EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Dabs' Digest, Giants.com's weekly conversation with head coach Brian Daboll:
Q: This week, we're playing in Seattle, your second long trip in four weeks (also London). You spoke this week about the importance of the players resting and hydrating. Do you also make adjustments to the practice schedule? What have you done to alleviate the physical stress on the players?
Daboll: "I would say our sports science, training staff and strength staff do a really good job of making sure we get what we need. We adjust the schedule weekly. There's a routine, but we're always looking to be better based on what we need. And I think these past, let's call it last four weeks, from the London trip to Baltimore then down to playing in the heat in Jacksonville and Seattle, we've tweaked it kind of each week with that week in mind, but the long four weeks together. So, whether it was fewer reps, not as much conditioning, more conditioning one day, those are all things that we've tinkered with."
Q: Do pads or no pads in practice factor into that?
Daboll: "Absolutely. I just think it's important to make sure that the players are exactly where they need to be for Sunday. There's a lot of research that goes into it, a lot of discussion. We do what we think is best."
Q: You've coached on a lot of highly successful teams. You've coached on teams in which the season was a long slog. Do you change how you approach the players based on whether the team is playing well or poorly? Or is it more important for you to be consistent?
Daboll: "I think one of the hardest things to do in this business – whether you're a player, a coach, a staff member – is to remain consistent because results affect everybody. And if you believe in your approach, you believe in your preparation, then you should be able to live with the results. (You) might not like them, and I think what players want is they want to know – and I'd say what coaches want, too – is that they want to deal with a person that is the same person every day, that is committed to improving, is a good teammate and is doing everything they can do to better themselves."
Q: Coaches try to envision how a game's going to go before you play it. Last week, you ran for 236 yards on 39 carries and Daniel (Jones) was a big part (107 yards) of that. Was that how you envisioned the game would be played? Or did you adjust to the game as it went along?
Daboll: "I think there's always adjustments that are made. The early part of the game, each team is kind of feeling themselves out. They're going through scripts. You have an idea of the matchups, and then you have to actually see what the matchups are when they're happening. You have to see how they're playing different things. I thought both (defensive coordinator) Wink (Martindale) and (offensive coordinator Mike) Kafka did a great job of series by series, tinkering with certain things. And the players did a good job of executing."
Q: I obviously don't know how much of your playbook you're using now, but as you have seen what Daniel is capable of doing with his arm and his legs, his decisions, have you been able to continually expand your repertoire?
Daboll: "I think we run our system now. We were formulating that in OTAs and in training camp and in preseason and in the early part of the season, and I think each week you play, you have a better idea of what you do well (and) what you don't do well. And to me, it's our playbook now. It's not like, 'Well, how many pages of the playbook are you using?' We're using all of the playbook. This is what we do now. It's not what somebody's playbook was in the past. That doesn't matter."
Q: Daniel looks to he's progressing week-by-week, almost quarter-by-quarter…
Daboll: "He's gotten better since we got here. It's a credit to, I would say, him. It's a credit to (quarterbacks coach) Shea Tierney, who works with him every day and meets with him. And it's a credit to Kafka for building that relationship and moving the pieces around and doing things that he feels comfortable with."
View photos of head coach Brian Daboll's time with the New York Giants.
Q: One of the often-repeated clichés we hear in the NFL is it's important to have communication and consistency on the offensive line. You have started the same five linemen in all seven games. That will change this week. How did the line react when Josh Ezeudu and Tyre Phillips went in?
Daboll: "First of all, you hate to see any of your guys get injured. So, you feel for Evan (Neal) and for Ben (Bredeson). They're an important part of our team. They'll still be an important part of our team. But those other two guys in Josh and Tyre were prepared, and they were ready to go. That's a lesson everybody can learn and that we preach around here is, 'You prepare like you're the starter.' So, if something happens and you've got to go in there, you make sure you understand the game plan. You know it. Now, is it as easy? No, because you're not getting all the reps, but you've got to be a pro in that regard in terms of your preparation and your process."
Q: How helpful is it for Josh to have (tackle) Andrew Thomas on one side and (center) Jon Feliciano on the other side?
Daboll: "It's probably a good question for Josh. Anytime you're around veteran players, I think that helps the communication process, but the onus is on you to make sure you've got it."
Q: Last week, you started three players who weren't here when camp opened: (wide receiver) Marcus Johnson, (inside linebacker) Jaylon Smith, (cornerback) Fabian (Moreau). And now, you'll add Phillips to that. They all have some experience. Some have extensive experience. Does that make it easier for them to transition into something new?
Daboll: "I don't know. I just think our job is to teach them how we do things, teach them what do to. And then when we feel they're ready to go out there and play, that's why they're on the roster – that's why they're on our rosters. We have confidence in them and let them go play."
Q: Phillips was previously in Baltimore, where he played in 22 games. He was not on defense, but did you get Wink's opinion before you signed him?
