Head Coach Robert Saleh, 5.8
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DJ Bien-Aime, New York Daily News: Robert, how would you review first day of rookie minicamp?
I thought it was really good. Knock on wood, first day came out healthy. That’s the most important part, but there weren’t a lot of busts out there. The guys were crisp. Good understanding of the introduction to our scheme. So overall, I thought it went really well.
Brian Costello, New York Post: You answered, Robert, about every player, but I’m going to ask about one player specifically here. How did Zach (Wilson) do on day one? How’d he do just processing the information? Not necessarily making plays out there, but just processing.
You’re onto me already, Brian. He did a really nice job. The ball was in and out of his hands crisp. He was in rhythm. He was on time. Players were running the right routes, and the ball was barely on the ground. So, it was a very, very good first day for him. Now he’s got to stack it up and get better every day.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: Robert, how much, I know it’s just very early, you’ve just gotten the guys together, but the two Michael Carter’s on the team is a little bit fun. I don’t know if there’s been any banter amongst that so far A. And B, what’s your impression of both guys? What attracted to you both players. Obviously, both playing against each other too, which was interesting.
I think I’m going to go MC 2 (Michael Carter II) and MC 1 (Michael Carter). I’m not sure yet. I’m still trying to figure out how we’re going to do it here. But both are fantastic, fantastic men first. That’s the common theme when you look at free agency and the draft. These guys absolutely love ball, they want to get better, their intent is to learn. There was a really cool sequence that MC 2 had in the 7-on-7 period, it was a 3-by-1 concept that he cheated the wrong way, got it adjusted, and about three plays later he got the same look and darn near made a really, really impressive play. The fact that he can learn not only within a period, but within three plays and figure it out and make that adjustment is testament to him and his mental capability and the reason why we’re so excited about him.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: It looks like he’d (Michael Carter) be a relatively hard guy to take down based on the look of his quads, which probably rival Saquon Barkley’s at this point.
He’s an impressive young man. There’s a lot of things that these young men have to learn with regards to the NFL that they’re not going to be able to get away with, and that’s mainly just the efficiency at which they move and run, the way they get off the ball, the way they get out of their breaks. It’s a different level now where everybody is All-American. So, there’s that adjustment, and they can see it on tape. You can see things like that. There were some really, really great teachable moments yesterday, and there’s going to be a lot of great teachable moments today and forever for the history of their time in the NFL. There’s going to be great teachable moments. It’s just a matter of whether or not they want to pick it up and get better.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Will things change at all today, Robert, in terms of practice structure or the way that, will you ramp things up at all now that it’s day two, or are you still going to keep it almost a carbon copy of yesterday?
It’s going to be a carbon copy. Same process for these guys. The big thing that we’re trying to accomplish is to see … If you think about a game week, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, then walk through and then Sunday. So, can they take a little bit more install and let’s see what they look like on day three, which is Friday, which is where you’re trying to get it crisp. So a little install yesterday, a little install today, let’s see how crisp they can operate tomorrow and see how much they can pick up and how much they can learn in a three-day process that kind of simulates a game week.
DJ Bien-Aime, New York Daily News: What’s been the biggest adjustment because previous years you could have a lot more people, a lot more rookies for rookie minicamp. This year it’s just not as many. So, what’s been the biggest adjustment for practice structure?
What we’ve done here, and it doesn’t make it right, but we really do like the setup. We’ve kind of gotten the bigs away from the skill guys. So, we’ve had the bigs in the morning, the skills in the afternoon to kind of separate them because there’s not enough guys to run 11-on-11 anyway. It gives everybody a chance to watch the bigs, the D-line, the O-line, the kicker is in that group, and to really get a good chance to look at them and get a lot of individual eyes on them as we go through this evaluation process.
And then same thing with the skill guys to just get, the O-line, D-line, they’re done with their day, let’s just get all eyes on these skill guys so we can get a good proper evaluation. And so they can focus on what they’re being asked to do without all the … People don’t realize it, but those all O-linemen and D-line, they create a lot of ruckus and a lot of noise for people. So just to get them out of the way to clear the picture up has been beneficial.
Brian Costello, New York Post: You guys have another practice then tomorrow? I know we’re not here, but do you have practice tomorrow with them?
Correct. We’re just going to go in the morning, eliminate all the meetings. We’re debating on an extra meeting, but for the most part they’re just practicing. Get them out by noon.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Rules, number one, and then your expectations after tomorrow. Do the rookies have to leave? Can they come back, and what are your hopes for the rookies after this camp?
