Head Coach Robert Saleh, 1.9
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Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, with 23 hours to reflect on it, what have you come up with when you’ve been looking at answers of what happened down the stretch here?
Defensively, proud of the way the guys, proud of the way everyone fought, all year. Defensively, just to continue to fight and top five finish all that stuff, really, really love what that group has been able to accomplish and then you just look at the offensive side of the ball and it’s not an excuse, it’s part of football, but we’ve got to do a better job as coaches to find a way to overcome it, but you look at all the volatility with injuries and guys coming in and out of the lineup and all those different things, and again, not excuses, but it’s just things that we just could not get a hold of, and there’s a whole bunch of other things from a coaching standpoint, we’ve got to be better, I’ve got to be better, but at the same time, there’s a lot of really good things to look at and I try to keep the main thing the main thing, and try to look at all the things that we did build, and really, really excited about our young core. Really excited about the defense because I do think we’re going to get a lot of those guys back, if not all of them, make sure that happens Joe (Douglas), but as far as the offense is concerned, I know a lot of guys are going to come back healthy and we’re going to continue to add to that group, and we’ll get better as coaches and like I said, that 7-4 start wasn’t a mirage. We’ve got a really good football team and it’s going to be really cool next year to watch it.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: Speaking of that, when you look at those guys on offense between Breece (Hall) and AVT (Alijah Vera-Tucker) and Mekhi (Becton) obviously, what does your offense look like with those guys back?
Well, I think perfect example, I read a stat when AVT was on the field with Breece and we had a run play, it was something like 90 carries, 5.6 yards a carry, which was number one in the NFL and when it wasn’t, it was under four yards a carry, so it’s a really, really big difference when those guys are on the football field, they just open up everything in regards to, and it makes it easier to protect, it makes it easier for the quarterback, it makes it easier for everybody when the o-line is humming, and the backs are humming, and it just makes everything easier.
Connor Hughes, SNY: Where are you, Robert in your evaluation of your staff?
We just got done with all the players. Those are the things that I’m going to sit down over the next few days.
Connor Hughes, SNY: (follow up) Is there a specific date where you want to have it finalized whether you’re going to make changes or not going to make changes?
No, there’s a lot of things happening today with regards to exit interviews and all of that and a lot of outside noise with all of these other teams, so just make sure I just need to sit down, relax, and just take all of this in.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: You’ve said repeatedly over the last couple of weeks that you’re committed to Zach (Wilson), are you prepared to say that you’re committed to him as your starter for next year?
You know when you, it’s the same discussions I’ve had with him, so we’re always going to cross T’s and dot I’s, and the one thing that I can promise him is that he’s going to have an absolute chance to go in and compete, but no different whether he’s our starter, whether we sit back and we devote him, devote to him, re-devote to him as a starter, whatever it is, whatever decision we make, I will stand by. What I’ve told you guys in the past that these next four months up until OTAs is about him, it’s not about the jersey, it’s about him and him getting his mind right, and getting his mental and physical parts right and I think he’ll do that. He’s a good kid, works hard, he understands what the main thing is, and he’s young, he’s only 23 years old, he’s trying to figure all of this out just like I am, but right now it’s about him and him only, and then whatever happens from there, we’ll go from there.
Connor Hughes, SNY: Robert, with the quarterback position I mean year three is generally where you expect to see the player take off, so for this to be a situation with Zach where I mean best case scenario, he’s presented an opportunity to compete for the starting job, I mean it’s not a great look publicly. Is there anything that, I mean how do you view it?
All a part of a growing process. When you look at this League and I get it, you can take whatever I’m saying, and you can go a million different ways, all these players develop in different ways, so sometimes when you make a decision for the moment, doesn’t mean you’re losing confidence about the future. So, we can look back at the past for this year and say, you guys made a lot of mistakes, you’re not showing a lot of faith in him, you can whatever, but the reality is, it’s making decisions at that moment for what you think is best for the organization. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t have faith in that individual for what he can become in the future, so as it pertains to Zach, I do expect him to take a jump going into his third year and understanding how to handle everything and decompressing and resetting and doing all of that stuff. I think he’s going to have tremendous amount of growth. Again, he’s only 23 years old, so I do expect him to have that big jump and whatever happens form there, happens.
Connor Hughes, SNY: How much of a challenge, because you want Zach to take that next step, you want to develop Zach, how much of a challenge would it be if with Zach trying to figure out everything you need him to figure out, if you added learning a new offensive scheme on top of that?
Well, it’s all going to be challenging regardless. There’s going to be things whether with Mike (LaFleur), I’m talking LaFleur and self-scout and adding to the scheme, so there’s always going to be new things to learn, you’re always going to have to learn different things and you’re going to have more dumped on you in terms of trying to evolve offenses and trying to create more of an exotic scheme, if you will, so every year you go in and you’re trying to learn something, you’re trying to evolve your game, so that’s never going to change for him.
Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: Do you want to bring a veteran quarterback in here?
You know what, that’s a Joe (Douglas) question and you guys actually get to ask him that.
Brian Costello, New York Post: How much of the offensive struggles fall on Mike (LaFleur) as the coordinator?
It always starts with the coach. It always starts with me, there’s an identity, there’s a mindset, there’s principles, but at the same time, there’s a lot of things. Like I said, it’s not the quarterback’s fault, it’s not the o-line’s fault, it’s not a receivers, it’s not the coordinator, it’s all encompassing, it’s football, there’s 11 players on the team, every player has a coach and so it’s about finding out how we can get better together and making sure that’s it’s collective, but we all own a piece of it.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: How do you process the complication of you still don’t know about Zach yet in terms of whether he’s your starter or whether you’ll bring a veteran in and your program was going into year three obviously and you’ve made jumps in each of the last two even though Woody (Johnson) has not stated any of kind of a playoff mandate to the public, so to speak. I’m sure in your mind you feel like you’ve got to be in playoffs next year, how do you balance that with trying to develop Zach, and you’re not giving up on him and what not and then what you do with him, there’s a lot of unknowns there?
So there’s discipline, major discipline because I’ve said it to you guys before. My goal when I got hired was that, because eventually we all leave, it’s two types of coaches in the world, right? But my goal is to leave this place better than when I first got it, period, and that means staying strong to making sure that we’re doing everything with the organization in mind first and the future of the organization and not being drastic and crazy where we destroy the organization. So, developing the players that are here and committing everything we have to them is my and the coaches and the GM and everything around it, that is my first and as a coaching staff, that is our first and only goal. So, if you can maintain that discipline, then it makes it very easy.
Antwan Staley, Daily News: We noticed the “finish” t-shirts in the locker room and talked to the players about it, how did that come about and also what was your message to the team?
Give me the question one more time, I’m sorry.
Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: (follow up) The “finish” t-shirts, how did they come about and your message to the team?
We have an unbelievable equipment staff that can make shirts on command, it’s pretty cool. I mentioned it. I think I talked about it in my press conference yesterday. Last year, we were out of Playoff contention and we kind of simulated December football, showed this video about Pittsburgh Steelers, December football, what it means, bad weather and we created a makeshift scenario that if we won three or more — we had four games left — if we won three or more, we controlled our own destiny. Two, we needed a little bit of help — one or two, and we needed a little bit of help. Zero, we were out. Just tried to simulate it the best we could, ended up beating Jacksonville. So, we entered Buffalo needing a little bit of help, so it was a good little simulation. This year, we were in the real thing. We were sitting there with four games left. We control our own destiny if we win three or four — it was the exact same scenario, believe it or not. I look back at it, obviously we didn’t win any of those games, but we lived those games. We played in these last six games that we lost, five of them are in the Playoffs, one of them won 7 of 9 and finished 9-8. It’s a tremendous learning experience, one that stings because we didn’t get it done. We played real December football, with butts on the line, versus teams who are fighting for a Playoff spot, two, who are in the Playoffs, and we battled with all of them, except for Jacksonville and Seattle. We battled with Minnesota, we battled with Buffalo, we battled with Detroit, we took Miami who was desperate to get in and took them to a last second field goal, 11-6. So, there’s a lot of growth to be had. The ‘FINISH’ is that we’re going to be in this situation, one simulated, one experienced, now let’s finish. Finishing doesn’t mean, let’s wait until December. It means starting today, everything we do is about finishing — finishing our workout, finishing whatever it is that we’re doing, let’s make sure we have the mindset to finish because come December, we’re going to finish and hopefully that gets us in.
Tom Rock, Newsday: What are one or two of the traits and characteristics that you need to see from next year’s starting quarterback — whether it is Zach or somebody else — that you didn’t get from the position this year?
You’d love a little more consistency, but I think consistency falls on all of us. It falls on coaching. It falls on better o-line play. It falls on getting a better run game going. It falls on getting better route running. I know that’s kind of a vague answer, but you just want more consistency out of the position, that’s really all of them.
Connor Hughes, SNY: With the coaching staff, are you — one — open and — two — considering adding a veteran influence to the staff as an advisor, as a senior advisor, as a consultant, is that something you’re open to or considering?
Yeah, you’re going to get me choked up here. We had Knapper (Gregg Knapp), God rest his soul. I can look back and reflect on whether or not, I should’ve replaced that position last year. I chose not to. I wanted to quiet the room, but that is a position that we’re definitely going to replace.