Assistant General Manager Brandon Brown
Brown: Good morning guys how you doing? Good to finally meet you guys. Just meeting new friends, that's all it is.
Q: How do you balance between the immediate and the future in your position?
A: I think the biggest thing, the quote I always go by is, 'Bloom where you're planted.' I think when your team goals are all accomplished, your personal goals will align with it. That's my biggest thing is being a high efficiency operator in what I'm currently doing – help us build a culture, help us turn the team around and from there, everything else aligns.
Q: Can you describe your role, what you're tasked to do in this role?
A: The biggest word I use is 'football solutions' where it's overseeing pro personnel department, the college scouting department and also just being the checks and balances with (General Manager) Joe (Schoen) on the football operations side. So, for me it's just creating synergy through all of our supporting departments and our primary scouting departments.
Q: There is no college scouting director. Is that correct?
Q: So, does that fall on you more so than it would have if you had one?
A: No. So, I think when you look at any scouting department, there is no right or wrong way in how you put it together. I think with us, our biggest thing was people, process, culture. We had an extensive interview process, and we like what we came together with. Between (Director of Player Personnel) Tim McDonnell, who's already been here, (Assistant Director of Player Personnel) Dennis Hickey, who we brought in, and (Director of Pro Scouting) Chris Rossetti on the pro side, we figured we had the right department heads in place to get what we needed to get done just from a B to Y standpoint of process, process, process through it and also just putting the scouting process together the way we want it to be done. So, there's different ways to skin a cat, and that's the way we wanted to put it together.
Q: How much different is what you're being asked to do here compared to maybe what you were being asked in Philadelphia?
A: There's a lot of carry over, a lot of carry over. I think the biggest difference here is no scouting department is the same. So, I say working with Joe is going to be different than working with (Philadelphia Eagles General Manager) Howie (Roseman) or any other general manger. So, I think just being a checks and balances to what he needs on the daily, that's the biggest difference.
Q: Was it difficult to get within the division? I know maybe that's not a preferred thing. Like if you're Philadelphia, they probably don't want you to go to tell the Giants how they're operating. Is that a tricky one?
A: No. I don't say it's tricky. I look at between Howie Roseman, (Philadelphia Eagles Owner) Jeffery Lurie, those are guys that are going to be friends for life regardless of football. I don't think it's something that's difficult going within the division. I think we're competitors, and regardless of if I was outside of the division, outside of the conference, it would be no different. Those are the relationships I'll always have.
Q: How much are you watching the other teams right now during training camp? Because obviously two weeks to go, waiver deadline, you will be pretty active I imagine. So, how much are you watching the other teams' preseason games right now?
A: I'm knee deep in it right now. I think between the AFC and NFC, getting the first week of games done and obviously you have the Hall of Fame Game, which gives you a double dip there. And then getting to week two kicked off, really week three kicked off last night, and then getting to that final week, it's an ever-evolving process where every stone has to be (turned). You want to make sure that you're dotting your 'Is' crossing your 'Ts', whether it's position need, whether it's creating competition at all levels, you got to know what the marketplace is. Whether we're looking or not, you got to know what's out there. So, that's what I'm doing.
Q: Is that how you guys split it up? AFC, NFC?
A: No, I'm just talking about the league as a whole.
Q: Oh okay. I wasn't sure if one guy watches the NFC and one guy watches the AFC game.
A: No. Chris Rossetti, our pro director, he's really spearheading the process in terms of having the pro scouts be assigned teams. And then obviously, you have Tim McDonnell, myself, Joe involved as well, being over the top guys; that's how we're kind of skinning the cat. It's a really collaborative process. Everyone has a voice, and that's biggest thing Joe has really empowered us with.
Q: How hard is it to do what you do and know the team has no money to really sign guys who know might be let go.
A: Got to get creative. And this is the thing, no one's going to feel bad for us. So, the biggest thing is you've got to great creative, and during these type of pressure situations, I think that's where talent rises to the top in terms of identifying it and just knowing what players and what upgrades the roster. But that's where I'm at. I don't feel like it's something where you feel bad for yourself. You're just constantly looking, constantly looking, and you got to get creative in terms of how to put the puzzle together.
Q: When you scout players, what do you look for?
A: Biggest thing first is guys are smart, tough, dependable. When I say smart, guys are instinctive. Guys, regardless of their physical traits, they're assignment sound. They're not having busts. When I say tough, guys that are finishing off plays; guys that are competing on special teams. When you talk about dependable, guys are available to you, one. Guys that have a known track record of not missing time. Guys – whether it's offense, defense, special teams – they answer the bell on all three phases or all two phases, whatever they're asked to play. So, that's the ground layer. And then obviously, it's the skillset, the attributes, the athleticism, the speed, the explosiveness – all the things– the size, the length, all those things that come together from the physical tools along with the mental components.
