Head Coach Robert Saleh, 11.15
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So, we’re in a walk through today. Billy Turner won’t practice. Chazz Surratt won’t practice. Sam Eguavoen is dealing with his hip, so he won’t practice. Then you’ll see a bunch of guys on the injury list that are are limited or full. You guys will see that later, but everyone else is going to be part of practice.
Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: Robert, how do you come to the decision to release Michael Carter?
Love Michael (Carter). I think everyone recognizes how great of a teammate he’s been over the last couple of years. I really appreciate all the things that he’s done. It came down, one, just want to give Izzy (Israel Abanikanda) an opportunity. He’s a good young back and we felt like it wouldn’t be fair for Michael to just sit there and rot on the bench and ask him to be a great teammate and all that stuff. When for him, he’s been so good to us, we felt like for him just to get an opportunity to go play for a team that would allow him to tote the rock and kind of be the feature back that we all think he could be, but part of it is him being a victim of being part of a running back room that’s got three good football players, but I’m pumped for him. I’m pretty sure he’s going to get claimed today and he’s going to get an opportunity and he’s going to show why he’s capable of it, so excited for him to get this fresh start, but releasing him was more about allowing him the opportunity to go get one rather than just be selfish and have him be on our on our bench.
Connor Hughes, SNY: How did the team take it when you told them, Robert?
I’ll probably answer, it would be more for them to answer. I’m sure they’re disappointed because.
Connor Hughes, SNY: I should say, did you address the team? Talk to them about it?
Yeah, a little bit. It wasn’t just a, just a little bit, but I haven’t asked any opinions or anything. I would imagine, players don’t like seeing players get cut, coaches don’t like seeing players get cut. It’s the ugly part of the profession, but I know with Michael, our hearts in the right spot in terms of just trying to help him get the opportunity to play elsewhere and to get an opportunity to stick in the NFL, if you will.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Is it a balance there, Robert? Because I mean, you want to give a kid a chance to play somewhere, but at the same time you want to protect your own interests, in terms of depth if there’s an injury?
There is. I don’t speak for Joe (Douglas), kind of am here. But both of us, I think we believe in just you pick and choose those. Michael is such a great teammate. You guys know how he is viewed in the locker room and it’s just one of those opportunities that’s been frustrating for him over the last couple of years. He’s been such, like I said, a great teammate through all of this, despite him wanting more and his teammates love him and we love him. But yeah, there there’s a balance here, selfishly, you want to hold them on the roster just in case, but at the same time, they’re humans too, and they want to prove that they’re capable of doing things in the League and sometimes it’s the right decision to make.
Connor Hughes, SNY: How is this situation different than Carl Lawson’s? Carl’s another guy, guys have jumped him. He’s inactive, but he’s still on the roster.
No, for sure, you’re right. That is something you could discuss, but in that situation just with regards to Carl, the D line (defensive line) gets injured at a very high rate and he’s been up, he was up last week. There’s a place for Carl on this football team and so we know that eventually with Carl, we’re still going to have to be able to use him.
Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: Has he shown you anything different that makes you feel more comfortable playing him out there than you haven’t been more comfortable playing him at this point?
No, we know Izzy’s speed, big, strong, powerful back. He’s got, we’ll see what he is. We’re about to find out for sure, but he’s going to provide more for special teams. I can give you guys that much and then just being able to supplement some of the some of the touches and just see if he’s got, fresh legs is a real thing and he’s already got speed, so it’ll be they’ll be fun to get him lose a little bit.
Connor Hughes, SNY: I think it was Mike Tomlin, who they were dealing with penalties after the Thursday night game. I think he brought in refs or something like that for practice. Is that something you guys are looking to do?
We have refs out at practice.
Connor Hughes, SNY: Can you tell them maybe like do this a little bit tighter or like I mean, can you ask them like harsher grading or anything like that to try to limit the penalties?
Well, we wanted them to call it the way they see it and we get a report every day and we go through it and we look at them and they’re not always right. They’re not always wrong, obviously, but we evaluate it every day.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Is there anything you’ve changed, Robert this week to address the penalties?
Aside from talking about it, showing it on tape. Like I said, a lot of the penalties that we’re struggling with are in play and it’s just a matter of making sure that you’re clean with your technique, being where you need to be, coaching it the right way and just stressing the details of what it takes to execute a perfect football play and there’s some where from a biased view, you’d say ‘God, that shouldn’t have been called,’ but then there’s others where it’s just plain as day, where we needed to be better, whether it’s head placement, hand placement, footwork, play design, so it’s a little bit everything and just making sure we’re clean in those regards.
Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: Robert, we know now that the players had a meeting of some sort yesterday. What do you make of the guys feeling like they need to do that?
I think they should always be communicating. You guys know my feelings on the best coached teams, are the teams that coach themselves and so they should always be communicating and always holding themselves up to a standard. Obviously, coaches, are always sending a message and all that stuff, but when you’re able to look at one another and hold each other accountable, it becomes even more powerful, so I feel like they should always be communicating in that regard. I know that they all meet. I’m not sure whether it’s Saturday or Friday, but I know they gather and watch tape together on, different sides of the ball, different parts, but where the coaches aren’t existent that’s been, I think that’s a common practice throughout the League where players just sit down, watch the tape, and ‘hey, how do you see this’ and go through the finer details of what it’s going to take to play on Sunday, so it’s not uncommon for players to sit down and have a conversation, whether they do in a team forum and want to announce to the world that it doesn’t, they should always be communicating.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Will there be other, I mean, you mentioned personnel changes. This is obviously one with Izzy, will there be others that that will be?
