Head Coach Brian Daboll
Q: You had some big contributions yesterday from rookies. How important is that to the overall development of your team and the long term future?
A: We're focused on, obviously, this week, but those guys did a good job and they've done a good job preparing. (Outside linebacker Tomon) Fox was in there at the end of the game. Whatever play that (outside linebacker) Kayvon (Thibodeaux) had. Our coaches try to do the best job they can in developing these players wherever they were selected or however they got here. They've been doing a good job. I think our rookie development program for off-the-field stuff with (Director of Player Engagement) Ashley Lynn. I think it's definitely important to develop all your players but particularly young players as the season goes on. The more they gain good experience, I think that helps in the long run.
Q: Is it harder to do that when you're winning because the winning becomes the thing more than anything? Or does it make it easier because it's developing as part of the culture?
A: One more time on the question.
Q: Is it harder because you're winning to train young guys or does it become part of their culture and that becomes a really good thing?
A: You mean like harder to play them?
A: No, no. We try to put the best guys out there that we think can help us win. Those guys have certainly earned the right to play. Whether you're a rookie or a 10-year vet, what we try to do is give the opportunities to the guys that have earned them. Again, I think that obviously playing young players – that helps in the long run.
Q: Thibodeaux - you weren't in the locker room yet, you were probably at the podium. His teammates actually gave him a big ovation in the locker room. It was kind of a cool scene when the media huddled around him. What does that say about a guy who obviously came in with a high draft status, big contract and it seems like his teammates really like him. Maybe a sense of ego-lessness or what not? What does that say about Thibodeaux?
A: I think Thibodeaux has been good since he's been here. He's a very humble person. He loves the game of football. He had to fight through some stuff, obviously injury-wise. He's very attentive in meetings, he asks good questions. I think the players have a lot of respect for him. He got his first sack there at a critical time. It's good to see the guys happy for him.
Q: The last two games you guys have given up eight scores – four field goals and four touchdowns – and the insuing drives, your offense has scored six of the eight times. So basically, when you guys are getting punched, you are punching back. I'm wondering if there's anything to that? Is that just a coincidence or is this up to you guys having your best drives on offense after you give up a score on defense whether that's the players, the coaches doing something different. What do you attribute that to?
A: I think good execution. Again, you can't focus on the scoreboard or what's happening with the other side of the ball either way or in the kicking game. You have to go out there and be prepared and ready to go and execute. Those guys, along with (offensive coordinator Mike) Kafka calling the plays, have done a good job with that.
Q: Did you get out of this game without any serious injuries?
A: I think so. I'm going to meet with these guys after I do our meeting right now. But I think we should be in fairly good shape.
Q: With (wide receiver) Wan'Dale Robinson, we obviously saw he's coming back, it was his first game back and he only played 14 snaps. How much more can he be involved in the offense and what can he give you long term here?
A: I'm just worried about this week. Hopefully we can get some more reps out of him. We'll see where he's at after I talk to (Senior Vice President, Medical Services/Head Athletic Trainer) Ronnie (Barnes) and those guys. We had a plan going into this game and we'll play him hopefully a little bit more this week.
Q: (Running back) Saquon (Barkley) obviously banged up his shoulder a little bit, it's something he dealt with the previous week. How can you guys maybe help him moving forward? Have you thought about potentially resting him during the week, things like that and is that something that is even on your radar at this point?
A: I think, regardless of what player it is, obviously Saquon touches the ball, gets a lot of playing time and we always talk about that stuff. We'll cross that bridge when we get to Wednesday here. We'll have some conversations about it. Saquon, he's a tough customer.
Q: I want to ask you a little bit about expectations. I know you don't consider any kind of outside expectations for your team but inside, first of all, are you the kind of coach that address records, standings, division, conference with your team? I know other coaches put that up there on the board. Here's where we are – that kind of thing. If you don't do it now, do you think you may do it at some point later in the season?
A: I think the big thing for us is just focusing on what we can control, which is each day, get ready for the team we're about to play – Jacksonville in this case – have a good workday, prepare the right way. That's where our focus will always be.
Q: Expectations rise outside the building when you have a 5-1 record. Do you think that can affect players either positively or negatively? For example, 'we are a good team and if we keep doing what we're doing, we're going to be an even better team.' As opposed to losing and wondering what's going on?
A: I'd say our focus is really what we need to do each week. Again, it's probably not the flashiest of answers but it's the truth. We just focus on the things we need to do, which is to make sure we understand what we need to do as a team, first and foremost. Study our opponents, go out there, practice well, put everything you have into the week leading up to the game. If you do that, you can live with the results. If you're doing things right during the week and putting everything you have into it, your preparation and coaching staff, support staff, players, and trainers. There's only one game a week obviously and it's not many of these things. So, everything we've got each week and that's really where we focus.
