Wide Receiver Darius Slayton
Q: Obviously, getting your head coach (Brian Daboll) to talk about the playoffs to us is not something that most of us are capable of getting out of him. He just refuses. Does he show you guys a little different face in the locker room, behind closed doors, and discuss what this is all about this time of year?
A: I think everybody's aware of our situation and kind of what the reality is for a lot of teams around the NFL this time of year. At the end of the day, you can only focus on the week you have, and the opponent you have ahead of you, and the rest of that will take care of itself.
Q: He can be very, very emotional on the sideline, obviously, and very stoic off, maybe on the podium and things like that. Is that a correct read on him? Have you seen times when he's really hot? And describe that to me if you would.
A: Football is an emotional game. He puts a lot of time into this. We all put a lot of time into this, a lot of effort into this. So, when you're playing in a game, you're in a highly contested game like most of the games that we've been in this year, it's going to be emotional. You're going to be excited sometimes. You're probably going to be disappointed sometimes. You're going to be angry. I think that's just part of the ebbs and flows of the game.
Q: You mention that you've been in a lot of highly contested, close games. It's not easy. You don't want to get blown out, and you wouldn't mind having a big score lead on another team. Do you think that has helped in some way, maybe down the stretch in some of these games, that this team is kind of used to this?
A: For sure. I think once you get to the playoffs, the difficulty level of winning each of those games throughout the round just increases. And the odds of you blowing somebody out goes down more and more week after week. So, the reality is you're going to have to win close games in order to have success throughout the playoffs. So, I definitely think playing more of those throughout the season helps.
Q: When did you think that this was possible if we gave you truth serum and you had to tell us? Obviously, your first three years were difficult here in terms of wins and losses. When did you? Was it after Week 1 (win)? Was it when Dabs got here, and it felt different? When did you truly believe like, 'Oh, this is going to be different than the last three years,'?
A: It's hard to say because in every sport I've ever played, everything I've ever done in my life, I always expect to win. I don't ever go into a season or into a game thinking my team is going to lose. So, coming into the season I knew we had the talent. That's kind of where it starts, and then we have a close-knit locker room: a lot of good players, a lot of good guys that believe in each other. After that, it's about going out there and executing. That's always kind of the great unknown for every team in the NFL. You don't know how people are going to gel together and play together. But I always had belief, way back in (training) camp when we were going into the season Week 1, that we could be whatever we needed to be.
Q: In Week 1, you didn't play. It's crazy the kind of turn your individual season has taken. What do you think you've shown the Giants or the league that maybe you already knew about yourself? What do you think this season has shown about you and how you belong in this league?
A: I think it just shows I love ball. I feel like a lot of people probably that might've been in my predicament might've gotten down or stopped maybe giving effort or not trying to get themselves out of that predicament. But I truly love playing football. So, even though I was inactive in Week 1, I didn't want that to be my predicament. But as long as I got my health and I can play ball and I can go out there and practice, I believe in myself. And I believe in my ability.
Q: You're a free agent, obviously, whenever this season ends: two games, four games, eight games, whatever you have left. Do you want to stay here? Have you thought about that? It just seems like you did all the bad times, and you're a free agent when the times are getting good. How do you look at your future?
A: I haven't thought about it too much. It's hard to project because it's like kind of once you get into the season, there's such a rhythm to it. You go to practice; you're preparing for the next opponent. Then boom – you look up, and it's game day. I kind of just been trying to make sure I perform to the best of my ability and like I said earlier, those things tend to work themselves out as long as you perform well.
Q: You guys seem to be following Coach Daboll's lead with this mentality going into this game. Is that hard to do? You must be over the moon about what this game means for you and this team.
A: I'm mostly just excited to be playing competitive, meaningful football. I think that's something that since I've been in the league, I haven't really had a chance to do very much. I'm just grateful for all these games that are going to be highly contested. And obviously, we're going to go out there and do our best to get the win in all of them.
