Head Coach Robert Saleh, 5.23
[please click photo for link to the video]
Dianna Russini, ESPN: Coach, what’s it been like having Aaron Rodgers in the building?
It’s been cool. I joke around that he’s closer to a coach than he is a player at this point in his career. He’s a fantastic mind, he’s a fantastic conversation. He’s been all positive.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, what are you trying to get out of this phase of the offseason program?
Personally, from a team standpoint, my philosophy, you go back to square one. Offensive, defensive, special teams, go back to the very basics and you’re just trying to create as much continuity as possible, as quickly as possible, to implement your foundations, implement your standards, implement what you’re trying to get done to see if you can build some momentum going into training camp.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: With Aaron, obviously he had some background with (Nathaniel) Hackett. How much of the offense is the same as Green Bay? How much does he know? And, how much does having him know some or most of it help people around him?
He’s had a lot of schemes in his day, obviously, so he has a wealth of knowledge. He’s got familiarity with Hackett. There’s going to be some nuance, obviously, that’s different than what he had in Green Bay. I’m not going to get too much into trying to reveal for Buffalo to go study. There are nuances, there will be some differences, but it’s stuff that obviously he can handle.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, it felt like in your first two years here, you worked hard to keep the negativity out of the building from the outside. Now it’s all positivity. Is it the same approach with that?
We want all the positivity, obviously, but once we kick off on Sunday or Monday night in that opener, the results are all that’s going to matter. To achieve the result, you just have to bring everybody back. To achieve the results you want, you have to bring everybody back. It doesn’t happen on gameday, it happens today, it happened yesterday, it happens tomorrow, it happens with every breath you take in terms of how you’re preparing to achieve and keep that positivity rolling. I’d love to go 17-0 and cruise through the playoffs and win a championship, but you’re not going to be able to unless you focus on the moment. Acknowledge the noise, acknowledge the positivity, be excited about it because, again, my opinion, I think 32 coaches stand in front of their team every year and talk about winning a championship. Realistically, there’s maybe six-to-eight teams that have an actual chance to do it, and I do think we are one of those teams, but none of it matters unless we take care of it today.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Can you see or feel the impact Aaron has had already with, not only the team, but with receivers, stuff like that?
For sure. The amount of communication, pre-snap, post-snap, just sitting in meetings and having him be vocal about his cadence and the way he wants to operate within the offense as a quarterback calling the signals, the relationship he has with Hackett. Like I said, it’s a very fluid, very open dialogue, which is awesome, but for sure, getting on the same page between quarterback and receiver, there’s nuance to it because the playbook says one thing, but you might have to shave a route, you might have to do something a little bit different to get the ball in a more efficient manner. He’s been really good in that regard.
Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: How has this impacted the schedule? With all the primetime and night games, will that have you change or adjust how you go through weeks and plan as the season goes on?
For sure, the 1:00 p.m. game is always nice. There’s going to be changes, we have to stay on our toes, obviously, going from Monday night to start the season then traveling and hitting the road on a short week to Dallas. There’s going to be all kinds of curveballs, if you will, but again, let the players focus on that stuff, we’ll take care of the schedule, and everything will take care of itself.
Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: How would you say the adjustment is going with Nathaniel Hackett being the offensive coordinator? I know the system is going to be somewhat similar, but bringing in a new coach, the guys adjusting to him.
That’s the tricky part, because it is going to take time. You’ve got a lot of new faces on the offensive side of the ball, a lot of new coaches, new quarterback, a few o-linemen, a couple of receivers. So, there’s new faces. Getting those guys to get in the same lane if you will and march to the same beat, it’s going to take time, but with the amount of we’re that we’re putting in, we’re confident that we’re going to get going.
Andy Vasquez, NJ Advance Media: What advice did you give Aaron about adjusting to life in New Jersey and how do you think he has made the transition so far?
I think he’s been good, it’s probably more of a question for him. I think he’s a big city guy at heart. I think he’s been embracing all of it. It probably would be more of a question for him, but I think everything has been going good.
Connor Hughes, SNY: How has the dynamic been between Zach (Wilson) and Aaron? How has it kind of been being in the same building for a little bit?
I think it’s been good. I thought Zach had a really nice day yesterday. He’s been a sponge. I think Zach has handled this as good a professional can handle this. I’m excited for him because I think he’s approaching this in a way where I think he can grow from this, with the mindset at which he’s approaching. There’s no doubt in my mind that Zach is going to get so much better through this experience and I am confident that he is going to turn into the player that we know he can be.
Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: You have a few guys coming off injuries. Breece Hall, AVT (Alijah Vera-Tucker), Mekhi (Becton). Are any of those guys going to be able to practice at all?
Breece and Mekhi will not practice, they’re still going through protocol, but AVT is out there.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, Mekhi in that interview over the weekend basically blamed the coaching staff for his injury last August, because he was playing on the right side. What’s your reaction to that?
