Jets Postgame Quotes (Week Thirteen)
Head Coach Robert Saleh
Coach, you’re down 14, 20 to 6 at halftime. What adjustments you made gets you back in the game for the second half?
Schematically there was a few adjustments we had to make on defense. We were just giving up too many things, especially on third down. But at the end of the day there were just missed opportunities all over the place in the first half that we felt like if we could just play a little bit more efficient, we’ll start moving the ball, we’ll get our stops and make it a game. We just couldn’t score in the red zone.
One for six in the red zone, is that pretty much the story?
Yeah. They were three-for-three and one-for-six, or one and one-of-three in goal to go situations. Can’t win the game just kicking field goals.
Was there anything recurring there that was an issue?
No. Give them credit. They stood up. Had an opportunity with Braxton on one of them. Just give them credit. We had a penalty, a bad penalty that knocked us out of it, which led a field goal, I think it was the first drive of the second half. So there was just a lot of things by them and things we could have done better also.
What did you think of Mike White today?
I thought Mike did a great job. There was a little of some ups and downs, like normal in a football game. They’re a good football team. But I thought he kept his composure, stayed within the game, made some big, big throws. And that last interception he had to go there with the lack of time remaining, and credit to them, they played it aggressively and made the play.
I think you had 58 dropbacks…
You never want to have that. Obviously we’re playing catch up, especially on the last few drives. It felt like we had about 20 passes there. Either way I felt like the run game was good in spurts. We couldn’t punch it in when we tried to. But you never want to throw that much but at the same time sometimes that’s what it calls for.
Talk about Knight’s performance and what went him starting the game today?
Yeah. We love the way he runs. He’s north and south. He’s got a burst to him. He has a little extra juice and fresh legs. I think he showed it today. That big run today, he runs violently and he’s really doing a nice job.
Garrett made some huge plays for you there in the second half. How impressive is he?
He’s impressive. I think the secret with him, he’s dynamic. He’s special. Wish he kept his feet in bounds on that one explosive. That was amazing that he even got to that point with the way he broke tackles.
From your vantage point on the throw to Braxton in the end zone, because it looked like for a second he had it there. I’m wondering what kind of emotions?
For me I’m just trying to get through the down. Obviously Mike is probably going to wish he would have put it little bit more in front of him. But I know Braxton wishes he would have kept it down. Credit by their guy. He disrupted him just enough with him on his back. It’s a game of inches when you’re playing a 9-2 team. They’ve been winning like this all year and we didn’t make the play we needed to make.
How frustrating were the penalties in the first half?
It was frustrating in the first half. Some deserved, some not. It’s always going to be that way. But I think we settled down in the second half and played a little bit faster.
Why did you bring Fant in for Mitchell?
Felt like he was struggling a little bit. So just trying to get George out there.
You talked about changing the defense in the second half. What did you see in the second half?
We just wanted to take away little bit more. We felt like there was a little bit of space in there, obviously. And, again, credit to them. Credit to Kirk (Cousins), that’s why he’s a good quarterback, he was finding the space. They were doing a good job on protection at times and we felt like if we could just take that space away and amp up the pass rush, we’d be able to get off the field and felt the guys did a great job executing that in the second half.
The way Mike White competed in the second half, particularly on that touchdown, what did that say about his ability and willingness to fight back when things aren’t going great in the first half like they were?
The whole team, you know, I’m proud to be this team’s coach. Proud of every single person in that locker room. They absolutely fought their tails off. This team doesn’t quit. There’s no moral victories or anything like that, but if you play like that, you’re going to win more often than not.
How did you feel you guys did against Jefferson?
Thought we did a nice job. I know he got the one touchdown. Really nice route by him. But felt like we kept his explosives to a minimum. But we just weren’t good enough in the red zone on both sides of the ball.
Everyone finished the game.
Mike, you guys got in the red zone six times, obviously you only scored one touchdown. Does that feel like what changed the game here today?
Yeah, 100 percent. Credit to them. They know the areas they can attack, presented a different couple of looks that we weren’t scouting for. But such is life, such is football. So you gotta figure out. My job as a quarterback is put our team in the best position, and that’s scoring in the red zone. So starts with me. You gotta figure out how to put the ball in the end zone and if we can do that you can win games.
What did you see on that last play?
The last play we were trying to get all eligibles into the end zone. They essentially took Garrett (Wilson) away in the boundary. Harrison Smith was waiting on Elijah (Moore), and the safety just drove on Corey (Davis). We thought at the time he was our best option, felt the rush on me, so I didn’t want to finish up with the ball in my hand. Just wanted to give our guy an opportunity and see what was going to happen.
Mike, what about the throw to Braxton?
Right. It’s actually a credit to Braxton. It’s not the route the play called for. It was a break in and then back out, but he kind of saw the opening, and that’s just how he plays football. He sees things differently than others, and I was on the same page with him. And we just couldn’t connect.
So was that like an option route?
No. He goes to the angle and then comes in, then breaks back out. And he just saw the linebacker playing so heavy outside on him and he just saw the space. And luckily he did because that was really the only option we had. They sat on our out route. They sat on (Tyler) Conklin in the corner, and that was the soft spot in the defense. Tons of credit to him for finding it. We just gotta — I gotta figure out how to put that ball a tad more in front of him and let him securely make the catch instead of making a tough catch.
Seemed like you guys got off to a slow start. What was going on then and then what was the difference in the second half?
