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Presser Points

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Presser Points: Full quotes from GM Joe Schoen & Coach Brian Daboll

Full quotes from general manager Joe Schoen and coach Brian Daboll, who met with the media Monday morning for their end-of-season press conference:

BRIAN DABOLL: So just a couple things here and then we'll open up to questions. Made two staff changes this morning, moved on from (former offensive line coach) Bobby Johnson and from (former Special Team Coordinator) Thomas McGaughey. I want to thank those guys for what they've done the last two years. This is the hard part of the job, I have a lot of respect for them. Just felt we we're going to move in a different direction, not going add anything to it. These were private conversations but I do respect both of those guys and what they've done the last two years, their commitment to the team, their work ethic but wanted to make a change. Again, those are private conversations, I'm not going to elaborate on any of it.

Q: On Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale and Offensive Coordinator Mike Kafka returning.

BRIAN DABOLL: My expectation is Wink and Kafka will both be back so those are two of the changes we made this morning but there's still conversations that are going to be had. We've only been here for a short time but those were two of the guys in the morning that I spoke with. Other than that, again, appreciate the way the guys finished and competed yesterday. We had an offseason meeting, leading into the offseason just a little while ago with the staff and the players and the coaches and all the administrators. It was a good year-end meeting. They're meeting now with their offense and defense, respectively, position coaches. (Senior Vice President/General Manager) Joe (Schoen) and I will have some meetings here with the rookie class, with the second-year class, the UFA class after this conference here. Other than that, open it up to any questions.

Q: What are you looking for in an offensive line coach?

BRIAN DABOLL: Again, that's a good question. That's something that we'll sit down and talk about as a staff, and we'll work through that.

Q: What went into your thinking with deciding that both Mike and Wink will both return?

BRIAN DABOLL: It's my expectation that they're going to come back. I think they're good coaches, so it'll be good to have some continuity and bring them back. I know Wink talks about this as a destination place and things like that, it's good. I appreciate how hard they work, their commitment to the team, so that's my plan.

Q: Have you had conversations with them about that? I know you said last week you said that you haven't had conversations with people.

BRIAN DABOLL: Not yet. I haven't talked to those guys; I've talked to the guys that I let go, but that's my expectation and that's my plan.

Q: Would it be your expectation that Mike returns in the same role as a play caller?

BRIAN DABOLL: Those are conversations we'll have here over the next few months of what direction we'll go and we'll make those decisions as we do a full evaluation.

Q: I'm sure you saw last week that (running back) Saquon (Barkley) said that he hopes in his exit meeting that you guys shoot him straight. Is a second franchise tag a viable option for him? Or is it get a long-term deal done before free agency?

JOE SCHOEN: Again, Saquon and I will talk about that. That's a tool we have at our disposal. When we redid his deal before he came to camp, that wasn't taken out of that deal. It wasn't a 'hey, we'll do this but no franchise tag' so that's an option that we have on the table. We'll have those conversations; I'm not saying we will, or we won't. A lot of those conversations will be had over the next month or so.

Q: How much does (quarterback) Daniel's (Jones) timeline for recovery affect what direction you'll go with quarterback? Do you have a cutoff date where you say 'okay, if he's not at this point by this date,' you go draft? Or free agency or anything like that?

JOE SCHOEN: Like I said during the bye week, I think ultimately we have to do something like, as I said, whether it's the draft or a free agent just because (quarterback) Tyrod's (Taylor) contract is up, we have (quarterback) Tommy (DeVito) who's under contract and then Daniel's injury and the return to play and the uncertainty there. When free agency starts, the draft, whichever avenue we decide to take, we will address the position.

Q: How much does his injury history overall just factor into the future at that position? Do you have to take that into consideration?

JOE SCHOEN: Absolutely. Absolutely.

Q: Do you feel like you can build a team around a quarterback who has that injury history now? With two neck injuries and now a torn ACL?

JOE SCHOEN: Yes.

