EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Dabs' Digest, Giants.com's weekly conversation with head coach Brian Daboll:
Q: You're playing a Raiders team Sunday that just fired its coach (Josh McDaniels) and named Antonio Pierce interim coach. That kind of change often invigorates a team. When you were the offensive coordinator in Miami in 2011, you won your first game after Todd Bowles was named interim coach. Do you have to be cognizant of the fact that this may be a much different team than the one that lost in Detroit on Monday night?
Daboll: "I've been on the other side of it. Yeah, we won, but we won six of our last nine even before that. So, again, you've got to play well. Whether they have their old coach, a new coach, we've got to expect their best effort and make sure we do the things we need to do to play our best game against their players."
Q: Bo Hardegree is their new play caller and coordinator. I don't think he's ever called plays in the NFL before. How do you discover and prepare for tendencies when a guy has a clean slate like that?
Daboll: "Well, there are no tendencies, he's never called a game. You watch the tape, you've only got a couple of days here. We didn't change coordinators when I was part of it, but you can only do so much. Make sure you understand the players, look at the previous eight games and then if you've got to adjust, you adjust."
Q: Is that what it is, knowing the players and what they do be best?
Daboll: "That's really the consistent theme each week is you've got to make sure you understand the players when you're playing a team that has a coordinator for eight games or two years or whatever, there's certain ways that they like to call a game. Again, he's never called a game. We've got to trust our rules and play our style."
View photos of the Giants on the practice field ahead of the Week 9 matchup against the Las Vegas Raiders.
Q: They're playing a rookie quarterback (Aidan O'Connell, a fourth-round draft choice). Did you scout him in the draft and what were your thoughts about him?
Daboll: "I've watched him here in the games he's played (for the Raiders). He played the full Chargers game - comes down to the wire, (they were) down 24-7, brought them back, it was 24-17 and they had a turnover in the red zone (when O'Connell threw an interception on first-and-goal at the three with 2:33 left). He played in the fourth quarter (in Chicago), he played in the preseason and was a productive player; led the NFL in quarterback rating in the preseason. You watch the tape that he's played in pro football right now. He hasn't played a ton, but you watch all that tape."
Q: What stood out in the tape you watched?
Daboll: "I thought he did a lot of stuff well in the preseason, pocket passer, they rolled him a little bit but threw on time, threw a good deep ball, good chunk plays. He did a good job. Turned it over a couple of times in the Chargers game in the pocket and then had the interception but he throws it to the right guy, has good timing. He knows when to take his checkdowns and has a good sense in the pocket, kind of more of a pocket passer, if you will."
Q: They do have some standout players. I know you coached Josh Jacobs at Alabama; he led the NFL in rushing last year. He's struggled a little this year. Is he the same type of runner now?
Daboll: "Absolutely. He's strong. He's got good power, he's got quick feet, good vision, can catch the ball. I had him in Alabama, did a great job for me there. Thought the world of him and then he's come on and played really well as a pro. He's a heck of a back."
Q: Davante Adams is one of the NFL's best receivers, though he hasn't caught many passes lately. They have Jakobi Myers and (Hunter) Renfrow, who had 103 receptions in 2021. What do you think of their receiving corps?
Daboll: "Good receiving corps. Davante is one of the best receivers in the league. I'd say Jakobi is a very good route runner and can make plays in the intermediate part of the field, catch-and-run vertical, has very good hands, obviously played in that system for a while. Renfrow is a productive inside player, can create separation, good safety valve for a quarterback to have. I would say three talented receivers, a talented running back. So, they've got some explosive guys that have been productive players for them."
Q: You're certainly familiar with (defensive coordinator) Patrick Graham's work. Maxx Crosby is the guy who stands out on their defense. He's a game-wrecker.
Daboll: "He's an exceptional football player. Another one of those guys that's a really fun guy to watch when you don't have to get ready to play him. First of all, he's talented, he's long, he's got all the physical attributes. But his motor, to me, sets him apart from a lot of people. He never takes plays off. He's out there pretty much every single play and there's game-wrecking plays every game that you put on tape and you're just like, 'Damn, this guy is good.' He causes a lot of problems. He lines up on both sides. Sometimes they line him up off the ball and do different things with him off the ball when he rushes. He's tough, chases the ball. He's one heck of a player."
