Jets Post-Game Quotes (Week Twelve)
Head Coach Robert Saleh
“Injury-wise, Quincy (Williams) is dealing with a deep bruise in his calf, and then obviously (Trevon) Wesco is dealing with a knee. We’ll have more updates tomorrow.”
Can you talk about the performance of your defense, shutting down Houston to less than 40 yards in the second half?
“Yeah, even in that first half, I thought we were playing very well. There were two third downs that I know we all want back, especially third and longs. The zero that resulted in the touchdown and the go ball. Aside from those two plays, I thought the guys showed a lot of resilience. I thought there was a sudden change out there in the second half where we knocked them out of field goal range. I thought they were fantastic. I thought (Jeff) Ulbrich and his staff did great. I thought the players, again, they’re getting better, and I thought this was a good one.”
What has changed defensively for you guys?
“When you look from a back end standpoint, especially at that safety position when we had the injuries that we had, just the continuity and trying to get these guys to just play — put them on repeat, if you will, in terms of doing the same things over and over again, and give them a chance to go execute. Again, I thought I feel like ‘Brich’ (Jeff Ulbrich) and his staff have been steadfast in making sure that we remain constant and keeping things simple for our guys as they grow. You look at Ashtyn (Davis), he came in, and I think this is his fourth game in a row now where he’s been able to stay on the field, and he’s been playing with Elijah Riley, who I think this was his second start. But either way, just a lot more continuity in the back end, and obviously the D-line got after it today, too, so that always helps.”
What did you think about how QB Zach Wilson looked, and was his knee bothering him at the end?
“No, he was fine. Obviously, there was a little rust there after a month, but I thought he managed the game well. I thought, again, the offense was running the heck out of the football and he was doing a good job on third down. It was just a good day of managing the game.”
When QB Zach Wilson was escaping the pursuit, when it looked like he tweaked his knee, it looked like the doctors were looking at it on the sideline.
“Yeah, he checked out fine.”
This seemed like another game where QB Zach Wilson looked a little too amped up early, but he looked like a different player in the second half. What did you see from him in the second half compared to the first half?
“You hit the nail on the head. He throws those little rockets, so he’ll figure all that stuff out. I thought for the most part, we get that turnover to start the game, offense get down there, we’re able to get a field goal out of it, and then we kind of hit a lull where there were a lot three-and-outs and defense battling, gave up a couple touchdowns. But that drive before the half was huge. I thought they did great job. They worked all the way down the field, scored that touchdown, we get a chance to lap them, which we did, which was big. But in that second half, he made the plays he needed to make and the offensive line did a great job opening up seams for our running backs. I think we were averaging over four and a half a clip, so it was a really good day offensively.”
The first drive of the second half, QB Zach Wilson hit a couple passes to WR Elijah Moore, and they were zipped in and accurate. Did it just seem different to you there?
“No, on the first one to Elijah (Moore), the 22-yarder on the read concept was really good, obviously off the play-action pass. I believe the second one came on — they had a zero pressure and he was able to get it into him. Had a good one to (Braxton) Berrios also on the zero pressure, so he was seeing the field well in the second half, and it’s definitely something to build off.”
It seems like there are two tales of when QB Zach Wilson is in rhythm and he’s able to be efficient, but there are times where he’s a little indecisive and struggles a little bit. What do you think is the reason behind that?
“It’s being a rookie. Like we said, the objective in this game was to try to get him as comfortable as possible early. He’s shown that when he comes out of the locker room in the second half, he’s comfortable, he sees the field, he’s basically gotten a chance to see what the defense is giving him. So, the objective was to try to get him comfortable earlier. I felt like we were finally able to do that midway through the second quarter on that first touchdown drive that we had. That’s just going to be growing pains in terms of being able to recognize things, trust your week’s worth of preparation, but as he sees the game and he is starting to see coverages and player demeanor and all that stuff, he gets more comfortable, and obviously he becomes more decisive. It’s just going to be one of those deals that as he gets older and as he gets more reps, he’ll get a lot better at it.”
What have you seen from RB Austin Walter that you went to him so much today?
“He’s a fire plug, spark plug, whatever you want to call it. He’s got great initial quickness and burst, similar to Michael (Carter) in his running style. We felt like his couple of weeks that he’s been here since he’s been able to get back to us, obviously he missed the first few with the injury being on IR and all that, but he’s a good back, and he’s proven that when he’s able to run the ball. He can create explosive plays. Just having that burst, that juice, that energy that comes from him, thought it would be a good addition.”