It's football and guys get hurt. You can't always predict it. I think guys who have previous injuries – you've got to look at the injuries individually and what they were and how they were caused but I've got a lot of faith in our training staff as well. So again, hopefully he'll be back for week one. Again, we don't have a crystal ball here, but we'll continue to build the team the way we see best.

Q: So, is it out of the question that Tyrod comes back?

JOE SCHOEN: No. No, it's not out the question. We'll talk to all the UFAs, like (Head Coach Brian Daboll) Dabs said, and we'll have conversations with them. The representatives, by the time we get to the combine, we'll usually circle up with those guys. So yeah, it's not out of the question. I thought he played well for us.

Q: What is your overall message to the fans here at the end of the season? And what do you believe the identity of the Giants is?

JOE SCHOEN: The message is believe in the process. We came in here year one and were able to go to the playoffs and win a playoff game and this year it didn't go as well as we wanted it to, for various reasons. We've all got a hand in it; we've all got to do better going into next year and we will. That's what this offseason is about. I've got a lot of faith in the staff and Dabs and our process, whether it's down in the weight room, the training staff, our draft process, free agency. I've got a lot of faith in the process, and we'll get this thing turned around.

Q: I know it's more than one thing, of course, but can you put your finger, as you kind of assessed it, what has gone wrong between last year and this year?

JOE SCHOEN: I don't think there's one thing. I mean, there's a multitude of things –

Q: There's a multitude of things, obviously the quarterback situation –

JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, I don't want to go through all 17 games but again, like we were in – there were several games that we could've won for various reasons. I'm not going to get into the details of every single game, you guys were there. 'Hey, if it would've went this way or the ball fell our way' or whatever it was, we could be in a different situation right now. We've got to have a good offseason, we've got to be ready to go, we've got to start faster, and we've got to be consistent week in and week out.

Q: When it comes to the offensive line, you've spoken the past two years of walking that line between development and having guys that are experienced and ready to go. After this year, going forward at that position, is there a solution in terms of young guys aren't coming across so we need to bring in someone who's going to develop them more or do you need more experience? How do you handle that position that's really been hit hard here for a while?

JOE SCHOEN: When you say the development are you talking about coaching or?

Q: Well coaching but also bringing in younger players that you're going to now rely on. You've done that the last couple years and it seems like their development has not come up as quickly as you needed them to.

JOE SCHOEN: Sometimes you get the ready-made product through free agency, or you bring in a young player that you expect to develop and improve, and we've seen that at some positions and at some positions we haven't. I think that'll be, as Dabs looks for a new offensive line coach, I think history of developing players will be something we'll definitely hit on.

Q: You had mentioned the last time that we talked to you that (tackle) Evan Neal needs to get better and then he never played again. How do you look at him going into his third year? Can you pencil him in as one of our five starters, probably right tackle? Or do you have to bring in competition at that spot.

JOE SCHOEN: We'll go through all those conversations over the next couple of weeks. Evan worked his tail off last offseason, came in in great shape, had a good start to camp, had the concussion. I expect him to attack this offseason the same way and we'll see how it plays out.

Q: How do evaluate Brian's second season? Obviously, you guys had promising first year, go to the playoffs, win a playoff game. How do you evaluate year two?

JOE SCHOEN: I thought Brian did a good job. If you've been in the league long enough, you've seen some teams quit and you've seen some players mail it in at the end of the season. I just think part of the reflection of the job that he did was that we went through adversity. Sometimes you have to go through it. We're still in year two so things were pretty good in year one. We started fast, had a playoff win and maybe you didn't see where all the issues were, whether it was in the building, on the team, in the coaching staff, wherever it may have been. Going through it, I think it sucked but it also opened our eyes to some things that maybe need to change, or we need to get better (or) we need to change the process. I think the biggest thing for Dabs is that he kept the team together. They continued to fight, they came and they prepared every week. The leaders did a good job of leading through difficult times and I think the results showed yesterday.

