Head Coach Robert Saleh, 11.28
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Good afternoon, early evening. Injuries real quick. The guys who didn’t finish, Michael Carter, (Chazz) Surrat, Ashtyn Davis, and (Cedric) Ogbuehi, they’re going to be questionable for the week. We’ll go day-to-day. I’ll have more information for you on Wednesday, but they all have a chance to make it. So, that part is encouraging.
Brian Costello, New York Post: So, with Michael, Robert, that’s not a high ankle sprain then?
It’s low. It’s low. So, really long doctors explanation, I’m going to save you the pain.
Brian Costello, New York Post: How do you guys build off of what you did offensively yesterday?
You go back to the drawing board and hit the reset button and you rebuild and get yourself ready to play another game on Sunday. We got a great opponent we’re going to go visit. They’re vying for their number one seed. They’ve got championship thoughts on their mind, so we got a great challenge on our hands, but for us, we just got to stay in the moment and focus on us. Just like you dig on the tape when you lose to find ways to get better, you got to do the same digging when you win and find ways to continue to get better. Confident group, we just got to continue to keep that confidence and continue to prepare the way we know how.
Connor Hughes, SNY: After you reviewed the film on Mike (White), did anything else stand out from what you said to us yesterday upon further review?
No, exactly like we thought. You could see it live. There’s really a lot of cool plays that go unnoticed, from throwing hot to C.J. U (Uzomah) to him drop stepping and getting vertical, just a lot of efficiency all the way across the board, not just from Mike but receivers running really crisp routes, the alignments were really good, after catch was fantastic, and protection was really good. So, just a really good, efficient day from our offense. And then obviously Mike (White), Mike did such a really nice job getting rid of the ball fast, which offensive linemen appreciate, subtle movements in the pocket. He did a really, really good job yesterday.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Has Mike’s performance caused you to perhaps reconsider the quarterback plan that you outlined for us on Wednesday, the one where you said you fully intend to get Zach (Wilson) back on the field this year?
No, like I said, we’re going to go week to week. There’s things that we’d love to see Zach accomplish over the course of, we’ll call it a reset, and this is Mike White’s opportunity, that doesn’t change. So, Mike’s got an opportunity to go stack another great day up this week and when we feel like Zach is ready to roll, he’s going to roll.
Connor Hughes, SNY: Is there a situation, Robert, where Mike (White) over these next couple of games, whether it’s two games, whether it three games, can stack enough games together where you say, ‘You know what, we’re sticking with Mike through thick and thin the rest of the year?’
You’re going to hate me for this one, Connor, but we’re going to focus on this one. No hypotheticals, but I do appreciate the question.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, what did you see from Mike, we saw training camp right, and he wasn’t overwhelming in training camp, you guys went with (Joe) Flacco when Zach went down, it was pretty clear cut, it wasn’t a lot of debate there. What did you see from kind of the end of camp until maybe a few weeks ago when you moved him to number two from Mike, that gave you confidence in him?
That’s a really good question, Coz, cause he started off slow in camp, he did. I think he’ll be the first to admit that he was a little bit off to start camp and there was a, I can’t pinpoint it, where I feel like there was a great conversation with Mike where something, just in terms of what we need to get done out of him, and I think that Giants preseason game, he had a really, really good showing in that Giants preseason game that allowed, regained the confidence and all that. And then obviously just continuing to work and catch back up to make up ground for the slow start in training camp, and it’s just been stacking it up, going against our show team, going against our defense, all that stuff and thought he’s really put together a lot of great weeks. We feel like he’s back to, we felt like about a month and a half ago, that he was back to what we felt like we had at the end of last season, which is why we elevated him to two just to make that decision that we were going to give him the next opportunity to see what we had in the event Zach (Wilson) got hurt at the time. Obviously, it’s presenting itself in a different manner now, but pumped for him and his opportunity and he took advantage of it yesterday and we’re looking forward to him taking advantage of it again.