There was a lot of focus last week on DL John Franklin-Myers and his penalty at the end of the game. Today, he had the interception at the beginning of the game and two sacks. What kind of lift did he give you guys?
“He’s worth his weight in gold, JFM (John Franklin-Myers) is. But too much given, much expected, so he knows the standard. He has a very high standard for himself, and I know he was beating himself up all week for that play. At the same time, he comes out to practice every single day, he works his butt off and he’s working his tail off on gameday. It was really cool for him to get the production he got.”
Could you take us through the two fourth down decisions at the end of the game?
“The fourth-and-five, obviously we were in position right there, we were in a little gray area. It was 50/50 dealer’s choice, just wanted to go with it. The second one, we were getting ready to kick the field goal and (Mike) LaFleur was adamant that he had a play call to get the first down, so (we) burned the time out, put the offense back on, and he proved it right.”
What was the thought behind the two-point attempt? Was that a similar situation where you just thought you had a play?
“Same thing. We really liked our two-point play, but at the same time, it was to get it to three points.”
On the third-and-goal play when QB Zach Wilson tried to hit WR Elijah Moore on a whip route. What went wrong on that play?
“We’ve got to be better in protection, obviously. With all the action that we had, that dude should’ve been doubled, almost tripled, and he should have got it to Keelan (Cole) in the back of the end zone. He was wide open. Poor protection breakdown right there, and that’s kind of what happened.”
Now that you’ve snapped the three-game losing streak, what does it do for the team’s psyche after so much negativity over the last few weeks?
“It’s the same thing with regards to ignoring the noise, ignore the praise, ignore the criticism, and just focus on keeping the main thing the main thing. That’s getting better every week, building the foundation that we’re building, and understanding that this organization is going to get somewhere, and it’s going to get somewhere quick. But the main focus is showing up to work, doing everything we can to get a little bit better, and find ways to finish the season strong.”
The last two times you guys won the next two games didn’t go so well. Is that going to be a point of emphasis this week, to keep the momentum going and not have that setback, or will you change things this week to not have that setback?
“No, consistency is the truest measure of performance. You’re either consistently bad or consistently good, or consistently inconsistent. But there’s a standard that we have to be able to achieve day in and day out. Especially being a young team, it’s not about changing things up. It’s understanding how to be a professional, ignore the outside noise, and show up to work and keep the main thing the main thing. Go line by line, play by play, minute by minute, moment by moment, and just try to find ways to get better. Then when gameday comes, you do everything you can to play your absolute best, and you trust the result will be in your favor. But changing stuff up, the focus is exactly what it’s going to be, and that we plan on having as our standard for years to come.”
What did you see from the run game today?
“Yeah. J.B., John Benton put together a really cool plan. Credit to the O-line, one of the challenges we had this week for the offense was urgency and physicality at the line of scrimmage. I felt like we were able to do that in getting a lot of push, creating a lot of creases, and I thought the backs did a good job finding those creases and hitting it strong and getting vertical and getting yards. Really good day in terms of (Mike) LaFleur leaning on them, and them responding with the way they blocked up front.”
How does it feel to get the win?
“Yeah, really good. Really good, especially just because I wasn’t happy with how I performed, just the ups and downs of it all. I’ve got to just keep going. It’s all part of the process. We’re going to keep getting better, but it feels really good to go home having a win. Ultimately, that’s the goal, is to win the game, and so I’m really happy we were able to pull it out. I thought the guys battled. The defense played awesome. Held them to not doing much on offense. I thought they did an awesome job. I thought the guys up front battled all the way to the very end. It’s awesome to be able to learn from a win.”
How much of your ups and downs do you attribute to being out for a month versus just having an up-and-down day?
“I don’t blame anything on that. I expect myself to, no matter — you could say the same thing, ‘Hey, you had the whole offseason. It was the first game of the year.’ There (are) no excuses. You’ve got to be able to come out and play well. I’ve had this whole time to watch and learn from everybody else. I thought I had my best week of practice, so now I’ve just got to put it to the field and just get better and understand it’s part of the process, and just have that chip on my shoulder.”
There were a couple plays early on where you sailed short passes over receivers’ heads. When you’re in the situation of a game, what do you have to tell yourself to take a little bit off some of those passes?
