Head Coach Robert Saleh, 10.13
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Injury wise – (Justin) Hardee, he’ll be out dealing with a hamstring. Same with (Brandin) Echols. DJ (Reed) – We’ll see what happens today. Then everyone else (Nick) Bawden, Billy Turner, (Mekhi) Becton, (Michael) Clemons, Joe Tippmann, we should be good.
Brian Costello, The New York Post: With both of those guys down, what does that do for your special teams?
Yeah, two really, really good teams units. Irv (Irvin Charles) coming up is a big deal. So, we’ve got some reinforcements.
Antwan Staley, The New York Daily News: A few weeks ago, I asked you what your identity is. With Breece (Hall) and the game you had on Sunday, does it give you more of an idea of what the identity of this team is?
Yeah, obviously, at the end of the day, you want to get the ball to your playmakers. Breece is a heck of a playmaker, Garrett (Wilson), (Allen) Lazard’s a playmaker. He’s shown that. We’ve got some good players, a lot of good players on that offensive side of the ball, tight ends. I think (Tyler) Conklin is doing a really nice job, so yeah, you’d love to say it’s ground and pound and all that good stuff, but I think every week is different. What your identity is going to be and I do think we’re capable of kind of morphing into whatever the week presents to us, but I think what we’re showing is that we could versus Kansas City move the ball through the air and versus Denver move the ball on the ground. If we can show that consistency to do both it gives you the ability to avoid being one dimensional.
Brian Costello, The New York Post: Robert, I know you talked about the injury report yesterday. Jalen Carter, if he does play, what have you seen from him on tape this season?
You could argue that he should have been the number one pick in the draft. I mean, just a ridiculously talented young man. I’m not going to get into why he fell to where he did. Kudos to Philadelphia and taking him, but he’s a stud. He’s violent. He’s fast, he’s quick, he’s smart, but he’s a heck of a football player. I don’t think there’s anyone, at least speaking in this building, that didn’t watch his tape and say he was the number one defensive player on the board. He’s a uber talented young man.
Mark Cannizzaro, The New York Post: Robert, everybody knows how well these guys are and accomplished they are. When you look at this game, what would you, if you had to pick two or three paths to victory without obviously giving up any great secrets, so to speak. What would you say are some of the most important things you did?
Well, they’ve got playmakers all over the place. Just their offensive, it’s as talented a group as I’ve seen in a long time. Their offensive line especially. A lot of respect for Jeff Stoutland and the way he coaches that group. They’re incredibly smart, they’re violent, and they’re so tied to him. I think it’s like six years now where it’s been the same five. Then after dealing with that group, you’ve got (Dallas) Goedaert and A.J. Brown and Slim Reaper. Again, uber talented group. Then you got to deal with the quarterback, who I’ve said many times, the young man’s a tank. He can run you over, he can throw the ball anywhere on the football field. Incredibly smart, conducts the offense in a way that is just proficient and they eat more clock than anybody in ball. Then on top of it, you throw in the fact that they’re just well coached. So that’s going to present its own challenges and making sure that we balance and how we play them. Then offensively playing, taking on that defense. Again, their front is as good as anybody in ball. They play very disciplined in the back end and the way they play. I look at it, they’re very similar to us in the way they play. They allow the front to get after it and they’re going to play good, smart zone coverage, eliminate explosives and force you to beat them that way. Then obviously special teams being with their coordinator for a few years in San Francisco. They’re again, another group that gets after it. So, there’s a reason why they’re the NFC champs and that close to winning a Super Bowl. It’s going to be a challenge.
Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: It seems like you guys face a different flavor of the League pass rushers every week. What is it about Haason Reddick that makes him a challenge?
All kinds of juice and gas off the edge. He’s definitely a problem. He’s found a home. Again, another one of those guys gets drafted. He’s trying to play linebacker in the NFL and then he gets an opportunity to put his hand in the ground and he finds life. He’s definitely found a new lease on life in that front. He’s dynamic. He’s versatile. They can do a lot of different things with him, but he’s a three-way rusher. He can win inside. He can win outside. He can run right through you. So, he’s always going to present a problem.
Antwan Staley, The New York Daily News: Jermaine Jackson, we talked about all the work he did during the offseason. What has he brought to this team on the field this year?
Another playmaker for us. He’s, again, just another one of those dudes that you’re pumped up for him, because when you’re a first-round pick, there’s so much expectation to produce right away, but he’s developed in a way, in his pace. He had an unbelievable offseason and he’s a guy that we feel very comfortable putting out there in critical situations, whether it’s first down, second down, third down, or a two-minute situation, got to have it. We feel comfortable about where he is. We feel comfortable about doing things that are different with him because he is so smart and versatile, but he’s definitely done a really nice job. I anticipate him only getting better too.
Brian Costello, The New York Post: Robert, you had the two safeties in the last two weeks. Kansas City, that was a big point in the game. Does (Thomas) Morstead kind of get assists on those?
