COURTESY OF NEW YORK JETS COMMUNICATIONS DEPARTMENT
Opening Statement… I hope you are all staying safe and doing the right things. It’s helped us all be a little bit more disciplined, a little bit more accountable. It’s been fun to get back in the building, I think it was the 20th when I was back in the building, you get a chance to get started. The guys came back with a really good mindset. I’ve been very, very impressed with what they’ve taken care of in the offseason on their own. They’ve done a good job with that too, they’ve paid attention and listened to the things that we were talking to them about in all May and June and throughout their offseason about the accountability of showing up on time and accountability of showing up in shape. I think Justus Galac and his group have been doing a great job of continuing with that aspect of it. One of the things that was discussed back in the 2011 lockout – I was probably the biggest culprit of this – but I was tracking all the different injuries and things that came out of not having an offseason with these guys. But back when I first started back in the late 80s, early 90s, we never had an offseason then either. We just had a mini-camp, a three-day mini-camp and we took off and showed back up in training camp with the guys and you took off. We’ve done a good job, I think the agreements of getting an acclimation phase, getting these guys back in here together, pushing them in the right conditioning processes. Mentally, they’ve done a really, really good job right now. We’ve had more meeting time than I’ve ever had in my career with these guys, and they’ve been very receptive to that. Likewise, once we were able to start getting back out on the grass, they were energetic and very happy to be back into the routine of being out on the grass. The guys that have been with us for a year, they’re in that leadership mode, and they’re doing a really good job with even the veterans that have come in here for the first time and all the rookies that have come in here for the first time. Behind the scenes our veterans have been doing an outstanding job, and not only behind the scenes but once we get into the daily routines of the meetings here now in training camp and the practices out on the field, they’ve been doing a good job. So, with all that being said and done, we have to adapt, we have to be ready to roll. This organization has done very well with that. Been very impressed with everybody in the organization on what they’ve been able to do, and to provide a safe setting for us all, but now it’s time to get to work.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Could you just talk a little bit about the Jamal Adams trade and your reaction to that? I think this is the first time we’re talking to you since then. Jamal is a really good young man, and I really enjoyed the time with him and wish him the best, and I let him know that about that situation. But I’ve been doing this a long time, I’ve been through a lot of these kind of scenarios before, and now the focus and energy is here and the young men here and the teammates here. So, everything is good and wish him the best, really do.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Gregg, sort of along the same lines, when we spoke to you at the end of June, you had a lot of nice things to say about Jamal and a lot of good things to say about C.J. (Mosley). Now you’re entering a season without either one of them in your defense. So, how big a blow is that to your defense, they are two very good players, and how do you adjust to life without them? I’ve been through those situations before too, and I think that comfort level of other players and seeing the responses and how we’ve reacted to that in other places, but even here. We went through a lot of that defensively here last year and the next man up and how we adapt to those things. The focus and energy right now are on that and on those things, and the energy is outstanding, the attention to detail is outstanding and we’ve got to stay healthy. That’s every team, it’s not just this team. I think one of the things that doesn’t get maybe understood as much as it should be is those teams, those staffs that are able to do that within the game. You see that when all of a sudden something happens within the game, and the immediate changing of game plan, the immediate changing of substitution patterns and all that kind of stuff. We’ve been around a long time, this staff has. I’ve been very, very impressed with how hard they’ve worked, and now getting back in here the excitement that they have of day-to-day interaction with their guys physically, in the drills and all that type of stuff. It’s been very good, but this staff, I don’t have to worry about, you all don’t have to worry about not being on the same page. These guys, many of them, played for me before they got into coaching, and all the rest of them have been coaching with me for quite a while. So, there’s a very good message on how we have to go about doing things and we’re aware with these guys here right now and they’re responding well.
Mark Cannizzaro, New York Post: Gregg, along those lines, you’ve got your entire staff together. A lot of these guys have been with you, whether they’ve been players or coaches, for a while. The rest of the Jets – you’ve got all your coordinators, all your guys together. There’s a lot of teams that don’t have that, they’ve got new coaches, new quarterbacks, etc. With this situation with COVID, with so many fewer practices and no preseason games, can you guys use this to your advantage – the continuity factor where you’ve got your entire group together? Can you use this to an advantage? We hope. That’s a very good message of how you spelled that out, and we have, and I have spelled that out. If we’re any good, we’re supposed to be able to take advantage of that, and that is our responsibility. But also, the angst that other people may feel on some of those newly formed staffs or newly formed teams, the angst comes from maybe never ever doing it before in that position. Maybe being promoted to a certain spot in the league and you find those guys bounced all of a sudden because they didn’t belong there at that level anyway. If we’re any good at what we’re doing, if we’re any good and supposed to belong at this level in the league, we should be able to adapt, we should be able to improvise, and the more experience with those things helps out in the confidence of those around you. Everybody is a leader. We’ve got really good leadership in this building, we’ve got really good leadership on the team, and how you go about being a good leader is providing a good, positive example. When you promote and show that positive example, then when you do open your mouth then maybe somebody listens to you. But if you don’t have the right kind of an example of how you’re working and how you’re going about doing things, then no one’s going to pay attention to you. This is a good group of people, and a good group of young men, and the energy that I have every day is helped because they provide that good energy for me too because they want to be coached, they want to be motivated and they want to be inspired. If they do not, they don’t belong at this level, and our guys are doing a really good job with that.
