General Manager Joe Douglas & Head Coach Robert Saleh, 3.3
JOE DOUGLAS: Just a brief opening statement, just to recap from the last time we were together till now. Just been great getting to know Robert (Saleh) and his staff. We’ve had a lot of productive conversations and it’s been great to really get their new perspective, new voices in the building. The conversations have been outstanding. Like I said, they’ve been productive, about exactly what we’re looking for, the type of players, the type of people that we want to bring into this organization, and the guys that we need that are going to help us achieve our collective goals. The main theme for the last month and change has been evaluating our own roster to free agency, upcoming free agency and now we’re rolling into the draft evaluation. That’s the main theme for us right now. We’ve had really productive, free agent and draft meetings with our scouts and the coaches are going to be involved in the draft meetings shortly, but outstanding free agent meetings with the coaches last week. I want to thank our scouting staff, our personnel staff, headed by Rex Hogan. We’ve had a week-and-a-half of outstanding draft meetings leading up into these pro days. Obviously, it’s been odd, not going to Indy, not going to the combine. I feel like all of our guys have adjusted well. I feel like we’ve really been able to get outstanding information on a lot of players out there. I know these guys are excited to get out and go to these pro days coming up this month and a half. Lastly, I think where we’re sitting now, we’re very well positioned with the capital we have, with where we are financially, and we feel we’re well positioned to start this off season and really improve this roster.
Bruce Beck, WNBC: Joe, when making a decision on Sam Darnold going forward being your quarterback, how much do you balance his performance over the last three years with the fact that he lacked a strong supporting cast?
JD: Yeah, good question. I would say with Sam, our stance on Sam hasn’t changed. He’s an extremely talented player and he’s very smart, very tough. We have no doubt that Sam is going to achieve his outstanding potential. Obviously, we’re in the process of gaining as much information as we can leading up through free agency and the draft, but our stance on Sam has not changed.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Joe, I know you had mentioned earlier this off season getting something done with Marcus Maye was a priority to bring him back to the Jets. I was wondering if you could just discuss a little bit where those potential negotiations stand, or if you guys are planning on using either the franchise tag or one of the tags on Maye. Then just as a quick follow-up, I know you guys let Henry Anderson go. Do you anticipate making any additional moves in terms of roster trimming?
JD: I want to first thank Henry for what he brought to the team the last few years, his toughness, his leadership, his mentality. I appreciate that. In terms of Marcus, we have had productive conversations with his representatives. Similar to the last question I answered, our stance on Marcus hasn’t changed as well. Marcus is a valuable member of this organization, someone that started his career here, who’s been a pro’s pro. Smart. He’s been reliable and he’s provided outstanding leadership. Our plan hasn’t changed. We are in the process of working to have Marcus be here long term.
Kim Jones, NFL Network: Robert, I wanted to ask you, since we last spoke to you at your introductory press conference, I believe, what have you learned about this Jets roster and the roster building that has to happen? Joe, if I may, to you, what have you learned about what Robert likes in players that may be identical to what you like, or perhaps the two of you see some things differently, which I would not read as necessarily a bad thing.
ROBERT SALEH: With regards to the roster, the one thing that’s very, very clear is the character of the individuals that put uniforms on for this Jets organization, they’re fantastic. They’re made of the right stuff. They’ve got the right mindset, they’re good young men who strive to get better. Obviously with every situation, when you study the roster and you try to make things fit with regards to what you do schematically, there’s always discussions to be had. Those are the things that we’ve been working on over the last month and we’ll continue to work on all the way up until the draft.
JD: To answer the second part of your question, I think Robert and I have been on the same page quite a bit. I think we’re both looking for explosive, dynamic play makers that can come in here and not only be fantastic players on the field, but high-quality individuals off the field.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Joe, you said that your stance on Sam hasn’t changed, but I wanted to go back to October of 2019. At the trade deadline, you said the only untouchable player on the roster is a franchise quarterback and you said you thought Sam was a franchise quarterback. There was a report a few weeks ago from Adam Schefter that you are listening to offers for Sam, you’re taking those calls. Has your stance on that changed? Are you willing to listen to offers from teams on Sam?
