Head Coach Robert Saleh, 10.11
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Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Robert, I was wondering if you could just kind of go over, if there’s anything that stood out additionally when you caught some of the film on the flight home?
Nothing that we didn’t see live. Obviously slow start, something that we’ll get fixed. We dig a hole and we come to life in the second half like we have most of the season, and it was just too little, too late. Looking back at that last drive by the defense, really thought we had some opportunities to get off the field. Call me optimistic, if we get the ball back, I feel like we’re going to score and win the game. Obviously, it didn’t happen that way.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, the touchdowns early in the game, the two tight end touchdowns by the Falcons. It looked like JFM (John Franklin-Myers) was in coverage on one, it looked like Bryce Huff was in coverage on another. Kind of unusual to have defensive ends in that spot. What led to that? What made you guys go with that coverage?
The goal line defensive call was selling out for the run. First down, sell out for the run. They got us, good for them. The second one, those zone pressures have been working for us all season. It’s the first time that anyone’s noticed that a d-end is in coverage. Like I said, when it works, you’re a genius, when it doesn’t, you’re an idiot.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: Robert, just on the injury front, can you go down the injuries? And also, specifically address Marcus Maye and Jarrad Davis and the possibilities of them playing against New England?
All the injury stuff going into the game is the same. There’s no new injuries to talk about. As far as Marcus Maye and Jarrad Davis, we’re hopeful to get them back for New England. Obviously, we got to go through the Bye weekend and next week to see where they’re at. I’m not guaranteeing anything, but we’ll have a good idea where they’re at starting next week.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Robert, do you plan on talking or discussing with Mike LaFleur anything you guys can do or anything that he can do to try to jumpstart the offense from when you guys begin games?
That’s, again, that’s what we’re spending this week on. Defensively, we can do a better job creating a three-and-out to start the game. Offensively, we can do a better job keeping possession. Obviously, it’s complimentary football. Just trying to find ways, looking at scheduling, just try to find ways to give our guys an opportunity to start the game faster. A lot of stuff that we’re going to look at as coaches first and see what we can do over this next week to try to change something up to see what we can do at the start of games.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: Robert, in relation to what you just talked about and what you’ll be looking at the next week and a half or so, are there things, do you think, that Mike and you have to do to maybe simplify things for Zach (Wilson) at all? I know Zach keeps saying the plays are there, I got to make the throws. He’s very accountable, but I’m just wondering if there’s stuff that you’re looking at right now to simplify things a little bit for him?
You’re always looking at ways to try to simplify it for him. But at the same time, the thing that you’re not going to be able to help him with is the speed of the game and the change in the schemes that he’s going to see every week. Those are just things he’s got to getter better at, and it’s going to take reps to do it. It’s not easy being a rookie quarterback, it never will be. It never has, it never will be. If you look at, I’ll just throw a guy out there, Josh Allen, who everyone wanted to throw away after his first two years. His first five games of his rookie year are damn near identical to what our young kid is going through. He’s going to get better. He’s got tremendous arm talent, he goes through things the right way. I know it can be frustrating sometimes when we’re looking at some of these things it’s like, ‘God, he should be making these throws.’ It’s going to start clicking. Like I said, it’s a rollercoaster ride. You’re going to take the good with the good, the bad with the bad, but find ways to get better, and he will
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: Just as a quick follow, offense related. Elijah (Moore) the entire training camp looked like a guy that didn’t do anything wrong to the naked eye. He just had such an amazing summer, hasn’t really translated in the regular season. What are you seeing there? I mean, obviously, there’s transitions for him to make to the pro game as well. But I’m just kind of wondering, what have you seen there from the summer until now?
It’s the same thing. There’s transition for Elijah that he’s going to go through. When you’re limited in plays, you get off to a slow start, you fall behind, you’re limited in plays. I think we had like 45 plays before our two-minute warning, so you’re trying to run the ball, you’re trying to get CD (Corey Davis) involved, you’re trying to get (Jamison) Crowder involved, you’re trying to get Elijah Moore involved and you’re trying to get people involved and there’s only so many plays to go around. By the time it’s the fourth quarter, now it’s just go through progression, try to get people the ball and try to throw and try to catch up or whatever it might be, whatever the situation might call for. One, it’s about complementary football in terms of having possessions early, get plays early and then from there it’s distributing the ball around and trust that within the offense your opportunity will come based on the calls that are made.
Kim Jones, NFL Network: Robert, it’s Kim Jones. You’ve mentioned slow start a couple of times. I’m just curious, I’m assuming you guys script plays, like every team in the league. To not score a point yet in the first quarter, does that tell you something about even that process needs to be fine-tuned?
