General Manager Joe Schoen and Head Coach Brian Daboll
JOE SCHOEN: Just want to start off, I don't know if you guys saw that Gil Brandt passed. Our condolences go out to Gil's family. I lived in Dallas for 11 years, and he was often at pro days, or I'd see him at the Combine. Somebody in my position that I looked up to and was a mentor for me. I enjoyed a lot of long drives on the road when I was out scouting listening to him on the radio. So, definitely a sad day for me. He was somebody I definitely looked up to.
As for the last month, it's been an exciting month. Pro department, (Director of Pro Scouting) Chris Rossetti leading that group up, did a phenomenal job combing through the league, trying to identify players that may help us whether it was via claim, trade or down the road, practice squad workouts, whatever it may be. So, hats off to those guys.
With that being said, I'll open it up to you guys for questions.
Q: When you look at personnel, you weigh the pros and cons of trading away future assets versus continuing to develop guys that you already have. How do you kind of balance the decision whether to pull the trigger, so to speak, or to stick with what you've got?
JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, a lot of times, again, we go through a process, whether it's contracts, trades, what's the value of the player, risk versus reward... It's a collaborative process. You get the coaching staff involved, and Dabs (Head Coach Brian Daboll). What's the fit for a player, what would the utilization be, the evaluation from the scouts, and then what the value is. If it makes sense, then we're always going to be aggressive if we need to be and make a move, and we're comfortable with the ones that we made.
Q: What was the thought process with Isaiah Simmons?
JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, same deal. Talked to (Defensive Coordinator) Wink (Martindale); he's got a vision for the player. He's a young guy, just turned 25, size, length, athleticism and versatility. So, for the compensation, we thought it made sense. We're excited to see what he does this year.
Q: Given what you guys accomplished last year, what are your expectations for this season?
JOE SCHOEN: Each day, we're going to try to get better. The thing is progress. We're going to focus on our process. I think if we do what we did last year in terms of practicing the right way, coming in and being pros… Again, we'll see what happens, I'm not going to say we're going to do X, Y and Z, but I think if we focus on our process, we'll see results.
Q: The decision to make those trades, how much did sitting 26th in the waiver order impact you being aggressive?
JOE SCHOEN: We thought about that. That's a good question. With (outside linebacker) Boogie (Basham), that came into effect. Hey, where we're sitting, will somebody be there that we like? There are some unknowns, certain guys may get cut, maybe they're a little bit more expensive. We take that all into account.
Q: At the end of last year, you said you were hoping to close the talent gap with Dallas and Philly. I know you haven't played any games yet, but when you look at this roster, do you feel that you've gotten a little bit closer to that?
JOE SCHOEN: That's the biggest thing. We haven't played a game yet. So, we'll see. Again, we're going to continue to prepare for Dallas and get ready for the season. I think I said it last year at the same press conference: it takes a few weeks into the regular season to figure out who the team is, how we're going to react when adversity strikes, and how we're going to handle if there's success, or if you're down at halftime.
I think that showed last year against Tennessee in the second half. I didn't know how the team was going to react coming out of halftime or if you're playing Green Bay in London and you're down in the second quarter, 17-3. We still have a lot to learn about this team. We'll see when it comes to Sunday against the Cowboys, how they're going to come together as a team and gel and how they're going to react in those situations.
Q: Roster wise at this point, where do you see a better version of what you had last year?
JOE SCHOEN: We'll see. I like some of the guys that we brought in in free agency. I like some of the guys that we drafted but they've still got to go out there and do it on Sundays.
Q: Do you think you've assembled a team that could challenge to win the NFC East?
JOE SCHOEN: We'll see. Our guys didn't play a lot in the preseason. They played that Carolina game as a unit. We're still practicing and getting better daily, and we'll see what it looks like when we get to the regular season.
Q: What did you see in that game against Carolina?
JOE SCHOEN: Scored a touchdown. That was good. I like the way we executed. We were in and out of the huddle, played fast, and obviously, you always want to score every drive with a kick. So, we accomplished that.
Q: How has (tight end Darren) Waller measured up to what you either hoped or expected?
BRIAN DABOLL: He's done a good job. I know we've talked about him quite a bit this summer, but he's come in and he's learned our system. We've had good communication as to some of the stuff that he likes to do or had done and introduced him to some of the stuff that we think he could do well to help us. Again, he's done a nice job since he's been here.
