Head Coach Robert Saleh, 11.8
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Opening Statement: Chazz Surratt, he’s not going to practice today. Today is going to be a walkthrough anyway today, guys. Billy Turner, he’s dealing with a hand, which popped up after the game, so he’s not going to practice today. And then everyone else is limited.
Connor Hughes, SNY: Is that hand injury potentially long-term?
It’s concerning. We’ll see how the week progresses.
Connor Hughes, SNY: Is Duane (Brown), I feel like if he’s down, it’s just another one for you guys, but is Duane at least close now?
He’s closer. We’ll see, again, as the week goes. We’ll see.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: With Rodger Saffold, how close is he to being elevated?
Last week was his first little bit, he’s obviously not in football shape yet. So, we’ll see how he progresses this week, but I wouldn’t count on it this week.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, I know Rich asked you a general first quarter question after the game the other night, but specifically the first series on offense. You’d think, theoretically, that’s your favorite plays, right? The coordinator, the quarterback, coaching staff. You guys have not been able to do much on those first drives this year. What is leading to that?
That’s a good question. Young group, and again, these aren’t excuses, it’s reality. When you lack continuity and you lack playing together, you got a lot of guys in-and-out of the lineup, the precision it takes, and especially when you’re young and you’re amped up, it’s Monday Night Football. For example, last week, we gain a couple of yards on a run and then Zach (Wilson) was a little amped up. He’s not the first or the last. I’ve seen Hall of Famers sail the first ball. And then we have a third down opportunity and it just doesn’t, call it for what it was on the launching. It just didn’t work out. Again, a precision League, being precise, and things just haven’t gone our way in those situations. We got to be better. I do think we came back the next drive and we had two consecutive drives that pushed into their territory, they just derailed with fumbles. I thought last week, Monday night, in the first quarter I thought we were moving the ball better than we had been, I just wish that we had taken care of the football to see what the result truly could have been.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: (Nathaniel) Hackett, most of the West Coast Coaches have a script, right?
Yes, they script the first 15 [plays].
(follow-up) So, how much of it could be that? Just maybe taking a hard look at ways he’s scripting for the early part?
For sure, you’re always going to look inward first and try to find the why. Like I said, I thought last week we moved the ball well within the first 15. It didn’t turn out the way we wanted, obviously, with the turnovers. Not to make excuses or to defend anyone, but of course it can always be better from a coaching staff standpoint.
Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: Robert, how would you assess how Allen Lazard has played this year?
He’s had some ups and downs, and he knows that. He and I had a great talk. I love his mindset, I love the way he approaches every day, I love the way he approaches his work week. Are things going the way he wants? On occasion, yeah, I know he wants more, and he wants more for himself, but the good thing about Allen, he works as hard as anybody. I know he’s going to get through this. It’s no different, you can be slumping. Sometimes, as a player, you start pressing and you start trying to swing for the fences and I said it before, the reality is he just needs to focus on putting the bat on the ball and putting the ball in play and going from there, from an analogy standpoint. Just continue to focus on doing the best he can and take the plays that are given to him and be great at what he’s being asked to do. He’ll come around, he’s got the right mindset, so I’m not overly concerned about the direction he’s going.
Connor Hughes, SNY: Robert, statistically speaking, this offense has operated at a higher clip with just about every other quarterback or every other quarterback you guys have used aside from Zach Wilson over the last three years. Is there a mandate or push or initiative from above to continue to stick with Zach Wilson in spite of this?
No, we’re on the same page with that. So, any conspiracy theory that might be out there, we’re on the same page.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, you faced some great edge rushers Monday night, another one on Sunday night in Maxx (Crosby). What jumps out on him?
