Head Coach Robert Saleh, 9.25

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Connor Hughes, SNY: A quick two-parter for you. The first one is, do you guys plan on adding a quarterback this week?

That one’s a Joe (Douglas) question.

 

Connor Hughes, SNY: And then the second quick one to follow up, Robert, I know that last night you said you’re sticking with Zach Wilson, he gives you guys the best chance to win. When you look at almost every major statistical category, Zach ranks last, close to last, bottom three. I can’t help but think if any other position on the team was performing that poorly, you guys are bringing in competition, or at least making that player compete for that starting job and earn that starting job. Why is that not necessarily the case right now for Zach Wilson? Why is he being held to a different standard?

That’s a fair question. Sometimes the box score doesn’t always tell the story, Connor. It is a fair question, but you’ve got to tell the truth of what you see on tape. Are there things that he can do better? Of course. Are there things we can do better around him as teammates? Of course. Are there things we can do better as a coaching staff? Absolutely. At the end of the day, everyone is held accountable to the results on the football field. We all are. Whether it be dropped passes, a missed protection, whatever it might be, looking at the box score isn’t always going to tell the whole story.

 

Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: So, what did you see on tape now looking back on it?

There were some missed opportunities, for sure. It felt like our run game, it’s not going the way we wanted it to go, early in the season. We had a nice week, Week One. These last two weeks, we’ve seen some heavy, heavy fronts to keep our run game in check. Our third down efficiency has been God awful over these three games, which is not giving us an opportunity to stack more plays together to give us more opportunities to be productive. It felt like Zach (Wilson) in the second half, the offense started moving it a little bit better, obviously. We had that one real pretty drive that went the distance to get us back into a one score game, but there’s things that we need to get better at, and in a hurry. There’s an identity we’re trying to find on the offensive side of the ball, and it’s not an excuse, but the reality is, it was built a certain way, and now we’re trying to adjust on the fly, which is a challenge, but a challenge that I think we’re going to end up getting an answer for.

 

Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: Just a follow up, you said you’re trying to find your identity, what is the identity you’re trying to find?

Well, who, what this offense is. Whether it’s run first, pass second, pass first, pass second, the style of run, the style of play, there’s a lot of different things that we’re not searching for, but that we’re finding out. Not to say it’s a work in progress, but there’s still a lot of improvement that obviously needs to be made.

Zack Rosenblatt, The Athletic: Robert, you alluded to the drive where things were going well for Zach at the end of the game. Tyler Conklin was talking about, it seems like when things are moving with tempo, that’s when Zach seems to be at his best. So, why wait until that point in the game to do that, why not do that sooner?

That’s another fair question because I look at that too. When you’re in the second half and you’re in those positions, usually the pass rush is getting a little tired, you get them on their heels, and it’s a little easier to sit back there comfortably knowing that you’re not getting that onslaught like you would in the first quarter where their fresh, and they’re coming at you full speed. Usually as the game goes on, which is why our philosophy is the way it is to have waves. For the most part, most teams kind of wilt as the game goes on, because they’ve only got four or five guys, so there’s that element to it. The easy thing to say is ‘well he did good in two minute, why didn’t you guys do it to start the game?’ Well, the answer is, the other team is probably super fresh and that’s not exactly the world you want to live in to start a game either. So, there’s balance, and trying to find out where that fits is something that we’re looking for, but that’s not necessarily going to be the answer.

 

Connor Hughes, SNY: Dan Orlovsky posted today on social media where he basically highlights several plays where guys are open in the secondary, whether it be Garrett (Wilson) or Randall (Cobb), and Zach just wasn’t pulling the trigger. How do you get him to do that? And do you think he’s playing with no confidence? That was something Dan kind of pointed out.

Again, it’s fair. All 22, everyone’s going to see it, everyone’s going to have an opinion, and some are correct, and some are, I don’t want to say misguided, because a guy like Dan, he can see it in all 22 and know exactly what’s happening. A lot of it has to do with trust in one another, right? You hit your back foot, you don’t like what you see in progression, check it down. Sometimes you have time, sometimes you don’t. I don’t want to call it a confidence thing, because I think he’s playing with confidence, I think he’s delivering, he’s throwing the ball accurately when it’s in timing and rhythm, and his foot hits his back step and he lets that thing rip, it’s pretty. He’s doing a really nice job in that regard, but as far as getting to the check down too soon, or holding the ball too long, there’s a balance there, and I think he’s still working through to try and find that out.

Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Robert, I’ve got a two-parter here. I know what you said after the game that he gives us the best chance to win, but I know sometimes when coaches have a night to sleep on it, so I’m going to ask it again, are you still sticking with Zach this week?

Yes.

