Head Coach Brian Daboll
Q: Why did you guys elevate (quarterback) Davis (Webb) and then deactivate him?
A: That's something (general manager) Joe (Schoen) and I talk with Davis about. I'll keep that inhouse, but Davis has done a good job for us.
Q: Is it like a reward essentially?
A: I'm not going to get into the reason why. But that's something Joe and I talked about.
Q: Where does (safety) Landon (Collins) stand at this point?
A: I thought he did some good things last week. That was his last up, so we'll see as we get going here the rest of the way.
Q: How are (cornerback) Adoree' (Jackson) and (safety) Xavier (McKinney) looking?
A: I think Adoree' is getting better, and then with Xavier it's just how his fingers are healing. I think they get a little bit better each week.
Q: Will either of them practice this week?
A: X, no. Adoree', we'll see.
Q: You faced a lot of good receivers this year, but you might be facing the best in the league this Saturday. What makes (Minnesota Vikings wide receiver) Justin Jefferson so good? What do you see when you look at the tape?
A: One, he's extremely talented. He's got good quickness, good body control, can run any route. They line him up all over the place. I think they do a great job with him. He's hard to cover in man. He's got great awareness in zone. He's good after the catch. He can make contested catches. He's a problem.
Q: How about his route running? Would you say he's one of the top route runners?
A: Absolutely. And he can run anything you ask him to run. It's hard to read him because he's so good at the top of the route with his body control, his eyes, his head. He's really good.
Q: Has (safety Jason) Pinnock made Xavier being out a little easier to take because of the way he's played?
A: Yeah, you can't replace really good players for you. But I think Pinnock has done an excellent job of fitting into our defense. I think the defensive coaches have used him the right way, whether it's in the deep part of the field, down in the box, blitzing. He's been a good addition for us.
Q: Does he hit a little harder than most guys? It seems like he brings – especially for a guy that's a former corner.
A: He's so explosive. He's got strength and power and good speed. He can bring it.
Q: What does it do for you defensively when you guys play Landon and (defensive back) Tony (Jefferson) in the box? It seemed to go a little smaller. But also, off of that, what does it do to an offense when they have to adjust to that?
A: Well, it depends. You'd have to ask how the offense accounts for those guys. There's points in every play, whether it's protection or the run game. They're interchangeable. They can play multiple spots. They're extremely smart, both of them. Tony's been in the system before. So, I think he's got a good understanding of how we do things defensively. And Landon is just an instinctive guy. He did a good job last week.
Q: Where are you on (quarterback) Daniel (Jones) and the steps he's taken under your staff's tutelage this season?
A: Well, give Daniel credit, first and foremost. He's an extremely hard worker. I think he understands what we're trying to accomplish each week. Every week, it's a little bit different. But he works extremely hard. He studies. He understands the teams that we're playing, and he makes good decisions for what we ask him to do. Last week was a little bit different than the week before. He's taking care of the football. He's done a good job.
Q: In your experience, how difficult is it for a quarterback who has either a fumbling, an interception issue or a turnover issue to correct that because it seems like, generally speaking, he's done that.
A: Give credit to him. He's got to take care of the ball in the pocket, and he's got to be the one to make good decisions when he's under pressure. I think (quarterbacks coach) Shea (Tierney) has done a really great job with him in the quarterback room. We try to do things that accentuate his strengths. I think he can throw it on all three levels, but there's a way to play each game against each opponent based on what they have defensively, how their rush is, what their corners look like. He's done a good job of operating and executing our offense.
Q: You come from a place where you've experienced a quarterback being a really popular guy in the locker room. It certainly seems like Daniel (Jones) has won over teammates and is highly respected. How much does that matter?
A: I think when I got here, just talking to some of the skill guys and even the defensive guys, they've always had that respect for Daniel because of the way he approaches his job, he's a true pro. And he's a good leader. I know he's kind of a quiet guy. But in the huddle, he's a good leader with those guys. He knows everybody's responsibilities. He can get things lined up; he can correct mistakes. He's a problem solver. So, I think the guys have a lot of respect for him.
