Head Coach Robert Saleh, 11.30

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Opening Statement: 

Good morning, the following players won’t practice today, you’ve got (Cedric) Ogbeuhi, Michael Carter – running back, Ashtyn Davis, still dealing with a hamstring, D.J. Reed’s dealing with a personal matter, it’s not going to affect this Sunday. He should be at practice tomorrow and then Duane (Brown)’s got his program, Kenny Yeboah’s back at practice and so is Sheldon Rankins.


Brian Costello, New York Post: Sheldon’s (Rankins) full?

They’re both limited, him and Kenny, so we’ll see how the week goes.


Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Do you have any update on Michael (Carter)? You said you would know more?

Yeah, it’s a low ankle and we’re going to give it a try for this week. It will be more day to day, but they’ve all got a chance. All the guys that did not finish last week have a chance to play.


Bruce Beck, WNBC: How good is this football team that you’re playing this weekend in your minds?

They’re damn good. There’s a reason why (they have) the record they have, they’ve beaten everybody in our division. They’ve beaten Miami, they beat Buffalo, they beat New England, they’re very talented. Offensively, they’ve got skill players. They’re very well coached. Defensively, they’re very veteran, very smart. They play a smart style of football, so it’s going to be a challenge.


Tom Rock, Newsday: What was Dallas able to do in that one game where they really didn’t show up?

I don’t know, I can’t speak for them. I’m sure there’s different ways that they’ve done things, you just see sometimes the ball bounces, sometimes it’s one of those days, but I don’t think it’s indicative of who Minnesota is. Sometimes the ball bounces the right way and things can get out of hand, but their body of work says that Dallas game was more of a fluke than it is a norm.


Al Iannazzone, Newsday: What do you think makes Justin Jefferson so special?

He’s got elite speed, and then on top of it, he’s got tremendous body control and strength. His lower half is very awkward in the sense that, it’s like a basketball player who can crossover dribble you know, he can work outside his frame and create separation, so he’s the total receiver. He’s pretty damn good.


Ryan Dunleavy, New York Post: Is that something that your secondary seems to relish going against those kinds of players?

I think any player relishes playing against the best, speaking just for us, we’ve had some great challenges all year. You’ve had Miami’s group, Buffalo’s group, there’s been a lot of really good receivers that we’ve had to go against. Yes, Cincinnati’s group, thank you. So, it’s another challenge for us and I know just knowing our secondary they’re ready to take that challenge on.


Brian Costello, New York Post: Is their defense better than their numbers indicate, Robert?

I think so, just because they’re so veteran. They’re one of the better teams in the League on third and seven plus in terms of getting off the field. You can’t win football games without having at least a somewhat good defense. So, while, you know the pass numbers are what they are, just when you look at the actual tape, they’re a lot smarter, they’re a lot better than what their stats say.


Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: How much progress have Jermaine (Johnson) and Micheal Clemons made? How much better are they right now than when you first got them?

Both of them are doing a really, really good job. It’s like it’s a blessing in disguise for them because the not so good blessing is the fact that they’re in a really good defensive line room. The blessing is that they can kind of develop at their own pace and without the pressure of expectation, but they’re doing a really, really good job. Jermaine has had production in limited time, Micheal Clemons playing special teams and defense and doing all the things that we ask him to do. Really excited about those two and the development that they’ve shown.


Brian Costello, New York Post: I know you were talking about the other day of staying in the moment and not letting yourself start looking at the schedule, how do you do that personally and how do you not start going, “Okay, if we win this many games, we’ll make the playoffs this year?” How do you not start looking ahead?

Me, personally? Too much crap to do, man (laughter). There’s a lot of tape to watch, and when I’m not watching tape, I’ve got seven blessings and a beautiful wife to deal with. So, there’s not enough time to look at things you don’t have control over. It doesn’t mean that when you’re sitting there you don’t take a peek to see what’s ahead, but you quickly got to, like I said, you acknowledge it, and you know it’s not like it’s an elephant in the room, it’s not like you’re not going to acknowledge it, but none of it matters at the end of the day. You got to quickly refocus back to what’s important, and what’s important is this moment.


Brian Costello, New York Post: Does anyone bring it up to you? Friends? Or your bother when you’re talking?

Oh, the family? My kids. Yeah, they’re all, everyone’s excited and everyone should be excited, but it’s the hypotheticals and all the scenarios that those are great talking points for the rest of the outside world. We just have to stay focused here.


Bruce Beck, WNBC: How do you process this game with the fans saying, and it’s true this the biggest Jets game in December in many years, so, do you talk about that with your group at all?  

No, because next week will be the biggest game, and the week after will be the biggest game and it’s just going to keep, when you’re playing for something, every game is the biggest game, and that’s why you train yourself from when we first got here, this is the championship game because it’s the next game and then the next game will take care of itself and you have to have that mindset to treat every moment like a championship moment, so when you get to these moments, it’s not bigger than it needs to be, it’s normal and I think our guys have done a great job preparing themselves for this moment and being able to attack these weeks the way they need to be attacked.


Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: We’ve all seen what Sauce (Gardner) can do, but how do you think in the occasions where he matches up against Justin Jefferson, how do you think his skill set matches up and how do you think he’s equipped for that matchup?  

It’s going to be fun. Ahmad, Sauce (Gardner) is the ultimate strainer, him and D.J. (Reed) they strain, and they play very, very, very hard. Not to say they haven’t played anyone that plays hard, but I’ll put our guys up against anybody. Now those guys are freaking good now, and it’s going to be a great challenge, but like I said, I think it’s a challenge that our guys are excited for.


Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Robert, you had D.J. in San Francisco, right? How is he different now and can you talk about the type of impact he’s had on this defense?

D.J.’s (Reed) been great. I screwed that one up because we tried to make D.J. a nickel free safety, and credit to Seattle they put him at corner, and he’s flourished at that position, but the mindsets still there, the tenacity, the intensity, the strain, all of it is still there. He’s really found his home at the corner in that right spot, and I’m thankful he’s here.


Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Just following up on D.J. When free agency started, could you just walk us back to that, like was he the number one cornerback target for you because you knew the obvious familiarity or were there other guys you were looking at? How did that play out?

Yeah, we had our rankings, or whatever and then that’s where Joe (Douglas) takes over. Obviously, we put our input, and Joe and his staff do such a great job in just understanding how everything just kind of fits from a global standpoint because coaches just want every high price free agent, but there’s a budget that has to be had (laughter), but, no, he’s definitely one of the main targets from free agency, and the entire class we brought in and thankful we were able to get him.


Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: (follow up) I would think Joe and his staff would lean on you because you coached him?

Oh, yeah, for sure. So, Joe, they have a pretty cool system. There’s a lot of people they talk to, and it’s just not me, but there’s other guys who know him and who they’re familiar with that has had contact with all of our free agents, but for sure, knowing his character, what he stands for, how hard he plays, the type of mindset, the guys who love the game of football. Guys who aren’t going to take the money and run, because you know what he stands for, which is such a big part of the entire free agency process because when players get to that payday sometimes, not to say they shut it down, but they just kind of take a deep breath and D.J. is not one of those guys, which is why you’re comfortable giving guys like that free agent deals.


Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Robert, you talked to us the other day about the defense is better equipped now than maybe last year, that Mike (White) doesn’t have to do too much, but is there something you see in him that makes you think he can handle this moment because it’s a huge moment, and he doesn’t have that much experience?

Yeah, you have faith in the fact that you just watch him throughout the entire course of the week in practice, and his whole body of work’s since we got here last year. He’s very calm, very cool, very coachable. He’s got a great presence in the pocket, quick delivery, processes really quickly and gets the ball where it needs to go. It’s almost like he lowers his heartbeat, it’s just not big for him. He’s been in the League now for a few years and he’s had some experiences, and he’s just one of those guys, with every experience he has, he finds ways to get better and learn from them, so he can be better. So, we’re excited for his opportunity, and we’re all excited for him.


Kris Rhim, New York Times: What do you look for in backup guys? Like are you looking for a guy you know is going to be like a backup quarterback, and specific things you’re looking for differently?

Well, all positions, I’ve always said that the difference between Player A and Player Z, I’m not talking about the Aaron Donald’s of the world, they’re special, right? But for the most part, 98 percent of the League is A to Z, and the difference between Player A and Player Z is an opportunity, so you’re looking for guys who can come in and start for you, period. You’re not looking for just a backup, you’re looking for a guy who can come in, and if he has to play football, which usually in this League it’s a war of attrition, guys are going to have to get a lot of playing time, so you’re looking for guys who you feel great about stepping on the field and not skipping a beat when their time comes.


Ryan Dunleavy, New York Post: Robert, you mentioned Zonovan (Knight) a lot the past couple of days, but Ty Johnson hadn’t played a lot either and he obviously broke off that big run. Could you talk about the way he stayed ready for you and kind of what he brings, especially with Michael Carter iffy here?

Yeah, Ty has been doing a great job with special teams. He’s a four-core guy, but he’s also been a big presence on third-down for us. He’s got a big role on third-down and when MC went down last week, he had an opportunity to step in and get some carries. And he’s a big back, he can hit the hole, he gets vertical, he’s very fast, and we’re really pumped that he got the opportunity to showcase who he is and we’ll see how this week goes, and how MC and James (Robinson) look, and whether or not he’ll get those same opportunities, but he is always going to be up on gameday because of his value on special teams.


Ryan Dunleavy, New York Post: Do you see James Robinson as like a week-to-week vary thing? Or is his role now what it was last week?

With that entire running back room, it’s going to be a week-to-week thing.


Bruce Beck, WNBC: What do you think the Vikings are saying about your team? We’ve talked a lot about the Vikings, but what do you think they think about your attributes, the quality of your team, the mindset of your team?

I don’t know, I don’t know. I have an opinion, but I think that one would be more of a question for Kevin (O’Connell).