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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, a weekly conversation with Giants head coach Brian Daboll:

Q: This is your first Thanksgiving as a head coach in which you're not playing. How do you alter the schedule for the players and the coaches?

Daboll: "We'll be in earlier in the day and start meetings earlier in the day and then they'll get out a little earlier than they normally would. And then we'll be back to a normal Friday. So, push it up so they get a little bit more on the back end."

Q: Last year you were playing on Thanksgiving, but on a normal Thanksgiving, do you like to watch football like most of America?

Daboll: "When I'm home, normal Thanksgiving, have a good meal, watch some football. It really hasn't been too normal for the last 25 years based on my job. I've played a lot of games on Thanksgiving, and then the times where we didn't practice on Thanksgiving, we just sit down and hang with the family and still watch football."

Q: So, you've been watching a lot of Cowboys (on Thanksgiving), you don't get home for the Lions most years?

Daboll: "Yeah, and they added the night game. But we'll get our work done during the day so people will be able to go home and spend time with their families."

Q: You've said several times about Tommy DeVito that he didn't throw much against the Jets because you played the game a certain way. As you've watched him since then, have you been able to expand the game plans or the play-calling because you see he's capable of doing a little more?

Daboll: "He's done a good job since he's been here from OTAs of learning our system and what we've put in the game plan. We've put in things that we thought we needed to have for the game plan. It wasn't, 'Let's not put this in because Tommy's playing.' He's done a good job of picking up the things that we ask him to do. The important part is there is good give and take between him and Mike (Kafka, the offensive coordinator) and Shea (Tierney, the quarterbacks coach), that those guys communicate with one another. You're always trying to do stuff that the quarterback feels most comfortable with, but he understands our system."

Q: On Sunday, on third down, he was seven for eight for 113 yards and two touchdowns. He had a perfect passer rating. Can a quarterback cover up some deficiencies when he is that proficient on third down?

Daboll: "They're all important. The fewer third downs you have, usually the more efficiently you're playing. When you have third down, it's a big down that keeps the drive alive and keeps possession of the ball and allows you to have an opportunity to go down and score. It's definitely an important down, but we've got to do a good job of playing well on early downs as well."

View photos from the Quest Diagnostics Training Center as the Giants gear up for the Patriots.

Q: You said after the Washington game that not all nine sacks were on the offensive line, so some were attributed to Tommy. Is that the next step for him, learning how to avoid some of those sacks and either get rid of the ball or just not lose yardage?

Daboll: "It's the second game he's played in, so the more he plays it will help him improve the best it can. I think he did a lot of good things in that game to help us win."

Q: He's become a little bit of a cult hero story with his chicken cutlets and living at home and vodka sauce on his chicken parm. I know you're focused on preparing him as a player, but do you get a kick out of some of that?

Daboll: "I have a lot of confidence that he handles things the right way. He was in here early on Tuesday (the players' day off). He's put a lot of work in, he met with Mike, he met with Shea. I talked to him for a little while. He's got a pretty level head and he's just focused on doing his job the best he can for the team. That's an important thing. It's not often that you get to work in your hometown or for your team that you grew up with. I had an opportunity to do that as a coordinator (in Buffalo). It's not the same as being a quarterback, but there's different challenges that come along with it when you're home. I think his focus is on the right spot. He's a mature guy and he knows there's a lot to work on and a lot to improve on. Communication is important, but he's handled himself since he's been here the right way."

Q: Before he had his big run the other day, Saquon (Barkley) was minus-2 yards on six carries. Then he broke the 36-yarder and finished with 83 yards. Is that a good example of the importance of sticking with the run or going back to it even if it's not working?

Daboll: "I just think we did a good job of making a few adjustments. The guys blocked the plays well. It doesn't really matter if there's 60 runs in a game if you think that's the way you need to play the game to win or if you have 60 passes. It's about adjusting. You have a plan going into it. Give Washington credit. They did a good job on a few of those plays and we did a good job on a few of them. So, there's not a number that we earmarked to hit, whether it's a run or the pass. It's just how the game's going and what we think we need to do."

Q: Saquon wasn't able to run for as much as he liked, but you got him involved in the passing game and he was able to contribute that way.

Daboll: "Yeah, he made a nice play on a scramble (in the first quarter). I thought DeVito gave him a chance. He went up and caught the ball there on the sideline for a 21-yard gain and ran a wheel route out of the red zone and again, ran a good route and DeVito made a very good throw, kept it away from the safety, he got it up and down quick and then he had a little burst route, if you will, did a good job of running away from the defender. DeVito put it right where he needed it to give him an opportunity to catch. If the ball is around four inches behind him, he's probably going to get tackled there. Each game is a little bit different. He can help us in either area."

Q: You had eight plays of 20 or more yards, the most in your tenure. Obviously, it was nice to get that going, but how much better are your prospects when you can get some chunk plays like that?

