Head Coach Brian Daboll
Q: Do you think there is a chance that (tight end Daniel) Bellinger, (tackle Evan) Neal and (guard Ben) Bredeson will be back next week, and where do things stand with (outside linebacker) Azeez (Ojulari)?
A: Yeah, I think all those guys are improving. They'll have three good days of treatment here coming up. We'll see where we're at on Monday.
Q: After watching the film, did you think that any of the guys who filled in on Sunday stood out? Did anybody stand out as playing well?
A: I would say all those guys that haven't been playing a lot that were forced to play competed well, they played hard. There are certainly things we can improve on, but those guys competed hard.
Q: Why was the offense going so deliberately on the fourth-quarter drive after Dallas went up 28-13?
A: I think we were just trying to call plays that gave us the best chance to stay two dimensional and not just make it a pass game there being down 15. We had a set time we wanted to score by. Are there times we could have been a little faster? Sure. I think we wanted to execute and give ourselves a chance to move the ball down and score. We got to the third-and-25, and it put us behind the sticks a little bit.
Q: Do you think you should have mixed up the approach on third downs to less man and blitzing since Dallas was having success?
A: I think (defensive coordinator) Wink (Martindale) and the staff do a good job of talking in between series and calling the things that they think are going to work – not just on third down but on each and every down and try to execute it the best we can.
Q: The first one I wanted to ask about (wide receiver) is Odell Beckham Jr. There was a report out there that he's visiting you guys before the Cowboys, and their visit is December 5. Is there anything you can tell us about when he's coming in here and why you guys have taken maybe a little bit more measured approach than some of the other teams that are falling all over themselves trying to recruit him?
A: I keep that in house right now. That's kind of where we're at with it.
Q: Would you even confirm that he's coming in for a visit this week without saying the day, or you can't do that?
A: I'm going to talk to (general manager) Joe (Schoen) here. Joe is out on the road at some schools. So, Joe and I will reconvene later today.
Q: When you look back at the tape, did you see that fourth-and-1 as a possible touchdown? Not just a first down but a throw that could have been a touchdown?
A: You never know. I never go as far as saying that because obviously you have to execute the entire play, and there's chase. I thought we had an opportunity to convert it and keep the chains moving.
Q: With your pass rush, you would know this probably better than anyone as a guy with an offensive background. (Outside linebacker) Kayvon (Thibodeaux) had five quarterback hits. (Defensive lineman) Dexter (Lawrence) recently had a game with five quarterback hits. Leo (defensive lineman Leonard Williams) had a game against Seattle with five quarterback hits. So, guys are hitting the quarterback but not getting sacks. I'm wondering how much of a difference that is, how much you guys need to finish those plays? Obviously, pressure is good, but pressure on second-and-2 leads to third-and-2, not third-and-9 like a sack. How big is finishing these plays? How much do you need to get the quarterback down and not just pressured?
A: I do think we're doing a good job of getting him off the spot, making him throw it faster than he wants to throw it. But obviously, when you can get the quarterback down, you can move offenses behind the sticks and put them in more passing situations on the next down – that's always helpful.
Q: You're 7-4. You got a shot at the playoffs here. At the beginning of the year, that might have surprised a lot of people. Do you look at the big picture and remind guys that they still have a good opportunity in front of them at this point despite the last couple of weeks? Or do you just tunnel in on Washington and focus on that?
A: I mean certainly, the whole season obviously is in front of you right now. We have a long way to go. Obviously, the rest of December here and the early part of January. So, we have to focus on getting ready to play Washington, but you're sitting at 7-4. You put yourself in a position to play meaningful games in December, which is important. Last year (in Buffalo), I think we were 7-6 after 13 games. Look, anything can happen in this league. I've said it before, it's a humbling league. You can be on the top of the mountain one week and fall off the next week. The biggest thing for us is to remain consistent in the things that we try to do each week to give ourselves the best chance to win. Do they always work? No, but I think a consistent approach is the best approach.
Q: One of those things that hasn't been working for you guys recently is the run game, at least as it pertains to (running back) Saquon (Barkley). Is there something that you need to do better? Is it just that defenses have really been locking down on him? Or is there something that you guys need to do better to free him up?
A: I think everything. Of course, we can do a lot of things better. Not just in the run game but in the pass game, in the red zone, on third down. That's not just on the offensive side, that's on the defensive side, as well. Certainly, they know Saquon is a player that we like to use a lot. But again, yesterday we tried to start off the game by mixing it up and getting ahead of the chains. Usually, we've been a pretty run-heavy team other than the Jacksonville game early on. Some of the thought process there was to try to protect against those defensive ends, move Daniel (Jones) a little bit. Yeah, I think we'll look at that like we do every week, evaluate things we can do better and harp on the execution of it, the fundamentals of it, the schematic stuff on the coaches' end of it. It's all encompassing.
Q: I was wondering – I know it's next man up, but when your line is banged up, how hard is it to get the running game going when you throw new people into the mix?
A: Yeah, these guys have been here for a while. They've been practicing. So, we make no excuses about anything like that. We just have to do a better job.
