Head Coach Brian Daboll
November 24, 2023
Q: What’s the concern level with (defensive lineman) Dexter (Lawrence II)? He hasn’t practiced in two days.
A: Three; he won't practice today, and (wide receiver Darius) Slayton will not practice. So, we'll take both those guys right up to game time.
Q: (Tackle) Evan Neal?
A: Evan Neal will be out. That’s all, and then (cornerback) Adoree’ (Jackson) has got to get past after he went through a contact practice, so after practice he’s got to go through another set of things.
Q: There’s nothing you can really do about injuries, but how much has this lost time hurt Evan Neal? He obviously got off to a slow start and it’s a pretty big season for him, and he’s missed half the season practically.
A: Yeah, can't do anything about injuries. He’s rehabbing, doing everything he can do to get back.
Q: Slayton was limited yesterday. Did he have a setback?
A: He just won’t practice today. I'd say we're going to take both those guys right up to game time and see where we're at with them. They'll be probably listed as doubtful today, and Evan will be listed as out.
Q: You say up to game time. Does that mean pregame workout?
A: Yeah, we'll let them go through today, get treatment, tomorrow, get treatment, and then we'll talk about it Sunday morning,
Q: (Outside linebacker) Kayvon (Thibodeaux) hit the 10-sack mark, which is kind of a big mark in the statistical world. What have you seen from him as a pass rusher this year in terms of his development? Specifically, as a pass rusher.
A: I think he's just done a good job, really, in every area of his game, taking improvements from the first year to the next. He really works hard at his craft. He meets a lot with the coaches. Last week, I went in there and he's kind of running a meeting with a bunch of the defensive guys, too. So that's a good thing to see, and they’re going through pass-rush games and different guys. So, he’s done a nice job for us since he's been here.
Q: How much different is it for you when you're coaching a rookie quarterback? You don't have maybe a reservoir that you can refer to stuff that you know that they know.
A: Sure. Well, you do the same type of things in terms of installation. Again, I think (Offensive Coordinator Mike) Kaf(ka) and (Quarterbacks Coach) Shea (Tierney) have done a really good job with him. But every day is a learning experience. So, even yesterday, every rep he has is something that you give him a different look, and maybe it's the first time he’s seen it in a long time. But he's conscientious. He's doing everything we've asked him to do. Again, the experience factor, that is real.
Q: Why do rookie quarterbacks struggle so much against (Patriots Head Coach and General Manager Bill) Belichick’s defense through the years?
A: He's really good at what he does, and the players are good. They run a good scheme, give you a variety of looks. He's been doing it for a long time, since the year I was born. 1975, with the Lions, I believe.
Q: What is the most challenging part of the Belichick defense?
A: Well, they have good players, and they play good team defense, good coaches. They do a good job of taking away big plays, stopping the run, playing good in the red zone. Play good team defense, have a variety of looks. Game-plan team, so what you see on tape for one game might not be what you get the next game. So, it's always a challenge.
Q: How do you fill the void of Dexter Lawrence? Obviously, he’s been such a good player.
A: Well, we'll see where he's at, but that's why we have the guys we have here that we signed, whether it's (defensive lineman) A’Shawn (Robinson), Nacho (defensive lineman Rakeem Nunes-Rochez), but give it a few more days here.
Q: If he doesn’t play though, is it sort of a group thing? Do you need to replace that production with multiple guys?
A: I mean, that's just the National Football League. When (tackle) Andrew Thomas is out, we have to have another guy ready to go, or the quarterback, or (running back) Saquon (Barkley) is out, or Dexter's out… That’s why you have guys that are backing him up. They're very good players. Dexter's an elite player in this league, and the guys we’ve got behind him, that's why we’ve got them back there. They're true pros. They've done a good job for us. But we’ll see where we're at here with Dexter. He’s got a couple of days.
Q: You’ve mentioned a few times this week how they’re a game-plan team and obviously, every team is going to game plan, but are there teams that are much more, like, ‘We kind of play our strengths and you have to react,’ or how does that work?
A: Yeah, I’d say there are some teams that kind of do what they do. You know where they’re going to be, but they play it at high, high level. Maybe they only have a few different coverages, a few different fronts. Then there’s other teams that when you’re looking at breakdowns and people that break down the tape, there’s every front imaginable or every coverage imaginable, so you watch every game they play up until now. There’s a lot of information, so you have to be able to boil it down. Once you get into the game, call it the first quarter, you kind of see how they’re playing you, but then they always leave a wrinkle for the second half, too, that’s completely different. So, just a different challenge, but again, there are teams that kind of do what they do and then there’s other teams that give you a variety of looks.
Q: When last season ended, it seemed (wide receiver) Isaiah Hodgins had developed into one of your top receivers. Has he been lost a little this year with all the other receivers you have?
A: No. I think he’s doing everything he can do each week, true pro. We’ll see how it goes this week.
Q: Bill said this morning he’s still telling all his quarterbacks to be ready to go. Do you have – not that you’re going to tell us who it is – an inkling of who you think they’re going to play or are you still preparing for every single quarterback?
A: Again, you go back and watch all the quarterbacks that they have on their roster. You obviously watch the offensive scheme. That changes from week-to-week, too, but the throws that they’ve made and the games they’ve played. You’ve got to be ready for the schematics of it.
Q: So, do you divide it like 33, 33, 33 percent of your time on each of those quarterbacks?
A: No. I’ve watched every game that they’ve all played in pro football and some in college. So, again, whatever it is, whoever is out there, that’s who we have to be ready to defend. If you guys figure out who it’s going to be, you guys can let me know.
Q: Especially with the in-flux position at quarterback that you’ve had, have you seen Saquon develop more into a leader? How have you seen him as sort of, almost the elder statesmen in this place?
A: He’s kind of been that way since I’ve been here. Very competitive person, really takes his craft seriously, very good on the sidelines for us. He’s done really a nice job since he’s been here.
Q: Do you trust him?
A: One more time?
Q: Do you trust him, like, if he comes to you with an idea?
Q: How does that manifest itself? Does he say, ‘Dabs, I need you because I want to run something by you?’ How does that work?
A: I’d say really all of our players, but particularly Saquon. He’s been a good player for us. There’s stuff you can see during the game, on the sideline or up in the box, but when the players see it when they’re out there on the field, as long as they’re giving you the correct information, that’s always helpful. So, whether it’s Saquon, or the quarterback, or a defensive player, I think that’s the job of the coaching staff, too, to have good communication with the players. Now, if they come off and say, ‘This is going to work’ or, ‘I’m open every play,’ and you go back to the tape and say, ‘It really didn’t happen that way,’ then… But Saquon’s got a good feel for it, absolutely.
Q: We asked you on Wednesday quite a bit about your relationship with Bill. You spent a lot of time in assistant rooms there with (Patriots Assistant Head Coach) Joe Judge. Do you guys still have a relationship and how would you characterize that?
A: Yeah, I’d say when I see those guys, we say hello, but during the season you’re not talking to a lot of coaches on other staffs. You’re really focused on your staff. But got a lot of respect for Joe, too. I know him, his wife, his children. I’d say it’s good.
Q: Will you activate (running back) Eric Gray?
A: Potentially. That’s something we’ll talk about here once we get done with practice and make that decision.