Head Coach Robert Saleh, 12.19
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Opening Statement: Good morning, guys. I’m going to start with injuries real quick. On offense, Jeff Smith who did not finish the game, he’ll be questionable for the game for Thursday. (Denzel) Mims is in the concussion protocol, he’s most likely going to be out. Zonovan Knight will also be questionable, but his arrow’s pointing up, he’s dealing with an ankle. Corey Davis, we feel very confident that he should be able to roll on Thursday. Mike White is still going through evaluation. Quinnen’s (Williams) arrow’s up. Hopefully, we’ll get him out there on Thursday, and (Lamarcus) Joyner will be questionable, and then (Brandin) Echols will be out.
Connor Hughes, SNY: Robert, if Mike White is healthy, will he start for you guys?
We’ll get the clearance first, that’s something I’ve got to talk to the offensive staff about. We’ll see what happens. I’m not prepared to answer that one, Connor.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: Robert, Quinnen was 50/50 pretty much all week. How close was he yesterday and how optimistic are you for Thursday?
It was probably more wishful thinking, hoping that he would wake up on Sunday and be ready to roll. It just wasn’t, at the same time, we feel very optimistic about Thursday. Obviously, he’s got to do a couple of things, but he’s better than 50/50 this week.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, now that you’ve had some time to review it and think about it. I asked about your time management yesterday, any second guess of yourself on the way you used the timeouts on that last drive?
Yeah, I think I got about a half hour worth of sleep last night, but I’ll go through it with you all. I think it’s, not from a justification standpoint, but there’s stuff that I definitely could’ve done better. We took possession at the 25 (yard line) with 1:49 on the clock, with all three of our timeouts, and thought process for us is to save those three timeouts up until a minute. You want to save them for a catastrophe whether you need them, whatever situation. So, you’re trying to save those timeouts until inside one minute, so we took the sack on first down. We’re good with letting it run, that one checks off fine from an analytical standpoint. Second and 19 goes incomplete. The third and 19, there was 1:22 on the clock when it got snapped, and you could argue for a timeout in that situation, we felt really good about when we looked up, there’s about 1:15 – 1:20 on the clock. So, again analytically, we felt good about the decision to let that run and to continue playing, but from there, it’s textbook, next ball inbounds is call a timeout. First down goes incomplete and with 0:53 seconds left, 2nd and 10, Garrett (Wilson) catches the ball for a 10-yard gain. This is the one where I definitely overthought the situation, that’s the one where I definitely overthought it, call a timeout it’s 0:49 seconds left. Felt like we got the better end of a spot, and I was trying to beat New York on a challenge, and that’s the one I overthought. It didn’t matter, we’re not playing for downs in this situation, we’re playing for time, and when you look at it all, I definitely probably cost us one more snap in that transaction. So, something that I definitely need to be better at, definitely overthought it, and wish I could have that one back. The rest of the game played out the way it did.
Ian O’Connor, New York Post: Robert, you always want your players to be accountable when they make mistakes, and I think you’ve always been good in this situation, but do you think it’s important when you feel you’ve made a mistake to say it publicly and send a message of accountability to your locker room?
I just think you need to be yourself and be truthful with everything. It’s not, as it relates to the statement, whether or not I preach that every day or not, it’s just who I am, and you just want other people to have that same type of mindset. I don’t think there’s anyone in this building who looks inward more than I do. The biggest thing you want to do is give your guys a chance to make plays and do your job, do your job to give everybody a chance to make a play and be the best version of themselves. In that situation, I definitely could’ve been better. Like I said, I overthought it.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Just a question on Mike White — is he getting more scans done today? Can you explain what exactly he has to go through before he’s cleared for contact?
That’s a good one. I think that’s going to be more with him and, again, all the different opinions he’s getting outside the building with regards to getting more scans. A lot of doctor talk, I’m not going to get into it here, but there’s more scans to see how much he’s healed. There was talk that they felt like a week could show some more healing — some callus, if you will — that will allow him to get on the field, but again, that’s something that he would have to get from another doctor and still be able to talk to our doctors about, too. So, there are a lot of hurdles he would have to go through.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: So, it sounds like by you remaining non-committal publicly waiting to hear on his results, it sounds like he would be your guy if he were healthy?
There’s a lot of timing and all of that involved, too. Again, I have to talk to the offensive staff because Zach (Wilson) did a lot of really good things yesterday, too. It’s just something we got to talk about.
Brian Costello, New York Post: When do you need to know when your starting quarterback is, Robert? With the game being Thursday, I guess this would be like a Thursday in a normal week?