Bruce Beck, WNBC: Robert, there was a joy in your team’s play yesterday, do you think something has to do with Mike’s attitude and is there something infectious that he brings to the table in that regard?
One, everyone loves Mike. I think everyone in the locker room really has a genuine appreciation for each other, but I think when you’re having success and it’s rolling, it’s crap weather and it’s raining, and it’s fun. Football’s fun, it’s supposed to be fun. When you’re having success, it is fun and when you know you’re just, everything you do is going to end up in success you, there’s a clip of, just watching tape of our two tight ends practically chest bumping after a run because they blocked. Guys are playing selfless football and when everyone’s playing selfless and I always say when you give with no intent to receive, it comes back twofold. Guys are really playing for one another. I don’t want to take away from Mike’s infectious personality, because it is, but it’s not just the quarterback position, I think in all three phases guys are playing for one another and having fun playing with one another.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, last year when Mike played against Cincinnati he had that great game and then Indy he kind of got washed out because of the injury, but Buffalo went kind of, I don’t know what they did, but they neutralized him. How do you avoid this year, because yesterday felt like Cincinnati again, right? Like he had a big game, you know coaches are going to go to work on him and try to take away what he’s doing well, how do you kind of maintain this this year versus last year where it fizzled out pretty quickly?
That is a good question and that’s where these opportunities will present itself. I think we’re better equipped on defense to allow us to not have to force and push the ball down field the way we had to last year. Against Buffalo, I think it was 17-3 at halftime and then 24-3 after their first drive and then we turned the ball over three consecutive drives and that’s us trying to be aggressive to get the ball downfield. So, I think our run game affords us the opportunity to continue to play in a manner that we do. But he’ll get those opportunities and he’s going to continue to get those opportunities until we see fit, but we’ll see.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: Can you just talk about the running back situation and what kind of spark that Bam (Zonovan) Knight brought you yesterday for a guy that really hadn’t played before, came in and looked like he did a good job and also getting into again what he has maybe that James (Robinson) doesn’t have yet, being fairly new to the scheme?
I think everyone saw Bam had some fresh legs, he was juicy as a runner, getting north and south, read somewhere that he broke a Jets record for total yards in a debut which was pretty cool for him. He gets north and south quick, so he’s a one cut runner, which is kind of the staple of our scheme, and he played fast, he played physical, lot of effort to gain yards after contact. The thing for Bam, and it’s not to compare, everyone’s got their own unique running style, but Bam just getting north and south quick. They’re NFL runs where the o-line blocks it for two, but you grind for four. With James, James’ story is not over, obviously, I said that after our game. It’s just a matter of getting north and south and not every run’s going to be perfect, not every run is going to go to the house, and just sticking his foot in the ground and getting vertical as quickly as possible and exploding through the line of scrimmage.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert what’s the situation at right tackle? I take it that you didn’t intend to have Max (Mitchell) play yesterday, was emergency, and then Cedric (Ogbuehi) went down and then where is George (Fant) in his recovery?
George looks good, the intent was to give Max one more week, obviously he came in a little bit earlier so for Max, he’s back where he belongs. Then we’ll see with George this week. We’ll take it all the way through and just see how he performs this week. George is excited, I love his attitude right now, he feels good, he’s saying all the right things, he’s preparing the right way and so, excited to see how he improves this week from last week.
Bruce Beck, WNBC: Robert, do you embrace the challenge of these final six ballgames, including four stiff road tests?