JD: I think to answer that question, I will answer the call if it’s made. As it pertains to Sam, like I said, we think is a dynamic player in this league with unbelievable talent, who’s really, really has a chance to really hit his outstanding potential moving forward. Like I’ve said earlier, if calls are made, I will answer them.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: It’s a question for Joe, just following up on Sam. Obviously while you’re saying a lot of nice things about him, you’re still remaining noncommittal to him as your starter for the season. I’m wondering what will go into that decision, including evaluating the draft quarterbacks and also what kind of timeline are you on with that decision?
JD: Really our timeline right now is, like I said earlier, gathering as much information as we possibly can, especially as it pertains, not only in free agency, but in this year’s draft class. We feel like we’re really in no hard timeline in the immediate future to make a decision. When we do make a decision, we’re going to do it after gathering as much good information as we possibly can.
Ralph Vacchiano, SNY: Obviously, it sounds like you won’t have a decision on Sam or a quarterback by the time free agency starts. Do you worry at all that that might hurt you in free agency? I would assume that some players, particularly receivers, will want to know who the quarterback is going to be next year.
JD: No, I feel like we’re well positioned. I feel like this isn’t going to hurt us in terms of free agents. Like I said, I feel like our evaluations, especially with the coaching staff, that’s been the main thing that we’ve been focusing on. For the remainder of this week, we’re going to be on the phone with the agents of our own current players that are hitting for agency. I really don’t feel like that’s going to affect our free agent plans or player free agent plans as it pertains to us.
Justin Walters, PIX 11: This is a question for Robert. Was wondering how much is it a possibility or importance I should say, to find a player in free agency that is familiar with your system and can help probably set the tone for younger players.
RS: There’s always comfort and familiarity. It’s almost human nature to gravitate to people you’ve worked with and people you’ve been around, but there’s still a process at which you go to. There’s a fit, there’s a value. There are all those different things, a lot of moving parts that go into it. While yeah, it’d be great, it’s not the main determining factor on whether or not we can get those people into the building, those players.
Tina Cervasio, Fox5 New York: Joe, so far, I know you said it’s been odd, but what stands out to you in this year’s draft from what you’ve been able to collect information wise and how willing are you guys to take a quarterback if that opportunity presents itself?
JD: What are we, a little less than 60 days away from the draft? There’s a lot of pro days, a lot more information to gather before we even start narrowing into any kind of decision like that. As it pertains to this year’s draft, we feel good about the depth of this draft. Again, it’s early. Like I said, it’s only March 3rd. A lot of time to go, a lot of workouts to happen, a lot of conversations to have with players and sources. We feel good about the depth throughout the draft, and we feel good about where we are with draft picks.
Dan Leberfeld, Jets Confidential: For Robert, what do you look for in corners? Can you describe the skill set you’re looking for at the cornerback position? For Joe, can you address the challenges of preparing for this draft with no combine and the other limitations related to the pandemic?
RS: With regards to corners, without getting into full specifics on how we evaluate corners and the tangibles that we look for, I will say that with any player, when it gets down to third down, two minute, those corners who can win in those one-on-one situations are at the front of, I think, every team in this league. The major parameter, obviously, is can you win your one-on-ones? Now where we get to with regards to arm length, size, foot speed, all that stuff is I won’t be specific on that, but can you win a one-on-one? Those are the critical times of games. Third down, two minute. That’s the biggest parameter that we look into.
JD: In terms of where we are with our process, I feel like challenging was used. I would say it’s unique. I feel like we’ve all had to adapt and adjust to these times. I feel like our scouting side has done a fantastic job doing that. I feel like we’ve really had the benefit of having people on our staff with fantastic relationships around the game of college football. I feel like that’s going to bear out and really help us over these next few weeks, leading up to the draft.
Bob Glauber, Newsday: For Robert, what kind of input will you have with Joe? Joe, Woody Johnson is back in town now and he has been known to make his opinion known as far as what he’d like to do. Do you have confidence that you are going to have free reign in terms of making decisions or will there be some cooperation or input from Woody?
RS: To answer the first part of your question, Joe’s made it very clear that he wants collaborative communication. He wants us to be all in this together, scouts, coaching staff, everybody within the organization speaking the same language and having a great amount of communication with regards to everything that happens in this building. Free agency and the meetings that we had, he alluded to it earlier were unbelievable. Got a lot accomplished over the course of that week. We’re going to continue to do that. There’s the old saying, “if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” I think Joe believes that, and he’s been practicing and preaching that since the day we walked into this building.