Daboll: "You have some of those third downs and usually if you get a chunk play, you've got a good opportunity to get points on the board. So, whether that's through the air or throw it down to (Darius) Slayton, who was wide open (on his 40-yard touchdown reception), or (Daniel) Bellinger or a catch and run by Wan'Dale (Robinson) or a good scramble play by Saquon, those are all helpful plays. It's about throwing where you're supposed to throw it, making a catch when you can make the catch, or getting a good block for a big run. Those always help."

Q: The day after the game, you brought up Wan'Dale's block on Saquon's long run. He's not the biggest guy on the team – for him to block like that, what kind of an example does that set?

Daboll: "He's a good team player, doing his job the best he can to help his teammate out. Obviously, that was a big play for us. I think Shepard had a really good block, too. Bellinger sealed. A couple of linemen pulled. But being unselfish and doing the dirty work, sometimes receivers have to do that."

Q: (Bobby) Okereke and (Micah) McFadden have combined for 170 tackles. They have also combined for three takeaways this season, which is a little unusual. Do you think that it's just coincidence or is that because they have a good connection?

Daboll: "What I think it is, they play hard, they're aggressive. They've been good players for us. Bobby's been a really good addition and Micah, I've said this plenty of times, he's one of the young guys that we drafted last year that played a lot of football for us from last year and has really grown from that. Those two guys have done a good job. (Inside linebackers coach John) Egorugwu has really done a good job with both of those players and they're the right kind of people, too. Great teammates, love the game of football, prepare, good leadership, great effort to the ball. Those two guys have done a nice job."

Q: Kavyon (Thibodeaux) has made a difference with 10.5 sacks. Is he also developing as an all-around player - setting the edge against the run and doing everything else you look for at that position?

Daboll: "He's a really good teammate, really never misses anything in terms of he's out there practicing every day. He's played a lot of football for us; he's improved and does everything we ask him to do and has good leadership about him and cares about the team. He's a good guy to have on your team."

Q: Do you expect to see (New England quarterback) Mac Jones on Sunday?

Daboll: "No, until they announce it, which I'm sure they haven't. You have to ask coach (Bill) Belichick that question."

Q: I doubt he'll take my call. (Offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien) did say three quarterbacks practiced with the first team, so do you have to prepare for all three?

Daboll: "You look at tape, whether it was Will Grier at Carolina or Dallas in the preseason, even (Malik) Cunningham, I know he's back there. Then (Bailey) Zappe has come in and he played a couple of games last year. You watch as much tape as you can. But their offense, I think coach O'Brien does a good job of moving guys around and motioning guys and doing what he needs to do to try to give them a chance each week. They're a game plan team. It's important to really study their players, their scheme and then obviously the quarterback, whoever they choose to play. But we're going to make sure we do work on them."

Q: What are your memories of Mac from your time together in Alabama (in 2017)?

Daboll: "Good young man. Really good family. Cares about the game. Good person on and off the field. He was a true freshman, but he was a good young person."

Q: They've struggled on offense a lot of the year. Their numbers are not great, but when you watch the tape, who stands out?

Daboll: "(Running backs Rhamondre) Stevenson and (Ezekiel) Elliott are two guys that can get the ball downhill. Stevenson had a 65-yarder a few games ago. He runs with power, good vision. They run the ball downhill, they've got a variety of run schemes and then they've had some different guys in at receiver. I'd say (DeVante) Parker, I would expect him back. (Mike) Gesicki and Hunter Henry are two vet tight ends that are good players. They've had a bye week. They've had three games where the score was kind of out of hand a little bit and then the other four games come down to the wire. Philadelphia, Miami, Washington, Indianapolis, those could have gone easily the other way. So, we've got a lot of work to do and got to go out there and perform well."

Q: (Demario) Douglas is on pace to set their rookie record for receptions under Belichick, which was set by Deion Branch in 2002, when his position coach was one Brian Daboll.

Daboll: "He's done a nice job. You can put his name in there when I said the other guys and put (Ju-Ju Smith-)Schuster in there, too."

Q: Defensively, (lineman Christian) Barmore doesn't have big numbers, but he seems to clog up the middle a lot.

Daboll: "They're a top team or near the top in the league in production on first down and red zone. They're good at stopping the run. I'd say they play good team defense. They don't give up a lot of big plays. They tackle well, they mix their coverages, they mix their fronts. It's a game plan team and they do a great job with game planning each opponent. I mean, again, 10-6 against Indianapolis, 20-17 against Washington, 24-17 against Miami, 21-17 against Las Vegas. They do a good job defensively. They have a good staff, and they have players that play well together."

Q: Would you be in the chair you now occupy if you hadn't worked for Bill Belichick?

A: "Bill gave me my first opportunity in this league. I'm forever grateful for the opportunity that he gave me and he's one heck of a coach. He's also a good man. Certainly, the opportunities that I've had throughout my career started with the opportunity that he gave me. My family and I are grateful."

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