Head Coach Brian Daboll
December 2, 2022
Daboll: I know you guys will have a lot of questions, I’m sure, about (wide receiver) Odell (Beckham, Jr.), and here’s what I’d say about that. We had dinner with him last night. We had a good visit. Really other than that, I have nothing else to add. My focus is on Washington. And any questions on that, that’s really what I’ve got to say.
Q: Can you say at least if the door is still open to him still signing here, or if it’s closed after that dinner?
A: No. I’ll just say we had a good dinner.
Q: Food was good?
A: I had a great steak.
Q: He’s meeting with other people here today, though?
A: (I’m focused on) Washington. Yeah.
Q: Overall, how rare is it to have a visit like that in the middle of a game week and an important game like that? How do you divide your times up in terms of dealing with everything?
A: All my time is on Washington. I just got a free meal.
Q: Did you have to discuss it with your team at all to say, ‘Hey, this is happening, but don’t let your minds go there too far?’
A: Look, I understand all the questions guys. What I said at the start, that’s what I’m staying with right now. Everything is geared towards Washington. I’m focused on today, having a good practice.
Q: What is the most important part to stop a player like (Commanders wide receiver Terry) McLaurin that can (make) many good plays for Washington?
A: All hands-on deck. It takes 11 guys. He’s a dynamic player. (He) does really everything well at the receiver position, can threaten short and take it long, intermediate, vertical. So, we’re going to have to do a good job of rushing the passer when he passes and tackling in open space and staying on top of him in the deep part of the field.
Q: You say all hands-on deck. Do you expect to have (cornerback) Fabian (Moreau)?
A: We’ll see. We’ll see today. I’d say we got a lot of limited guys today that are working. A lot of guys are making good progress. This will be our normal (Friday) – go out there in practice, see where everybody’s at and then talk about it tonight.
Q: Are there guys that you are feeling particularly good about? (Tight end Daniel) Bellinger? (Tackle Evan) Neal? Some of those guys – (outside linebacker Azeez) Ojulari?
A: I think they’re all trending in the right direction. I think today will be another important day to get out there, move around, see where they’re at after a few days. They’re all making progress, so I’m hopeful those guys can go. But you never know.
Q: Do they have to be full (participants) today to (play Sunday)?
A: No, we just got to see, we’ll see where they’re at. We’ll talk to those guys after practice. We’ll sit down as a coaching staff – personnel staff – and make the best decision we can. Obviously, if they’re ready to go, we’d love them to be out there.
Q: Whenever Azeez is ready, do you have to manage his reps because he’s coming back because it’s been a long time off?
A: We’ve had discussions about that. That’ll be another thing today that we talk about that and finalize that if he’s ready to roll.
Q: This is unrelated to Washington but not related to Odell. I talked with some players recently about your coaching style; you’re a guy who – you might have the outbursts on the sideline. They described you pretty much as a players’ coach. How would you describe yourself as a coach, your style?
A: Overweight (Laughs). I just try to do the best job I can for our team, for our coaches, for our players. Just one piece of it. I try to be honest. I tell them not sometimes what they want to hear but what I think they need to hear, hold everybody accountable. Own my mistakes. It’s a team game. I’m just part of the team.
Q: I covered (Kansas City Chiefs head coach) Andy Reid. He was overweight. It’s worked well for him.
A: I’ve coached 11 games. Coach Reid is in the Hall of Fame. But I do like cheeseburgers.
Q: You’ve had a lot of moving pieces on the offensive line. If you have (center Jon) Feliciano back, is it important to have continuity at center, or would you be open to making a change there?
A: I think we’d be open to what we think is best. I think Jon does a good job of making all the calls. He knows the system really well. So, we’ll see what we got out there coming up Friday. We’ve worked some pieces here, I’d say, the last few days and moved guys around like we normally do. The best five will be out there.
Q: Is that position under different consideration?
