Head Coach Brian Daboll
Daboll: Normal Wednesday. Ready to rock.
Q: (Cornerback) Adoree' (Jackson) and (outside linebacker) Azeez (Ojulari) – are they full today?
A: Yeah, I think everybody will practice. Maybe some will be more limited, but I'm encouraged where everybody's at.
Q: Do you change up practices a little bit because of the intensity that's coming Sunday as far as put them in pads another day, more one vs. ones or anything like that? Or you just stick to the same?
A: We've probably monitored our practice schedule a few times here over the course of the season. We'll stay with what we've been doing here the last few weeks.
Q: Will you be indoors all week?
A: We will be indoors.
Q: You said, 'normal Wednesday.' How much does it feel like a normal Wednesday here to you?
A: It feels like a normal Wednesday, yeah. We'll get ready to go, same practice, same meetings, same schedule. There's a few more people here that I haven't seen in a while.
Q: How do you view the opportunity that's in front of you?
A: Put everything we've got into it. So, that's what we'll try to do.
Q: With Adoree', have you at all waited until this moment to make sure he's as ready as he completely could be? For instance, could he have played early, but this was sort of the end game for you?
A: I'd say with all our players, not just Adoree', when they're ready to play is when our medical staff feels comfortable with them playing. They have to feel comfortable. So, we would never put a player out there that doesn't feel ready or isn't ready. So, I think he's made progress here the last couple weeks in practice. And hopefully he'll continue to do that this week. But again, with all our guys, I'm encouraged with where we're at.
Q: You've been pretty good at keeping the guys grounded each week, such as yourself. But because this is a playoff game, do you have to reinforce to them, 'Don't let the moment get too big'?
A: I think it goes back to consistency and how we operate; stay true to what we've been doing. Obviously, there's only six games this weekend. So, we all understand that. But it's a privilege to be in the playoffs – to have an opportunity to compete. And our consistency with what we do and our process and our preparation, that's the most important.
Q: Has anything changed, now that you're in the playoffs, as far as managing guys' workloads within the game? Maybe in the regular season, you do that more. And in the playoffs, a guy can play…
A: No, I'd say the same thing again. We try to do what's best for all our players: manage, not manage. Whatever we think is the best for our team and the best for them, that's what we'll do.
Q: I would imagine preparation, as you're leading up this, when the coaching staff's putting it together, you're looking back a lot on the last game you played with them. When the team arrives this morning and you meet with them, is it all forward to this game? Or do you look back with them at the past game? Or is that in the past?
A: I think any time you play a team for a second time – Washington, Philadelphia, Dallas – you always watch the previous game. That's part of the preparation process. But we are full steam ahead on preparing, watching the games that they have played after us. We've already watched all the games before that. So, it's really like playing another division team that you just played a few weeks ago and doing everything you can to prepare the right way.
Q: What did you learn from facing (Vikings wide receiver) Justin Jefferson the last time?
A: That he's really good (Laughs). But we knew that going in. Again, I said this before when we played them – there's not a lot of teams or a lot of players that can just stop him. He's one of the best in the league. He's a dynamic player. He has got a lot of production. He's an exceptional route runner. He's a very tough player to defend.
Q: Sometimes in the NBA, when there's a player who's outstanding, you always hear coaches say, 'We're going to let him get his points. We're going to worry about the other guys.' With a guy like Jefferson, do you focus on him in that regard? And how do you balance that aspect?
A: I think we just try to put a plan together that we think is best for competing against their offense. They have a lot of good players on their offense. (Vikings tight end T.J.) Hockenson killed us. So, (Vikings Kirk) Cousins is an excellent quarterback. (Vikings running back Dalvin) Cook can take it the distance. They have a lot of talented skill players, a good quarterback. We're going to have to play a really good, sound defensive game.
Q: They had a lot of success against your blitz last time. What do you make out of that?
A: That they executed well.
Q: Can you just talk a little bit about the job that the front office has done to get you guys to this point? You had a lot of injuries, a lot of roster turnover. You were bringing guys in off the streets and waiver claims and stuff like that.