Why wouldn’t you? But the biggest thing, we acknowledge, right that’s the big thing, I’ve said it before, you acknowledge the fact that we’ve got a chance to play some cool games. And we acknowledge the opportunity that we have, but the opportunity doesn’t exist if we focus on our moment. Our moment today is to put yesterday to bed, our moment tomorrow is just preparing for Minnesota and players taking care of their bodies, and then Wednesday and Thursday. So, you got to focus on the process, if you’re busy counting wins and looking at things you have zero control over, you’re missing on the opportunity to focus on the things you have control over. So, while we acknowledge our opportunity, hopefully we recognize that that opportunity won’t exist if we’re not taking care of our jobs.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: The company line going into the season was the goal was to be playing meaningful games in December. Well, you are, pretty meaningful games here in December. So, does that feel like an accomplishment? And then, what next? How do you raise the bar from that?
That’s a good one, Rich. I feel like that’s an end of season conversation. No, like I said, it’s great to be where we are. We expected to have a competitive football team, but at the same time we haven’t accomplished anything, there’s still six games left. There’s still a lot of football to be had, we’ve got six really good opponents that we get to go play, first one being Minnesota. I always say there’s only one team happy at the end of the year, and the focus, you just got to focus on your moment. It’s awesome to be where we are right now, like we said playing meaningful games, it’s fun, it gives you purpose, it allows you to play for something more than just a paycheck. But at the same time, we’ve just got to focus on our moment.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, I’m curious with Zach (Wilson), he’s now off working with Mike (LaFleur), Rob (Calabrese), doing his thing. How often do you need to check in with him, just take his temperature, how much are you kind of just having conversations with him about working through this?
Well, because he’s running our show team now with the defense, I get an opportunity to talk to him all the time. Just want to stay involved, and just make sure that coaches are debriefing everyday to make sure that everything is, he’s checking boxes that we’re trying to get checked. It’s not just go off and work on your own, it’s all hands on deck, and we’re just trying to do everything we can to help check the boxes that we need checked to move forward.
Connor Hughes, SNY: The first part is like, we keep talking obviously about Zach is working off to the side, it’s his system reset. Just to clarify, is his potential reinsertion into the starting lineup, is that based on whenever Zach Wilson is ready, or is it now Mike White’s job to lose in a sense? And then the second part of it is, kind of following up on what Rich had said. The goal was obviously meaningful games down the stretch, but what you guys have done has exceeded expectations even to that where it’s not even just like playing the math game to find you guys into the playoffs, I mean there is a direct path for you guys there, and if anything you guys kind of control your own destiny. At what point this season did you realize that the youngsters that you were relying on had developed at a rate that was maybe a little bit faster than even you guys expected, and certainly I think most other people expected?
So, first question, we’re operating with exactly what I talked about last week in my press conference. It’s a week-to-week deal, the full intent is to get Zach ready to play football again. I’ll make that decision when I’m ready. And while we’re going through this process, it’s Mike White’s opportunity to take advantage of every last play that he gets. We’re going to leave it at that. We’ll figure it out as we go. As far as when we knew, I’d say training camp. Lot of confidence for us going into the season, we talked about our rookies. First off, all the young guys that were forced to play last year and the amount of growth that they had from year one to year two. And then you just watch the rookies, usually a rookie comes in and in his first game he’s just bug-eyed. The game is way too big, they’re misaligning, they’re making mistakes, they’re throwing away all the work that they put in through OTAs and training camp because they’re just in survival mode. And what you saw instead was, at the time, now Breece (Hall) is hurt, but Breece and Garrett (Wilson, and Jermaine (Johnson), and you got Micheal Clemons and Max Mitchell jumps in there Ahmad Gardner. It’s not too big for them, they’re stepping up, they’re playing high level football, they’re getting better week-to-week. And you just knew in training camp that it wasn’t going to be too big for them, and it translated into the season where they’re making an instant impact. And when you have a young team, and I know it didn’t look good the first week, it just felt coming away from the game, it was like, ‘Damn that was way closer than people think, we’re going to get better pretty quick.’ I think we all felt that as an entire organization. To the group’s credit, they worked their tails off, and you guys see it on the field and on tape, they’re having so much fun playing with one another, and they work relentlessly day in and day out, so it’s been good, and hopefully we continue to get better.