Head Coach Robert Saleh, 10.8

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Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, do you have an update on the injuries, at all? I know you ruled some guys out last night.

Yeah, everyone looks like they’re ready to roll, people who’ve traveled. So, (Brandin) Echols is on track, Elijah Moore is on track and I think for the most part that’s it.

 

Brian Costello, New York Post: How was the trip and just kind of what, I know you’ve talked about this a little bit, but what challenges does this present, the trip?

The big thing is discipline, you know? I thought the support staff, and everybody involved to make this thing happen, has been absolutely fantastic and I feel like we’ve knocked it out the park with regards to preparation and doing everything we can for the guys to be their best on Sunday. Now, it’s just a matter of just stick to the plan, trust the performance staff and if we do that, we’ll be bouncing off the walls on Sunday.

 

Brian Costello, New York Post: Are you guys kind of in a bubble here or are you guys exploring anything tomorrow?

I think the only thing we’re doing tomorrow is we’re going to go to the stadium and walkthrough, otherwise, just trying to extend the day, stay on our feet, stay outside and acclimate ourselves to the time change.

 

Connor Hughes, The Athletic: It was obviously a pretty good game for Zach (Wilson) last week, rookie of the week, I think is what he earned the honors of. How do you get him to continue that? Like, how do you get him to stay focused on, okay now, build off of this, instead of two steps forward and maybe one back?

That’s where I think he’s phenomenal, is his process. He takes the good with the bad and vice versa and he’s just always trying to find ways to get better. So, he’s had a really good week of practice. He, again, every week, the emphasis for him is footwork, eyes, progression. Footwork, eyes, progression. And as long as he can stick with that, he’ll continually get better. The off-schedule stuff that we saw, you really can’t teach some of the stuff that he just does, he naturally, instinctively does. But, the footwork, the eyes to progression, that’s where he’s going to get better. That’s where he can learn how to play quarterback in this league and that’s where he’ll start to pick up the game and things will start slowing down and he’ll just get better from it.

 

Brian Costello, New York Post: He said to us after the game, Robert, that the first drive, Michael Carter touchdown run, that he could feel the tension lift off, I guess the offense especially. How much do you think that’s going to help now? He’s always had the confidence, but just kind of building off some success.

You hope it translates, but that’s a young group. We’ve talked about it before. When you have a young group and they have early success, you never know what it can snowball into. They become invincible. You guys were all young once, we’d jump off a roof, didn’t think twice about it, right? But it’s the same thing. They get the ball rolling, they get confidence and all their athleticism just pops out and you just see the speed elevate. I felt like that’s what you saw, especially in the second half, in all three phases. So, yeah, starting fast is a big deal for these young bucks, but at the same time, if we can just get the ball rolling, whether it’s in the first quarter, second quarter, feel like good things can happen.

 

Brian Costello, New York Post: JFM (John Franklin-Myers) getting an extension, why was that a priority for the organization?

JFM is a stud. When we first got here, we studied all our players and the one of the guys that stood out to us was JFM. Obviously, among other guys, but he stood out. We didn’t know anything about JFM and man, he can really take off. We felt he could be a really great fit for our system and what we ask out of our defensive line and he has done nothing but work, work, work. He’s been a tremendous leader and then you see his play on the football field. He’s absolutely dominant at times. First play of overtime, he tackled Derrick Henry with the tight end’s back. It just showed some shear dominance and he hasn’t even scratched the surface of where we think he can go within this system. When you have guys who do things the right way, you have guys who are leaders in the locker room and they produced to his level, credit to Joe (Douglas), finding him off the waiver wire and Aaron Whitecotton to work with him. But those are the guys that we want to pay, so JFM is deserving of it and we couldn’t be happier to have it done.

 

Connor Hughes, The Athletic: What did you kind of, because (Franklin-Myers) plays that hybrid role. He’s outside, then he moves inside again. When did you kind of catch that? Was there anyone you did that with in San Francisco where you thought, “OK, John can do those similar things.” Or when you saw John’s skillset you were like, “You know what, let’s try to use him inside.”

He’s kind of in the mold of Arik Armstead of what we did in San Francisco there with Arik Armstead. Different, obviously, but similar in certain ways. Both effective in what they’re asked to do.

 

Brian Costello, New York Post: Atlanta ruled out (Calvin) Ridley, obviously a good player. How does that affect your game plan?

It’s so late in the game, we may see some different personnel groupings, doesn’t really affect our game plan, it came in so late. Things are already in. As far as calling the game, that will be stuff that you talk about over the next couple of days. But (Calvin) Ridley is a heck of a football player. But at the same time, they’ve still got a lot of weapons with Cordarrelle Patterson, he’s rejuvenated, Matt Ryan can get the ball to anyone. Their draft pick, Kyle Pitts, is pretty freaking good. It’s a challenge, they got a lot of weapons over there.

 

Brian Costello, New York Post: Patterson is an interesting guy, he’s just an unusual player. I’m not sure if you faced him earlier in his career, but what do you see when you see what he’s doing right now?

