Head Coach Robert Saleh, 1.4
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Good morning. We’re kind of doing a walkthrough today or jog-through, whatever you want to call it. So, Duane (Brown) won’t practice, George (Fant) won’t practice, (Laurent) Duvernay (Tardif) if we were having a practice wouldn’t practice, (Brandin) Echols and (Lamarcus) Joyner will probably be out, and everyone else is going to be limited.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Is Mike (White) limited?
Yeah, he’s still on the same program. Sorry, he’s listed as a full participant, but he’s on his same schedule.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Same with (Joe) Flacco being number two?
Brian Costello, New York Post: How did you handle the Damar Hamlin situation with your team this morning?
It’s an unfortunate tragedy, just opened it up, in the team room, just opened it up for the guys to speak. Obviously, our doctors were in there if they had any questions for the docs and gave the doctors the floor to speak on that, too. A very hard situation, as I’m sure it is in every building in the NFL right now. Just our thoughts and prayers to him and praying for a speedy recovery.
Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: This is a pretty unique situation, obviously, but when something like that happens, do you reflect on the nature of this sport and how you talk to these guys and how you approach these kinds of things?
I think when you’re in the building, I don’t think it ever leaves you — when I’ve gotten up here and talked about how these young men deserve everything they got. They earn it all. They deserve to have as much as they’re asking for, and they deserve whatever the NFL is willing to give them. It’s because we know what they do every day. We know how hard it is to play this game, and it’s not just playing the game of football, it’s all the preparation and how much their bodies hurt every day. When you look at guys like Duane Brown and George Fant and how much they’re sacrificing just to step out on the field. I think it’s a reminder, but I think it’s a giant punch in the gut to everybody, especially outside the NFL circles. You just watch it, and lack the actual empathy to put themselves in the shoes of these football players and what they go through on a daily basis.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: What did you see from your players from that room when the discussion was being had?
I think more curiosity. It would probably be more of a question for them.
Brian Costello, New York Post: I think everyone that plays football knows what they’re signing up for in terms of ankles, knee, shoulders, hits, but this is something so different, right? Is that kind of what’s more of a punch in the gut than anything?
Yeah, you mention it and you talk about the things, ‘You go to war,’ and you make comments of that nature and put your lives on the line. You really are. There have been a lot of horrific injuries in this League. Obviously, this is the first of this nature, and God willing, the last and only. It’s a tough topic.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Switching to your team and football this week, how do you think your guys will come back from the disappoint of no playoffs and finish this thing off in Miami?
Obviously, there’s a lot of things going on, but one thing I love about this League is that when those players put those helmets on, they’re professionals — they get it. The idea that players tank, they don’t show up, they don’t play hard, I don’t believe in it because these guys are putting tape out there for 31 other teams to see, for fans to see, for everyone to see. There’s a lot of pride in players, there’s a lot of pride in coaches to go out there, and regardless of your record, to go out there and do your absolute best. So, I’m not worried about our guys getting up for this game and trying to play spoiler.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Do you anticipate maybe working some of the younger guys who had not seen much time this year into some sort of rotation, just to take a look at them?
Barring an injury, no. Guys have been playing, they deserve the, and a lot of guys have earned the right to finish the season strong and finish the season that they’ve started. So, I think you always want to keep the main thing the main thing and, in this building, I feel like we’ve always stood firm on giving the people who deserve the opportunity to play that opportunity to play, and if guys like, for example C.J. Mosley, if he wants to finish the season strong, he’s going to get that opportunity. He’s earned it and he’s going to get it.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Robert, along those lines, where is Jeremy Ruckert in his development? I mean obviously you have talented tight ends ahead of him, but where is he?
Yeah, he’s a good example. I’m really excited about Jeremy. I know he hasn’t had a lot of action this year, but I think that’s more of a testament to Conk (Tyler Conklin) and C.J. (Uzomah), and then (Kenny) Yeboah’s emergence, or the way he’s come on from a special teams standpoint. The excuses I can make for Ruck is that he missed all of OTAs, he missed all of training camp, so he’s just kind of been behind the eight ball, but with the show team and our flight school at the end of practice and all of those things, what you see is an uber athletic young man, and if he can put together a really good offseason, I think people will see a damn good tight end, not just a good one, but a really, really good tight end. He’s got a really good chance.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, I think coming off last year there was an expectation for Michael Carter the running back coming into this season to have a bigger year than he’s had. What have you seen from him? Why has his production not been kind of where, I don’t know what people expected it to be?
I don’t know. I feel Michael’s, he’s been battling, he’s been going back and forth, and he had the injury a little bit, but no one’s lost faith in him. I don’t know, I can get into a dissertation on how second year players can sometimes get lost in the shuffle. It’s like a League-wide pandemic, some of them hit, some of them don’t, but they always come back, and a guy like Michael, I know he’s going to have an unbelievable offseason and he’s going to attack it, but why it happens, it’s something that we’re digging on. I think it’s a mystery to every team. I got my thought’s, but Michael, he’s been fine, but he’s still someone that I think is going to have a really good bounce back in terms of, he still has a chance this week, but he is not done writing his story. He’s not the first nor the last second year player to kind of get sidetracked or not have the year he wanted to have, but he’s got all the capability in the world, he’s got the speed, the body contact balance, breaks tackles, has great vision, he’s very smart, he’s got all of those tools and I think just another offseason for him, but again, that goes back to development and why I always say it takes three years because for some reason League-wide that second year, there’s always kind of a hiccup for one reason or another, but he’s one of those kids where you just feel confident that in year three he’s going to, he’ll bust loose.
Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: Do you ever catch yourself playing the ‘what if’ game, like what if Breece (Hall) doesn’t go down, and what that means for our offense this season?
