Head Coach Brian Daboll
Q: I'll get right to it: What's your plan for this week as far as playing starters?
A: I'd say we'll talk about it and do what's best for the team. So, it's early Monday. We'll go out there and try to have a good week of practice, prepare like we normally do and decide what we want to do relative to who's playing, who's not playing. Whatever we think is best for our team, that's what we'll end up doing.
Q: What considerations will go into that decision? Obviously, you guys are locked in. So, what will make that determination for you?
A: (General manager) Joe (Schoen) and I will have some conversations, talk to the coaches. I don't think we need to make that decision right now. So again, we'll do whatever we think is best for our guys and our team come this week.
Q: When we talk about pairings, if you will, or duos, we usually talk about guys who play the same position. But in (quarterback) Daniel (Jones) and (running back) Saquon (Barkley), you have two guys who kind of makeup a unique type of pairing, if you will. Can you just talk a little bit about how each has complemented each other's game – especially in the running aspect of things?
A: The first thing, I think, they really appreciate one another – the type of teammate that each person is. I'd say they both work extremely hard. They've been here for some time. I think they've had probably some ups and downs. And they're pretty close, so I think that helps. In the running game, if you are choosing to use a quarterback on runs, that's a pretty important chemistry that you have with one another between the two of them with the ball handling and the decision-making and the reads. And then in the passing game, those guys have worked hard together to make sure they're on the same page. But both of those guys, I think, respect one another's responsibilities. I think they're good captains for us. And I think they work well together.
Q: You had a lot to fix when you got here. How did you go from taking this job to turning this team into a playoff team in your first year?
A: It takes everybody in the building to do their job well. It's probably the greatest team sport to be part of, coaching or playing or being part of the football team. I have a lot of good people that are with me, whether that's coaches, front office, scouting, most importantly the players, the administration staff – everybody that is responsible to do their job well. So, I'm just one part of the puzzle. I try to do my job the best I can but count on a lot of other people doing their job well. And that's again, like I said, a testament to them and starting with the players.
Q: I don't ask you much about your days in Buffalo, and certainly don't ask you about (Buffalo quarterback) Josh (Allen) very often, if at all. But I'm just curious if there are lessons learned, particularly from coaching Josh Allen, that you were able to impart in terms of coaching now Daniel Jones?
A: I've coached a lot of different players, a lot of different positions and been in the league for quite some time. There's a lot I've learned from a lot of players and a lot of coaches. And it could be a technique, but it could be a situation. It could be a time where you have to bounce back if it's not going great for you in the mental aspect of it. So, I've tried to use all my experiences. And I'm continuing to learn and grow every day to try to help, whether it's players, coaches, staff. I certainly don't have all the answers. But I think the experiences that I've had I can draw from and definitely use to try to help really any of the guys that are on our team.
Q: What's the most satisfying and gratifying aspect of clinching a playoff spot?
A: You get to play another game. You're only guaranteed, obviously, 17 of these things now. So, it takes a lot of work to get to this point – a lot of work. It takes a lot of execution. It's extremely hard to get one of these spots, so I think that you should appreciate it. We appreciated it last night, and then you got to get back to work. Once that time hits, it's, again, a one-and-done season. But probably the most gratifying is just to see these players have their smiling faces after a game and realized that they accomplished one of the goals – to make the postseason. I'm happy for those guys.
Q: What was it like celebrating with the fans after the game?
A: It was awesome. That was an electric atmosphere, really from start to finish. How great was it when L.T. (former linebacker Lawrence Taylor) came out of the tunnel? I think it juiced all our guys up, too. And they were great. When the defense was up, they were loud. They were there until the end. You notice things like that. I don't know if he'll say it or not, but I could tell you how much Daniel (Jones) appreciated the ovation that he got. So, they were awesome. They've been awesome all year.
Q: Some of the Colts were a little bit peeved by (outside linebacker) Kayvon's (Thibodeaux) snow angel celebration. It happened in the moment. I don't think he knew that (Colts quarterback Nick) Foles was hurt. In retrospect, what maybe is a lesson he needs to learn from that? Or if not, what do you think of that whole thing?
A: That's a good question for Kayvon. I think he answered it and addressed it yesterday. Quite sure that he didn't know the player was hurt. Kayvon is a good young man, and I know he responded to questions about that yesterday. So, I'll leave that to him.
Q: You've been in situations in other places where the expectation was to make the playoffs every year, and you made the playoffs every year. Not that you didn't appreciate it, but it was something that was "expected." How do you deal with that versus the euphoria you and the players and front office are feeling new of finally getting back in the playoffs and kind of you've got a job to do now to say, 'Okay, this was great, but this is something that we should kind of expect every year,' sort of thing?
