Head Coach Robert Saleh, 12.10

[please click photo for link to the video]

Opening Statement: Obviously, Randolph High School, Eric Perlowitz, best record in school history, 10-2. He’ll be on the field, honoring him this weekend. So, congratulations to him, awesome deal. Again, rub some great coaching on us and get a W at MetLife. I’ll go over injuries real quick for y’all. Michael Carter II is out. Tevin Coleman is out. They’re in the concussion protocol. (Trevon) Wesco is out with the ankle. Elijah Moore will be questionable, he’s day-to-day. We’ll give him a run today, give him a run tomorrow, we’ll just continue to see how he’s developing. (Laurent Duvernay-Tardif) is going to be same thing, day-to-day, so we’re going to give him a run today and tomorrow, see where he’s at and then everyone else is good to go for the game.


Brian Costello, New York Post: So, when you say you’ll give Elijah a run today, what does that look like?

Again, it’s just trying to make sure that he’s good with his quad and really just putting him through a good workout, see where he’s at.


(follow up): So not like individual drills, not practicing?

No, you probably won’t see him there, no.


(follow up): Are you optimistic? You sounded optimistic earlier in the week about him, are you optimistic?

I’m always optimistic, you’re asking the wrong guy the wrong question.


Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: Does (Brandin) Echols have a shot coming back this week? I know he’s…

Yeah, he’s been putting together a good week of practice. We’ll have the discussion after practice today to see how he does, but he definitely has a chance to be up this week.


Brian Costello, New York Post: With Carter out and if Echols comes back, I imagine Javelin (Guidry) would move to the side. How challenging is that for him kind of going inside, outside, he’s been bouncing back and forth all year.

It is a challenge because they’re two completely different positions obviously. Everyone kind of puts that nickel in the corner room and it’s way different than just playing corner. But Jav has gotten a lot of work through OTAs and training camp and has been playing our dime. He’s a very smart young man. He’s got great football IQ and that versatility has really helped us get through a lot of moments but ideally, he is kind of a nickel/dime type player, basically that role. Obviously, we’ve used him some at corner, but he’s a pretty darn good nickel too so him sliding in there is probably more in his wheel house.


Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: With Tevin out, what does that do for Austin (Walter) and what is his role, it increases I imagine?

Austin, (La’Mical) Perine, obviously Ty Johnson, again, those three getting the chance to run the ball and touch it and make a difference on this team. Anytime one person is down, it gives them the opportunity for another one. So, gives them all an opp.


Neil Best, Newsday: Obviously no one wants the injuries and illnesses that have occurred, but given the importance of what you’re doing here with developing a young team, I assume some of the injuries, the silver lining is the opportunity for other people.

Yeah, it is a silver lining. You’re always going to have injuries. The league always has injuries. You never want the volume, obviously, but injuries happen in this league, it’s a war of attrition and you’re just trying to get as healthy as you can for the home-stretch for playoff runs. The silver lining in this case, like you said, is we’re getting a chance to see a lot of different players and it’s the same thing I mentioned in one of the press conferences earlier this week. The clouds are clearing with regards to the exact direction this organization needs to go in the offseason to get itself into a position to be in contention year-in and year-out. It’s crystal clear and these next five weeks are really to solidify that in terms of the players that are here and the players that we’re developing, the veterans that are establishing leadership and that combination of everybody, the scheme, coaches. So, it’s all coming together and so the more people get opportunities to put stuff on tape, the better.


Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: Robert, you guys were, I mean everybody expected with Zach (Wilson) and the potential struggles for a rookie quarterback. Defensively, how would you characterize what’s been taking place this year in the bigger picture because I think there was an expectation that maybe the defense might be a little bit ahead, or carry the offense, but  obviously it hasn’t necessarily been the case in a number of weeks.

It started that way, obviously and it is a young secondary. I’ll make sure I say this the right way because the expectations are always, we’d love to be a lot better than where we are. Felt like we started the season strong. Obviously ever since that Bye Week, it’s kind of slipped away for us. It just seems like our rush and coverage can’t match right now. When we get good rush, we’re not getting good coverage. When we get good coverage, we’re not getting much rush. Then obviously the run game, defending the run game, hasn’t been where it needs to be. It’s a young secondary in the back end, which I think has been getting a lot better. We’ve gotten a lot of different players playing at the edge positions and they’re getting a chance to play. There’s been a rotation there. So, just trying to get within a first-year scheme and all that stuff and trying to get those guys some continuity. They’ve been showing flashes. We put together one good game. I really think two games with Miami and Houston and even the Philadelphia game. I’m standing strong and I get the stats. I don’t necessarily look at stats, just play-to-play production and what happened in that game. I do feel like it was a better game than people will give it credit for. Especially when you consider all the different things that went our way. They have been getting better and this is an opportunity for them to continue to build and get better and continue stacking your good days on top of one another.


Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: Obviously, all plays not going any one place and certainly not trying to blame Jeff (Ulbrich) as the only person there, but you as a defensive coach and being a coordinator before, is there ever a temptation to kind of dive in and get a little bit more involved in terms of play calls or whatever it may be? I’m sure you’re in those rooms anyway.

