Head Coach Robert Saleh, 12.15
[please click photo for link to the video]
Good morning. Alright, I’ll go through this injury list real quick: George Fant, knee; (Sheldon) Rankins, knee; Isaiah Dunn, non-COVID illness, will all be out of practice today, not worried about Fant or Rankins for the game. Isaiah, I think he’ll be fine, too. Good news, we are getting (Tevin) Coleman back, MC1 (Michael Carter), MC2 (Michael Carter II), (Tyler) Kroft and (Bryce) Huff, so that’s good. And we’re also getting (Trevon) Wesco back, so that’s good. On a sad note, but it’s good for him, Josh Johnson was just poached by the Ravens, so really excited for him and his opportunity. He deserves it, one of the elite pros in this league.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Is Mike White back off COVID?
He’s actually dealing with another illness. It’s non-COVID, but he hasn’t been able to get up to speed with his cardiovascular to clear all that, so we’re day-to-day with him.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: So, your others on the COVID list are (Blake) Cashman, Justin Hardee and Jeff Smith? They remain on the list?
It’s just Hardee and Jeff Smith. Cashman, he’s on IR (too). And then, obviously Mike White is still there because he hasn’t been able to clear the cardiovascular part with the new illness.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: Do you anticipate any other players going on to the best of your knowledge right now?
No, we have a lot of flu cases going around, but everything is non-COVID, so we’ve done a really good job with the virtual meetings this morning. They’re actually in transit right now to get to the facility for walkthrough and practice.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, how scary is it, you look around the league and see what’s happening right now with Cleveland and other places?
It is. You never want, the amount of guys that are out, I think for the Rams, we’re all in the same, I lived it last year with one of our Thursday Night games where basically half the team was out. It’s not an ideal situation, but it adds to the amount of caution that we all need to take with hygiene, washing our hands, being masked up and all that stuff. I think you’re seeing a lot of the team’s starting to go virtual here, and I bet by the end of next week most of them will be.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Are you doing any other precautions or just that right now?
That right now is the best we can do in terms of…
(follow up) Is this the first week you’ve done (virtual meetings)?
Brian Costello, New York Post: Is it a little easier this year, Robert, than last year? It’s December, meetings are meetings, but you guys have already had a lot of team bonding and things like that.
It’s unfortunate they’re used to it because of the circumstances but being able to slip right into it I think it’s seamless.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Do you have any update on Mekhi Becton, the weekly question?
No, no update.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Then the other weekly question is so now the calendar moves again, so now he’s out this week, that’s three games. Has your thought process changed at all about him coming back this season?
No, I’m still hopeful, but obviously we are getting down to crunch time. If he makes it, awesome. If not, it goes back to George and Morgan (Moses). They’ve been absolutely phenomenal this year and we haven’t skipped a beat. Just really credit to those two and the way they’ve been able to work.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Michael Carter, the running back, is he going to play, like are you anticipating he’s going to play this week?
Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: With George in particular, what has he shown you? He came in with the job, then Morgan came in to compete, now he’s playing well at left tackle. What has he shown you this year doing what he’s done?
What he’s shown is that give an athletic man a home and he’s going to get better every week. He’s gotten better every week, obviously he’ll even tell you there’s still things that he can get better at, but the level of consistency he’s provided at that position, which is such a crucial spot for the quarterback, very minimal in terms of, he’s just been so consistent, and he’s gotten better every week. He’s proven that if you just give him a home instead of bouncing him around, he can be pretty good. He’s every bit of deserving of any accolade he does get and really excited to work with him moving forward.
(follow up): Because when Mekhi (Becton) went down, that position, like you said, is an important spot.
Yeah, everyone was a little worried because you don’t know. You have faith in a guy, with George, his athleticism, but you never know. He’s absolutely slammed the door shut with any worries with that spot.
Brian Costello, New York Post: What’s the chess match like when you play a team pretty close together in a season, about a month since you played Miami? Where it’s like, ‘Okay, are they going to do what we saw in November against us?’ Or now have you started thinking, ‘No, they’re going to switch it up and do something else? What’s the game plan like?
You always have your core principles with regards to what you are, the identity of what your football team. I don’t think that will change but there’s always going to be wrinkles, there’s going to be stuff that we’ve shown on tape over the last four weeks that teams have been able to exploit on us. There’s going to be things that teams have done to them that have exploited them also, but to balance that within the identity of who you are with adding a couple of wrinkles that you haven’t seen yet. You can see that they have kind of shifted at least from an offensive standpoint with their identity. Defensively, they’ve been playing lights out and credit to them. They’ve just really settled down with what their core system is. It seems like they’ve really simplified it but kept it complex all at the same time. So yeah, there’s going to be nuances, there’s little tricks, there’s little wrinkles here and there but the identities don’t change.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: What did you see from La’Mical (Perine) this past weekend?
He did a nice job. He was obviously engaged and all that. He ran well. It’s like I’ve said up here before, I always challenge backs: if the offensive line blocks it for five, can you find eight, can you find nine, can you find an explosive? If they block it for negative two, can you get back to the line of scrimmage? Can you get more for what it’s blocked for? That’s the job. That’s the definition to me of a good back and so La’Mical ran hard, he did some good things and it’s obviously a good week to build off of.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: Given the style of defense that Miami plays, what specifically will you be looking for from Zach (Wilson) Sunday?