Charles McDonald, New York Daily News: Have you been embracing the challenge of coordinating the defense without C.J. and Jamal this year? Is that something that you embrace? I’ve always embraced those type of things, yeah. It is what it is, you know. I think the world of both of those guys, I really, really do, but C.J. didn’t have a bunch of on-field time last year, but he did a great job behind the scenes and a great job in the meetings, and he will continue when that thing is right. But he has to do what he has to do, and family is first, make sure we understand that. I talk to the guys all the time about your biological family first, and then this is the second family. We are like a family. We treat everybody like a family, and then I tell them all the time I’m the hard-nosed father that all of a sudden if you have a hard time saluting, I’ll help you salute and we’ll get on down the line.
Brian Costello, New York Post: Gregg, what are you early impressions been of Bradley McDougald? He is very, very good and you know I love those kind of guys that have had to, we have had to prove ourselves as we rise up through the ranks but undrafted and be able to do the things he’s done on the field, off the field, he carries himself with a really nice healthy chip on his shoulders. He’s intelligent. He works extremely hard, you know, and the thing that makes it or breaks it for you at this level is that you are not afraid to work when nobody else is looking and you are not afraid to push yourself even harder when nobody else is looking and you think nobody else is evaluating. But now when you are on film, now when you are on mic, now when you are in the room and ready to roll and you have to be able to produce and he’s done that and there’s a lot of people in that organization up there that I’m friends with, acquaintances with, not only on the coaching staff but within the building and other departments. You guys know the PR director there Dave Pearson and I started way, way, way back together at the same time with the Oilers, back in ’89-90 together, so Dave Pearson had great things to say about him to me. We double checked those things as they double checked the things you know when some of our guys go there and he’s done very well. Every day is an interview, is one of the things I’ve talked to him about, our people, them to me, me to them and he does a very good job of that.
Ralph Vacchiano, SNY: In (McDougald) a different kind of player than Jamal is, and do you have to change the way you use your safeties because of the switch? No, it really doesn’t because we’re very multiple on how we do those things anyway. Jamal may get bored (in Seattle) because they don’t use their safety-type things and all the different complexities of maybe not showing what they are doing as much as we do. We’ll do still the same patterns of things, we will still do a lot of the same exact things but we will highlight the people we have here and as you saw, what we did there was (Adams) had maybe his most productive year here because of how we highlighted the skill sets that he’s had and I’ve had a lot of really, really good guys at that position over the years, I’ve had a lot of really good safeties to be able to build things around and now it’s next man up. We will fit them in to here and we got some good skill level skill sets here that we can capitalize on.
Kim Jones, NFL Network: Do you have a sense yet of what Ashtyn Davis can do early in his career here? I’ve gone all the way back into his high school film, we’ve done all of those types of things, film in college, but again there’s another guy that’s had to prove himself and I love the fact that he had to walk on and he had to do everything he could to just get a scholarship and get some time at the college level to play, but he’s done very well with everything we’ve seen, he’s going to have to slow down mentally and that’s what happens when any young guy comes into our league and this league is not one of those things where you just do a couple of things and let him go. We have to do more than that to be able to mask some of the deficiencies, to be able to pose more problems to the opponent’s offenses and the matchups there, but he is a sharp guy, he is very sharp mentally, he’s extremely hardworking and has a very good skill set. Defensively, not only can the guys play defense, but we have to do a good job with selecting the guys on the roster that also contribute on special teams and he does a very good job with that. If you can play special teams in the National Football League at a high level, you definitely can play defense then, because you are not handling as much space, you are handling as much movement of things and our guys understand how they have to impact in that area too and he does a good job.
Connor Hughes, The Athletic: Gregg, when you look at Ashtyn, do you believe that he and Bradley are competing for that spot opposite Marcus (Maye) or when you look at your defense, do you envision using all three of those guys at the same time, in three safety looks? Yeah that’s great and as you’ve seen all the different places I’ve been before where we have more than two safeties playing, we have three safeties, sometimes we have four safeties. Last year as you saw, Brian Poole, again not enough people understand what he’s able to do from playing outside corner, inside corner, inside safety and he even played the linebacker position on how we played it on certain situations as a linebacker. But all those guys, those three guys you mentioned, yes they are in the hunt but then there are several other ones here to that are in the hunt and last man standing, next man up, however we can do it the best way we will do that. I laugh somewhat and Adam (Gase) gets on me quite on a bit about this is that they see more in practices against us than they do opponents, which is good. But we have 42 packages of defense throughout the years that we’ve done. Now what are you saying? Well that we have 42 ways to add up to what 11 guys that go out there. Now here, we only have about 16, 17 things that we are doing with this personnel package. A few of the multiple-safety packages, yes, they are up and ready to go and we will see how that goes by their performance levels and what they can handle.
J.P. Pelzman, Forbes: Gregg you mentioned before about how Bradley McDougald was an undrafted free agent, the lack of preseason games, does that make it more difficult for undrafted free agents, that type of guy, to make a difference this year? I think it would go back to that question of what was asked early on about the new staffs all of a sudden coming in here. If this was and if I was here as a brand new staff and have to evaluate all the guys we had a chance to coach last year and this, yes, that could be, but not here, not with the experience of this staff. I smile a little bit about that when people say those things because you think all of a sudden in a preseason game you are doing something differently than you do in practice every day. We ramp up, we need to ramp up the speed of practice, we ramp up the speed of practice and all of a sudden we have a preseason game every day, every single day of the film, plus you are getting even more instant impact of knowledge of the situation through the meetings immediately. So, we’ll more than have enough time to evaluate any of those guys on how they fit in with the guys we already have because we’ve been to battle with the guys already here.