Head Coach Robert Saleh, 12.26
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Connor Hughes, SNY: Can you talk a little bit about Mike (White) getting clearance and also, what this does for the status of Zach Wilson on Sunday?
I guess it broke, Mike did get clearance, so he will be the starter. The number two quarterback will be Joe Flacco. The plan for Zach, it hasn’t changed. I still think he’s got a future here. I still think he’s going to be a really good quarterback. He needs time to sit back and continue the development that we’re trying to re-kickstart, if you will, after the New England game. We still have him in our future and our plans.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: What kind opportunity is this for Mike? It was obviously suspended briefly with the hit in Buffalo. What were you seeing in him before he got hurt, and what went into starting him again?
Anytime you get an opportunity in this League to step out on the field as a starter, it’s a great opportunity — any position. I thought Mike had been doing a great job, thought he did a great job moving the offense, sustaining drives, getting first downs, much more efficient, offense was running with some good efficiency. So, yeah, it’s a great opportunity for him. It’s a great opportunity for everybody, anytime you get a chance to step on the field, like I said. Really, he just needs to take it one day at a time and go from there.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: On Mike getting cleared, was that the Jets doctor that cleared him, or one of the many other doctors that he had been seeing?
At the end of the day, regardless of who cleared him, he had to be cleared by our doctors. So, it was ours.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: (Follow Up) And also, I wanted to follow up with another quarterback question, I know you’re shocked by that. Over the weekend, there was a report from FOX that the Jets are expected to move on from Zach Wilson. Is that accurate?
Like I just said, that report is all speculation. He still has a huge plan in our future, and like I said, we’re not quitting on the young man. We’re going to do everything we can to develop him.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: If you guys had been eliminated over the weekend, would that have changed what you did today?
Hypothetical, Al. I have no idea what I would’ve done today, to be honest with you.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Could you just describe what it was like for you this weekend? I know the other night you said you weren’t thinking about the playoffs, but I’m guessing you’re sitting on your couch watching Packers vs. Dolphins thinking what it was like when watching the Bengals win and then watching the Packers win yesterday and things breaking your way?
It’s fun to sit back and watch football. Seemed like Santa Claus sent a lot of toys to build this Winter, so there was a lot of building going on. Yeah, it was fun. It’s always fun to sit back, watch football, see how things play out. This League is kind of whacky. I think everyone knows that — anything can happen, but it doesn’t change what I talked about last week with regards to what our goal is and what we’re trying to accomplish and the Playoffs being the furthest thing from our minds in terms of what we need to get done day-in-day-out and the process at which we have to go about it.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: What kind of opportunity is this for you guys? I don’t know if you have had a chance to be around the entire team today or what you guys did, but I wonder if there’s a little extra bounce in the step in some people because of what took place this weekend?
Our team meeting here is in about an hour. I haven’t seen anyone yet. I’m sure there’s going to be excitement naturally, but it goes back to the message doesn’t change. This isn’t about Playoffs. Obviously, I get it. Just looking at, we got to get back to what we were the first half of the season — one day at a time, take advantage of the moment, and whatever happens, happens. Stay in the moment, I get there’s something out there, just like there was something out there in the beginning of the season. We still got to find ourselves, we got to find some confidence, we’ve got to get the ball rolling, and it starts with how we prepare day-in-day-out and how we attack these moments. The Playoffs, all that stuff, is cool, but we’ve got to stay connected to this moment in Seattle, and Seattle only. So, my messaging, our messaging doesn’t change from what we talked about on Friday.
Connor Hughes, SNY: I assume this is probably the case, but if you could confirm it: Is Mike going to be your starter for the rest of the year, and if the year is extended in January?
Yeah, barring injury.
Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: Did Chris Streveler show you enough to use that package again going forward this season?
We’ll see. He did a really nice job with it. I thought it was a cool little wrinkle. I know people are familiar with Taysom Hill and all of the things he did, and still does, for New Orleans. Again, there’s a lot of guys coming back healthy this week, hopefully. So, there’s a lot of roster gymnastics that would have to take place, so it’s something that we’re talking about, but it’s not a guarantee.
Brian Costello, New York Post: We talked about the offensive line a lot in recent weeks and what’s not happening there. Would you consider making any personnel changes along the line?
No, they’re fighting their tails off. The o-line has had a ton of injuries throughout the year. I know just along the offensive line with the guys we’re rolling out there now, they’re fighting their tails off. The amount of rehab and regen they’re trying to get through week-in and week-out to take care of their bodies and the sacrifice that they’re making for this team to just be able to get out on the football field on Sunday is much appreciated. So, as far as personnel changes and all of that, we have the eight guys we’re going to war with every week, and I promise you that they’re in a lot of pain and fighting their tails off.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: After that Buffalo game when Mike got hurt, there was some powerful things said from some of his teammates which I’m sure you saw and felt, just about their respect for Mike and what not. This is nothing to do with Zach, just about Mike, but can you speak to, is there an intangible there the way guys play for someone they respect that much? Some of the things that they said after that game were pretty eye-opening about him, and I just kind of wonder if you feel that in the locker room as a coach?
