Head Coach Robert Saleh, 8.30

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Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, looking at the cuts yesterday, could you just tell us about the back end of your wide receiver room? The two rookies making it, plus Irv (Irvin Charles), a second year.

Yeah, tremendous work by them, obviously to open up with an impression during OTAs. I thought (Jason) Brownlee and X (Xavier Gipson) both did a nice job putting themselves on the map early to get us excited about them going into training camp, and they’ve answered the bell since. X has shown dynamic ability in the return game, he’s a really good football player. He’s got great feel for space in the pass game, obviously he still has a long way to go, he’s going to get better, but the way he works, his intent, his mindset, you can tell he’s going to be a really good football player in this League. And then as for Brownlee, again same thing. He’s got an ability to make really tough, contested catches. Obviously, he didn’t show much during the preseason, didn’t get very many opportunities, but in practice, it seemed like once every other day he was coming down with an unbelievable catch that was heavily contested, so another young man who also has a long way to go from a special teams standpoint and all that stuff, he’ll continue to get better again with his mindset. And then with Irv, we were really excited about Irv last year and it didn’t work out, he’s been on the practice squad. The young man’s worked his tail off, and from a special teams standpoint, the sky is the limit for this young man on special teams. He is an absolute wolf on those units, but at the same time, he’s getting better on offense. There’s a lot of things he does, still has a long way to go on that side of the ball, but what he brings from a special teams standpoint is off the charts, but at the same time, really looking for him to take that next step on offense, and he did. There are more steps to follow for him.


Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Do you see (Xavier) Gipson, you called him a dynamic returner, is he your returner right now?

We’re going to work through it. Mecole (Hardman Jr.) still has something to say about it, but he’s got that versatility, along with what he’s shown on offense, so still some decisions to be made, nothing set in stone with regards to the return game and all that, but knowing that he’s an option is a good thing.


Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, I have a little big picture question for you. Just looking at this division now, as you move to regular season mode. You were in the NFC West for a few years, where that was the division in football. Do you look at the AFC East right now in sort of the same vein as ‘this could be one of the best divisions in football’ and are you interested to see how you guys stack up in that division?

Yeah, I feel like my entire career, I’ve been stuck- when I first got into the League it was Peyton Manning in the AFC South, and then Tennessee was really good, then we go to Seattle my first time around, San Francisco was really good, so was Arizona, then come back to the AFC South and Andrew Luck was rolling along with Tennessee was still good and Jacksonville was good. I’m sorry, we were Jacksonville. We go back to San Francisco and Seattle’s still good and the Rams, so it’s always been that way, butthe mindset doesn’t change, because the good thing is yes, we are in a really tough division, but they all have to play us too, so the mindset is always about us, it’s about what we can bring and it’s about whether they can stack up with us. Sounds cocky, I get it, but you can’t think of it any other way. It’s not about the opponent, it’s about what you do every day to be the best version of yourself. We have an unbelievable division. Bill (Belichick) and New England, I mean their resume speaks for itself. What they’re doing up in Buffalo with their quarterback and their defense and showing that they’ve established and got their feet in the ground. They’re the champs in this division until they’re not. And Miami, arguably has one of the better rosters in all of football, and they’re doing a great job, so it is a very, very tough division, and I think it’s going to be exciting to see how it all plays out.


Brian Costello, New York Post: We ask about the Super Bowl a lot, but do you guys talk about the division and winning the division, is that one of the first goals set for the season?

Yeah, we talk about owning the East, and you have to win your division games and the easiest path to the playoffs is to win the division, but again, it’s one game at a time, but obviously the division games, you want to perform well in the division. Last year, we wanted to show that we can win a game, I think were on a 300-game losing streak or whatever it was in the division, and we won a couple, and this year we want to win a couple more and just continue to build on the momentum that we’ve gained, butyeah, the division is always a big deal. It seems like all those games are tight, but like I said, it’s the easiest path to the playoffs.


Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: How does being in a division like that keep you battle tested for possibly what is yet to come?

There’s a lot of great teams in this League, but when you’ve got six games, two against New England, who’s going to be sound and perfect in what they do, and you’ve got Miami, who’s just so dynamic with play makers all over the field on offense and defense and special teams, and you’ve got Buffalo who’s got all the experience with an unbelievable quarterback, you’re going to get tested week in and week out with our division. It does prepare you for everything else the League has to throw at you.


Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: Robert, what’s your approach to the next week and a half, because it’s kind of unique the way the schedule has changed where you guys have this week in between the preseason and the season, and you on top of that are playing on Monday night, so you’re later in the week. How do you approach making sure everyone is staying in condition, shape and all that stuff as you get into Week One?

No, for sure, we’ve got a couple more practices, we’ve got practice today, practice tomorrow, and then there’s a mandatory three days off, come back for Monday, Tuesday, take another day off Wednesday, which is mandatory, and then we’re on our week. So, you’re sprinkling in their lift days, sprinkling in some practice. You don’t want to over work them, but at the same time, this week is more about getting their bodies back from a grueling training camp, getting their minds right, and kind of taking a quick peek at Buffalo, but at the same time, you don’t want to rush through a game plan, so it’s kind of just throwing some stuff out there. We’ve got plenty of time. This is about getting their bodies back and getting themselves ready to hit the ground running on Thursday, which would be an in-season Wednesday.


Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Going back to the AFC East theme for a second, Robert. It’s been two decades since the Jets won the division, I’m sure you’re aware of that. Do you dangle that as a carrot with the players? How much motivation is that and what would it mean to end that pretty long drought?

You know, I’ll be honest. I know there’s been so much talk about Super Bowls and divisions outside of the building, and there’s even talk inside the building about embracing those possibilities, but it’s not something that’s talked about. Everybody knows what the goal is, everybody knows what we’re trying to accomplish. I’ve said it to you guys before, but what’s talked about in this building is ‘Are you doing everything you can to do better? Are you doing everything you can to go to bed better than when you woke up?’ and that’s it. The results will take care of themselves, so as far as carrots are concerned, Rich, it’s not necessarily a carrot that’s dangled. These guys don’t care what happened 20 years ago. They’re focused in the moment. They acknowledge, obviously they acknowledge, but it’s not their story. Their story is what’s about to be written, and that’s where the focus is, in maintaining that idea that we’re going to dominate the moment, and if you do that, then you give yourself at least a chance, but it’s not something we really talk about.


Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, with Thomas Morstead, is he coming back to the roster today after you guys make some moves, or are you so confident in this offense that you’re thinking ‘we’re not going to have to punt’?

That’s a Joe (Douglas) question. We’ll see, there’s still a couple of things that have to get done.


Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: Robert, in terms of guys that made it, we saw on ‘Hard Knocks’ how much you love Chazz Surratt, what do you love about his game, and what did he show you in camp this year?

You know what? God if he could just stay healthy, that’s been what’s kind of hampered him throughout the short part of his career, but he’s got everything you want in a linebacker. Speed, he’s got heavy hands, he’s very smart, can play all three positions, he understands leverage, he understands angles, he understands coverage, he’s very smart, and he’s gotten a lot better since he’s gotten here, and I think that room has a lot to do with it. His mindset, his intent, he’s become kind of an (expletive) on the football field, excuse my language. He’s got a chance to be pretty freaking good. You could argue that he’s got starter capabilities in him, he’s just got to stay healthy and continue to prove it.


Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, we saw on ‘Hard Knocks’ last night, Aaron (Rodgers), during one practice there was a series where there were a lot of mistakes, and he was pretty upset, using a lot of language. He said to us that he’s mellowed, he doesn’t really get on guys as much anymore, but clearly that showed he does. How does that hit with the team, because obviously if you have a quarterback who’s 21, 22 years old, they can’t have that kind of clout. With Aaron, he expressed this ‘we have to be better in practice’ and that kind of thing. How does that hit with the team, and how does that help you as a coach?

Absolutely. It’s like I said, the best coached teams are the ones that coach themselves. And it’s not that coaches don’t coach; it strikes different when it comes from a peer. We always talk about effort, we always talk about being clean, we’re always correcting mistakes as coaches, but when it comes from players and they’re holding themselves accountable and holding each other accountable, it is a very powerful message. What’s great is you see it in the d-line (defensive line) room with Quinnen (Williams) stepping up, you see it in the DB (defensive back) room with DJ (Reed) and the way he speaks, very quiet in his quiet manner, CJ Mosley, and then along the offensive line and receiver room. We’ve got a really cool group, where the veteran leadership is stepping up and taking care of all the little things that can kind of get away from people in the locker room, if that makes sense, butreally cool dynamic, and a guy like Aaron, I’ve said it, I mean I got in the League the same year he did. We’ve both been in the League 19 years, and he’s gotten bullets sprayed at him every year since he’s got here, and I get to sit on the sidelines and hit the rewind button. He can’t, so he’s got a wealth of knowledge, so it’s always good to get his input.


Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: We’ve asked you versions of this question a lot over the last year or two, but your first year here, the defense finished toward the bottom of most categories, and now you look at the roster, you look at the defensive linemen, secondary, the talent you’ve built up. Is this kind of what you envisioned for this defense when you got here in terms of the talent and all the pieces fitting together this way?

Yeah, that’s the way you want to draw it up. But for sure, there’s a style that we want to play, there’s a mindset that we want to play with, and it’s bringing in the people you feel can execute that style and mindset. I love that group. They absolutely have the mindset. They come to work every day and they do everything they can to maximize who they are as individuals. Every day they walk into this building. And because of it, it reflects, and it shows on the field with their passion and love for this game and love for one another, and I think that sometimes gets lost. Joe and his staff, and obviously our staff, just the communication and collaboration to make sure we’re being very selective on who we brought into this building, and from there, they’ve done the rest. It is a really cool group of guys.


Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Robert, does the Sopranos ride to the stadium give you a little more street cred?

I don’t know. My brother texted me. I don’t get street cred until my wife signs off, so I’ll wait for her to watch.