Head Coach Robert Saleh, 5.7
Brian Costello, New York Post: Hey, Robert, what’s the feeling like to finally be getting on the grass? You’ve been on the job for a few months, but to be able to finally actually coach.
That’s the fun part of it. To be able to go out there and get on the grass with the guys and start teaching your techniques and fundamentals and scheme, and seeing the guys, seeing the coaches coach, and the players play, that’s always the best part about this whole job.
Darryl Slater, NJ Advance Media: Robert, what do you want to see from Zach (Wilson) this weekend?
Out of all the rookies, not just, Zach, we really want these guys to not only get the introduction from the coaching staff and the scheme, but also introduce themselves to us and what they want us to know about them. This is a low pressure, come out, introduce yourself to the scheme, introduce yourself to us, and just get a good feel. It’s not a conditioning contest out there. I’s more just going with the flow of the weekend and getting a good feel of what it’s like to be a professional.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: Hey, Robert, you obviously did a lot of homework on all these guys, beginning with Zach, from everything we read, he’s got terrific leadership skills and whatnot. We just talked to a couple of the guys before you talked about how we immediately reached out to them and have been speaking to them in the last few days. What does that show you when he’s obviously already doing his homework and getting to know these guys and what next level does that show you in terms of where he’s at as a leader?
He’s a young man that really loves football. You guys hear me and Joe (Douglas), obviously, talk about it. We want guys who absolutely love football. He’s a guy who loves football, and when you love football, and I’m not just talking about Zach, but the entire free agency class, the entire draft class, these guys really love football. When you have a love for football, you’re going to do everything you can to help yourself. Not only get better at it, but you’re going to do everything you can to protect it, which means your off the field stuff is going to be right. It’s this entire group, and to have Zach obviously, your quarterback, to have that mindset where he is just always trying to find a way to get better. It’s awesome. It’s something that we want to see out of every single one of our guys.
DJ Bien-Aime, New York Daily News: Robert, you go from in San Francisco, you’re the DC (defensive coordinator), so you’re focusing more on defense now, now you’re the head coach overseeing everything. What’s the adjustment been like for you, now being at rookie minicamp?
I’ll give you a quick little funny story, we just had our bigs out there and we were going through, and the horn blew for practice to be over. I started to take my normal spot behind the huddle to listen to the head coach speak, and I was like, ‘Oh, shoot, that’s me.’
It’s good. It’s no different, from a coordinator standpoint you walk from position to position and you’re just making sure that everybody’s on their P’s and Q’s, and things are being recited the way you want it to be, and taught the way you want it. You want to see players responding the way they need to respond. Instead of just hanging around the defense, go onto the offense, special teams, observing practice and making sure that everybody’s doing what they need to do to get better. It’s just a bigger scope.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: Robert, since we last spoke to you, Quinnen (Williams) hurt his foot. Can you give us an update on how his foot is and when you would expect him back?
From everything that I’ve gathered, his surgery went well, everything was a success. We’re expecting him back, I believe for training camp, but we’re excited to work with him. He’s a tremendous young man. He’s in high spirits and we’re excited to get him back.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: What was your initial reaction, Robert, when that happened? Obviously, he’s supposed to be a pretty big piece of this defense, so to hear that news was the fact that it is just… It’s a long time, but just 10 to 12 (weeks), which means he’ll be back for training campus, is that a little bit of a relief for you guys? Could it have been worse?
It could have been worse because those types of injuries are injuries that are just something that was eventually going to happen. For it to happen now, so they can get it fixed and he can be ready for training camp rather than it happening in training camp, and now he’s missing half the season. The timing of it all was good, you never want to see a young man get hurt, especially in the first year where you’re trying to get him to understand how we play, especially up front, which will be different for him. The fact that he’ll be ready for training camp is still a positive.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, I’m assuming you addressed all the rookies last night or this morning. What was your main message to them before the weekend?
Yeah, Brian, the biggest message really was just like I said earlier, take advantage of this opportunity to introduce yourselves to us as much as we’re trying to introduce ourselves to you. It’s really just an introductory period, not only schematically, not only with fundamentals and techniques and what we do, both offensively, defensively, and special teams for that matter, but for them to really start to introduce who they are and what we can expect day in and day out and not to leave gray area in the identity that they want to portray. That’s the biggest message. That’s the biggest goal of this entire weekend, just a good clean introduction on both sides and to really learn what it’s like to be a Jet, and as they meet the vets, they’ll continue to grow in the role.
Otis Livingston, WCBS: Besides the mix up at the end of practice, what have you noticed is the difference between your previous jobs and what it is now to be the head coach of an NFL team?
It’s a blessing first to get to this point, I’m always thankful. Like I said, from a coordinator standpoint, the scope is bigger, so I don’t want to sound arrogant or anything. There’s obviously things that will change on game day and all that stuff, but from a practice standpoint, coaching coaches and helping players get to where they need to be so they can achieve their best, I do think there’s a lot of carryover, not to sound arrogant. I know there’s going to be a lot of stuff along the road, but it’s been awesome. I have no complaints.
Darryl Slater, NJ Advance Media: Robert, just from a procedural standpoint, in the past, we’ve been able to watch the full practice for these rookie minicamps. Obviously, there’s a lot of interest in Zach and a lot of us would like to get to see a full practice from him. I know it’s optional, the open part of this for us, but what’s your reasoning for not wanting to put them in front of the view of all of us for a full practice here to start out?