Absolutely he does. One of the most more underrated aspects of football from not in the football world, but outside from a fan perspective, is what we call backed up situation. It’s when the offense has the ball inside the 10 yard line. We call it from defensively, we call it backed up. We treat it like a possible turnover because if you make them punt from there, or you get a safety… if you get a safety, obviously it is what it is, but if you can make them punt from there, odds are you’re getting the ball at the logo, which offense, you should get points. So, you’re smelling blood. So, Mo is a big, big part of that. To be aggressive, to try to pin him inside the 10 yard line with his foot, rather than being satisfied with, all right, I got him inside the 20 which is the kind of the whatever the mark is for punters, he’s aggressive and wanting to get it inside the 10 and when he does, we feel as a defense that we’re pretty good in the sense that we can keep them inside the 10 yard line. If we do, those are points.
Mark Cannizzaro, The New York Post: Robert, what are you most pleased with with Zach (Wilson) in the last two games? Obviously, he’s made a lot of strides minus a few issues last week, but what are the couple things that stand out to you that are just different?
You know, mistakes are always going to happen. It happens to the best of them. Against Kansas City, we forced (Patrick) Mahomes into a fumbled snap, a couple of turnovers, three turnovers possibly at the end of the game there, so mistakes will happen. It’s your ability to rebound and be resilient, to have faith in yourself and faith in your teammates and to continue to find ways to get better as the game goes on. I think last week was a great example of that. First half wasn’t as clean as anybody wanted. We didn’t convert a third down. We had a sloppy two-minute drive at the end of the half. Go to the locker room, regroup and we came out and we were much better on third down. I think we’re at three of six, made critical, critical throws that kept drives moving. Even the last interception, I tip my hat more to (Patrick) Surtain III, than I would a mistake from Zach, but his ability to stay the course and not beat himself up for mistakes I think is a is a pleasant, pleasant sight, not letting things snowball into a negative game, taking the coaching points and finding ways to get better as the game progresses, I think that’s been really good.
Mark Cannizzaro, The New York Post: Just a quick follow on that. There were times when we’ve seen him when he’s been afraid to make a mistake. It seems that there’s less of that going on now. Where do you see his confidence level? How has that grown?
No, for sure. I think it’s grown a lot. I go back to practice and just the throws he makes and the things that aren’t happening that happened a year ago, or the things that are happening that weren’t happening a year ago for him. Like I said, it’s never going to be a clean game. I don’t care who the quarterback is. Could be the greatest of all time or whatever. It’s never going to be perfect, but your ability to bounce back and have faith in your ability to play the game, I think that’s the part of this game that’s gotten so much better.
Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: Yesterday Nate (Nathaniel Hackett) was talking about one of the biggest reasons why he’s been more accurate is his footwork. Can you talk a little about the work you guys have put in there? I know there were talks last year when you were doing the rest thing. What has it been like seeing him make progress specifically there?
Credit to (Todd) Downing and (Rob) Calabrese and obviously Hack. They’ve done such a good job attacking the footwork aspect of it. There’s no right way. Everyone’s got a style to them, but I think he feels more freedom in his style of footwork, because at the end of the day, if you watch Aaron (Rodgers), his footwork is different than the next one. It’s just not cookie cutter and we always talk about football is a piece of cake. You get the call, you get your alignment, you get your eyes where they need to be, and then you execute in the style that you know how and at. From a defensive standpoint, I’ll try to equate it to like a linebacker. Some guys are button press with physicality, some guys are slip and rip because they’re a little bit smaller, but at the end of the day, the objective of beating a block is to get off a block, finish it down unblocked. For the quarterback, you always talk about timing and rhythm, timing and rhythm, timing and rhythm, so there’s a footwork that’s involved in it, but everyone footwork is a little bit different to reach the same timing and rhythm. It’s something that I think he’s embraced and learned. I think the fact that he’s not really thinking about his footwork and he’s just executing within timing and rhythm is leading to better footwork, which leads to better eye placement, which has led to a lot better accuracy.
Brian Costello, The New York Post: You touched on (Tyler) Conklin. He had some big catches last week on third down. What has he meant in this offense?
Last year, we felt like we had something special with him. He’s done nothing but get better in every year of his career. He got worn down a little bit last year, I felt like, and we felt like in this offseason, we really got to do a better job protecting him from him. I don’t want to say he’s gotten better, but he’s doing everything that we know he’s capable of. He can win one on ones, and he’s physical at the point in blocking. He can win one on ones on the linebacker and the safety. He’s becoming a good outlet for the quarterback. So, he’s a special talent, works his tail off. We got to continue protecting him from him because if we gave him 100 reps, he’d take all 100. He’s just that type of guy, but really pleased with him.
Jeane Coakley, SNY: Tell us about this week’s team.
Heck yeah, this week we’re recognizing Jermaine Johnson from Montclair High School. They just recently beat a team that they haven’t beaten in five years. 42-27. They’re 5-2 on the season. Coach Johnson graduated from Montclair State University and was a DB back then. Good luck the rest of the way.