Head Coach Brian Daboll
Q: Let's start with injuries. I don't know if you want to go through the list, or if you want me to go through it.
A: You ask, and I'll tell you.
Q: Leo (defensive lineman Leonard Williams)?
A: He'll be limited.
Q: (Cornerback) Adoree' (Jackson)?
A: Will not (practice). I'll help you out. Adoree, (offensive linemen Joshua) Ezeudu, (Shane) Lemieux, (wide receiver) Richie (James) and Haddy (outside linebacker Jihad Ward) – both of those guys are in the concussion protocol.
Q: Haddy's in the protocol?
A: Yeah, it was after the game. So, the other guys will practice – probably be limited: Belly (tight end Daniel Bellinger), (outside linebacker) Elerson (Smith) and Leo. Everybody else should be good to go.
Q: So, (running back) Saquon's (Barkley) a full practice then?
Q: How about (safety Xavier) McKinney?
A: He's not going to practice, no.
Q: Any chance he plays this week?
A: I would say no.
Q: No chance?
Q: You think (there's) any chance he comes back this year?
A: I don't have an answer for that one. They're healing.
Q: Are you going to activate (guard Ben) Bredeson for this game?
A: Closer, yeah. I mean, we'll see how he does this week. I thought he was a lot closer last week. So, hopefully he'll have a good week. And we'll see by the end of the week.
Q: Do you present this opponent differently because you literally just presented it two weeks ago?
A: No, but as a coaching staff and as players, you've done a lot of film, work. Obviously, we've watched some games over and over again. You go back, you look at things maybe you didn't call in the first game. You sit down, maybe there's some things that hit your mind that probably should have put in the first game. You watch your game over and over, so it's back-to-back for them and one game in between (for) us. I think both teams probably know each other; you got to do a good job of going out there and executing.
Q: When you look at that game, you had four possessions in a row that you scored. What do you see in the four you scored and then the four, or however many it was, where you fell flat?
A: It was probably a combination of lot of things, usually. You're not going not score on every drive. You get into a rhythm, execute well, move the ball. I'd say, third downs probably played heavily into that. We weren't great on third downs. First down production, some of it was good – particularly on those drives – and some of it was bad. Usually, some portion of situational football, execution part of it, decision making, things like that.
Q: Is that one of the strangest sequences you've seen?
A: No, I've seen a lot of strange sequences.
Q: With (Washington Commanders defensive linemen Daron) Payne and (Johnathan) Allen for them, we know what kind of players they are. You knew going in, the last game, what kind of players they are. But is there anything to be gained for your guys, especially on the interior, having played them already – the idea of what it's like to go up against them physically?
A: Yeah, you get to play – particularly so close in games – you go out there. You play against an opponent, or I would say a matchup. Certainly, that probably helps both sides. It helps everybody. But really, the biggest thing is going to be able to execute and play well against them this week.
Q: How much do you view it as an advantage for the coaching staff or for scouting purposes? You don't have to then go shift your attention to another team, and you just keep it on the same team for three straight weeks?
A: I don't because it's the same for both teams.
Q: What do you mean, though? You did have to shift and go worry about the Eagles. They (the Commanders) didn't have (to do that).
A: It's one week in between. When you play a team so close to each other, you have a good feel of personnel, of scheme, of things like that. I would say it's similar.
Q: You talk about a feel. What about for the quarterback? What about for Daniel (Jones)? He has a good feel for them from two weeks ago. In that position, specifically, can that maybe help a little bit?
A: They got a good feel, too, is what I would say. Again, it's going to come down to executing, playing good football, smart football, taking care of the ball – all the things that it does when you play a game.
Q: (Washington Commanders wide receiver Terry) McLaurin played well against you guys, obviously. And besides the obvious of not letting him get yards, what in particular do you guys have to do better in this time?
A: Well, when you have those really elite receivers, most of the time, they're going to get some yards. You got to try to prevent the real big ones – the ones that are 50, 60 yards. You got to tackle well. They're going to give him his targets. He's one heck of a football player. So, it's going to take all 11 guys. When you play an elite receiver like that, it takes everybody: It takes the (pass) rush. It takes the coverage. It takes tackling. And you understand, they're probably going to get some, too. Most elite receivers do.