JD: To the second part of your question, I would say both Woody and Christopher, they want to win. They want to create the best culture and support system for that to happen. They’ve both been very supportive of the processes that we’ve had in place and continue to have moving forward. It’s been great having Woody back. I feel like the communication has been outstanding. The number one thing is that they both want to win.
Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: Question about the process with the pro days. When you have multiple days or multiple teams, schools have pro days, what is the process? How are you mapping that out? Also, with the FCS having games going on, does that help you guys scout some of the guys that might go later in rounds or those undrafted free agents getting an even better sense of those players?
JD: Yeah, great question because there is football being played right now, both at the high school and college level, but specifically at that the FCS level, there’s a lot of football being played. It’s a great opportunity for our guys to keep monitoring those situations. As it goes with the pro days, there’s going to be challenges. You’re already limited to how many people from your organization can attend these pro days. Then it’s going to be a big emphasis that the people that come in are frequently tested. I feel like the NFL is on top of this. There’s been information about the portable testing kits that scouts could possibly use to send in and prove that, if they have a long week on the road going to pro days, that every three days that they’re tested. The NFL is helping us with that, which I certainly appreciate. Just making sure we have the right coverage. I know Dan Zbojovsky and Rex and those guys, they’ve been putting the pro day calendar together and we feel good about the coverage that we’re going to have this year.
Kim Jones, NFL Network: Guys, I’m curious about the pro days. Robert, is it important to you to be there to see a quarterback, to see everything you can, including his arm, but also just how he interacts? I’m just curious. Some head coaches are at pro days and obviously some aren’t. Joe, for you, how much in your career have you valued the pro day? Does that change at all, given that some of these guys, you don’t have a whole lot to measure from this past year?
RS: I think there’s tremendous value obviously in being present. Again, it’s another piece of information that you can gather when you’re trying to make the best decision you can for an organization. Obviously from a coaching staff standpoint, there’s a lot of things to do with regards to catching up, with regard to scheme and all that, there’s balance. But anytime you have an opportunity to gather information, tape, in person, whatever it may be, I think all of it holds a weight.
JD: Yeah, piggybacking off that, the pro day is extremely important. It’s just good to stand next to the quarterback, to see the spin off his hand, to see the ball jump off his hand, to feel his presence. Those are all important things. You’re right, there are a lot of changes there. There’s not going to be as much private time with the player. There’s not going to be dinners prior or after the workout. There’s not going to be the classroom time. Those are going to be more reserved for the Zoom call. This is unique, but we’re going to benefit from the pro days at the end of the day. If you remember last year, we had a combine, but no pro days. This year, we don’t have a combine, but we have pro days. We’re going to make the most of it. I know our guys are excited to get out and start attacking these pro days.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Joe, you mentioned before that you’ve had productive conversations with Marcus’s representatives. Were you surprised when you saw Eric Burkhart’s tweet last night? Does that make you concerned about the negotiations? Robert, C.J. Mosley put on social media a couple of weeks ago that he was at the building. He tweeted a picture from the building. I was just curious, did you get a chance to talk to him? What are your expectations for C.J. coming back after basically two years of not much football?
JD: To the first part, I was made aware of some of those comments. Look, I have a lot of respect for Eric. I think he’s a great person. I’ve had a lot of great conversations with him and you guys know how I feel about Marcus. Look, this part of the business. This is part of negotiating, but I don’t see this affecting our ability to get something done with Marcus that’s beneficial for both him and the team.
RS: With C.J., he came by and said, hello. It was awesome to get to meet him. I’m not going to get into details of our conversation, but to be honest, my expectation is no different than any other player that’s here. For C.J., it’s to continue to be the pro that he’s been since the day he was drafted and the leader that he’s been and find ways to get better every single day. C.J. definitely has that mindset and just a pleasure to have been able to have gotten a chance to meet him.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: First for Robert, I guess the Sam question. At this point, quarterbacks with new coaches would probably be receiving a lot of video and information and playbook and so forth. I’m wondering has Sam gotten that stuff and where he is with that? For Joe, just we really haven’t talked about free agency and where you stand. You have a ton of cap room this year. I’m wondering if your approach will be any more different than last year where you basically were into the more of the one-year type commitments with most of the players. I’m wondering if you’re going to expand and be more aggressive?