Q: What have you seen from the quarterback (Daniel Jones) so far in year two?
JOE SCHOEN: I would say it's natural to be more comfortable. You've executed the plays multiple times, whether it's throughout last season, this offseason, and another training camp. Some of the guys that returned, (wide receiver) Isaiah (Hodgins), having (wide receiver Darius) Slayton back, there's some familiar weapons throughout the spring. Just being more comfortable in the system, I would say.
Q: Boogie talked yesterday about feeling like you were the reason he was in Buffalo. Can you just talk about scouting Boogie and your relationship with him?
JOE SCHOEN: Those decisions are never on one person. I'll just say that. When you're drafting, typically those first three rounds especially, those are organizational decisions, coaching staff, personnel department.
So, a young man we're excited to get. He was a second-round pick. He's been in the league for two years. He still has two years left on his contract at a reasonable price. We think he's got a lot of upside. He's got to come in here, he's got to learn the playbook, and it's a different system than what he played in Buffalo. So again, he's been here one day, and we're looking forward to working with him.
Q: What do you think of your offensive line and how do you feel those three guards being rotated are doing?
JOE SCHOEN: We'll see, again, when we get to Sunday against the Cowboys. We won a lot of games with those players minus JMS (center John Michael Schmitz). It's his first year here, but won nine games and a playoff game with that group. So, we'll see how it pans out.
Q: What do you think of (center) John Michael (Schmitz)?
JOE SCHOEN: John Michael, he's done a good job. He's done a good job. Came in mature. He's worked hard. He's got some leadership about him. He's had a good camp. Again, he gets challenged more than anybody on a daily basis having to line up across from (defensive lineman) Dexter Lawrence (II), but I'm happy with what we've seen so far.
Q: Given (quarterback) Daniel (Jones)' increased comfort level, the pieces that you have and you brought back in terms of the weapons around him and the fact that you guys were not an explosive-play offense in the passing game last year, do you think there should be a much more explosive, big-play offensive team in the passing game?
JOE SCHOEN: We'll see. I think Dabs and his staff have got a lot of confidence in them. It's about the guys coming together and gelling and executing when it matters. So, that's what I'm most excited to see when we get out there versus the Cowboys, see how we can—again, guys have to execute and come together and gel as a group, and we're still working on that.
Q: When you guys both came here, you talked about alignment right off the bat. You and Dabs together listening to the guys and other departments this summer, (Assistant General Manager) Brandon (Brown), you mentioned Rossetti. All the assistant coaches have talked about how it's just been a trickledown effect, the idea that you guys are aligned really from top to bottom. How has that helped your process, or at least did you expect your process to manifest itself the way it has really all the way down to the players you bring in?
JOE SCHOEN: I would just say really good communication. It starts there between Dabs and myself or his staff and my staff. From last year when we got here, they did a very good job of defining what they want at each position, which makes our job easier when we're going to look for players. So, I think it starts with communication.
Year two, everybody's on the same page. We've been through a season. If you need something as a coaching staff, come to us, and we'll go try to find it, or vice versa. I think that's the biggest thing, that there is alignment amongst the coaching staff and the scouting department. Again, I think year two definitely went much smoother.
Q: I asked (Head Coach Brian Daboll) Dabs about it with the assistant coaches. Do you feel like you have empowered your staff? How has that come along? You're now the general manager but not far removed from being one of those guys that wanted to be empowered.
JOE SCHOEN: I think year one, it's very time consuming implementing your process and making sure everything's being done the way you want it to be done. I don't want to say you have to micromanage but every step of the process – like last year this time it was our first training camp, now we're going into our first cut down and there's a lot of time implementing your process. In year two, I'd say it was a well-oiled machine. People knew expectations, they knew their job responsibilities, they knew the process, so it was much smoother, which freed me up to do some other things that maybe I got bogged down with last year, so I'd say that was the biggest difference.
Q: You negotiated some contracts midseason last year. Is that a process you'll continue?
JOE SCHOEN: I won't say we won't do it, but we have nothing on the docket right now.
Q: Given where it was a month ago, are you pleased with how (running back) Saquon's (Barkley) camp went, how he came in and how he practiced?
JOE SCHOEN: Absolutely. He had a really good camp, he came in in shape, voted a captain, his leadership stood out from day one. I'm really happy with where he is right now.
