Head Coach Robert Saleh, 10.5

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Opening Statement:

Real quick, injuries: So, Max (Mitchell), he’s not going to practice. He’s probably out this week. Quincy Williams will not practice today. He’s doubtful. Breece Hall, Marcell Harris, Zach Wilson are dealing with a bunch of nicks and bruises, they’ll be limited today.


Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: What are Zach’s nicks and bruises?

Shoot, it’s football. Dealing with an ankle, but he’s fine.


Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: Mike McDaniel had a story about the two of you meeting in Houston, about your printer skills and how you could fix printers and stuff like that. What do you remember about meeting McDaniel in Houston and can you talk about the relationship that you all have?

2006, I was an intern, so technically I couldn’t get fired yet, but my internship was about to die out by the end of February. (Gary) Kubiak and Kyle (Shanahan) and Mike (McDaniel) at the time, they all show up, the staff shows up. We’re in this massive, massive staff room at the stadium, the old Reliant Stadium, and it’s just me and him sitting right across from each other. Since then, we’ve been pretty darn close. Eventually, that room added Matt LaFleur and Richard Hightower. So, it was a really, really cool room, but, initially, it was just he and I. We had a lot of really cool conversations, a lot of cool date nights with whoever he was with at the time, not his current wife, who is a beauty, but with my now wife. We’re very close. We’re very close.


Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: How would you describe his personality? I feel like it’s come out a little bit since he’s become a head coach.

He had worked for Kyle so long. When you’re an assistant, you kind of have to fall in line and you take on the personality of the person you’re following, if you will. To just watch him from afar, watch some of his press conferences, talking to some of the guys who are on staff, you always knew when he got his opportunity, he was going to seize the moment and take absolute charge and show how, not necessarily strong of a personality, but how convicted he is in his beliefs and his philosophy. All the BS narrative of how would he handle adversity, he’s going to knock it out of the park because he knows who he is. He has a philosophy. He has conviction. He’s a good man. He’s got great principles. He doesn’t break. He doesn’t fold under pressure. When you’re an assistant to Kyle, and I say this respectfully, that’s the biggest pressure cooker you can be in. All the rest of the stuff is easy. He’s going to be fantastic for a long time.


Brian Costello, New York Post: What’s it like when you face an offense from the Kyle tree? I imagine it’s a little different than what Mike does and it’s a little different than what you’ll see next week from Matt (LaFleur), but what is that like when you’re preparing for it and you know their stuff so well?

When you watch, everyone puts their own wrinkles on. No different than I was raised in the Seattle system. I became a coordinator, I added some wrinkles, took some stuff out, and tried to make it mine. He’s doing the same thing. The one thing you see is that he is really taking advantage of the speed that they have, which is world class all across the board — running back, tight end, wide receiver. They’ve got world class speed, so a lot of the routes they’re running are like make believe because an o-line is not supposed to be able to protect because they’re so far down field. He’s doing a really good job creating a lot of stress, using the entire field to put stress on the defense. It’s a matter of time for those guys to start clicking.


Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: You have a lot of moving parts at offensive tackle right now with Duane (Brown) returning to practice. What are the chances of him playing this week? Do you see AVT (Alijah Vera-Tucker) again at left tackle? Who’s at right tackle?

We’ll see. We’ll get a lot of information today and tomorrow. I’m going to hold that one until Sunday again. Sorry, Rich. We’ll see. We got Vinny (Curry) going again today. Both have been just really, really excited to get back to practice. So, there will be a lot of information had today. Tomorrow, we’re in pads, so we’ll get more information at that point, too.


Brian Costello, New York Post: Is Duane even a possibility? Because he didn’t have a whole lot of practice time before the injury and now I know he’s been working on the side.

We’ll see. You know me, I’m going to say optimistically, but I’m going to go with the doctor approach on this one and say day-to-day. We’ll see.


Al Iannazzone, Newsday: You talked a lot about the speed of that team, particularly the receivers. What kind of challenges are there when you have those two guys out there? 

It’s a tremendous challenge because at the end of the day with all of their speed, Mike is at heart a run, run first guy — Mike McDaniel. He wants to run the ball. They’ve got exotic runs, and you’ve got to be able to pay attention to that part of it because if you just sit there and try to play as far back as you can, they can gash you in the run game. It’s a tremendous challenge because of the amount of stress they put on you vertically and horizontally. It’s a challenge, a challenge that we’re excited for. We’ll see.


Al Iannazzone, Newsday: At this point, how did you think Sauce (Gardner) has handled everything?

