Head Coach Robert Saleh, 8.20

[please click photo for link to the video]


Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: What were some of your takeaways from today?

It was good, speaking defensively, I was working on that side today, but a lot of two back runs from Atlanta, which we appreciated just to be able to look at it. We didn’t have pads on, but just to be able to go through the mental aspect of it and get ourselves into it. I thought it was clean, we came out healthy, good competitive practice and I feel like we all got a lot out of it, especially with all of the redzone work.


Connor Hughes, SNY: Robert, when you get a chance to practice against a team like this were you able to see more stuff than when you’re going up against each other? The growth of this team in terms of how much more talented you are this year, maybe compared to last year and the growth of the younger guys?

Yeah, you see in the way we practice just from an efficiency standpoint, our standard in terms of the way our receivers are catching and running and finishing, our backs, the way they’re finishing every down, the communication on the defensive side of the ball. I think Atlanta does a really good job getting in and out of the huddle so quickly with all of the motions and movements that they’ve got. Our communication is much better than it was a year ago, so we’ve improved greatly in that regard, so there has been a jump and I still anticipate us growing even more.


Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Were you aware of Micheal Clemons coming off the field?

Yeah, he took a shot to the ribs. I think he’s going to be alright, it was a helmet


Brian Costello, New York Post: What’s your plans for Monday night with playing the starters?

I’m torn on it. I wake up one day and I’m like okay, they’re going to play, the next day I wake up and they’re not going to play. I think there’s tremendous value in this one. I think this ones different because it is Monday night football and we’re such a young team that a lot of guys, this is what you dream of, it’s Monday night football. You never want to make a game bigger than it needs to be, but there’s still that human aspect in terms of they grew up and how people view Monday night and the fact that it’s the only game on TV, all their peers are watching. The biggest thing for me is it’s a great opportunity to give our guys that opportunity to go through the mental aspect of a heightened environment in something that they dream of, so they can manage Week One, so yeah, I’m torn on that.


Brain Costello, New York Post: What about Joe Flacco? He doesn’t need that.

No, but I put him in the same boat, he doesn’t need it, but I feel like everyone could always use it just as a reminder of how to get yourself prepared and making sure that every game is just a normal game.


Al Iannazzone, Newsday: You said that Carl (Lawson) was pissed he didn’t play last time. Are you torn with him too?

I’m torn with all of them. I am, because we have two really good days of work and normally, with these joint practices you don’t want to practice or play in a game because you feel like you’ve gotten a heavy workload. I know we practiced last year and then we still played, it’s like bloodshed this week, so far so good, as opposed to last year.


Rich Cimini, ESPN: So it’s conceivable that you’ll be playing backups? 

Yeah, for sure.


Antwan Staley, NY Daily News: What do you want to get out of this preseason game? 

We really want to get continued growth, especially from our young guys, we’re trying to figure out who we have and when you look at the 40 through 53 part of the roster and trying to figure all of that stuff out. You’re looking for continued growth out of your young guys, we’re looking for continued growth out of communication offensively and defensively, so you’re just looking for growth in terms of the way we operate play in and play out.


Ryan Dunleavy, New York Post: What have you seen from Jabari Zuniga? 

Yeah, he is. The big thing for Zu is he has all the talent in the world. He has arm length, he has speed, explosiveness, he has good pass rush repertoire, he can play violent. The whole thing for him is going to be consistency. We talk about it in there that consistency is the truest measure of performance and you can be consistently bad, you can be consistently good, it’s going to tell you who you are. Zu is trending, he is definitely trending. He is much better than he was a year ago and he is making an impression and now it’s just the matter of him just continuing to stack days to cement what he has become.


Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: What’s the timetable on Vinny Curry?

We’re still waiting on that one. I know he’s getting looked at, but I haven’t gotten a timetable yet.


Henry McKenna, Fox Sports: What’s Jordan Whitehead like behind the scenes?

Love Jordan, every once in a while, a guy sneaks out of a building in free agency for one reason or another and he’s one of them. He’s not normally a guy that you see exiting building’s that they were drafted in. He is absolutely phenomenal. His mental makeup, his leadership, the way he prepares every day, his play style. He really is a total package and I’m just thankful that he’s here.


Henry McKenna, Fox Sports: As a 25-year old who stepped into a new team and immediately took on leadership role, is that special to you with him?

Yeah, I think the way he’s done it is cool because he doesn’t try to be the leader, he just naturally becomes one because of the way he approaches his day to day business. He is a great young man, I think he is likeable in the locker. He is definitely made of the right stuff.


Al Iannazzone, Newsday: When do you expect Duane (Brown) to be back?

Expecting Duane to be back to getting reps next week.


Al Iannazzone, Newsday: He is a veteran, obviously, but is that enough time for the line to gel?

I think so, like I said, he’s in the meetings. He is going through all of the walk throughs. It’s just a matter of getting those team reps and going live.


