Head Coach Brian Daboll
December 28, 2022
Q: (Cornerback) Adoree’ (Jackson) will be practicing today?
A: He’ll be doing some stuff. Limited.
Q: (Safety Xavier) McKinney?
A: No. He won’t practice today.
Q: (Outside linebacker) Azeez (Ojulari)
A: Azeez will be limited.
Q: McKinney got any chance for this week?
A: Not sure.
Q: That’s more optimistic than previous Wednesdays, it sounds like.
A: I’d probably say not as optimistic but getting there.
Q: Who was that about?
A: So, they asked about Adoree’. So, he’ll be doing some stuff. He’ll be limited. And Azeez; he’ll be in the same boat. They asked about McKinney. He won’t do anything today. (Defensive lineman) Dexter (Lawrence) will have a vet day like he’s normally had the last few weeks. (Defensive lineman) Leo(nard Williams) will be limited. So, everybody should be practicing besides Dexter.
Q: With McKinney, you said he’s getting there. When he comes back again, is he going to have to wear a club regardless? Or is there potential he could play without one?
A: I would assume he would have to wear a club.
Q: I know there’s only two games left.
A: Are you talking about X (Xavier McKinney)?
Q: Yeah, is he going to return this season? Or is it still TBD (to be determined) on that?
A: We’ll see.
Q: A lot of it depends on if there’s games after that.
A: Yeah, we’ll see. I think he’s making progress.
Q: You said you were going to watch the Colts (on Monday), and obviously, you always do. What were your thoughts watching them Monday night? It obviously wasn’t a very good game for them. What do you tell your players?
A: There’s a few plays here or there that could’ve been a lot different. I think their defense has been playing really well. The quarterback (Nick Foles), it was really his first game coming back. So, I think there were some chances there to be had. Defense has played well all season. The last six games, they’ve been up at the end of the third quarter. They’re only down by two to Dallas, 21-19. That’s the NFL; every team’s good.
Q: How do you feel about the left guard rotation (with Ben Bredeson and Nick Gates)? Is that something you want to continue? Or do you want to settle on one guy there?
A: I think they’re both doing a good job. So, we’ll see how it goes this week. It could be the same; I think both of them have done a good job with things we’ve asked them to do.
Q: Do you view that as those two guys for left guard, or could you move say Nick to center?
A: No, it’ll probably be those two guys at left guard.
Q: Not move Nick to center or one of them to right guard?
A: Yeah, it’ll probably be similar to what we’ve been doing.
Q: Does that put – strain is not the word – on (tackle) Andrew (Thomas)? He’s used to this.
A: On who?
Q: On Andrew at left tackle.
A: No, he’s fine.
Q: Is that more for him, less for him? Or at this point it really doesn’t matter?
A: No, he’s played with both these guys. He’s comfortable with really those two guys next to him.
Q: Are you excited for your guys to have this opportunity this weekend considering what’s on the line for them?
A: Excited to play another game, yeah. That’s what we’re excited about. They work hard. It’s an important game for us. We’re excited to play the Colts.
Q: What about for you personally?
Q: What about for you?
A: Same as it is every week, yeah. Get ready to play a good team and try to do the best we can.
Q: Throughout your career, you’ve been in a lot of big games. How much do you believe in that pressure in big games as being something that, as players and coaches, you have to deal with?
A: I’d say there’s pressure every week in this league. There’s only 17 games. You got to play well each week, do everything you can do to win and get ready to play the next week. It’s competitive.
Q: It’s nothing different in the Super Bowl, though, and like in the playoffs in your experience?
A: We’re playing the Colts this week.
Q: I was asking you a general question. You said, ‘Every game, every week’s the same.’
A: It is. You got to do the things you need to do to win each game. I know there’s ‘What’s this? What’s this?’ The way I was raised in this business, in terms of getting ready to play games, doing the things you need to do each week, prepare the right way, practice the right way. I know it’s a boring answer, but that’s the truth. I don’t think you can get too far ahead of yourself in anything. Each game is important. And as you get going throughout the season, if you’re lucky enough to keep going, they’re one-game seasons then. So, our focus is on this game. And we’re going to have to do a good job.
Q: Your team has studied Nick Foles from what he just did last week.
A: He’s played one game this year. He had one game last year in Chicago. I think he had somewhere around seven games in ’20. I think he had four games before that at Jacksonville. So, you go back just like you’re preparing against anybody. You try to watch the tape and look at their strengths and weaknesses.
Q: Will it be some kind of a selling job just because he’s coming off a game where it looked like he hadn’t played in a long time. And do you say, ‘Well, is that him? Or is that not him?’ There’s more there than just that.
