Head Coach Brian Daboll
Q: What did (tight end Nick) Vannett get x-rays for, and how is he doing? Do any other players have noteworthy injuries coming out, including (cornerbacks) Darnay (Holmes) and (Fabian) Moreau?
A: I have not met with any of the doctors yet, so Vannett had a shoulder. Hopefully, he'll be okay. But my meeting with the doctors and trainers will be later today. So, I think, for the most part, I haven't heard. You go back on the train, and you talk a little bit to (Senior Vice President, Medical Services/Head Athletic Trainer) Ronnie (Barnes) and to the medical people. I think we should be in good shape.
Q: Is (outside linebacker) Kayvon's (Thibodeaux) downfield hustle, chasing down so many ballcarriers behind the play, a helpful teaching tool for the team because the number five overall pick is showing that effort?
A: Well, I'd like to think that all our guys show effort. I think (defensive coordinator) Wink (Martindale) and the defensive staff do a good job of coaching and teaching 'run to the ball. 11 hats to the ball.' There's been numerous examples since we started. That's how we practice. Certainly, he's bought in. And I thought he had a lot of good plays last night doing that, and so did a lot of the other guys.
Q: How much of a difference does it make for the pass rush to have Thibodeaux, (outside linebacker) Azeez (Ojulari), (defensive linemen) Leo(nard Williams) and Dex(ter Lawrence) all together?
A: Yeah, four good players. It helps. But I think the other guys that have had roles – (outside linebackers) OX (Oshane Ximines) and (Tomon) Fox (and) the guys inside, (defensive linemen) Jelly (Justin Ellis), Ryder (Anderson) – all the guys that have backed up those guys have contributed in a positive way. And when the four of those guys are on the field for as many snaps as they can be, it certainly helps. They're all good players.
Q: Did you go home, or did you just sleep in the office?
A: No, I went home. Went home, got a couple hours of sleep. And then we're back at it. So, Sunday night games, they're fun that night. The next day, not as much.
Q: I know it was a big game because it was the next game, but the reality was, for this organization, this was one of its most impactful games in the past five, six years. So, when you have players like (quarterback) Daniel (Jones) and (running back) Saquon (Barkley) come up big in big moments for you – and you're talking about guys that are significant players, play significant roles, I just mean in general. Your biggest players, when they're able to make these big plays in big situations, what does it mean for this franchise?
A: I'll just say what it means for the game. It gives you an opportunity to be successful in the game when your best players are playing well. The significance of this win – again, you've heard me say it (and) I know it's boring: It's a division game. I'm not focused on what it means or anything like that. We're 8-5-1; we went 1-0 this week. And I'd say that there are a lot of guys that contributed to the outcome of the game, made some good plays in critical times. That's what we're going to need going forward.
Q: Daniel (Jones) told you (that) you got to keep the goatee. So, what do you do now?
A: Well, look, I try to change things up when things aren't going well. That includes looking like this, which trust me, my wife and daughters, they're not very happy about that. But I try to do anything for a win. So, it was almost a mustache. I gained about – I don't know how many pounds – the last couple weeks. So, I kept a little bit of the goatee on there (to) cover up some of the other parts. There's a lot of parts.
Q: So, I assume it stays. Right? I mean, you're pretty superstitious, I think. So, you got to keep it now, right?
A: Absolutely, unfortunately for everybody else. Not really sure that really makes the difference but change it up. There's a lot of skin underneath that beard, but so be it.
Q: You're done a lot of winning over these last few years. This organization hasn't. For you to see a locker room, and I'm guessing the ride home to some degree, of guys just so happy, what did that mean to you at this juncture in a long season?
A: Every time you win a game, that's part of the joy of being a coach – seeing the players in the locker room with a smile on their face, seeing the coaches. We all know everybody in this business puts a lot of time, effort and energy into trying to get the outcome that we hope for. And when you do, it's good to be happy about it. Our guys were excited. I would say on the ride back, they were tired. There wasn't a whole lot of – there was a lot of sleeping. There were a lot of guys watching the tape. We had a quick captains' meeting on the train ride home. And then, myself with different people in the organization: trainers, sports science, coaching staffs, just the coordinators. So, we're trying to get ready to go for this upcoming week, put a lot into it. Again, but just to your question, I think it's important to see players put a lot of work and effort into it and get the results that they're hoping for. So, that's been really the case all year. And not get too down when you don't get the results; not get too high when you get the results.
Q: You just mentioned the captains' meeting on the train. Was that to apprise them of a schedule in a Christmas week type of thing, I would guess?
A: Well, we play Saturday. So, again, I think that instead of doing those meetings in the morning like I normally do after a game, we had some time on the train. So, you meet with the sports science. I meet with the sports science people and the athletic trainers to come up with the schedule for the upcoming week. And I always like to get some feedback from the captains and have some player-driven leadership in terms of how they're feeling. That was a tough game. You watch it; it was really physical. It was a physical game. Those guys left it on the field, so just try to do right by the players, their bodies, their mental makeup and make it as inclusive as we can.
Q: If I'm not mistaken, I believe all of your front four made, I guess, what would be considered a splash play – a big play in last night's game. What's your reaction? I don't want to call it a luxury because they're paid to do that, but when all four are in the act, I would sense that that stresses the opposing offense a lot.
