Head Coach Robert Saleh, 11.19
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Alright, I’ll start out real quick. Nothing on the injury front. Also, I’m going to address this one first with Coach Drew Gibbs passing away recently, obviously, with his team. Our condolences to his family, the players, the school. He’s been a staple in Jersey football for a very long time and it’s just a sad moment in coaching and it puts a lot of things in perspective.
Brian Costello, New York Post: That’s tough to segue off of that, but those of us who have covered Coach Gibbs appreciate that, because a lot of us knew him in this room. I’m just curious on Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, where is he with his progression? I think he’s been with you for two weeks now, but obviously was right before the Colts game when you got him.
Yeah, he’s been getting some valuable reps out there and he’s learning the offense and trying to pick things up. He’s moving along good, so we’re excited about him. Again, he’s continuing to learn the offense.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: How was the, I mean obviously it’s been a bit of a tumultuous week with the quarterback thing and coming off these losses, how would you characterize the way your group inside the room has been handling this this week and what kind of practices you guys have had?
Our group, they’re resilient. These players, knock on wood, I’ve been fortunate to be around some really cool teams and this group, they’re made of the right stuff. They’re able to show up on Wednesday after a loss and shake it off and get back to work and focus on what’s most important, that’s getting better. Everything has been about Miami. I’m really excited about the work we’ve put in on Wednesday (and) Thursday, we have Friday, Saturday to finalize everything and then we have to go showcase it on Sunday. I feel like their heads are in a good space, they’re speaking the right language and the energy in the building has been really good.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: What are the tell-tale signs when you were looking for a team that might be a little down or whatever? What are something’s you’re looking for?
That’s good question because it always goes back, and maybe I’m just the optimist, being positive and so I always see the good in people. These players have so much pride in the work that they put in and they’ve got so much pride in the fact that they know that they’re about to go show up on Sunday, they’re going to be on the field and their tape is being watched by friends, family, 31 other teams, their peers. The desire for each of them to show up to work and get better and do everything they can to put their best foot forward on Sunday is always, you could just see it in the way that they prepare. It’s hard to tell. I don’t think there’s a lot of quitters in this league, if any. You really have to be a bad dude to quit on yourself and your team, and I don’t think we have any of those.
Andy Vasquez, The Record: On the other side of that, how do you keep from when you’re losing games by these margins from kind of negativity and, I don’t want to say acceptance, but you obviously, it’s not the standard. So, how do you keep those losses as kind of damaging what you’re trying to build?
There are always teachable moments. I’ve said it up here before, whether you lose by one or 50, they’re all the same. It’s a loss, and the reaction is always going to be the same. They hurt, there’s no silver lining, there’s no moral victories in losing. So, to me, it doesn’t matter. I know the noise might be louder on the outside, but the hurt is still the same on the inside. The biggest thing is just understanding what is the focus? And understanding, how do you change the result? So, the result is not going to change until we get better during the week and understanding what we’re being asked and developing some type of consistency and playing complimentary football. It’s doing the little things perfect, not putting yourselves in the first-and-20s, not turning the ball over, taking the ball away, winning the field position battle, there’s so many little details that can be pointed to for why scores end up the way they are, but if all we’re focusing on is the result, then we’re going to miss all those teachable moments.
When you’re going through the draft process and looking at guys, is having guys who have been leaders in college something that you look for? So, if you get into situations like this, you know you have some guys who could be in the right head space and help those other guys? It seems that there are a few in that locker room now on both sides.
For sure. Usually, I think usually it happens organically because a lot of times if they’re being drafted at all, they’re probably the best on their team and they’re probably viewed as leaders. I saw a really cool clip from A.J. Brown talking about Elijah Moore in his press clippings and I think DK Metcalf has the same feeling towards Elijah Moore, also. I so, Elijah is just an old soul, he’s a dude, for sure. Again, one of the better players on that team and I think some of that happens naturally and organically and when they get to the NFL, they have that success and then they just naturally slide in. These first years usually, they’re quiet trying to find their way through and then they start having success and that leadership kind of comes out. So, to answer your question, it usually happens organically.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, any update on (Denzel) Mims? Does he have any chance of playing Sunday?
I know he’s got a negative test and I think he’s got to get one more. I think Sunday is in doubt still.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: You think Sunday is…
Is in doubt. So, hopefully we can get him back next week.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: How, it’s been a whirlwind week obviously with Mike White, or whirlwind month I should say. How has he responded to the news, which I know you said the other day how disappointed he was. How would you characterize how he’s feeling?
Mike’s been awesome. Obviously, we talked to him on Tuesday night. Wednesday, obviously, players naturally, they have their feelings, but I thought he had a really good day yesterday. Tremendous energy to him. He talked some smack to the defense, interacting with Joe (Flacco) and talking about the game plan, talking to Josh (Johnson) and Zach (Wilson) as it pertains to the game plan, also. He’s been exactly who he’s been since the day we’ve walked in. He’s a phenomenal young man, he’s a great leader and he’s a pleasure to work with.