A: I think (general manager) Joe (Schoen) and his staff – BB (Assistant GM Brandon Brown), Hick (Assistant Director of Player Personnel Dennis Hickey), (Director of Player Personnel) Tim (McDonnell), all the rest of the guys, scouting assistants, the pro scouts, the college scouts – it's a team effort. They do a fantastic job. We have guys in here every week, usually a bunch of them. I think they have a good bead on the league. And they've done a great job.
Q: What is your role in that?
A: I come out here with them. I watch them. We discuss it after the workouts. We talk, not just myself, the rest of the coaches, the position coaches, the coordinators. It's all a group effort.
Q: Does your alignment between the coaching staff and the front office help accelerate the curve for the guys you brought in really from the beginning of getting guys in? It seemed like guys were here to try out, and then within two weeks, they're logging a lot of snaps on game day. Does that make that curve a little bit easier to overcome?
A: I just think it's a group effort. I think that the scouting staffs have done their research on players, not just the physical part of it. But go back, and they have to have the qualities that we look for in terms of being intelligent and being tough and being dependable. And then once we see them work out, now it's the coaches' job to get the players ready, whether that's in three days, whether that's in two weeks, whatever it may be. But it's just such a group effort. Everybody's involved in it.
Q: You've been around a lot of playoff games, often dealing with the quarterbacks. Is there something about quarterbacks in the playoffs that you notice that sometimes they try to do too much? Is there anything you're trying to impart to (quarterback) Daniel (Jones) with that?
A: No, it just goes back to being consistent and doing the things that we need to do to prepare for this game. That's really what it comes down to. How we play on Sunday and how we prepare during the week, those are the most important things.
Q: Is there something about a quarterback playing in his first playoff game?
A: I've coached a few of them. I think, again, it's the next game. And we're, again, privileged and honored to be part of it. But the things that got you to having an opportunity to be here, that's what you got to lean on.
Q: As much as you say it is the next game, is there something different about the playoffs that you can impart to your players who might be experiencing it for the first time?
A: Yeah. Win, move on. Lose, go home. It's not overly complicated. We're playing a game. You've got to earn it to get there. And now you got to do things you got to do to try to play your best and coach your best.
Q: You have just one player left (inside linebacker Landon Collins) from the last time the Giants went to the postseason. Is there any theme at all about that? 'This was the team that got back there. Embrace this opportunity,' kind of a theme or message?
A: Nope. Just do what we need to do to try to play a good game. That's really the message.
Q: You talked about preparation and consistency all year. Are there butterflies still going into a game, and is that just natural?
A: I don't know. It's probably different for each person. I've coached players that throw up before every game, whether it's the first game of the season, a preseason game, a playoff game. Every player is different. I think every coach is different. The big thing is be yourself. Prepare to play a good game. Coach a good game, and do everything you can do during the week to put yourself in a good position.
Q: Are you excited for your fanbase, and what have they meant to your team this year?
A: They've been great. We've had outstanding attendance. Every home game has been great. The away games – places like Jacksonville, Tennessee, Washington that night – they're part of our team, too. So, we appreciate them. As many that could be there, that would be great.
Q: Offensively against Minnesota, you looked a lot different than you have against maybe any other game this year – 42 pass attempts, 30 completions, three guys with eight catches each. Do you feel like that gives them something else to think about – like 'Are they going to attack us the same way? Are they going to play more similar than they did in the other 13, 14, 15 games?'
A: I think that's probably a good question for them. I don't know what they think.
Q: Well, what was it about that matchup that made you attack them so differently than everybody else?
A: Well, I think we – (offensive coordinator Mike) Kafka and the offensive staff – do a good job each week of trying to look at each game on its own season and figure out what we need to try to do. Every week's a little bit different. What we did against Washington wasn't the same the first time – same thing with Dallas. Each week's a different week.
Q: There have been a few reports that teams want to talk to Mike (Kafka) for their head coaching job. You've obviously gone through the process. How did you handle that, and what's your advice to him this week?
A: I've went through it the last three years. First of all, I'd say it's an honor. But the biggest thing is focusing on what you have to focus on, which I know Mike will. There will be a time and place, after the season, to talk about that. But that's really a team (recognition). Usually when you win, people get credit. And I'm happy for the guys that would get that opportunity. But I know where their focus is right now.
