Head Coach Robert Saleh, 12.30

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Opening Statement: 

So, Jeff Smith and (Brandin) Echols will be out. Everyone else, we feel good about.


Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: How good is it getting (Lamarcus) Joyner back?

It’s good. Again, he’s an explosive player back there. He’s hair-trigger in a sense, and he’s 99 percent right when he does trigger. So, when that ball snaps, post-snap, he’s as good as anybody.


Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: We, for good reason, have focused on the corners and how they play, but how have Joyner and (Jordan) Whitehead worked together in that secondary this year?

For sure. We put a lot of stress on our safeties and linebackers in the scheme. Two basically new faces because Lamarcus missed all of last year, and we asked him to do a lot, and I feel like they’ve done a really good job and have gotten better as the year has gone on. We rely on them a lot for communication, something that I feel like they’ve gotten better at. There’s a lot of things that we ask them to do, and I feel like they’ve gotten better every week.


Ryan Dunleavy, New York Post: Two points with your run game — do you expect to have (Chris) Streveler up as a practice squad elevation?

We’ll see. He’s another one with roster limitations and a lot of guys coming back from injury, we’re not quite sure yet.


Ryan Dunleavy, New York Post: (Follow Up) And do you expect Zonovan (Knight) to be your lead back again or is there anything you could do — we know it’s an all-11 run game thing? You’re not going to really change out your offensive line — is there anything you could do at running back to maybe jump start it? 

Back by committee. We’ve got the backs, and the three that are active will usually kind of roll. Zonovan will kind of get his opps (opportunities), so will Michael (Carter), so will possibly James (Robinson), and so will Ty Johnson. That’s always going to be the feel as the game is going.


Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: With the trip to Seattle, did you guys do anything to tweak the schedule with sleep? 

Everything is normal, we’re just leaving today, as opposed to a normal Saturday trip. We’re going to get out there a day early and just kind of acclimate.


Ryan Dunleavy, New York Post: Do you want to know, it’s probably unavoidable to find out, but do you want to know the results of Patriots vs. Dolphins before you take the field? Will you be scoreboard watching? 

Not scoreboard, I’m sure human nature, we’re going to glance at it. Again, unless we take care of ours, it doesn’t matter. Like I’ve said all week, it’s not about the playoffs, it’s about getting up off the mat. We had a rough December. Luckily, we get a new month. The game is happening in January, so take a deep breath, get off the mat, and get ready to fight.


Denis Gorman, Newsday: Do you get the sense that your group understands the importance of what this Sunday could mean for the organization?

Young group. I joked in Training Camp, baby Jets and all that stuff, and I feel like we’ve grown a lot. I think our veterans recognize it because there’s guys like C.J. Mosley who’s been in the League a while, and he hasn’t had as many playoff appearances as you would think. It’s not easy to get to the playoffs. It’s hard to win football games in this League. You just got to cherish every moment, and when you get these opportunities, you want to seize it. The magnitude of it all, I don’t know. That’s probably more of a question for them, but at the same time, you don’t want to make it bigger than anything else because, again, you got to stay in the moment and do your best.

Denis Gorman, Newsday: (Follow Up) Along those same lines, when you came in and some of the players have come in, you guys have talked about changing the culture within the organization and the perception of the franchise. Do you get the sense that that’s changing internally and externally? 

I do. I think there’s a lot of confidence in the locker room. From a building standpoint, I can’t speak for what it’s been, but I do feel like there’s a lot of transparency in the building, a lot of people speaking the same language and a lot of really good communication happening. I think we’ve made really, really nice strides this year. We’d love to finish it, so obviously we got to take care of this one. I feel like we’re definitely going in the right direction.


Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: When you guys walked off the field last Thursday night, it seemed pretty dire as far as the playoff chances and then everything that happened over the weekend, does that kind of just speak to how crazy the League has been this season?

