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Coordinators: That Old-School Mentality

Posted Mar 12, 2013

Transcripts of the three Jets coordinators' conference calls with team reporters midday Monday:

OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR MARTY MORNHINWEG

On what he’s been doing since he took the job…

Quite a little bit of stuff the first three weeks, got the staff hired, sold a house, then pulled the trigger on a place up here to live. Got my last one, or I should say he got himself, into a school up here, so those first three weeks we were running and gunning just a little bit. As of late, our offensive staff has been getting together every morning and we’re using the mornings for the football implementation. So we’ve been implementing our offense with all of our coaches, dishing out assignments for the future, staff assignments and then going through quite a little bit of film as well. In the afternoon, we’ve been using that for evaluation of the possible NFL free agents and college draftable players that are coming out this year.

On Mark Sanchez

Well, offensively, I’ll play to a player’s strengths. As you know, Mark has many strengths. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses. I’m speaking in general about a player. You try to play to a player’s strength’s and try to get the weaknesses a little bit better, certainly put him in a position where his strengths will show. I do that at all positions, but certainly the quarterback spot because it’s so important.

On if he can “fix” Sanchez…

I’m not sure that he needs to be fixed. Mark has a lot of strengths and he’s played at a high level. It’s our job to get him to play at a high level on a consistent basis. We would certainly like competition at all spots and certainly at that spot, the competition just makes everybody better.

On if his offense is quarterback-friendly…

It certainly can be a quarterback-driven offense. The great thing about this system is you can do just about anything there is. Now, we’ll certainly use the West Coast terminology, but the West Coast system is a timing, efficient, quarterback-driven type of offense that runs the ball in a physical, deceptive manner.

You ask about philosophy. It’s very simple. I’m going to set the foundation with hard work and preparation. Most of the time, the best-prepared team on that Sunday is going to win the football game. So, that’s important to set that foundation. The one thing I’ll promise is that we will work hard on the field and off the field and we’ll be well-prepared. There might be an instance or so where it doesn’t look that way — then that becomes my responsibility. We’ll try to keep people off balance, certainly, and you can do that many different ways. We’ll utilize many different personnel groupings and we’ll certainly use all the eligible receivers and runners. It’s my responsibility to get the football to our best players, our playmakers a little bit more.

Just in general, that’s the philosophy there. The other thing that goes into it is that old-school mentality where we don’t care how we get it done, run, pass, who gets the credit, whatever it takes to win the ballgame and we’ll get the hard work and preparation done. Then that last thing is the talent acquisition, which our personnel staff with John [Idzik] and the rest of the fellas there are working diligently at right now, in the middle of putting the team together.

On if the Jets will throw to the running backs and if the team has pass-catching running backs…

We can do that. If we have backs that can do it we absolutely will utilize them that way. Now, every game is different. There will be some games where backs may very well catch balls, and then in others maybe they don’t, and maybe the tight ends and receivers catch a few more in those particular games. We do have a couple of fellas on our rosters right now that have displayed some dynamic ability and the ability to catch the football. Now look, we’re right in the middle of building this football team so I’ll be able to go a little bit more in-depth about it in the near future.

On the players who have displayed the pass-catching ability…

We’ve got [Bilal] Powell and [Joe] McKnight and we also have [John] Griffin. There’s a little bit of dynamic ability there.

On Sanchez’s strengths and how they translate to his system…

Well, I will tell you he has played some awfully good games, it’s been just a touch scattered, so that’s our responsibility. He’s proven that he can play at a winning level, at a high level. The year before last, there were three, maybe more than that, where he brought the team from behind on the last drive of the ballgame, so he’s proven he can do that. He’s proven he can make all the throws, and so now, his challenge and our challenge is playing at that level on a much more consistent basis.

On if there will be an open competition at quarterback…

Well, that’s right and that’s a good question. Certainly, we’d like to have competition at every position, including the quarterback spot. Mark will probably have a little bit of a leg up it would appear, but I would like to have competition at that position as well as all of the other positions. Look, there are a select few on this football team that have earned the right to step in there as number one on the depth chart, but I certainly would like competition at all the other spots, including the quarterback spots.