We went into the game wanting to play efficient football and staying ahead of the chains. They were very good at third and long and not so much at third and shorts. We wanted to stay ahead of the chains, stay in third and manageable and play the game from there. And I think we got away from that with some penalties and mishaps and things of that nature and I think they did a good job of sitting inside of our in-breaking routes and things like that. And that’s what happened on the pick. You know, they did a great job of driving on the slant. I tried to back hip to Corey, popped up, pick. Can’t happen. And then we made some adjustments in the second half, hit some more out-breakers and I think kind of softened them up and we were able to kind of get to the flow of our offense. We just gotta start faster.
Were you fairly certain you got in on the touchdown?
I thought I was, but I didn’t know if it was going to be a case of they couldn’t see the ball and call on the field stands. I tried to reach — you know, when it’s fourth and goals, you gotta have it or you don’t. Whoever it was, was holding my arms and fought like hell and guys helped pushed me and kind of a team touchdown there.
What did change after the half? It did seem like the offense started getting going after you guys got back out there.
I think it started in that two-minute drive before the half. We started to hit those out-breakers, and that kind of softened them up, and then we were able to hit in-breakers again, like the 50, 60-something-yarder to Garrett in-breaker. I think that’s a credit to Coach (Mike) Lafleur and Miles (Austin) and Rob (Calabrese) and everybody seeing that they were sitting on our inside stuff. Take advantage of that and hit out-breakers, and then that kind of softens them up and gives our receivers two ways to go.
What did you think of Garrett today?
I think Garrett’s a fighter. I mean he might not have gotten the ball early. Never complained. Kept running routes. Even the long one. I mean, he initially the first window wasn’t there and he just kept running and trusted me and I trusted him and threw it in that second window and made an unbelievable play to Garrett. Seems to do that a couple times a game now. But it’s across the board in that room and in that offense. Like Coach Saleh just said, by no means are we trying to make this a moral victory. Moral victories don’t count in the NFL, but really proud of how the guys stayed together. There was no moaning and complaining on the sideline. We stared adversity straight in the face and responded. We just gotta respond better.
This is obviously a very loud building for an opponent. How much does the noise complicate what you were trying to do, particularly in the second half of the game?
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy, but I think if you prepare for it all week and use different types of silent cadences and things of that nature and play calling helps. You just go in and deal with it. I mean, this is my first time playing here. Very loud, but after the first couple snaps you just get used to it and you just deal with it.
What happened to you when you got hurt late in the game and you were able to continue but you were down?
They just got me good in the ribs. Just kind of part of it. The big guys hit you, it tends to hurt sometimes.
No moral victories, I understand. But is it easier when you can look at you scored one touchdown in the redzone out of six trips. Is it easier to kind of walk away from a loss and know that you fixed this one thing and things will be better?
I think for the most part when you lose a game you do have a sense of what the reasoning was. And today was just there. Like I said earlier, it starts with me. Gotta figure out a way to get in there. I don’t know what it is. I’ll watch the tape, get with our coaches and learn from it and correct it. Yeah, just not let the same mistakes happen twice and learn from this.
When you were on fourth down, can you just take us through that play?
Yeah, obviously I saw what Mike [White] saw. There was a spot open there and took it. He put the ball there, and him and I just have to make the play.
It was hard to tell, but did the defender affect you? Did he get a hand on the ball?
If he did or not, it really doesn’t matter. It was there. Mike put it in the only place that he could, and you have to come down with that one.
You went to the red zone six times and only came out with one touchdown. How frustrating is that? Obviously, offense is moving, but you’re not finishing those drives.
It was one of those games. Whatever plan they [Vikings] had, it was good, and it was really sound, and they executed in the red zone a little bit better than we did throughout the game. We fought. Obviously, it was another one of those dog fight games, and we scratched some claw back. We really had an opportunity there at the end.
How would you describe Mike, especially in the second half?
He’s a baller, obviously. Got unlucky early, tipped balls and stuff. We came out executing. We came out firing better in the second half. Like I said, we put ourselves in the position to win that game.
Looking in the red zone, is there something that the Vikings did differently? Is there something you guys didn’t do?
I don’t think it’s anything like that, and again, I don’t know. I haven’t watched the film to break down all of it. They executed better in the red zone. That’s what it comes down to. Obviously, we’ll get better from it. No, I mean nothing I can say now that is a major change either way.
Did the fact that Mike White threw the ball behind you affect the outcome of the play?
No, that’s not on him. That’s on me. It’s fourth down. He has everything in his face, the rush coming, and he’s seeing bodies falling everywhere. He put it where it should’ve gone and so that one is on me.
How tough is today to swallow?
It is tough. Those threes need to turn to six points. We have a great opponent next week where we need those drives to be six points. It is frustrating. It is a game of inches, and we felt that today.
What does it say about this team that you had two drives late with a chance to take the lead?
We are going to keep battling. It was 20-3. We kept battling. We knew we had to play better. It is a group of warriors, and I am proud to be a part of this team.
Mike called you a fighter and said that when a ball does not come your way early you do not let that impact your game. Is that something that you pride yourself on?
Definitely, I cannot lose myself because I missed out on a few drives or did not get the ball. I cannot let that affect the rest of the game. My teammates rely on me. I want to see myself do great. To let a few drives where I do not get the ball mess up my game would be childish of me. Obviously, I am a competitor and want to be involved. That stuff cannot get in the way of what is coming next or the next play I have to make.
What is the lesson you take away from today?
It is a game of inches. I can think of six plays today where it came down to inches. That was the story of this game. Going into practice, it has to be detailed. There are some things that could have been avoided.
You had the chance to talk to Jefferson after the game. How did that go?
He told me I was fun to watch, and I told him he was fun to watch and to keep doing what he was doing. Seeing how his team relies on him is good to see even being on the other sideline. I have a lot of respect for his game, and the way he goes about his business.