A: I think that regardless of where I was, you're always grateful for being able to make the postseason. Each year is a different year for every team that I've been part of, but you don't go into a season saying, 'Boy, I hope I win three games.' You go out there to compete with every team that you're playing. And you try to stack up as many wins as you can so that when you get to a point at the end of the season where if you stack enough up, you make it. Again, this is a humbling league. You're always grateful for the opportunity to participate in the postseason. So, I'd say you've put the work and time and effort and energy into it. And when you get a spot, that doesn't change the things that helped you get to where you're at. You just dial back in and go back to doing the things that matter most.
Q: You've been in these situations before. And you've been in situations under (New England head coach Bill) Belichick and under (Buffalo head coach) Sean McDermott where you clinched a spot and were locked into a spot. Does what they did influence you at all as far as what you want to do with your team in a game that doesn't have any meaning in terms of where you're seeded?
A: What I said to (a previous question): I think you draw from all your experiences of the different things that happened at different points relative to where you're at in the season, how many games you've got left, who you're playing. But I think each year is different. And again, what we've got to make decisions on is do things what's best for our team – not any other team that I've been part of. I think those decisions need to be talked about and well thought out. By the end of the week, you should have the plan that you want to go with. And it's not just, 'Hey, let's just do this to do this.' There's obviously reasons behind it. And take your time to make those decisions.
Q: What are the pros and cons of this decision? Is there any right answer? Because some guys have done it one way, and it hasn't worked. And (others have) done it that way, and it has worked. Is there any right answer to this question?
A: It's only right if it works, right (Laughs)? So, if you do one thing and it doesn't work, you do the other thing and something happens, you're wrong no matter what. So, you just got to make a good decision based on information and the things you talk about with the people on your staff and make the decision that you think is right for your team. So, if you go out there and lay an egg, it's the wrong decision. If you win, it's the right decision. So, that doesn't affect it either way.
Q: Is it helpful that you can now look at some playoff opponents? And how much time will you spend looking at the teams you might be playing this week?
A: I'll be looking at Philly.
Q: That's it?
Q: (The previous question) kind of hit on what I was going to ask you about, just the advance scouting. Maybe not you zeroing in on playoff opponents, but the fact that a potential opponent that you've already seen is out there, do you, as a staff, kind of strategically start your planning for what you're going to see in the postseason? Is it one of those things where you can't wait? If you have the opportunity, you might as well advantage (of it)?
A: Are you talking about like the preparation?
Q: Yeah – in terms of preparation.
A: Like the breakdown of the tape and things like that?
A: You have younger coaches on your staff that have responsibilities in terms of breaking down opponents. They're always one or two weeks ahead as the games come in. So, once you get to this (part of the) season, you try to take a look at, 'Alright, who are potential teams?' if you're in the tournament or not. Those coaches that do our breakdowns, they work ahead. And they get going on various scenarios, opponents, who we could play because – I'll just tell you from experience – I was one of those coaches once before. And there's not a lot of sleeping, particularly when you think one thing is going to happen, and then all of a sudden, something else happens. So, you're constantly breaking down as many teams that are in the playoffs in case something happens. It's long hours but well-worth-it hours during this time of year.
Q: Just one thing off of that: That goes for your coaching staff, but what about your players? I know most guys go through the week, and they'll just focus on who you're playing. But you do have some guys on your team, I'm thinking first and foremost, the quarterback, who will dive in and try to dial into who you may see down the road. Do you talk to your guys when you guys get back together – the idea of where the focus is and maybe 'slow up on that a little bit?' Maybe wait until you guys provide them the cut ups for the postseason opponent?
A: We don't get started on anybody else other than the team we're playing for that week. So, that's no different than last week, not getting ready for this week. Everything you do is to get ready for the team you're playing. But there's also other people like the quality control or the offensive or defensive assistants, they have to. That's part of their job description – they have to move ahead and break down things and get things prepared and ready for the coaches and the players for the next week. So, when the next week comes around, all that stuff is inputted and broken down and ready to go so we can start. For instance, we'll start back up on the Eagles.
Q: How was the cigar?
A: It was good – had a couple of them.
Q: In 2007, (former Giants head coach) Tom Coughlin pretty famously played all of his guys in the last game against New England. And I think it is viewed as, 'They did the right thing.' (Former Oakland Raiders head coach) John Madden left him a voicemail saying he did the right thing for the game. Do you think that playing guys in a final game like this is the right thing to do? And is that Giants history a factor because obviously with ownership and everything, that's a huge part of this franchise's lore: doing it the right way and winning after it.