“My mentality is to rip the ball, and that’s why. I’m not playing timid, and that’s why some of those are probably coming in fast. I’m telling myself just to rip it, play free, and let it go. And yeah, I’ve got to adjust, and I will. I’m going to work on that with those guys. But that’s why some came in like that, because I’m trying just to play fast.”
What happened on the play where it looked like you may have tweaked your knee?
“That was something I knew coming in. I think it happened earlier in the game as well when I ran the keeper and threw it away. It’s going to do that sometimes. It’s not fully healed, and we understand that. But I feel good to play, and that’s why I’m playing. I understand that sometimes it’s going to shift and stretch it a little bit, but there is no damage that can come from that. You’ve just got to walk it off and move on. I’ve still got to throw that ball away. I let it affect me right there, and I’ve got to just find a way to get that ball out of my hands.”
You mean you should have thrown it away sooner?
“Yeah, I didn’t mind extending it to when I did, but I tweaked the knee and then my body just shut down, and I kind of just forgot about everything that was going on right there because of it. I knew that happens sometimes, so I’ve just got to throw the ball away.”
Did you think there was a chance you might have to come out of the game?
What did you see on your interception?
“I knew it was third-and-long. We had a slant at the top. The corner did a good job just holding onto Keelan (Cole), so the seas kind of just parted. I stepped up, and I figured rather than me going and running and getting blasted by somebody or trying to slide, just flip it to my checkdown in front of me. It was just one of those unfortunate things, I think. Maybe I should have got it to him sooner, but Ty (Johnson) was just turning around to try and block for me at that point. I just think it’s kind of one of those things, just unlucky sometimes.”
Can you talk about the second drive in the second half when you came out and hit Elijah Moore, and how it seemed to get the momentum going?
“Those big plays, I told the coaches on the sideline, I’m like, ‘Even though things are rough, keep calling it. We’re going to be good. I’m going to get into that rhythm, into that flow.’ You’ve got to be able to just hit that reset button and just say, ‘On to the next play.’ That was a challenge for tonight, is how can I keep going and keep pushing through. We got some good plays there, and Elijah (Moore) made some great catches, but we’ve got to get that going from the beginning. I’ve got to get that going. These guys have showed they can do it, and so it’s me. I’ve got to hold myself accountable for the way I start and get those guys going from the beginning.”
From your perspective Zach, it seems like when you’re in rhythm, you’re seeing it, trusting it, you let it rip, you’re very efficient. There are times when you’re a little bit hesitant, and that can lead to some issues. What do you think leads to some hesitation that pops up at times for you?
“Just not trusting what I’m seeing at times. I think I got to understand it’s part of the process and I’m going to keep getting better at it every single week. I’m just as frustrated myself as to why I’m not just letting it and playing efficiently like I have my whole entire life. So, I just got to tell myself it’s part of the process, get back to work, and keep getting better. Just understand there is a lot of work to do.”
Did the knee bother you at all the two times you said you kind of tweaked it? Were you conscious of the knee today?
“No, not at all. The reason is because I knew that in practice it’s not fully stable and that’s going to happen sometimes. There wasn’t any risk of reinjury by doing that stuff, so in my head I was just like, ‘walk it off’. Just felt a little bit weak at the time and I knew within just a couple of minutes of walking it off it was going to feel perfectly fine. That’s kind of what I told the guys, I’m good. Once I go back on the field, I don’t even think about it. I knew it was just one of those things I have to deal with.”
On that fourth and five play they put the ball back in your hands and you were able to deliver. What did that mean to you for coach to put the ball in your hand fourth and five and execute and get the job done?
“I thought it was really cool decision by the coaches. I think it means a lot. Even when things aren’t going well they got to understand that I’m learning and I’m going to hit the reset button every single play as far as having that trust in me, have that trust that I’m going to make the right decisions, even when things haven’t gone exactly how I wanted them to. So, I thought that was a good growth experience for everybody right there going forward.”
How was the operation today? This was the first time with you with Offensive Coordinator Mike LaFleur upstairs and no Senior Offensive Assistant Matt Cavanaugh, how did it go on the sideline today?
“Yeah, really smooth. I enjoy working with Rob (Calabrese) on the sideline. I think it’s just an efficient. I think Mike (LaFleur) probably enjoys being up there more, and so the only issues we had today was just sometimes the headset and helmet cutting in and out which made it difficult to hear the play calls. We tried to figure that out on the sideline. For whatever reason it was a little bit sputtery in and out as far as just hearing him clearly. I’m not sure what the difficulties were, just made it tough to get lined up correctly sometimes, hearing the right play calls, but it’s something we got to figure out.”