I’m always in them anyway, and we always watch practice, and we go through everything. I talk to the players, Jeff talks to the players, the position coaches, everybody, so we’re all hands on deck. Jeff does a great job. I get that you’re, like I’ve said a million times, if you make a call and it works, you’re smart. If you don’t, you’re an idiot. A lot of people might want to call our coaching staff idiots because a lot of things aren’t working when you want them to. At the same time, it doesn’t change the soundness, the production, you hear it all. We talk about it from a coaching standpoint, there’s five things that you do as a coach to try to make sure that players are in the best position to be successful. Number one, you have to show it to them on paper or on the board, however you do it. The second thing you’ve got to do is you’ve got to show that technique on tape, then you’ve got to walk through it, then you got to go in a controlled setting of individual where you’re fast paced but it’s controlled and then you go through your uncontrolled environment of team where you don’t know if it’s run or pass, but you’re executing that technique from an instinctive standpoint. You put that thing on repeat over and over and over again. Between player and coach, we got to get that done. If you feel like that’s not been happening, then we’ve got a problem. These guys are working their butts off, players are working their butts off, we’re trying to get this right, and they have been getting better. It’s just the results. When the result isn’t what people want, people really struggle to see that aspect of it, it’s a result-oriented business. So, I feel like it’s going in the right direction.


Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, coaches talk a lot of times about guys developing at their own pace and sometimes taking longer. Demario Davis is a guy we saw here as a young player and he’s a different player now than he was in 2013-14. When you watch him and what he’s become at linebacker, what do you see when you watch him on tape?

The two of them really, I had Kwon (Alexander) in San Francisco. Demario Davis is a fantastic linebacker. The one thing I’ll say, too, with that, sometimes they just need a different scheme. Sometimes it just hits differently, the coaching hits differently, it doesn’t mean anything prior when he was here, it’s just sometimes some people, or they might need a wakeup call or something. He is an unbelievable football player and from my understanding he was an unbelievable character guy here, too, and he was a tremendous leader, a model citizen as it pertains to what you want out of the linebacker position. I’ve never had a chance to work with him, but he’s a part of a lot of teach-tapes that we have for our guys. He is a fantastic player, but we’re kind of experiencing it here with Quincy (Williams). He gets cut and Quincy comes here and he’s part of our scheme and it hits home. He’s been getting better every single week. Does he have a lot to improve on? Sure. But you never know why it happens, it just happens.


Jeané Coakley, SNY: Coach, there’s been a lot of questions about when Mekhi (Becton) is coming back, but how about the play of George Fant and Morgan Moses?

George and Morgan have been absolutely fantastic. Credit to Joe (Douglas) bringing those two in the building. You think about George, he bounces from the left to the right and he keeps going back and forth. In Seattle, he played guard, tackle, tight end. He’s never really had a chance to call anything home. With all the time Mekhi missed in OTAs and training camp, he played a lot of left tackle because Morgan (Moses) was here. And so, he’s really gotten comfortable over there, he’s been producing a lot, obviously. Morgan on the right side, just a consummate pro. The both of them, when you look at the way they work, they fight through injury, they do everything that you want out of a professional football player, they fight through injury to play for their teammates, they’re out at practice, they do everything the way you want them to. The reliability factor with those two is so high that, knock on wood, that Joe brought these two in the building because they’ve been fantastic.


Denis Gorman, Toronto Star: You’ve been talking a lot about the state of the organization and where it is today. When you took this job, compared to when you took the job, are you on track, on schedule, ahead of schedule?

Obviously, you always want wins. That’s always first and foremost, but the amount of young guys who have gotten play this year, the rookie who have gotten a lot of the snaps, the second-year guys. I mean you look at our secondary, they’re all second-year players and rookies with the exception of (Justin) Hardee. So, there’s been a lot of growth, so that part was expected. You always want more wins, but again, results aside, you just look at it as a whole, and everyone that has been getting playing time has gotten a lot better, especially on the offensive side of the ball which really hasn’t, until this week, really had suffered the injury bug. So, they’ve been able to stick together and really grow, and you see them getting better every single week. I really don’t know what the answer is in terms of this is the fifth time that I’ve been part of a rebuild and that first year is always a little bit bumpy, but second year and then it just seems like third, fourth year, you’re playing for a championship and you’re ready to roll. It’s a tough one to answer because we want more wins, but the growth is definitely there.


Brian Costello, New York Post: Do you have any memories of game-planning for Demaryius Thomas? I know you faced him in one big game that I remember. I’m sure you faced him a few times more than that.

I did. Just an absolute tragedy. I’ve heard he’s an unbelievable pro. They produced a lot when he was at Denver. A lot of wars in Seattle too, a lot of playing those guys. Just a shame. And I’m sure there are a lot of hurt hearts in the football community for sure.


Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: Robert, how valuable has Braxton (Berrios) been for you guys and just offensively and special teams? And what did you know about him when you got here.

Oh man, Braxton’s awesome. When you get guys like him, the versatility and all that stuff, just the ability to play receiver in the slot, create separation, a reliable person. I mean, you watch him getting some of these young guys lined up, helping the quarterback come out of the huddle, he’s incredible. And his decision making as a returner, and when he does make a decision to return the ball, his production level has been high. So, he’s gotten better, since the day we walked in, he’s been getting better. And I love his attitude, injuries, work ethic, all of it, it doesn’t matter, you know he’s going to put on his helmet, you know he’s going to show up, you know he’s going to go to work and he’s going to do everything he can to help the people around him get better. Again, another one of those model citizens, if you want to call him, in terms of what professional athletes look like, what a professional athlete who maximizes every ounce of fiber in his body looks like, and that’s what Braxton represents.


(follow up): Did you know he was the valedictorian at Miami School of Business?

Was he valedictorian? I’m not surprised.


Brian Costello, New York Post: Don’t ask him about the B. He opened a vein up here the other day talking about the one B he got in college.

He got a B? Shoot, I would’ve taken 40 of them. (joking)