COURTESY OF NEW YORK JETS MEDIA RELATIONS DEPARTMENT
Opening Statement… Well, it’s been quite a while since we had a chance to chat. I miss you guys. I know you guys have had a ton of things going on too. That makes a smile on my face. When I get a chance to see you guys getting ready to ask me questions and being real disinterested and just kind of looking around on this weight and have no idea how I’m going to answer them. But it brings a smile to my face, no I’m just kidding you. I hope everything is going well for all of you all is crazy times, but you have to be able to adapt and improvise. You got to be able to handle these kinds of things otherwise, you’re not at the top of the profession and what we do in the NFL and the world. So, you got to be able to do these kinds of things and we have done a really good job of that. Right off the bat. One of the things I wanted to let everybody know is that I couldn’t be more impressed with the defensive players and the defensive coaches on what they did this off season. Our attendance was off the charts, outstanding. The energy and the communication back and forth was outstanding. I’ve never had this much meeting time, as far as in depth, conceptual teaching, conceptual learning with all the different things that we do with football. But I’m a life coach first and then a football coach second, and these types of situation help us also to be able to be adaptive and to be able to help, different people that have different things going on. The quarantine is one thing, but all of a sudden other things get expanded a little bit and be able to be out there form so they can reach out and we can discuss things and we have, and I’ve been very impressed with the defensive staff on what they’ve done behind the scenes that really nobody has any way to understand I’m sure the phone and iPads and computers have been locked on their hands and going through all different kinds of individual things outside of the group things. The position groups and the defensive team meetings have been outstanding, their attention to detail their responses back, getting them to talk as much as possible. Because now we know exactly what they know and don’t know was a big part of it. And how we went about the learning process going into year two for all the people that have been here before was very big. And I have a smile on my face on how much they learned and how much now they can take the next step from guys that have been with us before. And then the new people jumped in quickly. There was nobody that was out of character or not out of character, but really out of place. They adapted very well and jumped into the way we go about doing things. And I can’t wait until we get a chance to get on the grass and practice in training camp. I did say that I’ve never had this much meeting time, individual meeting time with players as we do now, because you had to separate those days and those times on the off season with your field time. So, we missed the field time, but we’ll catch that up. I smile and I look back in the late eighties and the early nineties, when I got in the National Football league, we had one three-day minicamp is all we had. We didn’t have an offseason program that they did all their lifting and conditioning on neuron. And you had one, three-day minicamp, Friday, Saturday and a Sunday. And that was it. Then you came to training camp and you got ready to go. So I’ve been through this before, understand this before. And I couldn’t be more proud of the players, the defensive players and their coaches on what they got done. And I told them, I thanked them, as soon as the off season got over and again, we’re a family. And I talk about that biological family and have their second family and it’s us. And we look at each other like a family that way, and it’s been good. The other things to brush out of my face is that, thank goodness I’m not on social media. I don’t do any of that kind of stuff, whatever, but they would send me different kinds of things for joking and laughing and try to stir me up. And if I didn’t act stirred up, then they would have been disappointed. The one thing that was a great story, that they were a thing that they sent out there to me for a while, because they had this little league coach that he had two elementary sons and they were in quarantine and they’re in the house and he was making them do all kinds of drills in their house. And the final drill that he was making them do was the up downs, which I’m noted for and wherever we’re at we do and it’s grueling and it’s brutal. And they wanted to know if this little league coach had played for me or was related to me or what, making the sons do that. It brought a smile to my face. So, I said, I can’t wait till we get back together fellows, because the first day of practice will be 40 up downs. So anyway, I kind of went on there for a while and hope everything’s well with you all.