How much did you communicate with Offensive Coordinator Mike LaFleur during the game?
“It’s the same voice passing through, whether it’s Rob (Calabrese) telling me he’s communicating with Mike, what they’re seeing, what he’s thinking. My direct contact of talking with Mike is just in the headset as the game is going. You know, so as far as what I’m hearing from all those guys, it’s the same message.”
You already admitted you didn’t play up to your standards. What did it mean to have the run game rush for 157 yards for you guys?
“Yeah, it’s huge. You saw how it opened everything else up in the play passing and getting guys to step up. So, it was awesome that those guys were able to come through. Backs were running their butt off. It’s nice when you can have that balanced football that helps each other on both sides. We got to do our part and I got to do my part to help that even more.”
How about a guy like Austin Walter, he’s on the practice squad all year, gets a shot, made a couple key plays. What’s your perspective for that kind of guy?
“Yeah, just an awesome dude. Just does things the right way, and I’ve known this since he’s come on campus as far as his mindset, the way he approaches the game. You know, he had an amazing camp I thought. Ended up letting him go after that and he ends up making his return and comes back. He’s a guy that’s going to take advantage of his opportunities, so I thought he did an awesome job tonight.”
You were caught from behind on your interception. What happened?
“See, I feel like that’s something we shouldn’t talk about. No, I wanted to score, but I had to do what was smart. I couldn’t just run. I saw somebody catching up to me, I had to run towards the sideline. I couldn’t risk fumbling.”
You were critical of yourself after a penalty in last week’s game. What does this bounce-back performance mean to you?
“I think that’s just the standard I hold to myself. I know that just can’t happen, a mistake like that can potentially cost us the game. That just couldn’t happen. Thankful for my coaches and the position that they put me in, the teammates. They just put me in a great position, and I just made the routine plays routine.”
What was getting past that play like this week?
“I mean, I’m quick – I just let it go. After it happened, understand that it couldn’t happen again. That was my mentality. You can’t make the same mistake twice, we preach that and we try to live that. As a defensive line, stuff like that, those bang-bang plays are going to happen, and understand that I got to keep playing. I can’t slow myself down for stuff like that, I just have to be smarter.”
What made your defensive front effective in rushing Tyrod Taylor today?
”Just rushing together. I think you kind of see some guys on film, when they go against a running quarterback, just kind of don’t rush or get timid rushing, stuff like that. Again, we just rush. We play off each other, we play together well. We kind of know what each other is going to do. That helps us out when we play a guy like this because we’re all over the place, we’re playing off each other and making plays.”
It looked like the trainers were working you out a couple of hours before the game. Did you hip injury cause any doubt as to whether you were going to play?
“Not in my mind. I’m a football player.”
Did you have to convince the trainers to play?
“No convincing. Go out there and line up and play football.”
How far away is home from here? How many people did you have at the game today?
“My house is 30 minutes from here. Shoot, I had 50 people, maybe. It was great. It was great to play in front of them. They don’t get the chance to come to New York very often, so just seeing them prior to the game and then going to see them for a second (after). But it was great, it was a great opportunity.”
What was your thought on the pass coverage that gave you the time to rush the quarterback?
“I think it starts with the coaches. They put a great plan together and now I think there’s no gray area for those guys. The coaches took it on themselves to make sure these guys are put in great positions and they were. Again, those guys just made plays. They were flying around, knocking people down, knocking the ball out. Even in some of the run game, just flying to the ball, making tackles, TFLs. I mean, it was great to see that from those guys.”
What was said on the sideline when you guys went down 14-3?
“Our coach was just preaching that we have to play our brand of football. Sometimes things happen fast and just the momentum switches, stuff like that. But I think we did a good job of just staying in there, staying locked in, and C.J. (Mosley) got us all together and just spoke to us. ‘Man, we know how to play football. This is what we do, X, Y and Z.’ And then I think we just came out of it. Foley (Folorunso Fatukasi) is a great leader, Sheldon (Rankins) talks to us, and then Elijah (Riley), who’s a young guy, came here three weeks ago and just set the bar high for us. We got some great players, great leaders on this team.”
Can you walk us through your interception and how that play developed?
