like (tight end Daniel) Bellinger. I think he’s improved since he’s been here. He’s been available; he’s worked hard. He’s done a good job inside and outside the building. But you also look when you’re evaluating players, too. You look at skillset, but you look at intangibles as well to make sure they fit what you want to try to build.
Q: I know you didn’t need to look closely at (Jaguars quarterback) Trevor Lawrence coming out (of college) because you probably weren’t going to be picking him. From what you know of him from last year to how he’s developed this year, what do you see?
A: I know Trevor; I recruited him, too. It was the same year (Chicago Bears quarterback) Justin (Fields) came out. From Cartersville, Georgia – tremendous high school football player. You go down there and watch a practice. He can play on Sundays when he’s down there in high school. He was really, really talented. He’s really talented now. I think he’s doing a great job in Coach Pederson’s offense. He’s big. He can throw it accurately. He can move. They run him on some quarterback, not just keepers, but also quarterback designed runs, too. So, athletic, smart. He’s a really good person, too. He’s going to be a good player in this league for a long time.
Q: Back in the summer, I think you and (general manager) Joe (Schoen) talked about (how) it would take a few weeks for this team’s identity to crystalize. We’re about six weeks in now to the season. Has this team’s identity crystallized, and do you like the identity that’s coming along?
A: I’d just say we work hard. We try do what we need to do each week, put the time, effort and energy into our preparation, into our process and then go out there and leave it on the field on Sunday – empty the tank, so to speak. And then we come in and do it again the next week. Don’t get too far ahead of yourself. Don’t really concentrate on things that have happened in the past. Turn the next page and focus on that page.
Q: How have you felt about the way your offense – I know you don’t care about outside grades or anything like that, but it doesn’t get great grades from places like PFF (Pro Football Focus). But how have you felt about how your offensive line has performed so far this season?
A: I think they’re like all the other spots. I think they’ve improved each week. Close group. I think they’re tough. They’re smart, and they’ve gotten better since they’ve been here.
Q: Do you think they’re better run blockers than pass blockers?
A: They’re required to do both, so I’ve got confidence in both areas for those guys.
Q: They (the Jacksonville Jaguars) have high draft (selections) in their edge rushers. They’ve got two obviously high (draft selections). First of all, what do you think of those two guys (Jacksonville outside linebackers Josh Allen and Travon Walker)? And do you think that your tackles (Andrew Thomas and Evan Neal), young, are capable of – are you in good shape there with those two guys?
A: Well, they’re really good. Walker is the first pick of the (2022) draft, and Josh Allen is a dynamic edge rusher. He has a knack for getting to the quarterback, being a ball disrupter. He can drop. He’s a really good player. He’s done a good job there for a while. And Travon, having seen him at Georgia, he’s very stout on the edge. Long. He’s a good player. We’ll have our work cut out for us.
Q: You have young tackles. Andrew’s not quite as young. You think they’re (capable)?
A: Yeah. It’ll be a good matchup.
Q: How have you seen Evan (Neal) bounce back after that game against the (Dallas) Cowboys where he struggled a little bit?
A: Really like any player. You’re not always going to have your best game. You’re probably going to wish you could do things a little bit better. That’s everybody, not just Evan. Come in, see what you can improve on, work hard to improve and get ready to play the next week.
Q: When you were going through the pre-draft process, with the way he handled himself, because a game like that can break someone. It seemed like he just took it in stride and bounced back. Did you know he was that kind of person when you were evaluating him?
A: Yeah. You do a lot of work. Again, like I’ve said before, you’re going to face a lot of adversity in this league whether you lose a game, you have a bad game, you have a bad play, you have a bad call, you make a poor decision as a head coach. You’re going to have those things. That’s just the way this league works. And our whole objective is to focus on the next play or the next series, and that’s what we’ve preached since we’ve been here.
Q: You mentioned Bellinger. In what ways have you seen him develop since he has gotten here?
A: When you come out of college as a tight end, there’s a lot – there is for every position – but there’s a lot to learn: how we run block, how we pass block. We’ve asked him to do a lot of different things. We’ve put a lot on his plate. I think he’s picked it up well. And each game, he gains more experience. He’s far from a finished product; he’ll be the first to say that. But I think, not just to single out Daniel (Bellinger), there’s a lot of our rookies who are doing a good job right now of continuing to grow, improve, learning from their mistakes. And that’s all you can ask for.
Q: Do you have to watch how this team handles success? We talked about this being a young team. Do you have to guard against them being overconfident or how they handle success here so far?