Q: What comes to your mind when you say you need to change process or things that you need to change?

JOE SCHOEN: I mean, it can be a multitude of things. I mean, it's everything we do within the organization is going to be evaluated during this time.

Q: Something that you already came to the conclusion that you want to change?

JOE SCHOEN: We're going to evaluate ourselves, again, whether it was, okay, what did we do when we signed (inside linebacker) Bobby O(kereke)? Did we nail that? (Wide receiver) Parris (Campbell) ended up not playing as much, let's evaluate that process, what happened there. Those are type things that we're going to go through and continue to evaluate our process, whether it was where we drafted guys, the way we signed guys, the way we practiced. We had some injuries at certain points of the year, are we're doing things the right way. The entire process we're going to evaluate.

Q: So, are you saying to some degree that some of the minor flaws or whatever that may have been present last year, you overlook a little bit because you are having success as a team, that maybe raised their heads this year, so to speak?

JOE SCHOEN: No, I'm not necessarily saying that, but there is a chance that that could happen. Again, you can look through things through rose colored glasses sometimes when things are going well. Maybe you put more weight in something that wasn't, but again we're going to continue to evaluate every part of the process and again, we'll be better off for it, going through this.

Q: Obviously, the draft is pretty far down the road, but do you feel – you say you need to add to the quarterback room, do you need to add someone to that room someone who can potentially start and compete with Daniel for a job?

JOE SCHOEN: Well, there's a chance he's not ready week one, so yeah. You got to sign somebody that you can hope – again, plan for the worst, hope for the best, like you plan for him not being ready, so you're going to need somebody that can hopefully win you some games early on if he's not ready.

Q: And if he's healthy, he's anticipated to be healthy at some point at the start of the season or early in the season, do you have the same faith of him right now as you did when you signed him to the contract?

JOE SCHOEN: Yes.

Q: Something along those lines, have you had a chance to scout the quarterbacks expected to go at the draft of the top and how would you assess this class overall? Are there impact players immediately?

JOE SCHOEN: I would say overall it's a good draft. We're kind of moving out of that COVID cycle of the players getting the extra years and what not, so overall I think it's a good draft and again, where we're picking, I think it's sixth, 39th, 47 I believe is the Seattle pick and then 70th. So, four picks in the top 70, you'll have to fact check me on that, my guys sent me that last night, so I didn't get a chance this morning to double check, but I think that's what it is, so chance to have four players in the top 70, I'm excited about that. Again, that's a way to impact the roster and it also gives you currency if you want to move around, or move up, move back, whatever it may be. Those are tools that you can use to continue to execute whatever the plan may be.

Q: How do you evaluate your second season?

JOE SCHOEN: It was a tough season. Again, that's part of the things that we'll do over the next few weeks is assess ourselves. I'm always evaluating myself on a daily basis because there is so many decisions that we make and so many things that go across my desk on a daily basis and there's always room for improvement. At the end of the day, it starts with me, and I've got to do a better job throughout the entire organization. We're a six-win team, you are what your record says you are, and I've got to do a better job.

Q: You mentioned Parris. Thinking year one to year two at receiver, do you feel, I mean I know it's hindsight but did you overcompensate at the position because of the injuries that you had the previous year knowing that (wide receiver) Wan'Dale (Robinson) was coming back, you didn't know how quickly he was going to be back in the slot because it seemed like, as much as we talk about duplication, it almost felt like you were waiting for injuries to sort themselves out and the way it happened, it seemed like everybody was available and that kind of cut down on the opportunities for Parris and even (wide receiver) Shep(ard Sterling) to an extent?

JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, that's a good question and so what it was, again, coming off an ACL, Wan'Dale coming off an ACL, so we didn't know when he was going to be ready. We thought Parris would be a guy that could play inside, outside and I wouldn't' say overcompensate but we were trying to add some weapons. You do a deal with Daniel and you see how it was structured, so you try to expedite the process and give him a chance to succeed. Parris is a player that will still play in this league, I think he's got a bright future. Things maybe didn't go as well as he wanted this year, but the guy is a true pro and never once complained or fussed about it and he's got a bright future. I think the kid has talent.

Q: How do you evaluate the rookie class?

JOE SCHOEN: Again, like any rookie class, you're going to have highs and lows. I think the first three guys, I think everybody saw their ability. I think (cornerback Deonte) Tae Banks is going to be a really good corner in this league. (Center) John Michael (Schmitz) is going to be a good center and (wide receiver Jalin) Hyatt is going to be a good receiver. I think you saw with Jalin the explosive play ability. The intangibles for John Michael are off the charts, he's got leadership potential. I'd be surprised if he's not a captain down the road. Again, Tae Banks, with rare physical ability, and as he continues to grow and mature; what he did against some of the very good receivers in this league as a rookie, I thought was pretty impressive, so those guys are good. I thought (running back) Eric Gray had a good game last night when he was given opportunities. He probably didn't get as many opportunities this year as he would've liked, but that's a testament to Saquon and his availability. And then I thought some of the later round guys did a good job, too. Excited about (defensive lineman) Jordon Riley. Again, those guys have a big offseason coming into next year. We'll expect them to be – either those guys are going to start or depth contributors going into year two.

Q: How do you evaluate the (tight end Darren) Waller trade and do you view him as an important piece going forward?

JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, I would do it again. I would do it again with Waller. I mean, you guys saw him this spring, you saw him in the summer. Unfortunately, he had the injury before the Dallas game. Again, he was still a productive part of our offense when available. I would do that again every day of the week.

Q: So, he'll be back?

JOE SCHOEN: What's that?

Q: Darren will be back?

JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, we'll have those conversations with the staff, but the expectation is he'll be back.

Q: With the margins being as small as they are in the league, when you look at last year's team and this year's team, obviously six wins this year, nine last year plus the playoff win. How close were these two teams in reality when you look at it?

BRIAN DABOLL: Yeah, well you know every season is a different season. Every team different. We closed out some games that first year, you know on the foot line against Jacksonville or the two-point conversion with Saquon being dead to rights. Tennessee missed a field goal. So, some of those – and the last play against Green Bay if you will. Games, a lot of these games, come down to at the end of the game, they're close games and we had a few of those this year, whether it was the Buffalo game, whether it was the Jet game, whether it was the Rams game, that we didn't close out. I'd say there's always a difference, there's some similarities, there's obviously some differences. Got a lot of work to do but appreciate the way the guys competed. Again, the margin is very small in this league and that's why there change every year in terms of playoff teams and not playoff teams. I don't know what it is, how many years for four different playoff teams? What is it, 15? Whatever it is that I heard, something I heard. So, looking forward to really diving in, deep dive into really every aspect of the organization. Coaching, players, evaluation, staff and working to get better. It's day one, 12 hours after our last game, so we'll start on this and look forward to that process.

Q: The young guys who were affected by injuries, what do you lean on in terms of evaluating them, especially if they don't have a lot on tape to really look at?

JOE SCHOEN: I'm trying to think, anybody specific?

Q: I'm thinking (offensive lineman Marcus) McKethan, (offensive lineman Joshua) Ezeudu, guys like that.

JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, it'll be big years for those guys. I mean, you're going into year three and unfortunately – McKethan was healthy, he didn't really come to – what was it, like third week of camp, I think, was when he started to practice, so he missed a valuable part of camp, but unfortunately Josh has been injured two years in a row, so yeah, I mean it's a big offseason for those guys. I know they are planning on hanging around and being around the strength and conditioning staff and whoever we end up hiring as an o-line coach, but yeah, it's a big year, third year, you've got to show something.

Q: Does it all begin with the offensive line in your mind? It's an area that the Giants have struggled at for a number of years in a row.

JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, I think that's important. Again, ultimately, it's a team game, and I'd like to believe that starts up front on both sides of the ball. So yeah, that's something that we're going to have to look into. We've got to be better.

Q: (Safety Xavier) McKinney views himself as one of the elite safeties in the NFL. He's headed into free agency. Do you see him that way, and what's the interest in retaining him?

JOE SCHOEN: We're going to talk to all those guys. I'm not going to negotiate myself against myself and call him elite or make some hyperbolic statement about how great he is. But no, I like Xavier McKinney. He's been a good player since we've gotten here. He's young, he played 100 percent of the snaps, checks a lot of the boxes. He's a guy that we'll obviously talk with. It's just you've got so many resources and how are you going to divvy them up when you put the puzzle together in the offseason. So yeah, he'll be a guy that we'll talk to, obviously.

Q: Would you be open to using the tag on him?

JOE SCHOEN: We'll have those conversations. Again, having just went through the tag, it's not something I want to use on a year in and year out basis, but it's a tool at our disposal. So, we'll talk through all that stuff.

Q: You mentioned evaluating everything. You assume that's a lot of bad stuff and stuff that didn't go well, but you also mentioned signing Bobby O. That, I would imagine, is an example of a signing that you made that hit probably 100 percent. When you look at that signing, what can you take from that that can help you moving forward with other signings?

JOE SCHOEN: I would say that process—(defensive lineman) A'Shawn (Robinson), I think, was a good addition. I think Nacho (defensive lineman Rakeem Nunez-Roches) was a good addition. (Safety/inside linebacker) Isaiah Simmons was a good addition. I think extending (defensive lineman) Dexter (Lawrence II) was a good decision. (Tackle) Andrew Thomas was… You know what I mean?

You go through and you're always evaluating yourself and so I think our free agent process was good. We brought in guys that fit our culture, they were good guys, they helped elevate their rooms and Bobby O's one of those guys. I think that process overall went well, and again, we've just got to continue to—we've really had one offseason where we've had financial flexibility. Those were some of the guys that we brought in. I'm excited to get together with my leadership group and the pro scouting staff and hopefully have another good offseason and bring in guys that can bring similar value to the team as those guys.

Q: You mentioned culture right there. Two years in, how do you define the culture now and are you where you want to be?

JOE SCHOEN: I think last night is a good example. The last two weeks, even against the Rams, or even the second half of the Philly game on Christmas Day. The guys continue to come in and put in the work, compete, and we were in those games. I mean, Philly's a playoff team, the Rams are a playoff team, and the last three games a year against two teams that are going to the playoffs. We took them down to the end and we beat Philadelphia. The ball goes our way, make the field goal versus the Rams, or the two-point play, or whatever it may be, who knows how it turns out. We took those guys down to the end and I think that's, again, a testament to Dabs and the staff and the character of the players in the locker room.

Q: How do you think you guys can manage the injuries going into next season? I know you're always evaluating this stuff, so any ideas now?

JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, absolutely. I know, you guys are aware that (Director of Strength and Conditioning) Craig Fitzgerald left for Florida. So, we're in the process of looking for a strength and conditioning coach, and we'll probably have something in place here shortly. We're going to look at, again, every aspect of football operations, and have talks with (Head Athletic Trainer) Ronnie (Barnes) and his staff. How we do things year-round to—it's football, so there's 31 other teams that are playing football as well. We know injuries are going to happen. But where we rank in the injury category, every year, you want to get better and get in that top 10, top five if you can, because it gives you the best chance to win. Not just on the field, but there's a domino effect to your salary cap and replacement costs. If you're consistently in the bottom third, that hurts you in several different areas. So that's part of the process we're going to continue to evaluate.

Q: When you talk injuries, I think there's this perception that it's the strength and conditioning, or it's the medical staff. How does that all work tied together when you're analyzing where the issues may be from an injury perspective for you? Because I know some of it is different, right? I mean, some of it is prevention, but also it's the medical staff's involvement when players do get injured.

JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, and I've got a lot of faith in our medical staff and they're very good at what they do. We have these conversations all the time. Belly (tight end Daniel Bellinger) missed some time last year, he got punched in the eye, you can't prevent that. There are some things that are freak accidents, and you can't prevent. We had six ACLs last year; we had two this year. One was in the preseason, one was Daniel. So, we improved there. Our soft tissue stuff has improved a year ago.

So again, if there's a consistent injury that keeps popping up, you're going to dive into that. Some of it is just football. We have the video of all the injuries, we go back, we analyze it, and we look at our strength and conditioning, is there something we can do better to help improve whatever that injury is? Or is it our return to play? We look at all that, and we're going to continue to look at that. Some of it's the player acquisition process. As we're drafting players or signing players in free agency, are there body tests that we can do with the players? We're looking into some of that just in terms of are there certain markers within the athlete's physical makeup that lead them to be more durable and available on Sunday? So, we're going to continue to look under every rock and again, having a healthy team gives you the best chance to win. So that's the ultimate goal.

Q: You mentioned trying to expedite the process to help Daniel win with playmakers. How much does that remain a priority to upgrade that part of this team?

JOE SCHOEN: Offensively, we want to continue to upgrade. I think you saw last night Wan'Dale had some explosive plays, Hyatt's an explosive-play guy, (wide receiver Darius) Slayton had some explosive plays, Waller was good for us down the stretch there when he came back. So, again, I think there's offensive weapons. Saquon made some plays last night, too. It's just a matter of being consistent. To see that on a week in and week out basis is the goal. We'll continue to evaluate all that stuff. I think we do have some playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. If there's, at the right price or the right spot in the Draft, a chance to upgrade, we'll definitely look at it.

Q: As far as your staff, last year you let (former Running Backs Coach) DeAndre Smith leave for a lateral job. Is that a policy you have, or is it case by case? Would you let any of your assistants now who say they want to leave, leave?

BRIAN DABOLL: That's something I talk with those guys about. Joe and I talk about it. Every situation is different.

Q: Speaking of staff, there was talk about Jeff Nixon, the running backs coach. Is he staying or is he leaving?

BRIAN DABOLL: No, he's going to be the coordinator for Syracuse. Jeff's done a great job. Jeff and I go way back. He eventually wants to become a college head football coach. Got a chance to say goodbye to him yesterday, his family, great people. His son is actually in the national championship tonight. So, he's headed out there to watch him play.

Q: Has anybody asked to talk to any of your coordinators or assistants?

BRIAN DABOLL: No.

Q: How much cap space are you going to have?

JOE SCHOEN: Well, we don't know the salary cap number yet. So, once we get that, we'll have a better idea.

Q: What has ownership's message been to you guys? I don't know if you had a postseason meeting with (President and CEO) John (Mara) and (Chairman and Executive Vice President) Steve (Tisch) yet, but just curious what their overall tenor is about the season.

JOE SCHOEN: We talk to them on a daily basis.

BRIAN DABOLL: We talk to them every day pretty much. Good conversations. Private conversations. Great ownership. Appreciate them. It's a good dynamic.

Q: Are you bullish on your team and this franchise going forward, and if so, why?

BRIAN DABOLL: Look, I'm confident in what we do, how we do things. Certainly, there's a lot of things that we can improve. That's what the offseason is for, really, in every aspect, like Joe talked about. Look forward to getting started. As you all know, once one thing ends, it starts up. So, then there's the Senior Bowl and the East-West Game and evaluations, player evaluations, and the Combine. You enjoy that part of it, trying to improve your football team and improve the things that you think you can do better and we can do better collectively to get going for the next part of the season. So, you want to be playing this weekend. That's the ultimate goal, to get yourself into that tournament, and we missed out on it. So, look forward to getting back into it and trying to improve in every way possible.

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