Let me try to see if I can answer this one, because it’s all encompassing. Not to minimize the quarterback room, but it’s really every room — whether the center believes in the guard next to him, or the guard believes in the tackle next to him, or the o-line believes that the (running) back will find the small, little crease that they create, whether the quarterback believes a receiver will go get the jump ball for them and save them, whether players next to each other believes that the player next to them will make a play to help them out and will help everyone around them get better. So, I guess what I’m trying to say, and the same thing on defense – C.J. Mosley and Kwon (Alexander) and Quincy (Williams) believe in each other that one of them is going to make a play, and they feed off each other and they feed off their energy and all the way around. Whenever you’re playing with someone that you feel you have confidence with and confidence with one another and team confidence, it is contagious. You do feel like C.J. Mosley is going to help everyone around him get better, so you love playing with C.J.. So, when you have that personal confidence with someone obviously it does project and people do voice that opinion. Obviously, the quarterback does get all that publicity because they’re showcased most, but it’s all over a football team. You can tell when players have confidence in one another and when they don’t.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: I was referring a little bit to the toughness that he showed. I mean he got up and came back twice from a couple of hits that people thought that he would never get up from and I think that that was eye opening to guys, not eye opening like they weren’t expecting it, but just that kind of element of respect, not necessarily the trust?
It is because it’s all encompassing, the amount of respect everyone has for Duane Brown, that toughness, that mindset, not to dodge the question from you, Mark, but it’s for sure when you show a level of toughness and a willing to sacrifice your body, I don’t care what position you play, when you do that for your teammates, when you are putting yourself on the field when you know you’re hanging by a thread from a health standpoint, it garners a lot of respect throughout the locker room and the entire organization.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Robert, what was Zach’s reaction when you told him? I mean you talked last week about his confidence being a little shaky and now this is the second time he’s being replaced?
Zach’s great, he understands, he’s not going to be a kid that quits. I don’t think he’s looking at this and saying it’s an impossible hill to climb, I think he’s got a road to travel with regards to just tying all the things that we’ve been trying to get done here since the New England game, still got a lot of faith in him and his ability to work, just as a person and the amount of work that he puts in day-in and day-out and while it doesn’t look good and while it doesn’t seem like there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, you just got to put your head down, just keep working, eventually it’ll come through. There’s a lot of quarterbacks in this League who have made it out of the dark tunnel and if you look throughout the League, more quarterbacks than not have started in the dungeon, if you will, and have found their way out to sunlight, so, got a lot of confidence in him because of how important this is, what kind of a man he is, and how hard he’ll work.
Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: Robert, you talked about, just right there about guys having to work through the darkness and all that, do you think in a way what Mike has done and his path is kind of an example to Zach of kind of the things you need to get done to succeed?
Yeah, Mike White, I’ve said it to some people, he was with Dallas when I was a D-Coordinator in San Fran (Francisco) and played him twice, don’t remember him from Dallas at all. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing, he comes here, he gets cut three or four times, the road to being a good NFL player is not smooth, it is the anomalies happens, and I think unfortunately in this world we live in where the word development and time are almost oil and water now. Everyone is expecting development to happen within a year, that’s not how it works, that’s called an anomaly and I think we judge every player based on the guys that have hit within one year rather than judging the majority of guys which takes time. So, with Zach, like I have no doubt in my mind, when it’s important to somebody and they love the game, and they have the work ethic that a guy like Zach has, you have faith that if you just give him time, unfortunately, it’s everyone, it’s coaches, organization, fans, media, everyone, nobody believes in time anymore, but everyone wants to develop people, it’s just, that’s almost contradictory to a degree.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: Robert, just jumping back to Mike for a second. Kind of what you were just saying a little bit to some degree, I’m curious do players appreciate a path like this? I feel like guys around him maybe know his story, his path obviously, his journey. Is there an appreciation for that too, from guys, some of whom have gone through similar paths? Not everybody takes the same path obviously.
I think there is. When you have somebody who wasn’t handed everything, right? When you have somebody who’s been, who’s has gone through the grind, who has been cut, been to another team, gets cut by that team, just when you have someone who’s come up the hard way, that’s the majority of this League. I think that’s why people gravitate to people who have had a struggle, that’s why people like the struggle, this country has been about struggle. Trying to find your way, majority of people scratch and claw their ways through life, and so you resonate with that, but that’s the League too, majority of players scratch and claw their way into the positions they are now. Yes, we focus on the anomalies, like I said, but I think there’s a common denominator, there’s a common whatever, hopefully you guys understand what I’m getting at with that.
Connor Hughes, SNY: Robert, are you and Joe (Douglas) open to the idea that while you did draft Zach second overall, and you do believe that he has a future with this team, are the two of you open to the concept that Mike might be your answer at quarterback moving forward, beyond just this year?
One day at a time on that one, Connor. We’ve got two now, another hypothetical I think, I think one thing that Joe is really big on, and myself, is that everything is always going to be evaluated after every single day. Not just after every week, or after every season, so like I’ve said before we’re always going to do what’s best for the organization, but there is still a lot of information to gather.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, I just had two for you, do you expect (Lamarcus) Joyner to be back this week?
We’re hopeful for Joyner.
Brian Costello, New York Post: (Follow Up) And then I know this is kind of old news, at this point, but we haven’t asked you about the four Pro Bowlers. What did it mean for you to see those guys selected for the Pro Bowl last week?
Oh man, for them, awesome, was really, really pumped for C.J. (Mosley). You know I talk about C.J. because I think he was like fifth in fan voting or something like that because he doesn’t get as much fanfare as Sauce (Gardner) is fantastic and deserving, Quinnen (Williams), (Justin) Hardee, fantastic, but when you go into the coaches and player vote, being fifth at your position, and you end up number one, it says something. It says that what you’ve been putting on tape is ridiculous, and C.J.’s been ridiculous this year. So, really happy for those guys. Even the alternates. D.J. Reed being an alternate, Garrett Wilson being an alternate, and same with Braxton (Berrios). Big time credit to them. You can argue that D.J. has been playing at a Pro Bowl level, too. I’m sure he’ll end up at the Pro Bowl, but very excited for the group and the development and the work that everyone’s put in for those guys and they work that they put in to put themselves in that position.