Head Coach Robert Saleh, 11.15
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Opening Statement: I’ll update you guys on injuries real quick. (Brandin) Echols is going to be three-to-five weeks with a quad.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Robert, I was wondering if you could provide an update on Mekhi Becton. I think we’re at that eight week mark for his recovery. Is he close to coming back to practice or do you have an update on when he could potentially be on the field again?
He’s still working through some things. It’s looking like another few weeks.
(follow up) A few weeks before he could potentially play, or do you mean practice?
Practice. Maybe a couple. It’s somewhere in that one-to-three (week) range.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, when you watched the film and you kind of dug in on what happened defensively yesterday, was there anything you saw that maybe you didn’t see live or anything you said, okay, these are areas one, two and three we got to fix this week?
Yeah. For the most part in that first half, we’re playing some good ball. It was 10-3 with about a 1:55 to go, had some big time stops and some bad situations. We get beat on a double move to start the 2:00 drive which sets up a touchdown and so they go in the locker room, it’s 17-3, we get lapped, it’s 24-3 and then the very next play we have the turnover. They score, which makes it 31-3 and now the game’s over. It kind of got, it was a four series sequence there where it kind of got out of hand. Really liked the way we were playing for the most part and then that third quarter, those first two drives of the third quarter were not anything near what we had been doing in the first half. There’s a level of consistency obviously that we’re lacking and obviously we got to coach it a lot better. It always starts with me first, but we got to coach it a lot better. We’ve got to understand it as players and we got to stick to our fundamentals and not panic in situations and make stuff up. Collectively, obviously, it’s got to get better, and we’ve got eight games to embrace the opportunity to go play great ball and improve on what we’ve put out in the first nine games.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: Robert, can you provide an update on Zach’s (Wilson) knee, his practice availability for Wednesday and whether he will start on Sunday?
I’ll get a better feel by the end of today and as we work into Wednesday, just to see where he is mentally and physically. I haven’t gotten a chance to get through the injury update quite yet, the full injury update with regards to Zach. I’ll have a much better idea come Wednesday.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: This is different than when I asked this question last Monday, because obviously things have changed in regards to the quarterback position. If Zach’s healthy, will he start for you guys though? Is that kind of where you are if he’s able to get a full week of practice he’ll start?
You know what Connor, that’s a fair question but I promise you I’ve been digesting so much stuff this morning that I haven’t even gotten to the quarterback part of it yet. So, I’ll have a much better idea come Wednesday.
Bruce Beck, WNBC: Robert, you start off this year talking about the passion and the quality of Jets fans. So, what is your message to them this morning following a game like yesterday?
That’s a good one. I’m just as frustrated as everybody else and my promise to Jets fan is this thing is going to flip. The support obviously is always warranted. The criticism is always warranted, and you reap what you sow, but this thing’s going to flip. I know in my heart this thing’s going to flip. Sometimes you go through struggles to see glory and I know that’s going to be one of those things that we get to experience.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, I was curious just you were asked yesterday after the game about having a cornerback follow (Stefon) Diggs, and you kind of said, “That’s really not what we do in our scheme.” How do you balance, this is our scheme, this is what we do, this is what has worked, this is tried and true for us for 10 years or more, versus, maybe we don’t have the forces to do exactly what we want to do scheme-wise and we have to change some things up to our players. Just, how do you balance that as a coach?
That’s again, a great question. We got to do a better job, Brian. Just plain and simple. We had some things that from a schematic standpoint, we’re designed to take care of Diggs but from an execution standpoint and communication and coaching standpoint. It just didn’t get done the way it was supposed to. That’s been a lot of the discussion this morning on why certain things, certain balls that he caught should have never been caught because the coverage should have said something different based on where he was aligned. Again, a young team trying to execute, kind of tweaking a game plan and trying to do something different and it just didn’t come out the way we were hoping it would. That starts with coaching and we’ve got to find a way to give these guys a better chance to be able to execute. So, when you are playing an elite player like Diggs, he doesn’t just tee off. I’m good if everybody else tees off, but he’s not going to be one of the guys and unfortunately on a couple of explosives that Diggs had, it shouldn’t have happened.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Robert, you’ve continued to say it’s on you and you have to fix things. Have you been, will you be more involved with the defense? Do you think you’ll be taking over play calling, anything like that, to get this right?
No, you know, Al, and this is for all you guys, we’re year one in the system. (Jeff) Ulbrich and his staff are trying to figure this out just as well as the players are. They’re going to hit a groove, too. Am I there to assist? Absolutely. Do I sit in on meetings? Absolutely. Is play calling going to change anything? It’s not going to change anything. It’s execution. But at the same time, from an execution standpoint, coaching standpoint, just being there because he is trying to run a scheme and trying to blend a little bit of what he’s done in the past vs. what we do, what we’ve done and the way the system has evolved. And so, there’s nuances there where I’m there to assist, but I’m also there for the offense, I’m also there for special teams and trying to spread out and just try to assist where I can. But at the same time, they’re working relentlessly and no different than, you know Mike LaFleur has been working through with his staff to try to find their identity and they’re kind of, I know despite yesterday, they’ve been getting better. It’s the same thing on defense. They’re going to find a rhythm, they’re going to start getting better, they’re going to connect, and it’s just a matter of getting some continuity. We’ve been decimated at safety, getting decimated at d-end, and we’re going to get to the point where there’s some continuity and these guys are going to get better.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: Robert, I know you’re not an “it’s about me” type of person, but I’m just kind of curious if you can characterize what this challenge has been like for you? If it’s more than you expected it to be, obviously you knew you had a young team and you’re starting fresh, but to be noncompetitive in virtually three of the last four games, I’m sure it’s not something you envisioned.