Q: What are the thoughts about adjusting contracts? I know (cornerback) Darnay (Holmes) created some cap space, but can you tell me what you think of that?
JOE SCHOEN: Once we come up for air here, like maybe early next week or something, we'll kind of circle up on that and see where we are salary cap wise, short term, long term and kind of come up with a plan there.
Q: Does it look to you like (defensive tackle) Leonard (Williams) will go in with his existing deal?
JOE SCHOEN: Yes.
Q: With (safety and inside linebacker) Isaiah (Simmons) is that something that just kind of developed?
JOE SCHOEN: So this time of year, just to walk you through the process, we divvy up teams, we make calls. I've known (Cardinals General Manager) Monti (Ossenfort) for a long time. Their assistant GM, Dave Sears, I've known for a long time, so just shooting texts back and forth. 'Anybody available? Where are you deep? Where are you maybe looking?' and through those conversations, Isaiah's name came up and it came together rather quickly. Again, he just turned 25 – I think I was looking at it earlier this morning again as the dust settles a little bit, stepping back and looking at the roster, I think we have 39 players that are 26 years old or younger. Which as of today is second in the league so I think adding him – (outside linebacker) Boogie (Basham) I think is 25 -- so again, kind of a young nucleus of core guys here. I think between the youth and some of the veterans that we have, it's a good mix and he fit into that.
Q: With Isaiah coming with whatever issues there were in Arizona, were you confident Joe that there wouldn't be issues here? Dabs, I'm curious how he's fitting in within the locker room.
BRIAN DABOLL: He's fitting in good. He knew (defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence) Dex, he knew Saquon from working out, (wide receiver) Isaiah Hodgins, so there's some relationships that he's had and he's fit in well with really everybody on the team, not just the defensive guys but the offensive guys, too.
JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, and (wide receiver) Parris Campbell was out there too, so several of our guys had worked with him all summer. Dexter played with him. You know, when there's turnover of staffs, the previous staff – 'what did you guys think of him? How was he there?' We're always going to do a lot of research when you make a move or draft or whatever it may be, part of the process. He's come in and fit in well.
Q: What was the thought process of cutting (running back Jashaun) Corbin? It seemed like he had a pretty good camp.
A: It was a competition, and we kept the four that we kept. Trying to get him on the practice squad, it's his choice to go somewhere else, but when you cut a player 31 other teams have the opportunity to claim him. It happened last year, and he stayed on the practice squad, and it happened again this year and nobody claimed him so it's his right to look elsewhere and that's what he decided to do.
Q: This is the first time as a general manager sharing a city with another team. How much do you feel that?
JOE SCHOEN: They were here last year. It's not my first time sharing –
JOE SCHOEN: They were here last year.
Q: I meant as a general manager. How much do you feel that even though they're not in your division?
JOE SCHOEN: We're just focused on us. That's all we can do. We've got to control what we can control and it's us coming in here every day to work and trying to get better as a team. If we control our business and take care of our business, hopefully we'll see positive results. I respect those guys over there but we're just going to focus on what we can control.
Q: Do you think (wide receiver) Wan'Dale Robinson will be ready to play week one?
JOE SCHOEN: He's only been out there for a week, so we'll wait and see. It's too early to tell.
Q: Two first rounders last year, (outside linebacker) Kayvon Thibodeaux and (tackle) Evan Neal, how have they been doing?
JOE SCHOEN: Good. Yeah, good.
Q: How has (cornerback) Tre Hawkins III progressed throughout camp?
JOE SCHOEN: Tre's done a good job. He came in, he's worked hard, he has a professional approach and what Dabs says, these guys earn the reps that they get, and he's done that.
Q: Progress is never linear. I know that you said that you want to get better each and every day. Knowing that progress is never linear, what kind of litmus test are you looking for to say 'yes, we're better than what we were?'
JOE SCHOEN: Again, it's too early to tell. We've got to get these guys out there and see they click together. Again, we brought in some new pieces, (tight end Darren) Waller, on defense (inside linebacker) Bobby (Okereke), some of the defensive lineman that are depth players, two young corners. So, we'll see how this group comes together. Again, it's still early, we haven't played any games and that'll be probably a better answer later in the year once we see how these guys react.
Q: Is (tight end Tommy) Sweeney's injury something that might threaten his football career?