Again, we’ll look at all of it again, Kim. It’s a collective thing. Sometimes the scripted call might not be worth a damn, sometimes the execution isn’t there, sometimes it’s just really good play by the other side of the ball. But obviously we’re going to look at everything and do our best to try and make it a little bit better coming out of this Bye Week. They’re going to study, obviously study the tapes, study what they’re asking of the players and then at the same time, just find ways to get our guys ready to roll and start the game.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Robert, you mentioned Jarrad Davis potentially coming back. I mean, throughout camp he was the guy next to C.J. (Mosley) and those two are two of your three starting linebackers. Quincy Williams though, has been playing some pretty good football and seems to keep getting better. So, when Jarrad comes back, is it the assumption that he just regains his starting job or is now suddenly there the possibility that he’s not the starter and Quincy is or there will be a rotation?
We’ll see where Jarrad is. He obviously hasn’t played in over a month and a half, so we’ll see where he’s at, but Jarrad Davis is a phenomenal football player and when he’s healthy, he is a starter in this league, he’s a first-round pick, he showed very well in OTAs and in training camp, he showed every reason why he was a first-round pick. Not to push him into the starting lineup, but when he’s ready to go in, he’s full speed, he’s going to get full game reps.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, what’s your plan for this week for the players and for the coaches and just kind of how did you come up with it? Is it something that you’re taking from places you’ve been before, is it influenced by the youth of your team at all, just kind of how are you approaching this week?
So, the CBA kind of dictates your week for you. You got to give them four consecutive days off, including weekends, so it’s almost mandatory that you get Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday off. So today, because the long trip, just gave them off just for a reset, where we said they can come in and get some regen. Tomorrow will be kind of be what today normally is and then on Wednesday, just come in and get a really good heavy lift and work out (and) run in, try to simulate a Wednesday practice the best we can and then get them out of here. So it’s just trying to make sure we keep the ball rolling with regards to our conditioning, our feet, just our raw conditioning. So we’re not going a full week. You know the old saying that seven days without the weight room makes one weak, W-E-A-K. So, we just want to make sure we shorten that gap as much as possible.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: What’s your opinion of the Quincy Williams roughing (penalty), now that you’ve looked at it?
We will turn it in, still disagreed with it, but we’re eventually going to get to the point where we’re going to earn the benefit of the doubt in most plays, but right now that’s an uphill battle that we’re trying to win.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: Robert, what was your reaction to Mekhi (Becton)’s tweet regarding (Denzel) Mims during the game, I think it was, “Unleash Mims,” or something like that. Obviously, we’ve all talked about (Mims) a lot and just kind of curious what your reaction was to that?
You know, I just heard of it about it 15 minutes ago and what I tell you is that Mekhi’s heart is always in the right place. He’s got a great relationship with Mims, as we all do. Mims did a really nice job in the game. He’s done a really nice job in the last couple of weeks and for him, I don’t think it’s a malicious tweet towards his teammate, although people can look at it that way. I think Mekhi’s heart is in the right place and he just wants to see his teammates all do well and when you’re a young man on social media, I don’t think, when you tweet, you don’t understand the ramifications of what other people might look at it as and I can tell you one of Mekhi, he absolutely loves his teammates and that’s a situation where Mims, he gets a big play and he’s just routing his teammate on.
Kim Jones, NFL Network: Robert, is there a chance over this Bye Week that you guys either find a way to rectify things with Mims or find some kind of a roll for this guy who I know it’s a very, very small sample size, but has had a couple of big plays for you?
I don’t know that there’s anything to rectify, Kim, in the sense that the relationship is good, we love Mims, he’s a tremendous character kid and he’s been working his tail off and it’s the same thing. He got out there, he had some opportunities yesterday, he was fantastic in the run game, created an explosive play on just a really good play overall, just with quarterback play, o-line protecting, and working and running his route the way he did. Obviously, just like everyone else, there’s going to be stuff that he can clean up, but he is earning his reps and he’ll continue to do so and as he continues to do so, he’ll get more opportunities.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: Most of Elijah Moore’s production in college came from the slot. Do you think maybe he’s struggling with different coverage types, different leverages that he’s facing, now that he’s playing mostly on the outside?
No, obviously that is a good discussion, but then you got Jamison Crowder who’s a season veteran in the slot, you got (Braxton) Berrios who’s been a season veteran in the slot, obviously with E. Moore, you’re trying to get your best players on the football field and there’s some calls that were designed for him yesterday, but coverage dictates where the ball goes, and we just missed on some opportunities. He drew the pass interference, which was a huge play in the game, got us down to the two-yard line, he got a couple big shots designed for him but like I said, the coverage dictated the ball going somewhere else. So, he’s got an opportunity, these opportunities are trying to be created for him, but obviously the coverage dictates a lot of that too.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Robert, when you first drafted Elijah, and we were talking to you about him and the impact he could make, you talked a lot about just getting him the ball, not necessarily having him run typical receiver routes, but the jet sweeps and the receiver sweeps, and screens and just finding a way to get him the ball, and get him the ball in space. We haven’t seen too much of that this year when he’s been active, is that something you’d like to explore more when you come out of the bye, is just getting him the ball and seeing what he can do?
