Head Coach Robert Saleh, 9.4
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Good morning, Robert. I’m just wondering if you could update us on what exactly, so today is just a normal practice or are you into the Buffalo prep? Or how would you characterize what’s happening today?
Call it a bonus Monday. So, it’s just go out there, we haven’t played football in a few days, so just go out and play football. It’s just a normal practice, but we are, obviously, emphasis on Buffalo.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, when we are out there, was it Thursday? I didn’t see Will McDonald IV, is he dealing with something?
Was he not here? Oh, he had his wisdom teeth pulled. He is back today.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: How are you health wise? Is anyone not practicing today?
No, we’re in pretty good shape. We’re not going to practice Breece (Hall), but there is nothing wrong with that, it’s just part of the maintenance program, but other than that everything else is good to go.
Rich Cimini, ESPN.com: Robert, when the season starts, will Breece be on a snap count? Will Dalvin (Cook) be on snap because they haven’t done as much?
We’re going to be, I don’t know if I want to call it a snap count, but we’re going to be smart with them. We’ll continue to evaluate and build up what we think Monday needs to be, but it’s not that we’re putting a snap count on it. It’s just they are two really good football players, Michael Carter is a really good football player, and just trying to find a way to feature all of them along with the receivers and tight ends that we have. So, there is going to be enough to go around.
Tom Rock, Newsday: Robert, as you’re putting together this game plan for this week, are there things that you were, obviously there are things that you were unable to do last year because Aaron (Rodgers) wasn’t there, but do you find that that permeates the whole thing? Were you doing things defensively last year to almost protect the offense that you don’t have to do anymore?
No. The goal on defense is to get the ball back for the offense as many times as possible. Whether it’s takeaway, a punt, whatever it is, you’re just trying to get the ball back to the offense. Then what the offense does from there is whatever it does, but defensively, you’re always just trying to get the ball back. It is the best way I can put it.
Nick Faria, am New York: Robert when you scout Buffalo, they obviously have a lot of great defensive players – Tre’Davious White, but Von Miller is not going to be available Week One. Do you feel that changes the game plan at all from an offensive standpoint?
No, because their d-line (defensive line) is as deep as anyone. They play hard, they are relentless up front and so they have got plenty of horses in the stables if you will, but they are pretty damn good up front. And yes, Von Miller is a phenomenal football player, but that is not going to change their ability to get after the passer.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: Robert, you guys obviously have gained so much attention since Aaron has come in and whatnot and all the things you have done in the offseason. I’m curious what your take is on what about your team’s makeup will be able to handle that, from the guys that you have in that locker room? Because obviously there’s a lot of scrutiny and a lot of expectation that this organization hasn’t been used to.
Yeah, that’s a good question. The good thing is we’ve got a good balance of veterans who have been through the fire. In the locker room and young guys talking to veterans, seeking guidance, and there are coaches, obviously on the staff, who have been through the fire. So, handling expectations and all that, I think when you get to this level, your whole life is about handling expectations. A guy like Garrett Wilson, who’s been the star receiver his whole life or Sauce (Gardner), who has been the star corner, obviously at Cincinnati and being a top 10 pick, they live in expectations, but think what is cool about this group is that they’re able to focus on the moment and they’re so intrinsically motivated that I don’t think outside noise really bothers them. It’s because they are trying to be the best they can, they don’t feel like they have proven anything. They are just trying to prove something every single day. It’s a really, really cool group of guys.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: Is there an element to you and the guys on the team that you embrace this expectation?
Of course, it’s better than the alternative. You work hard to be able to put yourself in position to have a realistic shot at something. Now with that said, we haven’t done anything. We still have to go do it. I joke around and I talk about how the expectation in New York is 17—0 every single year, right? Whether you’re an expansion team or not, but it’s to have expectations and to know that you can fulfill those expectations, that’s why we do this. To have realistic shots at achieving the pinnacle of sport, but, again, you still got to bring it back to the moment. We still haven’t done anything. And we just got to focus day to day and just try to be the best we can.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Robert, how difficult was that when you were going through it? Last year, obviously, you talked about the receipts and everything like that, but when you’re trying to climb, but you’re still not there?