A: I thought both sides – again, the game really starts up front on both sides of the ball. I think there were some definitely good plays by those guys, the front four, if you will. But also, with the offensive line. And there's certainly things we got to do better. Again, (we) gave up some yards rushing. Got to keep continuing to work on that. But I thought we protected the quarterback better. I thought (offensive coordinator Mike) Kafka did a good job in his play calling and helping certain things out, too. But it all starts up front. So, the more production you can get from your front players on both sides, usually the better it is.
Q: I couldn't help but listen to you last night and hear you talk about your analytical guys and how much you gave them credit for. How much of your decision making is analytics and sports science or whatever? Whereas I grew up in an age where a coach went for it because it felt right.
A: I think I talked about this a little bit last night. (I) understand the question totally. We do extensive research, starting with those two guys (offensive assistant/game manager Cade Knox and director of football data & innovation Ty Siam). And we have another department. There's other people that are working back there in the room called the NASA room. These young ladies and young men are smart as heck. But again, the meetings that I have with those two individuals, I would say, are very detailed, very well thought out. And I'm always asking the questions that I think I need to ask because there's certain things, I think, you marry it together. It's not just, 'This is exactly the number. This is what you should do.' There's a feel for a game. There is a 'how's it going?'. There's a look in your players' eyes. There's weather. There's matchups. Like I said, we can go through it all day long, but if one of your linemen is really struggling versus somebody, you got to make a decision. So, I lean heavily on them. I believe in it, but I also think that you have to make sure that as a coach, you're getting, as you said, the word 'feel.' You're kind of monitoring your team, and again, the matchups, the flow of the game, the score, the situation. I think there's so many things that go into it. So, it's not just 'two times two equals four.' There's that, but then there's some other things that you got to take into account. And those are the discussions that we have during the week. So, they might run through a couple sheets, and I might go back and say, 'Well, hold on a second. If we're down by this, I'm going for one. I know what the numbers say, but I think I want to give the guys a chance to win and get a two-point conversion rather than…' There's a lot of discussion that goes on. So, it's good give-and-take. I have a high opinion of those two individuals. They've helped a great deal for our football team, and I'm glad we have them.
Q: (Guard) Ben (Bredeson) came back last night. How did he do? Bredeson.
A: I thought there were some good things in there. We rotated him and (center Nick) Gates. We gave Gates the first couple series rather than just throwing him in there. I think they've both earned playing time. I think both of them had a good game. He (Bredeson) had that long drive. He was in there on that 18-play drive, too. So, it was good to have him back and plug him in there.
Q: Building off the pass rush theme that seems to be what everyone's talking about, with where you are right now – shorthanded at cornerback and inside linebacker – how much of a big deal is it for those four guys to be playing at the level that they are? It just seems like they have to pick up maybe a little bit more slack with X (safeties Xavier McKinney) out (and) Adoree' (Jackson) out and what not.
A: Let's give credit to the guys that are playing in the spots for those two players. I think they're playing good football. I think (defensive back Cor'Dale) Flott, (cornerback Nick) McCloud, (safety Jason) Pinnock – I'm glad we have those players. They're good football players for us, and they've improved since they've gotten here. But in terms of the rush, I think it's all tied together. Of course, you'd like to get them in passing situations. So, you got to do a better job on first and second down of stopping the run – get them in third-and-long or second-and-long situations. But it's all tied together: The better the rush, the more it helps out the backend. The tighter the coverage on the backend, the more it helps out the rush.
Q: There's quite a lot of griping going on from the other side about the last two play calls: the (Washington Commanders Terry) McLaurin (illegal formation) penalty and the non (cornerback) Darnay Holmes penalty. What did you see when you watched the film on the Darnay pass breakup, and are you someone who believes 'Hey, at the end of the day, those things even out. We've had our share of questionable calls go against us?'
A: I think that's the nature of our league. The officials have a tough job to do. I think being in this league for a long time, you're probably on both sides of it. I respect what they do, and again I said it last night: Look, Darnay made a good play.
Q: Has (safety) Landon (Collins) earned a spot? That's his last call up (to the active roster). Do you feel like he's earned a spot on the 53 (man roster) with how he played?
A: That's something (general manager) Joe (Schoen) and I will talk about, not just about Landon but with all the individuals like we do each week. We haven't had a chance to sit down and discuss those things, but certainly that topic – probably amongst a bunch of other ones like they do each week – come up. We'll talk about it.
Q: The Vikings (made the) biggest comeback, I think they said, in NFL history. Will that be part of your presentation at some point? All week? You won't (mention it)? Where will that fit in?
A: You know what? I haven't thought about it yet. I haven't. Right after this call is when I'll get started on Minnesota. I saw, obviously, part of that game. Got to have great resiliency to do that and to keep fighting. Everybody's down on you, and you just keep fighting and play the next play. So, a lot of respect for (Minnesota Vikings head) coach (Kevin) O'Connell. I remember working him out, I think he was at San Diego State, back in the day. He was coming out for the draft and watching him kind of ascend through the coaching ranks. So, they're doing a heck of a job there at Minnesota. And we got a lot of work to do to catch up on these guys.
Q: Kayvon, with the big play, obviously. But he was also credited with 12 tackles. I thought that, for this stage in his career, that really stood out to me. What do you make of that?
A: His tackles?
Q: Well, the fact that he makes a big play – an explosive play to help to change the game – but then you look, and you say, 'Oh, gosh. He also had 12 tackles.'
A: He played a good game. Watched the tape last night on the train, and that's what we expect from him – to go out there and play with effort. That's what we saw in him in college. When we went through the process of selecting him in the draft, that's what we felt really good about: A guy that loves football, that competes, that finishes. He's done a really good job of fitting into our organization and what we want to do.