Q: Would you have said smart, tough and dependable last year, or is that (Head Coach Brian Daboll) Dabs' influence on you? Those are his three words all the time. So, is that you meshing with them or was that something you believed in at this time last year?
A: That was the beauty of coming here was that's something that Joe, Dabs, myself, we've been aligned on. Now, obviously you put that into a "tag" of smart, tough, dependable aligns. But in terms of talking about process, how to build a roster, those are all things the things that we primarily agreed on before I even came here.
Q: Why do you think having a smart football player is important out there? Why is being smart football-wise is important out there?
A: Listen, you can have all the physical tools you want, but if you don't know your assignment, you can't get on the field. If you don't know your assignment, you can't be trusted. I think we talk about being smart, knowing your assignments, also being able to react quickly, pick up things quickly. If you're not trustworthy, you can't play.
Q: Why do you think you are Joe are so in sync? What qualities do you share, but also is there part of it that you don't overlap and that there are things you can learn from him that maybe aren't considered necessarily your strengths or what you would consider your strengths in this position?
A: I think Joe, he's someone that I've always admired from afar. We've been on the road together in the past, just knowing how he's a tireless worker. He beats every bush for information. He goes the extra mile in terms of evaluating the players. I see a lot of his traits in myself; that's why we've always gotten along with not being in the same building but being in the league or being on school calls or being at college games. Just seeing how each other works, it's always been admiration from a far. So, that's something that drew me to him.
Q: How much are you going to be on the road this fall doing live college scouting? Are you going to be every week? Are you going to go to practices? How's that game plan?
A: Yeah, I think there's going to be a mixture of both being in the building and on the road. One, being in the building is knowing the temperature of the building, what the roster is like and also knowing the landscape of the league currently. And obviously being on the road, knowing what that next crop is going to look like. So, I am going to balance that. Every week's going to be a little bit different just depending on what our needs are. There's going to be a steady balance of practice, games and also being in the building.
Q: You were obviously on the other side for the last five years wearing green. What did you think of the Giants? They were in your division. You beat them fairly regularly. What did you think of this team before you came here?
A: I think the history of this franchise is something I've always respected. I think that the platform that's here; if you're a true competitor, you want to be in the most high-pressure situations. That's what this organization is. And I've always had high respect for ownership. And then knowing that Dabs and Joe were here, guys that I've respected from afar and know their work ethic and their pedigree, it made it something that was very attractive. And I just think there's a lot of tools in place to do great things here. We've just got to keep working and keep progressing.
Q: We asked you about what you look for in players, but the quarterback position specifically, I'm sure you guys are going to be looking at that throughout the spring because you don't have a quarterback signed past this year, right? Your starter is not signed past this year. So, I'm wondering what do you sort of look at specifically for that position skill-wise maybe or physical traits?
A: I think when you look at how you're going to put the quarterback together, one, it's knowing what our system calls for. So, that's getting really the player description from Dabs, and then it's obviously all the attributes that go into it, whether it's anticipation, whether it's arm strength, whether it's ability to play outside the pocket, ability to throw and make plays off schedule. All those things come into the evaluation of the player and also the person – what they are, how they prepare, how they practice, how they're viewed in the building. Regardless of quarterback, but all positions, those are things that we do. We get the player descriptions from call it the coaching staff, and we go out and get the groceries. So, regardless of quarterback, running back, other positions, offensive line, defensive line, corners, there's no different approach.
Q: You're working off a checklist created by the coaches?
A: It's not a checklist. Really, it's a collaborative approach. Right, you don't jam a square peg in a round hole; that's how you build a bad roster. What you want to do is you want to make sure it's a collaborative effort based on what the job description is, and you evaluate the talent. The coaches aren't on the road; they don't know the marketplace. That's why it's a collaborative process, and then you get the best results when you put both of those together between what does the system call for, what can the player do, what is a year one versus year three end of a contract in our system
Q: You talk about the history of the franchise, do you think there are some foundational pieces here, some players that you build around as you go forward here?
A: I do. I think we have foundational pieces that we like. I think at the same time we are constantly trying to create competition. That's where you get iron sharpens iron, where you have pretty much at every position or at most positions, you want to make sure that you have guys that can push each other, whether it's front end or back end. That's really how you get the best out of guys, especially on the daily. No one gets lax. Everyone also always giving effort.