A: I think every situation is different. That's a pretty unique circumstance that year – the record that the Patriots had (16-0). And every year's different. So, what happened in 2007 doesn't really have any effect on what's happening in 2023 for the decisions that we need to make. We'll do what we think is best for the team and sit down and have conversations. By the end of the week, we'll have our plan dialed in. But again, I think every situation, every season (is different). Would they have done that if a team was 10-6? Who knows. I don't really know the answer to that. So, I think we got to focus on what we need to do here in 2023.
Q: I just wanted to ask you a bigger picture question. Everybody's talks about the lack of expectations that you guys had or that outside people had entering the year. I remember going back into training camp; you talked a lot about 'process over results.' And we kept asking you about the offense looking terrible on a lot of given days. But just how important was that groundwork, and how important was buy-in from players into what you guys have accomplished?
A: Yeah, important. The players are the most important thing on your team. So, again, I appreciate the effort that they've put into this season, their mindset. We've worked them hard. We moved them around a lot of different places. Again, part of that training camp and OTAs is to test guys, not just physically but also mentally. So, I'd say that again – does winning help early on? Sure, it helps. I don't think anyone would say it doesn't. But I do think the type of players, the type of people, that we have, they've been fantastic to work with. They've got a great mindset. They exhibit a lot of characteristics that we covet in terms of being smart, tough, dependable. And they just try to get better each day. And I appreciate working with them and the things that they've tried to do. And again, it's an up-and-down league. So, trying to give them a level of consistency, I think, is really important from a coaching staff because, again, this league can get you quick. So, I try to be the same coach, the same person, after a win as you are with a loss. And focus on the process, if you will, because I can live with results if we're doing things the right way: we're on time, we're taking care of our bodies, we're detailed in meetings, we practice our tails off. If we go out there and don't get the results we want Sunday, I can live with that. I don't like it. I don't like it one bit, but I certainly can live with it based on what they're doing and what we're asking them to do and how they're doing it.
Q: This is one of those fine-line things: Two years ago, the Eagles played Washington on a Sunday night. If the Eagles won, Giants would've won the division, and the Eagles didn't play anybody. Washington won and won the division. People complained about the lack of integrity of not playing your best players. Do you even consider that?
A: No, I just try to consider what we think is best for our team. That's what we'll always consider.
Q: As a new coach, you had to come in and assess your talent, obviously. Maybe just as important, anyway, you had to assess the character of the guys that were here on the team. How long did it take you to assess and say, 'Yeah, I got guys that are made of the right stuff who are tough, smart and dependable.' Was it in camp? Was it in the first month of the season?
A: That's a good question. I'd say it was probably at different times because I think the most important thing when you're starting over in a new program – whether you're a position coach, a coordinator or in this case a head coach – is to really let the players get to know you as well. It doesn't take a day, or I can't give you an exact date of each guy. I think each relationship on the team is a little bit different. I think you treat everybody fairly, not the same, I think just like in the outside world, not in this building, you have different relationships with different people. There's things that make one person tick versus the other one, maybe not so much. I think you're just kind of getting a feel for who the person is, and really more importantly, let them know who you are so you can build a level of trust. I couldn't tell you if it was an OTA or a training camp practice, but each guy, probably, is a little bit different. And I think until you can build that level of trust – the player with the coach, the coach with the player – you're kind of just spinning your wheels a little bit until you can do this. This business is very cutthroat. And everybody wants results which, trust me, I do, too. But until you know that the person that you're working with, you can trust them, and they can trust you and you can fight through some tough times, really, I think you're just spinning your wheels. So, each player, probably a little bit different. I spent a lot of time with Daniel to try to get to know him and him to know me. He'd come over to the house, and I just remember at the end of training camp, we're sitting there. And I'm outside by the pool smoking a cigar, and the whole table has about three years' worth of different playbooks as we're going through training camp. I'm saying, 'Tell me if you like any of these.' You're making sure that 'You know what, this guy cares about what I think. He cares how I see the game.' I think that's important for a quarterback. Saquon Barkley, maybe it's I go beat him in a game of ping pong with my opposite hand and talk a little smack to him. So, you're constantly building relationships. (Defensive lineman) Dexter (Lawrence), it might've been another thing. And Leo (defensive lineman Leonard Williams) – they're all individuals. It's not just one 'This is how everybody is'. I think you have to get to know the person. So, I mean I couldn't give you the dates, but it's probably a little bit different with each player.