Head Coach Robert Saleh, 9.20
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Connor Hughes, The Athletic: How did you guys make out of the game with injuries? Just did anyone come out banged up when you reported back today?
They’re going through their process right now, but we feel good about where everyone is at.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: Robert, after watching the tape on Zach (Wilson), is there any second day thoughts to put into context to what happened to him yesterday?
No, just everything we saw live pretty much was confirmed when we saw the tape. There are things that he’s going to grow from, going through the experience of yesterday.
DJ Bien-Aime, New York Daily News: Robert, the offense so far through two games has only scored 20 points. What do you guys have to do to improve that number going into Week Three against the Broncos?
Yesterday, I thought our offensive line came out and really established themselves on the line of scrimmage. They responded to the Week One game against Carolina. We rushed for over 150 yards, they did a really nice job in protection, gave time, were very clean in communication and we moved the ball. So, it’s just a matter of staying on schedule, staying ahead of the sticks, and converting big plays when they present themselves and getting in the endzone. You know, DJ, we’re right there, we just got to convert.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Robert, was Zach any different today? Did you talk to him about what happened yesterday or is it just gone at this point?
I talked to him real quick, I’m going to talk to him again after these meetings. It was real quick. He’s such a resilient young man, he could probably recite every single play that happened and he’s going to want to talk about it and go through it and learn from it. I know he’s going to get better from this. He’s in a good place.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: On the fourth interception it looked like there may have been a miscommunication with Elijah (Moore). Maybe, he broke off his route, maybe he was supposed to keep going and that’s where Zach threw it. Was that what happened there?
Yeah, there was. There was a mistake in the route running but, even then it’s second and 28. That’s one of those take your medicine, get as many yards as you can, see if you can get yourself to a third and manageable at best, but don’t make a bad situation worse. That’s all the way across the board from coaching to players, that’s understanding the situation. It was, I think 13-3 at that point, early in the third quarter. Just one of those, such an unnecessary play and self-inflicted wound on that particular one. Aside from the route running, just overall understanding of situational football was the culprit in that one.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Robert, I know during the preseason and training camp, a topic of conversation was whether Mike (LaFleur) was going to call plays from the field or up in the booth. After the two games, is there any consideration to him going back upstairs or does he like it down there?
The quarterback likes him down there, which is most important. The quarterback wants him down there to be able to have those conversations, the conversations that they do have. I know you guys aren’t privy to practice, but after every single series or when offense plays the show team, they’re back there when defense is up and they’re going through the entire script all over again. To have that same process for him, on the sideline, has been gold for Zach. He appreciates that, and that’s what he wants. At the same time, if you go back and look at the way Mike called the game, I thought he did a really nice job, he really did. If you look at the way that first half went, I think we dropped back to pass, just true drop back, I’m not talking about play action pass or screen or anything, I think it was twice. Mike stuck to the run, he gave them some easy completions and we moved the ball. We just got to get it in the endzone.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, going back to what you said yesterday about Zach learning that boring football is okay, that comment. Just curious, because since you’ve arrived all we’ve heard is “All Gas, No Breaks.” That doesn’t seem to match up in my mind. So, could you just kind of say how those kind of two things operate together?
Sometimes, when people hear that whole model, that mantra of “All Gas, No Breaks,” they confuse it with, all right, we’re going to turn the corner at 100 mph when the speed limit’s 25. It’s not that, it’s finding ways to get better, be better, go to bed better than when you woke up. That’s it. That is just put your foot to the peddle and just step on the gas with regards to just becoming better at what you’re being asked to do every single day and that’s a situation where he has to be better. So, that “All Gas, No Breaks” mantra, for him, is be boring. It’s not about being electric and making the plays, you just trust that if you stay ahead of the change and if you stay within yourself and you play the game of football and keep the team in an advantageous situation, other teams will panic. Other teams will force the issue and that’s where you can take advantage of your shots and your explosive plays. I can completely see that, but they’re completely unrelated.
Andy Vasquez, The Record: Robert, how do you manage that moving forward? Obviously, (Wilson) has that excitement and that potential to make those plays and you don’t want to remove that from his game, but you want him to play kind of that boring football. What’s the balance between those two things as you move forward?
It is. There are so many reps. He’s got to quiet his feet down in the pocket. He’s got to get his eyes to where they need to be within the progression of the play, and he’s got to trust. The o-line did a really nice job in protection yesterday and he’s got to sit in there firm and play quarterback on drop-back pass. It’s all a process. Playing quarterback in this league is already hard. A rookie playing quarterback is even harder. We talked about this from the beginning, and I’ve said it here, there’s going to be some hair pulling moments, there’s going to be unbelievable moments. Yesterday was a rough one, but that doesn’t mean that’s the trend. He’s going to get better from this and he’s going to have moments when it’s like, ‘Holy cow is he special?’ When we get to those moments, we take them and stride because we have to get better from all of it.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: Robert, we saw a reduction in Tevin Coleman’s playing time. Could you explain what went into that decision?
