Head Coach Robert Saleh, 9.8
[please click photo for link to the video]
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Mekhi (Becton) cleared and is going to practice today?
He’ll officially be cleared today. He practiced Monday, he’ll practice again today.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Anyone not practicing today Robert?
(La’Mical) Perine is our only limited player and (Sharrod) Neasman.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: Anything new with Jamison (Crowder)?
He’s still on COVID.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Are you naming captains?
(follow up) Have you done that yet?
The team voted on them already. Are you guys looking for an announcement?
(follow up): If you want…
I’d be more than happy. So, on offense, we have two of them, that’s Corey Davis and Zach Wilson. Then on defense it’s C.J. Mosley and Foley (Fatukasi). Special teams is (Justin) Hardee and every week we’ll have one nomination from the coaching staff.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: In your experience, is it unusual for a rookie to be named a captain by his teammates?
I don’t know. When I did see it, I was like, ‘Oh, look at that.’ I think it’s more of a testament to him and the way he’s been able to conduct himself here. Like I said, you go to the cafeteria and he’s hanging out with his o-lineman, he’s got an infectious personality, so credit to him the way he’s handled himself so far.
Dennis Waszak, The Associated Press: Robert, going back to when you first were hired and you guys had a decision to make at quarterback, can you tell us what your process was in sort of evaluating Sam (Darnold) and what you came away with from that evaluation?
Evaluating Sam, obviously I’ve already got the belief, we all do, that it’s not just a quarterback that has to win football games, it’s everybody, it’s the entire organization. So, you evaluate all those different things, so you just look at Sam as a football player, his knowledge, the way he conducts himself, his arm talent, his size, his ability to run and go off schedule, just everything. We felt in the evaluation process that Sam is definitely an NFL player, starter, has a chance, just give him a chance, let him continue to work and prove that he was worthy of the draft pick that he was. The initial evaluation on Sam, obviously, and it hasn’t changed, it’s still very favorable. He’s a very talented quarterback, he’s a very talented young man and he’s someone who just needed an opportunity to showcase who he is and prove that he’s worthy of what he was drafted at.
(follow up): There were factors in that decision for Joe (Douglas) like when he was going to get a contract extension, things like that that coaches probably aren’t thinking about. Did you hash those out with Joe? Did you guys have a lot of conversations like that or did you just kind of leave that to him?
There were tons of conversations but, it’s why we’ve looked at the quarterback class so early, to make sure that we’re doing everything we could to make sure we were making the right decision, not only for Sam but for the organization and moving forward for hopefully years to come. Throughout that entire process, with all the different discussions and all the different evaluations we had, we felt like this was the best decision.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: When you guys traded Sam, I recall Joe saying something like, you actually considered the possibility of keeping him and not drafting a quarterback. How far down the road did that get and having the benefit of hindsight a few months later, how do you think it would have worked out?
First, it went pretty far, obviously, you see how late in the process Sam was traded. We had, I’ll go ahead and say it, we had pretty much knew that we were taking that young kid (Zach Wilson) pretty quick so, the discussion with Sam was, if somebody is going to make an offer that we can’t refuse, Joe handled himself exactly how you’d expect a man in his position to handle it. As far as handling it, I think it would have been fine, in either direction. Whether we have Zach at the reins, whether we had Sam, it didn’t really matter to us. It’s about process, it’s about the organization, it’s about trying to get an entire team ready to play a football game.
Bob Glauber, Newsday: Do you need to have any conversations with Zach about not letting this become Zach versus Sam this week?
No, they don’t play against each other, right? They’re on the same side of the ball for different teams so they don’t actually face off with one another. This is about Zach, it’s about him, it’s about his process and it’s about him getting ready to play the best he possibly can and obviously his surrounding teammates to do the best they can and keep it in the moment, keep it about us and execute the best we can.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: When Sam was here, we talked a lot about his demeanor, he was always the same. Do you find that with Zach? Like in this situation, it’s not too big, he doesn’t get too high for this?
I don’t know if I’ve met a quarterback who’s not able to stay in the moment, that’s not successful. Those quarterbacks, it’s like corners, they know how to stay in the moment, they have to. They have to let the last play go, they have to move forward, they have to constantly own the moment that they’re in otherwise the game can become too big for them, which we’ve seen in other quarterbacks who don’t quite make it, the game gets too big for them. You see in Zach, he is in the moment. As soon as a play happens, he’s trying to grasp it real quick. When he gets to the side in all our team periods, when he’s not up, he’s asking questions to recap and learn so he can get back to work. He’s got a good mindset to him, now he’s just got to go put it to work.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Robert, when Zach had the Green & White scrimmage, I remember you saying he was a little amped up to perform in front of the fans for the first time and it may have contributed to an up and down performance. Obviously, things are going to be quite a bit amplified in the first Week One game of his career. Do you need to talk to him at all about that? Do you sense that that experience he had in the Green & White scrimmage is going to help prepare him for Week One?
