Head Coach Robert Saleh, 12.8

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Opening Statement:

I’ll give you guys injuries real quick. E. Moore (Elijah Moore) is dealing with a quad, he’s day-to-day. LDT (Laurent Duvernay-Tardif), he’s day-to-day. Tevin Coleman and Michael Carter II are in the concussion protocol. (Trevon) Wesco is day-to-day with an ankle. (Ryan) Griffin is day-to-day with an ankle. (Sheldon) is day-to-day with a knee. None of them are practicing today.


Brian Costello, New York Post: Long list… 

We’ll figure it out.


Brian Costello, New York Post: How serious is Elijah’s injury?

We’ll know more as the week goes on. I’m still hopeful that he’ll be able to make it Sunday.


Andy Vasquez, The Record: Is that related to the injury he suffered in training camp?

No, it came on really late, so I didn’t have any detail on Monday. Didn’t really get a hold of it until really Tuesday.


Brian Costello, New York Post: If you have no Moore and then Corey (Davis) is down, is Keelan (Cole) back off COVID?

Yes, Keelan is here. He’s practicing.


Dan Leberfeld, Jets Confidential: What’s going on with Mike White?

Mike White is still going through the return to play as it pertains to COVID. Kind of similar to (Denzel) Mims, because had two weeks, there’s a process that they have to go through to get him back. So, we’re working through that.


Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Robert, do you have an update on Mekhi (Becton)?

No update yet. It’s really the same. He hasn’t had a setback or anything, just everyone is different in terms of how they heal and all that stuff. So, hopefully we can get something going soon, but it’s all the same.


(follow up) Was he supposed to be on the field, like field work?

He’s still doing field work.


Connor Hughes, The Athletic: I understand everyone is different and some people take a little longer, but this was originally a four-to-six recovery, then went four-to-eight. We’re now about a month past that eight-week timetable, is it alarming at all that he’s not…?

No, because his was different. You’re right, it was different in terms of, if you guys remember there was that talk of whether or not there was going to be surgery to shut it down, too. So, his was a little bit different than any other one. Always felt like it was going to be more, personally, just because the way it was spoken was different than (Conor) McDermott’s. So, I’m not at all surprised or discouraged. He’s going to heal, he’ll be back, and he’ll be fine.


Brian Costello, New York Post: You still think he’ll be back this season?

Hopefully, yeah, I’m still hopeful.


Andy Vasquez, The Record: How do you balance that with only five games left? When does it become too late than it’s worth getting him out there on the field? 

No, I don’t think it’s ever too late. I think he’s got a desire to play for his teammates, play for his family and all that. So, whether it’s one game, two games, I don’t think it really matters to him, he just wants to get back on the field.


Dan Leberfeld, Jets Confidential: Where would he play if he came back?

I’ll speculate on that one later.


Connor Hughes, The Athletic: With Mekhi though, is there a point where you have to say like, “Okay, if he’s not back by here, we’re just going to shut it down?”

No, I’m not ready to even think about that one yet, Connor.


Brian Costello, New York Post: Austin Walter getting signed to the active roster, is that an indication that Michael Carter might be further away than you guys thought?

No, with TeCo (Tevin Coleman) in the concussion protocol, and (Walter) already used both of his practice squad eligibility, we need three backs up on gameday.


Brian Costello, New York Post: Is there any update on Bryce Huff, Robert? Do you still expect him to be back this season?

Yeah, really hopeful that he’s back next week. Very optimistic on that one.


Brian Costello, New York Post: When you look at the Saints, reports out of New Orleans this morning are that (Alvin) Kamara will be back. Obviously, you guys had some issues against the run on Sunday, what kind of challenge is that for your defense?

He’s one of the best. He’s got tremendous contact balance, he’s a savvy runner, he’s very smart, he’s great out of the backfield in the pass game. So, I’m sure they’re excited to get him back and get him back involved, especially down the stretch for them. They’ve been hit with the injury bug, too, and they’re on a little bit of a losing streak and they’re a very prideful organization with a tremendous head coach, so I know they’re really chomping at the bit to get him going and to try to feed him the rock. Having him back, he’s an issue, but something that we’ve got to be excited about attacking.


Bob Glauber, Newsday: Robert, I know the record isn’t what you had hoped, but do you kind drill down when you look at this rookie class and see some things that are at least glimmers of hope for down the line?