Yeah, when we first got here a couple years ago, whatever it was, 2021, we knew there was going to be a build in terms of just trying to change the locker room bringing in the right type of people and the right coaches and finding that synergy between the coaching staff and the scouting department, between Joe (Douglas) and myself. Then obviously, just having that one singular focus on the type of player that we want to bring in, in all three phases of football. So yeah, you can get frustrated because you’re like, ‘God, nobody is recognizing the progress this organization is making,’ with some of the questions we get, but at the same time, you stay focused, keep the main thing the main thing, and that’s us. That’s everything in this organization and we’ve been able to stack up a lot of really good decisions and the result is a really freaking good locker room of people who embody everything you want out of a football player. Now it’s just a matter of continuing to stay focused on the moment, keep the main thing the main thing, and just find ways to get better every day and see what happens.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: Has the team elected Captains yet?
We had our vote this morning. They are tallying it up, we’ll have it after practice.
Tom Rock, Newsday: Robert, you talk a lot about the, or you just spoke about the outside noise, what is the inside noise? How would you describe that as you’re a week away from opening night here?
That’s a good one. Focused, I think. You talk to the players, and they are all speaking the right language. This is a cool group, man, they are completely locked in and, again, we’ve got to get going. We still got to prove it to ourselves every day. I think there is a mindset that I don’t think any of these guys look at themselves in the mirror and say, ‘I’ve arrived’. I think this is a group that knows that we’ve got to put in work. I think this is a group that knows that every day is just as important as the next and so I think this group is focused.
Tom Rock, Newsday: Is that different than previous years?
No, not that it’s different. I don’t know, I don’t think it’s different. It was always the vision to make sure that we’re bringing in guys who have this ability to focus and keeping the main thing the main thing and finding ways to get better every day and going to bed better than when they woke up. I think this, knock on wood, being year three and all that, I think we’ve gotten a pretty predominant locker room and it takes time. You’re always trying to fill one another out and you’re trying to learn one another and I think this building is just working together with one voice, with one language, and one heartbeat. Like I said, it doesn’t mean anything, but everything has been going pretty good so far.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: Robert, how powerful of a voice and getting that stuff across that you just spoke about is Aaron? Because he’s kind of one of the guys in your room that’s been there and done that, so to speak, right?
For sure, there is a lot of them. Aaron, obviously, on offense, Randall (Cobb) has been through it, defensively we’ve got a bunch of guys who’ve been through it. CJ (Mosley) has been part of championship teams and playoff teams, if you will, Jordan Whitehead won a Super Bowl. So, we got a really good group, (Adrian) Amos back there. There’s a bunch of guys all over the roster and the more the merrier. Now, Aaron has been fantastic, he really has. He’s been unbelievable with his voice, his messaging, his nurturing of the of the young guys around him, and hopefully as we continue to go through this season. What excites me is I know that we’re going to see adversity, there’s going to be adversity, it’s not going to be a perfect season. There is going to be ups and downs and there is always going to be noise surrounding this team when we lose or draw, but what excites me about the group like I said earlier, I think they do a good job blocking it all out. I think we keep it focused on us, and a guy like Aaron and all the veterans that we have, have the ability to help these young guys stay on that track.
Peter Botte, New York Post: Robert, as a coach is there, I don’t know if this is the right word, but relief? A sense of relief for you that after all of this talking, after all is this, this is game week, it’s finally game week?
Yeah, this is why we do it, right? To go play games and to experience the highs and lows. I’ve said it to my wife many times and my kids, because in the lows of lows, there’s a lot of anger in a coach’s household, and I always have to remind them that we’re living every day in a four-hour span on Sunday. We experience every emotion that you can possibly experience in the human body, and so we’re lucky, so being a part of this every year, it never gets old, and we’re blessed in every way imaginable.