A: I understand. I’d say that everybody’s good in this league. You got to prepare for everybody’s best, and you got to play your best. Every game’s tough in this league. It doesn’t matter about records. Every game is tough. Every player in this league is good. Every coaching staff is good. And then, really the only thing that matters is how you play on Sunday or Saturday or Monday. You got to do the things you need to do to win a game.
Q: Up until now, there have been scenarios where you can make the playoffs. This one’s a really straightforward one. So, how do you expect your team to respond knowing win, and you truly are in?
A: Same way we’ve been doing it all year: Just do the things we need to do to try to win a game and focus on that week. That’s what’s hard to do off this league. There’s a lot of other things going on, and I understand all the questions. But it is really, truly – live in that moment. Control the things that you can control. And each day, have a good day. And then ultimately, go out there on Sunday and play and coach a good game.
Q: Do you think it’s important for a team to take on the personality of its head coach? Or does a head coach have to be flexible enough to take on the personality that the team needs?
A: No, I want everybody to be themselves. (I want) all our guys to come in here, be the best version of themselves. Come in and compete. I think we have a good group of people in our building that work extremely hard. I certainly don’t want anybody to be just like me or me to be like anybody else. I want them to be themselves.
Q: What do you, to kind of take it back a little bit, what do you remember about your first playoff appearance as a coach – as an assistant coach for that one?
A: Taking me back a long time.
Q: I think it was 2001 with the Patriots.
A: Yeah, was it the Raiders game?
Q: I’m not sure the actual game.
A: Was it the Raiders game?
Q: It should’ve been the Raiders game, yeah.
A: I remember (Patriots kicker) Adam (Vinatieri) kicking the most unbelievable kick I’ve ever seen. I remember (former Patriots quarterback Tom) Brady spiking a ball and falling on the ground. I remember (Patriots wide receiver) David Patten, God rest his soul, having a good game. (Patriots tight end) Jermaine Wiggins. A big fourth-and-one stop. We went goal-line defense against the Raiders – huge, huge play in the game. I remember getting into overtime and watching (Patriots long snapper) Lonie Paxton doing a snow angel.
Q: How about the tuck rule? Was that a fumble?
A: (Laughs) I think that’s well documented with all those scenarios. Obviously, I remember a lot. It was a good game.
Q: The emotions that you had at that point, being your first NFL playoff game, I guess. Is it similar? What did you learn from that experience to kind of carry you through?
A: I don’t know. That’s a good question. I just remember I had to stay up late, break down more tape and get ready for the next week. It was a lot of work. I was at a different spot, breaking down a lot of tape. I think we were going to play Pittsburgh, maybe. You were rooting for them, so I know. What was it? Pittsburgh.
Q: I probably had a few so I was a little hazy trying to remember those days (Laughs). (Quarterback Drew) Bledsoe did come in, right?
A: He did, yeah in that game. Threw a touchdown to (David) Patten on café. Yeah. I’ve been in a lot of them, fortunately. I’ve been part of some good teams. I’ve also been in seasons where I’m 3-12 at this point, and we’re competing our butts off to go out there and win a game. So, I think a lot of the experiences that I’ve had, both good and bad, have helped. But really, the only thing that matters this week is playing a good game.
Q: Speaking of the archives, obviously this is well before. But today is actually the anniversary of the greatest game ever played between the Giants and Colts – a big, historical game in the NFL. With this matchup this week, do you lean into the history of it at all? Obviously, there’s more meaning around it than not.
A: No, it’s boring, but we do the same thing we do each week. Go through the same things we need to go through in the team meeting, defense, offense and kicking game. Just try to be as consistent as we can.
Q: Why do you think you’ve been so inconsistent on special teams, and how much do you need to shore up that area?
A: That was a big play, obviously, last week. I think we’ve done some good things, and I think, really just like offense and defense, there’s things we need to improve on. We’re going to need to have a good game this week. This is a really good unit. (Colts special teams coordinator) Bubba (Ventrone) does a great job with these guys. And it’ll be a challenge.
Q: I don’t think we asked you about (guard) Shane Lemieux. What’s his (status)?
A: Shane Lemieux will go on IR (injured reserve).
Q: Did you ever think before the season you might be in this type of position with this ball club this late in the year?
A: Didn’t think about it. We just try to win the week. And, fortunately, we’re here. And we’re going to have to make the most of it.
Q: I know we’ve talked to you all season about quarterback play, things that you’d like to see. How important is it for a quarterback to be able to make plays downfield, out of the pocket, kind of off platform in today’s NFL?