Oh, man. A funny story to tell you guys on him. He’s unbelievable, really, really cool to see the type of career he’s had. Shoot, I’ll just tell you guys really quick. In the combine visits, he comes in and I’m a stickler, we want to show tape, just see what the kid knows, really not in the school of, ‘Hey, let’s make it uncomfortable for him and see how he responds.’ Our d-line coach in San Fransisco (Kris Kocurek), god bless him, he’s one of the better d-line coaches in ball, he’s doing a great job through the interviews and then Maxx Crosby comes in and they’re going through it and finally Kocurek throws the tape down and he’s like, ‘Why’d you come out?’ And he just starts tearing into him, ‘You shouldn’t have come out.’ We’re all upset, because we’re excited about this kid. Now Maxx has become who he is and it’s like, ‘Good job there buddy, really hit on that one.’ Kocurek is one of the better evaluators in ball as a d-line coach, but really happy for Maxx and he represents everything you want out of a football player. He’s got violence, he’s got speed, he strains, his effort is off the charts, his football IQ is off the charts, and to be honest with you, the way he answered the question in that combine interview that day, no doubt looking back at it there’s a reason why he’s successful. He wasn’t fazed, he basically said, ‘Because I can.’ And, he is. So, good for him.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: On the telecast Monday night, Troy Aikman referenced a conversation that he had with Quinnen (Williams) and Quinnen told him that he had gone to the coaches to ask them to try to find ways to scheme him up to get more single teams. I think he referred to himself as the highest paid decoy in the League, what he told Aikman apparently. I’m wondering if you can address that and also why his sack production as compared to last year is way off?
We’re always trying to find a way to create one-on-ones for all our guys, Quinnen especially. He’s one of the better players in football. I do think sack production is a very overrated stat. I think it’s a cool stat that gets guys paid, but it is not the indicative number in terms of, because I’ve seen guys who get sacks who get lucky as heck, but when you look at Quinnen, teams are going out of their way to game plan Quinnen to try to take him out of the game, but he’s still absolutely wrecking run games. He’s still, fact check it because I’m not sure, but he ranks top-five in pressures, he ranks top-five in pressure rate, he ranks top-five in PFF grades. He ranks top-five in every statistical category you can conjure up, he’s just not getting the sack production. What we’ve seen is a much different approach to the way teams protect against us, and we’re seeing a lot less double chippers and a lot more attention to Quinnen which means Jermaine Johnson, Bryce Huff, they’re absolutely wreaking havoc on quarterbacks this year and opening it up. Teams got to pick their poison. You want to pay attention to Quinnen, our other guys are going to be productive. You want to pay attention to the edge rushers, it’s going to open up for our inside guys. The overall sack production, like I said, is an overrated stat. Quinnen Williams is one of the top-five defensive players in all of football and he’s proving it down-in and down-out. Unfortunately, we live in a society where sack production is the measure of how good a player is and it’s not even close. He’s wrecking games and, sure, obviously for him, he wants sack production and we’ll continue to find ways to get him those one-on-one opportunities, but the other team has say-so. If they ignore all of our attempts and still continue to put out an effort to get four hands on him, then it’s going to be hard for him. Even with them putting four hands on him, he’s still winning at a very, very high rate. It’s actually opening up opportunities for other guys and I think that’s why we’re playing so well on defense.
Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: How would you look at the Raiders right now? Obviously, they just had a coaching change. How much can you take away from the team that they were to what you saw on Sunday?
They’re talented. Their defense is really freaking good. Offensively, obviously Josh Jacobs and Devante (Adams) are two of the best in football. They play with a lot of juice, a lot of energy last week. They’ve been in a lot of football games, they’re still hovering around that 500 mark and winning football games. They’re a good football team. They took the Chargers to the wire. They had some games where you could look at it and say they’re that close to having a winning record and being in the conversation to win their division. So, a lot of respect to them, a lot of respect to the talent on that roster and we know we got our hands full going over there.
Andrew Crane, The New York Post: Robert, what went into the decision to sign Perrion (Winfrey) to the practice squad and what made you guys comfortable with that and all of the off-field issues?
