Head Coach Robert Saleh, 10.2
Zach Rosenblatt, The Athletic: Robert, last night Randall (Cobb) was talking about how maybe Zach (Wilson) was worried about making mistakes before and that’s why he wasn’t airing it out it out, but last night he was taking some risks, letting it rip. Is there something to be said about letting it loose the way that he did last night?
There is. When he is throwing those back shoulder throws, I know it is practice, but it is what we see when no one else is looking. He is throwing those back shoulder throws and he is being aggressive with the utilization of his arm talent. It is what we have been seeing all off season. For him to just let it rip, and he has done it a couple of times in a game. I think he had a couple in the Buffalo game, he did some good things in the Dallas game. Yesterday, especially coming out in the second half, that drive to start the third quarter, he hit a couple of them. When you are playing free of mind that is just life in general or football in general. If you are playing free of mind, you have the ability to access all of your athletic ability and it felt like he did that for the most part last night.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert is that him or is that more of Nathaniel (Hackett) drawing it up for him?
It is always going to be a little bit of both. One, having confidence in yourself, having confidence in your teammates to make those plays. We said it after the game, it was never so much decision making because it felt like over the last two and a half years, he has been a good decision maker in the pocket and making his progressions. It’s the decisiveness in which he needs to do it. When he is fast, speeds it up, and just lets it rip, he is pretty darn accurate and pretty darn good. It is a little bit of both. Protection held up good, receivers were making plays and like I said, he did a pretty nice job.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: After looking at it again, and I am sure again and again, what did you see on the Sauce (Gardner) holding call?
I am just going to leave that one alone until I get a chance to get clarification.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Robert, what did you think of the last drive as a whole, not just the calls that you got or didn’t get, but just the way you guys defended the last drive?
It was kind of a bizarre last drive, a series of unfortunate events. It was a seven-and-a-half-minute long drive that was aided by calls and non-calls. It was just bizarre. I don’t think I have ever been a part of a drive like that to end a football game. Especially, a game like that on national television. Unfortunately, I am still trying to understand what we could have done better and we are still trying to figure out how we can coach things better. Like I said, I will get clarification and we will go from there.
Zach Rosenblatt, The Athletic: Jermaine (Johnson) was asked about a play where it looked like he got a hold on him, he kind of played it off like, ‘I need to put myself in a position to not get holding’, which is a very mature way to go about it. What does it say about him with how he handled it that way?
It is the only way. You always have to look inward. As a player, they are going to hold, it doesn’t matter. All game, on both sides of the ball, DB’s (defensive back) versus receivers, their side, our side, a lot of give and take. We were the beneficiaries of a couple calls, they were beneficiaries of a couple of calls in the first three quarters. Getting away with a lot of stuff, it was a very physical game allowing for a lot of hand combat between the wide receivers and the DB’s. A lot of aggressive play at the line of scrimmage between the o-line (offensive line) and d-line (defensive line). Somewhere along the fourth quarter everything switched. You always want to look inwards from a player standpoint and make sure you are doing everything to put yourself in a good position knowing full well that you can’t count on a call. You have to win your one on ones. Jermaine, he is a competitor, he is always trying to figure out how he can be his best, but I am not surprised that he spoke that way.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, Zach told us he talked to you last night and said, ‘I lost us this game, this is on me’, and I think he said that to the team as well in the locker room. Obviously, his comments from last year were highly criticized and dissected. Do you see some growth in him in the way he took the blame last night, whether he deserved it or not?
I take the press conference with a grain of salt. I say it in a regard to I think it is even more real when you are with him in the locker room, when the cameras aren’t on, and the way he is in the building and the conversations he is having. The way he has been on the practice field, in meetings, and with his teammates, that the real stuff, that is the authentic stuff. So what I can say is that absolutely, a hundred percent he has taken a big leap forward. He has been awesome, he has been awesome all training camp, he has been awesome through OTA’s. To go from the face of the program, number two pick, to take a backseat, to take another backseat because we are going to get another starter even though we don’t know who that starter is and no, we are not going to move on from you so you know that you are going to end up being a backup, and to watch someone else be the face of the program. To go through this off season then get thrusted back into it, he is a resilient individual, he truly is. I think he has had a tremendous amount of growth through the last year.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Aaron said he and Hackett in games trusted each other, do you think with Nathaniel he was so familiar with Aaron coming in with their background together, how has the Hackett/Wilson relationship developed very quickly in the last couple of weeks?