Q: With Jefferson and (Vikings cornerback Patrick) Peterson, they both made really important plays in that game, down the stretch in particular. Can your defense be better simply by having seen them so recently? Or is there another adjustment there?
A: No, you've got to play well. And he's a dynamic player. And so is PP (Patrick Peterson). He's been a great player for a long time. So, you've got to do your job well. And they're probably going to still make some plays. The really, really good players do. So, I think our focus has to be on us and we need to try to do.
Q: There are reports that you guys added (wide receiver) James Washington. Is that like an insurance policy? Or is there any concern about any receiver availability?
A: No, it's just what we thought was best for the team. We worked him and just like we've done throughout the season, add guys that we think could help us.
Q: Have you seen (safety) Xavier (McKinney) come back? He missed a lot of time. Does he look the same to you?
A: Yeah, other than the little cast.
Q: The way he's side-to-side, his tackling, everything?
A: Yeah, he's done a good job of staying in shape. I'm glad he's back.
Q: He didn't play the first time (against Minnesota), so, you're obviously welcoming him back. Do you think he can be a difference in a game like this?
A: Yeah, I think any player that is a good player for you that hasn't played, and you get him back, you hope that they can help you.
Q: When you look back on the first game, what's the difference besides the field goal at the end? Turnovers?
A: We had two of them. Like I said after the game, they made more plays than we did. You give them credit; you give the coaches credit. They made some more plays in critical times than we did.
Q: There's been a lot of talk about Minnesota, point differential, the fact that they're winning so many one-possession games. As a coach, when you see that – that a team is 11-0 in one-possession games – what does that tell you about them?
A: That they make plays when it matters the most and that the coaches do a good job of putting them in play. That they're consistent. That they play for 60 minutes. They're a tough out.
Q: How do you feel (tackle) Evan Neal has played in the last month and a half? Just curious why he played the other day. Is that a young player, more snaps?
A: Yeah, we had our plan. We thought it would be good for him to get a good half of work in. I think he's improved since he's been here. I have a lot of confidence in Evan, as I do with all the other guys on the (offensive) line.
Q: Do you foresee sticking with the rotation at left guard in the playoffs?
A: Yeah, we've talked about that. I'd say we'll continue to talk about that. Again, I have confidence in both those guys (Ben Bredeson and Nick Gates).
Q: There's probably a lot of people who think that you guys are playing with house money here and that it's already been a very successful season getting to the playoffs. I'm guessing you don't share in that opinion.
A: Yeah, I'd say we're 0-0. It's a new season, so we got to do a good job of preparing and practicing the right way to play our best on Sunday.
Quarterback Daniel Jones
Q: Normal Wednesday?
A: Yeah, as far as our prep and our practice, our meetings, how we go about things, we're sticking to our routine and our process. We're trying to have the best Wednesday we can, and then we're going to take that approach each day this week.
Q: The last three years, what were you doing the Wednesday after the season?
A: Sitting at home. (Laughs) But what exactly I was doing, I don't remember. But this certainly beats that.
Q: What does it mean for you to be able to make this and not be sitting at home?
A: I think it means a lot. I think it means a lot to all of us – a lot of guys who have been here these past few years. And to be on the other side of it, it means a lot. It's about what we do now, from this point on, and how we handle this opportunity, how we prepare and ultimately how we play, how we execute on Sunday. We're certainly happy we are where we are. But there's a lot more. We got to do a lot more work left for us.
Q: Besides the normal Wednesday today, is there anything different? Or what is different with just the conversations with teammates, the locker room, the vibe? What can you describe?
A: I think everyone understands where we are now. We're in the playoffs. We're past the regular season. The games mean more from the sense that you lose, you go home. So, people understand that. They understand what's at stake. But the only way we're going to play as well as we want to play is to prepare how we have all year, to trust our process and stick to that. So, that's largely been the conversation amongst the guys.
Q: Do you have an early memory of watching the NFL playoffs as a kid, something that sticks out in your mind?
A: No one memory that sticks out. Growing up in Charlotte when the Panthers went to the Super Bowl in 2004, I remember that. But growing up, you're always watching these games. It's pretty cool to be here. But like I said, it's about what we do now, what we do with this opportunity.