That’s a fair question. It has nothing to do with trying to hide anyone or anything like that. It’s of a different scope with the way rookie minicamp is rolling now. There’s a lot of things that we’re going to be doing, for one, it’s a smaller group of guys. Usually you’re getting a full 11-on-11 session. Here, I want to say that there’s only 15 guys out on the field, so to give the guys a chance, to learn, process, and be able to execute the system, it’s going to be sloppy. Instead of unveiling the rookies in a rookie minicamp where there’s going to be busts and guys flying all over the place, it felt like we could just hold off. I think you guys are going to get an hour today at practice anyway. I know we said a half hour, but I believe it’s an hour instead. It’s 24 plays that you guys will miss out on.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: Robert, can you describe your overall coaching philosophy as it pertains to bringing along rookie quarterbacks and when they’re ready to play and how that applies to Zach?
It’s day-today, right? I know I keep bringing everybody else into the mix because quarterback, it’s all the same in terms of, it’s day one, let’s have good meetings, let’s have a clean locker, let’s have a good clean practice and let’s grow from there. As far as bringing along a quarterback and just overall philosophy, it’s no different than how you would want to bring along your Mike linebacker or your offensive linemen or whatever it is. There’s a process at which we’ll go through. Not to give too technical of a detail, but there’s football 101 coaching, there’s football 301 coaching and there’s football 501 coaching. We have to be able to introduce our scheme. We have to be able to show them the techniques and fundamentals, and we have to be able to get them to a point where they understand the overall scope of football. As far as Zach, I get it, the magnitude of the quarterback position, but the development of all these rookies are really the same with regards to trying to reach them from a 101 level and try to get them to their graduate degree of a 501 level.
Andy Vasquez, The Record: You mentioned this earlier, but easing the players in in the low pressure situation, overall with a player like Zach, who was obviously going to have a lot of scrutiny, what can you do to make it less pressure for him to make this whole transition easier?
The one thing about this league is there’s pressure on everybody. Everyone’s under the gun and I get the quarterback has the most eyes on him, but we’re all under pressure to make sure that we’re all helping each other have success. To hide him, the shield him, you can’t, that’s impossible. If you do that, you’re wasting time. The biggest thing that we’re going to try to accomplish is to make sure that we’re growing as a football team first, and obviously the questions about the quarterback, how he plays, the scrutiny and the critique that he gets, I get it, that goes with the position, but it’s our job as an entire organization to make sure everybody, all 53, are lifting one another, and the entire organization is lifting all 53 in order to get us to where we want to go here in the future.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: Hey Robert, there’s has been a lot of talk about the voluntary camps and whatnot with the veterans where that’s going to be, where are you guys as a team? I don’t know if you’ve spoken to a lot of the guys yet about what your attendance is going to be. Where are you guys at with that right now, as you guys move toward that area of this offseason?
We’ve had a really strong showing, like I said. More and more guys show up every single week. I’m really excited to see what the turnout is going to be next week, and then the following week in phase two, but obviously respect the fact that it’s voluntary. I am biased, obviously, to our coaching and our performance staff. I think there’s no better or safer place to get better than at your home facility where everybody knows you and everybody knows what you need to reach your maximum potential to take advantage of your 2021 season. To give you a number, I don’t know, but I do know the guys who are here will benefit.
(follow-up) Just as a follow on that, you’re bringing a new program, what’s the importance level, and again, it’s voluntary, I get it. What’s the importance level of being a new system, new coaching staff, you’re just getting to know these players and meeting for the first time in a lot of cases, to have a high attendance, is that important to you or do you just have to deal with the process?
We’re creatures of habit, coaches. To be real, of course we’re always going to lean on a bias towards wanting everybody here and the importance and all that stuff, because we think we’re good at what we do and there’s no better way to teach than in-person, where we can have face-to-face contact, and we can do things on the football field, and we can have meetings, and we can have that interaction rather than doing it through Zoom, which is a great product, but there’s still a barrier that’s created there. I’m always going to lean towards face-to-face interaction where we actually have a chance to get better because there’s nobody will know these guys better than their staff and also the entire building, equipment, training staff and all of it. I’m biased in my regard, but its voluntary, and they’re adults and they’re going to make the best decision for themselves.
Brian Costello, New York Post: The team released a video of the call to the rookies you made on draft nights. In the one with Zach, you said, “The team’s going to lift you up, you have to lift us up.” I’m just curious, what was behind that message that you were delivering to him?
The same thing that I think you’ll hear us preach here every day, that it’s not about one person, it’s about the entire makeup of the entire organization. It starts at the very top in terms of the investment made into the organization that give each player and coach the resources they need to be able to lift one another up, and thankfully with the Johnson family, they are unlimited in what they want to do and what they want to give, with regards to helping these players get better. The investment they’ve made to the performance staff, the investment they’ve made in and around the facility, the investments that they’re making with regards to free agency. It’s an unlimited deal. There’s a tremendous support system there. To me, it’s players are here to go play football and it takes all 53 players who put the helmets on, it takes everybody to be able to cross the white (lines) and go dominate it on Sunday. For them to be able to do that with a clear mind, with every resource needed that helps them build up to that moment when they’re on their own, and the organization can no longer do anything. We rely on them. Everything in between has to come from us. Quarterback, running back, defense, offense, it doesn’t matter. It’s our job to help them prepare. It’s our job to coach them. It’s our job to put them in the best situation possible, so they can always be getting better every single day when they walk into this building.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Robert, I’m probably going to get heat from the rest of this media room for already asking a kicker question on rookie minicamp. With you guys moving on from Chase (McLaughlin), does that mean you guys are pretty high on that kid from SMU (Chris Naggar), the undrafted free agent?
Very excited about him and giving him a chance. Brant (Boyer) did a lot of work on him to give him the opportunity to come here and compete for that job. That’s a real deal and it’s going to be fun to watch.