Head Coach Robert Saleh, 9.12

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Rich Cimini, ESPN: I’m wondering if you could just update us on, you know the fans were chanting for Mike White in and out of the stadium, I’m wondering what’s your current position on the quarterback position and if you’re staying with Joe (Flacco), what would be the reasoning behind that?

Right now everything’s always under discussion and under review, talking with Rob (Calabrese), talking with Mike (LaFleur). Obviously, we’re not done with our postgame evaluation and all that stuff, and much appreciated with the passion with quarterbacks and all that stuff, but Joe’s been very, very steady throughout OTAs, training camp. Last year, threw four over 300 on Miami in a really good game. We’ve got all the upmost faith in Joe. Does that mean something can’t happen tonight? I’m not going to promise you anything, but at the same time, as of now, Joe is our starting quarterback.


Rich Cimini, ESPN: So you’re leaving the door open a little bit there, I mean, the final decision hasn’t been made yet for this week?

Yeah, it’s more likely going to be Joe, guys, but to be honest, the doors open on every position every week.


Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: Robert, obviously there were a lot of little mistakes here that cost you guys, especially on offense. So, I guess when you go back and look at that, what gives you confidence that, when these situations come up next week, rest of the season, that your guys are not going to make those same little errors?

Yeah, if you’re going to go silver lining, it’s that we were exposed to some situations yesterday that, especially in the second half, we talked about it, learning how to win football games, getting into those crunch moments when you’re in a tight game and you’re going blow for blow, making the plays necessary to win football games and that’s where you’re going to find out a lot about this football team as we continue to grow. So, you just trust that they’ve been exposed to those situations, you identify it and show it on tape, and you address what it is, and they’re all teachable moments. They’re professionals, this is a really, really good group of guys, and you just have faith that they’re going to get it done, including the coaches.


Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: We just got off with D.J. Reed, he talked a lot about everything he’s been going through last week, especially the last 24 hours. How aware were you of what he was going through yesterday when he went out on that field and what does it say about the way he played?

We are all fully aware, during the national anthem and all that stuff. Obviously very, very tough day for D.J., heart goes out to him and his family. D.J. is a pro’s pro, a man’s man. You never know what these guys are going through, especially, we know in the locker room, but outside in the stands, outside the building, nobody knows. So, we can be quick to judge but just give it time, give it a chance for a story to come out or whatever it is. D.J. went through a lot yesterday and it was an emotional roller coaster this entire week for him.


Brian Costello, NY Post: Robert, I think Garrett Wilson’s usage was maybe surprising, especially in the first half, I think it was six snaps maybe in the first half. What was behind that? Why wasn’t he a little bit more involved early?

Yeah, we came out with a plan to attack them in 13 personnel. So, those first couple of series, which eats up most of the first quarter, you’re trying to utilize your tight ends. Obviously, we can all play hindsight is 20/20, it didn’t work and by the time we got to the second quarter to make the adjustments, to get him on the football field and get him active, that’s when the pivot started happening, going away from what the initial first 15 was. That’s basically the only reason, but we’re a 12 personnel team, we’ve got good tight ends, feel like we’ve got a good group of receivers, and, like I said, we can play hindsight, but that’s the main reason, Brian.


Brian Costello, NY Post: Going off of that then, the 13 personnel, C.J. Uzomah, on the 23 snaps, he wasn’t targeted. That was kind of surprising, too. What led to that?

Yeah, so you get into the second half and it becomes catch up mode and (Tyler) Conklin has been the lead guy with regards to the 11 personnel, so, like I said, the game got away from us, the initial game plan kept receivers off the field, and the late catch up mode kept tight ends off the field.

Rich Cimini, ESPN: Robert, you said yesterday that the young guys have to grow up quick. Last week, you kind of talked about how they’re rookies and if you had hair, you’d be pulling your hair out sometimes. What were you expecting and what are you hoping for going forward?

It goes back to what Zach just talked about. You hope that they see all these moments and they learn from it and they get better and better and better. 90% of games in this league are lost. I’ve said it here before. Yesterday, in my opinion, we did not get beat, we lost. And they’re two totally different things. You just look at it, it just felt like we were the faster team. We played with a lot of speed and aggression, especially on defense. And a lot of these little mistakes, and a lot of things that people don’t see with regards to busts, misalignments, whatever it might be, you just see these little things happening and we have to learn how to do right longer. Something Kyle (Shanahan) has always said and I’ve taken with me from San Francisco. You’ve got to do right longer. And when you get these veteran teams like Baltimore, they just did right play in and play out. They just do right. And they just wear you out by doing right longer. They’re not doing anything spectacular, they’re just playing a smarter brand of football. That’s where we’ve got to get and I believe that if we keep exposing our guys to that and we keep getting these reps, and obviously it all starts with us as coaches because we’ve got to get it going faster. But we’re going to get better and we’ll get better from all these different experiences.


Connor Hughes, SNY: Robert is it a challenge to wait for that to happen and wait for that youth? You look at this fan base and they’ve dealt with losing for so long that it’s kind of like the patience for them is wearing thin and I know they want to buy into the youth and they want to buy into the young guys developing but it’s tough when its kind of loss after loss after loss. Eventually, they want to see wins. 

It’s exhausting Connor. It’s exhausting for coaches, it’s exhausting for ownership, it’s exhausting for you guys to continue writing about losers, it’s exhausting for fans, it’s exhausting for everybody. And nobody wants to lose. It’s on us as coaches to see how quickly we can accelerate this, and it’s on us as an organization to see how we can facilitate all this knowledge to get these guys where they need to be so they can do right longer and play the way they need to. So, we’re always trying to accelerate the process and win immediately. We’d love to. We are frustrated with it. We’re not playing the long game and selling that. We want to win, we want to win now. And we put the onus on us as coaches and we’ve got to find a way to get it fixed and find a way to accelerate all their growth and their development. But at the same time, it is a collective effort and I appreciate all of it. Trust me I do. There is nothing worse than being sold a bill of goods on the future. Everyone wants things now, it’s the instant coffee age. But at the same time, we’re grinding and I know these guys are going to get better for it.


Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, the idea that a mistake here or a mistake there cost you the game, we’ve heard that before with some different games. Are there 16 teams every week that kind of say that? That if this had gone right or if this had gone right, the game would have gone differently? Or do you feel like sometimes that’s not the case when you lose a game?

This is what I alluded to. Tony Dungy, one of the greatest coaches this league has ever had, always talked about 90% of games are lost, not won. So, I am going to go over this again in that there are times when you just thoroughly get beat. Like that four game stretch we had last year where we just thoroughly got beat by New England, Indy, and Buffalo. That’s a thorough butt whooping. But then there’s games like yesterday where the score says something but when you really sit back and watch it, defensively, you couldn’t ask for a better game with the exception of two plays where you hold an explosive offense, an offense that averages over 150 yards a game rushing to 66 and you played disciplined the entire game, keep them under 300. It was a really good defensive performance with the exception of two plays which resulted in touchdowns, you try to avoid that. And offensively, we have almost 180 yards of offense in the first half, we’re moving the ball up and down the field, we’re doing it without a third down conversion, we’re fumbling the ball, we’re dropping passes, we’re just tripping all over ourselves. And it’s like, ‘God, just master the obvious. Run the routes you’ve been running since OTAs. Catch the ball like you’ve been catching it since you were a peewee football player. Hold onto the ball when you’re running like you were…’ It’s just the mundane things that you want the everyday thing that you execute day in and day out, just do those better, do those longer. We felt like we could’ve had an explosive day yesterday.


Rich Cimini, ESPN: What’s the latest with Zach (Wilson) and is there any chance that maybe he can be on the practice field Wednesday in some fashion?

The plan is to get him on the practice field in a routes on air capacity. No practice with the team, but he will practice with the receivers, individual and all that stuff.


(Follow Up) Just on my injury kick here — Flacco got hit 11 or 12 times in the game yesterday. I’m wondering how he came out of it physically yesterday. Are there any health concerns with him?

No, he’s fine. He’s fine.


Brian Costello, New York Post: You’ve talked about, you’ve been through this process five times with rebuilds. Does it click one day or is that just not the way it works? Is it kind of one step forward, two steps back in terms of not making those mistakes that kill you in a game?

These are awesome questions Coz, I appreciate it. It’s really hard to explain. You just feel the team getting faster and faster and faster, and you’re going to see it on tape. As you’re watching TV, you’ll be like, ‘Damn, these guys are flying around and they’re making plays and they’re talking smack.’ It’s like the first half of the game, when you look at the defensive side. In the first half of the game, even the offense the way it was moving the ball, but we kept shooting ourselves in the foot. When those little errors the offense was having in the first half stop happening, it’s going to be explosive. Then it carries onto the second half. You’re just going to feel it. In a way it does just click where you’re just stacking up day after day after day. It’s really, really cool when it does happen because it just absolutely pops off the tape. I know it’s going to happen. We’re all taking receipts on all the people who continually mock and say that we aren’t going to do anything. I’m taking receipts, and I’m going to be more than happy to share them with all of you when it’s all said and done.


Andy Vasquez, New Jersey Advance Media: With the mundane stuff, Robert, why do you think that’s happening? Why do you think that these guys aren’t catching the ball they normally would or punting the ball or kicking the ball or whatever the way they normally would? Is it a matter of pressure, putting too much pressure on themselves, or something else? And what can you do to fix it?

Think about the first time you had to write that big article for your job, for your first big time job. I’m sure there were a lot of errors on it that had to be corrected before it made it to print. I’m sure there are still errors before it can be made to print. It’s all the same thing. These guys are first timers, a lot of them. Even the second-year guys, they’re still pups. You’re being put in a position where it’s a heightened environment. Things are happening faster. There’s so many different things on your mind. You’re still trying to catch up to the speed of what you’re being asked to do. There’s still a lot of new things that you’re trying to figure out with yourself. The game hasn’t slowed down the way it needs to slow down for you. So, little errors are going to be made, but the more you expose yourself, the better you get, the more comfortable you get, the faster you get, the slower the game gets, the easier it becomes. No one picked up a racquet in tennis and was a pro when they’re 11 years old. You pick it up, you learn, and you just get better. I know that all the praise we’ve gotten in the offseason and the draft picks and the free agents, all of that is real. We have a really, really cool football team. Now, it’s on us as coaches to extract that out of them and get them to play better faster, which I think we will, and I know we will. Like I said, it’s going to happen. When? We’ll all know. You guys are going to feel it happen. I just know it.


Brian Costello, New York Post: The third downs on offense, was there a common thread there why you struggled so bad on third down?

Just talking with Mike, I’m going to try to remember this here, the first one felt like it was a poor play call, had to get to the check wide to the back, if he can make a guy miss, great. Otherwise, we’re going to be punting anyway. I believe we had a drop form Corey (Davis).  Conklin had a first down, but he fumbled which brought it back across the ball. I think Elijah Moore had a chance in a contested one-on-one, comeback aggressive to the ball. He was kind of fading away. Little details that kept it from being a very explosive game where we’ve got to get better. You expect Corey is a veteran, he’s got to make those plays. I think that was his one bad play. You expect Conklin, who is a veteran, to be able to convert and do those things, but again, collectively as a group we got to figure out how to win and figure out how to win quick. Coaches included.