Bobby Okereke – © USA TODAY Sports
NOVEMBER 20, 2023 BRIAN DABOLL PRESS CONFERENCE…
New York Giants Head Coach Brian Daboll addressed the media on Monday (VIDEO):
Q: In your long time working with quarterbacks over the years, is there a difference when you get handed a top pick or an undrafted free agent? Are there special challenges and different ways to go about it depending on what kind of quarterback you are handed?
A: I wouldn’t necessarily (say) it is based on the round. It’s definitely – you look at the skillset of each player and each player is a little bit different and you try to develop that skillset. It’s a little bit harder when it’s the third guy rather than the first or the second guy but we’ve got a big staff, and we work with a bunch of those guys. I’d say (Assistant Quarterbacks Coach) Christian Jones has worked with those, kind of three quarterbacks, if you will, the assistant quarterback coach when (Offensive Coordinator Mike) Kafka and (Quarterbacks Coach) Shea (Tierney) are dealing with the first two guys. I talk to (quarterback Tommy) DeVito once a week, that goes back to training camp but again, each player, each quarterback is different, has a different skillset. But there’s a part of the developmental process that goes along with every position but particularly that one’s pretty important because they don’t maybe get as many reps as some as the other guys get at different positions that you can roll in there, so it doesn’t really matter the round. It’s more focused on the player and then what does that player do well and again, it’s a little bit harder than some other positions because they don’t get as many reps. They get the show team reps and things like that, but he’s done a good job of working with the coaches and trying to improve on a day-to-day basis.
Q: You said you talked to him once a week back when training camp got started. Anybody in that position as the number three quarterback, that’s what you would do?
A: Yeah, he’s a rookie player so we talk about a lot of different things. We meet every Thursday in the morning before everybody gets here and we go through a variety of different things. Situational stuff, basic offensive terminology, different quarterbacks around the league, different types of tapes that show up whether it’s turnover tapes, or big play tapes, or redzone tapes or decision-making tapes. Just a way to get to know the quarterback who’s really the third guy. As a head coach, I think that’s important.
Q: I asked you about Tommy DeVito before the first preseason game and while many had doubts you said, ‘give him a chance, let’s see.’ What qualities did he possess that made you believe that he could succeed if given the chance?
A: Well, he did a good job of picking up our offense. I think he operates well in the pocket, he’s got quick feet, he throws with anticipation and timing and he’s instinctive. He does a good job of seeing defenders and feeling defenses. I don’t think he’s an overprocessor, an overthinker. He can make a variety of the throws and he was a good young player to try to work with and develop and hopefully that we spend a year with him and he gets a little bit better so that maybe he can have something the following year, but things have sped up for him. I know he’s had this opportunity and look, there’s plenty of things that he knows he needs to work on, and we need to work on with him that we can help him, but he’s got the right mindset, the right approach. He’s done a good job since he’s been here.
Q: How does a quarterback develop pocket presence or pocket awareness?
A: Great question. It’s tough. You do a variety of drills with them but until you’re actually in the line of fire where you can take those shots from 310, 330 (pound players), or edge rushers, blitzers, I don’t think you have a great feel. You evaluate it on college tape but the good ones that I’ve been around have a unique way of dealing with – call it the congestion that happens in the pocket. In the different drills, you work on those on a daily basis, but I think it’s something innate that they have that they are able to keep their eyes down the field, stay in the pocket, move a little bit, maybe get out when they have to, an instinctive feel that the good ones that I’ve been around have done a good job with that. I’d say that he’s got some good pocket presence. Obviously, we’ve got some stuff to work on but for a young player, he’s willing to stand in there. He has pretty quiet feet. Quick feet but quiet feet when he has to. The line knows where he’s going to be most of the time, and he gets the ball out like he does throw with some good anticipation and timing. So again, he’s only played two games, so another tough challenge this week and a lot of things we need to work on.
Q: (Kicker) Randy’s (Bullock) got through his three elevations so what’s the kicker plan this week?
A: I’ll meet with (Senior Vice President/General Manager) Joe (Schoen) after this. Me, Joe, the doctors and the rest of the crew and come up with a plan as to how we’re going to go forward here.
Q: What does it mean that he has “quiet feet”?
