Head Coach Robert Saleh, 11.5

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Opening Statement: 

I’ll start with injuries: Marcus Maye, he’s got a tear, so he’s out; Tyler Kroft, looks like he’s going to IR with a chest injury; Mike White looks good for next week. Obviously, it’s going to be day-to-day, but it’s trending in that direction. Also trending in the direction to return to practice is Zach Wilson, Corey Davis and Tevin Coleman.

 

Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: Hey Robert, can you speak to, with regard to Marcus, obviously it’s been a complicated situation with his contract situation. You always talk so much about the players and their windows to make money and what not. What’s your empathy for his situation here? Being injured, contract year, didn’t sign the extension you guys offered him and now he’s kind of in a little bit of a no man’s land here, hurt for the rest of the year.

Obviously, for Marcus, I’ve seen the story unfortunately one too many times in this league. It’s never good initially, it sucks. But the one thing with Marcus is he is a young man, he’s got a tremendous mindset to him and he is made of grit. His ride is not over, his story is not over. If there’s anyone that’s going to be able to come back from this and go make the things that he deserves, it’s Marcus. I had the pleasure of being able to coach Jason Verrett, who had injury after injury after injury and just couldn’t put together a season. Last year, he got through a season and was able to parlay it into a contract this year. Marcus’ story is not over. I know it hurts now and it hurts for everybody, I hurt. There’s not very many people who are going to hurt more for him than his teammates and his coaches. He’ll come back from this. He has our full support.

 

(follow up) I know it’s a bit early, but do you hope his story continues wearing green?

Always. I hope all these guys continue wearing green. And even if it doesn’t, he’s still Jet family for life. But with Marcus, obviously, get healthy and hopefully he’s back here.

 

Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, how will you go about making the decision on your starting quarterback this week?

We’ll see where they are from an injury standpoint. We’ll see how far along Zach is, Mike, and we’ll go from there. So, like I said, with Mike, it’s trending in that direction. With Zach, it’s trending in that direction. It’s still day-to-day and we’ll get a lot more information as we get closer to Monday and then Wednesday.

 

Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Robert, what kind of test or whatever did Mike undergo? Or was it just everything was okay?

He got hit in the perfect spot. From my understanding it was a nerve contusion, so the nerve just went dead on him. He couldn’t grab the ball. Thankfully, it just wasn’t until the end of the game, towards the end of the game. By then, Josh (Johnson) had been rolling and it wasn’t worth making that change. It wasn’t until darn near the fourth quarter that he could finally grip the ball and feel it. Now it’s just a matter of just the contusion and the swelling going down and getting his arm strength back.

 

Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, if both of them are healthy and both of them are ready to go for Sunday against the Bills, is it simple as who gives us the best chance to win or is there more to this decision because of where you drafted Zach and you guys have kind of spent a lot of time this year trying to develop him?

We’re going to talk about all that stuff, Coz. The quarterback, obviously, is always at the forefront of our mind, but this is a very young offense that’s also trying to be developed. We’ll see through practice and through reps. I’m not saying that there’s a competition, because it’s still a hypothetical what you’re giving me, because there’s still two guys that aren’t close to being nearly, fully 100%. So, we’ll see how practice goes as we get closer to it.

 

Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, when you studied the film, the run defense, what were the major issues there?

Like I said, whether we could have helped the players better play calling to players executing, it’s a collective effort in terms of lack of execution, lack of detail in what we’re asking of our guys, lack of strain, it just wasn’t a good day, all the way across the board. Coaches included. That’s something that has to get fixed because it you can’t stop the run in this game, and I know it’s a passing league and all that junk or whatever, but if you can’t stop the run it gets ugly in a hurry. Yesterday, the for the amount of space that was created, it’d be one thing if they were breaking tackles and doing something magnificent, but for the amount of space that was created to get to the second level, coaches, we need to look in the mirror first before we even start talking to our players.

 

Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Robert, when it happens like you said last night, two out of three games, how does that sit with you as a guy who, that’s where you come from, stopping offenses?

Two of the last three teams lined up and tried to run the ball and were able to successfully do it. Cincinnati, I felt like we were able to knock those guys back and put the run game to bed pretty early. For one reason or another, the poor run game performances have come on the road where at home we’ve got all this juice and energy up front. We’ve got to figure that part out. We’ve played three games at home and we’ve played three very competitive games and we’ve played five on the road and had a couple of competitive ones. So, we have to figure it out from that regard. When you talk about run game, there’s an old saying of trying to beat your opponent, 50% is showing up, 40% is execution and then 10% is a dog fight. The run game is a dog fight, that’s how you win. That’s where I feel like we have to get better.

 

Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: Hey Robert, not to hammer on the, I guess we’re all killing the running defense and stuff at this point, but what was kind of weird about yesterday, and I know you’ve spoken to us since the Summer about obviously how young this team is and you’re going to go through these kind of things, but your front seven is the strength of your team and where most of the veterans are. So, how distressing was that for you that that unit was probably what hurt you most yesterday?

