Head Coach Robert Saleh, 11.21
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As far as injuries go, everyone came out of the game healthy yesterday. Herby (Nate Herbig), obviously, he was the one that was active but didn’t play. Hopefully we get him back this week. Things weren’t right, and it was too late to get him deactivated. Kenny Yeboah, hopefully we can get him back this week. Corey Davis, we’ll go day-to-day, we’re hopeful. Sheldon Rankins, we’ll see, but it doesn’t look likely. And then Max Mitchell, we’ll evaluate him again over the next couple of days to see if we can get him back to the 53.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Robert, can you start off by stating what your quarterback plans are for this week and explain why?
I’ve just been dealing with so many different things right now. I’m going to get to the tape and evaluate everything. I’ll leave it at that. We’re keeping everything on the table over the next couple of days.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: So, you’re not committing to Zach (Wilson) as your starter for Sunday?
Not right now. Not until I’m done evaluating everything.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: That’s the first time you’ve suggested that, left it open a little bit. I think it was about three weeks ago where you said he was your starter for the remainder of the season barring injury, what’s changed?
I’ve got to be able to sit back, I think we all have to be able to sit back and just look at what’s best for this organization and this team. It’s not all about the quarterback. I want to be very, very clear. It’s not all about the quarterback. There’s a lot of things that we can do better as coaches. There’s a lot of things that the o-line needs to do better, receivers, running backs, tight ends, play caller. There’s defense, everybody, special teams. I get it where everyone looks at the quarterback and wants to throw everything on him. It’s not always about the quarterback, but there’s also an evaluation process to make sure that we’re doing what’s best for the organization, and that’s every position. That’s quarterback position, that’s receiver, that’s all of them, offense, defense, and special teams. Like I said, I’m a little behind and it’s just things that I’ve got to go through in my own process to make sure I catch up.
Connor Hughes, SNY: Have you said that to Zach yet? Is he aware that he is not guaranteed to start this coming game?
Every player always know where they stand before they leave this building.
Connor Hughes, SNY: How did Zach take that when he was made aware?
Everyone is a professional. I think we’ve operated the same way day-in and day-out, so I think our players are very respectful through that whole process.
Tom Rock, Newsday: Mike would be the other option for you?
I haven’t even thought about it. Everyone is on the table.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: I know you’re saying you have to do what’s best for the organization. Is that what’s so difficult here, because last year you were a developing team, you let Zach develop, that’s what you wanted to do, but now you have a playoff type defense and you need to look at something different? Is that the way you look at it?
I do think we got a championship-quality defense. I do think we have really good players on offense. I do think, from a schematic standpoint, we’re right there with everyone else, but just trying to evaluate to see how we can get this offense going a little bit. Whether it’s making movement at receiver, maybe shuffling the o-line. It’s not just the quarterback that’s being evaluated. Everything is being evaluated. So, just trying to do our best to put together the best 11, 15, or whatever is active on gameday and try to find a way to get the ball moving and possess the ball, keep the defense off, score some points, and win some football games because we got a great opportunity with these seven games left. We’re 6-4. There’s a lot of really cool things to look forward to, and I just want to make sure from a coaching standpoint that we’re covering every single base that we can and that we’re doing everything we can to make sure we’re putting the best 53 players on the football field so that we can win games.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Can you comment on your opinion of the way Zach handled himself after last night’s game? Specifically, he really didn’t take any accountability for the mistakes he made and his performance? What was your take from the head coaching perspective?
Obviously, football is an emotional game. I’m not going to shy away from the fact that I do think he is the ultimate competitor. He wants to win about as much as anybody. He works as hard as anybody. It means so much to him. Can he be a little bit better in front of you guys and when he’s up here on the podium in terms of the expectation that when you are standing in front of the podium, it’s our job to take bullets and own it, especially when it’s time to own it? Yeah, of course he can, but I don’t think it’s indicative of how he feels about his team or teammates. I don’t think he’s naïve to the fact that the offense didn’t play to the best of their ability while the defense is out there balling out. I don’t think that’s what he was trying to convey, I really don’t. Obviously, he can be a little bit better. I think he’ll be better for it.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, do you worry about him losing the faith and belief of the locker room?
No, those guys are in the locker room, they talk to each other all the time. It’s probably more of a question for the locker room, but I don’t think so. I think these guys understand that. I think players have empathy for one another, they know how hard this job is, they understand it all. I’ve said it before, he without sin cast the first stone, we all make mistakes and I think Zach will, like I said, is it a mistake? Sure. Is this something that he’ll get better from? Absolutely.
Tom Rock, Newsday: Robert, as you evaluate the quarterback position and all the positions really, I guess, but we’re talking about the quarterbacks, are you focusing just on what’s happening on the field or are you looking for more maturity, more leadership from that position?
For me it’s global with regards to practice, game film, practice film, I don’t think Zach lacks in leadership, I don’t think any of our players really lack in leadership. I think our players are who they are, I think they all do a really good job, I think they all love the game of football, and they’re so competitive that I do think that they put in the work necessary to try to find ways to get better day in and day out. It’s just trying to find a way to get our offense moving in the right direction. And like I said, the quarterback’s not the only one being evaluated, it’s the entire outfit.
