General Manager Joe Douglas, 11.2

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Opening Statement: 

Appreciate you guys coming and I’ll just be brief with the opening statement. Obviously, a lot of conversation leading up to today. Obviously, if the conversation didn’t come to a trade agreement, I’m not going to go into the specifics of it. But, talking about the two players that we did add over the last two weeks. Obviously, getting Joe (Flacco), a player that we know well. A former Super Bowl champion, Super Bowl MVP. And then today, adding Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. Again, a former Super Bowl champion. I feel good about adding those two guys, the experience they bring, the championship pedigree that they bring, so excited about them. Speaking of excitement, also excited about the JFM (John Franklin-Myers) extension. I know that was from a few weeks ago, but a well-earned extension for JFM. Again, we want to be a team that takes care of the guys that earn it and take care of our own guys. He’s a guy that earned it from coming in here and battling. The start of his season was great, so excited to reward a player and a person like JFM. Just talking about our season, where we are, I can’t help but think about where we are as a team and our youth and where they are and how much of a credit that is to Coach (Robert) Saleh and his staff and just their ability to develop and work with all these young players. And, again, with this youth, I feel like we have a really interesting mix of, obviously we lead the league in rookie snaps, and so obviously that’s a lot for a first-year staff. To their credit, they’ve attacked it since day one and they’ve done a great job developing these young players. But also, it’s been a good mix of young players and veteran players. Guys like Morgan (Moses), guys like C.J. (Mosley), guys like Marcus (Maye), guys like George Fant, and to see them really help these young players grow into NFL contributors, it’s been fun to watch. Obviously, there’s been some peaks and valleys this year. I think you’ve seen that with our first few games. I think you see that with the youth on this team, but these guys, their grit, they’re passion, their toughness, their strain, like Coach Saleh talks about, you see that, too, day-in-day-out, week-in-week-out. So, obviously it’s a short week, we have to turn the page quickly from a great win against Cincinnati and tough opponent in Indy. The Colts are going to be a tough game, so we’re turning the page quick. We’re really excited about the opportunity.

 

Brian Costello, New York Post: Joe, how do you feel about the way Zach (Wilson) has played this season? Obviously, I know he’s hurt now, but through those first six games that he played?

I think, obviously you see the play making ability that Zach brings. I don’t think there’s a blade of grass that, a defense has to defend every single blade of grass when they’re going against Zach and his arm. He can reach anywhere on the field. Some of the throws that he makes, the tight window throws that he makes, he can make every single throw. So, it’s great to see his play making ability and it’s going to be great to see him continue to develop in this offense with Coach (Mike) LaFleur.

 

DJ Bien-Aime, New York Daily News: How would you assess how the defense has played so far this year?

i think, like the entire team, there’s been highs and lows, right? But I think the consistent thing has been the effort, the strain, the toughness. I go back, I think Coach (Saleh) talked about it, you go back to the interception, and the effort and the strain of Denzel (Mims) and Elijah (Moore) to get the player down, and then the effort and the strain of the defense to hold them out of the end zone. What ended up being a game changing series for that game. The encouraging thing is that there are young players everywhere on this defense and they’re battling week-in and week-out, and they’re getting better.

 

Rich Cimini, ESPN: Did teams express interest in Marcus Maye?

Again, I’m not going to get into any conversations that didn’t lead to an agreement. Marcus is a valued member of this team. I will say that and love having him here. He’s a fantastic young player. As you guys know, he’s under his franchise tag, so we can’t renegotiate any deal with him until the end of the season. We’ve got 10 games left to just evaluate him and every other member of this team moving forward.

 

Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Would you like to, when the season ends, would you like to renegotiate with him and extend him?

Look, Marcus is a valued member of this team. Again, there’s a lot of meat left of the bone in terms of the season. We’ll see how the last 10 games play out and go from there at the end of the year.

 

Rich Cimini, ESPN: How much does his legal situation impact his future here?

I would say, without getting into the specifics, Marcus was the first guy in my office when the news of that broke and we had a great conversation. And while you don’t condone the action, you support the man, and we know Marcus is a fantastic young man and support him as a person. Obviously, it was a mistake. We had a great conversation and I support Marcus.

 

Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: I know he was in your office when the news broke, but the fact that he didn’t come to you guys initially when that occurred, what’s your reaction to that as soon as the situation took place?

We talked about it. Again, I’ll keep the specifics in house. Obviously, we talked about it and put it to bed right there. Anything that happens from here on out will come strictly from the league.

 

Brian Costello, New York Post: Joe, I know the question about Zach that I asked, there’s no denying his play-making ability, you saw it against Tennessee, but he’s also had some struggles. The New England game stands out, a few other issues. Do you feel he’s progressing the way you envisioned he was going to progress this season, before the year, or has it been slower than you thought?