A: When he gets back in the pocket he doesn’t move around a whole bunch. He stays in that pocket, if you will, and he doesn’t move too far to one side or the other side. He’s where he needs to be most of the time and when he’s not there, it’s usually for a reason – when he’s moving, these first couple games he’s played. It’ll be a challenge going forward, it is always for young quarterbacks, particularly in this league that are getting hit and rushed and things like that from some really good players, but he’s done a nice job.
Q: The play I wanted to ask you about was the 36-yard run by (running back) Saquon (Barkley). I’m just curious what he did right in that play because it felt like – looking back at it, I didn’t notice this in real time, but it looked like it had almost layers to it. Layers to the play so what did Saquon do right and maybe as importantly or more importantly, what did those offensive linemen, I think it might have been (center) John Michael (Schmitz Jr.) and I’m not sure if the other was (guard Justin) Pugh.
A: It was really five. The play got started because of (tight end Daniel) Bellinger and (wide receiver Sterling) Shep(ard). They had a pressure that went inside but they sealed the edge and prevented the penetration off the pressure. Then, (wide receiver) Wan’Dale (Robinson) really did a great job of blocking the edge guy, then we got two linemen out in front, which was a clean look for Saquon. And then once Saquon got out into the open field, he didn’t get touched for a little bit, then he made elusive plays, made a guy miss and ran with power and strength. It was a timely play call by Mike (Kafka), we hit it into a good look. The guys did a good job of getting the play started and then Saquon in space, it’s always a good thing when he’s in space.
Q: Do you think a play like that can demoralize a defense?
A: I mean, it was a good play. I’d say you just get ready to play the next play. They did a heck of a job of stopping our running game, so I don’t want to speak for them, but they were doing a dang good job of stopping our running game and controlling the line of scrimmage, so it was good to get that one. Obviously, gave us a little bit of a spark.
Q: Just real quick, do you have a (wide receiver Darius) Slayton update?
A: I don’t, no. I will on Wednesday, but I haven’t met with those guys yet.
Q: If you could take me beyond the Giants focus for a sec, I’d appreciate it. Last year, 66 different quarterbacks started games. This year, it’s already been 48 different quarterbacks have started games. Is grooming a viable backup quarterback more important than ever now in today’s NFL? You’ve been in the league 20-plus years and why do you think that is?
A: Well, I think it’s always been important because you’re one play away from having a player have to go in there and compete and play and keep the ship sailing, so to speak. So, I don’t know that there has ever been a de-emphasis on it. I think it’s always been important. Guys that have played a little bit and have experience in that role, but if you can find a young player that you can develop and groom into that role, I think that’s helpful. It’s a tough position, obviously. It’s demanding, it’s taxing, it’s the most difficult position to play. Whether it’s mentally, physically, there’s just so many things that go on. It’s so much preparation that each player has to do to be able to play that role. I would say that having a backup quarterback, you need a guy to be able to go in there four to five games and be able to keep it going if something happens in that kind of timeframe, if you will.
Q: Why do you think that we’re seeing so many different quarterbacks? Like I said, 66 was the record last year, going to get challenged this year. Is it because of more attention to injuries? Less patience in coaches with their quarterbacks? Like why do you think the last couple of years we’ve seen more than ever before?
A: I don’t know, that’s a great question. I can only speak for us right now. We’re on our third one and both of them have been the result of injuries. I’m sure there’s a lot of – I couldn’t give you probably the answer that you’re looking for. I’ve been in the league quite some time and there’s been years that I’ve had three or four play in a season and then times where just one has played. Usually, when you only have one play, there something going right, something going good. When you have two, three or four, then there’s different challenges that come up with that. It’s a hard position. It’s a hard position to play. That’s why it’s so important to develop these young players that you have on your roster, whether they’re on the practice squad or maybe less experienced. I think that’s a very important aspect of coaching offense and football and particularly quarterbacks.
Q: I’m sure you haven’t done your deep dive or not ready to give it to us yet on the Patriots but in general, what’s it like coaching up against (Patriots Head Coach) Bill (Belichick)? And what does it mean for you? You’ve done it a couple of times as a play caller, I guess. What is it like to go up against him as an offensive coach?
A: I’ve got a tremendous amount of respect, for one, that organization. (Patriots Chairman & CEO Robert) Mr. Kraft, (President) Jonathan (Kraft), Dan, Josh, all those guys – obviously, Bill, who gave me my first opportunity in the NFL. I think – I don’t know, this might be 17 or 18, somewhere around there, of times that games that we’ve played, that I’ve coached, obviously not as a head coach, but as offensive coordinator or a position coach. Got a ton of respect for that team, for that organization and just really getting started right now on preparation for them. Does that answer your question?