That’s the tough part. It is not from a lack of trust. I don’t know if trust is the word. It is an easy word to get out, but it is an understanding of what each other’s strengths are. With Todd Downing and Hackett, they haven’t truly worked with Zach. They have been installing a system, they see where Zach’s pros and cons are, what he is good at, what he is not good at. Then you get into a game and things show up as you are trying to get some reps and you are in a heightened environment, critical situations, you start to understand what a player is comfortable with, and you try to put them in a place that they are most comfortable. There is a learning part to it and there is still going to be more learning. There is a heck of a lot more to learn on what we can do better to start faster, how can we get them more comfortable earlier in the game, how can we finish faster? There are so many things that we are learning as a staff everyday and Zach is getting a heck of a lot better. You are trying to maximize what he is very comfortable with and what can we continue to do to make him more comfortable in the things that how is not comfortable with. That is the stuff that they are constantly working on. I think they have done a great job because this is not easy with everything that has transpired over the first four weeks, but I do think Zach, the staff, players, the o-line shifting, receivers in and out, I think they have done a really good job trying to figure out what is best for this group as it stands. Hopefully it continues to get better.
Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: Robert, is there a sense of confirmation that Zach going out and having that type of performance even though everyone was saying, ‘What do you guys see in him?’ This kind of game is exactly what you have been telling everyone that you see in him. Is there that confirmation, affirmation from you?
Not for me. I am pumped for him, I am pumped for the locker room. I think everyone sees it and to go out and show that you are capable of it, is a whole other thing. I always joke around that I would scare Tiger Woods on the driving range, then I get to the golf course like a 30 handicap or whatever. You have to be able to transfer things over to game day and for him to go out there and transfer it over, now he has to stack it up obviously, and just keep stacking good days after good days and get to game day and get comfortable, be confident in yourself and just let it rip. I am pumped for him, I truly am. He is resilient. He has grown. He has gotten dragged through the mud and for him to taste a little bit of success, even though we didn’t win, wish we could have pulled that one out, but I think he is only going to get better.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Did you see what Rodney Harrison had said about Zach in a clip where he was interviewing with Chris Jones there?
I heard about it and from my understanding Rodney this morning handled everything. Rodney is a good man. Whatever he is getting for that is water under the bridge. I think he has handled it exactly the way he is supposed to.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: On Zach, you hear Joe (Namath) last week, now Rodney, do you think people are piling too much on Zach?
It is part of the profession, fair, unfair. Even though it feels personal, it is not personal. You can’t take it personal. People are trying to eat too. We get it. It is just part of the business, part of the profession.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: It is going to be you in the spotlight this week for obvious reasons going back to Denver, all the Payton stuff that happened in the summer. How do you think he is going to handle it this week?
Who is this?
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: (follow-up) Hackett, with all the Denver stuff.
From a coach’s perspective, aside from the summer from whatever was said back in training camp. In football life, that was like twenty years ago, so that is a non-topic. But for Hackett, obviously it is going to be a personal feel to go back, but I think he understands just living as a coach’s kid, understanding the process, he will know how to handle himself, he will know exactly how to keep his emotions in check, and make sure we do what is best for this organization and this team as it stands now. I fully expect him to be perfectly fine and levelheaded.
Brian Costello, New York Post: How do you feel like the new look of the offensive line is looking better these past few games?
I think they have done a nice job from a protection standpoint. I felt like it was back-to-back good days. Run game wise, they backed off a little bit like we talked about, they gave us a little bit more quarters in the second and third quarters. I felt like we were able to get some runs. We got that big run out of Breece (Hall) somewhere in the third quarter. It looked good, it is getting better. There is still a lot of things we need to improve on. They are playing well together, they are communicating well together. A couple things we still have to clean up, but with reps it will get better.