Head Coach Robert Saleh, 9.12
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Rich Cimini, ESPN: Robert can you just give us an update? I think we know about Aaron (Rodgers), but can you give us the official update, where things stand, and whether he’s having surgery soon? What are the plans for that?
Obviously, we know its torn. That’s been confirmed, but as far as everything else, I’ll have to get back to everybody on the rest of it.
Connor Hughes, SNY: Robert, do you guys plan to add another quarterback here in the coming days. If so, what caliber of quarterback are you looking to add and what will his role be?
We are going to look through some things, but I do want to make it very clear, Zach (Wilson) is our quarterback. We got a lot of faith in Zach. We’re really excited about his opportunity, but we’re rolling with Zach and excited for him and, like I said, this opportunity he’s going to get.
Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: Robert, you obviously talked all offseason about how it was going to be good for Zach to take a step back and watch Aaron and learn from him. Obviously, the timeline has sped up quite a bit. What gives you confidence that the sped-up timeline can work out for him and that he can handle this moment?
Yeah, that’s a fair question. From a mental standpoint, he’s so much different than this time a year ago. He’s in a great frame of mind, he’s loving the game of football, he’s loving the process that he’s going through. He’s got a lot of confidence. You know all the little things that we saw in college that he was struggling with a year ago are not the same struggles that he had. He’s fixed a lot of things, a lot of things. We’re very excited about him. Obviously, he will acknowledge, he still has a lot of things to learn and grow. We’re excited to be able to do that with him. I think he’s been able to rebuild rapport with his teammates and just the way he’s kind of handled himself has been fantastic, but everything about him is so much different than a year ago. Like I said, is it happening faster than I think anyone expected? Obviously, under the circumstances, but he’s somebody that made a drastic improvement from a year ago.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, you just mentioned he’s rebuilt rapport with his teammates. Obviously, that was an issue last year after the New England game. How have you seen him do that this offseason and in training camp?
Yeah, let me fix that word rapport. It’s more confidence, I should say confidence. In terms of just his ability to, from the process and the practice habits, not that they were bad, it’s just there’s a confidence. Teammates want to see each other make plays and have confidence that you can do your job to the best of your ability. I think just over the course of OTAs and Training Camp, Zach has had a lot of success. I think you guys have witnessed a lot of it. I thought he did a really nice job in all of the preseason games, so I think he’s built a lot of confidence with his teammates. When I say rapport, I’m trying to say confidence.
Bruce Beck, WNBC: How would you describe your level of disappointment right now, Robert?
Bruce Beck, WNBC: Looking at the injury, what are you feeling?
No, I got you. I feel more for Aaron, than anyone. He has invested so much into this organization, so much into this journey that he’s embarked on and wanting to be a part of what we have got going here and how much he’s invested to not only this organization, but his teammates, himself, this fanbase, this city. I have a lot of emotions for him. As for us, it’s really all about him, it is. I don’t look at it like it like, ‘Woe is me here for the organization.’ I think guys are excited about being able to step up and continue the things that we’ve been building, but a lot of hurt for Aaron.
Dennis Waszak, Associated Press News: With Aaron, just to confirm, you don’t know if he’ll need surgery yet, but he’s out for the year?
Yeah, he’s out for the year. He needs surgery. I just don’t have any details for you guys.
Connor Hughes, SNY: The play that Aaron got hurt on was a cut block. There was a report from The Athletic that Aaron had voiced, that he wasn’t necessarily a fan of the cut blocks because it forced him to throw earlier and remove the ability for him to extend plays if he wanted. Is there any accuracy to that? If so, why continue to keep that in the play book?
I don’t know about that one. That hasn’t come across me in terms of whether or not there’s a displeasure or anything. Quick game, cut, ball coming up, get guys hands down. There’s a bunch of ways to do it. I don’t have anything for you on that one. I haven’t heard anything through the locker room on that.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Robert, I know how you say you’re not thinking about the organization, you’re thinking about Aaron. How difficult is it for this franchise that’s been through so much, I mean everything was going to be on him and to go through what you’ve gone through now?
I don’t know why people are trying to put an obituary onto our team’s name. Aaron is an unbelievable piece to this whole thing and we love him, but I think there’s 52 other guys in the locker room plus the 16 practice squad guys that believe that we can do a hell of a lot of good things here. We have a championship caliber defense, we’ve got great skill guys on the offensive side of the ball. Our O-line is going to continue to gel and get better, but we’re excited about our group. We’ve worked hard over the last couple of years, players, coaches, scouts, and GM building a pretty cool organization. So, there’s still a lot of faith in the locker room and the things that we can still accomplish here. So, while the outside world can go ahead and write whatever story they want to write, there’s still the true story being written in this building.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, with that being said, it’s fair that no one should be writing your obituary, but expectations are different without Aaron Rodgers. You guys put a lot into getting him. At the beginning of the offseason, Woody (Robert Wood Johnson) said you guys felt that quarterback was the missing piece, right? You guys felt he was the piece to get you guys over the top and now he is gone after four snaps. Doesn’t that alter expectations for this team?