Brian Costello, New York Post: When you talk about this team and evaluate the big picture, it’s always about how young the team is, especially Zach (Wilson) is the focus with that. You are still a young head coach, you are in your second year, do you feel like you are a part of that evaluation? Do you feel like you have something to prove here in your second year here?

Yeah, I feel like I try to live by what I preach with regards to go to bed better than when I woke up and trying to figure out what it is I can do better. How can I serve Eric (Gelfand) over here better? How can I serve our coaches better? How can I be a server to this organization to help everyone around me get a little bit better? And that’s what I am trying to focus on and just trying to help facilitate whatever message we need or whatever we might need. What does the linebackers coach need? What does the linebacker need? What is it that I can do better to help the people around me get better? That is an everyday challenge for myself, but I don’t think you ever reach the pinnacle of what you think you are. I think you always have room to get better, but especially, you are right, I am only two years in. I probably don’t know half the stuff Bill Belichick knows, but trying to get there.


Brian Costello, New York Post: You mentioned when you sat down after last season you were doing self-scout on all this different stuff, but is there anything where you self-scout as a head coach?

Yeah, I self-scout the schedule, self-scout game decisions, in-game decisions. We hired a new situational coordinator, so sitting down and going through all the situations with him and how he would’ve seen things differently and what I can do differently in the moment, so you are absolutely always going back. I really believe that every human should look inward before they try to adjust a problem. If there is a problem, look inward first before you start pointing fingers. The old saying for every finger pointing at one person, there is three pointing back, so you just try to solve problems inward first and then you go up the ladder from there, but you’re always trying to figure out where I can be a little bit better especially in adverse situations.

Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: You mentioned seeing on defense communication and so forth, as a defensive guy, I mean that’s how you made your reputation in the league. What was last year like? How did it sit with you seeing defense finish 32nd?

It wasn’t good. It’s frustrating, but still being in this chair, you want the defense to do well, but it doesn’t matter well if the defense is doing well and the offense stinks, so there is a global aspect to it. I want them all to great, we all want to be number one in every single category, we want to be our absolute best. Is it frustrating because you can’t come up with the answers to help put the guys in better positions at those particular moments or you’re fighting together and you’re trying to find what the answers are? For sure. Do I think we’re the 32nd ranked defense? I mean you are what your stats say they are, but there’s things that you can see, like I said, with the analytics and all that stuff, that you can argue, but when we talked about the run game, Cimini, the other day, we are going to be better. It does sting, especially when any phase is not performing to the way you want it to perform.


Henry McKenna, Fox Sports: What have you seen from Jermaine Johnson in camp so far? He’s one of those guys who could benefit from the way you rotate defensive linemen and just plug him into a situation and let him go?

I love the way Jermaine has attacked practice. Football for these guys is so easy throughout college that they get here and they’ve got to figure out a new way to practice. There’s a level of skill and a level of professionalism that takes place in the practice field with effort and working on your technique and trying to figure out how you can improve. That part of his game has been a pleasant surprise because he has grabbed it by the horns and he is trying to be his best every single day. He is a rookie, so there’s going to be a lot of things that he has to learn, but at the same time, he’s trying to contribute on teams, he’s trying to contribute in the run game, he’s trying to contribute in the pass game, so his mental makeup, his athleticism, his hand-eye coordination, all that stuff is awesome. It’s just going to be a matter of time before he ties it all together with power and it becomes exactly what we think he’ll be.


Eric Allen, New York Jets: Getting Lamarcus (Joyner) back out there today, getting some team reps, can you talk about that a little bit? How about the dynamic that you like with him and Jordan (Whitehead)?

He’s a veteran, he’s been there, he’s done that. He communicates well, our communication elevates when he’s in there. Getting him back there, he is a stabilizing force back there and him and Jordan make a pretty darn good team, so really happy he’s back. Again, the overall communication of that back end, we are young at corner, we are young at Nickle, and to have two safeties who can relay messages and get all of the information needed all the way out to the perimeter and having him and Jordan, it’s a welcome dynamic.


Brian Costello, New York Post: Carl (Lawson), vet day? 

Vet day, yeah.


Brian Costello, New York Post: There was someone on the side that didn’t have a jersey on. Maybe Marcell Harris?

Yeah, he’s dealing with a hammy. Should be another week or two.


Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: What were your impressions of Laken Tomlinson when you guys were together in San Fransisco, and what have you seen from him and what do you like about him?

He’s the same to me. You talk to him — I don’t know if he’s done a press conference yet — but he’s as well-mannered and well-spoken as you can get. Then you get in the meeting room, same thing. He’s very thoughtful, and then he puts the helmet on and something crazy happens. He’s like the Jekyll Hyde thing, especially on gameday. He will headbutt you if you’re in his way. He’s a whack job on gameday. He’s a professional, an unbelievable human being, very, very deliberate in the way he prepares. Everything is the same, everything is exactly like we thought. I’ve said it before, money makes you more of what you already are, and he’s gotten paid and he’s only elevated what we always thought he was. So, he’s been great.