Ian O’Connor, New York Post: When you look at Zach statistically, he’s at the bottom of the League in a number of categories and it would seem that level of performance would get somebody at any other position benched, so why would you not bench him just based on that level of performance?
Same thing, like I just said, you got to be able to run the ball, to get teams to commit to the run game, you got to be able to find easy outlets, you got to be able to complete the easy throws, you got to be able to run the easy routes. So, this is a global thing, I know that the quarterback gets all the attention, but from watching tv you guys don’t know if a player ran a route three yards deeper than he was supposed to, you guys don’t know. You’re not seeing it live, I’m not saying you don’t know, but you’re taking it at face value, there are so many more things that happen on a play. So, just evaluating to just find the right answer, what’s the truth, and that’s what’s most important. When a quarterback throws an interception not every interception is a quarterback’s fault, you guys are very well aware of that. So, just trying to make sure that we’re doing right with regards to the evaluation, tell the truth, look at the film, and understand what’s happening on the football field, and making sure that we’re making the right decisions for the team. And again, that’s just not the quarterback position, that’s every position on offense.
Connor Hughes, SNY: Robert, I think you can probably, I know you’re opening it up to every position on offense, but the moment you say quarterback and not committing to Zach, I mean that becomes the major story here and if you think about this entire year to this point, even when Zach has struggled, you can go back to his rookie year, the one thing you have constantly committed to is that he is this team’s quarterback, he’s this team’s future, he’s this team’s franchise, and he is your quarterback. Even yesterday you kind of said it’s the furthest thing from your mind, so how do you get to this point? How do you go from that’s the furthest thing from my mind to now you’re sitting here telling us, “No, everything is on the table with who’s going to start at quarterback,” when that seemed to be the untouchable position throughout the last year?
No, fair question. I mean I can give you the whole explanation in terms of just being on the plane ride and you watch the tape, and you just see some things and you write down notes and it’s just me taking a step back and I got to go back, like I said, I’m behind on the day, but just to take a deep breath and say ‘you know what, everything needs to be evaluated’ when you put up 100 yards of offense, I don’t care how good New England is, and they are good, it’s unacceptable. It’s not NFL football, so everything is just being talked about. How can we be better? How can we better as coaches? How can we call the game better? How can we game plan better? How can we execute better? How can we change practice? So, yeah, the quarterback is part of the pile of stuff that’s being talked about and it’s something that we’ve got to find an answer to, and we got to do it by Wednesday. I’m not saying that every decision will be made by Wednesday, but by the time the players get here on Wednesday, we’ve got to put together a great game plan and show them reasons why we’re going to go put our best foot forward on Sunday.
Connor Hughes, SNY: When you say that everything is being evaluated, are you considering a change in play-caller as well?
No, not from a play-caller standpoint, but just like everybody else, he’ll be challenged from a game plan standpoint, with regards to our coaching staff. Like I said, something’s got to get better, and we’re going to do our best to try to find an answer.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Robert, did you address Zach’s performance in front of the team today, on-field performance and also maybe some of the comments he made afterwards, in front of the team?
Yeah, our team meetings, I’m not going to get into great detail about our team meetings, but everybody gets talked about in team meetings. If it’s good it’s shown, if it’s bad it’s shown. Offense, defense, and special teams, so it’s not focusing on one player. If it’s one player, that’s the reason, then that one player will be focused on, but I think when you end the game and there’s 150 plays combined between offense, defense, and special teams, there’s a lot of discussion to be had. I think from a team meeting standpoint, all those points are always discussed.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, what does the process look like over the next 24 hours, who’s involved in this decision?
All hands-on deck. So, obviously coaching staff, and just going through the tape and trying to figure out what’s best for this organization.
Brian Costello, New York Post: (follow up) Is Joe (Douglas) involved as well?
Joe will always be included.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: What did you think of Garrett Wilson’s post-game comments? He was pretty critical of the offense.
Same thing, that with regards to, it’s no different than Zach. He’s an ultimate competitor. Just wants to win, just wants to do right, works as hard as anybody. You guys know him, he’s very emotional, you see he’s very demonstrative, in when he’s celebrating, he’s very demonstrative. When he’s upset you can see it, he wears his heart on his sleeve. Obviously, we always want to be better in front of the media and just keep our cool because it’s an opportunity to speak to our teammates, but again he’ll learn from it, but I don’t have an issue with it. He calls a spade a spade, it wasn’t good enough yesterday.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, one non-QB question for you.
Brian Costello, New York Post: (follow up) Well, I don’t think you’re going to enjoy this question either. When you watch the punt return back, when you watched it, what went wrong from a kick perspective, from a coverage perspective? Should he have kicked it out of bounds, what kind of broke down on that play?
A lot of things. Braden (Mann) was kicking the ball well yesterday, get the ball outside the numbers, try to pin them in the corner. Tackle it like we did nine times before that, they’ll take a knee, we’ll go to overtime, but it was a line drive down the middle of the field, they had a counter going, they pinned us inside, our contain guys didn’t get outside like we were supposed to, so it was the first punt return for a touchdown on the season, so just whatever could go wrong, Murphy’s Law, whatever could go wrong, went wrong at that very moment.