Yeah, like I said it’s hard to win in this League, that’s why you got two division winners who may end up with a losing record, possibly. You’ve got teams just hovering around .500 battling for that 7th spot in both conferences. It is hard, there’s lots of parity in this League, and with the salary cap and the shared revenue and all that, everyone’s got an equal swing at the bat. Doesn’t matter whether you’re a small market or a big market, there’s tremendous opportunity to be had in terms of creating a winner year in and year out and I think that’s why the NFL is the greatest sport, the greatest sport at least in this country because every year is just a wildcard, roll-the-dice, see what happens because you look at teams like Denver who have lost a bunch of one-score games, versus a team like Minnesota who has won a bunch of one-score games and for us, we had a really cool first half of winning one-score games, and the second half we’ve just been that short, and I think that’s why the agony and the joy of this League week-to-week is felt because every single game is like ‘God, it’s so close,’ but yeah, the League is crazy.


Ryan Dunleavy, New York Post: How much of that has to do with the run game? Like the run game was really good in the first half of the season, and hasn’t been as much, even (Mike) LaFleur said yesterday, you were a running team at one point in the season.

No, you’re right, there’s a lot of things. We got to get the ball on defense, we’ve got to find a way to get leads early so teams have to force the issue against our defense, so we can be a little bit more opportunistic. There’s a whole bunch of things, being able to run the ball and kill clock and possess it, move the chains, but it’s not just the run game although that is a big part of it, especially December football. Just our team ball hasn’t been clicking to the level it needs to click for us to win those one-score games.


Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: Robert, one thing we meant to ask you earlier in the week is about Miles Austin and his suspension, if you have any statement? And who is handling the wide receivers now?

Mack Brown is handling the receivers. I’m not going to get into detail of all the things, I know Miles is a non-malicious person, so there’s a lot of things that I’d like to say, but he’s got to go through his due diligence and have faith in the people making the decisions that once they hear him out, they’ll do the right thing.


Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: Does he have to stay away from the team during the appeal process?
Yeah, he’s been away from the team.


Ryan Dunleavy, New York Post: You guys announced this morning that Quinnen (Williams) was voted your team MVP. I don’t what there’s left to say about how good Quinnen is, but could you talk about that and what’s the process for that? Does each guy get a ballot or whatever in the locker room, or is it like a raise your hand thing? 

No, there’s a ballot. Quinnen’s (Williams) back there looking, making sure (joking). There’s a ballot, I think it was as close to unanimous as it can get, but Quinnen, he also won the “Good Guy” Award in terms of just how his presence is in the building and how good of a human being he is. When you have guys like that, you’re happy for him because of all the success he’s having, but he’s a dominant force in the inside. When he’s playing at his best, he makes it easy for everybody to do their jobs, but not just that, I never liked to compare, but his impact in the building is very similar to a guy like DeForest Buckner who’s just the ultimate team guy, team first, uplifts his teammates, has a great relationship with all of his teammates, and very coachable, so he’s deserving of everything he’s gotten this year.


Denis Gorman, Newsday: What did you know about Quinnen when you took the job and what have you learned about him since then?

Well, I’ve talked about it where we ended taking (Nick) Bosa over Quinnen when we were in San Francisco, so there was a lot of studying that went into Quinnen in the event that (Nick) Bosa would’ve went first, but Quinnen, there was a lot of lobbying for Quinnen in the building and deserved, he’s a dominant human being on the inside, which he’s showing. We knew his character, we felt like he was young, and he was going to have to grow into it which he has, and we feel even now that the sky is still the limit for him, but everything that we studied and felt is everything that has kind of come to fruition in over the two years that I’ve been here.


Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: Among the other awards, I think the Selfless Warrior Award that went to Duane (Brown). That’s a new one, I think. How did that come about?

As a staff and an organization, really as an organization, I think sometimes the guys who sacrifice so much are kind of hidden. They don’t get celebrated enough. We have all these awards and they’re awesome, just talking to PR and all of them just to recognize the guy that just goes above and beyond to sacrifice not only for himself for himself and his family, but for his team and his teammates, and Duane Brown ended up, it’s voted on by the coaches and Duane Brown just exemplifies everything with what he’s done. I’m not going to get into details of what he’s sacrificed and how he’s been doing it, but it is very rare, very rare for someone like Duane Brown to go through a season like he has and to sacrifice what he has, when he hasn’t had to sacrifice anything. There’s a reason why he’s had so many years in the League, there’s a reason why he’s got many more years left in the league, and there’s a reason why he’s been a Pro Bowler for so long and he’s made so much money. He’s amazing.