Q: This team made the most of when you played Washington the first time, and then you had such a quick turnaround for their rematch. I would imagine preparation helped with that. Is there something about this team, you guys, that helps a quick turnaround, preparing for the same opponent, maybe the way you guys go about things offensively, putting together the game plan? What do you feel on that?
A: I think it's a similar situation in that we're playing them twice and so close together. So, I think there is some experience we can draw from that earlier this year and apply it to this situation. But each game's different, each defense and how we're game planning, how we're attacking the defense is different. So, we'll try to learn as much as we can from the first game. Use that for our preparation. But you've got to understand that this game is going to be different. It's going to play out differently. You can't go in anticipating or trying to predict it to turn out a certain way just because it did last time. So, we'll use our first game to our advantage and go in as prepared as possible.
Q: You've played football your whole life. Do you get nervous before a game? Or do you expect to be a little more nervous because it is a playoff game?
A: You get excited. You get some nerves going into a game. Yeah, I expect to have some of that for sure. I think we all do. But once you get there, once you settle in and start playing, it's what we've been doing. It's about executing and doing our job. So, I think that's the big thing.
Q: You've had strung outings the last couple games, kept off with that curtain call. Has that kind of boosted your confidence at all? Or does that change your mentality a little bit?
A: I don't think it changes my mentality. I think I've been confident. I've always been confident regardless of what's going on outside or the last performance. It's about the next one. And I've always been confident in myself.
Q: There's only been a handful of quarterbacks who have won playoff games with the Giants in the Super Bowl Era, anyway. What would it mean to add your name to that list and to kind of etch your place in that history?
A: This organization has a long history of success, winning and postseason success. So, for us to be a part of that, it's about us as a group and what we can do as a team this year as part of that history, and part of the storied legacy of this organization. So, I think that's the big thing.
Q: Is there a line of demarcation in your mind between NFL quarterback and playoff quarterback?
A: I don't know. There's a lot of quarterbacks who play in the playoffs. I think what you do from this point on, the success you have, like I said, it's all about what you do now, and how you move forward and how we prepare this week and ultimately how we execute on Sunday.
Q: A better question – is there a line of demarcation in your mind from a playoff quarterback to a playoff-winning quarterback?
A: I don't know. Lots of good players, good teams. I think we'll try to, as an offense, play as well as we can Sunday – move the ball, score points and execute as well as we can.
Q: With everything you've been through as a team, but also individually the last three years, was there ever a time where you thought to yourself maybe this was not going to happen: getting to the playoffs, having a successful year? And if not, why not? Why did you always stay confident that this would finally happen?
A: I think I was always confident this would happen, and we would have this chance, largely because the guys we have in the locker room, the type of guys they are and how close we are as a group. We had some tough years, but I think we learned a lot. That's helped us get to where we are now. I think (I've) just always been confident in the group, the type of guys that we have, and ultimately that that would lead to success.
Q: Have you spoken to anybody about what it's like to play in the playoff, whether it's (inside linebacker) Landon (Collins) or the coaches, and any advice that was shared with you that you think you'll be taking with you?
A: I've spoken with some of the older guys, some of the coaches. A lot of guys talk about the speed of the game and that increasing in the playoffs and just how critical each play is. And it's one or two plays here or there that's going to make the difference. In a regular season game, maybe it's a handful. But in the playoffs, these are good teams that you're competing against. It's one or two plays that's going to make the difference. So, we understand that. We understand what's at stake. We're going to stick to what's gotten us here. We're going to stick to the routine, the preparation that we've been putting in.
Q: You talk about learning stuff throughout the last couple of years. What have you learned about yourself?
A: I think I've learned a lot. I think we've been through a lot. I've been through a lot, ups and downs. It's not always going to be a straight line. You're going to get better and then go through some tough time and then get better. It's just about continuing that process, trusting that process and showing up every day.
Q: There's an especially elite collection of quarterbacks in these playoffs: (Kansas City Chiefs Patrick) Mahomes, (Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tom) Brady, (Buffalo Bills Josh) Allen, on and on. Does it mean anything for you to be in that company?
A: Those are all really good players, really good teams, really good offenses. We're confident in our group. I'm confident in myself. But it's about what we do as a team, what we do as a unit and what we accomplish together.