On Tim Tebow

I’ve talked to Tim and he’s part of this football team. I’m excited to coach all of our players, including Tim. We had a long discussion and some thoughts there. I would like to keep those conversations between a player and coach sort of private. We certainly had a discussion. He got my thoughts on the situation and he has some thoughts as well. If he’s on this football team, which he is right now, then I would do it a certain way and try to utilize all of our players that can help us win a football game.

On if he could put together a package to enhance Tebow’s skillset…

First of all, he’d be taking reps at quarterback and then some of his other skills can certainly help a football team. You know what he did in Denver about a year ago, that was something else. The man can play football, so how you utilize him would certainly be the key. He’s on our football team right now, so it’s my duty and my responsibility to have some thoughts on how he can help us win the next football game. I have put an awful lot of thought into that. He certainly has some skill to do that. I will say he has some quarterback skills. As a quarterback, the gut instincts are really important, and he certainly has that.

Just talking in general of quarterbacks, the decision making is key, along with the accuracy and timing. He certainly has some of that and it will be interesting to see exactly where he is.

On if he has spoken to Santonio Holmes

I personally have not talked to Santonio. He was in. I missed him. I was back in Philadelphia. However, I have some thoughts on Santonio as well. He does have the foot situation, and I have information, but that’s more for our trainer, Rex, or the doctors. I’m not quite sure on that, but I would expect him to be healthy at some point before training camp.

On what appealed to him about the Jets' offensive coordinator position…

I didn’t quite know the positives until I took a drive up here. I knew Rex just a little bit, but Rex and I spent a full day together. Then, later on, I spent some time with Woody Johnson. It appears at some spots, if not many spots, that we’re going to be pretty young. The ability to coach the young talent and implement an offense with these guys, it was a little bit of a great challenge. My daughter, my third, is graduating from high school and my last son is graduating from eighth grade, so the location was important. When I drove up here as well, the facilities, I dropped my jaw. I think you can arguably say that this is the finest facility in the NFL.

With all of that combination, with the young players, with Rex, I got to spend some time with Woody Johnson. Then at the time I took the job, the general manager had not been hired, but I think at the time, I knew this was the man we were trying to get and I had heard some awfully good things about him as well.

DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR DENNIS THURMAN

On what he has been doing this offseason…

First of all, we’ve been watching our cut-ups from last year and evaluating the players, the scheme and if we need to make any adjustments within the scheme. We are also evaluating free agents and the college athletes coming out in this year’s draft.

On who will call the defensive plays…

It doesn’t really matter to me who calls it. If Rex [head coach Rex Ryan] wants to call it, that’s fine with me. Really, it’s not the call, it’s not who calls it, it’s how we execute the call on the field. Those things aren’t important to me. It’s just that if that’s what Rex wants, that’s what Rex is going to do.

On if he will move from the sideline up to the coaches' box on gamedays…

No, I think I’ll stay down and we’ll do it that way.

On putting his own touch on the defense…

That’s not important to me. We have enough volume of defense throughout the history of running this defense that I don’t really need to have my name on it. It’s not that important to me. It’s how we go out on the field and play. And if we use the volume that we have, we can have more than enough to go out there and be successful.

On if the team will run more 4-3 defensive fronts with its current personnel…

In terms of where we’re at right now, we can’t really answer that. We have to go through the free agency period. We’ll have to go through the draft, and we’ll let our personnel dictate the amount of 3-4 or 4-3 that we play because we’ll always be personnel-based.

On Coach Ryan saying Quinton Coples might be used more as an edge rusher…

In terms of being used more as a defensive end so to speak, sure. But right now, we’re in the process of evaluating everything and we won’t be able to finalize anything until we have all our personnel on board.

On what he learned from the defense last season…

That we need to improve. We had some young guys that were playing. We had some experienced guys who were playing. We had some guys who were only in their first year in our system. When we played together, when we communicated, when we knew exactly what we were doing, we played well. We had some breakdowns all across the board, whether it was the front, linebackers, the secondary. When we broke down, we broke down. We gave up big plays. We’re looking to improve those things. If we can improve those things, I think we’ll be a better defense in 2013.