No, especially from the defensive side of the ball where I know we’re better, I know we can be better. It is frustrating and it is trying, but at the same time, we have eight games to embrace an unbelievable opportunity to go get better and to prove what we’re capable of. The first half of the year, the first six games of the year were not fake. We didn’t allow a team over 30 points, we were playing good in the run game, we were playing good in red zone, third down, all of it was pretty darn good. And so, I know it’s in there. It’s just a matter of just tying it all back together, getting some continuity, getting back to the basics and playing ball. I always say, ‘God puts you on earth and puts you in the life that you have because you’re strong enough to do it.’ This is nothing, this is just a challenge and it’s an opportunity to go out to do something that I’ve dreamed of my entire life. This is exciting. And just like all fans, I’m frustrated, but I am not lost in the big picture in that this thing is going to turn, and when it does, it’s going to be freakin’ awesome.
(follow up) As a quick follow, how trying has this been for you though in this last month or so? As you’ve been trying to figure these things out and work with Jeff and before that Mike and just try to fix these things, personally how trying has it been for you?
It’s always going to be trying, right? Especially when you lose in this league, everyone wants to hit the panic button, everybody wants to fire everybody, everybody wants to cut everybody, everybody’s got an opinion. It’s deserved, but at the same time, when you win, everyone thinks, “Oh, they got it turned around.” Like Bill Parcells said it, I’ve said it before, he said, “There’s euphoria in disaster.” You take the good with the bad, the bad with the good, and you just roll, and you try to find ways to get better. If we don’t start getting better on defense, it’ll be ugly.
DJ Bien-Aime, New York Daily News: Saleh, right now you guys have the worst point differential in the NFL. What do you guys have to do to fix that and turn things around in that aspect?
Same thing. The beginning of the year, through the first six games felt like we’re really good on third down, felt like we were really good in the red zone. This second half of the season, with New England, Indianapolis, and now Buffalo, just three teams that got after us on third down and in the red zone, just really, really bad, situational football. Those got to get better. Felt like we played a really good game against Cincinnati but they were followed up with three other stinkers, if you will. So, again, we got eight games to embrace an opportunity to go attack the schedule and finish strong and really get the foundation of the entire organization’s future, starts tomorrow. And it’s something that we all got to attack.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: Robert, I just wanted to follow-up on Mekhi for a second. So, what happened that’s delaying his return? Does he need more surgery?
No. He’s a very, very large man, on a knee and his body’s make up, everyone heals differently. Him and McDermott had very similar injuries. McDermott we were obviously we were able to get active. He came, he started a week later I believe we activated him from practice a week later. So Mekhi’s just taking a couple extra weeks. Again, just a bigger body, bigger human. And so, we’re still confident that he’ll make it for the season.
Connor Hughes: Is it a shape thing, Robert, with Mekhi? Is he just not in football shape right now, and in physical shape to return to practice?
Anytime you’re not running, I think all of them, when you miss that much football time. Kyle Phillips came back, and he’s working through his stuff. So, he’s working. He’s working relentlessly. He does got to get out on the field so he can run and get back into football playing shape. But, it’s not from a lack of going through his rehab and attacking it the way he knows how.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, you’ve referenced 2017 a few times. You guys started 0-9, and then it kind of flipped. Obviously, a big trade was part of that transition, but what was it other than Jimmy (Garoppolo) that year that you saw that things flipped? And are you kind of looking for some of the same things right now?
One of the things that we did a really good job of in ’17 is we were able to keep games close. And there’s a lot of learning opportunities and there was a chance for us to know that we’re just one or two plays away. And so, it looks like we’re a million miles away when you look out on the football field. We got blown out a few times in ’17, but there was always just that constant belief that we were going to get to where we needed to go. So, we just got to recapture it. A lot of guys felt great after Cincinnati. There was belief after the going into the Bye Week that we’re moving in the right direction. We felt good about the things that we were doing. The Cincinnati game was validation and we’ve put up two stinkers, obviously back-to-back. And then you can throw the New England game for a third one. But it doesn’t lose focus with the stuff that we’ve put out there is real, can’t take that away from them. So, we’re going to crucify the group for the bad ones and celebrate the good ones, and there’s been a few of them. And we’ve got to be able to recapture those moments and just understand how we did it, the why’s and how’s and how that happened, and continue to build, get better, get faster, and see if we can hit the ground running and propel ourselves into the next season.
Bruce Beck, WNBC: Mike White, Coach, had an awesome game, then he had a poor game in two of his starts. What’s your level of confidence in him?
I still got a lot of confidence in Mike. Again, this market fascinates me in the sense that he was anointed the next coming after one game, and now everyone wants to throw him away. He deserves better than that. Did he play his best? No. Is he capable of playing better? Absolutely. That defense, give them a lot of credit. They’ve made a lot of people look really bad. And they’re pretty fricken’ good. They’ve been together for four years, they’re so precise in how they operate. So, credit to them. But I haven’t lost faith in Mike at all.