A: Center? Again, that’s definitely a spot where you’re communicating on every play. I think the guys that have practiced there and played, they know all the calls. They’re good communicators. But we have a lot of confidence in Jon.
Q: You hear about meaningful games in December. Because of that, do you sense a heightened sense of urgency in your players, that giddy up?
A: You really can’t do that. You have to have giddy up every week in this league. It’s a humbling league. We’ve had some wins. We’ve had some losses. You got to try to be consistent in your approach when you go out there to practice, when you go into the meeting rooms. You need that every week. As a coach, you got to get the pulse of your team and see what they need to help them get to that point during the week. Our guys have worked hard. What wins in September also wins in December. You can’t forget that either.
Q: Do you have to remind them of that?
A: Yeah, I talk to them about that. Absolutely. I think you got to keep the main thing what helps you win a football game. Each week, there’s some consistent things that are never going to change. And there’s some things, game plan specific, that you got to try to accomplish to put yourself in the best chance to have a chance.
Q: You’ve known (offensive line coach) Bobby Johnson, obviously, longer than this season.
Q: Is there something about him and his coaching that, at least to my untrained eye, he’s getting an awful lot out of the unit that for years was talked about as the weak link?
A: I think he’s a good communicator and a good teacher. I think he holds the players accountable. They have a lot of respect for him. I think he’s a good teammate. He’s very knowledgeable. I enjoyed working with him when I was a coordinator, and I enjoy working with him now in my role. I think (assistant offensive line coach) Tony Sparano (Jr.) does a great job with him, too. Those two guys are here real early. They stay real late. (That’s) not unlike a lot of coaches. I have a lot of confidence in those guys.
Q: And it’s fair that coming here, you knew the offensive line. You knew the history of it here and the idea that it had to improve?
A: Yeah, we made a lot of changes. Obviously, (general manager) Joe (Schoen) brought a lot of different guys in – we did. And that’s a hard position to coach. One of my years, I was able to sit in that room and just watch the best line coach, (former Patriots offensive line coach) Dante Scarnecchia, do it. It’s just amazing when you’re coaching receivers or quarterbacks or tight ends and then you go into that room, and you have a lot of people in that room and you have to have five guys working as one. It’s basically half the offense. So, a lot of respect for line coaches in general. Bobby is certainly one of them.
Q: How are (running back Gary) Brightwell and (wide receiver) Darius (Slayton)?
A: Darius is still under the weather. He was in meetings. Probably won’t go today. But (I’m) hopeful (he’ll play Sunday). He’s trending in the right direction, but still a bit under the weather. Brightwell is – he’s better than Darius. So, he should be good to go.
Q: Just to get a sense of how you think, do you, personally or individually, ever think of things as critical junctures like when you’re looking at even just personally or as a coach? Or is it your mindset to, no matter what, ‘I have to psychologically, emotionally and mentally recover, and it’s always things can change down the road?’
A: I try to take it day-by-day. That’s just the way I do it. I think there’s a lot of things that can change. I don’t think you can focus on the change that could happen three days from now, two weeks from now. That doesn’t really do you any good. It’s just ‘What can you do today to help your team be as good as you can be? How can you yourself be as good as you can be?’ That’s how I take it: one day at a time.
Q: What went wrong for St. Francis (High School) in the second half (of state championship game vs. St. Anthony’s of South Huntington)?
A: That was a tough one. My high school played in the state championship against (Assistant general manager) Brandon Brown’s high school. It was 20-0; my high school was up. And they lost, 27-20. So, Brandon’s been giving it to me pretty good.
Q: Was there any bet?
A: No, just bragging rights. I don’t have them.
Q: One more for Darius. You said he was, obviously, under the weather. You don’t really have another guy who has made plays at receiver downfield in quite some time. If he can’t go, what kind of adjustments need to be made?
A: We’ll see where it goes after practice today, where he’s at. Again, I’m hopeful he’ll be okay.