Head Coach Robert Saleh, 9.22

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Opening Statement:

I’ll catch you guys up on injuries real quick: so, Jamison (Crowder) we’re trying to work him back in this week, see what happens. JFM (John Franklin-Myers) won’t participate today, but we’re not worried about gameday, we’re just giving him a day off, he’s dealing with a calf. (Jamien) Sherwood, we’re trying to get him back this week, so he should be limited today. Zach (Wilson) is dealing with a groin but, he’s full participation, there’s no limitations, no worries.

 

Rich Cimini, ESPN: Was that late in the game, specific play? When did he get that?

He just woke up a little bit sore. Since they touched him in the training room I guess it’s got to go on the list. It’s not a concern.

 

Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, watching Zach move around the pocket and escaping, he showed in his running ability. But we haven’t really seen it past the line of scrimmage yet. Is that something you guys want from him or are you a little timid there because you don’t want him taking those hits?

That’s a feel thing. I think he had a couple of scrambles in the game. He had one where he got tackled, it was negated because of a holding penalty which we got the first down on. Then, he had one where he scrambled for a third-down conversion. That’s going to be more feel and as he gets comfortable.

 

(follow up): What about designed runs? You see them all across the NFL.

I got you, the designed runs. Not to say that they’re not up but, he’s not exactly Lamar Jackson either, so. But he did have one on the two-point conversion against Carolina so, they’re in there, you just got to be smart and selective.

 

Al Iannazzone, Newsday: When he was struggling like that, you said there was no thought of taking him out. Why? Why at that point?

Because you look at his eyes. I judge whether or not a player needs to come out based on the look of their eyes on the sideline. He was fine, he was in great communication with the coordinator. I asked Mike (LaFleur), Mike said he’s in good shape. I talked to him, he’s in good shape. At that point it’s like, well, let’s get him out there, let him continue to get his reps and see if he can learn from all the different scenarios that he’s being put in. But it never got too big for him, he made a couple mistakes and a couple of mistakes that I’m sure he wishes that he had back but, it was still a lot of growth was to be had in the fourth quarter.

 

Connor Hughes, The Athletic: I remember when we talked to you after the game you mentioned Zach playing a little bit more boring football at times. But how do you instill into him without also taking away some of what makes him special? Like the play against the Packers in the preseason game where he kind of ran around and then found Corey (Davis), or even the first touchdown to Corey against the Panthers. I mean, those are plays, theoretically, he could’ve dirted it or thrown it out of bounds, but he kind of tried to do something and it worked.

It’s not necessarily throwing things away or dirting. Like, that’s his skillset, right? To get out of the pocket. You look at, I was just talking this with Joe (Douglas) the other day, when you look at like, (Patrick) Mahomes and (Aaron) Rodgers, and everyone just celebrates how they’re off schedule and all the haymakers they throw and it’s all the ”wow” plays. But what gets lost in translation is their ability to just play boring football. If you watch Monday night, Aaron was getting rid of that ball and he was taking what the defense gave and, every once in a while, he would feel the pocket and this is where Zach is special, and he’ll get better at this as he gets more reps but, to be able to feel the pocket and know, “Alright, the pocket’s good, I’m going to hold this for one more hitch and I’m going to gut the defense.” He’ll learn that but, there’s going to be times where he also has to get the defense playing aggressive and you get the defensive playing aggressive by being boring and you pull the defense up. When they pull up, that’s when you can feel it. All that spatial awareness, all those things will happen, and I think they happen naturally as you get your reps.

 

Ralph Vacchiano, SNY: Is that a game plan? Or can you game plan that into him, like just scale things back and make it all simple or is it still up to instincts when he gets out there?

I think it’s instincts. You had your game plan and, it’s all feel. If the defense is giving you space, take it. If the defense is trying to take it away and you feel good with your protection, take your hitch and go over their heads. There’s the game and there’s the feel that he has to get the hang of. It’s not easy to be able to, I was talking to (Jeff) Ulbrich, we were watching the offenses tape on Monday and I was like, ‘Man, can you imagine being a quarterback, just being a pinata back there?’ And you’re telling everyone to stay in the pocket, but they get paid a lot of money to do it. Either way, so he’s back there, he’s dealing with the rush and now he’s got to feel what defenses are giving and he’s got to work through his progressions. There are so many things that are happening to these rookie quarterbacks. What’s great about him is he’s got the mindset to get in the film room and get better every time he see’s something.

 

DJ Bien-Aime, New York Daily News: Robert, on that third-and-two right before you kicked the field goal, you guys got stuffed. Obviously, they had like nine on the line of scrimmage and, obviously, from the film it looked like you blocked everything up, (Ja’Whaun) Bentley was still open. So, my question to you is, are you guys having it set up to where it’s like a one on one to the running back and make him miss or, is it, so Alijah Vera-Tucker was working up to (Devin) McCourty, do you want the running back to run behind or you just got to run something completely different?

If it was blocked up perfectly, it would’ve been a one-on-one, not quite with Bentley, but I’ll keep away from who it would’ve been. But you can always second guess when something doesn’t work. The offense had been just churning out chunk yardage. At that point in the game, it just felt right to have a run/pass option right there and ran the ball and it didn’t work out. It was still a heck of a drive, it just didn’t work out the way we wanted it to.

 

Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, how have you felt about your first two games as a head coach? How do you feel that they’ve gone in terms of game management and your decisions and things like that?