It’s going to be a new experience. You hope he can recall some of that stuff, obviously, it’s all about preparation. With the Green & White game, we were still in practice mode so, it’s not necessarily a game plan so we’re throwing a lot of stuff defensively, it’s random play calling on offense and, you’re just playing football and then you’re doing it in front of fans. So, you can get more amped because you’re not in control of the situation because you’re not exactly prepped for the moment, hopefully I’m making sense to you. With gameday, his amp is not going to be because he’s not prepared. He’s going to have a game plan, he’s going to know what he’s looking for, he’s going to know the play calls that are coming in with the first 15, it’s just going to be excitement. So, it’s a different type of amplified environment for him, and I still have yet to meet a quarterback in the first play where they might overthrow a flat route or something, I saw it with Russell Wilson, saw it with plenty of quarterbacks. With him, I do have a feeling he’s going to get right into the moment, he’s going to settle into the game, he’s going to do just fine.
Brian Costello, New York Post: What about, Robert, sometimes with young quarterbacks, they fall onto the hero-ball trap. If you guys are down a little bit, just trying to win the game with one throw. Do you worry about that at all? Have you talked to him about that?
That goes back to the play caller and, obviously, the quarterback and always staying in the moment and making sure that the game, because games can get out of hand in the same way if you’re trying to score and quick strike. Just stay in the moment, stay with your process, trust your preparation, explosives will happen with discipline but, there’s going to be times where we take shots but, don’t feel like you have to take a shot just to take a shot. I think that’s where (Mike) LaFleur comes in and I think his preparation and the way he goes about his day-to-day operation to get himself set up for play calling, I think they’re already thinking about all that stuff. I don’t think it’s an issue.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: This might be a question more for Mike (LaFleur) when we talk to him but, how much freedom are you guys going to give Zach at the line?
This system, I’ll just go back with this system, this system is filled with cans and options, right? But it comes into the play call. So his options are seeing what the defense gives and then he’s going to call one play or the other. As far as the ability to just abort an entire play call, I doubt that’s in there, I don’t think that’s in there. To ask a young rookie, to put that on his plate too, I think that would be really, really difficult.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Robert, the linebacker position, we haven’t talked about it in a little while and that’s kind of been in flux with Jarrad (Davis) going down and then you had (Noah) Dawkins in there for a while and now he’s gone. Outside of C.J., how do you feel about that position right now? Are you still trying to figure that out, do you know who you’re going with on Sunday?
We got, obviously, Wood is (Jamien Sherwood) our MIKE linebacker, we already talked about that one. It’s a young group, it’s a fast group and it’s a group we’re excited about. C.J. being in there and being that veteran voice is helpful, he’s always going to be on the field so that communication with that young buck to get him lined up to get him where he needs to be and so he can get his eyes where they need to be so he can go as fast as possible. We’re excited about that young group, that linebacker group and, it makes it even better with C.J. being in there.
(follow up) Is that third spot (Blake) Cashman, is it Hamsah (Nasirildeen)?
As of now, those two are battling it out but, I would just go ahead and say that Hamsah is probably going to get the first run at it.
Joe Maucieri, Pix: Coach, with it being your first season as a head coach here too, do you and Zach go over game situations together and is that a learning experience you guys have shared?
So far, we have not. Obviously, he’s going through his, are you talking about this week?
(follow up) Yeah.
Just from a game planning standpoint, I haven’t had a chance to sit down and talk with him yet. He’s caught up in his process first and I’ve been able to sit with LaFleur and the coaches and all that and just go through what they’re seeing, and I’ll get more of an opportunity to talk through stuff as the week goes.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: I just wanted to clarify something, Robert. Sherwood is the MIKE?
(follow up) But C.J. will have…
C.J. runs the huddle, correct.
Al Iannazzone, Newsday: With Corey (Davis), what has he brought to this team? What do you think he’s going to mean to this team? I know he’ll be a captain but, you talked earlier about him being an adult, what can you say about him?
I can gush for the next five minutes, I’ll try to keep it quick. From a coach’s standpoint, when you draw up a player, you can’t draw it up better for him with his mindset, the way he prepares every day, the way he goes about his business, the way he talks to his teammates, the way he takes care of himself. Then you go on the field, he’s on his job, every single detail. he’s deliberate in everything that he does. And then, on top of it, he’s pretty damn good at what he does too. He’s been everything we expected as a free agent pickup, because they don’t always work out that way, and knock on wood, he’s been awesome.