Head Coach Robert Saleh, 9.13

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Opening statement…

Good afternoon. Injury wise – Duane (Brown), Mekhi (Becton), and Breece (Hall) will be limited. No different than a week ago. Otherwise, we get (Brandin) Echols back this week and that’s it.


Antwan Stanley, The New York Daily News: With all of the madness on Monday, we didn’t ask about Carl (Lawson). What went into that decision to keep him out and is he going to play on Sunday?

For sure. Anticipating him being up this week, with it being a short week, the time he had off with regard to dealing with the back injury, I felt like our Friday practice was a little on the high side with the physicality and all that stuff and just didn’t think it’d be a good idea to practice him, play a game, short week, play another game with the amount of time he had off. So, this would be week one for him.


Steve Serby, New York Post: Robert, what did you gauge from your players frame of mind this morning? 

Everyone’s in really great spirits. I’ll speak for the locker room. Everyone believes in themselves, and we believe we have a really good football team. Like I’ve said before, we’ve got a championship defense. We’ve got great skilled guys on offense. We’ve got an o-line (offensive line) that’s continuing to gel. We’ve got a lot of faith in Zach (Wilson). I think people forget that he was 5-1 before the Bye Week and before half the offense was decimated with injuries from a year ago. So, I got a lot of faith in the group that we got.


Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Based on Week One, it looks like the Dallas (Cowboys) defense would be tough for like even the most seasoned quarterback. So what are the challenges that Zach (Wilson) is going to face going in there?

Yeah, inall three phases, Dallas is loaded. They’ve got on defense, their d-line (defensive line) is as good as anybody. Their back end’s fast. They’re very sound. Dan Quinn does as good of a job as anyone in football. Offensively, their offensive line, skill guys, quarterback obviously, they’re incredibly talented. So, it’s going to be a challenge. It’s not just for the offense, but for everybody.


Judy Battista, NFL Network:  Robert, what was your message to the team in terms of moving on with Aaron (Rodgers) being where it is. What did you tell them?

I don’t know if there’s anything to say. It sounds cliche, but it’s next man up. Nobody cares. Nobody cares that you’ve lost a player. At the end of the day, Sunday’s coming and we’ve got to put our best foot forward and do everything we can to put ourselves in position to be successful, but that’s the harsh part of the business and I think guys understand that.


Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, do you have any update on when Aaron will have the surgery? 

I don’t. I know he’s going through that process.


Brian Costello, New York Post:  Is he still here? 

I think he’s getting some, not to speak for him, but some consultations trying to figure out what the next best move is.


 Connor Hughes, SNY: When you say the next best move, as in? 

For his surgery, yeah.


Ian O’Connor, Harper Collins: You said you want him to stay connected to the team throughout the season or after the surgery. Why do you think that’s important? 

I think it’s very important. It’s important for him. I think it’s the mental health and healing. I think that’s very important, but his presence, his words, his verbiage, like I’ve said, he’s as much of a football coach as he is a player. Just having his presence, his thoughts, his words, and his leadership is I think anybody would want that.


Tom Rock, Newsday: I know there’s a couple of steps that have to take place before that, but do you envision him on the headset like he was in the preseason? That kind of a role?

I don’t know about that one. We’re limited on headsets, but shoot, if he wants a headset, he can have one.


Connor Hughes, SNY: I know this is still down the road, when you talked to Aaron and when you’ve had conversations with him, has there been discussions about the future at all? 

I haven’t gone down that road with him. I’d be shocked if this is the way he’s going to go out, but at the same time for him, he’s working through a whole lot of head space, and things that he needs to deal with and that will be the last thing I talk to him about.


Joe Mauceri, WPIX: Has he spoken to the team since Monday night? 

I know he was here. I don’t know how many guys he got a chance to go speak to, but we jumped right into Dallas, so not a lot of sleep for us. I have no idea what’s been going on around the building other than trying to prepare for Dallas and then what’s been happening this morning.


Brian Costello, New York Post: Mecole (Hardman Jr.) no offensive snaps on Monday? What led to that? 

Yeah, well the plan and you know give credit to the offensive staff. Obviously with Aaron, there was a certain plan that was in place, and so when Aaron went down, we shifted gears to a different style of football. A lot of the things that Aaron wanted to do was three receiver sets and once he was out of the game, we went to a different type of offense.  We pivoted, especially at halftime. Credit to the offensive staff making the adjustments we needed to make to be able to start moving the ball and get points on the board. So, that wasn’t the plan. The plan was to give him some play time. So, hopefully this week we can get him out there.


Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Where do things stand now in terms of bringing in another quarterback?

Yeah, still working through it all. Like I said, we’re not pressed right now because we have two guys right now on our roster for game day. So, just trying to figure out what’s best, not only from a skill standpoint, but from a locker room standpoint. So, there’s a lot of discussions going on in that regard.


Connor Hughes, SNY: So in a short week, the adding of a quarterback would probably be a next week thing, not necessarily this week?

It doesn’t have to be this week and like I said, with Zach and Tim (Boyle), those are our guys. They’ve been here from OTAs. All the nuances. Sometimes I look at it like it’s not madden in the sense that we can just plug and play anybody. There’s a lot of meetings, a lot of practices, a lot of nuance, a lot of understanding why things are the way they are that go into it. So, just plugging and playing a quarterback, it’s going to take time. Whoever comes in this building to figure out what we’ve done over the last six, seven months and to create their identity within the system. So, right now all of our attention are on Zach and Tim to get them ready to play football.


Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, I don’t think we have asked about Tim (Boyle) once during training camp. What do you tell your fans that don’t much about him? What kind of impression have you got over the last five months from now? 

I’m going to debate or argue that I don’t know if we talked about very many people outside of the quarterback and there’s a lot of really good football players on this team that deserved to be spoken about, but Tim’s one of them. I thought he did a great job over the course of the off season getting better, especially during preseason games. I thought he showed very well in the preseason games. He’s very familiar with the system, being with Green Bay and understanding the things that are asked. He had time with Aaron, obviously, being in the same room. Very smart, he’s got talent and he’s just somebody that we’re excited to work with.


Joe Mauceri, WPIX: Robert, you mentioned the plan change once Aaron went down on Monday night. How much does that carry over into this week and how difficult is that on a short week with everybody having to change a little bit?

That was independent of itself. This is a whole new game plan, whole new system. With what DQ (Dan Quinn) does defensively, it’s completely different. So they’re completely independent of each other.


Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Robert, is there an area where you’ve seen the most growth from Zach, that you’re like okay, he is ready this time?

He’s got a lot of self-confidence right now. The easy stuff doesn’t look hard anymore. I mean, he gets back there, and he does the fundamental things so well. His footwork is unbelievable. He had a couple of third down throws that were… he had three really, really big time throws from a timing, rhythm, footwork, and eye placement that I thought was super impressive. He had a cool scramble down inside the five yard line, creating off schedule, he created off schedule a little bit to (Allen) Lazard on a big play. So, he’s done a lot of really good things, but for him, it’s just making the easy, easy and it’s something that he’s done. It’s something small, but he threw that swing pass to Dalvin Cook in the second half. Well, we all know what those looked like a year ago, and it was just a simple flick of the wrist and the ball got exactly downhill. Dalvin caught it in a way where he was going downhill with the ball. He’s been fantastic in that regard and he’s only going to get better.


Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: Do you tell him that he doesn’t need to be Aaron Rodgers? 

Nobody does. He just needs to be him. Nobody needs to think that they need to go all world now. You just need to be yourself. Just trust that yourself is good enough. Zach is talented. Every player on this football team is talented and they just have to work within the framework of who they are, what they’re being asked to do. No cliché, do your job to the best of your ability and just trust the results will show. So, with Zach, he’s got all the talent in the world and he’s just got to continue to find ways to get better.


Connor Hughes, SNY: Zach didn’t attack too much down the field? I don’t think there was a pass thrown beyond 20 yards and all the five were under 10 yards. Is that going to be a point of emphasis to open up the offense a little bit more and be more aggressive down the field?

It’s going to be week to week. Buffalo, I’m not saying we’re similar, but there’s not a lot of opportunities to get the ball downfield. They force you to play the short game, they force you to keep it in front, and they force you to go the distance. If you force the ball, you could put yourself in harm’s way, which could be a detriment to the team, but there were a couple of shots that we did take down the field where Zach looked fantastic doing it. I don’t think the game called for it once he got in.


Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Is there something with (Nathaniel) Hackett’s coaching style or his system or both that might be able to bring out something in Zach, something that is Zach friendly that could bring something out that we haven’t seen? 

I’ve got to word this one right. I’m going to hold off on that one. I’ll answer that one later.


Antwan Stanley, New York Daily News: You talk about Zach being different, just his personality different from what he was last year. Can you give us an example off the field, just how much he’s changed and grown? 

Off the field, I don’t know. I try not to get into their personal lives.


Antwan Stanley, New York Daily News: (follow up) In the building? 

That’s what I’m saying, I try to stay away from, I have an idea of what’s going on. I don’t want to be a micromanager of the locker room. That’s never been the intent. I’ve said it before, the greatest teams in that locker room, they’ve got full control of it. By the time it gets to me, if it becomes a problem, then it gets to me, then we’ll deal with it. I go by what I see and the way he communicates with his teammates and the way he communicates with his coaching staff. He’s very confident and he’s loving football again. He has a different aura about him that has been very good.


Andy Vasquez, NJ Advance Media: I’ll try again. Kind of what Rich (Cimini) said. After that interception we saw Hackett hands on with him on the sideline and giving him some reinforcements. So first of all, how much better is that kind of dealing with those mistakes through camp and obviously the first game and how much do you think Hackett has to do with that? 

Yeah, so, this is not a reflection of the old staff. I want to be very clear on that one with the coaches prior. But you know, Hackett is like the eternal optimist. His way of coaching, his style is reassuring. So that moment that you’re talking about, that is a big moment, he was on the field obviously, which is big and to let Zach know like, “hey, you made a mistake, who gives a (expletive)?” Excuse my language. Move on to the next play, and just to have that, it’s going to be fine, to get him back on track and to help him maintain that level of confidence. I always argued that a coach’s number one job above scheme, above everything else is to make their players feel like they can walk on water. That’s our job.  I think he’s one of those special coaches who has that ability. If you think about it, the last thing I mean, there’s a big reason why Aaron wanted to be here is because of the coaching style of Nathaniel Hackett. That’s how special of a human he is.


Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, I saw the  o-line after the game. I’m curious now that you have watched the film. How did you feel you did in the pass protection and the run game as well? 

Run game, I think we turned out over 170 (yards), had a couple of explosives, but especially late in the fourth quarter, felt like we were getting a lot of really good movement. I felt like our protection got better as the game went on. It can always be better, but I thought it was from a drop back standpoint, you look at the third downs in the second half, Zach had some time to throw the football and deliver a couple of strikes. So yeah, I thought they improved. I thought they did a good job for the first time out and fully expecting us to be a lot better next week.