Head Coach Robert Saleh, 10.21
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Opening Statement: Injury wise – Jermaine (Johnson) is going to be out, like we talked about. Otherwise, everyone else is good to go – Ashytn (Davis) is dealing with a hammy, so it’s going to be a game time decision.
Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: Just your thoughts about the Elijah Moore trade request?
Yeah, it’s part of what we deal with every day. We’ve had our discussions with Elijah. Trading him is not an option and we’ll just continue working with him.
Neil Best, Newsday: What is his status for this week?
Elijah (Moore) will not play this week. He is in the building, he is excused from meetings, but he’s going through a workout and regen regimen over the next three days, and he’ll rejoin the team on Monday.
Connor Hughes, SNY: Is this a punishment for the outbursts?
No, in my view, whether we agree or not, it doesn’t matter, just to ask him to play a football game with where he is from a mental standpoint wouldn’t be fair to him, in my opinion, but that’s strictly my decision.
Dennis Waszak, The Associated Press: Robert, is there also a message maybe to be said, I mean you guys have a three-game winning streak, you got the vibes here, you talked about establishing a culture and here you have a player who wants out. Is this something that you have to deal with to kind of tell these guys in the locker room that that’s not acceptable?
No, I think our locker room is fine. It’s a rock-solid group, we all love Elijah, we all understand the business aspect of it, we all know where his heart is. We all know the character that we drafted. Elijah’s a great kid, he is. He’s out there, he works his tail off, he does everything that’s asked of him and whether or not people can get out of whack, that’s probably a conversation more for him, but he is a very high character individual and I get that this can look bad, but it’s part of it. It’s part of what we go through, it’s part of our business, but I will stand by that young man every day of the week and knowing exactly where he is and where he needs to get and where I know he’s going to go and whether or not we lose patience, whatever it is with ourselves or other people, this is one of those cases where, in my opinion, he’s going to be a great football player in this League for a long time and it’s just a matter of being able to stack together a couple of good days and letting the ball roll from there.
Brian Costello, New York Post: High character, but isn’t this an extremely selfish act when you’re winning games and the way they’re playing offense right now?
It could be, you could view it a million ways, you could view it however you want. For me, just knowing the individual and knowing what he wants, he wants to contribute, he’s a competitive kid, he’s a competitive man, he feels like he can do more within the offense to help us cross the goal line. To me that’s admirable, you want your guys to have that type of confidence in themselves where they know that they can do more for the offense, but we are in a really cool situation where Corey Davis deserves the ball, Garrett Wilson deserves the ball, Breece Hall deserves the ball, so does Braxton Berrios, so does Michael Carter, so do the two tight ends, so does Elijah (Moore). Mike LaFleur has done a really nice job in terms of creating a bunch of different personnel packages because of all the guys we have to create different ways to give people the ball and some playing time. And so, it’s just a matter of continuing to work and trust the direction that we’re going. We’re young at the skill positions on offense and it’s got a really good chance to grow together. From his perspective, I just think he’s competitive, he wants more and that doesn’t make him selfish it just, in my mind, it makes him a competitor.
Connor Hughes, SNY: I understand that, Robert, but at the same time I mean, a player wanting the ball more is, I think there’s 31 other teams that all have players that are like that, but this has gotten to the point where he wants to be traded, like he asked you guys to trade him, so this isn’t just like a “I want to contribute more”, it’s ‘”get me out of here if I’m not going to”.
Yeah, and he’s not going to get traded. So, it’s just something that we have to work with.
Neil Best, Newsday: Do you expect (Denzel) Mims to be active this week?
Mims will be active this week.
Andy Vasquez, NJ Advance Media: How do you move forward, beyond this week with him, and kind of mend fences because you said that you’re not going to trade him. Obviously, he’s upset enough for it to be where it’s at, so how do you long-term make sure it doesn’t become a distraction or an issue?
I go back to the character of the individual. Trade deadline is going to pass here next week, and from there, it’s a choice to put your head down and grind and work and do the things that you’re great at, or not and that’s for everybody on the team, that’s for me as a coach, that’s for every player whether you’re a linebacker, second-team defensive lineman, doesn’t matter. And I know Elijah, Elijah is going to put his head down, he’s going to work like he does all the time, just like he’s going to this weekend, the work that he’s going to put in. I’m not worried about him from that standpoint, he’s not a bad kid.
Connor Hughes, SNY: Were you surprised when he reacted the way that he did before practice yesterday, that it wasn’t, because you and Mike (LaFleur) had made comments about how you’d been talking to him and you had talked to him when it came to that head that led you guys telling him to go home?
20 years in, I’m not surprised by anything.
Brian Costello, New York Post: What did happen yesterday, Robert?
Nothing, like everything it gets to a boiling point, he showed displeasure, and it was just one of those deals where it just felt like it was best for him to just relax, calm down, take a day, catch your breath and we’ll reconvene at another time.
Connor Hughes, SNY: When he went home, did you expect him to then ask for a trade? Like when you guys sent him away, was that the response you guys were expecting?
All the trade stuff, and request stuff, that’s going to be more Joe (Douglas), for him. Eventually, I think Joe will get up here.
Andy Vasquez, NJ Advance Media: I know you said you feel good about where the locker room is at, but this is something that’s going to be talked about, focused on, and it’s not about winning, so how do you make sure that it isn’t a distraction this week and you guys are ready to play in Denver?