Q: (Wide receiver) Kenny (Golladay) didn't have a big role yesterday. Was he just not in the game plan that much?
A: No, we mixed him in there. And again, a lot of our passes were roll out, naked type passes with people coming across the formation. That's a difficult defense to just sit there and drop back. You saw what they did in Minnesota the week before. So, we had a particular way we wanted to play – obviously, didn't get it done. We'll get ready to go against Washington.
Q: You said it just a while ago, and quite frankly, you've been consistent with saying it all year about 'We have to stay consistent each and every game, look at what's in front of us.' But realistically, with all the injuries, how difficult is it for you and the coaching staff to have these guys be consistent when you're playing backups – and sometimes they're backups to backups?
A: Again, I think the thing we do is just control our controllables. The players that we have in our roster, we're confident in. It's our job to try to put them in the best positions we can. Certainly, we can do a better job at that. And trust the players that we have. Again, I think a lot of those guys stepped up and made some quality plays for us. So again, we've all been in this league a long time. There's no excuses. Everybody goes through injuries or losses, things like that. You come back; you stay mentally strong. You look at the things you need to fix. You stay consistent with your approach, with improvement in mind. You own what you didn't do well, and you move on to the next week.
Q: I think it's safe to say you weren't too happy with that illegal man downfield negating the (wide receiver Isaiah) Hodgins (touchdown). But after looking at it on film, do you agree with the call?
A: I'm not going to get into whether I agree or not agree. They called it; obviously, the referee saw something to call it. There's nothing we can do about it. We got to go ahead and get onto the next play. It's a hard job that those guys have.
Q: Just to piggyback on (a previous question) a little bit, you might be getting back some offensive line personnel against Washington. How much does that allow you to do what you want to do with those jumbo packages, kind of freeing up Daniel (Jones) a little bit more – and obviously if you get (Daniel) Bellinger back?
A: The more guys you can get back, the more things, obviously, personnel-wise you can utilize. So, what we try to do each week is whoever's up for the game, we try to have packages for however many people are in there that we think will give us an advantage. So, hopefully those guys are trending in the right direction and take these three days to get as healthy as they can go. And we'll see where they're at on Monday.
Q: You gave them today off, obviously. The last time you had some elongated time off during the bye week, you had an incident pop up. So, did you send them off today with any kind of 'be smart, be careful' message with that in mind?
A: Yeah, yesterday I just said, 'We got to take a few days. Get your bodies right; get your minds right. Be a pro off the field and come back ready to go on Monday.'
Q: In regard to the offense as a whole, there was a stat out there that the (former wide receiver) Darius Slayton catch was your first offensive play (that was a) throw 40 yards in the air this year. How hard is it to move the ball on offense when you're missing those explosive pass plays? I know you've made a bunch on the ground. But you have the fewest 40-yard pass plays in the league. How hard is that making things on the offense?
A: The less explosive plays, the higher level of execution on a consistent basis you need to have. But we've had quite a few long drives, and you have to have usually 11 guys doing the right thing to operate an efficient offense 14, 15 plays in a row. So, anytime you can get an explosive (play), whether that's a run or a pass, that certainly helps because it just eliminates some of the situations that you'll be in throughout the drive. Third downs where it's usually advantage defense, and on the road in a tough environment against a defensive line like that that can get after the passer. You take away those, that helps you. No doubt about it.
Q: Any injury updates? We know (defensive back Cor'Dale) Flott's in the (concussion) protocol. Any other injury updates out of that game?
A: No, I think we came out fairly clean here. So, nothing I think that is going to go into next week. But we'll see. You never know what could come up. Those guys will get treatment, and hopefully we'll be in improved shape here on Monday.
Q: (Outside linebacker) Jihad Ward after the game was pretty passionate about, 'I want to make the playoffs. I don't care what our record is. Playoffs. Playoffs.' A lot of your guys don't mention the 'P-word.' They don't mention playoffs. They kind of take your lead. Is this the time of year where that's good? Like focus on the playoffs, have the main goal in mind? Is this where it kind of helps you that you never got too high when you were 6-1 or 7-2? You kept the message the same as it is now that you hit a bit of adversity. Do you like the guys talking about the playoffs? And is this where your message really resonates because it's the same as when things were going well?
A: I'm not saying it's right or wrong, I just think that consistency helps in the seat that I'm in. Certainly, you don't want to lose games, have bad performances, have bad decisions, have bad play calls. You take a lot of pride in what we do. We knew and we know, just being in this league a long time, you're going to face a lot of this stuff. And it's easy to get down on yourself or get down as a team. I think the important thing is to just keep the main thing the main thing. (It's) 'What can we do to help improve the results?' But again, I have no issues with how these guys prepare, their competitiveness, how hard they work during the week, how hard they play during the game. So, I think if you just focus on those things, that takes you each week with a consistent approach, and that's what I believe in. So, do I like to lose? Do we like to lose? Hell no. We don't like to lose. But I think you have to keep the main thing the main thing. Look, every team in this league, from the start of training camp on, has certain goals they want to achieve. But I think you have to make short-terms goals throughout the season as you go along and be consistent with that.