Head Coach Brian Daboll
December 30, 2022
Q: McKinney (safety Xavier McKinney)? Condition-wise, any chance (he plays) Sunday? I know he said he may be shooting for it. What’s the update on him?
A: I’d say that yesterday was kind of the first step of getting him back out there. I thought he moved around well. Conditioning, I thought, was good. Obviously, hasn’t played a game in a while. I’d probably say probably not this week, but he looked good up there.
Q: Basically, gearing him up for the Eagles? Trying to ramp him up a bit?
A: Well, we’ll see where that is. But we’ll say probably not right now.
Q: What about (cornerback) Adoree’ (Jackson)?
A: He’ll do some more stuff today. We’ll take it right up to the end. He’s really the only guy we’ll take right up to the end. Everybody else should be ready to go.
Q: (Defensive lineman) Leo(nard Williams) and (outside linebacker) Azeez (Ojulari) are good to go?
A: Yeah, they should be good to go.
Q: And Azeez?
A: Yeah, he should be good to go – barring anything that happens today. But hopeful.
Q: How much do you look for a D-line in general, but yours in particular, to kind of lead the way a little bit in terms of tempo and that kind of stuff?
A: Really, I think football starts with both lines of scrimmage: the offensive line and the defensive line. It’s obviously a very important part of the team. It can affect the games numerous ways. It’s a big part of why we’ve had some success with those two guys inside (Leonard Williams and Dexter Lawrence) and rolling some other guys inside. But we’re going to have to play a good game on the defensive line.
Q: It seems, in more so than previous games, the players are talking a lot about the fans: ‘The fans need to get us revved up.’ Do you sense that everybody’s excited about the fans this week?
A: Yeah, I think everybody’s excited to play a game at home – a meaningful game. That’s why you put all that effort and energy into your craft is to play meaningful games this time of year. Our fans have been great all year and look forward to seeing them out early on Sunday.
Q: I’ve been meaning to ask you about (wide receiver Isaiah) Hodgins just because of your connection. Has any part of his acclimation here surprised you because it seems, to me at least, to be so fast? Or is this all of what you saw when he was healthy in Buffalo?
A: No, I haven’t been surprised by him. In the pre-draft process, he was exactly what we were looking for in terms of smart, tough, dependable, very intelligent. He was a good player at Oregon State. And then he played behind some pretty good players there, I would say, in Buffalo. And he kept a great attitude. He was on the practice squad, doing the things he needed to do to help the team. He knew our offense. He has a good skillset, and I’m glad we have him.
Q: Obviously, it was the bye week when you guys claimed him when Buffalo let him go. Did you guys have an inkling – you and (general manager) Joe (Schoen) – that things were going to happen up there in Buffalo, and he was going to hit the market? How surprised (were you)? How did that process work? Did Joe come to you and say, ‘Look, he’s up,’?
A: Yeah, he said, ‘They released him.’ So, we thought he’d be a good guy to bring in to help us. It was good to get him.
Q: How have you seen (quarterback) Daniel (Jones) react to all these different receivers? I know that’s been the constant stream of the season, but especially with someone like Isaiah coming in and really connecting with him.
A: The passing game requires a lot of work, a lot of chemistry. And I’d say that Daniel puts a lot of time and effort into, not just the stuff we do at practice, but he’ll keep guys after practice. They’ll throw in between periods. And a guy like Isaiah or (wide receivers) Richie (James), Slay (Darius Slayton), they work extremely hard with him. They throw a lot. They talk a lot. But it’s an acclimation. There’s things you need to do to get ready to get the passing game ramped up. And I’d say trust is probably the number one thing – making sure that the receivers can see it through the quarterback’s eyes the best they can and make sure the quarterback can really read the body language of a receiver and having the confidence to turn it loose when it is tight man-to-man coverage. So, we’ve been working at it. We’ll continue to work at it. But I think Daniel’s done a good job with those guys.
Q: Do you anticipate sticking with the left guard rotation this week (with Ben Bredeson and Nick Gates)?
A: I do.
Q: And why have those two guys made it work? What have you liked about what they’re doing?
A: Well, I think it keeps them fresh. I think they’re both smart. I think there’s good communication in there with all six of those guys (tackles Andrew Thomas and Evan Neal, guard Mark Glowinski and center Jon Feliciano), and particularly those two guys between AT (Andrew Thomas) and Felice (Jon Feliciano). And I think they’ve done a good job, so they’ve both earned the right to play. So, that’s the direction we’ll stay with.
Q: (Tight end Daniel) Bellinger carrying the ball around …
A: You guys talk to Bisch (tight ends coach Andy Bischoff) later, don’t you?
Q: Yes, we do. We’ll talk to him about that.
A: Yeah, that would be a good question for him. Ball security is very, very important. So, just creating habits.
Q: Did that come from Bisch? Did you guys talk about that?
A: I think there’s an emphasis on it. Bisch has done a good job with those guys all year.
Q: Big fan of “The Program”?
A: It’s a great movie. It’s a great movie.
Q: He (Daniel Bellinger) didn’t know. He had said he’d never seen it.
A: Not surprising. Not surprising. (Laughs) That would be a good question to ask people. I wonder how many would remember that.
Q: He said a lot of people told him about it, though.
A: Did they? I bet it was all coaches. I don’t know how many players know about it.
Q: Is that where the idea came from, though?