Q: Players can gain confidence by success though, can't they?
A: Probably, yeah. I think that's a better question for those guys, but one week really has nothing to do with the next. Again, it's a humbling league. You're one week from falling off a cliff. It takes a lot of effort, preparation, and time to put into it. You have to play very well to give yourself an opportunity to win because it's such a tough league.
Q: I was thinking in terms of player development, you'd talked about preparing for the season; kind of digging into film of Saquon where you said you guys went back to Penn State film, looked at stuff he did well there and try to coach that up and work that into your offense. Did you do that across the board with your players? Thinking of guys who returned from last year, (safety) Julian Love or (outside linebacker) Oshane Ximines, did you have your position coaches kind of dig up tape when those guys were coming out and develop plans for each individual player?
A: I'd say we looked at all the tape here. Obviously, Saquon with his talent, an unbelievable player when he was in college. You want to get a feel for what was good to use back in the day for him, what was good his rookie year, and (what's) happened the previous couple of years. All our coaches did an extensive study on all the guys that were potentially on our roster. Going all the way back, most of these guys evaluate them coming out of school, so there's some recollection there, and then watch them play. The best thing obviously now is with the OTA's, the training camp, and now these games, whether they're in your system and you see their movement skills and you understand some of their strengths and some of their weaknesses, I think that's really the best thing for all of us. Then once you figure out what they do well in your system, if you've got to adjust and adapt as a coach, that's what you do.
Q: Just curious, what did (outside linebacker) Jihad Ward not play on the last two defensive series of the game?
A: That's the package we had in, and he was excited. He was the first one jumping up and down on the sideline, which we showed. Just our rotation.
Q: Just to get back to Saquon's injury, he came off the field for one play and came right back in. Is that just something you're going to have to deal with throughout this season now if he lands on it wrong or gets it twisted or whatever happens? He's just going to have to come off to the sideline, get squared away, and then go back in?
A: If it happens, yeah. I can't tell you what's going to happen or not. Each week you get a little bit better. Like I said, he's a pretty tough guy and he'll get his treatment, and he'll be ready to go.
Q: You look at the teams that are 5-1 and 6-0, most of them are quarterback-driven offenses. Did you come into the season believing that a running back-driven offense could succeed in this league or has this convinced you?
A: I don't really think of it like that, I don't understand the question. I think you just develop your team as you go and do what you need to do to try and win each week. Whether that's hand it off a bunch, (or) whether that's throw it a bunch. We've been heavy on the run side, but I don't think about it as it's a pass offense or run offense. I just think each week there's things you need to try to do to win the game and that's what we'll try to do.
Q: You guys have had some really creative plays. I'm just curious, where do you come up with these and I'm thinking of the direct snap to Saquon, and he gives it to Daniel or the pass to (running back Matt) Breida. How do you come up with some of these and what's the process like from you guys in the coaches offices to getting it on the field?
A: A lot of these we've run at some point in ti, but so are all the other coaches on the staff and I think there's good give and take in the meetings when they're meeting. Again, whatever personnel groups we use and the people that are active, you try to find a role for them. It might be only a few plays, it might be a little bit more, but I'd say there's a lot of discussion. It starts after you start watching the opponent and get into the game plan here for the next few days. Just trying to do what we think we need to do to give ourselves a chance. Really no more than that.
Q: Is it a little bit fun? You can draw up inside zone, but when you come up with a play like that and see it work, is that a little bit part of the fun for you guys?
A: It's fun if it works. If it doesn't work, it's not really fun.
Wide Receiver Darius Slayton
Q: The stat in the last two games when you've given up points on defense – eight scores, four touchdowns and four field goals – six of the eight times the offense has come right back and scored. What is to that? That's complementary football at its finest. Why is that? Why is it when you guys give up defensive points, you have your best offensive drives?
A: I don't know. It's kind of funny I've got a running joke going with (Quarterback) Tyrod (Taylor) that is the same kind of thing. They score and then we go and get it right back. I don't really quite know what the reason for that is, but it's like you said, it's great complementary football. Our defense does a great job of keeping people out of the endzone which obviously holds them to three or nothing which makes your job a lot easier on offense. That's kind of the goal, though. Any time the opposing offense scores, go down there and get an answer quick.
Q: If you look at the box scores, they don't jump out as a 5-1 team. You got outgained yesterday. The first downs are even. You don't have a ton of takeaways on defense. Does it feel like something else is going on? Almost like something magic is going on where you guys are better than the numbers actually say?