I’ll be honest, I’m not going to get into the negative of all of it. It’s not about finger pointing. What I’m focused on though is over the last six months, Mekhi has done an unbelievable job getting his weight down to where it’s a healthy weight and sustainable. He’s been available during OTAs, he’s been prompt and very diligent with regards to meetings. I think he’s probably in the best shape of his life. He’s got a smile on his face and he’s attacking it. That’s what is most important. Whatever happened in the past, happened in the past. It’s not about finger pointing, it’s just about moving forward. If he keeps approaching this offseason the way he has and he keeps attacking it the way he has, excited to see what he does with this fourth year.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Have you talked to him about those comments?
We talk all the time, he’s fine. Like I said, he’s in a really good place and I want to keep him there.
Andy Vasquez, NJ Advance Media: Does that change how you use him positionally this year?
Whether right or left? No, best five are on the field.
Connor Hughes, SNY: He’s made it very, very clear that he is a left tackle. So, if you were to play him at right, have you discussed to him that? That he might have to play right even though he thinks he’s a left?
He knows. I think Duane Brown has something to say about it. I think Max Mitchell has something to say about it. I think the young kid Carter Warren that we drafted, and Billy Turner. So, the good thing is we have a lot of really good tackles right now that are competing to be one of the two tackles that are on the football field. So, it’ll be a good, healthy competition and those who attack it with the right mindset will end up reaping the benefits.
Dianna Russini, ESPN: How do you handle when a player has strong feelings towards something where his feelings are hurt by or he’s disappointed in the organization? You guys obviously have to clear the air, so how are approaching that with him?
What would I tell myself? I’d tell myself to focus on the things that you got control over. You don’t have control over all the external stuff that’s happening, just stay focused on your job, stay focused in the moment, stay focused on the things that you can do to help yourself achieve what you want. If you stay focused on that and ignore all of the external factors, you’ll probably get the result you want. Worrying about where you’re lining up and all that stuff, like I said, I would tell all the players, ‘Just focus on the things you got control over and things will be fine.’
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: What’s your expectation for when Quinnen (Williams) will be here? And are you concerned at all regarding that?
Q-Ball (Quinnen Williams), I know they’re about to have a baby, which is awesome. Q, good luck brother. I’m not worried at all. That thing will get done and he’ll be here.
Steve Serby, New York Post: Are there one or two things you’ve learned about Aaron that maybe you didn’t know until he showed up here?
Yes, one thing in particular. I think he’s one of the more thoughtful athletes that I’ve been around in terms of how caring he is about people and the way he interacts around the building. I’m not just talking about the way he interacts with coaches and teammates, the way he interacts with the chef, the way he interacts with equipment, trainers, how he walks upstairs and meets all the business people. He is a very thoughtful, kind person. That part is actually refreshing.
Steve Serby, New York Post: Does he look to you like he’s having fun?
He is a little kid in an old man’s body. He’s having a blast.
(follow up) What signs tell you that?
Just the way he interacts with his teammates and how comfortable he is in the building in terms of just communicating with people. I think he’s, like I said, he’s a genuine person. A very genuine person. Just watching him interact with everybody has been pretty cool.
Brian Costello, New York Post: One of the questions we had when you guys were pursuing Aaron was, would he be all in in the Spring? I know you guys didn’t want to pressure him or anything like that. Was that a question in your mind when you were going through the process with him like, ‘Hey, I wonder if this guy is going to be here in May or OTAs?’
No, just knowing the competitor that he is. In my opinion, there was never a doubt he was going to be here. When you’re making a change, you’re a competitor, he wants to show well, I know he wants to have a good season, just like we all do. He’s a pro, he knows that in order for him to be his best, he has to help everybody around him be their best. For me, it was knowing the athlete he is and the competitor that he is, there was no doubt in my mind that he was going to be here, so I never had to talk about it.
Connor Hughes, SNY: In your opinion, what’s your takeaway on the new quarterback rule? The third quarterback, the emergency quarterback. Are you for it?
Yes, it’s long overdue. Especially with the concussion protocols being so aggressive, which is warranted. The whole League was playing with fire a year ago, so I’m glad they got it fixed.
Dianna Russini, ESPN: Coach, you normally hear quarterbacks of Rodgers level holding everyone accountable, coaches, players, everyone in the building. Can you give me an example of what he’s been doing to do that already or he’s made that kind of impact of accountability?
So far, it’s communication. This is where I appreciate him, the expectation is that we all get on the same page as quickly as possible, but we’ve only been going a couple of days. So, there’s mistakes being had on the football field, so there’s no jumping bones. It’s just more, ‘Hey, let’s get on the same page, let’s do it again. Let’s repeat that play or whatever we have to do.’ That’s coming from Hackett, too, but eventually there’s going to be a breaking point where the expectation is we should know this, and I think that’s going to come all the way with coaches, players, all of us knowing when that’s going to happen. The amount of communication pre and post snap, with the players, the o-line, with all the different skill guys, talking with coaches, I think everyone is working really hard to get on the same page.