Q: You mentioned the tackling. On the backend that was a problem the first time. Will you do anything in practice this week (with) full pads or anything?
A: No, we won't go full today. But we do fundamental tackling drills every day. Whether you have pads on or not, it's still your base, your eyes, your contact, your leverage. We do those every day.
Q: What kind of sense do you get for the excitement level of your players and the urgency of the situation?
A: I think every game you have to be urgent. You have to be urgent in Week 1 against Tennessee just like you have to be urgent here. It's a division game, so that's always important. We haven't done very well in the division, obviously. So again, our urgency and our preparation really never changes based on who we play or when we play them. I think you have to have that all the time.
Q: Will you stress the importance of this game – both for the playoffs, both for long-term – that it does mean a little bit more, this one does?
A: They all mean something. I've said this before, the wins mean something, the losses mean something. This game means it's really the start of the fourth quarter (of the season), if you will – that game in between we had. Two teams that have winning records that are in the division playing one another. I think everybody understands that this game is important. Last game was important. Week 3 was important. I think you just got to stay with that consistent approach.
Q: I know you keep a narrow focus, but as the season's gone on, are you evaluating guys for the future because you obviously have some players that you have to make decisions on? I'm just curious: How do you compartmentalize that?
A: I focus on this week, who we need to play, what we need to do. There's a time and a place for that –after the season when we go through all those types of things. That doesn't cross my mind.
Q: Do you think these types of games tell you something about players – how guys respond in these moments?
A: I think every game does. Look, every game is critical. There's only 17 of them in this league. There isn't 82 of them or 160, how many in baseball? Every game is critical, so you have to approach it that way?
Q: How does (Washington Commanders defensive end) Chase Young seemingly coming back kind of change the arithmetic up front?
A: Just adds another good player. So, again, you have to have a plan for that front anyways without him. If he comes back, sounds like he will, we'll have to deal with him accordingly.
Q: You had Saquon on a pitch count last week. Is it going to be similar this week, or do you let him go? The other thing I was wondering about: (Running back Gary) Brightwell had a couple good carries there, and then you got a penalty that backed it up. Would you like to have some change of pace to be able to rest him (Saquon) a little bit more when he's healthy and not healthy?
A: I understand. I would say we're going to do whatever we need to do, whether that's play him 60 plays, whether it's to have other packages. It's Wednesday here; we'll see how he does here in practice today and tomorrow. And we'll do what we think is best.
Q: Do you view this as a 'must win' game?
A: I view every game as a 'must win' game. That's why you go play them. It's the next game, it's important, it's against a division team. We got to go out there and play well.
Q: When you get to this point in the season, do you shorten your bench like you'll rotate less and keep more starters in longer?
A: No, not necessarily. I think every game you go into games with different defensive personnel packages, different offensive personnel packages and play the guys that are available. Maybe you lean on one personnel a little bit more than others based on how the game's going. But whoever's active needs to be ready to play.
Q: Last week, why were you reluctant to admit that Saquon got hurt in practice?
A: I'm not really going to talk too much about injuries. We're focused on getting ready to go right now.
Q: Does that impact it? Is the fact that he got hurt in a practice altering the way you are practicing your team this week at all?
Q: Did you mention (inside linebacker Micah) McFadden before?
A: He's full.
Q: How did you think (quarterback) Tyrod (Taylor) played, and how much do you evaluate a player's performance in a game situation like that?
A: You evaluate them all. He made a nice throw to Richie (James). He had a big scramble. Again, the game dictates it. It's kind of out of hand. Again, he went in there and was able to operate. Obviously, he got strip-sacked on the one. But he was ready to play.
Q: You've worked with Daniel (Jones) now for almost a full season. If you had to pick one thing that surprised you or impressed you about him, what would it be?
A: I don't know. I mean, I don't think of it like that. I think he's done a really good job for us. I've enjoyed working with him. I think he's really been on top of all the things we've asked him to do. He's taking care of the ball. He's made good decisions. He's been enjoyable to work with.