Brian Costello, New York Post: How has Zach progressed this week?
He’s progressed well. He will be doubtful for the game when you guys get your injury report. He’s getting better, he’s putting in extra work, he’s getting in an individual session at the end of every practice and some of the receivers stick him behind them, make sure that he’s getting his work in to try to get him back to not only full health, but confidence with regards to the knee, his fundamentals, recapturing just everything. It’s been a month now since he’s played, and his practices are limited. Yeah, he gets some snaps with the show team, but it’s not all of them. So, we’re just trying to monitor him and make sure he gets back to health and confidence.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: How can you tell whether he’s confident with the knee? Is that something you and Mike (LaFleur) are looking at or is that more dialogue with him?
It’s a little bit of both. So, the quarterback coaches Cav (Matt Cavanaugh), Rob (Calabrese) and then obviously John Beck and just working with them, you can get a lot of information from those show team reps and how he is in the pocket. We always joke that the show team pocket is he dirtiest in football and it just collapses in a hurry, but to be able to feel, throw, plant, let the ball go, see the velocity and all that stuff, so he’s coming along and it’s just a matter of time for him to get full healthy in confidence.
(follow up) Structurally, is it where you want it to be? It is more of that matter, about the mental, what we just talked about?
Yeah, structurally, it’s getting where we want it to be. Again, it’s just more confidence than anything.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, if I could just ask about two Dolphins players, I don’t think we hit on this week, Xavien Howard, what does he do for them? We talk a lot about zero blitzes and stuff, he’s why they can do that, right?
Absolutely. So, Xavien Howard, good by them to get him locked up and happy with his contract. He’s a stud, heck of a football player, deserving of everything that he has coming to him. When you have those guys on the outside, who’ve been in the league, who can get the ball, who can lock people down, you can be a lot more aggressive in coverage and do the things that they’re doing. So, Xavien, he’s a stud.
(follow up): And then, on the other side of the ball, what are you seeing from Tua (Tagovailoa)? I know he’s been dealing with the finger, but what he did against the Ravens and like what you seen from earlier in the year from him?
Not going to lie, I was hoping to see something worse. But he’s been getting better. We played them in San Francisco last year, obviously he didn’t play, it was still (Ryan) Fitzpatrick, but you get a lot of crossover games because they played our division. So, we saw him play and get to hear, and you see him progressing. The young man is getting better. He gets the ball where it needs to go, he’s good with his reads, he’s got some good playmakers to get it to. They do a really good job with their RPO scheme, they do a really good job taking shots, he’s got the arm strength to go anywhere on the football field, he’s got good mobility. And he’s just one of those guys, he’s a young man, he’s still getting as many reps as he can, but you can visibly see that he is getting better.
Andy Vasquez, The Record: With (Jevon) Holland, the rookie safety, he obviously can get to the quarterback and he’s shown a lot in coverage. How rare is that this early? And how much do you think he’s had to with their success at the defense in recent weeks?
They play a really cool scheme in the way they do things, especially pre-snap. With all the pre-snap disguise, they’ve gotten very aggressive the last couple of weeks. It seems like they’re trying to re-attach to what they did a year ago when they were playing pretty good defense last year, and they were this year. But you could see them getting back to it with all the zero blitzes and how aggressive they’ve been these last three weeks. So, when you do have a backend and they’ve been together, and they’re getting games together, and I know he’s young, but to have a guy like Xavien Howard, to be able to communicate and tie everything together, and just all that communication, you can get aggressive. And you can do multiple things, knowing that everyone’s going to be on the same page. So just that group in general is giving them the freedom to be able to be multiple, and they’ve been hot for the last couple of weeks.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: I know (Joe) Flacco has been around the league forever, but he hasn’t been here that long. How dialed in is he to what you guys are doing and what Mike (LaFleur) wants to do and what not, as he leads into this start?
Joe is serious, man. He is locked in, he asks the right questions, he’s in the huddle after every play. Just the dialogue with the coordinator, got tremendous confidence to him. I really like our quarterback room, just between him Josh, Mike, Zach obviously, it’s such a cool room. And then obviously all the coaches. But Joe is locked in, he’s a professional, he’s been there he’s done that, and I think I could speak for him, he’s really excited to get out there and show it.
Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: Robert, one guy we haven’t asked you about in a while, Cam Clark, how’s he coming along? What’s his status right now and his health?
The health part, he’s coming along fine. He’s got a little road to travel, but he’s coming along good.
(follow up) Is football still…
I don’t want to speak for him. There’s some of that, but I’m not going to speak for him in that regard.