Daboll: "I think anytime a coach has familiarity with a player – whether you're working him out on a Monday or talking about somebody in college that you know – you always try to get information. And then you've got to process through that information and trust your eyes, what you see. You double check if they're the right DNA for what we want to do here, and you certainly use all your resources."
Q: Some guys prefer taller receivers like DK Metcalf, Julio Jones and Mike Evans. You've had a lot of success with guys who aren't particularly tall - Stefon Diggs, Cole Beasley is 5-8. Now, you're doing very well with Wan'Dale (Robinson, who is 5-8). Is height not an important attribute to you in receivers?
Daboll: "Get open and catch the ball. That's the job of a receiver."
Q: Do you think there's any advantage to being tall in the red zone?
Daboll: "Probably at times. I've coached a lot of different players that were successful in the red zone that were tall, that were short, that were six foot. It's about detail. You need to be able to create separation or having really strong hands and making contested catches. Everybody does it a little bit different. I've had guys like Brandon Marshall who are big and real successful and guys like Cole Beasley, Troy Brown, Julian Edelman, Deion Branch and then guys that are six-footers – Stefon Diggs, (John) Smoke Brown – there's all different sizes of receivers. The number one thing is can they get open? And when they get open, can they catch the ball?"
Q: Xavier McKinney has played the most consecutive defensive snaps in the league. He's made 35 tackles and is a team captain and leader. Has he stepped up this season?
Daboll: "I think that just goes back to the question earlier. Consistency. He's a very consistent person. And being a consistent person helps you be a consistent player."
Q: Why is your defense so strong in the red zone?
Daboll: "I think we've got good players that execute the system that Wink's calling. There's a good plan, and they play well in that area of the field."
Q: It's been like that the entire year, basically…
Daboll: "Goes back to consistency."
Q: Is consistency the theme of the day?
Daboll: "Yeah. Hard to do. It's hard to do because really one week has no effect on the next week. We practice well. We have a good plan. Those guys understand it, and ultimately, they're the ones doing it."
Q: (Seahawks quarterback) Geno Smith is leading the league in completion percentage. They also have (running back) Kenneth Walker (III). As you watch their tape, who's more important to their offense – the veteran quarterback or the rookie running back?
Daboll: "They're both important. It's such a team game. I think they have a good system. (Seahawks offensive coordinator) Shane Waldron does a good job of designing plays. I think Geno looks very comfortable. He's making great decisions. He's an accurate passer. He makes the scheduled plays. He makes timing plays. His eyes are in the right spot. And then Kenneth, he's a very, very talented player. He's very talented. He's got all the attributes that you look for in a good running back. He's got great vision, balance, body control, quickness, power, speed, take-it-to-the-house speed, production. He's a heck of a player."
Q: They're similar to your team in that they get a lot of production from rookies. They lead the league in rookie snaps. Both of their tackles and a couple of corners (are rookies). As you watch them on tape, do those young guys jump out at you?
Daboll: "Yeah. They're good players. We evaluated them in the draft process, and (head) coach (Pete) Carroll and his staff are doing a great job. Those guys are talented – the players that are playing a lot – and they really have done a great job of developing in this first early part of the season."
Q: Have you seen a lot of teams that play two rookie tackles?
Daboll: "Not off the top of my head. And they're both playing well. They're good players (Seahawks tackles Charles Cross and Abraham Lucas)."
Q: They've been very good on third downs so far. What do you see on third down from them?
Daboll: "Good scheme, good quarterback play and players that can get open. They hand it off, they usually make yards running it and getting it. It's a good, diverse system with good players."
Q: You make it sound so simple sometimes.
Daboll: "It's really what it is."
Q: Linebacker Jordyn Brooks is second in the league in tackles…
Daboll: "(He's) instinctive, fast, has a nose for the ball and gets the players down when he gets to them."
Q: A few years ago – five or 10 years ago – when you won the coin toss, you took the ball. Now you win the coin toss, and everybody defers now. Why?
Daboll: "Not everybody. I think there's some (that don't). I would say this: every head coach that I've been around has different reasons why. There hasn't been one coach (that says) exactly the same thing about why. It's a different explanation from the next coach. We look at that every week and decide what we're going to do. I don't want to speak for any of the other coaches, but we certainly have thoughts of what we want to do for each game. And we talk about that with the guys; I have my stats guys and my analytics guys, the coaches. It's a good question."
Q: But have you seen the change? When you came into the league, everyone just took the ball.
Daboll: "There's a lot of things, I think, just as the game evolves and the analytics – whether you want to call it analytics of the decision-making processes. And there's a lot that – it's a simple thing. You do it every week. But there's a lot of communication and preparation that goes into it each week. And that could change, too, based on the weather as a factor that can change things. And if you think you're going to have good weather early on, and as the game goes on it's going to get worse, that might alter your decision. But there's things that come into it every week."
Q: Ideally, if you do defer, you score late and then you…
Daboll: "Get it, and score again."
Q: Get it and score again. You get the double…
Daboll: "Double dip. That's exactly right."