Q: He hasn't won a – the team hasn't won a – primetime game in a long time. Do you think there's something to that that a player might not perform as well in those kinds of games? I'm wondering just (your) general thought process on those kinds of things.
A: I can only go (off) – how many did we have this year?
A: Yeah. Was that the Dallas game? I can't comment on the other seven. I don't know.
Q: I'm just talking about in general. Do you think a player sometimes like – night game, bigger games, bigger stages – can play differently maybe, (for) better or worse?
A: I don't know. That's probably a good question for those guys. I've been around a lot of players. I don't think we've ever (said), 'Hey, it's a big game.' They're all big games. You're charged with going out there and playing well and coaching well, regardless of when you play.
Q: With Richie James in the protocol, do you have to come up with a couple different options in the slot on offense?
A: Hopefully, he'll be out of it. But we have guys that know how to play in that role that are on our roster right now.
Q: And you signed (wide receiver Jaydon) Mickens?
A: Yeah, we had a couple guys in to workout. (We) thought he was a good guy to get going on the practice squad. But I think there's other receivers that know how to play multiple spots, which is always beneficial.
Q: Is Mickens really insurance as a returner first, or do you see him as a wide receiver and a returner?
A: We'll see. We'll get him out here. He had a good workout, catching some punts. (He) ran some routes. Just a good guy to add to the practice squad, we thought.
Q: Do you think Haddy (Jihad Ward) will be out of the protocol? I didn't hear that.
A: Hope so. I hope so. I hope both of them will be, but you never know with those.
Q: Are you giving any vet rest days today like you did last week?
A: I am: (safety) Julian (Love) and (defensive linemen) Dexter (Lawrence).
Q: Do guys decline that sometimes, or do you not give the choice?
A: Sometimes they do.
Quarterback Daniel Jones
Q: Cold enough for you out there today?
A: Yeah, it was pretty chilly. It'll be cold Sunday night too. It was good to have a day to practice in it.
Q: What did you takeaway from the last Commanders matchup and things you took away personally?
A: Well, I mean I think we did some things well. Offensively, I think there's a lot we need to improve on going into this one. I think we need to be better on third down. That's something that we've seen watching the first matchup. We got to be able to sustain drives and stay on the field. They're a good defense, good pass rush. They're a good defense. For the most part, you have that game to study, so you expect a lot of similarities. We'll see what kind of gameplan they have for us.
Q: Do you view this as one of the biggest games of your career?
A: Yeah, I think it's a really big game for all of us. It's a big divisional game on the road in December. Yeah, it's a big game for us.
Q: How much do you think that how much you perform in games like this and down the stretch is possibly going to determine your future? Whatever the next contract looks like, where you land, if you're here. All those things?
A: I haven't spent a whole lot of time thinking about it. I don't think I will. I think my focus is on preparing to play as well as I can, and that's been my mindset the whole season. I don't think that changes at this point.
Q: You have played well there in that building. Anything about it? Memories, sightlines? Something that you can put your finger on why you've done well there.
A: I don't know if there is one thing. I like the stadium; they got a good field. I like the stadium. Yeah, it'll be fun - Sunday Night Football. Like I said, a divisional game in December. It'll be a fun atmosphere.
Q: What do you like about the stadium? The architecture, the locker room? The funkiness of the fluid? What do you like about it? Five touchdown passes.
A: I don't know. I don't know if I can put my finger on it. It'll be a fun atmosphere.
Q: Does it help, it's not going to help you in the game but, you're going into a place you've had success? You can visualize that, certainty.
A: Yeah, I think so. Every game is different. Every matchup is different. This one will be different than the one a couple of weeks ago too. We'll come out and be ready to go.
Q: When you started digging into the Commanders, was it like I just put this book down and I got to pick it up again? Does it seem really quick?
A: Yeah, it does. It's all still pretty fresh in your memory watching their games, watching the tape and studying it. You still have to go back through it, you still got to refresh and make sure you're not missing any small detail. Yeah, I think everyone is – you don't forget a lot in this short period of time, so that's helpful with the prep.