Post-snap recognition. They’ll hang in there. They show you something pre-snap, they pop up post-snap and they’re quick to change and he does a really good job recognizing things post-snap. It’s just all the things we’ve talked about, his tempo, his eyes, not over-analyzing the play, just take space when it’s given to you and the beautiful thing about our system is it really doesn’t matter what the opponent does. It’s, work through your progressions, when you see space, take it. In layman’s terms, that’s as simple as it gets. Obviously, it’s more complex in that, but trying to keep it simple. So really, it’s going to be all about post-snap.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, when you talk about his eyes, you talked on Monday the accuracy and eye placement. Can you kind of explain that in layman’s terms a little bit more?
When you’re working through progression properly and when you’re on time with your eyes, so offensive guys will say you read with your feet. As your eyes are working conjunctional to your feet, you can get your feet set and deliver the ball with accuracy just like you’re built to do. When your eyes are moving faster or slower than your feet, your eyes are misplaced and when they’re not tied together, the ball can be a little inaccurate. So, you see it sometimes where, clean pocket, his feet aren’t all there, it’s because his eyes aren’t fully in sync with his feet. That first half against Philadelphia, it was like clockwork. I mean everything was working together and that’s where we look at some of the accuracy stuff, we’re not worried about it. It’s just the matter of getting reps and slowing himself down and timing up his feet and his eyes together and all of it will kind of sync in together like it did against Philadelphia.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Will you sign someone, a quarterback, to the practice squad? Kind of what’s going on right now. You’re losing Josh (Johnson).
Yeah. It just happened five minutes ago so I’ll get up there and talk to Joe (Douglas) here in a minute. We do have three quarterbacks which is the perfect number in my mind. With Mike (White), hopefully we can get Mike by the end of the week but we’ll see. As of now, knock on wood. We’re keeping our quarterbacks completely away from each other so there’s no close contacts. Keeping everybody away from each other so we’re being smart in that regard. But it’s something to talk about.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: Could be James Morgan 3.0?
James Morgan, I think he’s with somebody right now. But I’m not sure, I’ve got to find out.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: Robert, when you have a player like (Denzel) Mims, you know, a young guy who gets benched through the second half, I’m sure he didn’t love it, I’m sure maybe you hurt his pride or whatever. What do you look for from him the following week in how he reacts to something like that?
You know, one of the big things I think that get away from sports nowadays, and call me old school, I don’t know, but the best players in every professional sport work their tails off. And when something doesn’t go their way, they are, to the pedal, they are absolutely all gas. And so, what you’re looking for is a young man to bounce back with confidence and be demonstrative in the fact that he needs to be on the football field. And, not demonstrative by yelling, but demonstrative by your actions on the practice field, and demonstrative in meeting rooms and how you’re engaged and locked in the practice, and all that stuff. And to Mims’ credit, he’s done that. So, I want to make sure I’m not eluding the fact that he hasn’t done that, he came back from a couple weeks of illness, wasn’t the cleanest week, and it just wasn’t a good clean first half for him. And for him to bounce back, no one’s lost faith in him. You guys know me, I’ve said it a million times, players are three years. You give them three years, and he’ll figure it out. But you’ve got to reciprocate and kind of grind. And I think Mimsy will do that.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, is there any challenge to playing in 81 degrees on Sunday when you guys haven’t been in that in a few months?
There’s going to be a challenge. It’s no different than a southern team coming up during the cold. But you’ve just got to be cognizant of hydration this week. And everyone wants to hydrate the day of, you hydrate the week of. Because it takes 48 hours for your body to kick in with hydration. So, just being cognizant and preparing now, and especially on the plane ride and making sure that you’re very aware of what you ‘re putting into your body. And then you go down there, and you go play ball.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: I know, you know, you want to win obviously. But when you’re going through this, how much do you embrace the challenge of making sure that the message is the same and that the players believe that this going to turn around? That you have to keep pushing that?
Messaging, to me, and it’s not to be stubborn, but it doesn’t change. Obviously, we want to win, but it’s so process oriented and so, just focus on the moment, bring your best version of yourself every day, results will take care of itself. But, at the same time, helping players understand what’s at stake. So, the month of December, December football is different. It is different, in terms of being in the hunt, getting ready to play for a chance to go get into the dance and play for a championship. Like that is a big deal. And to understand that Miami’s in the playoff hunt, they’re bringing a different style than we saw a few weeks ago. It’s going to be different. And to understand the intensity level and feel that intensity level, capture that intensity level, and embrace it. Because we’re going to be in these positions for years to come and we’re going to be in December playing meaningful games. So, it’s really exciting for these next four games because it doesn’t matter that we’re already eliminated, because there’s still a lot of things that we can learn, because like I said, we’re going to be in these positions, we’re going to have a lot more wins than we do now and these games are going to be meaningful, and so what can we learn from all of this moving forward.
Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: We talk about building a foundation, there’s certain positions in particular that are crucial, quarterback obviously, left tackle, cornerback, when you have the number one corner. Has Bryce Hall kind of showed that he can be that guy, he can be a foundation piece moving forward?
I think a lot of guys have. You look at the secondary, Bryce Hall, obviously that’s your question so I’ll answer it on him. He’s done a really nice job. Now he’s got to get better at some things, and he knows it, especially as it pertains to zone eyes and all that stuff. His man-to-man skills have been really good, he’s long, he’s strong, he’s athletic, so he’s got a lot of stuff. He’s only a second-year player, and he’s only going to get better, especially a guy like him who’s so aggressive at the line of scrimmage. When we get our pass rushers on the edges back, and you got a guy like Carl Lawson, and Bryce Huff is back this week, and whatever happens, guys like Bryce Hall just take off because their aggression leads to interceptions and all that. So, that would be his next step, finding the ball and finding a way to make quarterbacks pay for when they throw it at him. So, he’s taken a really nice step for him. Again, I won’t say he’s there yet, but he’s got a chance.