A: We kind of do a breakdown every week of major categories like turnovers, third-down percentage, explosive plays, the first half and special teams. We ended up winning three out of the five. We only got two takeaways, but we only turned it over once, so we won that. Our offensive third-down percentage was better than theirs, they had more explosives than us and they won the first half. With (Running Back) Gary's (Brightwell) return out to the 50, that obviously led to our first touchdown, and we did a good job of mitigating their returns on special teams. Even though it might not be the flashy, (Running back) Saquon (Barkley) ran for 200, (Quarterback Daniel Jones) DJ ran for 400 and threw four and I had 10 for 150 – we've been effective in the areas the areas that you need to be effective to win football games.
Q: How much talk is there in the locker room about 5-1, where you are in the division, where you are in the conference and things like that?
A: Not much to be honest with you. We are all on the same page of just taking it one week at a time and focusing on the opponent we have ahead of us. Obviously, this week is Jacksonville and just trying to go 1-0 every week.
Q: At some point, will that become more of a focus or a discussion when positioning and things are more appropriate?
A: No, I don't think it will mostly because we have experience of ignoring our record for bad reasons (laughs). That experience is probably going to pay off if we continue this trend and later on in the season of just ignoring and keep playing ball, keep playing good ball and the results take care of itself.
Q: Is it better to ignore a bad record or a good record?
A: Much better to ignore a good one, I can attest (laughs).
Q: When did that joke start with Tyrod?
A: Like a couple of weeks ago. We've had a couple of these games now. I can't remember which game specifically but a couple of weeks ago. Even Sunday, I said something to him about it. I was like, 'Man they went and scored and look we came right back and scored.' It's just kind of how it's been going for whatever reason.
Q: You guys have gotten so much credit for what you've done in the second half and the fourth quarters, but the first halves haven't always been great. Can you put your finger on anything about why you guys have gotten off to some slow starts and what you can do to fix that?
A: It's hard to say specifically, but I can say that there are plays that have been there and we've been a guy away here, a guy away there and it just comes down to all 11 guys executing at a high level. Obviously, that will help us get faster starts. Although we have closed games well, you can always improve in the areas you are doing well in. That just comes down to (inaudible) doing our jobs better.
Q: When you talk about the creativity of this offense, I'm curious when you see plays every week when you wonder where they came from, at least from the outside. Obviously, you guys have been practicing these plays and it's not something you put in on Fridays. When (Head Coach Brian Daboll) Dabs and (Offensive Coordinator Mike) Kafka and the coaching staff started putting in these offensive plays, I assume going all the way back to the spring or even in training camp, what was your reaction? Are you surprised that, as much as you practiced it, you're actually using these plays that maybe back then seemed so creative that there's no way we're going to get to that in a key moment of the game?
A: Yeah, I mean definitely. There's so much install and so much of the game is played within your base install, so to speak. It's always exciting. They're always coming up with fresh ideas, new ideas and I think it just shows the guts they have to call those types of plays in those situations that can win the game or not win the game as opposed to a lot of people sometimes get cold feet and maybe go with the safe call. I think they've done a great job of going for it and being aggressive and trying to win the football game. Obviously, at the end of the day it doesn't really matter what they call, we've got to go out there and execute it regardless. I think it's just exciting, it keeps things fresh and new. It's a lot of fun to be an offensive player.
Q: You talk to any coach and they say the last thing you want to be is in third and long. At least in the last two weeks, why have you guys been able to convert so many of those?
A: I don't know. You're right, though – we dang sure don't want to be in them. I think when it comes down to it kind of like I said earlier, as long as you execute and to a manner everybody does their job – no matter if it's first and five or third and 25 – you always have a chance. It might be a big chance if it's third and 25 but you have a chance to pick it up. I think that's just, all it's been, is us executing when we needed to.
Q: It seems like you guys have been keeping more max-protect on those plays. What is it like when you are a receiver and you're running a route and there's three of you and six or seven of them – how much harder is it to get open in those situations?
A: I don't really think of it that way. I think of it more as you've got more time. If you've got six, seven guys blocking that just gives me – I'm going to find a way. I'm going to find a hole; somebody is going to slip or trip or do something. As a receiver, you'll figure it out if you want the ball. That's kind of my approach to it.
Q: Or you can make them fall like (Wide Receiver) Wan'Dale (Robinson), right?
A: Man, or that. That works too.
Outside Linebacker Oshane Ximines
Q: I believe it was you who was flying across the other way when (Safety) Julian (Love) made that interception, right?
Q: What did you see on that play and what happened? You got banged up on that play?
