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Coach Daboll Weekly Q&A

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Dabs' Digest: Weekly 1-on-1 with Coach Brian Daboll

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Dabs' Digest, Giants.com's weekly conversation with head coach Brian Daboll:

Q: Does it seem strange to be playing a game on Christmas?

Daboll: "Yeah, a little different. A little different. Making sure that our schedules are how we need them to be, but it's a little different than - this is my first time. In 20-something years, I can't remember playing on Christmas."

Q: It's the Giants' first ever game on Christmas Day.

Daboll: "It's a privilege to be part of the game."

Q: I don't want to mention the number for fear of jinxing him, but Tommy DeVito has a pretty long streak without throwing an interception. Is that one of the impressive things for a young quarterback, that he doesn't put the ball in harm's way?

Daboll: "That's an important part of playing that position. You touch it on every play and making sure that we're possessing the ball is a critical component to playing that position. He's done a good job with it. There's always risk and reward to every play. So, making the right decision, whether that's to throw it vertical, to throw it intermediate, to throw it short. That's what we're working on with him."

Q: You've worked with a lot of quarterbacks. Is consistently throwing the ball to the right spot one of the most challenging aspects of the position?

Daboll: "Well, there's a lot of things that go into playing quarterback. I wouldn't say it's just for young quarterbacks, it's quarterbacks in general. You place a high premium on taking care of the ball and to possess it to give you an opportunity to move it down the field. There's a lot of things that go into play with that, not just the quarterback. It's the receivers being where they're supposed to be, the line protecting, the running back making sure he knows where the blitz pickup is. It's a collective effort, but he does have the ball in his hands and when he's got time to go ahead and make sure he's reading the coverage the proper way and throw it to the right guy, that's something you teach in meetings. You put a high emphasis on it, you do it in practice and then until you get to the game, when you actually can get hit and taken down, you've got to make sure even on those sacks, you're doing things the best way you can to maintain possession of the ball."

View photos of the Giants on the practice field ahead of the Week 16 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles.

Q: Last week (in New Orleans), your average distance to-go on third down was almost 11 yards, which is obviously tough. Does that start with not gaining enough on first down?

Daboll: "We weren't where we needed to be. So, you get into disadvantaged situations where you're not able to play the way that you would like to play offensively in terms of staying ahead of the down and distances, skipping some third downs - staying two dimensional, if you will, to where it's at an 80 percent rate of if you think it's going to be a pass or even more than that. We have to do a good job of executing on early downs."

Q: You made a point last month of saying you wanted to get Jalin Hyatt more involved. He had the 109-yard game against New England. Last week, he didn't catch a pass. Is that a rookie thing?

Daboll: "It's not just a rookie thing. Sometimes that happens. But we've got to try to continue to bring him along and Wan'Dale (Robinson), keep bringing him along. Those guys are doing everything they can do to be ready to play."

Q: Justin Pugh has been very critical of himself for how he played last week. He's been very vocal about it. He said, "this is a perfect time to show who I am as a man and as a player." Do you like when a player takes responsibility and accountability like that?

Daboll: "That's what we try to stress, but he's a veteran player. He's done this for a long time, so I appreciate how much of a pro he is."

Q: We haven't talked much about (defensive lineman) A'Shawn Robinson all season, but in the last two weeks when Dex (Dexter Lawrence) has had his snaps limited, he's had eight tackles in each game, and he seems to have really stepped up when you needed him to.

Daboll: "He's been a good addition to our football team all year. How he is in the meetings as a leader, how he is practicing. He's always available and he's done a good job out there on the field. He's been a good addition to the team."

Q: (Safety) Jason Pinnock is the only player on the team with two sacks and two interceptions. To have a guy that can take an interception 102 yards and sack a quarterback, that's pretty good.

Daboll: "He's very athletically gifted and we use him in a variety of roles, whether it's play back in the deep part of the field or play man-to-man cover blitz. He has position flexibility and he's another guy that we picked up last year that's really been good for us."

Q: I assume somewhere along the time in your career, you've been on a team that had to use three kickers. I don't know about a punter trying a field goal, but it is unusual to use so many kickers in one season.

Daboll: "Yes, particularly in the game. We try to have backup plans, but never had two of them in one game."

Q: The Eagles have lost three in a row. I assume you look at them and see the team that won the NFC Championship last year.

Daboll: "They also lost to some pretty good teams. We've played those teams, pretty good football teams. This is a heck of a football team. They're well coached and they have very talented players. They're 10-4 for a reason."

Q: They've often try to pass to get to a lead and then run to protect the lead. The other night in Seattle they ran often early.

Daboll: "I think they're a good coaching staff. It's game plan specific. We have to do a good job of having a good week of practice and preparing for the things that they like to do."

Q: I guess every coach who faces the Eagles gets the same question. What do you think of the Tush Push and how do you stop it?

Daboll: "I think it's a very productive play for them and it's pretty much like first-and-nine every series, because they get it over 90 percent of the time. It's difficult."

Q: That's a big reason why Jalen Hurts has 14 rushing touchdowns, but he also runs the ball well when he's not Tush-Pushing it.

Daboll: 'I'd say he runs it and throws it well. This guy's been a winner since high school. He has won over 75 percent of his games in high school, college and the pros as a starting quarterback. It's pretty hard to do."

Q: A.J. Brown is second in the league with 1,300 receiving yards. DeVonta Smith needs 43 to get to 1,000. They may have a 1000-yard rusher (in D'Andre Swift). Is this a top-level skill group in your estimation?

Daboll: "Absolutely. They're very good."

Q: We always talk about their defensive line. Their veterans are playing well and now they added two young guys.

Daboll: "(Jalen) Carter, (Fletcher) Cox, (Jordan) Davis, (Josh) Sweat, (Brandon) Graham's in there, Milton Williams. I'd say the list goes on - very, very good group. If you get behind, they're very tough to block."

Q: Last week with Darius Slay out, Kelee Ringo and Eli Ricks played much more than they had. What did you see on tape from them?

Daboll: "Talented guys. I'm sure we'll see them for our game, too. They rolled them in, and we'll see how they want to play their back end. If they play it the way they want to play it and they can rush the passer, that really helps everybody."

Q: What has (safety Kevin) Byard done for them since he arrived?

Daboll: "Smart, veteran player. He's been a heck of a player in this league for a long time and he still is."

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