Yeah, I drill down on all of it. I know results, this is a results-oriented business, I want to make sure that’s very clear. So, we understand it still comes down to wins and losses, but the reality is that you do have to look through and see, what are the building pieces and what direction does this organization and team need to go to get us into that perennial discussion as it pertains to playoffs and championships, and that picture is super clear. This rookie class is fantastic. The youth that we have on this team is fantastic, some of the vets that we have on this team, there’s a lot of really great things to work off of on this roster, and there’s a lot of guys that we’ll get back from injury that will add to this team. There’s a lot of really cool pieces on this team and there’s a lot of things to look forward to, but it still comes down to, we’ve got five games left too, and to take one game at a time and focus on making sure we’re doing everything to continue to solidify our identity and the direction we want to get with our schemes and then, obviously, the players, with the quarterback, the receivers, the young secondary we got going, there’s still a lot of growth to be had at those positions. That’s where we’re relentlessly trying to make sure that we maximize every last bit of it.


DJ Bien-Aime, New York Daily News: Robert, since Week Five, that’s where kind of the defensive decline began, how much of it has started from just not being able to stop the run? Because right now, since that span of time, you guys have allowed the most rushing touchdowns and the second most rushing yards, so how much has the defensive decline stemmed from not being able to stop the run?

As a defense, you’re always trying to make a team one dimensional, so when an offense can run, pass, play action and really get themselves in favorable third-and-five, four, three, two, one because of their ability to run the ball and push forward, it makes it very hard. So, in the first half of the year, if you remember, we were top 10 in third down, we were top 10 in red zone, we were playing really, really good ball in those situations. A lot of that had to do with we were averaging a longer third down than we are now. Our best defensive games are when we do stop the run, and it’s something that, obviously, everyone is locked in on trying to make sure that we do. It stems so much more than just the yardage total. It’s about the down and distances and trying to get it to where we’re living in third-and-seven, eight, nine, 10, to give our d-line a chance to get home.


Connor Hughes, The Athletic: How much more challenging is it to stop the run when, obviously you guys know the issues that, I mean we’ve talked about it a ton, the issues that you guys got at safety right now where Ashtyn (Davis) is kind of filling in for Marcus (Maye) and you have Elijah (Riley) filling in for (Lamarcus) Joyner, who you lost awhile back. The corners, you’re down there as well with (Brandin) Echols out, so you want to stop the run, I know in layman’s terms you just put the extra guy in the box, but in doing that then you’re putting more pressure on the secondary, so you have to protect the secondary, too.

That’s a good point. Everyone’s got to stand up, do their job, right? From a play calling standpoint also for us as coaches, we’ve got to do a good job of playing the cat-and-mouse game and sending our single-man pressures and bringing an eighth man down in the box and trying to figure out how we can get the safety’s to be more aggressive in the run fit. And then, at the same time, with the d-line, we always talk about gap and a half, do your job a little bit more and when you have that matchup that you feel good about, to be able to steal a gap whether it’s C.J. (Mosley) stealing a gap at the linebacker spot or Foley (Folorunso Fatukasi) two-gapping in that A-gap, or whatever it might be. Stopping the run, it really is a collective deal, and it includes coaches with regards to putting us in good situations and making sure that they’re always off kilter with regards to what we’re trying to do to stop the run.


Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Back in training camp, you were talking about Zach (Wilson), and you said, “It’s going to get worse before it gets better.” Did you anticipate that with the defense knowing that it’s the first year in the system and you guys have to go through a lot?

You always, especially on defense, you want to get better as the year goes on. For me, in my mind, defense, you should be playing your best ball as it gets closer to playoff time. When it gets cold outside, the weather gets nasty, and you want to see growth and improvement. We have seen some growth and improvement, obviously the run game has been a struggle since the Bye Week. I do think the secondary is starting to get into a rhythm, but we’ve got to be able to step up now. I will say this, as bad as the Philadelphia game may have looked, I do think in the second half we were able to stand up, keep them out of the end zone, hold them to three field goals, two of which I feel like were given. I do think there’s growth to be had, and I don’t want one game to define what they’ve been able to do. I thought we played well versus Miami, got a lot better versus Houston, finished strong versus Philadelphia. Now we got another opportunity against a really good New Orleans team with one of the best play callers this league has ever had, so it’s another challenge for us to try to step up, find a way to get better and, again, finish the season strong. We’ve got five games left to do everything we can to finish as strong as possible.


