EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Dabs' Digest, Giants.com's weekly conversation with head coach Brian Daboll:
Q: (Bills quarterback) Josh Allen said in Buffalo earlier this week you are the most influential person in his professional development. You obviously know the Bills offense and him very well. How does that impact your preparation for the game in Buffalo Sunday night?
Daboll: "I have been on teams and was a coach and then went to another team and played a team. Ultimately, the biggest impact is the players and he's an outstanding one. I appreciate the kind words. I echo it right back to him. He was big for me, too, having him. He did a lot for me as a coach. So, the biggest thing is playing well, executing, doing the things that you have to do on the field to win a game."
Q: Josh said, "I wouldn't say we're talking every day or every week, but maybe every other week and just checking in with each other. Quick little FaceTime, what's up, miss ya, bye. ... Everybody knows Daboll and he loves his FaceTime." You have many friends from your football past. Do you like to keep in touch with him even if it's just a quick hello? And is he one of those guys who is special to you?
Daboll: "I was with him for four years. So, you go through a lot when you're a coach and you're a player. I think the first season, there was an injury and we weren't doing very good. So, you deal with that stuff and then you grow a little bit, and you learn from it, and you do a little bit better, then you add some more stuff and more pieces. What we always tried to do is develop a system that was conducive for him. Just like we always do anywhere we are. It always starts with the quarterback. But you go through a lot in a season, or in this case four seasons, and outside of football, he is just a really good friend. He'll be a really good friend for as long as I'm around. He's meant a lot to me, my family, my children. He's a great person. Forget about the dynamic player he is as a football player, but just as a relationship outside of football. He's really important to me."
Q: His numbers are very impressive. He can become the first player in history with 300 passing yards and a rushing touchdown in three consecutive games. As a connoisseur of the position, why is he so special?
Daboll: "Well, he has everything you want in the quarterback and then he has a physical skillset that a lot of people don't have. He can make any throw, he can escape, elude and throw it on the move. He can run when he needs to. You can run him on a variety of quarterback runs if you choose to. He's just naturally gifted and he's extremely smart. He's got a great feel for the position. He sees things, he's instinctive. I was with him for four years, so you look at it from a different perspective when you're preparing for a player like this. He's a hard player to defend."
Q: He said they'll probably have to change some of their code words because you're going to know them. Must you do the same?
Daboll: "I've been a lot of different places. You leave. That gets overrated at times. You're playing fast in the moment, maybe you hear something. I think when you're playing a team that you have some familiarity with, whether they're in your division or you've been there before, you don't want to overthink things. But you also want to keep enough to where maybe there's one word, they think it means something and it's something else. I'm sure it'll be part of that gamesmanship going on."
Q: How about his supporting cast?
Daboll: "He's got three guys that he's been with for awhile (wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis, and tight end Dawson Knox). I'm just a huge fan of Steph all the way around - how much of a competitor he is, and his skillset, I don't need to say it. He's a very talented player and Gabe Davis is smart, tough, dependable. He has a knack for making big plays in crucial moments. Dawson Knox is steady, consistent, explosive, another smart, tough, dependable player and then they added (tight end) Dalton (Kincaid). They have a new backfield from when I was there, and they've added some other pieces as the receivers. There's a couple of new linemen in there. You have the staples like (left tackle) Dion Dawkins, who's another guy I feel very strongly about, or (center) Mitch Morse, or right tackle Spencer (Brown). It's a talented offense. This is a talented team. They're one of two teams that are top five in points on defense and on offense (the other is San Francisco)."
View photos of the Giants on the practice field ahead of the Week 6 matchup against the Buffalo Bills.
Q: They had trouble running the ball last week against Jacksonville. What did you see that the Jaguars did?
Daboll: "Each game plan is a little bit different. Another guy I've got great respect for – he does a great job – is (Ken) Dorsey (who succeeded Daboll as the Bills' offensive coordinator). They chose to throw it a fair amount last week. We definitely have to make sure we're conscious of the running game, because they can do both well."
