EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Dabs' Digest, Giants.com's weekly conversation with head coach Brian Daboll:
Q: The NFL is a very competitive league, but it is also a close-knit brotherhood community. When something like the (Bills safety) Damar (Hamlin) tragedy happens, do you all support each other? Have you heard from people around the league? Have you reached out to people?
Daboll: "I think anytime there's a tragedy, that brings people close together. I reached out to a bunch of my friends just to let them know that I'm praying for Damar and for them. (I said), 'Not that I can do anything, but I'm here if you need anything.'"
Q: It helps them. Do you find it helps you as well to at least make that contact – that personal contact?
Q: You told us about the team meeting. Did you specifically talk with guys like (cornerback Nick) McCloud and (safety Jason) Pinnock, who have been teammates of Damar?
Daboll: "Yeah, absolutely. I reached out to those guys shortly after that happened – guys that played with him or went to school with him."
Q: You mentioned you were watching the game at the time. Do you normally watch the Monday night game?
Daboll: "It's on as I'm doing stuff."
Q: Once the incident happened did you –
Daboll: "Probably like everybody else. I was more in shock than anything."
Q: And did you immediately start hearing from people or reaching out to people?
Daboll: "No, I waited. When I thought the appropriate time, then I reached out."
View photos of head coach Brian Daboll's time with the New York Giants.
Q: You mentioned after the victory against the Colts that making the just playoffs will never be the goal. It's a first step, but do you still take pride in that you have reached that plateau in your first year here?
Daboll: "Absolutely. I think that there's a lot of people that put a lot of hard work into this season, just like there is every season. We try to string some wins together and, by the end of it, see where we're at. Obviously, I'm grateful for the people in our building – the coaches, the players, the support staff. It's a total team effort. And they put a lot into it. And we reached one of our goals."
Q: Along those lines, you did import a lot of players when you arrived. But a lot of the turnaround here has been fueled by the guys that were here previously, like (quarterback) Daniel (Jones), (running back) Saquon (Barkley), (wide receiver) Darius (Slayton), (defensive linemen) Dexter (Lawrence), Leonard (Williams), (safety) Julian (Love). They've all elevated their game since you got here. As a staff, is there a certain satisfaction in that?
Daboll: "I'd say it's satisfaction for the players. It's our job to make sure that we help the players any way we can – whether that's off the field, on the field – and help them be the best versions of themselves so they can go out there and do what they do best. I'm very thankful for the coaching staff that we have here and really the support staff here. Everybody's involved in it, and certainly the players. They bought in early. Player-driven leadership is important. But I'm very thankful for the coaches that I get to work with that I think do a great job."
Q: Do you plan to reveal your plan for who will play/not play before the game Sunday in Philadelphia?
Daboll: "Nope. Just keep it normal – what we do every week. We'll talk about it Friday night and make our decisions and have a great week of practice."
Q: Everyone understands the reasoning behind resting players. How about playing guys that have been sidelined who haven't been on the field for a while before a playoff game. The most obvious is (cornerback) Adoree' (Jackson). Is that a consideration?
Daboll: "I'd say we're going to do what's best for our team."
Q: Normally after a division opponent defeats you soundly in the first game, as a competitor, you want to go out and beat them. Obviously, this is a circumstance where you have to look at a much bigger picture. Is that a consideration?
Daboll: "I'd say our focus is on Philadelphia to try to do what we need to do to put a good gameplan together, have a good week of practice, go out there and execute on Sunday."
Q: Most of the questions going into this game, for you, have been about personnel – who you're going to play, who you're not going to play. If you rest starters, the phrase "you're treat it like a preseason game" will be used. Is it also like that regarding strategy?
Daboll: "I would just say we have confidence in every player on our team that is playing for us. And each week, we try to put together the best plan that we can put together and then ultimately go out there and execute it."
Q: Do you believe in momentum carrying over from week to week?
Daboll: "I believe in playing as good as you can play and coaching as good as you can coach each week."
Q: This will be your ninth consecutive week with a game since the bye. Does that heavy workload enter into your thinking?