“Honestly, Foley (Folorunso Fatukasi) had some pressure on him (Tyrod Taylor), and then I saw him throw the ball, so I was trying to tip the pass. I end up tipping the pass and run, and I’m just like, ‘I’m going to just go get it.’ So I ran and got it, and I tried to score, I really did. I tried to score, but shoot, I had to be smart there. I think everybody wants to try to score a touchdown, but it’s more important to have the ball, you know, the possession. We all want to score the touchdowns, you know, like, ‘Let me get out of bounds. I don’t want to risk fumbling, I don’t want to risk nothing.’ So it is what it is, I’ll have another opportunity.”
Did you hear from your teammates on the sideline at all?
”Everybody was talking about me, but that’s okay.”
Did Shaq Lawson say anything because last year he was kind of in a similar situation and he was able to score?
“Shaq knew what it was. Shaq’s been in that position and he was like ‘Man look I understand.’ Like everybody sees it, you know, you see the defensive lineman trying to score a touchdown and they fumble the ball. Shaq was like, ‘Look I’ve done the same thing I’m not gonna lie.’ David Johnson’s fast, too, so that made me feel better.”
Did you play any running back in high school?
“I played running back in high school. I had two carries for 25 yards, I don’t know why.”
“No I didn’t get a chance. I wish I would’ve, though, looking back on the good old days.”
Austin, what’s been the range of emotions? You were on the practice squad, you get called up and scored a touchdown.
“There’ve been a lot of emotions that I’ve been feeling. I’m from Houston. I went to Rice University. I went to Crosby High School, so this was a homecoming for me. I got to see a lot of family members here, some people that I wasn’t even expecting to see that work in the stadium. Just being here my whole life, it meant a lot for this to be the place to get my first career touchdown. I know my dad is in heaven smiling down on me, so a lot of emotions, but they’re bittersweet emotions.”
When did you know you would have a significant part in the game plan this week?
“I didn’t know. I knew I would be up Saturday, but at the same time, just the way that I train is you always have to be ready for your moment. You never know. Being a guy that’s on the practice squad, being from team to team, you know how this league works. When you get your opportunity, you have to do everything you can to make it last. When coach kept calling my number I was like, ‘hey, you know what? If I want to stay up here, stay at the big dance, I’ve got to make the most out of my opportunity.’ And I hope I did that.”
Describe the touchdown run itself. What was the play and what do you remember from it?
“It was inside zone and I could see the defense. They were slanted in doing a pirate concept. I just knew, ‘hey, just hit it off the guard’s block, and it’ll be right there.’ I wasn’t going to be denied. It was going to be my first touchdown. My mom said yesterday she could feel that I was going to score today. You know, mother’s intuition. Mother always knows best.”
How many family and friends did you have here?
“Honestly, if I gave you a number, I can’t even. So, I was getting ready for pre-game warmups, and I saw my aunt in the stadium. I saw one of my long-time friends. My grandparents are here, my mom and my stepdad is here. Yeah, it’s a lot of people. Then people watching the game. Even people that were working that were with me at Rice. Some people I know from Crosby. Yeah, it’s pretty cool experience.”
Were you a Texans fan growing up?
“I’ll say this: I really didn’t watch NFL growing up. Yeah.”
Did you guys know that the run game was going to be critical today? Just with Zach Wilson is coming back after four weeks off and maybe not leaning on him as much.
“Being in this system for three years, spending time with Coach (Kyle) Shanahan in San Francisco, I kind of got a feel for how the offense is supposed to work. This offense relies heavy on the run game, and the run game opens up everything else. If you look at the year, they went to the Super Bowl in 2019, it was run game, run game, run game. If you do that, it allows for the defense to play with a lead. It allows for clock management. The run game is the foundation of this west coast offense.”
When did you lose your father? What do you think of the fact that of all the places this would happen to you [it would be at home in Houston]?
“I lost my father, I want to say probably 2017. It was right before we went to Australia when I was at Rice, so it was around that time period. And I know that he had the best seat in the house. I know if he was right here, he would be smiling from ear to ear. He would just be so proud of me. He would be bragging to all of his friends. And at the end of the day, he’s the one that allowed me to get to this position, so I know he’s in heaven looking down like, ‘hey, you know, my hard work paid off.’”
What was his name?
“Tony Walter, yes. And I have got to shout out my mom, Diane Walter, because she is the person who put me in football when I was three years old. I had to go to her first, and she went to my dad. So, without my mother, Diane Walter, I wouldn’t be standing up here.”