Q: You mentioned how fresh the tape is but also that actual in-person experience has to add to a little reinforcement of preparation with that team, right?
A: For sure. I think there's a lot we can learn from a couple of weeks ago having played them so recently. Obviously, they haven't played since then. You expect a lot of similarities with what they're doing, but I'm sure they'll have a couple wrinkles, have a couple of things in their gameplan.
Q: When you're preparing for a game of this magnitude, does it help to remind yourself of the magnitude of this game? To amp it up or do you want to not try to make the game bigger than it is?
A: I don't think we're going to have any issue getting amped up or getting excited for this game. I think everyone realizes the opportunity and how big of a game this is, Sunday Night Football. Nobody is going to have an issue getting amped up for it. You can't skip any steps this week. It's one day at a time in the preparation and making sure we're where we need to be by Sunday night.
Q: What do you make of being 0-9 in primetime games? Do you even know that? I think I've asked you some version of that in the past.
A: I think I don't make a ton of it. I think each game is different, and we haven't won enough game period around here. I'm excited for the opportunity.
Q: Do you think that guys either put too much pressure on it or step up in bigger games or do you view it as just a random stat that could work out that way?
A: I don't know, I think each game is different, and we've all got to step up. We all have to play well in order for us to win on Sunday.
Q: In the games when you've had positive results in the six-game stretch one common thing is that you've rushed for 100 yards. Is that something that just helps make the offense go?
A: Yeah, I think so. We have to find ways to do that. It helps us stay on the field, helps us control the game a little bit. Yeah, I think we've got to run the ball effectively and find a way to do that.
Q: You rushed for what, 70 against them last time? Is that something you've got to be conscious of?
A: I think I'll continue for opportunities to do that and won't force it in any situations. When the opportunity presents itself, certainly try to take advantage of it.
Q: There was a report that said the team hadn't made a decision as to what they want to do with you. Just curious if you feel like the body of work, you've done this season so far warrants you to be back?
A: My mindset has been the same the whole way. I don't think it changes now just because we're later in the season. I'm going to focus on playing as well as I can, and when the season is over I'll look back and have probably a more complete thought about that. But yeah, just trying to play as well as I can.
Q: Playing your 50th game. When you look at where you are career wise, how do you feel like you've done through that stretch?
A: I think I've improved. I think I've improved every year; I've improved week to week and learned a lot. I think still a lot for me to learn and continue to work on. That's what I'm focused on.
Q: How much is this the next step in that regard? Winning a big game here, making the playoffs – making that next jump.
A: Yeah, I think it's big for all of us. It's not about me, it's not about any one guy, it's about the team, it's about an opportunity we all have to play in the playoffs. The only way we're going to do that is taking care of business one week at a time. That's where we're focused, that's where I'm focused, and we're excited for the opportunity.
Safety Julian Love
Q: We're making a big thing of, 'you've got to win this game,' but do you guys have to talk that amongst yourselves, or is it understood?
A: It's understood, I think for people who haven't been in this position or when stakes are this high, yeah you want to stress it. You want to stress really just the process and make sure we're fine on the details in practice. I think that's what the message was after the game, that's what the message was all week. We've got to have a clean week of practice so we can execute on Sunday.
Q: We were making a big deal about the stakes but also, it's the uniqueness of facing an opponent that you really just prepared for two weeks ago and saw for 70 minutes. As a player, as part of the gameplan do you almost get caught up in the idea of, 'Well this worked, but they're going to look at what worked and try to take it away from us and we have to counter that way.' Is that before you even get to the game, or you one of those just focus on what's coming Sunday night and then adjust in game?
A: Yeah, you've got to have an element of that. Just kind of prepare as much as you can and then they're going to throw some stuff at you that you didn't prepare for, and you've got to adjust. It comes with trust in our staff and the guys who are trying to anticipate moves. But also yeah, it's stuff that you might've gotten gassed on, to correct that. It's a few things that go into it, every coordinator, every game planner goes into it differently. For me, I just kind of take what gameplan we've got, obviously reviewing the previous game, and the previous bunch of games that they've played. We've got a feel of the players, but now it's just correcting what they try to attack us on.