A: Yeah, I was supposed to be rushing that play, but (Ravens Quarterback) Lamar (Jackson) – he mishandled the snap, and kind of got out of the pocket. I noticed I was never going to get to the quarterback, but I saw the fullback just standing there wide open. So, I'm like, 'I'm just going to go try to make a play on that,' because I saw he was about to throw it to him. I tried to get there the best I could. Love, he was the best man, he got there first. I kind of tweaked my quad a little bit on that play. But I'm alright though.
Q: You guys have gotten so much credit for what you've done in the second halves and fourth quarters, especially. But of course, that means in the first half sometimes things don't go so well. Can you put your finger on why that might be and what you guys need to do to be better at the start of these games?
A: I can't really put my finger on exactly what it is. I just try to come in and do my job to the best of my ability. But Coach (Head Coach Brian Daboll) always preaches coming out to a fast start, and I feel like as long as we stick to our one plays every time and mentality and just try to maximize every single play that we have, I think that we'll be alright.
Q: Obviously, coaches are always careful about when they're talking to us and you guys about not getting too ahead of yourselves no matter how good the record is. When you are talking amongst yourselves, do you remind yourselves within your own room that '5-1 is great, but you've got to keep it in perspective?'
A: We just try to make sure we're putting one foot in front of the other, not looking too far down the road and making sure we're maximizing every practice and every rep that we get before the game and staying focused and trying to keep the wins coming.
Q: You were a rookie once upon a time. What do you think about the way that these rookies are playing? (Outside Linebacker Kayvon) Thibodeaux, (Safety Dane) Belton had a huge role. On offense, you've got (Wide Receiver) Wan'Dale (Robinson) and (Tight End Daniel) Bellinger scoring. What kind of lift has this rookie class given you, really on both sides of the ball?
A: I love this rookie class, not just on the field, but off the field and in the locker room. They've got great energy. They come to work; they come ready to work every single day. All those guys, they made great plays, and they stepped up big in this game. They all contributed to the win, and I'm proud of all those dudes. We're just going to keep them rolling, keep them going so they can keep making those plays and we can keep getting those wins.
Q: I don't know if you were in the locker room. Where you there when everybody gave an ovation to Thibodeaux?
A: Yeah, I was in there.
Q: What was that all about? Why was everybody cheering? I've never seen that before. Why him? Why did he get that kind of reaction from everybody?
A: It was a big day for him because he got his first career sack. It's a moment that we all shared with him, and we're all going to remember that together. It was a big moment for him, and we all love him there in the locker room. So, we all just wanted to show him some love on his big day. It was a big play, too. You know, a strip-sack to win the game – it doesn't get much bigger than that. He had a great play; we were all happy for him.
Q: Coming into training camp this year, you knew that you had (Outside Linebacker) Azeez (Ojulari), and you drafted Kayvon first. Did you wonder at all how much playing time you were going to get this year? And so far, you've had more than you've ever had and maybe contributed to these six-games-in more than you ever had. How has that been for you?
A: I knew I was going to work my tail off coming into camp just to get a spot on the team. I really didn't wonder about playing time and other things. I just tried to come in and maximize every day I had, every opportunity that I had. That's been working for me. I'm just trying to stick to that and not worry about the other things I can't control.
Q: Were you actually worried that you weren't going to make the team?
A: I tried not to think about it. I just tried to do my best every day.
Q: How aware are you and do you think your teammates of where the Giants are? Standings, division, conference, things like that?
A: I mean, really when you look at that, none of that stuff matters, honestly. We still have a long season to go, and no matter where we are now or what the record is, it doesn't matter. We've still got to come out and play this Sunday coming up. We're just trying to stay focused on game planning and just do what we've got to do to get ready for Sunday.
Q: If I asked you to give me the records for all the teams in the division, could you rattle them off for me? Or could you not?
A: I probably could (laughs).
Q: Will it matter at some point? At some point it begins to matter, right?
A: Of course, but it doesn't matter if we don't take care of business on Sunday. That's what we're just trying to focus on.
Q: If you want to give me the records, I'll listen. But I don't want to put you on the spot.
Q: I've kind of listened to Dabs (Head Coach Brian Daboll) and you talk about the records and focusing on the next game. You mean to tell me you haven't looked at the schedule and seen that you have the Jags (Jacksonville Jaguars), who are 2-4, the (Seattle) Seahawks, who are 3-3, the (Houston) Texans, who are 1-3-1, and Detroit (Lions), who's 1-4, coming up and you haven't imagined being 9-1?
A: No. We're just focused on the next game, which is Jacksonville. We just try to stick to that and try not to look too far ahead.
Q: Do you know your nose is growing a little?
A: (Laughs) It probably is, I don't know.