Offensive Tackle Evan Neal
Q: Looking around the o-line room and it's shrinking. A lot of guys in the training room?
A: Yeah man, it's camp. It's camp. They'll be back for sure. They'll be back.
Q: Having different centers, your fifth or sixth center – how difficult is that for you as a tackle when you have different centers? I know in the game, in the preseason game you might have a different center.
A: It hasn't really been really difficult at all, honestly. The communication has been the same from all of us. We sit in the same meetings, we all speak the same language. There really hasn't been an issue or a difference at all as far as communication and things like that. It's been pretty seamless if you ask me.
Q: They haven't asked you to play center yet, have they?
A: No, not yet. I don't think they are going to do that (laughs).
Q: They might, I don't know.
A: Hey, I may snap the ball over the quarterback's head. They may not want me to do that.
Q: If you do it once, they won't ask you to do it again.
A: You are right about that (laughs).
Q: How much feedback do you give the coaches on what you are comfortable doing and not doing? Whether it's within the scheme or a certain set, do you go to them and say, 'I'd rather do this than that,' or 'I'm better at this than that?'
A: No, I'm comfortable and confident that I will be able to perform and execute anything that the coaches ask me to do in our scheme and our offense. It's a similar scheme that I ran in college, just different verbiage and different terminology. I don't really have those kinds of conversations with my coaches because everything they ask me to do is well within my capabilities.
Q: What have these last few weeks been like? You had an opportunity to go play in a game and see what you kind of had to work on. What did you come out of that thinking and concentrating on this week?
A: A live game scenario, a live game situation – it was definitely a great experience to have. I need to continue to work on the same things that I have been harping on with myself and the things that the coaches have been emphasizing as well. Just different technical things as far as like set angles, hat placement and my base. That's pretty much what I need to work on, things that are definitely going to help propel my game to the next level.
Q: Have you ever heard that you are too top heavy?
A: I don't really listen to that. At the end of the day, I'm definitely not a finished product but I'm getting better and better every day. I belong here, I belong in this league and like I say, I'm just going to take it day by day. I am going to get better day by day by going out there, going to practice. I'm going to win reps, I'm going to lose reps. That's all a part of it. The preseason games and everything and so forth are just extra experiences that I'm going to get under my belt and I'm going to learn from all those mistakes and learn from the things that I need to get better at.
Q: Did you hear that? Did you hear that someone on the internet gave some analysis that you were too heavy as a player?
A: I really don't take the time to focus on what goes on in the internet. It's the internet, everybody has their opinion. I like to listen to the opinions that matter.
Q: (Former Cowboys Wide Receiver) Michael Irvin actually was talking about you, he said he worked out with you, spent some time with you and raved about your work ethic. What was that like and what did you take from talking to him?
A: It was really cool. Michael Irvin, he's one of the greatest of all time for a reason. I trained with him this offseason – a very, very strenuous workout. That cat is dang near 60-years old and he's in there, you see the fire in his eyes like he has to still play. There's a reason why he has a gold jacket and there's a reason why he is as great as he is. There's definitely no mistake about that. Just to be able to be around a guy like that and pick his brain and just listen and learn from him is definitely a blessing.
Q: Did he talk trash to you about the Cowboys?
A: (Laughs) Not so much. Not really.
Q: That doesn't sound like him then.
A: Like I said, he didn't really talk too much trash. He gave me advice, but it was kind of like, he gave it to me because he wanted to give me the advice but also he was like, 'Ah, you've got to play my Cowboys.' That was kind of the extent of that.
Q: How did you like that bubble-screen play when you ended up getting down the field like that? How do you like that as a tackle and as a lineman?
A: I really like it. To be able to go out there, get in space and showcase my athleticism. We had a successful play on it, so I definitely get excited whenever (Offensive Coordinator Mike) Kafka calls plays like that.
Q: Do you see a different look in the safety's eyes when that happens?
A: Yeah, a lot of guys really don't want to take me on. Well, a lot of smaller guys I should say. A lot of them try to get out of the way and things like that, but hey, I'm just trying to execute my job.
Q: (Wide Receiver Darius) Slayton said it was like getting behind a fire engine in the lane.
A: That's probably what it was like for him.
Q: You were doing that drill yesterday when they were swinging that heavy bag at you guys. Just about everybody took a step back. You were able to catch it without moving back.
A: Yeah, I'm a large human, I have a lot of mass. The bag wasn't that heavy either. I was pretty much able to absorb it. I know I probably weigh more than the bag.