RS: To answer your question on Sam, this part of the CBA, we’re not allowed to talk ball and give out information or do anything like that with regards to Sam. Obviously, we’ve conversations just in terms of how you doing and checking in and having just life conversations. Other than that, with regards to football, that’s illegal per the CBA.
JD: I would say, obviously, we’re better positioned than we were this time last year. I would say that our philosophy and stance has not changed however. I think our goal and our plan is to be, like I said earlier, a team that really builds this through the draft and hitting on draft picks, obviously using free agency to supplement our roster. If the opportunity and the value meet, that’s going to be the point where we’re going to be aggressive and get someone that we feel good about, helping this team not only on the field, but with the culture and inside the building. While we are positioned better, I think our philosophy has stayed the same.
Joe Rivera, DAZN: This question is for Joe and Robert. How do you guys view analytics and advanced stats in 2020 team building? I know you guys like to say you have all the information you want, as much information as possible, but specifically for Joe and Robert, if you can answer this as well, how much of a scout does your scouting background, your eye tests fight with what you see on the field and if it ever disagrees with the analytics as well?
JD: I personally love having the analytics involved in our meetings. Brian Shields, Jason Feldman, Zach Stuart, the three guys in our analytics team, they do an outstanding job of gathering a ton of great information and just outstanding nuggets and presenting them. When we go over every player, whether it’s free agency or draft, they have some input and some great information. For me, even though I was raised in more of a scouting, eye-test background, there’s real value in having this objective data in terms of helping us evaluate.
RS: Yeah, I’m going to piggyback right off of it. I think when you look at the data that Brian Shields and his staff bring out, it’s been fantastic. You watch tape and you look at the information and all the analytical data that’s presented to you either confirms or challenges what you are actually seeing on tape. It forces you, when it’s not on the same page, to dig deeper, to get yourself on the same page. Having that information, having the tape and being able to confirm or strain to find more because something is telling you your eyes may not be right or vice versa, I think overall, it’s just such a great piece of information that allows you to get closer to making the best decision you can.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Hey, this one’s for you, Joe. I know that you’ve mentioned a couple of times here about the amount of draft picks and the resources that you guys have to build this team’s roster. You can probably tell where this one’s going but not necessarily talking about any specific player cause I know you can’t go into those specifics, but philosophically, are you open to dealing a significant number of those picks that you’ve acquired for a player if that opportunity presented itself, or do you prefer to keep these picks that you’ve acquired?
JD: Obviously we have a lot of different scenarios and a lot of different rabbit holes we can go down. Not to get so much into a hypothetical question, but I just go back to the same thing I said before about our philosophy. Ultimately for us to get to where the great teams are, the most consistent teams are, you do that through the draft. It’s the most team friendly market in sports. For us to really be that team that’s consistently competing for Super Bowls, we have to hit on our draft picks.
Bruce Beck, WNBC: Robert, this is for you. Considering your draft capital, considering your available cap space, what is your level of optimism going forward for this franchise? Or is it too early to answer that question? Joe, if you don’t mind sharing some thoughts in that as well.
RS: I think Joe and his staff have done an awesome job with regards to setting the organization up. Now it’s just a matter of making sure that we do a great job in communication, working our tails off and evaluating, not only with regards to scheme, but player evaluations, and putting these guys in position to be very successful. Like I said, we’re going to get better. We’re going to win championships here. To give you a timeline, I wish I knew, I’d go to Vegas. But we’re excited about the opportunity that we have in front of us. We’re excited about what Joe and his staff have been able to accomplish since they’ve gotten here. Now it’s just a matter of being able to piece the whole thing together and have fun doing it.
JD: Really, these last four weeks, I said it in the opener, these last four weeks have just been outstanding in terms of the amount of work that our new coaching staff has done, in terms of creating profile tapes, meeting with our scouts pro and college, so that we know exactly what works in their scheme. Then backing up with tape, not only pro tape, but college tape. It’s just so beneficial for us. I feel like our college and pro guys have really been able to adjust and adapt. I think as long as we keep having this great communication and staying on the same page, like Coach said, we’re going to be better.