Head Coach Robert Saleh, 8.31
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, what does it look like for a Week One game? When do you guys start talking about the Bills? When do you guys start watching film, and is it a much longer process than normal?
We’ve been, from the second the schedule came out. With division opponents, you always start it earlier, and then with them being the Week One opponent, it’s been going on for a while.
Brian Costello, New York Post: What about actually sitting down and game planning?
It’s just been little tid bits here and there. This week, we’ve tried some stuff, but the cement and stone, that’ll be Thursday.
Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: Robert, have you guys picked your captains yet?
We’ll do that on Monday.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Now that the 53 (man roster) is finalized, which areas do you think are the most improved from last year?
Gosh, that’s a good question. I feel like we’ve had a lot of improvement, I don’t know if I can put my thumb on it. I think we’ve had so much youth over the last couple of years, and just that natural maturation of growth. If you compare it to last year’s roster, obviously we added the quarterback, we added Dalvin (Cook), but for the most part, our group is the same. Obviously (Allen) Lazard’s here, (Randall) Cobb, but for the most part, our team is very much the same, it’s just grown a little bit more. I think the intent has always been there, I think the effort has always been there. I think our young guys have definitely taken a step forward, so it’s just going to come down to health, but to pinpoint it to one thing, I think just as a team, the natural maturation of our youth over the last couple of years has gotten better.
Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: Some of those young guys like Tony Adams and (Jamien) Sherwood, just talk about them and the confidence you have in them.
A lot. Sherwood, he’s grown a lot over the last couple of years. Last year, coming off the Achilles (injury) his rookie year, just trying to get his feet underneath him, I think he’s taken a really big step. He’s grown, he’s gained some weight, so he looks like a linebacker, and he’s playing a lot more free, so he’s made a big jump. And who was the other one?
Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: Tony Adams.
Tony Adams? Same thing with him. You felt it last year with his mindset and the way he approached things, and then this year, when Chuck (Clark) went down, he really went to another level, obviously with training camp. Had a lot of excitement going into training camp for him, thought it would be good to see him compete, and he competed. He’s earned that job, and now it’s just a matter of him just calming his world down and taking it one day at a time and enjoying it.
Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: As far as the follow up with Tony Adams, the Miami game where he was really featured, was it that moment where you thought ‘yeah this guy has potential’?
No, no, because we felt coming out of training camp last year, if we lost Tony, we’d all be sick. That’s the honest to goodness truth. So, you saw throughout all the practice habits, it’s just the way he approaches the game, and then obviously you get an opportunity late in the season, Seattle a little bit, Miami, and then just the way he attacked this offseason, going into OTAs and all that, just thought we as an organization made a good decision to keep him.
Joe Mauceri, PIX 11: Robert, I know injuries are a part of the game and you like to knock wood there, but how do you feel about your team’s depth coming into this season as compared to last year?
It’s good. It’s always good. We’ve got a lot of faith in a lot of guys. Just going on the o-line (offensive lne), you’ve got (Joe) Tippmann and (Wes) Schweitzer and Max (Mitchell) all who have played, Schweitzer and Max have started NFL games and then Tip, we know he can do it. Billy Turner has a ton of reps under his belt, so we’ve got really good depth on the o-line. The d-line (defensive line) obviously speaks for itself, linebackers- we all feel really good about the depth, and hopefully nobody gets hurt, but the depth of the roster, we feel good about the guys we have.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Robert, we’ve talked about Aaron (Rodgers) being a hungry guy and everything like that because he’s older and wants to win. You have a few of those guys, CJ Mosley maybe not as old, but what is it like to have him? Aaron talked about his leadership on the other side of the ball in the locker room, how important is it to have CJ?
CJ? He’s a stud, man. He is the captain. CJ embodies everything you want out of a professional football player. Even against the Giants, he’s looking at the iPad and stuff, knowing full well he’s probably going to play five plays. Just the intent, like everything is so important to him, everything is so personal to him. He’s the first one in, the last one out, he’s in the weight room constantly just working on his body and getting himself prepared. If you’re a young guy and you’re trying to figure out in the locker room who to go to for guidance on how to make it in this League, all you have to do is go to his locker and just watch him. You don’t have to say a word to him, because he’s a man of very few words. Just watch him, and his body language and his actions will speak volumes.
Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: Robert, if you look through each position group, it seems like you have a veteran help kind of lead the young guys, and then have a group of young guys kind of coming up. How valuable is it to have that dynamic at every single position group?