Q: They've had a lot of key injuries on their defense, one at each level really, with (lineman) Tre'Davious White, linebacker Matt Milano, and (cornerback) DaQuan Jones. But they still have Leonard Floyd, Ed Oliver, A.J. Epenesa, Von Miller, DeQuan Jones, Micah Hyde, Jordan Poyer…
Daboll: "They have very good talent, and they have a system they've run for seven years. There's always something to be said for some consistency relative to, you got Micah, you got Jordan, you got Ed Oliver, who's been there. And then you have some new pieces that are coming in, and you have guys to help them teach the system.
"The two safeties (Hyde and Poyer) are two of the smartest safeties that I've been around, and they've worked so well together the past seven years they've been there. They run a good scheme. They're very, very fast and they lead the league in sacks and turnovers. They rush (the quarterback with four a lot."
Q: Do you look forward to saying hello to Damar Hamlin?
Daboll: "Unbelievable guy. His story is well documented. You root for anyone that goes through something like that but someone that you know personally. From what he endured last season to where he was and the stuff that he's doing not just on the field but in the community, he's a really good guy."
Q: On a personal level, you are from Western New York, you went to games in the Bills' stadium when you were young and now you're returning as an NFL head coach. I would imagine there has to be a certain amount of pride to do that.
Daboll: "I've been in that division 11 years with the Patriots, a year with the Dolphins, two years with the Jets, played there when I was at Cleveland. So, I've been back there almost 16 or 17 times. It's the National Football League. You get ready to play a game and the most important thing is the game. But when I was young, I was back there. You're going back, you're home, you have some family members, but now let's get ready to play and see if we can play a better game on Sunday."
Q: Daniel Jones has yet to practice this week, so it's possible Tyrod Taylor will start at quarterback Sunday night. What prompted you to bring him here in 2022?
Daboll: "Well, he's got experience, he's played in this league a long time (13 years). He's a true pro. He has always practiced like he was going to be a starter. That's what a backup quarterback needs to do. He's worked in this league a long time. He does the necessary things he needs to do to try to get himself ready to play a game."
Q: In your many years as a coordinator and a playcaller, how much do you tailor a game plan and playcalling to a specific quarterback?
Daboll: "Every time you call a game. They're all different quarterbacks. They're all different and you try to do the best job you can do of putting things together for the quarterback that is playing for you."
Q: Their defense leads the league in sacks and takeaways. The Bills have eight interceptions. You always focus on takeaways. Do you have to emphasize it more this week?
Daboll: "That's something that you stress on a week-to-week basis. That's one of the most important things in terms of giving yourself a chance to win the game. They happen for a various amount of reasons. You have to play a complementary football game. If you get too far behind and you have to throw it on every play against a team like this, they can rush the passer and drop seven and play zone coverage, read the quarterback. You're putting yourself in a disadvantaged situation. They also have players that are flat out good ballhawks, or they can rush the passer and have a knack of getting it off the quarterback or they're so fast, they run to the ball and get strips from behind. It's about complementary football. It's about doing your job offensively or in the kicking game when you're asked to handle the ball to make sure that you handle it the right way, make good decisions at quarterback and do a good job blocking in pass protection so that you're not getting blindsided and then playing, again, a complementary football game to where it just doesn't turn into a dropback game."
Q: You were asked recently about whether you have talked to a specific player, and you said you try to talk to every player every day. When the team is struggling, what do you say to them? Do you try to give them a positive message?
Daboll: "I think it's case by case. When you're talking to the team, you're real with things that need to be improved and also some things that are good and you show it to them. I think different players respond in different ways when you're having private conversations. That's your job to know that. It happened last year when we had a fast start. You have to be able to balance it, be consistent. Talk to them about things that we can get better at as a team. Also, show them, here's some good things where we are making some progress. Most of the time, it's just a real message. You acknowledge the things that you're falling short on, you work on them to improve them. You go out there with the right mindset. You have a good, positive attitude."
Q: The players don't live in a vacuum; they hear what's being said about them in the outside world. Do you have to be mindful of that?
Daboll: "I think you have to just be real about it. You do it with the right mindset, the right focus, the right intentions and you prepare, practice, take care of your bodies, study, do all the things you need to do each week. That's the National Football League. I've said it, I don't know how many times, it's a very humbling league and the ability to stay focused and committed to doing things the way you need to do them. That'll never change."