Daboll: "I would just say that our strength and conditioning staff, our trainers, our sports science, we try to schedule and do what we think is best for the players. We've changed some practices. We've eliminated some time. We've added more on other things. We had the Thursday game. We had a Saturday game. So, I think you start from the beginning, all the way back through training camp, and go all the way back through now. We have a short-term plan, a week-to-week plan, but those things add up as you go through the season. And I think that all we try to do is do the best research, have good communication, decide what is best for our players to give them the best opportunity to be fresh. So, those are meetings that take place before the season. And they take place week after week after week. So, this is a cumulative effect, I would say, on workload, load management, all those types of things. So, there's some guys that have played 1,200 snaps. There are some guys that have played 300 snaps. Ultimately each week, we just try to do what's best for our team."
Q: The offense allowed at least one sack in each of the first 13 games. In two of the last three games, no sacks were allowed. Is that an indication of the line gelling? Is that Daniel Jones becoming more aware in the pocket and using his legs to escape the rush?
Daboll: "I think sacks are usually a team statistic. Receivers got to be where they're supposed to be when they're supposed to be there. The same with the tight ends. Same with the running backs if they're out in the pattern. The technique of the protection has to be good if they're up in the protection. The decision-making and the timing and the pocket need to be good. So, it's a collective effort."
Q: You've spoken highly of Daniel since your arrival, and I don't want to put words in your mouth. But it seems, the way that he has responded to the coaching, his high level of play, how he doesn't let things bother him, your appreciation or admiration for him has grown since you've been here. Is that fair to say?
Daboll: "I think anytime you go to a new place – whether you're a position coach or a coordinator, in this case a head coach – you develop relationships with players. Really just like anybody when you meet somebody new, the longer you're together with people, the more you get to know them. I certainly have a great appreciation for him. I did when I first got here. The way he works and the way he leads and what he's done for our team, I certainly have a good appreciation for him."
Q: You had the quote the other day about Saquon (Barkley) wanting to go 80 yards every time he touches the ball. And you say, "Look, sometimes two-yard runs are good." Is it sometimes hard to convince a running back of that?
Daboll: "At times, absolutely, particularly competitive guys like Saquon who has a lot of talent. I don't want a bunch of two-yard runs, but sometimes those two-yard runs that are really good reads and you stick it up in there and it's really good situational football, those help, too. Again, I trust him. The only guy that can see it is, really, the guy with the ball in his hands. And it happens in a split second. Much like a quarterback when you ask him to make a good decision, you do the same thing with a running back. But you never want to take away their instincts."
Q: When you went into the game last week, did you anticipate that (safety) Xavier McKinney would play 48 snaps?
Daboll: "We had a number, and it was around there. But that was probably more on the high end, but it was in the window there that we talked about. I didn't know he was playing until Friday at practice. But he's a smart player for us. He's played a lot of football, so it was good to have him back."
Q: Obviously, he's one of your best players. Did you see a difference in the secondary with him in there?
Daboll: "I think the guys that we have in there have done a great job. But when you have a guy who's been here who has played and is a captain, it's good to have him back."
Q: Are you preparing for both Eagles quarterbacks this week –Jalen (Hurts) or Gardner (Minshew)?
Daboll: "You've got to prepare for all those guys until they come out and say who they're playing."
Q: We talked about Jalen three weeks ago. How well do you know Gardner? What does he do well?
Daboll: "He's an accurate passer. I think he's an instinctive player. He's done a good job since he's been in there. He's played in the league. I think he's got good experience. And he's a talented guy."
Q: You saw what they can do with Jalen and (running back Miles) Sanders and those two receivers (Devonta Smith and A.J. Brown) last time. Is this as diverse and productive an offense as you've seen all year?
Daboll: "Yeah. They whooped us last time. They've got a lot of good players, and they played well."
Q: They have 68 sacks. Every week, it seems we talk about what a good front the opponent has. The Eagles are the first team with four players who have at least 11 sacks each.
Daboll: "Do it the right way. And again, they're very good players. They've won a lot of games. Usually, they're leading a lot of games. That lends to being able to rush the passer even more. They've got good cover players. I feel like I'm saying the same thing that I did the last time we played them."