It is. Initially, speaking for myself, kind of take it for granted, you know that first year was so freaking young, and you forget- you have to have the right type of veteran. You can’t just say ‘okay we have a veteran, let’s go’, because there’s a lot of veterans who don’t do it the right way, they’re just coasting in for their last paycheck if you will, butat the same time, you feel really good about the guys that we have in terms of how they approach the game. You look at a guy like Duane Brown who just embodies everything that you want, and the way he can provide leadership. Randall Cobb coming in, he’s been unbelievable. It’s far beyond exceeded any expectation I could have ever dreamed of for a guy like him, so as long as you have the right guy, that balance becomes priceless, because like I said, I’ve said it before, when they’re in the locker room, because we don’t go in the locker room, so players spend more time with each other than coaches do with players, so to have that veteran leadership to guide and show a young man, it’s like a big brother- ‘come on, let me show you how to do this’. To have that, it really is priceless.
Steve Serby, New York Post: Robert, how do you determine how many captains you will have this year? And last year, how did you determine that?
One for each phase of football.
Steve Serby, New York Post: You’ll have three?
We’ll have three, and then the fourth captain is decided on Friday by the coaches, sothe three are decided by the players, and then the fourth captain is always decided by the coaches. We’ll usually pick a guy who exemplifies everything we believe in as a staff.
Brian Costello, New York Post: That’s the sound of Connor (Hughes) taking a shot at the Giants right now.
To each his own, man. To each his own, to each his own.
Connor Hughes, SNY: Is there such thing as too many captains?
No, because some teams do it like – we’ve done leadership councils where you have a representative from each group, so you want to make sure your locker room feels like it has a voice, so we’ve done leadership councils where there are 15 guys who speak on behalf of the team, so however you get to that number, it’s all the same. If you have a group of guys that you trust and you want having that message, then shoot, all 53 can be captain for that matter.
Steve Serby, New York Post: So, you do have a leadership council?
Yeah, we’ve had leadership councils in the past. We’ll see about this year.
Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: As far as Jordan Whitehead, I know you spoke about him in the offseason, just talk about what gives you the confidence he’ll have a much better year in 2023 as opposed to last year?
J Dub? I’m going to adjust your question and say he had a really good year last year. I know he dropped four interceptions, which would have changed everybody’s perception about what he did, but he was phenomenal last year, and I think he’s going to be even better this year. He’s in a great mental head space, I think he’s gotten faster, believe it or not. In the Giants game, he displayed some red line to red line speed that I think even surprised him, because he got to the catch point before the ball got there. His physicality will always be there, his communication is elevated because he’s more comfortable in the system, but couldn’t be happier with Jordan.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, with Mekhi (Becton), you guys obviously had a plan to bring him along in August, but now when September 11th comes, it’s hard to have guard rails on a tackle, right? With Breece (Hall), you can have a pitch count. How does he go from 25 snaps or whatever he had against Tampa Bay, to possibly 70 snaps against Buffalo? He hasn’t played a full game since 2020.
That’s going to be the tough part for him, and it’s like I said, nobody’s played a game equivalent. In a practice, there’s so much rapid fire, if you can hit the 30 to 40 range, we trust that you’ll be in the shape that you need to be in to play in a football game. So, nobody on our football team has actually had 70 snaps at all on any one particular day, and he’s done that. A couple days ago, he hit 34, so there’s going to be some discomfort, he’s going to be uncomfortable at times, he’s just got to grind through it, butyeah, the guard rails are off, and he’s got to continue to show and clear barriers and all that stuff and jump through- not jump through hoops. He’s just got to continue to show that he’s truly becoming the person that we all believe he is.
Andy Vasquez, NJ Advance Media: With (Nathaniel) Hackett, I know you guys had talked early in the preseason about maybe having him on the sideline or trying him in the booth. What’s that going to look like during the regular season?
He’ll be on the sideline.
Andy Vasquez, NJ Advance Media: (follow up) And what’s the reasoning for that?
Just the comfort level for Aaron and for him from a communication standpoint.
Ian O’Connor, Harper Collins: You’ve obviously given Aaron a long runway to use his leadership to impact the organization in a lot of different ways, but as head coach, you obviously have to maintain control and authority. Was it easy to get to a balance with him on that? How was that process like?
I think it’s a- not to minimize it- it’s just kind of a superficial, overall arching from a question standpoint, and I’ll explain why. Aaron’s a teammate, and that’s the way I look at it. Coaches and players are teammates first. And yeah, there’s a level of respect and communication in terms of how we get things done, but I always want that open communication. I’ll always defer to the defense in terms of ‘alright there’s a really interesting concept that we need to defend’. You want their voice. You want their input. You want them to challenge the way you’re doing things, because they’re the ones who are getting the bullets shot. They’re the ones in the locker room that understand little things that may be in your blind spots, so you want them to have the freedom to come and speak to you openly about things they have concern over. When you have guys that do it the right way, guys like CJ Mosley, Quinnen Williams, Aaron, Duane Brown, you want them to come in and have the freedom to be able to express what they feel and speak on behalf of the team. So, I don’t look at it like ‘I coach, you play, shut the F up’. It’s more ‘you’re my teammate, we’re teammates, we can do this together’. And I’m speaking to the entire roster on that one.