Q: The turnover thing, obviously, was a thing early in his career. What do you make of him having – he's thrown four interceptions, the fewest of any quarterback in the NFL this year that's played most of their team's games. What do you make of that?
A: That's good.
Q: What do you attribute it to? Why do you think there's been such a drastic shift there?
A: Well, again, like I was saying: I think he works at it. I think Shea has done a great job. We have certain reads and things in our offense that we teach. And he just goes out and executes well. So, he's done everything that we've asked him to do in terms of the things that we need to do each game. Again, it's never going to be perfect. It's a hard position to play. I think he's got some confidence. We have confidence in him. We just put together a game plan that we think will work well for us as a team but (also will) work well for him, too, as a quarterback.
Q: Do you think there's more upside to him? A lot of times when somebody's that far along in their career, they'll say, 'oh, that's their ceiling".
A: Well, I don't think he's that far along in his career as a quarterback. Again, it's a tough position to play. I can just go by the guys that I've had the last few years. One, I was with him for four years and each year we took a little bit of a step, and you always give credit to the players. His ability to grasp information and then go out there and perform it with what we're asking him to do, I'm not sure the other years he's been here, I think he's made steps each way. Certainly, things to improve on but conscientious, hardworking, tough, competitor. Those are good qualities to have at that position.
Q: The flip side is you've had the fewest 20+ yard pass plays. How much of that do you view as situational, personnel, what do you attribute that to?
A: We always have a gameplan each week. Go into a game of how we want to play it and his job is to make the right decisions. So, if it's to throw a quick game or take an underneath route, he's done a good job of putting the ball where we want him to put it. We certainly would like more explosive plays, that helps you score more points, but he's doing what we ask him to do.
Q: A lot of times guys on the outside have these fiery dispositions. Daniel is not that guy.
A: Oh, I thought you were talking about me (laughs).
Q: Well that we all know, but Daniel's not that way. Does that not tell the whole story about Daniel?
A: Yeah, he's a competitor and I think that's why his teammates respect him so much. I think he's just very levelheaded and that helps too when sometimes there's chaos in the game; whether that's in the pocket, whether you're down. I think he's really been the model of consistency with his attitude and his approach and that's what I appreciate about him.
Q: Understanding that offensive line works as five guys, it certainly seems like early in the season and then again yesterday, the offensive line has played really well with (guard Ben) Bredeson specifically in there. What is it about him that he brings? Unless that's a coincidence.
A: Yeah, he was in there for that 18-play drive. I think Ben's done a good job. He's been a good player for us when we've asked him to be in there, he's coming back from an injury. I thought he did some good things last game. Still, you try to work those guys in that are coming back. Him, (center Nick) Gates, (center Jon) Feliciano, (guard Mark) Glo (Glowinski), we have a lot of confidence in all four of those guys.
Q: Do you think he'll be at left guard specifically? Are you rotating them the rest of the season?
A: That's a good question. I think we'll go through it this week. I think they've all earned the right to play, they know what to do, they're tough, competitive, so that will be a discussion we have kind of at the end of probably every week going forward.
Q: How much is putting Gates at center on the table there?
A: I think we talk about all those things. I think Jon (Feliciano) did a really good job last week. Again, those four guys inside, we have confidence in all those guys.
Q: I know it's a walkthrough, but do you have anybody else out today?
A: No, the two guys would be, they'll be out there running around, the two guys would be Adoree' and (guard) Shane (Lemieux). Everybody else would be doing something.
Q: (Head Coach) Kevin O'Connell, he's a first-year guy, like yourself. We all know what he's doing out in Minnesota. Can you talk about the job he's done, and do you have a relationship with him at all?
A: Yeah, I do. I don't call him up on the phone everyday but if I see him out at the combine or something. I actually went out and worked him out when he was coming up for the draft. Show my age but he's done a really nice job with that team, they've won a lot of one-score games. Give credit to the players, but give credit to him and his staff too. They've got a lot of good coaches on that staff and to be where they're at right now is a testament to him and his team. Smart player, really good guy, good family, he's done a nice job for that organization.