Like I said, expectations for us are always the same. I have said it before, you can be an expansion team in the NFL, and you are still expected to go 17-0. It is expectations versus controllable’s, and we never talk expectations because the only expectation we have of ourselves is to go out and do our best every single day and maximize who we are and go to bed better than when we woke up. That is all you can ask for. The expectations of winning and losing is the narrative that gets created outside of the building, which is expected, that is part of the job. But at the same time, it’s never been what we talk about and that’s the whole thing. If you talk to them all, the same things that were being talked about with regards to winning championships and winning divisions and all of that, they are still going to say the same thing. I fully expect them to, I fully expect them to have that mindset. But again, you can’t achieve any of that unless you go out and attack the day and attack the moment and do the best you can. So, while narrative might change, on the outside world and the articles that are being written, the expectation here is still continue to give ourselves an opportunity to put our best foot forward.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: You said you were going to look through some things for a backup quarterback, does that entail veteran free agents or the trade market?
Yeah, and the message I was trying to deliver is that we are going to look at everything. You are going to look at veterans, you are going to look at young guys, but under no circumstance is any of this a competition. This is Zach’s (Wilson) team, and we are rolling with Zach.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: Does (Tim) Boyle move up to number two this week?
Tim Boyle will be elevated, yes.
Emmanuel Morgan, New York Times: Robert, how does the offensive strategy change at all with Zach compared to Aaron?
It’s kind of a game plan question. I am going to hold that one. We still think Zach is fully capable of executing the offense, obviously, there is going to be nuance that might be different. As far as getting into too much detail on what the game plan will be, I’m going to hold that one.
Tom Rock, Newsday: Robert, what were your conversations like with Aaron? I’m sure you had an opportunity to talk to him today after he left the building, and did any of those conversations enter into his future and what happens beyond this year?
As you guys can imagine, he’s down. I’ll let him answer those questions. I did not get into the future of what he is expecting or what he’s thinking. I think that’s a conversation tactfully left for another day. He’s, as you can imagine, with everything that he has invested and it lasting four plays, he’s obviously a little disappointed.
Jori Epstein, Yahoo Sports: Robert, do you have a sense on whether he will still be around the building after surgery this season? Do you expect him to still be involved with the team?
Yeah, I think I speak for everyone in the organization, we all want him here, we all want him to be connected, and I think he wants to be here. But again, that is something we will continue to talk about. Just trying to let him breath and give him some time to digest everything that’s happened.
Nick Faria, amNewYork: Robert, if you look at NFL history, there are a lot of teams that have lost a star quarterback and have been highly successful with their backup over the course of an entire season. Is that kind of the mindset that you and the locker room are taking right now and sort of looking at those examples and seeing what kind of worked then to try to use now?
No, every situation is unique. Obviously, there are precedents. It’s not going to be the first nor the last time that a starting quarterback goes down and somebody rises up to the occasion and rolls. What we are all very, very confident in is, one of the things and I think people forget, when Zach Wilson was the starting quarterback one year ago before the Bye Week he was 5-1 as a starter, with Breece Hall and AVT (Alijah Vera-Tucker) and everybody healthy and then we lost half our offense and then a whole myriad of things that I’m not going to get into with regards to that whole situation. But Zach is a very capable quarterback. He has proven to be a very capable quarterback. We have got what we believe is a championship caliber defense and, like I have said, we have skill guys that we are all very confident in and an offensive line that, knock on wood, is healthy and hopefully can stay healthy and continue to build continuity. We have all the faith in the world in Zach and the best part about Zach is that we all do believe he is leap years ahead of where he was a year ago. So, again, like I said, we are excited for his opp(ortunity).
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, Aaron’s injury has sparked some conversations about turf versus grass. MetLife Stadium, I know there is new turf in there, obviously you have lived it in San Francisco a few years ago when you guys came to MetLife. Any concerns over the turf at MetLife Stadium?
No, if it was a non-contact injury then I think that would be something to discuss, obviously, but that was kind of forceable, I think that was trauma induced. I do know the player prefer grass and there is a lot invested in those young men.
Bruce Beck, WNBC: Robert, what is your overall message to your fan base today?
We’re on to Dallas.