Q: Outside, the term 'house money' has been thrown around. At this point, how does it feel in the locker room going into this game? Are there expectations that you're going to go in there and win? Or are you a little looser because you've come so far and maybe exceeded expectations that season?
A: I think we're definitely not satisfied just to have made the playoffs. That's not how we see it as a group. We were confident in our team dating back to training camp and knew what we were able to accomplish. We're by no means satisfied just to be in the playoffs. We expect to play well and to win. And that's our expectation every week; that doesn't change this week.
Safety Julian Love
Q: How excited are you for this for this opportunity?
A: I'm excited. First time in my career being in the playoffs. We've got a good opportunity in front of us and ready to go get it.
Q: How do you guys stay even keeled but still embrace the moment?
A: Yeah, I mean I feel like the moment outside of the building is big for a lot of people. In here, I feel like this is another Wednesday. We're taking advantage of just taking it one day at a time and making sure our prep is good.
Q: How do you stop (Minnesota wide receiver Justin) Jefferson?
A: We've got to know where he is at all times. We've been saying he's a top two receiver and he's not two. He's the real deal and the stats prove it. He's a guy you've got to account for at all times.
Q: You said you're confident and ready for this team to make a run. What makes you so confident in this team?
A: I just believe in us. When you look at the season, it's been – it hasn't been perfect, but it's been a lot of fun because we've won a lot of close games and we've done a lot of key things in critical situations. Right now, everyone is fired up. Once you're in the playoffs, the attention to detail heightens and when we're on our details – this team – the sky is the limit.
Q: How much does it have a different feel for you? It sounds like it's different for you, you can feel it.
A: Everybody is excited. I've been at home at this point in the season so it's exciting to be here. A lot more of you guys, media, walked out to practice but other than that, it's the same. We're just practicing, our same routine, our same schedule and we're going at it in the same way we've always done.
Q: What do you think of the story line the Giants are playing with house money, they're just glad they got to this point?
A: That's an outside of the building type of phrase or topic. I feel like early on we had so much confidence in who we were. (Head Coach Brian Daboll) Dabs said it from day one – we're going to be humble about it and we're going to go about our work while everybody sleeps on us. We take it one week at a time. We know it's never going to be perfect. We're going to continue to be who we are.
Q: Do you prefer that? That teams are sleeping on you, that you guys can fly under the radar a little bit.
A: Now in the playoffs, I feel like no one is under the radar. They know who we are, we've shown it for 17, 18 weeks or whatever it is. Teams know who we are, now we've just got to go show it and let our game speak for itself. Offense, defense, special teams – we've got to bring it all together each game –starting with this one, obviously.
Q: What's your message for Giants fans?
A: It's exciting. I would say this week, rep your Giants gear Friday. Wear your stuff, wear your blue to work, to school or whatever you've got to do just to support the team. This is an exciting time.
Q: That is one of the louder environments in Minnesota. Does it help you at all that you guys have played there before? Defense, obviously you guys are used to the noise, but offensively all around do you know what you're going into?
A: Yeah, we got a taste of it. Minnesota was so hype; the fans were very much into it. They'll be even more so now. It's an exciting atmosphere, they do a good job at home. Their fans are very committed to that atmosphere. We know what we're going into, but we can expect something even more heightened than what we saw on Christmas Eve.
Q: Just the familiarity of the logistics, right? You know where the locker room is. You know how to get to the field. The recency of which you did that, does that help playing on the road now?
A: It is. I'm a guy that likes to stick to his process, to his routine. To know what it is going into it, you're not going to a new place like I was on Christmas Eve. It's exciting. You know the field, you know the layout. Yeah, we can take advantage of our routine. But then, they know us, and we know them. It's going to be a different game for sure.
Q: You talk about sticking to your routine so much. Because it is the playoffs, because there's more attention – there might be more family attention even to it – is it harder to stick to your process?
A: For somebody who's not locked into their process, I'm quick to just say no and block out all outside distractions. But yeah, this is the time when everyone wants a piece of you because you're a part of six games that are being played this weekend. Guys, we're locked into just focusing on our work right now and everything else will be there when the season is over.
Q: What kind of boost would it be to finally get (cornerback) Adoree' (Jackson) back in the secondary?
