EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Dabs' Digest, Giants.com's weekly conversation with head coach Brian Daboll:
Q: Evan Neal made the back pages with some negative comments – what was your reaction to them and his apology?
Daboll: "Evan Neal called me, the night they came out he was apologetic and remorseful and let his frustrations get to him. So, we talked and moved on."
Q: You said this week you would anticipate Shep (wide receiver Sterling Shepard) playing more this week in Miami. Before he was injured last year, he caught 13 passes in three games. So much effort is spent in this business trying to find the fastest or the biggest players. He's neither, yet he's very productive. Why do you think those guys succeed?
Daboll: "I'd say there's probably a lot of reasons. First, he's a good player. He's got short space quickness, he's had some production, he's been injured and he's coming back from an injury. We're using all our receivers, put them in different personnel groups and all of them are going to play."
Q: When you were winning last season, you seemed to have a formula – run Saquon (Barkley), complete a high percentage of short passes, take care of the ball, make key plays at the end of a game. Has something happened to the formula or is it just missing Saquon (who missed the last two games with a sprained ankle)?
Daboll: "Look, we have to do a better job all the way around playing complementary football. When you get behind and you're not creating turnovers and giving up the ball and the score gets out of hand in the third quarter, you're playing the game in an uphill battle. So, we have to do a better job of playing complementary football, of taking care of the ball, of getting the football and giving ourselves a chance to make it a four-quarter game. And that starts with me and that's what we're going to try to do."
View photos of the Giants on the practice field ahead of the Week 5 matchup against the Miami Dolphins.
Q: You look at the Miami offense, they have the most yards ever through four games, they're leading the NFL with 37 points a game. I can give you all kinds of numbers, but you're the expert. When you watch their offense on tape, what stands out?
Daboll: "They're explosive. They have elite, not just good speed, elite speed at the receiver and the running back positions. The quarterback (Tua Tagovailoa) does a tremendous job of operating. He gets the ball out on time and on rhythm and gives his skill players a chance. Skill players who can beat you on any three levels, who can get to top speed very, very quickly and run by a defense. They can also run intermediate routes with the coverage being way back deep if defenses choose. They can throw, catch and run - throw at (Tyreek) Hill or (Jaylen) Waddle or either running back, they can take a two-yard pass and make it 20 yards really quick. So, they're explosive, they make a ton of explosive plays and usually creating explosive plays leads to scoring points."
Q: Well, you just answered one of my subsequent questions, which was how does speed like that at the skill positions put pressure on the defense?
Daboll: "A great deal of it. You have to choose how you want to play a team that has that much speed. You play soft and you've got to be really good tacklers. You play aggressive, then you have to be able to run with them. They place a significant amount of stress on the defense. You want to play more guys back, the running game opens up. You want to play more guys down, you're singled up against premier, elite speed players. So, it's a challenge. It's not surprising they're scoring a lot of points, and Tua has done an exceptional job of playing quarterback for the Dolphins."
Q: (Miami coach) Mike McDaniel and (San Francisco coach) Kyle Shanahan worked together for 14 years. Do you see similarities in their schemes and their philosophies? And is it fair to say Miami's is based more on speed, San Francisco is more on power?
Daboll: "I'd say any time you work with somebody, particularly for 14 years, you can pick up a lot of stuff and I'd say Mike added a lot to where he was when he was with Kyle and Kyle has done a great job at San Francisco. But every team is different. I'd say Mike utilizes his guys the way he needs to utilize them. Certainly, there's some elements that are consistent and that's any time you play against someone that's come from another system. But Mike's put his own spin on it and it's a very challenging, high-octane, high-speed offense."
Q: Tua is the only left-handed starting quarterback in the league. Is that an adjustment for a defense because his strong side is different?
Daboll: "There's elements to that, no question about it. But Tua can do a lot. I was with him at Alabama. He's a heck of a quarterback."
Q: How about all this pre-snap motion they use and what they call "the cheat", when a runner goes in motion horizontally at full speed and turns upfield at the snap?
Daboll: "It just creates space. That's why you use motion, to try to get indicators. You use motion to try to unlock force, you can use motion to try to back a guy off. So, they use a variety of it."
Q: Miami scored on its first two drives last week, but Buffalo locked them down after that. You're familiar with the Bills. When somebody you know well has success against an upcoming opponent, do you try to school on what they did as much as possible?
Daboll: "I think you study all the tape, the four games that they played. But again, you have to do things that your team can do well. Buffalo played a great game. It was back and forth there early on in the game. This is a good football team. They're 3-1 for a reason. (Defensive coordinator) Vic Fangio has done a great job there; he's a long-established coordinator who runs a very disciplined defense that doesn't give up a lot of big plays and they're playing complementary football."
Q: What are the characteristics of a Fangio defense?
Daboll: "I'd say very sound fundamentally. They don't give up the big plays, they make you earn it and he's just a really good fundamental coach and a very good schematic coach."