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Hey, Gregg. Obviously, I think the big story during the last couple of weeks here has been Jamal Adams and his desire to be traded from the Jets. Obviously, he’s under contract and all that stuff and I know you probably don’t want to talk about the semantics of a new deal for him. But I was just wondering, do you believe that your defense can be successful without Jamal on the field? And then also kind of counteracting that is just how much does your Jamal mean to your defense? It’s a great question, Connor and that I learned a long time ago and I’ve been now it’s going to go well over 2000 NFL athletes, I’ve had a chance to coach is that the number one thing is for me, especially my personality as a coach is you never, ever mess with a guy’s contract. Let them get it taken care of, have their back. I’ve got his back on those types of things. He’s got to get all that stuff settled. So now boom, you get back into our setting and now we’re ready to roll. And he knows that. I think the world of him, I’ve had a chance to coach a lot of really good players. Some that are already in the Hall of Fame and many others is going to go in the Hall of Fame. And he’s going to have legitimate chance staying healthy to be one of those guys later on that we’ll all talk about. The biggest thing with him is that he is a really good football player. And we all saw some of the highlight plays that he made last year. And I wanted to grab him before I ever got here is a… But anyway, the highlight plays he made. But the one that I told him at the time after the game, when I had a chance to study it on film and you guys go back and study it is take a look at the play in first series of the Jaguars game. When I all out blitzed and we attack the line of scrimmage and format cut back, and then Jamal Adams had to go through all the trash and all the bodies and all the things and start from behind. And he ran that cut down and kept him from scoring as one of the best plays I’ve ever seen. And it’ll stay with me for the rest of my life. He has to handle his contract. He’ll do all that kind of stuff. He’ll do those things. But we always have to have the next man of philosophy and we’ve been able to do that. Last year we had 18 guys that played for us on defense that had not played much with other defenses. Those 18 guys that played for us on defense had been cut to all the way up to eight times. There’s one guy that’s only played three and a half years in the league, had been cut eight times and he’s getting defensive game balls after our wins because of how dominant he played. We’ll have to address those things later on, but I’m hoping everything goes well. I love coaching him. And I got his back.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Gregg just curious how you feel about the cornerback situation, some of the guys that you’ve added there and overall, just how you feel about that group right now? It’s going to be some real competition there. And the guys that are coming back that were with our team make strives. They really got some really good time on the field and produced. One of the things we do that defensively schematically is we adapt scheme to the strengths of the players that are playing. So, I’m anxious to watch these new guys come in here. They’ve done a great job in the meeting process, conceptually and all the stuff of how we’re going about doing things. They’ve done a great job, but I need to have time on the field and have a chance to be out there and to feel exactly what they’re doing. And you get a feel for that for being in competition, the way we practice, we practice really hard. But these new guys coming in, they bought in quickly and done a really good job. So, it will be fun, and they all know that I’m going to play the best guy. Whoever the best guy is, that’s who we’re going to play, whoever the guys producing the time, but all of them have to be ready to go. And it’ll be fun.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: Hey Gregg. Thanks for doing this. First of all, I just want to backtrack on a Jamal question. What was your reaction when you found out that your All-Pro safety no longer wants to be a member of the Jets? My reaction personally was all honesty was just completely level-headed and is nothing that I have any responsibility for. I want him to feel good about being here. I want him to feel good about everything that’s going on. And he knows when he gets inside the doors and insides the white bias with us, there is a chemistry that’s outstanding. And in all honesty, I’ve been through this before with other players, all that kind of stuff. And that you can’t get too emotional. I can’t, I’ve got to stay levelheaded with that and just know that I can’t wait to get a chance to coach him again.
Manish Mehta, New York Daily News: A two parter, just why is Jamal so valuable in your scheme? And the second part of that as you mentioned you view yourself before as a football coach. And I know you’ve been a mentor to a lot of guys throughout the decades and you believe in a meritocracy. So all that being said, do you believe that he has earned a new extension? Good questions Manish first off talking about his abilities and how to go about utilizing is that, he has that ability not only to play as a defensive back or safety position, but he has ability to play like a linebacker. He has the ability to play like a rusher. He has ability to play like a run stopper. So he is multi-dimensional abilities to play the game of football allows you to move them and move him around or the other team to kind of find it. I’ve had several guys like that, I’ve shown him films before of what some of the other guys have done in the past. And then I’ll be able to use his film later on for the other years later on that when I’m coaching guys of similar traits and stuff, we’re going to use our guys as well as we can to highlight their strengths. He has multiple strengths and that’s fun. And he has the ability to move around. And other thing that I think that people until you around him a lot is how smart he is. He’s smart, he’s able to handle multiple things. He’s able to handle multiple directions of what has to happen in the flow of the game. And he loves to compete. As far as contract extensions and all that stuff is I stay out of that. That’s not in my profile. That’s not in my responsibilities. It has been before and other places where I was at as the head coach and those types of things, but I’m not. And I leave that and then have the full confidence in the people upstairs doing what they need to do.