He’s been good. The challenge for him, again, he’s doing a really nice job making sure everything is contested. He’s tackling really well. He’s absorbing a lot of information. He’s learning on the fly. He’s in the film room, him, D.J. (Reed), Bryce Hall, (Brandin) Echols, they’re all doing a really good job meeting together, Michael Carter II. They’re doing a great job meeting together and getting with the safeties to make sure we’re all seeing things the same way. His sky’s the limit. He’s going to be a special player. Knock on wood. So, as the season goes and he gets more reps, he’s only going to get better.


Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, you saw that one play in Cleveland that resulted in a touchdown, seemed like a miscommunication between him and I forget who it was. How has he done on the mental side of things in terms of mental errors and everyone has rookie moments?

He’s doing fine. There’s a couple here and there, but you expect it. There’s a lot of things happening. You can go on the flip side, it happens to the veterans too, Cleveland on that one, not to disrespect or going to their backyard, but on that touchdown for Corey (Davis), there’s a miscommunication and you had one guy playing one defense, and the other guys are playing another. So, it happens, you just hope you don’t get caught when it happens. For him, what I love about it is he starts talking smack like “you’re lucky, you’re lucky I didn’t.” He’s almost like, “that wasn’t a touchdown.” It just goes right by him and he’s like “Shoot, I’ll do the right thing next time and you still won’t score.” He’s got this mindset like “Alright, I may have screwed that one up, but you still got lucky, you didn’t get that on me”. That’s his mindset. I love where he’s at, he’s growing every day, and like I said, he’s only going to get better and eventually, where he won’t need communication because he’s just going to know immediately and he’s going to do the communicating. So, he’s a special one.


Steve Serby, New York Post: Robert, what impressed you most about Breece (Hall) on Sunday in Pittsburgh?

I loved his running style. We’ve been talking about NFL running and making DB’s tackle you and there’s about five or six occasions where he put his shoulder right into their sternum and ran some people over, moved piles, the run to get to the two-yard line had big contact at the five and pushed forward to the two. Same thing at the goal line, now we don’t want to reach at that point, but still just try to push a pile and get across the goal line for the game winner. Loved his running style, that’s the biggest thing that he’s improved on from week one to four and hopefully he continues moving forward just to show how powerful of a runner he is and you’re mixing that with his illusiveness and the speed, good luck.


Steve Serby, New York Post: Robert, he’s got nicks?

Yeah, typical, there’s just little nicks and bruises for all those guys. It’s the NFL season, this list is only going to get longer and longer, but there’s nothing to worry about.


Joe Mauceri, WPIX: Robert, you’ve got your first two wins on the road, obviously, is there any pressure to get a win in front of the home fans?

You want to win your home games. You’re supposed to win your home games and we’ve got to get our fans in the stadium, we’ve got to get them cheering loud, but we also got to give them a reason to cheer. So, we’re going to keep plugging away, take one play at a time and focus on the moment. There’s one thing I’ll say about this group is it’s got no quit in them, they play their absolute tails off and if for 60 minutes the opponent’s going to get everything we’ve got, so it’s exciting to bring that to our stadium and to give our fans something to cheer about, but yeah, we definitely want to win at home.


Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: To go back to the cornerbacks, when you have two guys like Sauce (Gardner) and D.J. (Reed) you can kind of put on an island and let them do their thing, what does that do for your ability to call plays with the rest of the defense?

It does, you can mix it up, you can play it however you want to, you can roll coverage over, you can squeeze the middles, you can do whatever you want when you have guys and you’re not so worried about ‘shoot, we can’t run this because the safeties out and the corners going to be on his own’. You’re so much more confident, you don’t have to scathe safeties, you don’t have to cheat to kind of mask on the outside because you feel so comfortable with those guys out there, so it opens up a lot and I feel like they’re a big part of why I think our defense has been playing so well. We got to be better on third down, that’s still kind of an Achilles heel that we’ve got to get fixed, but like I said on early downs, analytically you’d say we’re a top 10 defense, but third down is where we’ve got to find a way to get better and once that happens, I think this defense can take off.


Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: With Quinnen (Williams) that play where he chased down (Kenny) Pickett, he ran across the field and ran him down, how unusual was that for a guy his size and generally speaking this season the way he’s playing, is it the benefits of having had that full training camp, which he did not have last year?