A: I think it’s evolved since the time I’ve been in the league. But when you have quarterbacks that can move and extend plays, you have to defend the first play, as we say, and then defend the next play. Which is if you’re holding it longer, there’s a risk for a negative play. And there’s also a risk for a big play down the field or a scramble play. So, the game is a little bit different, I would say, with some of the things that people are doing. But the quarterbacks that can move – extend plays – the defense has to play defense a little bit longer.
Q: You’ve had a couple of those plays with (quarterback) Daniel (Jones) and (wide receiver Isaiah) Hodgins the last couple of weeks where it’s not just making plays for first downs. It’s making plays for touchdowns. That growth in Daniel’s game that you’ve seen – I would imagine you credit the guys that are working with him as well?
A: I’d start with him. I think he’s improved in that area. I think (quarterbacks coach) Shea (Tierney) works with him a bunch on that. We practice it. We do it at the start of practice. We do it in the middle of practice. But ultimately, the credit goes to DJ (Daniel Jones).
Q: How much was that something you saw beforehand and said, ‘This is an area that needs to be improved’?
A: With DJ?
Q: Yeah, with DJ sort of working and throwing on the run.
A: I would say when we got here, just seeing him and working through drills, watching him practice. Obviously, I’ve seen him before. He’s athletic. So, I think with what we’ve done in the past, I would say the last few years, I’ve had guys that can really move around and make loose plays, run the ball some and run different RPOs (run pass options) where he can use his legs and then do drills that help him. But it’s also the skill guys. You got to teach those guys. I think there’s an art to the scramble drill. Certainly, when you have players that a quarterback feels comfortable with where they’re going to be, you can work on it every day in practice until you get it in the game. I think he’s improved, but I think the guys around him have helped him, too.
Q: You’ve talked about all season how competitive the league is. Do you ever look around and say to your team, ‘Look what happened to Detroit last week. They were the hottest team in the league, and they go down to Carolina and…?’
A: It’s week to week in this league. We all know that. I think the biggest thing we can do is control the things that we can control. Every week is a big week. Every team you play is a good team, and if you play well that particular week, you give yourself a chance. If you don’t play well, it’s really hard to win. Big things like turnovers and things that really cause you to put yourself in a bind or getting them on defense – those things help – playing well in the red zone. All the things that help you win Week 1 or in 2001 or whenever it is, that’s football. It’s changed in some of the respects of spread out and mobile quarterbacks and things like that, but the big things that help you win are pretty much the same things that have helped teams win for a long time.
Q: You’ve had so many moving parts this year week to week. It seems like you’ve got new guys in the lineup, new guys coming in and out. What, for you, has been the key to being successful with so many moving parts on a weekly basis?
A: Well, you give credit to the players that come in – our next man up. You give credit to the coaches that work with them. There’s no excuses in this league. There’s just whoever you have, whoever you’re playing – get ready to play them, get the guys in there and get them ready to play. They’re on the team for a reason. Maybe they’re not a starter right away, but the guys that you’re doing walkthrough with that are on the practice squad, you get those guys ready as well. And then, once they’re ready to play, you put them in there and you let them play. Everybody needs a shot. Sometimes they’re not just handed the jobs. Guys that are down the line and second string or playing special teams – sometimes all you need is an opportunity.
Q: I see you’re growing your beard back. Is that a direct order from the wife? Family?
Q: Could a guy like (tackle) Evan Neal benefit from taking a step back, or is it better for a young guy like him to learn?
A: Step back – what do you mean by step back?
Q: Like if he has a tough game to sit him down and let him watch for a little bit versus letting him play through sometimes.
A: I think when you’re a rookie, no matter what it is, you learn from every experience. Veterans do. I certainly do. But some of my biggest growth moments for me is when I failed or when I didn’t do as well. I think he’s made steady progress. Are there certain plays he would like to have back? Sure, everybody has them. You have them as a head coach. You have them as a play caller. You have them as a player. But he’s a smart, tough, dependable guy. I think he’s improved in a lot of areas, and I’m happy he’s on our team.
Q: What do you want from your quarterback who’s had so much scrutiny and obviously has faced doubters up until maybe this season – and maybe including this season? What do you want him to kind of relish and embrace about the opportunity that is before this entire team on Sunday afternoon?
A: I just want him to get ready to play the Colts – do what he’s been doing. Prepare hard. Go out there and make good decisions. Take care of the football. Throw the ball where he’s supposed to throw it. Use his legs if he needs to use legs. Again, you just live in the moment of getting ready to play a team, and each week you’ve got to try and play your best. If you don’t, it’s usually not the outcome you want.