By rule, they’re sent off on their way. They can stay here and look for a house if they want. They can do whatever they want. They’re normal civilians. But the following Monday, it’s phase two of the voluntary off-season program, and they’re more than welcome to join and get a little bit better every day.
Joey Chandler, NJ Advance Media: Robert, the word energy has been used a lot about your coaching style, and you said that this minicamp was going to be low pressure, just getting the guys acclimated to being a professional. How would you describe the atmosphere yesterday?
It was good. You could see a lot of people kind of feeling themselves out. When we got to the red zone period, they started to loosen up a little bit, especially on defense. It always gets competitive in the red zone. You can see them kind of showing the character side of their personalities. So, we’ll do it again, and we’ll see how much they loosen up, because like I said, this is an introduction, which is the reason why for the current arrangement with all of you all. There’s a lot on their plate. There’s so many things going on. Just clear out the picture as much as we can, get the O-line out, get the D-line out, get as many people off the field so they can feel and introduce each other to one another and really have a good, really good strong weekend where the focus is all about them. You could see it coming towards the end of practice. It’ll be exciting to see what kind of evolution they have today.
DJ Bien-Aime, New York Daily News: You had praise for Elijah Moore when you drafted him. Said he can do a lot of things, a lot of things that he can’t do, you said after the draft. Seeing him up close, what’s some things that have stuck out for you?
He’s a little jitterbug, and he can do just exactly what we thought. He can do everything, but like it’s going to be for everybody, there’s going to be a learning curve because in college you can get away with a lot of different things because you’re just so much better than everybody. But in the NFL, you’ve got to roll off the ball with urgency, you’ve got to get in and out of your breaks with urgency. There’s not enough time. You can’t just waste time setting up your route because the D-line is humming. They’re just all-encompassing. So, to understand the efficiency at which he has to grow along with every other position, there’s an efficiency at which they have to play that they didn’t have to in college. That’s going to be the learning curve, but seeing him in person, hopefully he’ll be exactly what we thought.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, have you had any communication with Marcus Maye? And if so, when was the last time you talked with him? Obviously, he’s got business going on here on top of football, but when’s your last communication with him been?
We talked before OTAs and then before the offseason program started, we had a really nice discussion. Obviously, him and his agent are working with Joe on trying to get his deal done, and hopefully that happens soon.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Do you have to be understanding when guys have business things going on?
I have a tremendous amount of respect for what they’re going through. Again, you guys know my philosophy. I think these kids have earned the right to ask for whatever they can, especially when they do things the right way, like he has. Eventually, Joe and his staff are working relentlessly to get something done. So, we go with it and we support him all around the organization.
Jeané Coakley, SNY, Outlet: Coach, what will be your message to the guys tomorrow when you leave?
There’s going to be a very consistent message in terms of you’ve started the process, and the big thing is that these young men are not only CEOs of their own body, but they’re CEOs of their mind. The amount of work that they put in and the amount of investment they put back into themselves is what will reflect on the football field. From this day forward, their body maintenance, how they work out, how they train, how they eat, how they study tape, it doesn’t stop. The ongoing message for these young men is to don’t just leave and eat junk for the next week and say, “Hey, I’m off for a week.” Just continue it. You’ve started the process, stick to it, come back on the 17th and find a way to get better and find a way to get one of these roster spots.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: To follow on Marcus, what kind of scheme fit is he for you, what you want to play? How important is the post safety in your system?
So, the post safety, it’s evolved. Back in the day it was Earl (Thomas). He’s a Hall of Famer. And it can get boring back there. So, a lot of the guys don’t want to just play back there. They want to come down in the box, they want to do different things. When we were in San Francisco we kind of evolved it some to where it was a little bit more dimensional. Then Jimmy Ward, he kind of came on in 2019 and really found a good niche for him. He recreated that middle third player and how we use them with all the versatility, which is Lamarcus Joyner. Marcus filling that strong safety role where he can come down in the box, he can play the middle field, he can play the half. He’s very versatile. So just like the comment I made about C.J. Mosley, Marcus Maye fits every system, and he’ll be just fine.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, there was a call, I guess, with the (Player’s) Union yesterday, some of the players still talking about the off-season program. Tom Brady spoke up and kind of implored guys to have conversations with their coaches about maybe altering the way spring practices are done. Is that something you’d be open to talking about? I don’t know if you’re going to have a leadership council or captains or whatever. If some of your veterans wanted to talk about the way you structure practices, is that something you’d be willing to do?
I’m always open to have a conversation. Remember, the best coached teams are the teams that coach themselves and especially veteran leadership to step in and voice their opinion and have a thought on how they can make things better. I think that’s always important. It’s a machine, and they’re a big, big part of it. Obviously, I would always appreciate their voice.