Yeah, so Perrion we had him at the Senior Bowl. Absolutely loved him at the Senior Bowl. That’s a guy that we were thinking about drafting, we ended up taking (Jeremy) Ruckert, which has been good, Ruckert is awesome. Perrion’s not a bad person. Sometimes players make dumb mistakes. Sometimes they’re not good at life to start their football career, but it’s not because it’s a bad person. It’s just making silly immature decisions. So, a lot of the stuff that he’s been accused of has been wiped clean and where they’ve realized that it was all lies for him, but as far as the person, he’s a good man. He’s just got to figure out how to make better decisions and we do believe with our D line group and how strong that group is, the men that we have in that room that he’s going to find the right the right path. The last comment I’ll make on it with regards to his tremendous talent, but he’s also somebody he loves the game of football and I think he’s realized that he can lose ball. He could lose what he loves if he doesn’t take care of the things that he needs to take care of off the field. He’s got a love for football that I think he realizes that he needs to protect a little bit better and we’re going to give him the opportunity to show that he wants to protect it while growing in a group that I think that can maximize who he is and the type of player he can be.
Connor Hughes, SNY: When you were talking about Quinnen, you mentioned Bryce Huff. His stats are ridiculous. Whether it’s the sacks, the pressures. Aside from the “meaningless” sacks, he is putting together a career year, despite the fact that he has not had as many snaps as the guys. Is he developing to a player who can be a cornerstone on this defense? A guy that is as close to every down starter on the defensive line.
He’s talented. He’s another kid, another young man who’s developed himself. Undrafted, we got him, he played linebacker the first year we got him we asked him to remake his body. He’s done it all and he’s earning every down rep and he’s continuing to win his one-on-one opportunities. I think his sack production is not that great. I’m not even sure what his sacks are. He’s got five. I don’t even look at it. I do know that it’s top five in pressure rate though because at the end of the day, it’s we do care about sacks, but just so you guys know, you can be a guy who gets sacks, but you’re really not changing the way an offensive coordinator calls this game because he still knows he has time. So, pressure rates usually the indicator in terms of whether or not you’re forcing an offensive coordinators to stop scheming up these unbelievable haymakers because they think they have all the time in the world. I think that’s what our d-line does best. Just wreaking havoc and making sure that the offensive coordinator and offense has the player straight up, but Huff is very disruptive.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Are you running out of time to wait for Zach to get to that level that you need him? We talked about it yesterday, especially with where the defense is, why not let Trevor Siemian be up this week or something like that? Are you guys running out of time and waiting to click?
No, because at the end of the day, it’s not always on the quarterback to lose or win football games, but at the end of the day, we are being put in position where in the fourth quarter we have a chance to go take a game on offense. I thought he did a great job obviously in the fourth quarter and overtime against the Giants to give us a chance to win that football game. He’s done a great job of putting us in position whether it’s the Denver game, moving the ball down the field or we settle for field goals, but we’re still putting points on the board. In the Philadelphia game where, I get it the stats aren’t great. Philadelphia has a fantastic defense, but we played a very smart football game, so we’re able to manufacture five scoring drives or four scoring drives. I’m sorry. Obviously, it’s not the greatest show on turf, obviously he knows that there’s a lot of things he can do better, there’s a lot of things we can do better. He needs to get better, he knows that, but I wouldn’t, I know the knee jerk reaction to this is to always hit the panic button, but as a whole with all the circumstances and consider all the different things that are happening on offense in terms of the lack of continuity on the line and those guys trying to get their feet underneath them. He’s doing the best that he can, but again, he still needs to get better.
Connor Hughes, SNY: Because this… it’s not getting late quick, but because this offense is historically struggling and you can’t wait forever for Zach, do you need to start getting first team reps and practice to Tim (Boyle) in case you do need to make a switch?
No, you’re always going to give those reps to the starting quarterback. That’s everywhere. You got to prepare for him to play football, so he can go out there and be his best. It’s a part of being a backup. You’re not going to get any first team reps, but there’s a lot of mental reps you can get. Like I said, at the end of practice every day, we have a 10 minute developmental period where those guys get all the game plan reps, that they miss out on during practice. There’s just not enough reps for everybody to go around with all the new sports science, but fair question, but not something we can give him.