Someone with a role. He’s always kind of been just a special teamer and a go-ball guy. Now you see him out of the backfield, you see him catching screens, you see him running the football, you see him running routes. So, I think Arthur (Smith) and his staff have done such a fabulous job finding a role for him, and he’s clearly become a weapon.

 

Connor, Hughes: With Kyle, how much work did you, I mean you guys kind of knew what you were going to do at two, but did you do any work on Pitts? And what was your takeaway on him?
We did. We still went through it all. Every bit of deserving of that pick that he was selected at. I think it was four. And he’s unique. He’s going to be a major problem in years to come, he’s a rookie, too, so he’s learning the speed of the game and everything. But you can see it on tape and the flashes that he has, he’s going to be a problem.

 

Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, with (Tyler) Kroft out, are you guys going to have to bring (Kenny) Yeboah up from practice squad? How are you looking at tight end?

Yeah, Yeboah will come up for Kroft.

 

Coach, getting away from the win last week, and getting an opportunity to get away with the team as an opportunity to build off last week’s result, or do you find coming to London a distraction?

No, anytime you’re together with your teammates I think it’s cool. Whether we were home, here, on the road somewhere else in the states, it doesn’t matter. We get to play this game, we get to show up to the facility and hang out with one another and do things and go through the grind together. That’s what I love about the character of this group. They actually enjoy being around each other. I’ve been on teams where they don’t enjoy being around each other and this group genuinely likes being around each other. They’re embracing every bit of this and I’m just excited to see this team grow.

 

Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Can you tell at all, Robert, that, I know you said these guys have kind of handled things the same way, everyone’s kind of kept their head down, but can you tell there’s a different feeling now that you’ve won a game?

The conversations are easier. We talked about it earlier, when you lose, you’re a little bit more sensitive, so you try not to offend anyone, but you want to have those hard conversations. And when you win, I was just excited, and I think I speak for the rest of the coaching staff, just the reception that the players had because there was no, “I don’t need that pat on the back, how can I fix the mistake I made?” That was all vocalized. So, it’s been a great week in terms of just having those conversations, and they came to practice and, again, another great week and now it’s just a matter of stacking it up and leave it all on line on Sunday and let the chips fall where they may.

 

Robert, on Zach, what’s your comfort level with him improvising like we saw last week? Do you want to see him a little bit more game managing?

No, you just him to ball. Those are the things that make those players special. I’ve said it up here before, Aaron Rogers and (Patrick) Mahomes, they get all this credit for throwing the ball deep and doing all that stuff, but they also play a game of game management and they just wait for you. So, there’s a feel that Zach is going to get, and you don’t want to force a young man, putting him in a box, we never want to do that. But the more he learns the game, the more he feels the speed of the game, the more he’ll know exactly when to pick and choose his shots. And when he does, just like Sunday, they’ll be explosive and so hopefully learns faster.

 

Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, your defense had like 100 snaps last week at least when you count penalties, between that, this travel, jet lag, are you worried about fatigue at all on Sunday?

No, obviously, you want to care for the guys as the week goes. But again, it was something we talked about on Monday, they were very well aware that there were over 100 snaps put in their shoulders, especially a guy like C.J. (Mosley), who I think he took every snap. So, the emphasis is can you win Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday before you get on the plane, in terms of rejuvenating, getting the hydration back in your body, getting the proper nutrition and regen. So, the guys have just been attacking the heck out of it. And that was what we talked about all week, can you win these four days before you jump on the plane? And it felt like they did a really good job with it.

 

Robert, on defense no interceptions so far this year, are you seeing anything that you can improve on? I know Atlanta has talked about their DBs attacking the ball more. Are you seeing anything like that or offered any advice?

No, it’s part of it, right now our corners are doing a heck of a job. We play a certain style of man, so you see a lot of PBUs (pass breakups). You saw Bryce (Huff) had three PBUs last week and there’s a time though where they start to feel routes a little bit better and they’re able to head whip and go find the ball, but it takes comfort. And then you see the safeties and Michael Carter II had his hands on a ball. We’re playing in a zone defense, where we’re getting PBU’s, but we’re not even near the speed at which we will be when we get to the end of the year, so we’re a step off. And so how can you gain that step. And then for us it’s always been you just keep repping it, and you keep repping it, and you keep repping it, and your guys will get faster and faster and faster as they learn how to play within the scheme. And so as soon as we start gaining that step, we’ll start taking the ball.

 

Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Can you talk a little bit about Michael Carter II, the DB, because I think, I mean whether you look at actual stats, analytics, he seems to be having a pretty good year. Where you guys drafted him, there was the varying opinions on where he was as a player, where some people thought, “Alright, an undrafted free agent.” Obviously, you guys felt strongly about him and it seems to be paying off. So, just what you saw from him, what you think about him?

