Head Coach Robert Saleh, 12.7

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Opening Statement:

Good morning. Alright, we’ve got a bunch of illnesses going around, little flu bug. So, George (Fant), Corey Davis, D.J. Reed, Micheal Clemons won’t be at practice today, hopefully get them back tomorrow. These guys will be limited, it’s Lamarcus Joyner, vet day, he’s dealing with a hip, but it’s more veteran related. Duane Brown is going through his normal procedure, and Ashtyn Davis, he’ll be back, limited. And then Max Mitchell is going on NFI, so he’ll be out for the year. I’m not going to get into details on what that is right now.


Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Is NFI, is that automatically out for the year?

I don’t know the rules on that one. I just know he’s out for the year.


Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Is that an injury?

Non-football related. Again, I’m not going to get into specifics right now because there’s a lot of things that we’re trying to sort out, and for him, too.


Brian Costello, New York Post: So, you lost Cedric (Ogbuehi), just trying to do the math in my head, where are you at with tackles right now?

(Mike) Remmers will be the backup to George Fant, he’s the swing tackle to George and Duane and then, we’ll make the corresponding moves later in the week.


Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Did you mention Michael Carter?

Yeah, he’s back full today.


Brian Costello, New York Post: When you look at the Bills, you didn’t see them that long ago, any differences in the team over the last month or so?

No, they’re loaded. Again, very well coached. A lot of the same principles, obviously tendencies have changed here and there, but still who they are and what they identify as is still clear on tape.


Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Josh (Allen) had his worse game against you guys, I think. What were you able to do and how hard is it to duplicate that against someone like him?

Really hard to duplicate, hard to do once against someone like him. Sometimes the ball bounces your way, you guys know the drill. They’re super talented. I’m sure there are a couple plays that they look at where they wish they had it back, but thought our guys played a relentless style of football and it went all the way down to the wire and we took advantage of opportunities when we got them, but they’re fully healthy in all three phases and so, it’s going to be a dog fight.


Ryan Dunleavy, New York Post: This is part of the chess match of coaching, but can you even replicate it? Or do you have to, you know he’s going to be ready for what you were doing, exactly what you did, so do you have to throw like new wrinkles?

No, I mean anything’s possible, but this team, they’re so well coached and again, they’re coming off 10 days rest, and they get a home game, and I’m sure they’ve studied some of their tendencies, so they’re going to flip the script on some things. So, playing a team like Buffalo, when you play a quarterback like Josh, there’s a relentlessness that you have to play with, with regards to the playing rhythm and then the playoff schedule. So, you’re not just defending a three second play, you’re defending six, seven, eight, nine seconds, and just being relentless in rush and coverage and all the different things that we talk about. That’s really the key for this team.


Connor Hughes, SNY: Robert, when you were at San Francisco, you were kind of involved in a pretty bitter divisional battle and really tough games with LA, the Rams, and (Sean) McVay. Do you see this developing to that kind of rivalry where it’s just two good teams going at it twice a year every year?

You’d like to be, I mean we have to step up to their, I mean they’ve been there for a minute, but that west, when we were there, I mean Seattle was involved there too. So, in this division, I feel like we have the best division in football, by far. New England, like I’ve always said, they’re not going anywhere, Buffalo and Miami are so talented and very well coached, and so it’s a tough division, every game I just feel is an absolute war and has its own flavor and a team like Buffalo, they’re going to be good for a very, very long time, one, because of the coaching, and two, obviously the quarterback, so hopefully it can be a war for a long time.


Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Robert, with the redzone issues, how do you guys attack that? Does that mean more practice reps, is it a self-scout?

Well, you try to, sorry to cut you off, but you try to keep it just tell the truth. At the bye week we were 13th in the NFL in redzone, which isn’t, you know you always striving to be top five and all that stuff, but it wasn’t a problem. Unfortunately, with redzone, there’s so few opportunities from week to week that it’s the most volatile stat, in terms of just one bad game can just derail all your statistical rankings. So, you got to stick to your fundamentals, stick to your process, stick to your practice habits. Can you practice it more? Sure, but it was close, we were close to having a four-of-six day, you could look at it the other way, but it just didn’t work out and you got to give that team credit too. Minnesota did a really nice job in the redzone, but I don’t think it’s something to hit the panic button on yet.

Connor Hughes, SNY: Will you practice more? I know you mentioned, do you plan on spending more time this week on the redzone?

We’ll have our normal planning. Like I said, because the more you practice one area, the less you can practice on the other stuff. There’s a lot of different phases of football, and we already, I’d argue that we probably already practice redzone more than anyone in football, in terms of the amount of walkthroughs and the amount of live practice reps we have, during the course of the week and that’s not to justify anything, it’s just being with different organizations, but I don’t think it’s time to hit the panic button yet, you just got to stick to your process, believe in what you’re doing, and tell the truth of what you’re seeing. How come we didn’t have success? Be honest with those answers, and find ways to fix them within the process that we attack every week.


Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: So, what about third down conversions?  Because that seems like it’s been a problem consistently throughout the year.

Yeah, that for sure has obviously, it’s got to be better. Third down is always, I mean it’s a money down, but it’s got to get better, for sure.


Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: We talked a lot about how deep you guys are on the defensive line. I’m curious, what’s the personality of it, or like how would you describe those guys because you have like 11 guys that can probably play for another team and it doesn’t seem like anybody complains about it either? 

No, well, we said that in training camp. It felt like we had a bunch of 53-man roster players. I always feel like to be a good d-lineman in this League, you have to toe the line of nutty, so it’s a great group of guys, great character guys. They’re relentless, selfless, they’re awesome to be around. It’s a really good group.


Al Iannazzone, Newsday: On Mike (White), last year against Buffalo so much about what happened. He said it himself, he tried to play hero ball, get everything back. Did you see growth from him especially the last game? Not saying defense, but down 20-3, it seemed like he was a lot more poised than he was against Buffalo. 

Yeah, the entire offense in general, for sure. They did a really good job because he still took what the defense kept giving him, and when the defense presented the opportunity to push the ball downfield, he pushed it. When it wasn’t there he took the check downs, and then obviously, the last play of the game he had to force it to the endzone based on the time, and it was picked off, but really thought he played a really good game. Started out a little slow obviously in the first half, but I thought just the entire team, including him just had an outstanding second half, but a lot of things that we can grow off of.


Connor Hughes, SNY: Robert, with Mike in that second half, he was making some throws where it wasn’t necessarily about just attacking the second level and making big, basically, attacking down the field to open guys. He was almost it seemed like creating windows, or really fitting them into some tight spots. Did he teach you anything about what he’s capable of, or is that stuff that you’ve seen in practice?

I feel like we’ve seen that in practice, and he works against our defense in show team, when he was the third, that’s basically your role, and threading needles, and testing his arm, and just letting it rip. So, we feel like he’s shown us that plenty over the last couple of years, and that was just really cool for him to get to show that in the game. I thought he did some against Chicago, we talked about how in Cincinnati last year it was just, that’s all they were giving him was check downs, so there was no reason to push the ball downfield, but he has the ability to do both, and he has the arm strength to make every throw on the field. So, it was good for him to have that success, but it’s also good for him to know and make the sound decision of when to push it versus when not to. So, that’s what was really good about that, where even though we were behind two scores, three scores at one point, he was still taking what the defense gave and pushing it when he had to.


Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: What were you thinking when you’re watching tape for the first time, and you saw the fourth down pass to Corey (Davis) and especially coming after the play where he got hit hard?

It was, I thought it was outstanding – Corey (Davis) outstanding to kind of slow down and position his body in the way that he did to be able to get the ball in there, but excuse my language, but to have the (expletive) to just rip that thing the way he did, it was pretty cool.


Brian Costello, New York Post: With Sauce (Gardner) and Garrett (Wilson). Obviously, teams are always excited about their picks, especially that high, but did you ever imagine that they could hit the ground running like they have this season? It doesn’t seem like they’ve let up at all?

For sure. Anytime you draft a rookie, selfishly as an organization, we think we always make the right pick. So, you’re always thinking you drafted seven Pro Bowlers or whatever it is, but realistically, you never expect them to hit the ground running because there’s the big eyed part you got to go through, they’re running around making mistakes. So, you know the truth as an organization, there’s a lot of promise you see, but there’s so many things that rookies normally mess up. From Day One, you could tell that they were not scared to be in this League. The game is not too big for them. I think that’s why you’re seeing the success that they’ve had, and that’s why they’re getting better every single week. You got a guy like Sauce who cherishes these moments to go against guys like Justin Jefferson and (Stefon) Diggs and Tyreek Hill and Ja’Marr Chase and all the different guys that him and D.J. Reed have had to play. Then, Garrett Wilson just thriving. If you ask him, we should throw the ball 90 times a game. You want guys who want the ball in the biggest moments, but all of our rookies — Jermaine (Johnson) is doing a great job, Michael Clemons is doing phenomenal. There’s a lot of guys that we can speak for, but those two — even Breece (Hall), missing him — it just wasn’t big for him.


Connor Hughes, SNY: I know that it’ll work itself out organically and stuff here, but you’ve seen more probably Mike White than any of us considering you watch him every day in practice, review the film, all of that stuff. Based off of what you see, whether it’s here or whether it’s elsewhere, do you believe that this kid is a long-term answer for someone at quarterback? Does he have that potential?

I feel like I’ve been vocal about that. I’ve been vocal about Joe Flacco, too. I think they’re starters in this League. That’s why we kept three. Normally, you don’t want to keep three on the active roster, and we kept three because we feel like we have three starter-type quarterbacks. What he’s proving is that he can do it. He proved it a little last year. He’s proving it again this year, and it’s really exciting for him to get this moment and get this opportunity to attack it and show that he’s capable.


Al Iannazzone, Newsday: What has Bam (Zonovan Knight) showed you these last few weeks and what changes now that Michael is back? 

Bam, what he’s shown is that he’s got juice, like we talked about. I think his GPS hit 4.39 on that long run on the sideline — just pure gas. This time of year where legs get heavy and you got a guy who can clock that on the GPS, it’s going to show differently, which I think it does. He runs with a physical mindset. He’s hungry. He’s young. He runs violently. When he turns a corner and sticks his foot in the ground, it’s special.


Ryan Dunleavy, New York Post: Has he earned a piece of the pie now? 

Oh, yeah. He’s not going anywhere.