You mean a hypothetical? (Laughter). Yeah, I mean Breece, AVT (Alijah Vera-Tucker), they’re two of our best players. You look around the League, when you lose players of that caliber, there’s going to be a hiccup, or whatever you want to call it. They’re explosive. I think we’ve done a good job. Could we have done better? For sure, but yeah when your superstars, it’s a superstar League, when you lose superstars like that it’s going to hurt a little bit.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Is Zach (Wilson) back to doing what he was doing when Mike was starting again? And he was running the scout team for you, Flight School?
Yeah, he’s splitting it because we’re trying to get Joe (Flacco) ready in the event that Joe has to step in there and make sure that he’s always ready. Rather than having Joe do extra after practice and all that stuff, so we’re still developing with regards to Flight School and all that stuff. Just making sure that Joe is keeping himself ready, too.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: What is that conversation with Zach, knowing that okay this is the last game and you’re not going to play? Moving into the offseason, because there was a chance he could play when there were games left?
No, for sure. With Zach, communication is constant. Again, we’re not wavering, we believe in the young man, and the biggest thing for Zach, it’s not his talent. Want to make sure that we reconnect with Zach and regain his confidence, and regain his confidence in himself and us, and us in him, just all of us. Just to make sure that he is back on track, get his footwork down right, get his mechanics right, get his mind right and so, it’s not a talent thing for Zach, I don’t believe that, I just think, like I said, when it’s a reset, we’re going to work our tails off to help him. We’re committed to him.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Robert, one of the narratives with Zach out there is Zach and the scheme fit, and maybe the Jets didn’t alter their scheme enough to suit his strengths. His strengths clearly are outside the pocket, off-schedule, whereas he doesn’t seem as comfortable in a structured environment. Do you think you guys, looking forward, maybe need to be more open and flexible to the idea adjusting the scheme more to fit him?
There’s always going to be a challenge. There’s a patience aspect to it and I get it. If you love patience, why did you put him down? I get it, there’s things a lot deeper than it, but you can look back and say a lot of things on what ifs, but at the end of the day, a quarterback’s got to be able to sit in the pocket and he’s got to be able to deliver the football. That’s League-wide, period. That’s third-down, that’s two-minute, that’s where all the quarterbacks go from just chaotic, scrambling on first and second down, to making things happen and winning football games in third-down and two-minute situations, so he’s got all the cool stuff, we know that, but it’s so important for us, for him to be able to develop the pocket, the third-down and two-minute aspect of his game, which I think he’s going to. Just being able to progress and get rid of the ball, within timing, and that’s something when you look at a guy like (Patrick) Mahomes, what he’s done a great job evolving to. It was chaos early in his career, but he’ll sit in the pocket and kill you if you let him just dink and dunk you. He’s completely evolved his game, and for Zach, like I said, it takes time, you just see it all over the League where these quarterbacks hit, and especially this year. When you look at what Sam (Darnold) is doing in Carolina, doing a really nice job, and Geno (Smith) just from a relatable standpoint. These guys take time and we’re going to give them that time.
Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: How much does the team relish the spoil role this week?
You can ask them, you can ask the players, but it’s the same thing, another championship game. I know it’s technically not, but you have to keep your mindset that anytime you have a chance to step on the field, you’ve got to step on the gas and do the absolute best you can. Would it be nice to have (Mike) McDaniel hanging out with me poolside in a couple weeks? You’re damn right it would (laughter), but really, it’s more about us and making sure that we’re focused on finishing the season strong and being our absolute best and whatever happens, happens.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Robert, we’ve talked so much about the young kids growing up and everything like that, but would you have imagined going into this season that Sauce (Gardner) and Garrett (Wilson) would have the impact, they’re probably the two front runners for the offensive and defensive rookie of the year, would you imagine that they would be this good this quickly?
You never do, with rookies, I’m always anticipating flash plays and headaches, and hair pulling moments, not that I have hair, but just chaos. That’s usually what comes with rookies, that’s why youth is so hard to stick with because it can make you look really bad as a football coach, but fortunately for those two, they’ve made coaches look really good and the biggest thing I can say is that the second they walked into this building, and I’ll put Breece Hall and Jermaine Johnson, I know he doesn’t get much fanfare, but that son of a gun’s going to be good, really good. It’s not too big for them, they stepped right in, their mindset, their desire, their work ethic, they’ve stepped right into it, and it just hasn’t been too big for them and that’s why you’ve been able to see them consistently get better throughout the course of the year.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Going back to Zach, with everything he’s been through this year, do you want him to just get away from football for a while? Go lay on a beach and just clear his head? Like is that going to be an important part of his offseason, just kind of burying his head?
Yeah, go read a book, go do something. Get away from this game, just reset. I think the greatest strength and greatest gift you can give yourself as a human is to figure out what’s important to you, what do you value and how can you stick to those values day in and day out. That is the greatest gift you can give yourself, is to discover yourself and I think Zach needs to get away, read a book, and figure that out.
Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: Did you think early in the season, maybe coming out of training camp or when he came back from the injury, did you think he was getting close to clicking and it just kind of, something veered off?
No, absolutely and that’s what’s promising. I know I keep re-referencing that fourth quarter of Pittsburgh, it’s real though, I don’t care. Miami, he played really well, and it just slowly got away from him a little bit, for one reason or another and how do you find that consistency? Like I said, it starts with knowing one’s self, call it zen-ish if you want, but Zach has got all the talent in the world and we have all the confidence in the world in him, it’s just like I said from this reset, we’re going to grind with him, we are, and through hell or high water, we’re going to figure out how to get him to where we know he can be.