Outside Linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux
Q: Are you noticing that the moves you did in college need to be either refined or expanded?
A: Definitely. I think that's the nature of the game. When you get people that are bigger, faster, and stronger things move a little quicker. There is more strategy in every play and yeah you definitely have to sharpen all your tools.
Q: What have you noticed so far? Maybe you can't bull-rush a guy as much?
A: I feel like it varies with every person, but I feel like you can't use every move on every person. You have to know, specifically who you're going against, and you have to tailor your moves to that.
Q: What do you consider your go-to move?
A: I like a long arm and I like some speed.
Q: What about the long arm?
A: Just being able to be dynamic with your force and the motion and then being able to kind of control the other person's momentum.
Q: How does your approach go from preseason game one to preseason game two? Are you changing anything? Are you trying to focus on anything?
A: Just refining. Hopefully, I get a little bit more run in the second preseason game. Definitely just trying to refine and realize that you only have so many rushes and you only have so many plays to dominate. So just making sure that I don't leave any out there.
Q: How much of your game is studying the guys you are going to be going against and the fact that's not really happening much in the preseason?
A: I think it's actually pretty good. The fact that we aren't game planning for the other team gives us players a little bit more of an edge knowing that I have no real idea of who I am playing against, and I have to go out there and execute. So, as a pass rusher, it lets you know who has been really working on their moves.
Q: What's it been like to have (Outside Linebacker) Azeez (Ojulari) back out there with you?
A: It's been really great. Obviously, he's a great player and now that he's really back, we get to have his presence and get to continue to build that team comradery. It's been great, I'm excited to keep it going.
Q: Has there been any chatter between the two of you? Azeez set the rookie sack record last season. Have you guys had any back and forth about that?
A: Definitely. I told him yesterday in the meeting like everything he does I want to do it better. Whether it's eating, sleeping, or breathing, I'm going to try to do it better. So, just continuing to set a standard and continuing to chase and create that competitive banter.
Q: What did he say to that?
A: He said, "Yeah, it's on". He said he has goals he wants to reach and we're just going to keep pushing each other to get there.
Q: Do you know how many sacks he had last year?
Q: You knew that?
Q: Is that a reasonable goal for you?
A: Yeah, that's the record.
Q: You want the rookie record?
A: I mean, I wouldn't not want it so. (Laughs)
Q: (Retired Linebacker Lawrence Taylor) L.T. had 9.5 in 1981 before it was an official stat.
A: Shout out to L.T.
Q: How do you feel about making your MetLife debut in the preseason?
A: It's going to be exciting. The Fan Fest was really dope so I know there are going to be a lot of fans out there, the energy is going to be great. I'm excited to play on that turf.
Q: Have you learned anything about Giant fans yet?
A: They're relentless, that's it. They don't hold back. No sugar coding in Giant land.
Q: You like that?
A: I mean, it doesn't really matter, to be honest. It's all talk.
Q: How have you experienced that? Online? In-person?
A: Well I haven't really experienced it. But in third person, it looks pretty tough.
Q: Has (Offensive Lineman) Evan (Neal) helped you become a better player so far?
A: Everybody on the field has. I feel like that's one of the biggest things. One of the coaches always says "everyone touches everybody else's money" whether it's directly or indirectly. So just making sure that we continue to push each other and really give each other a look when it's time.
Q: Do you like that you have two young tackles that you get to really match your skills with every day?
A: Yeah, I love going against people who are good.
Q: Are there plays in this scheme where (Defensive Coordinator) Wink (Martindale) asks an edge to create an opportunity for someone else coming behind you?
A: I mean that's everybody, that's the game. I try to explain football to a lot of people who just watch for entertainment, but if you're not making the play, you're doing something that is going to help someone else make the play. That's every play. So, yeah, every team has that. That's like one of the pillars of football.
Q: I know you've played on both sides do you have a preference? I think you play more on the right.
A: Yeah, I've been on the right because I've had this chip on my shoulder with (Tackle) Andrew (Thomas) just making sure that I continue to keep going after him. I've got to even up the score. He kind of got ahead a little bit and I've got to even it back up.
Q: You really tell Wink that? You want to be on the right?
A: It doesn't go that high, but I talk to, whether it's Azeez, whether it's (Outside Linebacker) Jihad (Ward), or (Outside Linebacker Tomon Fox) Ox. I just talk to the guys and say you know; I need him.
Q: But you kind of expect to be on both sides and all around.
A: It's a give and take. Whatever side someone feels good. It just depends on how the game goes.