JOE SCHOEN: Once we have more information on thatm, we'll let you know. Right now, our doctors are working through it. I don't have an answer for you.
Q: What have you seen from your team throughout camp as you head into the regular season?
BRIAN DABOLL: Yeah, I think they had a productive camp. I think we've gotten better from where we started, but again until you start playing in regular season games and adversity strikes and how you respond to things. There's a lot of things -- you can't really take it from one year to the next year because it's a different team. Thirty percent of the guys are different, different things are going to happen, you're playing different opponents, how you react to certain things – you've really got to learn your team as you go in the regular season, and you just don't pick up where you left off last year or a preseason game. It's a challenge every season in the NFL, at least it's been in the 23 years that I've been in the NFL. It's always different, it's never the same, there's a lot of challenges every year and you're going to go through them. And how you react to them and focus and stay locked in on your targets, that's really important and then ultimately you've got to go out there and play well and coach well and that doesn't guarantee anything. So, we're just grinding along here. The guys have worked hard, they'll get a couple of days off then we'll get going here on Dallas.
Q: Did you change up the college area scouting?
JOE SCHOEN: No, we might have been a little bit heavy, so we moved some things around based on exposure. If guys don't have enough work, we thought we could move some things around.
Q: Some people would say that off the success that you guys had last year that you might be ahead of schedule. As you built this team, did last year change the plan or impact what you decided to do with this roster?
JOE SCHOEN: I mean we had more flexibility, more resources available to us, if that makes sense. Financially, we were in a better shape to where we could either extend our own or sign outside the building. I wouldn't say the plan changed, we just had the resources to add talent.
Q: How important is beating the Cowboys and/or the Eagles a measure of your success? They have been the standard in your division the past couple years.
A: I would just say every week is important. Every team we play, we're going to want to win those games, so whether it's Dallas, Philadelphia, whoever it is, each game is equally important.
Q: With (safety) Xavier McKinney, going off what you said on the radio about in-season negotiations versus after the season, why would you prefer to wait until after the season?
JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, I'll keep that between X and I. We had a conversation; I'll keep that between us.
Q: Is that accurate, you are going to wait until after the season?
JOE SCHOEN: Yeah.
Q: I know you left the door open earlier about maybe doing something in the season with some guys.
JOE SCHOEN: Unless something changes, I'll never say 'never', but as of right now that's the plan.
Q: You really view those division games as no more important?
JOE SCHOEN: No more important? They are all important.
Q: Not more important than the others?
JOE SCHOEN: They are all important. I mean, we were 1-4-1 in the division last year and we made the playoffs. They are all important.
Q: You got asked earlier about (cornerback) Tre (Hawkins III), what have you seen from those two rookie corners and them being asked to be the starting corners with (cornerback) Adoree' (Jackson)?
JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, I think Dabs' approach and the coaching staff, there is going to be competition and you earn your reps, regardless of where you were drafted, how much money you are making. I think that was on display last year and no different than these guys, regardless of where they were drafted, they earned their reps, they earned their opportunity.
Q: How important is the process of continuing to find success, how important is it to have guys you consider cornerstones? Contracts you gave out this offseason, you want to give them to the right people, obviously, but also premium positions, knowing when you are trying to build the roster that you have those guys there, Andrew, Dex, Daniel obviously at quarterback, I imagine when you are not searching for those spots, you are moving on to other areas.
JOE SCHOEN: Yeah, and then you can supplement it, whether it's, again, that's going to eat up some of your cap down the road and maybe you can't give out as big of contracts, but you are supplementing that with other positions, another draft in 2024. Now you've got those core pieces in place, and you continue to supplement and hopefully trend upward, that's the idea.
Q: How is (wide receiver) Parris Campbell? We didn't see him yesterday.
BRIAN DABOLL: We are giving him a vet day; he will be fine. We are going to give him a vet day again today. He'll just be taking care of his body, but he'll be fine.
Q: Anything else of note?
BRIAN DABOLL: Same as yesterday. Yeah, really the same as yesterday, nothing else, nothing new.
Q: With the injured guys, you don't plan on putting any of them on injured reserve to start the season, is everyone going to be part of the 53?
JOE SCHOEN: Today, today. I mean, I don't know what's going to happen out there, but yeah, as of today, that's how we will move forward.