No, I feel absolutely that he’s progressing, and I feel like he was on his way to have really taken off in that New England game prior to the injury. I think it’s tough for rookie quarterbacks in the National Football League. I think you’re seeing that. The character that he has, the caliber teammate he is, obviously he was voted captain for a reason by his teammates. He’s a tough-minded young man and he has great work ethic and I think you’re going to continue to see him just shoot up, and his arrows pointed straight up and he’s going to continue to get better every day once he gets back on the field.

 

Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: Joe, I feel like one of the things you enjoy most about your job is unearthing a lot of these players? Not necessarily the high-profile guys. And I’m just kind of curious what’s your intention of what’s taken place with Mike on Sunday, you know Mike White, what was your reaction as you watched that unfold?

Mike, I can’t say enough good things about Mike because talking about a person making the most of his opportunity and that started in New England. Him coming off the bench, executing the offense at an effective, efficient level, without the starter reps in practice. What I think most people can’t see unless they’re in the building every day, is just how many hours this young man has put in to improving footwork, everything, the film work he’s put in. So, all the work that he’s put in in the shadows, he was able to showcase that when he got his opportunity. The really cool thing about it is that there was no Herculean effort from Mike. It was just taking what the defense gave him, executing the offense, again effectively and efficiently and making the most of his opportunity, making great decisions, throwing accurate passes and I’m so happy for Mike because this is what football is all about. You root for guys that do their thing in the shadows and make the most of an opportunity.

 

(follow-up) This is a quick follow up to that if I could just come back to it, we obviously talked to Robert right afterward at the game on Sunday and in his own way, he kind of left the door ajar on it’s not necessarily a guarantee that when Zach gets back, he’s kind of said that anything can happen. I’m just curious, a lot coaches would just immediately say that when the starter is back, he’s in again. What’s your reaction in terms of how he handled that and how he presented it? Obviously, you guys talked about that, but are you in lockstep with that?

Absolutely. I’m in lockstep. Coach and I talk every day. And at this point, we’re positive vibes only and we’ve got a tough assignment this week in terms of Indianapolis, that’s our only focus. And getting Mike ready for Indianapolis and trying to beat a very tough opponent on the road, on a short week. That is our primary focus. I’m in lockstep with Coach and anything other than that, we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

 

Connor Hughes, The Athletic: So, you could pursue then a situation then when Zach is healthy, and Mike White continues to be the starting quarterback?

Again, I’m just going to piggyback on everything that Coach said and we’re going to cross that bridge when we get to it. Our sole focus is Indianapolis Colts.

 

Rich Cimini, ESPN: Joe, one of your draft picks, obviously Mekhi (Becton) is injured now, but leading up to the injury, he had kind of an uneven preseason. Mike LaFleur kind of said that something was amiss there. Was it disappointing there before he got hurt? Like, how do you think he was playing, Mekhi, before his injury?

Mekhi was battling. He’s been battling since day one of coming here and no one wants to be on the field more than Mekhi and it was an unfortunate Week One injury. And everything he’s been doing since that injury has been getting back on this field. He’s been grinding, putting in extra hours in the training room, trying to rehab and get back. Mekhi, like every other player on this team, is working on getting better, improving on little things every day. I have a lot of faith in Mekhi.

 

Andy Vasquez, The Record: Joe, obviously you guys have some players who may have had interest on other teams who were contenders. For one reason or another you didn’t make a move, is that because you feel like it’s important to keep the weapons you have here or is because something didn’t materialize? I know you don’t want to use specifics, but just overall.

Yeah, I mean I think I said it the very first time I got in front of you guys. If a deal wasn’t made, we felt like the value that was offered didn’t meet our value for the player. We feel good about the team we have. Again, we know that there has been some peaks and valleys, but we feel good about this combination of youth and experience and they’re ability to get better and improve in these last 10 games.

 

Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Joe, you said you like the youth, you like the way they’re developing but you guys are 2-5 and that’s coming off of a 2-14 season. Now that you have and you can continue with this coming draft, you kind of refilled the stables and to quality young players? Would you be more aggressive in free agency and get more involved in those upper tiered, top-ticket free agents because now you also have youth and now you can supplement it with some of those players?

That sounds like a question for another press conference, but look, we got our eyes forward all the time on the personnel side. I think we’re going to have, you know our process Connor, we’re going to, once the season ends, we’re going to get together as an entire staff, go through the team, each player and then we’ll put our offseason plan together. We haven’t even begun in terms of getting in the draft room with our pro scouts, going over the UFA meetings and going through every guy. So, there’s a lot in front of us in terms of getting to the offseason and free agency. Based off of that end of season meeting with the coaches, that’s where you set your game plan. That’s where you set your game plan for the offseason. Obviously, a long way to go until we get there, but obviously we approach every off-season like it’s a big one.