On if he has spoken to Darrelle Revis recently…

No, I have not.

On if he has spoken to Revis since the end of the season…

No, only when he was in the building rehabbing. And all we talked about was his rehabilitation.

On Revis’ future with the team…

I don’t really have a comment. I think our general manager, our head coach and the people above me are going to make that decision.

On if he has some concern that a player as good as Revis might get traded…

No, we coach the guys that we have. I was always taught not to get over emotional about losing a guy. In terms of Darrelle Revis last year [being placed on IR], we had to move on and we had to continue to play. They’re not going to cancel games, so our mindset is we coach who’s here.

On preparing for the season with possibly a completely different secondary…

Even when you have your veteran secondary, the most important thing is to improve. So we’re expecting every guy on our defense to improve. The challenge is always how can you get better, so from year to year, that doesn’t really change. They come through here. We try to get all of them better. Then we put our best players out on the field and let them go play.

On his similarity in philosophy to Coach Ryan…

We’re very similar. From the time that Rex became the defensive coordinator in Baltimore, he hasn’t changed, his system hasn’t changed. It’s one that you can take wherever you go and it’s tried and true — it works. All we’re looking to do is making sure we’re still on top of what we’re doing and how we want to go about it and the approach we want to take with it. So our expectation is that we play well every year.

On working with a new defensive coaching staff…

The most important thing is to bring the guys up to speed on our system and how we do it, to make sure we take advantage of everyone’s expertise. [LBs coach] Brian VanGorder is a former coordinator in this league. He’s done a great job wherever he’s been. He’s very precise in teaching. Karl Dunbar has been an excellent defensive line coach in the National Football League stopping the run and getting after the passer. Tim McDonald is a guy who I coached in Arizona, who played for me, is very knowledgeable, obviously a former Super Bowl winner with the San Francisco 49ers, so we’re going to use his expertise. Brian Smith has been elevated to assistant defensive backs coach and he’s a bright mind, a great future ahead of him.

We’re just looking to take advantage of everybody’s abilities and always staying on the same page.

On the status of Sione Po‘uha…

I’m not sure exactly where he is. I have not spoken to [head athletic trainer] John Mellody about that, so you have to ask our trainer about that one.

SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR BEN KOTWICA

On what he attributes last season’s special teams breakdowns to…

I think that we did some good things last year, and much like some other teams, there are some areas we need to work on. We were able to lead the NFL in starting field position after a kick. We still had a good return game. We were sixth in the NFL in kickoff return yardage.

But there were things that we had some breakdowns in. At the time, we looked at those breakdowns, Mike [Westhoff] and I made the corrections on the spot. We’re continuing to look at them. We brought in Louie Aguiar. That’s another set of eyes to help us in various areas, to self-scout. We’re just looking to get better in 2013.

On replacing Mike Westhoff…

First off, I’m very fortunate to have the opportunity that I have here. Rex [Ryan] and John [Idzik] have placed their trust in me to do that, and also to have that working relationship I’ve had with Mike over the last six-plus years. Not only has he been a great mentor, but our relationship's built on trust and communication, that’s also a pretty good friend there.

We’re different people. I don’t think there’s a comparison there. Obviously, there’s going to be a foundation of things that we do here built on the things that we have set down in the past. I’m just very thankful for what he mentored me on and I look forward to moving on in 2013 and getting a little bit better.

On if he will seek Coach Westhoff out for advice in the future…

That’s a hypothetical, obviously. We’ve continued to talk on a very broad base of issues, whether it’s personal, business, special teams or in the kicking game. That flow of communication has been going on ever since we have been working together. I don’t anticipate that changing. Obviously, he’s going to be doing whatever he’s going to be doing, and I’m going to be here looking to improve our unit in 2013.

On kicker Nick Folk’s future with the team…

Nick’s done a lot of great things for us. We’re really appreciative of the things he’s done in the past. When I look at Nick, I think back to the kick there on opening day against Dallas and obviously the playoff kick there against Indianapolis. Then you had the game-winner last year against Miami. The time that Nick and I have spent together has been very rewarding. I don’t know how things are going to shake out in the future and we’ll just have to see how all that lays out to rest here in the next few weeks and months.

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