Al Iannazzone, Newsday: When you were going through injuries in San Francisco, you talked about how you overcame it because it was year four in the system and things like that. How important is it going to be to keep some of these guys in this system for that to happen?

That is a big part of it. People always ask, even if you have veterans or coaches, as a coach, I’m going to put it back on coaches, when you’re going through and you’re installing the system, you start to learn all the different snakes that can pop up out of the ground based on the scheme and how teams attack and you can deliver it to your players in a much cleaner way. And then from a player’s standpoint, one guy on the d-line, one guy at linebacker level, one guy at the back end, that’s all it takes, and then they’re able to communicate and really take all this foreign language and make it English for everybody to where it’s easily digestible. It is important to have continuity, it is important to have all that. When you do get a surge of injuries and you have young guys rotating into the lineup, you’re able to weather the storm and continue to play good, sound, fundamental defense where you’re flying around and you’re playing with all your God-given ability rather than thinking and learning as you’re trying to figure it all out.


Brian Costello, New York Post: What have you seen from Taysom Hill on film and how much different does the New Orleans offense look without Drew Brees there?

Unfortunately, I got to play Taysom twice, we played New Orleans two years in a row. Taysom runs his butt off. When he becomes a ball carrier, he’s a heavy, heavy, heavy runner. He’s hard to tackle, he’s violent. He can throw a football, he adds a different element in terms of, they still run all the same stuff that Sean (Payton) has always run, that dynamic different formations, tempo in-and-out of the huddle, the explosive plays, the precision as it pertains to drop-back pass. The element of the quarterback run game comes into play with Taysom, that’s the big difference, and it’s not like zone read, it’s almost Wing T-ish where he’s going to put the ball in his right arm and its power, what Carolina used to do with Cam Newton. So, that dynamic makes it very difficult, but at the same time, again, all 11 hats on board where we just got to sting him when he runs it. It’s going to be a tremendous challenge. Obviously, it’s different than when Drew ran it, but it’s all the same concepts, it’s all the same type of offense with the added element of the quarterback run game.


Bob Glauber, Newsday: You said immediately after the game, that you felt that Zach did a lot of things very, very well, especially early on. Did the benefit of film work? And then dealing with him this week, give you any indication it was either even better than you thought or that kind of gives you reason to think he can kind of stack this a little bit?

I do. With Zach, Zach is a relentless film (watcher), I’ve been on record, he probably watches more film than he needs to sometimes. And he’s such a competitor that he recognizes what defense are in and he wants to make people pay. And one of the great things that I think that one of the big steps he took last week was, like we talked about, to sit in the pocket, play within the rhythm of the offense. It’s okay to be a robot through the timing of the play, and then from there, go be Superman when you need to make the play work if it breaks down. In that first half, you saw that. I mean, he hit his back foot, the ball was coming out and, I think it was like 2.6 (seconds), I mean it was the fastest he’s released it all year. And he was, for the most part, accurate. He’s still got to control his fast ball, but he was ripping the ball with confidence, his eyes were in the right spot, his feet were very settled, they were pointing toward where he needed to throw, and we marched up and down the field in those first three drives, and then the rhythm got away in the second half because of lack of possession. Which is another learning experience for him, in that he’s got to be able to step on the field, and the offense has to be able to step on the field with long droughts and still be able to perform. But his game was a really good step forward and now he’s got to go stack it up and do it again, and obviously it starts with practice. I know we don’t like talking about practice very much around here, but he still has to go do it and trust it. Because I though last week was one of his better weeks, and it translated to the game, and now he’s just got to go do it again.


DJ Bien-Aime, New York Daily News: In regard to Taysom Hill, obviously he’s a much better runner at this point than he is a passer. So, how much, and we talked a little bit about trying to put them in teams in third-and-longs, so how much will that be more exaggerated this week, knowing that if you can get Taysom Hill in some longer passing situations, that could be a benefit for the defense?

Longer situations will be beneficial against any quarterback. But obviously with Taysom, he gets a lot of flak because he had the interceptions on Thursday, but a lot of those came after he hurt his finger, which form my understanding is fully healed. So, I have a lot of respect for him as quarterback, he gets the ball where it needs to go and all that stuff. But to answer your question, keeping them on third-and-six+, that’s the goal for every team that we play, not just New Orleans.