So, fifth round pick, again, Joe (Douglas) and his staff knocked it out of the park. You see it on tape, he’s got tremendous foot speed, he plays 4.3, when you look at the GPS numbers. He’s a stocky young man so he can, he made a big tackle on Noah Fant in Denver on a flat route where he could’ve just fell forward for an easy first down and he stopped him in his tracks. He’s wise beyond his years. He’s very, very smart, and he’s only getting better. He’s got great command of the defense, he’s a great communicator already. So, couldn’t be happier with him, he’s been fantastic.

 

Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, after Week One there was a panic about the offensive line. You kind of said that, “It’s one game.” What have you seen from them since then? How much have they improved?

I feel like they’ve, aside from that first game where there was just, credit to Carolina, got after us a bit up front. But every game since then has been pretty darn good. Even though the sack numbers might show differently, it felt like overall, the structure of it all, the technique of it all, and the amount of time has been really good. It’s like we talked about, it’s all collective, right? Quarterback get rid of the ball, receivers run great routes, o-line protect, (Mike) LaFleur make sure you’re getting the ball in and out of the quarterback’s hand as quickly as you can with play call, whether it’s screens, run game, play-action pass. We’ve always said it’s collective, and they’ve definitely gotten a lot better. And you see, if we can collectively give the young man (Wilson) time, he’ll be pretty darn good.

 

Connor Hughes, The Athletic: I thin, Robert, with the offensive line, and this is looking a little bit down the road, but I know you’ve said multiple times, that they need to play together, get chemistry together. You have a group of five right now, they are getting together, it’s clearly getting better the more they play together. In a few weeks though, Mekhi (Becton) could be ready to come back, so is that something you’ll think about? Where you have five guys that are playing really well and then having to shake it up again?

This group obviously, they have been playing together, and so it’s a great observation. Mekhi is special, and so when Mekhi gets back, and he gets ready to roll and he’s ready to play a full game, you don’t want to keep him off the field.

 

Andy Vasquez, The Record: With AVT (Alijah Vera-Tucker) it seems like he’s progressed a lot as a pass blocker since Week One, just how have you seen him progress and how would you evaluate how much he’s improved?

He’s getting better. Again, same thing, another rookie who’s got to adjust to the speed of the game and how quickly space moves inside, especially at this level, every single three technique he sees is the best one he’s ever seen in his life. And he’s getting better every day and for him, it goes back to that football 101, 301 stuff that we talked about with regards to understanding the schemes so well that you can start focusing on your fundamentals and when that happens, he’s going to be really good. I couldn’t be happier with him, he’s made of the right stuff, got a great mindset. He’s going to be a great left guard in this league.

 

Joey Chandler, NJ Advanced: What sort of impact has Justin Hardee had? He really seems to, especially as this past week emerged, as kind of a vocal leader.

Yeah, he’s been doing it since OTAs. He’s a tremendous leader, vocally and on the field with demonstration. Whether it’s special teams, defense, show team, he’s going 110 miles an hour every single play and encouraging his teammates to go 110 miles an hour every single play. So, he’s been exactly what we expected and couldn’t be happier with him.

 

There’s going to be a whole host of British fans seeing the Jets for the very first time, how does it feel to be leading the organization from the brand-new roots?

It’s a blessing, always a blessing. Very fortunate to have, again, just the character of men in the room and just being blessed to be a part of an organization like the Jets. It’s a blessing.

 

Brian Costello, New York Post: The play in overtime where Zach threw the high ball to Keelan Cole on the sideline. It looked like he realized Tennessee wasn’t lined up and hurried up. Is that 501 thinking there, that you talk about?

I would say that one was more progression because he’s just going through progression right there and he sees the corners shorten the down and he’s got inside leverage. That’s just an understanding of what calls you’re going to get and going through, and he had his choice: Jamison (Crowder) for the first down or the big one to Keelan, that’s what he took. But that’s trusting your footwork, trusting your eyes, trusting the space you see and take the space that the defense is giving you.

 

Coach Saleh, especially with your background as a defensive coordinator, could you tell us about what you want your defense to be?

So, we always talk about a style of play, and this is really for the whole team, now that we’re going, as a defensive coordinator, all of it, it’s all the same. We talk about playing with tremendous effort, tremendous technique and extreme violence. That doesn’t just mean hit people, there’s more to it than that. There’s your hand placement, your footwork, all of it. But we always talk about when the lights are off and it’s just you in the room and you’re watching the silent tape and you’re just watching yourself play. What is that tape saying, what is it speaking? We wanted to represent our style of play to the fullest degree because when your opponent is watching in the dark and he’s trying to study you, what are you telling him? That’s what we want it to say.

 

Coach, it’s your fourth time here in London, you’ve been to Europe with the NFL a lot of times, what do you think of the big interest in the NFL, which seems to be growing and growing because there’s discussion of playing in Germany next year maybe, so what do you think about that?

I’m bias. I know soccer, European football is considered the number one sport in the world, I think football is the best sport in the world in terms of just the energy, the fanbase, the absolute love and passion fans have for it, especially in the States and to see it growing internationally and to see the interest just goes to show it’s a universal sport. And I think the goal is to hopefully get this brand growing worldwide. I think it’s pretty cool.

 

 

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