Really, Michael Carter was running his tail off yesterday. Ty Johnson ran his butt off, too. This system has always been about giving it to the hot hand and letting it roll and even though Tevin had a couple of really cool runs and established himself early, you could get into the pass game stuff, but it’s all with regards to the way the game flows. All three backs I thought showed up to play, but hats off to Michael. He was electric yesterday I thought.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, what did you think of the way your defense played yesterday?
Our defense was, considering the way some of the situations our defense was put in, I thought we did a really, really nice job. The guys stood up. Obviously, there’s plays that we need back from an efficiency standpoint. Gave up more inopportune explosives, I think that’s probably the word, or the explosives we gave up were big, big explosives that led to points. They answered the bell and I really, really, really appreciated the way the group finished the game. They had every opportunity to call it quicks, those first and goal from the five-yard line and all they did was knock them back and hold them to three points. It just shows the mentality of the group and the pridefulness of the group, where I’ve seen a lot of teams just let the opponent walk to the endzone at that point. They were still playing their tales and that’s hats off to them.
Dennis Waszak, Associated Press: Robert, you’ve got a lot of questions from us through the summer about the corners. Have you been surprised or pleased by how Bryce (Hall) and those guys in the group, have played the first two games. What have you seen from them?
I’m not surprised. We can be better, with regards to zone eyes and all that stuff. (Javelin) Guidry, Michael Carter II, (Brandin) Echols, Bryce have been playing fantastic. And they’re only going to get better, with more reps and the things they see. They got tested on a couple of go balls, Echols got tested on a couple goal balls, plus a comeback, and he was up to the challenge on two of them, Guidry got tested and he won on one. They’re going to get tested and they’re going to continue to win. To me, it’s a wasted effort by the offense. If they want to play the 50-50 game, we’ll take it. But it’s hats off to them, they’ve been doing a really nice job.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: I just want to ask a follow up to your Denzel Mims explanation was yesterday. I didn’t have this information, otherwise I would have just asked it then. But when I went home and checked, the special teams component to that decision, he only, Jeff Smith and Keelan Cole only played one snap each on special teams. So, I think, I don’t know, I think a lot of fans and probably us too, wonder how much of that special teams component really goes into the decision and deactivating Denzel when the other guys really didn’t play special teams.
That’s a very, very good question, Rich, and a fair one. So, Jeff is our starting gunner and we only punted one night. So, there’s your one rep. And on that one rep, he went clean on his rep and he got all the way down to the forced a fair catch, which flipped the field back into our favor so it was a very impressive rep by him. Something if you see during the week, Jeff put in extra work before practice, after practice, during practice and you’re expecting him to get about four, five punts, but the starting gunner is such a critical piece with regards to flipping fill position and maintaining fill position. He worked his tail off, had one rep at it and absolutely dominated that rep and really, really helped us out with regards to regaining fill position.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, if I could just follow up on that. The Jeff Smith piece makes sense to me as a gunner, but it looked to me watching the film that Keelan’s one special teams rep was the return at the end of the first half, where it looked like maybe you guys had a special return called? Because there wasn’t that much time left on the clock? That one…
That one is fair. When you talk about Keelan, you consider him the four receiver. As the four receiver, your special teams value isn’t nearly as much as it is from an offensive standpoint. That number five has got to be a special teams guy. That goes to Brant (Boyer). We have to. You’re going to put yourself in a very bad situation, especially against a team like New England, who has special teams stalwarts all over the football field. When you’re talking about the one, two, three, that’s offense. The four is a little bit of both. The five is special teams. You can look at linebacker the same way. One, two, three is defense. The four is a little bit of both. The five is special teams, only. Throughout the roster, that’s the entire NFL.
Brian Costello, New York Post: I just want to ask you about one decision from yesterday, too, that we didn’t hear after the game. The first field goal, you have fourth-and-three at the three, down 10-nothing. What was that decision like? Was that an easy no brainer, you’re kicking a field goal there, or did you think about going for it there?
No, for me it was easy. I’m about possessions and I thought we had a really nice drive. Wanted to get points out of it. It’s a two-possession game, let’s get our points not to one-possession game. We’re playing pretty good defense and we did. We got the ball back with, I believe, we were able to keep it a one-score game. I got to remember that, but even the second fourth down, it’s a three-possession game. We’re going to need the field goal and to give us a chance to get it to a two-score game, especially after a sack, was the thinking.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Do you ever believe that as a coach, we say sending a message on a fourth down call and say, “You know what, I know what the numbers say, but I’m going to go for it here.”
Yeah, absolutely. There’s going to be times when we’re down there and we go for it, especially because the worst-case scenario is you end up in a backed-up opportunity with the defense, pin them back, they punt it, you’re at the logo, anyway. But at that particular moment, I thought we did a really nice job moving the football. We were moving the ball pretty good, we were running the crap out of it and I thought it was very important for us to get some points out of it and get to a one possession game.