What do you guys think? Just revisiting with (Matt) Burke and having our conversations after the game review and all that, there’s stuff that I could’ve done better and there’s things that we feel good about and there’s things that we’ve learned off of. It’s going to be a constant learning process. I haven’t had anything hard either. I don’t think I’ve gotten the chance to challenge, tried to on the first play of the game or the second play of the game. But I think so far, it’s been good but, I know that there’s going to be greater challenges ahead.

 

(follow up) Is it interesting for you because, everyone thinks they can do your job. I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t think they can be an NFL head coach. And you guys, different years, were down the sideline doing your thing and you probably were like, ‘I’d do it this way if I was the head coach.’ Has it been an interesting process for you now being in your chair?

She’ll probably kill me, God bless my mother. Broken English, doesn’t even know how many yards it takes to get a first down and she was coaching me up on what we should tell our receivers. (laughter) So, everybody’s got an opinion but, you know what, I had an opinion too. You take it with a grain of salt but, I’m not afraid to absorb all the information because you never know what you might find. All of its worth something.

 

Connor Hughes, The Athletic: What was the advice she gave? What did she want your wide receivers to do?

I was a little upset at the time so, I’m not sure I took it all in, even though I should’ve. I’m pretty sure it was something about the, I don’t even remember.

 

Rich Cimini, ESPN: Did she want Zach to be more boring, too?

No, she’s great. Mothers are supposed to be your greatest fans, right?

 

Joe Maucieri, PIX: Coach, when you look at Denver, their traditionally off to a fast start, especially at home. This will be their home opener. Can you talk about the challenges of playing and preparing for Mile High, especially at this point in the season?

The altitude is always a deal, their fanbase is rabid, they’re 2-0. I’ve got so much respect for Vic (Fangio). I was a QC for the man way back, it feels like many, many years ago. They’ve done a great job, they’re year three with Vic and they’ve got the pieces built together. Teddy Bridgewater does a fantastic job on offense, their back end is very, very talented and, obviously, Von Miller rushing the passer. It’s all in place and their 2-0 start is not a fluke.

 

Joe Mauceri, PIX: And coming looking at the defense, they just gave Trevor Lawrence a really tough time. So, what do you look and talk to Zach about that, that you can take away that they maybe can adjust for you guys moving forward?

That’s where all these game plan sessions will come through and Vic, he’s another one of those guys who just is a savant with defense. And he’s always been at the front in terms of scheme and all that stuff, so a ton of respect for him. And it’s going to be exciting to see Zach. For Zach, it’s been a good thing that he’s gotten three of the best defenses in football to start the season, and it’s not a good thing I should say, but at the same time he’s going to learn a lot form it. And Denver is another one of those great defenses, great scheme, and it’s going to be a great challenge for him.

 

DJ Bien Aime, New York Daily News: Teddy (Bridgewater), play style wise so far after the first two weeks, is a little bit different than Mac Jones. Teddy’s averaging like 10 air yards per attempt, so obviously it’s not dink and dunks, so what’s going to be the adjustment to, because obviously you want to eliminate explosive plays, so what’s going to be the adjustment?

Yeah, we’ve got to play sound. And Teddy is, just watching him, I have so much respect for his game. I think he’s one of the more underrated starters in this league. His release, he gets rid of the ball really fast, he’s a very, very good decision maker, he’s very accurate, he outs the ball where it needs to be, and he can move a little bit. It’s going to be a challenge in terms of trying to eliminate the explosives with these guys, they’re explosive all over the football field on offense, but it’s a challenge we’re up for.

 

Brian Costello, New York Post: What has stood out to you about Michael Carter, the running back? 

His contact balance. He’s shown, somehow, someway, guys just fall off him. So, he’s got a great running style to him, he’s really good out of the backfield. And I do love the juice and the energy he brings to practice. He’s got this big smile on his face, he’s got a lot of energy to him, and it’s important to him. Like I said, we couldn’t be happier having him, a fourth-round draft pick that we thought would be gone by the third round. So, he is everything we expected.

 

Al Iannazzone, Newsday: How did you think Elijah (Moore) bounced back in Week 2?

I thought he did a good job, and even with him, there’s going to be some things that he’s got to improve on, and he knows it, but I love his mindset. I was walking by the receiver room yesterday and I heard chattering and I heard voices in the receiver room, so I naturally I popped my head in there and there’s him and Miles (Austin) putting in extra work. So, he is deliberate, and he wants to be great, he wants to be special and he demonstrates that every day. Now it’s just a matter of trusting what you do and take it to the football field on Sunday and go let it loose. I think it’s just a matter of time before that happens.

 

Rich Cimini, ESPN: Robert, what has Braxton (Berrios) given you out of the slot? And what happens to him when Jamison (Crowder) is ready to go back?

So, Braxton, he does a lot of things. First, obviously, the slot. Second, he is our punt returner and kick returner, so he’s got tremendous teams value for Brant (Boyer). But in the slot, just that veteran presence to know where he is, I know you guys aren’t privy to practice, but he’s out there on Wednesday, which is a heavy install day, and helping the other receivers get lined up, he’s helping the quarterback out of the huddle, he’s helping everybody. You know that veteran presence who’s reliable, who can get separation, win one-on-ones, and those guys, they just naturally draw to the quarterback in terms of, “I know you’re going to be exactly where you need to be.” And so they can deliver the ball on time and not take a hit. So, just that veteran presence has been awesome.

 

(follow up) Does that position lend itself to rotating two guys in there? 

It depends. That’d be a great question for Mike (LaFleur) also, but Jamison coming back from a groin, and if he’s rolling, obviously he may or may not be ready for a 60-rep game. That’s going to be something that we just got to figure out over the course of the week.

 

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