We got him the jet sweep in Denver and got the concussion off it, so he missed a game. And then you get, like I said, when you’re getting 50 to 55 snaps a game, and a lot of them are in catchup mode, the chances to create those opportunities are very limited so, again, we can talk about running the ball, we can talk about getting him plays, we can talk about Corey and Crowder, there’s a lot of guys who’d love to touch the football but it’s really hard to touch a football when we’re not getting plays, we’re not converting third downs, and we’re not staying on the football field. And on the flip side, defensively, getting off the field, creating some three-and-outs, getting the ball to our offense as quickly as possible. So, this is a collective thing, and there’s always going to be a player who wants more of the ball, but there’s one ball, limited plays, how do you get them all involved? And we can start by having a 70-play game.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: Robert, as you step into this next week of self-scouting and what not with your coaches, what would you say are your one or two greatest concerns out of these first five weeks that you need to look into as you move forward here?
I don’t know if concern is the word, Mark. I just think we got to find ways to get better. We’re an extremely young team. Yesterday, just speaking from the defensive side of the ball, we’re playing a veteran quarterback who is precise, tremendous decision maker, and it just goes to show how much you have to be on your details. Especially in zone coverage, where he is planet throw and just rips the ball where it needs to go, and when he does make a mistake, which I feel like Matt Ryan made about three mistakes in the game that we needed to make him pay on and we just missed. It’s that step that I was talking about on Friday. When are we going to find that step? So, for us as a staff, it is continuing to find ways to keep it simple, keep them in their home base with regards to technique, fundamentals, effort, and all the different things that we talk about, keep teaching the 501 aspect of football, and see if between when we get back in the end of the season, we can find those steps and then start getting our hands on the ball. And on the offensive side of the ball, it’s the same thing. Can we start a little bit faster? Because we’re improving everywhere, and I know it doesn’t quite look like it, we’re not in the first half launching. Once that starts to happen, I feel like we’ll be pretty good to see.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: What has Rob Calabrese brought to that quarterback room? And what can he do with Zach right now to help him?
I like the dynamic of the quarterback room. Rob Calabrese is a young man who’s obviously very well-schooled, he’s got a great beat with regards to technique, throwing motions, all the different things that are asked from a fundamental standpoint with regards to quarterback. He understands keen footwork, all of it. You’ve got (Matt) Cavanaugh, who brings us a wealth of experience to that room, and just the experiences and dealing with phenomenal quarterbacks and understanding the game, and all the different things that happen. And obviously with LaFleur, when it comes to scheme and putting the quarterback, and designing entire game plan around the quarterback, and just to help him so his eyes are always flowing in the right spots. So, the dynamic, the room as a whole, the dynamic that it has, you got veteran, you got youth, you’ve got, obviously, Mike as the coordinator, and then the quarterbacks themselves, you’ve got Mike White, you’ve got Josh Johnson who are also phenomenal, so I really like the way the quarterback room is set up and we just got to continue to work and find ways to get better.
Robert, from a mental standpoint, with Zach, we’ve talked about how much of a studier he is, at this point is there a balance between going into the Bye, wanting him to kind of take a break mentally, even though he has a lot to work on, how do you approach that aspect of it? Because his head is probably spinning right now too.
It’s during the week too, it’s, ‘Dude, go home. Enough is enough.’ But there’s always going to be a balance and he’s going to find it. He’s got to find his way, he’s got to find his routine, he’s got to find his study habits, he’s got to understand how to filter what he’s seeing on tape, what’s important versus what’s not, and just trust the game plan, trust the reps, let it rip, just like he does in the second half. A perfect example, in the first half, the interception he had, you could see, if you look at it, his footwork is just a little bit off and he throws behind, we call it a bench route. And he throws it behind, which you never want to do on a bench route, and it’s intercepted. Fast forward, I think it was the fourth quarter, it’s the same route to Keelan (Cole), if you guys remember it, it was an explosive (play), he absolutely rips the ball and it’s perfectly thrown exactly where it needs to be. So, how can you get your process in the first quarter? This is, just again, it is reps, reps, reps, reps, and he’s going to get there, and there’s days where we’re going to see it, and there’s days where we’re not. But eventually, it’s going to be very consistent.