There are. I’m not going to get into it now, but there are.
Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: With the Bills, just kind of changing coordinators. Just how does that effect maybe game planning for the upcoming week?
A lot of respect for all of them. It’s always unfortunate when it has to happen in season. Obviously, they have their reasons, but (Joe) Brady is a very talented young man. From a schematic standpoint, we have our thoughts, I’m not going to get into it here, from a play calling standpoint we have our thoughts, not going to get into it here. Obviously, there’s going to be some nuance and some change. You don’t change coordinators unless you’re expecting something to be different, so we have our thoughts, but at the same time to expect them to reinvent the wheel under such short notice, they are who they are. It’s an extremely talented football team. They’re still a top 10 offense despite changing coordinators. I mean they ranked top ten in every statistical category. Josh Allen is one of the better quarterbacks in football. They’ve got tremendous skill, guys all over the place. They’re offensive line is good, they’re explosive as heck, so we’re still expecting to see those guys.
Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: Robert are you expecting, I mean you’re not going to give anything specific, but how much can you take away from, him being the coordinator? Just some of the tendencies that he’s done in the past?
That’s the thing, there’s a little unknown in that regard and how much he’s learned and changed and what types of philosophy, he’s so young as a coordinator, so he’s probably changed a lot since his days in Carolina. It’s only been a couple of years, but you grow so much, and he’s been exposed to another scheme, so to try to look back, you might and all that stuff, but at the same time I would imagine that he’s going to create an entirely new identity as opposed to what his Carolina stuff was.
Connor Hughes, SNY: Robert, one of the players that’s received kind of, I think the wrath outside of the building and anger for kind of why things aren’t working is C.J. (Uzomah), in the tight end room. Is that one where I mean, how Jeremy (Ruckert), a younger guy, is that one where Jeremy might start getting more and more and more involved in the offense as he kind of phases out C.J. a little bit?
We’ve got three really good tight ends. Jeremy’s been playing very well, he deserves to play a little bit more. (Tyler) Conklin’s been having a really nice season, he’s been doing a great job. So when you look at the play balance of it all, you’re talking about five or ten plays, swung in either direction with regards to Ruckert and Conklin. Yeah, Ruckert deserves to get some more action and it’s something that we’re looking at.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Will Duane (Brown) be activated this week?
I’m not sure. I know we have until Thanksgiving with him, to make the decision on him, but again with him just communicating and just seeing where he’s at.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, you were asked after the game about Aaron (Rodgers) and you said ‘if the doctor’s clear him.’ Is it that simple or is that decision going to be way bigger than that in terms of figuring out where you guys are?
God, your guess is as good as mine. Oh, you’re talking about like the-
Brian Costello, New York Post: The decision of whether to let him come back this year. If the doctor says he’s healthy, you say alright, he’s our quarterback or do you go ‘Hey, he’s 40 years old coming off an Achilles, whatever the record is then we have to evaluate and think about, as you say globally? Right?
Yeah. No, you’re right, but at the same time, Aaron’s a big boy, grown man and no one’s going to know Aaron’s body, like Aaron knows his body, and if he feels, after all the doctors clear him and I’m sure there’s a million of them, I have no idea on that stuff, but if Aaron says he wants he’s going to play.
Tom Rock, Newsday: Is there like a pressure to keep this afloat for that possibility?
Pressure is to keep it afloat just to keep it afloat. Pressure to go to the playoffs is always pressure. It’s not for anyone individual, it’s not for any possibility, it’s because we’re competitors and we want to win football games and I think Aaron’s just icing on the cake.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: What does it mean, just to follow up on that, he said yesterday he’ll be back pretty soon with the team full time, I guess next week. What does that mean? I mean, what does it mean for the team to have him here every day as opposed to popping in once a week. Also, just does he attend meetings or how does that even work?
Yeah. I would imagine he’s going to want to reacclimate to meetings and all that and reconnect himself, so there’s been a lot of changes to the system since he’s been out and just trying to figure things out with the guys that we have. Obviously, I’ve said it before the, I have an admiration for him, we’re very young on the offensive side of the ball and his veteran presence is always welcome, but for him personally speaking, for Aaron not to speak for him, but just to get himself back in the building, reacclimated around his teammates, reinvolved in meetings and then whenever his clock starts, it starts. If it’s able to at all.
Connor Hughes, SNY: You‘ve spent a lot of time talking about how you had a system for Aaron, you had to change it for Zach (Wilson). Can you go back to a system for Aaron like that?
Yeah, it’s not that an entire system must change, but there’s a lot of nuances that gets followed in terms of just trying to recalibrate the offense for where you’re at and for the strengths that the individuals have, whether it’s pulling back or whatever it might be. When it comes to Aaron obviously the things are different and things that we’ve been working on for six months prior to the to the injury, yeah, some of that stuff gets revisited and brought back to the table.