 

Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: And my second part is, as you recall, when he was a rookie a couple of years ago, we asked you questions about his struggles. A couple times you said, ‘boring is good, it’s okay to be boring’. I’m wondering if maybe he’s gone in the other direction, like he’s trying too hard to not make mistakes, instead of playing a little more free or a little more confidently.
One thing I’m going to give him credit for, is he had a turnover free game yesterday. He had no turnover worthy throws from my recollection, and because of that, we were in position and had the ball at midfield with 1:40 to go and two timeouts to go win the game, because we played a clean game of football on the offensive side of the ball and were able to win the field position battle in the second half. So, you can never be too boring in my opinion when you have the ball in your hands. But no, I don’t think this is a case where he’s being too boring. He’s actually working through progression, he’s going through his progressions, and when his progression reads are done, he’s finding the check down, and I think that’s all you can ask for, is someone to find a way to distribute the football. Can we be better and more efficient? Absolutely. Can we be better around him? Absolutely, but a lot of the issues we’re running into is just the lack of opportunity because we’ve been so bad on third down. Why have we been bad on third down? I think we’re at 50% of our third down opportunities have been third and 10 or more, which is a recipe for disaster in the NFL, and until we get that part fixed, where we’re more efficient on first and second down, getting that fix is our only chance to see some success on the offensive side of the ball.

Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, there were signs of frustration yesterday. We asked about Michael Carter, Garrett was frustrated on the side line. Post game with us, a few of them were kind of frustrated. Do you feel like you have a frustrated football team right now? And did you deliver a message today to stem that?

Yeah, any time you’re not feeling success, you’re going to have a little bit of frustration, because they’re competitors. Garrett Wilson is not the first nor the last receiver in the NFL to want the ball. News flash for the world out there. They all want the ball. They all feel like they’re deserving of the ball, and if he didn’t want the ball, I’d question whether or not he was worth a damn. The guy wants the ball, so he’s going to challenge and just fight to get every ball, no different than every receiver in football. Period. So, I want that from him. Now, as far as the frustration thing guys, that’s your narrative. Our guys are fighting, they’re just trying to find answers, they’re trying to find ways to get production for the offense so we can move the ball and score points. That’s where their hearts are, and as long as their hearts are in the right spot, because I’ve also been around players where they really don’t give a flying whatever, they just want the ball, but these guys want to win, and they want to help win, and if it shows as a demonstrative frustration to you guys, it’s not taken that way here.

Antwan Staley, New York Daily News: I know you’re confident in Zach, and obviously he’s going to be the starter, but what gives you the confidence he’s going to turn things around, because last year you benched him twice, so what makes you give him the confidence? Why remain loyal to somebody that clearly you ended up ditching and didn’t have the confidence a year ago?

Well, part of it guys, the word benching and all that stuff, there’s context to it, right? There was a visual lack of confidence from a year ago in terms of what we see, and you guys don’t with regards to practice. With regard to Zach, 2023 Zach, I know it’s going to go on deaf ears and whatever, but what we see on a day in and day out basis is a young man who is much improved from a year ago. He’s much more confident, he’s much more accurate, he’s got much more command of the huddle, he looks better in the pocket. Could have been better yesterday, but he’s improved, and he’s getting better. He’s going through his progressions, and when he is hitting his back foot with his timing and rhythm, he looks fantastic, and you just don’t throw people away man. You just have to continue to work with him. He’s here, he gives us our best chance to win, and as coaches, we’re going to do everything we can to help him.

Connor Hughes, SNY: Robert, I know you’re sticking with Zach, but if these statistical issues continue to struggle, and the all 22 film continues to show a quarterback who’s really struggling, is his leash shorter now than when he took over for Aaron Rodgers, or is he your unquestioned quarterback the rest of the year?

He’s our unquestioned quarterback, guys. Like as long as he continues to show the way his preparation, the way he’s been practicing, and even in these games, guys, he’s not the reason we lost yesterday. It’s always a team effort. As long as he continues to show improvement, and I know from a box score standpoint, it’s not showing anything it’s not showing, he’s going to be our quarterback.

Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, that being said, don’t the results have to show up on Sundays? It doesn’t really matter what you see on Wednesday and Thursday, frankly.

We do all of this stuff so we can be our best and win games on Sunday. Period. Yesterday was a winnable game, like I said, aside from blowing a team out, teams want the ball at midfield, the situation we were in to go win, and I thought we did a great job. We fought our tails off; defense was fantastic in the second half. Made the one critical error that resulted in that big touchdown, but offensively, we just kept plugging and found a way to break through, we just couldn’t break through a second time. Credit to New England, man. They’ve got a top five defense, they do a great job over there, but the most important thing about today is just come in, let’s figure out how we can get better, figure out the direction we need to go offensively. It’s not about panicking and making wholesale changes, it’s about making sure we’re doing everything deliberately to find an identity for this group as it’s situated now, so we can get the w’s that we’re looking for on Sunday.

 

Brian Costello, New York Post: One thing (Tony) Romo harped on during the broadcast, I just want to see if you think this is fair or not, was throwing on first down. You guys kind of did that in the fourth quarter on that drive. He seemed to be saying it all throughout the game to try and make things easier on the quarterback. Is there validity to that?

For sure. Obviously, we’ll always go look. He told me the same thing and I was messing with him, I said ‘if you had a play sheet, you’d throw the ball 99% of the time”, so it’s always a good time to throw the ball for him.

 

Connor Hughes, SNY: Robert, are you worried about how volatile the atmosphere could be on Sunday night at MetLife (Stadium) if things don’t improve for your offense?

Can’t control that one.

 

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