Head Coach Robert Saleh, 8.19

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Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, when you watched the practice, I know you were mostly with the defensive side, what did you think of the offensive line’s performance at practice?

I really liked the way the offense ran the ball yesterday. Obviously, we’ve got to get more consistent in a pass protection standpoint because when the protection is there, we feel like we’ve got four really good quarterbacks that can get the ball and we got receivers that can win one-on-ones. They’re working through all the different protection schemes that we have and the different techniques. They’re getting a lot better and it’s something that we got to continue to improve on.


Connor Hughes, The Athletic: I know a lot of the pressure seemed to come from the outside, when Alijah (Vera-Tucker) gets back on that front and he’s next to Mekhi (Becton), will that help at all?

I think just in general, of all of it, just the stoutness and having Vera-Tucker in there, he is a talented young man, but we also got faith in (Dan) Feeney, we got faith in GVR (Greg Van Roten) and the different guys that are there. When they execute their technique and they communicate, the front five that’s out there now is really darn good. It’s just a matter of continuing to work, continuing to communicate, continuing to trust your technique and the results will come.


DJ Bien-Aime, New York Daily News: Obviously there was a lot of pressure around Zach Wilson yesterday, so how do you think he handled the pressure?

I thought he did a good job, there’s always going to be pressure. The NFL you literally have one hitch to get rid of the football otherwise you’re going to get hit, that’s league wide. There’s always going to be traffic around his feet. You can have the best o-line in the league, you’re still going to have traffic in and around the quarterback. Zach’s got to learn to execute in the rhythm of the play, get the ball in and out of his hands as quickly as possible because he can alleviate some of the pressure on the offensive line by being decisive and being quick with his decision making. Either way, I thought he did a really nice job. There was a couple of things from a timing standpoint that they’ve been clicking on all cylinders during camp and yesterday were off a little bit, maybe it was a little bit of nerves, but he made some really good throws. I thought he did a really nice job in the 2:00 drive, the result could’ve been a lot better, but we thought he was fantastic in that drill. I thought he did a good job.


Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, we saw what he can do off schedule in college and that’s kind of what made him the number two pick in the draft, but training camp is kind of the ultimate on schedule. How do you kind of balance that with him, wanting him to run the play the way it’s drawn in the book but also knowing he can do some things?

It’s a great question. He had a couple where he got out of the pocket yesterday. One thing that he’s learning when he does get out of the pocket, that is in college, the ball travels faster than the man, but in the NFL, the man travels faster than the ball. He’s realizing that after a few practices like, “Man, it feels different.” And it’s like, ‘Yeah, it does feel different, because it is different.’ Right now, it’s a matter of him really grasping the offense, but I think naturally, I bet you he’ll answer this the same way, he is deliberately trying to stay in the pocket to go through his reads. He feels the pocket, he knows what’s happening and he’s got good rhythm, he can do all that stuff. His ability to get out of the pocket, I think, will just be a natural transition. Again, he showed a couple yesterday and I think as he gets more and more comfortable with the offense, he’ll start improvising.


Eric Allen, newyorkjets.com: You mentioned the running game before, do you think those guys in the backfield are feeding off each other right now?

I think the entire team feeds off it. The biggest unspoken things that no one really, unless you’re really digging in on tape, our receivers are blocking their tails off, they’re digging out safeties, they’re looking for corners, they’re looking for middle-third players, they’re cracking linebackers. They are absolutely grinding in the run game and they’re the ones that spring the big ones. The o-line will open up that first level, it’s that second, third level that gets sprung by the receivers. I think when you see the o-line blocking the b-belt, getting a good double team on the backside where that ball rolls back and you see the strain that they’re showing in the run game, the receivers feel like, “Oh my god, this ball is going to get to me, that’s my play to make now.” I think it’s contagious all the way around.


Connor Hughes, The Athletic: One player that we haven’t talked too much about, but he seems to be flashing at these schematics is (La’Mical) Perine. What does he kind of bring to that backfield and, I mean a lot of these other guys are one cut, quick twitch, he seems to be more of that physical presence?

He’s the biggest of the backs. He’s got the ability to violently cut and get downhill, also. He’s starting to take to and try and create that identity that we all think he can be in terms just being that power back, that bruiser, that dirty yard that we need. He had one yesterday where he sprung it outside, caught the corner and basically walked in the end zone. It was in the red zone period. He’s got the ability to go inside and out and as soon as he establishes himself with that identity that we all think he has, I think it’ll open up a lot of different avenues for him.


Connor Hughes, The Athletic: That 2019 49ers, I know you’re the defensive side of the ball, but that 49ers team was kind of led a lot by the ground and there were three different guys that were routinely in there. Is that ideally how you want this to work where you got Tevin (Coleman), you got Mike (Carter), you got Ty (Johnson) and you also have Perine?