Q: What did you see from your review of the last game? What stood out specifically?
A: They are a team that prides themselves on running the ball, maintaining possession, so we've got to stop the run. I think that's a premium in this game, that's how they try to play the game. Offense has their goals that they try to achieve, as a team we've got to execute and win the field position better. That's kind of the stuff we need to focus on.
Q: When you unpack and look at the Eagles, 48 points seems to be a lot. Do you sit there and go we just didn't play our game? Or how do you look at that?
A: Yeah, sometimes you don't play your best game, it's not your day. We didn't execute in anything we pride ourselves on executing on. Stuff that has led to wins and led to close games, it wasn't in our favor. That's what happens when you don't execute on the simple fundamentals.
Outside Linebacker Kayvon Thibodeaux
Q: You were saying, just about you and (outside linebacker) Azeez (Ojulari) playing together.
A: Yeah, I'd definitely say being back on the field together with Azeez has been big. He's a great ball player and just being able to put those things together has been everything. Now going into this next game, being able to really sharpen our tools and go make plays.
Q: How satisfying was it for you to get a holding call this week?
A: I would say it was a little satisfying, but they always come when it's too late. You always wish you get those calls when the time is right.
Q: That could be a setup for future ones, right?
A: I try not to focus too much on the holding penalties because either they're going to throw them or they're not. Either way I've still got to try to make a play or try to be a help to my team.
Q: If you get one, I mean it's not a stat.
A: Yeah, that's why I don't like them.
Q: But do you look at it and say well that's 10 yards in our favor kind of thing?
A: I'm going to be honest, if there's one thing a player hates is a replay of downs. So, if we could take out that replay of downs and just take whatever happens, we'd probably be happy with it.
Q: You're on the field longer…
A: Yeah exactly. I might've had a great rush and because of the holding call we've got to redo it.
Q: Do you have a sense of how big this game is?
A: Definitely, it's December, we've only got a couple left. There is no more time to make up. You don't have any plays to get back.
Q: When you started studying for the Commanders, did you look at it and say, 'Oh yeah, I remember this look, I just read it'?
A: I kept the notes up. Sometimes when you know you double back you try to hone in and save those things for next game that I'm really going to be able to pull out now.
Q: You like to think of yourself as a thinking man's player, do you think this could help you playing so close together against the same team?
A: Definitely. I feel like that's one of those cool things about the NFL, that you always get a second chance to go play that division opponent.
Q: What sticks out to you about that first meeting two weeks ago? What do you take from that game?
A: I know they're waiting on us just as much as we're waiting on them. I feel like because we just played them, and they haven't seen anybody yet all they've been doing is licking their chops. Being able to meet at that stage, unlock those gates, is going to be real fun.
Q: Do you ever think, how did (Commanders Quarterback Taylor) Heinicke hold onto that ball?
A: No, I try not to think about it.
Q: Kick it out next time…
A: Exactly, it's really on me to just figure out how do I take those next steps as a player to make those game defining moments.
Q: Do you think you like prime time?
A: Prime time likes me. Y'all can use that one.
Q: I don't even know what that means but it's a good line.
A: Yeah, but prime time is always a great time to go out there and play. There's always say about who's the best and who can do this and who can do that. One thing that never deceives you is your eyes, being able to see it. Having all the fans watching, that would be fun.
Q: (Head coach Brian) Daboll kind of preaches taking kind of a measured approach week in and week out. Obviously knowing the spotlight that's on you guys, how much do you have to reinforce that knowing that this is a big game, and this is in prime time?
A: It's funny, I'm such a smart guy but I try to dumb it down. Like I play d-line, so all I can do is contribute how I can, and most of my teammates feel the same way. We're not even getting in over our heads about this game. We realize what helped us win those first seven games is what's going to help us continue to win. We've just got to get back to that, get back to playing, and showing our swagger and showing our personality. I think it's going to be fun.