Yeah, because you know, a lot is made of play time, right? And his play time is up almost 15% from a year ago and he’s, like I’ve said, he’s in the best shape of his life and the way he ran Pickett down, I mean that’s almost 40 yards of running for a 300-pound man at a full sprint. That’s hard to do for anybody, but he’s playing at a really high level. You try to one-on-one block, he’s absolutely destroying offensive linemen in front of him, it’s been fun to watch him play and really excited to see him continue to stay fresh, take care of his body, and continue to get better as the year goes.


Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Robert, what did you see from Zach (Wilson) last game and what do you need to see from him as he gets more comfortable playing, it’s been awhile since he played so much?

Just to go through him, that first quarter, thought he did really well. Came out, played really well in the first quarter, just showing his preparation and delivering the ball. Even the second quarter was pretty good. The end of the half, obviously we could’ve finished better, the third quarter, there was a lot of momentum on their side of the ball and we kind of relinquished momentum at that point, but the resolve, and for the entire offense too, but the resolve to come back, stay confident, despite the pressure he was getting in the second and third quarter, if you watch that fourth quarter, he’s still hanging in the pocket, he’s not retreating like a young kid did. On the flip side of when we got the interception, from retreating because of pressure that was coming from the middle, he’s staying in the pocket, he’s stepping up in the pocket, his feet are settled, he’s delivering the ball, he’s throwing dimes. All in the fourth quarter after just getting pressure all over the place, which tells me that he’s playing fearless, he’s playing with confidence, so what’d you like to see is just from the entire offense, just continue to gel and harness what we did in that fourth quarter, if we do that, we can be pretty explosive.


Steve Serby, New York Post: Robert, style wise how would you explain the difference between Garrett Wilson and Elijah Moore as receivers?

They both bring individual traits. I don’t want to compare them. They both bring the speed element, they both bring shiftiness, they both catch the ball aggressively with their hands, they’re both very unique in their own right, so to compare them, there’s certain things that one may do better and vice versa, but both very good, high-quality receivers.


Brian Costello, New York Post: What did you see, Robert in the Dolphins pass defense? The numbers aren’t great, but obviously they’ve played some talented quarterbacks. 

They’re an aggressive defense, so if you’re going to play aggressive, you’re probably going to give one up right, but they create a lot of explosive plays because of their aggressiveness, which is why their points have been down for the most part. They’re very tightknit in the way they run things, in other words, you don’t see a lot of busts, right? When you play as aggressive as they do, their zero package, their pressure package, and how aggressive they are, an offense may hit one, but at the same time they’re going to create so many explosive plays that it kind of offsets those. So, yes, they are giving some stuff up, but at the same time, they’re creating a lot of explosive plays that have created touchdowns for their offense, turnovers, and all of that stuff, so there’s opportunities to be had, but at the same time they’re seeking opportunity themselves.


Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: Robert, Lamarcus (Joyner), he has a lot of experience in this League, but didn’t have a lot of playing time because of last year and coming in, it seemed like he struggled a little bit early on, but on Sunday he had a game.

Yeah, both safeties. I mean he had I think the stat was four pass breakups, then the two picks. Jordan Whitehead was back there doing a lot of great things, those two working together, like I said, we have four new faces on that backside, and Lamarcus hasn’t played in over a year and a half and if you think about playing the safety position, he was playing nickel for the Raiders, so to get that opportunity, get his feet wet, he missed a lot of training camp, so I don’t want to make an excuse for the young man, but he’s played football at a very high level and he can still play football at a high level, it’s just the matter of getting time on task and reps, and really thought he came out, communication was awesome, we were exactly where we needed to be, and they tried him, they put him in some very adverse situations a couple times a six-foot-four guy jump ball, and very calm dropped his heart rate, made the play and didn’t panic at the catch point. I thought he was outstanding.


Andy Vasquez, NJ Advance Media: You talked about this a little bit on Monday, but the 17-yard pass to Corey Davis on that last drive that maybe could’ve been reviewed. For you guys to be able to get up and snap that ball so quickly, what does it say in terms of growth just from Zach Wilson to have that presence of mind and overall, the offense being able to do that? 

It was really good because there was question on the field and (Mike) LaFleur is just yelling NASCAR on the headset which obviously you’re trying to hurry up, there’s a whole bunch of different stuff they use, but we call it on defense anyway, they use a different word, but for them to execute in that moment at the level that we executed and still pick up five, to be able to wind the clock down, then to continue to move the ball forward to get it done. I thought just the entire sequence was awesome because they ended up getting the ball 16 seconds left. I thought it was really good execution, and again, it started from the top with Mike and the way he communicated, and for the offense, Zach included, and then the o-line and everyone just being on the same page and knowing exactly what everything means and how we’re trying to get things done and get a positive gain, that was perfect.