EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Dabs' Digest, Giants.com's weekly conversion with head coach Brian Daboll:
Q: What are the keys to your defense playing so much better the last two weeks?
Daboll: "I just think we've made steady improvement, fundamentally, technique-wise, tackling, gap control, playing better situational football. They've done a good job."
Q: Bobby Okereke has 23 more tackles than anyone on the team. Micah McFadden is second. Micah was inactive for the two postseason games last year. Did you see signs in the offseason that he was going to take the steps that he's taken?
Daboll: "Well, credit Micah for playing most of the season last year; he's one of the only rookies that made it through, and he's played a lot of football both in the kicking game and on defense, so he was able to develop throughout the year. He had a good offseason, understands our defense, understands his role, smart, tough, dependable player. Usually, you make improvements if you're out there. If you're playing, you take a jump from year one to year two and he's done a good job of that."
Q: We've had seasons here where we said if the backup quarterback had to go in, we had no chance. Tyrod has played efficiently since he took over. Did you learn early in your career that the backup quarterback is one of the most important players on the team?
Daboll: "You gotta have a person that knows how to run the offense, that plays efficient football and it's a critical spot on the team because you're one play away. It's been great to have Tyrod."
Q: How about having someone who has the respect of his teammates and can immediately command the huddle?
Daboll: "I'd say not just the huddle, I'd say the whole team respects him and that's what you always look for in your quarterbacks, whether they're the starters, whether they're backups. We have guys that put the team first who work extremely hard in terms of Daniel (Jones) and Tyrod and even (rookie practice squad player Tommy) DeVito, who is learning. That's what's required of the position, among other things. But it's good to have guys that do everything they can do each and every week to put the team first and to make sure they're prepared. It's a good group to work with."
Q: Is there a best thing that Tyrod has done since taking over, whether it's no turnovers, getting the ball downfield a little more, or just the play-to-play running of the offense?
Daboll: "He's operated our offense and it's not exactly the same. There's some things that we do differently, and I think you do that based on who your quarterback is. Throughout the season, you always want your starter to be out there every game. Unfortunately, D.J. hasn't been able to go. So, Tyrod has been doing a great job for us."
View photos of the Giants on the practice field ahead of the Week 8 matchup against the New York Jets.
Q: Last Tuesday, Tyre Phillips was sitting in the Eagles facility, got a call from his agent that the Giants wanted to re-sign him, then played every snap on Sunday. He has experience in the system, but that still seems to be pretty impressive.
Daboll: "He came in ready to go. He had really good retention of what we did and put a lot of work in throughout the week and played a good game."
Q: Mark Glowinski was benched after the first game and never got off the sideline in San Francisco. Now he's played every snap the last three games. He had a rough time early in the season and now the team needs him.
Daboll: "That happens to probably everybody in this business. He's been a pro, worked extremely hard to make improvements, and is making the most of his opportunity in there."
Q: Tyre and Mark had played next to each other last year and Tyre said it was very helpful to have Mark next to him.
Daboll: "I would just say last week there was really good communication. It's something we stress every week, getting five guys to play as one and all being on the same page. There was good communication from the center to the guards, guards to the tackles. Glow is definitely part of that."
Q: For teams that meet every four years, the Jets and the Giants have an intense rivalry because they're always compared to each other. I know your focus is on the game, but do you have an appreciation for what this game means to this area?
Daboll: "Sure. There are great fans of our organization. I was with the Jets and both fan bases are passionate. The area that we live in is passionate, so I certainly respect this game."
Q: The Jets beat Buffalo and Philadelphia and almost beat Kansas City in this stadium. As the opposing head coach, does that get your attention when your opponent plays well against top teams?
Daboll: "Every team gets my attention. It's always tough each week and there's certain things you try to do against particular teams and they had the walk-off punt return against Buffalo in overtime. They turned the ball over a bunch against three pretty good quarterbacks in Josh (Allen) and Jalen (Hurts) and (Patrick) Mahomes. This defense is legit, getting the ball, played well against good teams. They're a good football team, well coached."
Q: They've had 13 takeaways, which is tied for second in the league. Are they more aggressive in going after the ball?
Daboll: "They understand their system very well. They play very, very fast and they get the opponent into passing situations. They're tough to block and they have usually seven guys back in coverage and read the quarterback. Their rush is tied together with their coverage. They play well with one another in terms of the front and then the back end."
Q: You just alluded to it, but they do a good job of pressuring the quarterback with their primary pass rushers.
Daboll: "I'd say they're primarily a four-man rush team. Third down, in some situations, you might get a few (extra rushers). But they rely on more than four guys because they're changing guys in and out and keeping them fresh and it works well for them. They're a good defense."
Q: You were very complimentary of (linebacker) C.J. Mosley, who has Quincy Williams next to him. They both have about 60 tackles.
Daboll: "Fast, too. The Williams brothers (including defensive lineman Quinnen), but those two middle linebackers are instinctive, they can run. (I've) competed against Mosley for a while and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him and what he's done in this league for a long time. He's a tough competitor and he's a heck of an inside linebacker. Williams is having an outstanding year, sideline-to-sideline, is fast, good in zone coverage, can cover and make tackles. Good linebacker group."
Q: Sauce (Gardner) has 23 passes defended in 22 games. I don't know how much they throw in his direction …
Daboll: "He's pretty good. Got length, good transition, reads routes, plays routes well. You can tell he understands the game. Heck of a young player."
Q: Zach Wilson has thrown just one interception in the last four games and has twice completed more than 70% of his passes.
Daboll: "He takes care of the ball. They play a complementary game. That's why they've won some of these games, 20-14 against Philadelphia, 22-16 against Buffalo. They scored some points in the Denver game (a 31-21 win); defense made some plays. He's done a good job of taking care of the football. They've gotten the football; they have their formula of how they win games. I think he's done a nice job of fitting into that offense after Aaron (Rodgers) got injured. You always feel bad for any player, but for someone like Rodgers who got injured early in the season, you feel terrible for him. Wilson has done a good job of coming in and executing the way Nathaniel (Hackett) calls the offense. He's got some pretty good skill players and when you don't give the ball up and you take the ball away, it's usually a pretty good formula."
Q: They're averaging 5.3 yards a carry because (Breece) Hall has had 83- and 72-yard runs.
Daboll: "Big, fast productive guy coming off of an injury (torn ACL). He's a good player when you watch him. He's a bigger back, if you will, 217 (pounds) somewhere around there. But he's pretty light on his feet. He's got good vision and when he gets a crease, he's tough to catch or tough to tackle in the open field."
Q: Is Garrett Wilson their clear number one receiver in your mind?
Daboll: "Yeah, he's a good player, quickness, good route runner, good hands. Then they've got some veterans that they brought in, but Garrett is a good talent. He's a heck of a receiver."
Q: Lastly, returns seem to have gone out of style in the NFL, but they have probably the biggest return of the year (Xavier Gipson's game-winning punt return in overtime against Buffalo). Do you have to be mindful of them having a special return guy back there?
Daboll: "I think he's a fast, dynamic returner and we're gonna have to do a good job with our gunners of going down and covering and our coverage units of making sure we're disciplined and getting him on the ground. Obviously, after that first game walk-off punt return, he's definitely a young man with a lot of talent."
View rare photos from the local rivalry between the Giants and Jets.