It is, I’m always vocal. I love our d-line, we go as they go. Period. But at the same time, linebackers, safeties filling gaps, triggering in the run game to take the pressure off of them also comes into play, but there’s edge setting that needs to take place, there’s strain on the interior that needs to take place, there’s strain at the linebacker level to catch your reads and get downhill to get those offensive linemen off the double teams. It’s all encompassing and for one reason or another we were slow to trigger. It just wasn’t good enough.

 

Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, a couple of weeks ago after the New England game, Mike LaFleur was taking a lot of heat. I was at the front of the line, so I’ll own up to that. But the last two weeks, with backup quarterbacks, he’s got the offense going a lot better. What have you seen from Mike just play calling wise these last two weeks and game planning wise?

I want to say this delicately, Mike is a very, very smart young man. An incredibly smart young man. And this scheme, and the things that they’ve been able to do with John Benton in terms of simplifying things to allow guys to operate at their absolute fullest and to kind of spoon feed the offense and take some back and just let these guys get repetition. And then obviously with the quarterbacks, executing the offense and getting, it’s a progression offense, so getting it to the receivers in time, and Zach has shown spurts of that. The difference between the last two weeks is it’s happened a lot quicker. You’ve got, even though Mike is a rookie per se, he’s still been in the league four years. He’s seen it for four years now. Josh Johnson has been in the league, God it’s forever now. He knows ball. For Zach, he’s been doing, but it’s not happening until midway through the second half where he’s showing the offense move. There’s no question, we all agree that he’s looked like a heck of a quarterback in the second half. That, for the youth part, paying the rookie tax in terms of Zach, can he figure it out on the first drive, so you are rolling? And we felt like he was kind of getting there in the New England game, that second drive, if everyone remembers we drove 12 plays to a field goal, we missed it. Then the next series, he takes it to the one-yard line, but he was hurt on that play. He was coming along, and so we’re super excited about all three of our quarterbacks, and now you add Joe Flacco into the mix. I can’t express enough confidence in the quarterback room. To go back to your question, with Mike (LaFleur), he’s always been, in my opinion, fantastic. It’s just a matter of, he’s a first-time play caller, get into your groove, find what you like, find out what works with the players. He is a first-year coordinator working with a first-year team, so everyone is trying to figure each other out. All of that takes time. I think they’re doing a fantastic job on offense.

 

Brian Costello, New York Post: I understand what you’re saying about Zach and the veteran quarterbacks and maybe the offense looking different with him, but it feels like he’s even been more aggressive with gadget plays and just kind of coming out throwing, we talked about it in the Cincinnati game, but even last night as well. Do you feel like LaFleur has been more aggressive in these games?

He is progressively, even with Zach, he progressively got more and more aggressive. I know the New England game was a little discouraging with the run, run, three-and-out. But with Zach, there were instances where he came out throwing the football, also. Has he gotten a little, we call them creative plays, not trick plays, but has he gotten a little creative there? For sure. He’s getting a little more aggressive in those regards, but as far as the overall structure of the offense and what he’s asking on a play-in and play-out basis, all of it has really been the same. Elijah (Moore) is starting to get comfortable. I mean, shoot, in the last three games he has 14 receptions, three touchdowns, 187 yards. Michael Carter has kind of teed off, so a lot of rookies who have been getting a lot of playing time are getting better within the scheme. Credit Taylor (Embree) and Miles Austin with the amount of work they’re putting in with their rookies. So, yeah, he has been getting a little bit aggressive, but at the same time, I think everyone is starting to understand what’s being asked of them and he’s starting to understand where he can put his players and he’s understanding what he can ask of his players. So, it’s just kind of a growth that’s happening with a young offense, young coordinator. But he hasn’t gotten smarter, he is a very, very smart young man. Like I said, everyone’s figuring it out all at the same time.

 

Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: Robert, with Zach, even though he is not playing, seeing this offense work, do you think that’s helpful to him just so he can see it now and see that, okay, these are the things that I need to do out on the field. Do you think that can be helpful just having seen success, not from himself, but through this offense?

What I think is even more beneficial is that Zach spent the first, what was it? Six games? He ran the offense for six games, and then to be able to watch it the last two games, absolutely. Because all the same plays are being run, all the same runs are being run, the same players are running the routes, nothing has really changed with the exception of the gadgets, obviously, and all that stuff. But for the most part, the drop back system, the play-action pass, it’s our system, so all of those are the same. So, for him to see it through the lens of another quarterback is incredibly beneficial, especially since he’s already exposed himself to it, so now it’s just a matter of absorbing that information and being confident. The good thing with Zach is that we don’t have to teach him how to do the spectacular, he just has to learn how to do the boring stuff and understand that the boring can be explosive, it can be spectacular, too. I mean, Mike did it last week against Cincinnati with 3.7 air yards per (throw). Just getting it to where the players, just playing quarterback. But there’s also times where the offense needs you to be spectacular and that’s something that Zach, that’s his hallmark. And he’ll learn it, he’s a young buck. He’s one of those rookies that think they’re invincible and he’s only going to get better as he learns.

 

Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, one injury we haven’t paid much attention to, Bryce Huff, you put him on IR yesterday. Is he in jeopardy for the season? Or is that something where you think he can be back in three weeks?

No, we should get him back after Miami. Houston game, we should have him back for the Houston game. And feel really good about that, too.

 

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