A: Adoree' – he's that guy for us. He's a leader for us. He's an extremely talented player. We're excited to just see him progress throughout the week. He's, obviously you saw earlier in the year, a key part of our defense.
Safety Xavier McKinney
Q: (Head coach Brian Daboll) Dabs was telling us earlier, 'Hey (Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson) JJ's one thing but (Vikings tight end T.J.) Hockenson killed them,' in Dabs words. So, when you see that kind of challenge, they both fit your skillset, right?
A: Yeah, like he said, Hockenson is one of the best tight ends in the league and it showed last time we played him. He's really good. He's a really good tight end so we've just got to be prepared. I've got to be prepared to be able to have that matchup against him. I'm excited for it, it's going to be fun. So like I said, I'll be ready.
Q: What is special about Jefferson?
A: Well, I played him in college so I know all the things that he can do. He can single handedly take over a game, I've seen it, I've played against it before in college and I've seen it in the league a lot of times, everybody has. He's just a special route runner, catches a lot of crazy catches as y'all said before, and he's just a tough match up when he's going against anybody. You've got to make sure that you're on your p's and q's when you're facing him. It's going to be a challenge for us, but we'll be prepared and be ready.
Q: You've had experience with big games in college, what are you telling your teammates this week as one of the leaders to keep them from not getting too hyped up?
A: Well, I think we all kind of know what's at stake, so nobody really has to say anything. We've got some guys on this team that have been in the playoffs before, so they know kind of how it goes. A lot of us, we've played in big games, so we know kind of how it goes so we just try not to get too high, try not to be too low, but stay even keeled and just be ready for Sunday.
Q: Is that easier said than done though?
A: I don't think so. If you prepare the right way, if you stick to your routine, which we're doing, nothing is phasing us right now.
Q: There's an impression outside in some places that maybe you guys are kind of playing with house money, that the year's already been a success for you guys. Do you look at it that way or do you look at it like we're not done yet?
A: No, obviously when you get in the playoffs it's a new season. Anything can happen when you get in, and we're in, so we don't look at it as that. We see it as another game that we have to go in there and be 1-0. You've got to be 1-0 to get to the next round and if you don't then you're eliminated. We don't care about house money, I don't even know what that really is, but we're just going out there and playing and trying to get a win.
Q: We know you'll be back, do you envision (cornerback) Adoree' (Jackson) being out there with you on Sunday?
A: Oh yeah, he's going to be there (laughs). He's going to be there, for sure.
Q: When you watch the first game that you guys played against the Vikings, when Justin had the game that he did, when Hock had the game that he did, when you reviewed it yourself are you like, 'Man if I was out there, if Adoree' was out there, maybe it's different'? Those guys are still great players, they're still going to make plays but maybe not as many plays as they did?
A: They're going to make plays. Like I said, they're really good players, some of the best we have in this league, so they're going to make plays. Even when me and Adoree' are out there, they're going to make plays on Sunday, it is what it is. When you face another great player, you have to limit them, you can't really stop them all the way. They're going to make some catches that might be crazy, they're going to do some things that's like, 'Oh,' it's a part of the game. We know that as DB's, as a DB, that's a life of a DB. People are going to make catches, they're going to make some plays, but you've got to be able to bounce back and keep going. So, that's what we're looking to do and like I said, we're going to do what we can to limit them. But that's a part of it, that's a part of the game.
Q: I guess knowing that, knowing that these guys are some of the best in the league and they're going to make plays, when you're preparing for that is it sort of studying the film and deciphering where that moment is, where that's the big play that you need to stop? How do you prepare for that?
A: For us it's just being on the same page, it's not even necessarily what they do. They're going to do what they do, but we've got to do what we're going to do. The only thing that we can do as a defense and as a DB group is all be on the same page, know what we're doing in certain situations, and then we've just got to trust our technique and then go from there. They trust their technique, so we've got to trust ours. That's how we go into it.
Q: You've played in huge games in college but it's your first NFL playoff game, what's the anticipation like?
A: Really, I'm just trying to play my best game – we all are. Like I said, we know what's at stake, so I don't really get too high or get too low, I just know what's at stake. If you lose, you're gone and if you win you move on. I know that and that's pretty much all you need to know for this type of game.