I was talking to Coach LaFleur, Mike, about our backfield. If you look at the roster, you say, “I don’t know any of these guys.” That’s people outside, but when we look at it and we watch this tape, I think we’ve got a pretty dynamic group that complements each other really well. You’ve got the explosiveness of Coleman, you’ve got the shiftiness of Michael Carter, you’ve got the powerful speed from Ty Johnson and you’ve got, obviously, that power back ability with Perine. They’re all unique in their own way and together. Throw Josh Adams in there, he’s got tremendous speed on the edge, so it’s a really dynamic group and it’s a group that we’re excited to continue to work with to see if we can that niche.


DJ Bien Aime, New York Daily News: How would you access the defensive backs play?

So, with the DBs, I thought all of them battled their butts off. New group of receivers that they’re going against, and so, like I’ve always said, there’s a game that’s happening, outside the scheme, outside everything else, there’s a game within a game that’s being played by the receiver and the DB. And there’s a feeling out period where just trust your technique, trust the work that you’ve put in. Don’t make it street ball. If you make it street ball, these great receivers will kind of embarrass you, and I thought the guys settled in towards the end of practice, they settled in nicely, they got into a rhythm. And I thought, while early was a little shaky, they finished strong, which it goes back to their mindset and the testament to them. They honed it in, they got back to their technique and I thought they did a really good job finishing practice yesterday


Connor Hughes, The Athletic: When we talked earlier in camp with you, and wanting to settle on three guys, you’re not going to want a rotation with three guys in corner, are you closer to coming to that decision, as to who those guys are going to be?

It gets closer and closer every day. Obviously, there’s still today, there’s still the game, we got two practices coming with Philadelphia plus the game. And it’s coming closer, it’s starting to take shape and they’re all getting better, but there’s a couple guys, a few of them actually, that are starting to separate. So, it’s been good and fun to watch.


Brian Costello, The New York Post: Did Quinnen (Williams) do team yesterday?

Quinnen did not do team. He’s getting some team today, not a lot of it, so make sure you’re paying attention. He’s going to be in and out quick.


(Follow up): What about Alijah?

He’s still individual. Just individual.


Kyle Malzahn, WFRB: Saw you and Aaron Rogers talking yesterday, how nice was it to catch up with him and just kind of talk with him?

Watching that man in a practice, you always see him in a game and you talk to him after practice, but watching him in a practice setting, I though it was, for me, one of the cooler experiences. You hear about Hall of Famers and you hear about how their practice habits are and I just thought the way he communicated with his teammates, the way he talked to his coaches, the respect and the regard that his teammates have for not only him but it’s reciprocated from him to his teammates, just a class act. And everything people think of him is exactly right, he’s A1.


Eric Allen, Newyorkjets.com You said the plan with Zach is to throw maybe a series or two more this week. Is that going to be on both sides of the ball or expectation?

That’s my expectation for sure.


Brain Costello, New York Post: Where’s (Jason) Pinnock at?

Pinnock, he’s got, I believe it’s bruise to the knee. Slight contusion that’s just limiting his ability to execute. So, we should get him back here soon.


Cody Krupp, Fox 11: James (Morgan) got his first Aaron Rogers nerves out of the way as practice went on yesterday, how do you think he did? 

I saw that one flying around. Good media material. I thought he executed well, he did a nice job. All four of our quarterbacks, I think they’re all getting a lot better. And James, obviously him being home, he’s very excited to be here and play, but it’s like we tell him all the time, we tell all of them, just make it normal and everything else will take shape. So, he’s good.


Connor Hughes, The Athletic: The third preseason game is traditionally the dress rehearsal, the guys going into the third quarter, with there only being three preseason (games), I mean, are you going to use this as the dress rehearsal, is the Eagle game going to be the dress rehearsal?

No, because I still think the timing of it all still allows for you to have that build up. Not saying that we will because of the two practices that we have with Philadelphia, but you can still have that build up. The biggest thing that we’re trying to accomplish through this preseason is to make sure we’re game ready, four quarters of game ready by the time Week One comes around. So, having today’s practice and just trying to continue to evolve to that is a process.


Jeané Coakley, SNY: What’s it like, for you, to be on a practice field with your best friend? You guys are able to have these practices together, what did you learn from watching that practice?

I’m really excited for Matt (LaFleur). I mess with him all the time. I know I’m older and I’ve technically been in the league for longer, but he’s the one that’s 26-6, not me. So, there’s always a lot to learn off of from him. He’s extremely detailed, but like I said, I think it’s pretty surreal, especially when his mom and dad came out on the field, and his kids, I just remember raiding their refrigerator and all that stuff, it feels like yesterday. So, it’s cool.


Brian Costello, New York Post: With James Morgan, we see him on the field long after you guys are done practicing, you see him behind the play when Zach’s in there kind of mimicking the snap, has his work ethic kind of jumped out to you?

Oh yeah, we see him all the time and he is relentless. He’s absolutely going for it and he is getting better. And it’s just a matter of when he gets those opportunities, especially under the lights and preseason action and all that stuff, to take advantage of it and not make it any bigger. The message for James is, you’re putting in all that work, you’re putting in all that time, the game is supposed to be easy. He’s making it so hard during the week, because of how hard he’s working, that the game is supposed to be easy so just put your guard down and just let it float, just trust what you’ve been doing. And I think he’s getting to that point, so we’re excited to see him execute on Saturday.