Q: What does he normally do that makes him so challenging to go up against, when you were a play caller against his defense?
A: Well, they’re well prepared. He’s going to have whatever he wants to have in, relative to changes from week-to-week. That’s the approach that they’ve had there for a long time. Again, not having been back there, maybe that’s changed a little bit, maybe it’s not, I don’t want to speak for them, but they’re always well prepared. They have good coaches, good players, the usual stuff.
Q: Yesterday was the first time you had the same line together in consecutive games all season. There were times when you look at it, they seemed to struggle with communication. Is it too much to expect these guys only playing together two games in a row to have that?
A: They didn’t struggle with communication.
Q: Was it just missed blocks then or what?
A: Yeah, there was a couple plays. Again, give Washington credit. They’ve got two good interior players that do that to a lot of teams. There was, I’d say, very few mental errors. Some physical things we can shore up on, but those guys are good communicators, work well together – again, this is their second time but they’re true pros. Again, those interior guys are pretty good players. Our guys battled, competed, wasn’t always perfect, not at any position on the team. Whether it was offensive line, quarterback, defensive line, d-backs, all of us. But those guys care, they work extremely hard and they’re good guys to have.
Q: Along the lines of the line, since John Michael has gotten back from his injury and has kind of settled in again, is there anything you can point to in his game that you can see now that you weren’t really seeing earlier in the year and that kind of speaks to his development and growth as a player?
A: I’d just say there’s been steady improvement, really in every area. Are there plays that he wishes (he could have) back? Sure, everybody has those plays. Particularly the guys who play inside there, but I think it’s been good for him to have (guard Ben) Bredeson next to him as a good communicator, Pugh. Those guys are continuing to work on fundamental things that help them, but he’s got the right approach. I’d say each game he plays, he gets more experience, there’s different things that he sees that maybe he didn’t see at the college level. Different powers, different sets, different rushes, different looks that he has to communicate, but I’d say his communication has been steadily improved. He’s a smart, young player.
Q: I know you were asked about Slayton but were there any other injuries coming out of yesterday?
A: No, I think we were pretty clean. Just a bunch – a couple knicks and bruises. I’ll meet with those guys after this, but I think we’re pretty clean.
Q: Obviously, a game like yesterday it has to be a big boost for the confidence of Tommy DeVito but what about his teammates moving forward? When they see – here’s this young guy getting his break and he can have a game like that. What does it do for his teammates’ confidence to say ‘hey, you know what? Maybe we’re not spinning our wheels here. Maybe we can ascend and do a lot better than what people are giving us credit for or being able to do.’
A: I’d say that – again, I think Tommy has got a good personality and I think he draws a lot of people with him. Even the games that wasn’t the result that we wanted, we’re out on the practice field and he’s making a few throws here and there then you see three d-lineman run on the field and high-five him. He just has a good personality about him that he knows how to interact with people. I think those guys have confidence in him but it’s good for them to see him have some success because I think – again, the last few weeks that he’s been practicing, he’s brought an energy to the team, I think. Not just the offensive guys, the defensive guys that are jumping around and he’s out there singing songs, dancing in the huddle and doing some things. And I want him to be himself, everybody’s a little bit different. I think those guys were really more happy for him of kind of how he played and they know the type of commitment he’s made to them and to our team to be as good as he can be for them.
Q: In regards to Saquon in the passing game, how much of his involvement or increased involvement was gameplan wise for that specific game? And why do you think he hasn’t been a bigger factor throughout this year? You mentioned that play that he scored a touchdown on, you guys did it all summer, he’s been asking for it to be called.
A: Again, it was a timely call by Mike (Kafka). We got the exact right look that we had practiced against for the last few weeks. The first 3rd-and-10, he made a nice play on a loose scramble. Then down in the redzone, he’s run that a fair amount. It’s just a little cross, kind of flare type route. So again, they were doing a good job of – two ways you can get him involved, one in the pass game, one in the run game, so we try to use him the best we can. They were doing a good job of preventing some of these runs breaking out. Thought it would help to get him the ball in a couple different spots in the pass game.
THE PLAYERS SPEAK…
Transcripts and video clips of the media sessions with the following players are available in The Corner Forum and on YouTube:
WHAT’S UP NEXT…
The players are off on Tuesday and there is no media availability to the team. The players return to practice on Wednesday.