Q: Are they similar to you guys in a way? You talk about Minnesota winning a lot of one score games, a lot of close games. Are they a little bit similar to you guys?
A: No, I think every team is different. I just think they've done a good job of closing out games or obviously coming back like they did last week, and they don't flinch. I think that's a testament to Coach O'Connell, and the rest of the guys on that team.
Q: Did you get a chance to watch any of that game?
A: Yeah, I saw a little bit of it. I mean I watched it on the coaching tape, but I saw a little bit of it at the hotel.
Q: You've often said that I've pretty much seen everything.
A: That was a great comeback. Unbelievable comeback. Pretty resilient team.
Q: Another guy coming back from injury, (defensive lineman) Leonard Williams. It seemed like he played quite a lot of snaps for a guy who admittedly after the game said he wasn't 100 percent. What'd you see from him and just kind of the will he showed?
A: That's him. It was good to have him back. He's one of our best players, particularly inside there with him and (defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence) Dex. Good to have those guys out there.
Q: (Head Coach Bill) Parcells would always say to us, "Let's not put this guy in Canton just yet," but when you see a performance like (outside linebacker) Kayvon (Thibodeaux) the other night, does it make you say, 'Wow, this guy is something special'?
A: I'd probably take a page out of Coach Parcell's book.
Quarterback Daniel Jones
Q: You guys have an opportunity to clinch a playoff spot with a win at Minnesota. What does that mean for you for as a player, and does that add any extra motivation?
A: It's definitely exciting, but I don't think it's extra motivation. I think we're going to prepare as hard as we can, and that doesn't change week-to-week. I think we've been doing that. (We're) treating it one week at a time, and this is an awesome opportunity for us. I don't think the preparation or the approach changes, but we're certainly excited for the opportunity.
Q: If it does happen, how much would that check off a goal for what you guys were trying to accomplish this season? Would it make your season a success?
A: I don't know if we'd say that. It's certainly a goal for us to make playoffs, but we're confident in our ability as a team, and we believe we're a good team. We're just going to keep focusing one week at a time and play as well as we can.
Q: You have the fewest interceptions of any starting quarterback in the NFL this year. What does that mean to you considering where you came from in that statistic two, three years ago?
A: I think I've improved in some of those decision-making situations. Protecting the ball is a big part of the game at this position. I'll try to keep doing that as well as I can. But a lot of credit to our group – I think when you protect the ball, that's a group thing. We've got to be on the same page, a lot of trust in the receivers being in the right spots. They've done a good job doing that, and good job with the coaches also.
Q: You shouldered the blame when it was the other way. You say protecting the ball is a group thing, but when it wasn't protecting the ball, it all fell on you. Is that just the way the quarterback is?
A: I think that's part of it. The quarterback is responsible for decision-making. It goes both ways.
Q: Is there anything about this particular staff where you felt like you clicked either early on or where they've especially helped you grow as a quarterback?
A: I've really enjoyed working with them. I think Dabs (head coach Brian Daboll), Kaf (offensive coordinator Mike Kafka), (quarterbacks coach) Shea (Tierney) – all those guys have helped me out a lot. I think just understanding the game, understanding football, learning this system. I think this is a good system. As we said from the beginning, you can tell this is a quarterback-friendly system where the quarterback is in good position to make good decisions most of the time. I've enjoyed (it), I've learned a ton from them.
Q: You call it, 'quarterback-friendly,' but a lot of people would call it 'conservative,' just in the way you guys have thrown the ball. I think the longest pass you guys threw the ball the other day was 12-yards down the field. Do you ever kind of look around and say, 'I wish I was throwing the ball around a little bit more. I wish I could take deeper shots.' Anything like that, or are you just happy with the way things are?
A: It depends on the game and the way it plays out. We're certainly going to be aggressive when we can. But we won the game, and that's the goal. That's what we're focused on.