Well, we all deal with distractions, it’s always going to be, but I think what’s cool about our locker room, is that they all recognize we’re 4-2, they understand the formula at which we’ve been doing it. And they understand that every week it’s been somebody different: Cleveland was miraculous comeback with Garrett (Wilson) kind of shining, Pittsburgh was Corey (Davis) shining in the pass game, and the last couple of games was defense and our run game. Zach (Wilson) has shown in the fourth quarter he can lead the team to come back like we did against Pittsburgh. He’s shown that he can handle it, so I feel like we’ve shown a variety of different ways that we can get things done, and I think our locker room knows that. I don’t think our locker room, obviously it’s a distraction because you’re going to know about it, but I don’t think it’s a distraction that’s taking away from the main thing, which is preparing for the Denver Broncos.
Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: Denzel Mims obviously had his trade request earlier this year, but how has he done things since then, of just coming in and producing?
Yeah, he’s been coming in and working. He’s putting in his work, he’s been running the scout team, he’s been getting extra reps with the team, so he’s prepared to play, he’s prepared himself to play, and he’s going to get his opportunity.
Connor Hughes, SNY: Will he start?
That I’m not sure, depends on, we still haven’t finished game planning with regards to first 15, and which personnel grouping will be out there.
Brian Costello, New York Post: On Monday, when we asked about Elijah’s tweet and you had talked to him, it seemed like you felt like things were good at that point. Are you a little baffled how you got from that point to this point where he’s asking out?
Like I said, I feel like I’ve seen everything. I’m sure, hopefully, I see a hell of a lot more moving forward. For me, I always look inward, trying to self-reflect on what could we do better for him, how can we make things better for him without disrupting the flow of the direction of the organization and the way the offense has been growing together. We’ll continue to do that. We’ll continue to find ways to help him get better. We’ll continue to find ways to keep him involved in the offense. We’ll continue to find ways to do things in a manner that helps everybody in this organization. We’re always going to do what’s best for the organization. He’s a big part of it. When we get to where we want to go, Elijah is going to be a big reason why. It’s just going to take some time for this young group to get together.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Just to be clear, he’s not going through meetings today or practice. He’s just kind of doing his own thing? Like an injured player?
He’s on his own. He’s like an injured player. He’s out doing his own thing. He’s working out with (Mike) Nicolini and his staff, and then he’s going to regen with the performance staff. He’s going to do that today, tomorrow, and Sunday going through a game-equivalent workout and regen schedule, and he’ll rejoin the team on Monday.
Connor Hughes, SNY: How did he take the news that he’s not going to be traded?
That’s a question for him. He was fine. In our eyes, he’s fine. Obviously, I can’t answer that for him.
Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: Do you have to talk to Zach at all? Because yesterday when we spoke to him, he said, “Hey, it’s not like I’m not trying to throw to him on purpose. I completed 10 passes in the game. We focused on the run, and we won, and that’s awesome.” It seems that that’s the attitude you want all of your guys to have. Do you have to kind of say hey, keep that focus, Zach?
For all of them, especially for Zach. If you start trying to push the ball and force the ball to one person — there is a saying, ‘The squeaky wheel gets the grease,’ but if you start doing that from the construct of a scheme where you’re trying to execute a game plan, it can get out of whack. Where Zach has been phenomenal is he’s been so much better this year at going through progressions, getting the ball where it needs to get to, doing it in a timely fashion, and being on time with his footwork and his eyes. As he continues to get better at that, Zach is going to get a lot better. Zach is so far ahead this year than he was a year ago, and he’s only going to get better, which is exciting because you have all of these first- and second-year guys on offense that are kind of doing this together. Like I said, that Pittsburgh game, we needed him to be an elite quarterback, and we needed our skill guys to be elite skill guys. They did that for two consecutive drives against a really good defense. I think they have that mindset. The focus is to do your job. Do your job to the best of your ability, and whatever happens, happens. If you do that consistently, you’re going to consistently like the results.
Connor Hughes, SNY: Are you a little surprised this is the storyline for a 4-2 team winning three straight?
Hopefully, we get a hell of a lot more surprises for the next 20 years.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Question about the game to mix it up. Do you expect to see Russell (Wilson) on Sunday? I know he’s been limited in practice. You made a comment the other day about how you think they’re close. What makes you think they’re close?
Fully expecting Russell — ultimate competitor. There’s no way he’s going to let whatever is ailing him. He’s got to be pretty broken to not play. So, fully expecting him to play. Nathaniel Hackett is as good as anyone in terms of getting people open and creating schemes that stress you. So, when you watch the tape, there’s a lot of hard concepts to defend as we watch it. So, in that regard, check. The players are doing a really nice job executing. They are centimeters off in terms of creating three or four plays a game where they could be averaging 30 points a game. They’ve been in the red zone as much as anyone. They’re just not scoring. They’re not getting it across the goal line. It’s not just scoring, but some freak things that are happening where they’re not even getting points out of their drives to the red zone. Their defense is playing at an absolute elite, elite level. So, it’s just a matter of time for that group. When it starts clicking, it’s going to be exactly what everyone expected. If we can just try to hold them off for one more week, that’d be good.