Barry Wilner, The Associated Press: Gregg thanks for doing this. Gregg there’s a possibility that the preseason training camp will be shortened, especially preseason games because of the pandemic. How damaging would that be to get to learn what your players can do, particularly you haven’t seen them, as you mentioned before on the fields and all this time? Good question again, in all honesty, after all these years of experience, and then this defensive staff has been with me as players and as coaches on multiple staffs and that kind of stuff. So I don’t understanding it and what we look at is very uniform and we all understand what we’re looking for. Quite honestly, other than the outside guys that have come to the team via new rookies and then some veteran from other teams, those guys need the competition, okay, of a preseason game. I’m not worried about having all of them if that’s what happens. The most important thing is how you go about practice. Can you get competition ramped up in practice? Can you get that done? Coach Gase does that and I do that. And so I told some people quite a long time ago before, back in the early two thousands about a question came up about preseason games and all that kind of stuff. In all honesty, let us practice, that’s what we have to do. And as coaches we’ll make the right decisions and we’ll move from there. But we have to be able to adapt, most important thing is adapting and being able to compete no matter what day they tell us to compete, we compete and where we show up. And that’s what we do.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Gregg, I wanted to know what your thoughts were about Ashtyn David from the pre-draft process what stood out to you? First thing about Ashtyn is I love how hard he’s had to work in his life to become recognized and to get this far. Nothing’s been given to him. He’s had to earn everything. One of the things I talk about it as a life coach all the time is that trust and respect is earned. It’s not given, it’s earned. You have to do that. And he had to do that on how he walked on and busted his tail to get time on the field, to get a scholarship, to do everything he needed to do. And then when you take a look at him, he’s similar in several different guys I’ve had before in the past, he can play deep, he can play underneath, he can play man, he can play zone and he’s not afraid to hit you. And he can play special teams. So all those types of things are important in the versatility of what we need to do now in covering all the space that is the spaced out game of football of what has become. He’ll do good. And he’s a sharp young man he’s done well in the meetings. He’s been able to conceptually understand all the things as get ready to go. So I’m anxious to see his versatility too. I’m anxious to see his toughness and he’s got good toughness. He’s shown that before in the past.
Rich Cimini, ESPN: Gregg, given his draft position, Quinnen Williams did not have that kind of rookie year that a lot of people expected. I’m wondering from your perspective, how much better do you expect him to be in year two and specifically where? I expect and that brings a great smile to my face is that I think people are going to see a big jump in his production and in his play. One of the things that I think people and we didn’t put it out there publicly that much is that how hard he had to work to come back from that severe high ankle spring that he had. And that’s not easy when you’re a grown man that’s 300 pounds plus and supporting yourself on an ankle that’s not hard. And he fought through all that. The other thing with Quinnen is, he’s so young still is that he really only had one full season of doing a lot of playing time at Alabama before he came here and then got hurt, but then fought through all those things. He’s a sharp young man. He’s a proud young man and he’s had a very good off season and how he’s train and what he’s doing to get better. I can’t wait to get back with him. He calls me Uncle Gregg all the time because our last names are Williams. So, he brings a smile to my face all the time, too.
Manish Mehta, New York Daily News: Gregg, I know at this time, last year you were really looking forward to having an opportunity to coach C.J. Mosley and things kind of didn’t materialize that way because of his injury. So a, how much are you looking forward to having a full season with him and how much of a boost will he bring to your whole unit?
I can’t wait for him to be healthy the whole season, here’s another guy that I wanted to draft when he came out in the draft and it didn’t work out that way with picks and where ended up going. But another great thing about C.J. That people didn’t see behind the scenes last year, he may be the best I have ever been with in my life at the NFL level of a guy that was injured of a guy that couldn’t play that stayed active, energized and led this football team behind the scenes. He was in every single meeting. He prepared like he was getting ready to play that week.
So anyway C.J. showed tremendous leadership in doing that. He can coach this group of linebackers. That’s how smart he is. And so, the other thing about C.J. is that as you all saw in a short amount of time, but in his career, he is dominant around the ball. He’s a playmaker. He can make plays where the ball is, and can’t wait for him to get started with that and his platform this whole off season, Frank Bush and Joe Vitt, Mark Brown and the guys use him to coach at many different times once we went through the install, the second, third, fourth time with all the meeting time we had, it will be good. And his teammates can’t wait for him to get out there and get going too.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: I just wanted to ask you a quick question about Jabari the kid out of Florida you guys drafted on third round, how do you view him fitting into your defense? Is he kind of one of those players that fit like the Justin Tuck, Brandon Graham-mold where he can play in the defensive end or you can plaid him on inside a passing situation as defensive tackle? The answer to that is yes. I think he is multidimensional. I think he can play as legitimate left in and our laid left or right. But a legitimate solid, not give back left defensive end, but also can move inside and passing packages and passing downs as we or versatile on the packages that he can also be an inside rusher. He’s done very well on the offseason program too. I know a lot about how he was coached and a lot of the coaches in college levels visit and come to our camps and come to our meetings and that kind of stuff to get stuff from us for all these years, because that’s an eight ball these year. So, there’s a very similar pattern of his technique and his teachings that will fit right in here. But he is like all of our guys and not just Jabari, but every single player has to learn a minimum of two positions. Some of them can learn more than that. Quinnen, Kyle Phillips, those guys people don’t realize those guys learned four or five positions last year, if needed in certain situations and our secondary and linebackers the same way. And our linebacker extremely versatile with the amount of time that they got on task with the enormous number of different people and lineups that we had to play in that area, they showed well, and they understood the conceptual part of playing and Jabari has fit in very well.