Pretty quick. Pretty quick. I really don’t have a time frame for this one. For the quarterback, the good thing is that it’s all walkthrough. Just like last week, he is cleared to practice walkthrough and do everything. So, he’s going to participate as he normally would, but at the same time, you want your starting quarterback to take all of these walkthrough reps, too. So, we’ve got to make a decision.
Brian Costello, New York Post: What was your evaluation of Zach, Robert, after watching the film?
Thought he had a really nice first half. Came out, we started a little bit slow in the third quarter. Really pumped for him, though, because in the past, when he hits a speed bump in a game, it kind of derails, but I thought he did a really good job of getting back on the rails and swinging back up in the fourth quarter, to lead a touchdown drive. I wish I could’ve been better for him in that two-minute drive to give him that one more play. He did a great job making two really, really cool throws to put us in position to kick a field goal, albeit a long one. I thought he did a nice job. There’s some things that he definitely would want back, and like I said, it all happened in that third quarter, but credit to him, credit to the staff, they did a really nice job. He got back on track and finished strong.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Just making sure on this, if Mike can’t go, it’s going to be Zach, correct?
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: Not to nitpick, as obviously everybody nitpicks Zach and every quarterback, but it looked a lot of times like he was whipping it a little bit too much and it was a pace issue on some balls. Is that something you and Mike (LaFleur) have spoken to him about or will?
He’s always in constant dialogue. He knows there’s some things that he needs some touch, but then there’s also things when he’s got to rip it in there to thread a needle. That’s part of his gift, he’s got a cannon for an arm and that ball comes out hot. It’s things you got to learn. The frustrating thing is that this kid’s going to be a good quarterback. The NFL and this new instant coffee world that we’re in just does not want to give people time. So, we look at him, and he is just nitpicked with a fine-tooth comb, everything he does, and rightfully so. It is what it is. He did a lot of really good things, so we’re going to try our best to focus on the things he did good and make sure that we kind of bring that to life, and we’ll continue to work on the things he needs to improve on. Like I said, he came out in the second half, I think we all agree he was missing on some throws, missing on some reads, but for him to kind of get himself back on track, I thought that was really good by him and a big step in a direction that he had been struggling with in the past. It just shows at least some maturation, in my mind with regards to mental fortitude in terms of getting back on track and finding a way to finish a game strong.
Connor Hughes, SNY: Robert, because of how much the organization has invested in Zach with where you guys picked him and things like that, if things are close between Zach and Mike from a talent perspective, does the tie go to Zach? Is he the one the organization will favor in a starting role?
That’s a fair question, but I do think that what we represent here, and I think Joe (Douglas) is on the same page, once you get drafted, it doesn’t matter. It was something I learned from Pete. I don’t care how much you get paid, I don’t care where you got drafted, if you’re better by that much, you’re going to play. That will never change. That will never change. The greatest example, the eye-opener for me, was when in Seattle we paid Matt Flynn all that money and Russell Wilson as a third-round draft pick was that much better, and he became the starting quarterback, despite all the money invested in Matt Flynn, who is a very good quarterback. Knock on wood, I’ve been in Jacksonville, San Francisco, organizations that had the same philosophy in terms of the best people will play, it doesn’t matter the draft choice. Hopefully, that answers your question.
Ian O’Connor, New York Post: On the Brock Wright touchdown after looking at the film, is there anything that you saw that you didn’t realize yesterday that was chiefly responsible for the breakdown on that play?
No. That was a play that they’ve run a lot, the old Juice play, and it was something that we should have covered. If we do our job, we win the football game.
Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: You mentioned last night that it’s no secret that we have to win these last three games to get into the playoffs. What makes you think that your team has what it takes to do that because its’s obviously a tall task with some tough opponents coming up?
We’ve shown it. It’s been a tale of two halves. I kind of talked about it in Training Camp. This whole season is going to come down to a young team in the fourth quarter, winning football games, and making those plays. In the first half of the season, albeit as we look back, in the first half, we made those plays to win the game. We were taking the ball away. We were closing the door. We were making plays on offense. In this back half of the season, we’re getting stuffed on the 1-yard line, we’re giving up punt returns, we’re not getting the ball on defense, we’re not making the plays in the fourth quarter to win. The good news is that we’re in these games and putting ourselves in position to win. We’ve got to go back and find a way to recapture what we were doing in the first half of the season over the next stretch of games and hopefully extend it. It starts with Jacksonville. Quick turnaround, but we’ve got to find a way to finish in the fourth quarter.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: What’s happened to the offensive line? Especially yesterday, there was like zero movement in the running game. What’s going on there?
It’s got to be better. I can give you the empathetic, woe-is-me card, but nobody cares. We’ve got to be better.