Q: Marcus Peters, as he showed Monday night (when he had a 75-yard interception return touchdown), seems to be one of those guys that has a knack for coming up with the ball.
Daboll: "He's a guy that likes to read the quarterback and he's had a ton of production in his career, a crafty, smart veteran. He's been a heck of a player in this league for a long time (nine years)."
Q: You mentioned this week that when you were at Alabama, you met with Antonio Pierce when he was the coach at Long Beach Poly. You were recruiting Matt Corral. What are your recollections of that visit?
Daboll: "Just went out there, sat down and talked for a while. A.P. we kind of had similar acquaintances from being in the league for so long. We're similar ages. He's a couple of years younger than me. But we know a lot of the same people and just kind of hit it off out there and stayed in touch since then. As a guy, but, as a former Giant and a player, I have a lot of respect for him. That was kind of my first interaction when I met him, and we stayed in touch along the way. He went out to Arizona State; he had a couple of different roles there and now with the Raiders. He's a good dude."
Q: When your next opponent is playing on Monday night, do you try to watch the game?
Daboll: "Usually what you're doing is your planning with all the tape that you have and you sit in here and whether it's first and second down or different situations, you're learning and putting ideas up on a board and you have the computer set up and then off in the distance, you've got the game on. But most of your studying is once that game's over with and you get in the next morning, but it's certainly on in the background as we're going through gameplanning."
Q: Darren Waller said he expects to be out for weeks. You lost Saquon (Barkley) in Week 2, then Daniel (Jones) three weeks later. This week, they will be on the field for the first time since Sept. 17, but now you don't have Waller. You spent so much time in training camp working with those three players together.
Daboll: "That's the NFL. You'd love to have everybody out there, but we don't. So, you make sure that you're doing what you need to do with the other players. (Daniel) Bellinger is not Waller, so you've got to make sure you're trying to do what Belly does well and then whatever other tight ends we decide to bring up. I've been doing this for a long time. There's always something that you have to adjust to or plan differently for. Again, that's the NFL."
Q: This week, you will start your eighth different offensive line combination in nine games. What can you say about how the linemen have adjusted to the newcomers and different combinations?
Daboll: "Again, it's the world we live in. You don't make any type of excuses. You do a good job of trying to get them prepared and those guys do a good job. Guys we've had for a short period of time have come in and picked our stuff up and (offensive line coach) Bobby (Johnson) has done a done a good job of rotating them. (We're) trying to give him as many different combinations (in practice) because sometimes you don't even know until Saturday or Friday night how things are going. It's kind of how it will be this week, too."
Q: Saquon has the only two games of 35-plus carries in the NFL the last two years, including last week. Is your attitude with Saquon, he will run the ball as many times as you need him to?
Daboll: "I think every game is different. You take a look at the team you're playing and how the game needs to be played, not just on the offensive side but on the defensive side and special teams. Every game is different, how you want to play it, the structure of the game, the weather of the game. That's what we decided to do last week with him. He's in pretty good condition and he can handle what we've given him."
Q: The defense has not allowed 300 yards in the last three games, the first time in 10 years that's happened. You've given up 34 points in three games. Do you think the defense is really playing winning football?
Daboll: "It's complementary football. We've just got to finish more in the red zone. Defense has done a great job in the run and the pass and situational football and that's the style we've played here the last few weeks. We have to finish more and take advantage of some of those scoring opportunities once we get down there, both in the kicking game and on the offense, but that's complementary football. Use some clock, take advantage of not turning the ball over on offense, do a good job of taking the ball away on defense, play good situational football and those guys have done a good job."
Q: Kayvon Thibodeaux has 4.5 sacks the last two games. Has a light gone on with him?
Daboll: "No, I think it's always been on. He's a young pro who does whatever he has to do each week, takes care of his body, studies the game plan, he's a good teammate, loves the game of football and, again, it's a team sport. The coverage has to tie together, the interior rush. Dexter (Lawrence) has been doing a great job with that; sometimes that shortens the edges. Kayvon's done a good job with his technique. He's working extremely hard at it. He's one of the young guys that we drafted last year, continues to get better, continues to improve, continues to do the right thing on and off the field. He's been a good young player for us to work with and he's done a good job."