Q: Are you happy you don't have to ever hear those questions about the primetime games anymore?
A: (Laughs) It was a big win for us, and I didn't put too much stock in that to begin with.
Q: What's most different about this system? You talked about it's different and leaves decision-making in your hands. Is that the biggest difference from other systems you've been in?
A: I think that's part of it. We've talked a lot about the versatility of it and different options in certain situations to put us all in a position to make plays and adjust to what the defense is doing.
Q: When a new receiver like Isaiah (Hodgins) comes in as late as he does, how do you find the chemistry?
A: A lot of it is conversation. Watching film and the work you do in the meeting room, talking through things, getting an idea of how he sees things and how I see things. He knew the system really well coming from Buffalo; it's similar there, so the concepts were familiar. It was a lot just about conversation and talking through how we saw certain situations. The time on the field is important, too, during practice. A lot of credit to him. He's done a great job for us.
Q: How would you describe what (wide receiver) Richie (James) has done? He had a very good start to the season. (Wide receiver) Wan'Dale (Robinson) came back, and he kind of took a backseat. Now, the last three, four weeks, he's been prominent again in the offense. How would you describe what he's done for this team this season?
A: He's been really big for us. He's made a lot of key plays. He made some key plays the other night on critical downs. He's just extremely consistent day-to-day. You know exactly what you're going to get from him. His approach has been really good. As a quarterback, you like working with those guys. He's stepped-up time and time again. He deserves a lot of credit.
Q: What do you make from that Minnesota tape from watching? There was such a big disparity in the two halves from last week for them. What do you make of this team when you look at that?
A: I think they got in some tough situations in that first half. But they're a good team, they're a good defense. They've got a lot of key veteran players who have played a lot of football who are smart and understand how the offense is trying to attack them. We'll be prepared for that and have a plan for it —but they're a good group.
Q: I assume from that, you're kind of referencing (Minnesota Vikings cornerback Patrick) Peterson and (Minnesota Vikings safety) Harrison Smith and those kind of guys?
A: Yeah, I think those guys. They've got some guys up front that are veterans and good players as well. I think at all three levels they have good veteran players.
Q: Do you think you personally have learned how to win games? Maybe your numbers are better if I go back to even your rookie year, but do you feel like you learned how to win games and maybe not always fill up the box scores?
A: I think each game's different. But I think I've gotten a better idea of what does win in the NFL. A lot of times, it's not what you would think. I think it has a lot to do with taking care of the ball, staying in good situations for the offense, executing on critical downs and scoring in the red zone. But I think I've improved a lot since my rookie year.
Defensive Lineman Leonard Williams
Q: You could theoretically clinch a playoff spot this weekend. You've never been in the playoffs, what would that mean to you?
A: It means a lot to me. I'm in year eight, it's obviously been a long time in the league to not go to the playoffs. That's been a very tough part of my career and it would mean a lot to me to be able to go with these guys that I've been grinding with for the last few years. I've seen a lot of these guys here; I know a lot of these guys here now pretty well. It'd mean a lot for me, and also a lot for me to see them go as well.
Q: You've had exposure to how far this franchise has come. When you were traded, it maybe was one of the worst teams in league. Can you reflect on that and just the journey of that?
A: Yeah, that's what I mean. It's more special to go to the playoffs after you've been on a team like that. I've never been a fan of wanting to be a vet and jump to a team that are Super Bowl contenders, almost like bandwagon jumping type of thing. It wouldn't feel as good to me. Being on a team like this where I've seen the ups and downs and I've known these guys pretty well, I know how much of a struggle we've been going through and stuff like that. So, to be able to go with a team like that means a lot more to me.
Q: It sounds ridiculous but when you're on losing teams people start questioning, 'Do these guys really want to win?' or, 'How badly do they want to win?' For you, and your hunger for winning, how strong is that?