Q: What have you seen from (wide receiver) Isaiah (Hodgins) since he got here? And what has he added to the passing game for you guys?
A: He's been very consistent for us. He's done a great job moving the sticks. He's a little bit bigger-bodied of a guy. And he does a good job of making contested catches, making catches in the middle of the field – that type of deal. But as he showed the other day, he hit (Vikings cornerback) Patrick Peterson with a double move, and he got down the field a little bit, too. Sometimes, he tends to maybe overthink his speed a little bit (laughs), but he can run. So, he's been a good addition to our team and I'm glad to have him.
Q: Can you just reflect a moment on the growth of this offense from Week 1 to where it is now? How far has it come? And how much further until it reaches the proverbial ceiling?
A: To be honest, it's changed so much as far as the people, some of the things we try to do now that maybe we weren't doing earlier. It's been a lot of movement, but I think we found a way to put the pieces together and get some continuity going and get some rhythm going. Hopefully, we can keep it going.
Q: We always hear about how if a receiver knows a system, that they generally can come in and hit the ground running. But there's also a degree of building up chemistry with the quarterback. Can you just speak to how Isaiah has built up that chemistry – what you've seen?
A: I think it's kind of like you said – him being very familiar with the system. He's been in the system. It's now his fourth year. So, almost to some degree, he has a leg up on pretty much all of us. This is our first year being in it. He understands the ins and outs. He understands what Daboll and Kaf (offensive coordinator Mike Kafka) are looking for in certain looks and things like that. So, I think all of those things help him to accelerate his chemistry with DJ (quarterback Daniel Jones) and things like that.
Q: How would you describe the receiver room at this point? You're three guys that weren't supposed to be in this position at this point in the season, and you all have sort of your own little comeback stories. How would you describe that room at this point?
A: That kind of is, I guess, how it would seem. But I think everybody in our room has the ability; everybody in our room has talent. This league's really just about waiting for your opportunity and when you get your opportunity, capitalizing on it. I think that's kind of the guys that we have playing for us right now, that's the type of guys that we are – people that might not have had as many opportunities that we would've liked to have in the past, but now they're getting them, they're taking advantage of them and that's what this league is all about.
Q: Have you ever talked to those other two guys? Like (wide receiver) Richie (James), obviously, was benched for a little bit. You know what that was like early on. And Isaiah, really, this is his first opportunity ever. Have you talked to those two guys about those things?
A: Yeah, I mean it's crazy because Isaiah wasn't even here this year until Week 9. He didn't even start the season with us. So, it just goes to show that in this league, there's so much movement. You never know what's going to happen. You just always have to be ready.
Q: Would you say that you guys all have some sort of chip on your shoulder?
A: No doubt. I think we all have something to prove. I don't think that we've proven whatever it is that we've got to prove yet. We still got to do more. So, it's definitely not a time for any of us to get complacent. I think like I said, we've done a good job of taking advantage of the opportunities that we've gotten, and hopefully, we continue to get them.
Q: You guys kind of were the underdog most of the season. I don't think people outside the building really expected a lot from you guys as a whole. Does that change anything going into this game? Like do you notice that – that now that you're expected to win and you kind of need to win this week?
A: I don't think it changes anything because, like you said, we've been the (under)dog a lot in games this year that we've won. So, being the favorite or being the dog ultimately doesn't determine whether or not you win or lose the game. It's the NFL. They've got good players. So, you got to go out there and play and execute, take care of the football, and do the things you got to do to win the game.
Q: Do you think it adds pressure this week, though?
A: I don't think so. It's kind of like I said: Everybody's got good players. So, it's no different than it would've been last week, playing the Vikings who are whatever they are – two seed in the NFC. I don't think it's any different. All of these teams have good players. All of these games are games you got to win in theory if you think about it. Even if we were 12 and whatever, we would probably be trying to get the one seed like the Eagles are doing. So, every game is important. No game is just, 'Oh, we can just go out here and slack off and let this one go.'