 

Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Joe, why did you bring in Joe Flacco when you did? You probably had an opportunity to sign him or others during camp, and now it looks like it’s Mike’s job anyway. So, what’s the expectation?

I think Joe, that was an opportunity to add, again like I said, a Super Bowl Champion player to a young team. And obviously, everyone loved having Joe here last year. There were conversations to have Joe back here again. He felt it was best for him to pursue an opportunity in Philadelphia. So obviously, the opportunity came up last week to get him back here, and you guys know how I feel about Joe. You guys know how I feel about the quarterback position. That quarterback room’s the most important room in the building. And so, anytime you can add quality depth to that room, we’re going to do it.

 

Brian Costello, New York Post: Are you disappointed that Denzel (Mims) has not had a bigger role before Sunday? I know he played Sunday with Corey (Davis) hurt, but prior to that, he really had played sparingly, been inactive for a few games. What were your feelings on how Denzel’s been used this year?

Obviously, Denzel struggled in OTAs with a little bit of a stomach sickness, and I think once he’s gotten back to Training Camp, I think all you’ve seen is growth. And that’s a credit to him and the work ethic that he’s put in. His ability to try and refine all of his techniques and grow, and grow as all-around, well-rounded wide receiver, he’s put in that time. Again, a little bit Mike, he’s done a lot it in the shadows where no one can really see, except for the people in this building. But you’re seeing that start to come to fruition. And he’s earned the right to get more playing time and he’s going to continue to earn the right because he’s handled himself like a real pro. I’m excited about him moving forward.

 

Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: Joe, with (Laurent) Duvernay-Tardif, do you see him as somebody who could come in and potentially start down the line? Or is he more depth? Like what were you looking at from him, because he hasn’t played in two years?

Laurent opted out last year, like several players did. Came back, had a great preseason, had a hand injury that kept him out of some games. But again, like I said with Joe, it’s an opportunity to add a Super Bowl champion to the room. And you guys know how I feel about offense and defensive line, if there’s an opportunity, and obviously quarterback, touched on that, there’s an opportunity to improve those rooms, any room, we’re going to do it. And LDT (Duvernay-Tardif) brings that championship pedigree, high character person, obviously very smart guy. And can’t wait to get him in here and see him compete.

 

DJ Bien-Aime: There were reports that you guys took calls for Denzel Mims, and you guys said no. And there was also some speculation that you guys could possibly move on from (Jamison) Crowder, which obviously, he’s still here past the trading deadline. Was that because you guys wanted to keep as many weapons for Zach or Mike White because, you know receivers are basically a quarterback’s best friend?

So, I really love the wide receiver room, DJ. And I feel like that was a key in last year’s offseason process, was upgrading that room for the quarterback. And the weapons that we have in there, and the unique skillset that each one of them brings. You know, Corey (Davis) and Denzel have that size and length and wingspan. Jamison, Braxton (Berrios) they’re primary slot guys, but they can line-up everywhere, they can route off DBs and create separation, give the quarterback some layup throws. Elijah Moore, obviously his speed, his versatility, get the ball in his hands and let him work. His explosiveness is make (people) miss. So, I think the depth in this room, it’s good to see and we do want to keep weapons for this quarterback.

 

Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Do you believe you’re close to really turning this around? Like I don’t want to keep bring up the wins and losses, but you can see the talent, you can see pieces, but how close are you guys to really being a contender in your mind?

I mean, honestly, that’s a good question. I feel like the encouraging thing that we’re seeing is a team that is able to bounce back. Obviously, it was a tough game up in New England. And you see a team that’s able to bounce back and play like they did against Cincinnati, the game against Tennessee. This is a team that’s capable of playing really good football. And so, we’re just trying to build, day-in, day-out. Just build on that. We know that there’s going to be adversity. There’s adversity every day, there’s adversity every week in every quarter of every game. But it’s good to see the guys, as a whole, the vets, the young guys battle back, battle through it and get better every day.

 

Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: You talk about the building and the youth, I just was curious what your impression of C.J. Mosley has been? How critical he is a piece to trying to change this culture around a little bit, as a veteran. He’s been there…

Very much a critical piece and I could talk about C.J. for a long time. C.J. is really a standard if a young player were to come into this building and how should you be as a pro. Just check out C.J., just follow C.J., just be around him because he’s going to show you the way. His intelligence, his work ethic, he is an example for every player on this team.

 

(follow up): Have you had conversations with him about his desire to be a big piece of turning this thing around? I mean it seems very important to him.

Yeah, I think he knows his importance to this team. He should know. He’s the Alpha, he’s the Alpha of this defense. It’s good to have him back, really good.

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