A: To be honest it increases even more when you've been losing so much. It's almost like sometimes I feel like you get more comfortable on a winning team because you're so used to winning that it's almost like you feel like it might be the program or the coaches or whatever the case may be, that's the reason for winning. So, you can kind of be a little more comfortable and relaxed as a player. Whereas we've been losing so we put so much pressure on us, like we have to do this, we have to do this, to get out of this gutter, to get out of this hole, and to be playoff contenders one day. Fortunately, it looks like we're going to be able to have a chance and we've got to just make sure we finish the season strong.
Q: I assume you weren't 100 percent the other day. How are you feeling and how did you play as many snaps as you did as hurt as you were?
A: I'm not 100 percent, definitely was banged up a little bit. I feel like that's the majority of the league right now and that's what we harp on a lot. About it being December football, we know how much of a tough person and player you have to be to keep going near the end of the season like this, because the majority of the league is banged up. It's not an excuse, it's not anything like that. If I'm on the field…
Q: It's new for you because you had never missed a game. I know you've played banged up before, but you had never missed a game which I'm sure made this season feel a little different.
A: Yeah, it definitely felt a little different. This is my first time ever being on the sideline while I'm seeing guys in pads on the field. It's definitely a weird experience, but I've been dealing with it, I've been managing it. Everybody has adversity at times and that's been something I've been dealing with this year and I'm trying to make the best of my situation.
Q: A week ago everybody was wondering if this team could get back up after the loss to Philly. Now it's how high did you get and make sure that you're steady. Is that just kind of an example of this league and this time of the year when you have something playing for?
A: I think it's also an example of why (head coach Brian Daboll) Coach Dabs tells us to keep it in here. That's all outside noise. It's an outside noise thing to say, 'Are they going to be able to come off of this loss?' or, 'Are they getting too high after a win?' When really, we know that we're keeping the same exact routine every week. We're staying right here, and we hear a lot of outside stuff, but we try to keep it the same inside all the time. Granted there is obviously, you feel better after a win, and you feel down after loss, but we try to wash it and move on.
Q: You've mentioned how it's been a whole eight-year career without making the playoffs but it's been a whole eight year career in New York, which is a very hard place to lose because the fans can be difficult. What's it been like to play in New York when you win?
A: That's been crazy. Half of my career has been on two different New York teams and haven't been to the playoffs. I think about that sometimes, winning a championship in New York and picturing a parade in the city and stuff like that. I can't imagine how that would be. Right now, I'm just trying to live in the moment.
Q: Has it been cool to win in New York this year?
A: Yeah, it has been cool. I think because I've been on the downside of it, the losing side of it, and now being on the upside of it I can definitely see the difference in the way the city treats you. It's cool, but at the same time as much as you don't like it when they talk bad about you it's kind of hard to accept it when they start praising you. You know just as much as they praise, they can easily turn on you. At the same time, I just try to pay attention to my guys in here.
Q: How exciting is it for you that you're so close to potentially playing in your first playoff game?
A: Yeah, that's what I was just saying. I'm super excited.
Q: I'm sorry, I'm late.
A: No worries. I'm on my eighth year, been a long time in the league, coming off a double-digit year soon and this might be my first chance of going to the playoffs which is pretty crazy. That's something every player looks forward to as a player, going to the playoffs and having a chance for the championship. Eight years in New York I haven't really an opportunity to do that until now, and we've got to just make sure we finish the season strong for that.
Q: You had your chance your rookie year, right?
A: Yeah, we lost to Buffalo. We were 10-6 that year with the Jets and the last game of the season we lost to Buffalo. That was the closest I've gotten to going to the playoffs.
Q: So that was probably the biggest game you've played in until Sunday. Did Sunday feel like what you'd imagine a playoff game feel like?
A: Yeah exactly. We tried to say that it wasn't a playoff game because obviously it wasn't. Whether we won or lost we were going to have games after, but at the same time it definitely felt like it. The atmosphere felt like it, the way the teams were playing, and we knew how much was at stake. Even though we say it wasn't a playoff game it definitely felt like one.