A: I’d say the biggest thing for us is just to be consistent with how we do things during the week. Whether it’s after a loss, after a win, after a close win, after a big loss. It’s such a week-to-week league, so our approach from a coaching staff, and really from an organization, is be as consistent as you can regardless of result if you’re doing the things you need to do during the week. That’s my job is to make sure we are trying to do that along with the coaches. That’s really where our focus is.
Q: Do you sometimes want to harness it, even, and use it to your advantage where – sometimes you might play a team that on paper might be a little more talented but if you guys have the confidence, it can close the gap.
A: I don’t even think of it in terms like that. I just think, let’s go out there and do what we need to do for that week. Let’s put the work in before it happens and let’s be ready to play on Sunday whenever that is or Monday or Thursday. Whenever that is. Really that’s, I know it’s not flashy, but that’s what we believe in.
Q: You got here in January, free agency wasn’t until March. Did you get to know through your FaceTimes at all (Jacksonville tight end) Evan Engram? What did you think of him and what do you think of him as a player?
A: I got a chance to meet Evan. I think he’s a talented player. He’s got good speed. He’s got good quickness. He was a good young man. It was just for a short time that I got a chance to talk to him, but I thought he was a good player.
Q: Injury updates. How is (wide receiver Kadarius) Toney and (wide receiver Kenny) Golladay?
A: They will not practice today. You said Toney and Golladay, right?
A: They won’t practice today. They’re getting better.
Q: Did (running back) Saquon’s (Barkley) shoulder require any further MRIs or tests after this game?
Q: Any concern about him handling the full workload?
Q: Did (center Jon) Feliciano have any problems with his groin? He talked about it after the game.
A: Yeah, he will be limited today.
Q: How about (tackle) Andrew Thomas?
A: Andrew Thomas. We’ll limit him today.
Q: (Center) Nick Gates, I know you have another week to go with him. What have you seen form him so far? Is he close?
A: Getting closer, yeah. I think he’s had a good couple of weeks of practice. Or week, how many days has he been out there? However long he’s been out there, I think he’s made progress each and every day. Learning our system, it’s different when you’re practicing in a new system. You can sit in a classroom all you want, but I think he’s made good progress.
Q: How about (outside linebacker) Azeez (Ojulari) and (cornerback) Cor’Dale (Flott)?
A: Azeez will be limited. Cor’Dale will not practice.
Q: When it comes to activating those guys off of IR, or starting the clock on those guys – how much of that is based on where your roster is? Or is it strictly once the guy is healthy, you activate him?
A: I’d say there’s conversations that take place when the best time to do it. First of all, they got to be ready to go and then where are you roster-wise with the players that you have on your roster. Those things all play into it.
Q: Is there a path for (safety) Landon (Collins) at all?
A: Yeah, we’ll give him some more reps this week. Again, like I said, he just got here, so we’ll see how he is conditioning-wise. We’ll see how he does with picking up the defense. He’s been great, I’m glad we have him. We’ll just see where he’s at. Again, I think putting someone out there early or when they’re not ready -- and I’m not saying he is or he isn’t -- but I think that you just got to be fair to the player and make sure that they feel comfortable with where they’re at.
Q: Do you remain optimistic that Kadarius could return and become a part of what this team is doing?
A: I do. Yup.
Q: Is injured reserve something that you would consider at this point now with him?
A: No. He’s getting better, doing a good job rehabbing. Hopefully we’ll see him out here soon.
Q: When you went back and looked over the film, what was wrong with the run defense last week against Baltimore?
A: It’s a tough scheme. I think they do a great job. Four main things: motion, giving you different looks. Run defense takes all 11. So that’s something we’ll work on this week.
Q: Your third-down offense seems to be getting better each week. Why is that?
A: I think it’s a collective effort with the coaching staff, with the designs, the calls and then give the players credit, they’re executing well. When players execute well, particularly in that situation, that’s a big boost to keep maintaining drives, keep possession of the ball. I think the execution has been good.
Q: Is that the biggest difference from earlier in the season? Just the execution or the scheme?
A: No, I think it’s a combination of everything. Look, I’ve said this a lot of times coming off of a win or a loss, there’s a lot of things that we can get better at. That’s certainly one of the things that we work hard on doing. It’s a hard down, it’s usually advantage defense regardless of what the distance is that you need. We got to all be dialed in. It’s collective – it’s coaching, it’s playing, it’s everything. Just like most everything is.
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