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REX: Getting Better, and That’s Encouraging

Posted Nov 5, 2012

Transcript of head coach Rex Ryan's morning news conference before the Jets' Monday midday practice at the Atlantic Health Training Center:

First off, my thoughts, the organization's thoughts and prayers go out to everybody that has been affected by Hurricane Sandy. Clearly, we’re in the win business of football, but that kind of puts things into perspective.

With that said, from a football aspect, I’m excited to get back here with our players and roll our sleeves up and find ways to get better. Right now, we’ve earned that 3-5 record. It’s clearly not where we want to be at this point. What’s done in the past, you try and learn from it, but clearly it’s not where we want to finish. We have work to do. I’m excited to get the guys back and get them on the practice field. I look forward to the second half of the season. We know we’re in a bottom-line business, and that’s wins and losses. For football, that’s really all that matters, understand that we will do what it takes to put our team in the best situation to try and win games. Our focus is strictly on improving as a football team and getting ready to go compete and do what we can to win against Seattle.

Obviously, we know it’s a tough place to play. I think they’re undefeated at home, but that’s where the focus is. You can’t focus down the road. You learn from the past but you can’t focus on the past. As Satchel Paige used to say, “Don’t look back, something could be gaining on you.” Clearly, we’ve had some setbacks, lost two games in a row, and found different ways to lose.

The big thing is, we know when we’re really looking at it as a football team, we have to do what we can to give ourselves an opportunity. If we’re giving up a blocked punt, it’s not a scheme thing, you have to step up and block. We’ve given up two punt blocks on special teams — that's really uncharacteristic. We gave up the blocked field goal, different things that we don’t normally do.

On defense it’s the same thing. The third-down defense has been poor. The run defense has been poor but it’s getting better. I think over the last 100 rushes we’ve given up 3.1 a carry. It’s getting better, but it’s still not where you want it to be. I think running the football, when you look at the last 100 rushes, we’re averaging, you guys will figure it out, we’re averaging 4.3 a carry or something like that. We’re getting better. It’s not exactly where we want it to be, but we’re making strides. We have to hold on to the football and we have to create turnovers. It sounds easy, but those are the things we’ve really challenged our football team to do to make us successful. Those are the main areas we have to improve.

I will say this: I’m happy that I’m surrounded with the people I’m surrounded by, the coaching staff, Mike Westhoff, Mike Pettine, and Tony [Sparano] and these guys that we have. This is a great coaching staff. I’m just happy that I have this group of men to face this challenge. I think with the team that we have, we have a bunch of resilient players and we’re excited to get on that practice field, I can guarantee you that.

On if he received beneficial suggestions from the coaching staff…

Well, I hope so. We got a bunch of suggestions, so I hope they’re good. We’re certainly looking at them. It’s kind of a tough thing, because you have to put all your focus in on this one opponent, but we have to be open for different suggestions, which we have taken in. We will be doing some different things. Again, I don’t want to get into the specifics of it. I hope you understand that if there’s an advantage to be gained, I want to gain that advantage without letting our opponent know. We’ll be looking at a lot. There are several things to improve and I’m excited about trying to implement some of these things.

On if any of the suggestions are radical…

I’m not going to say they’re radical. It’s not like we’re going to come out and run the "Polecat." Or maybe we will [laughing]. We have to open up in that thing. This is off topic, but I want to go over it. The thing I regret is the first play I ever wanted to do as a Jet head coach. I wanted to do what they did in Super Bowl III and move those guards, shift those guards over and then run the ball that way [laughing]. Man, I missed that opportunity. Maybe we’ll do it this week.

But I can’t tell you how excited I am. I know we’re not where we want to be, we’re not even close. We’re not sniffing the playoffs, we’re not sniffing anything right now, but I want to get there. I’m excited about the prospects in front of us. There are a lot easier places to play than Seattle, I’ll tell you that much. We have this week to get this team as prepared as we possibly can and let’s see what happens. I’m excited about getting a lot of our players back.

With that, I’m going to say this: Kenrick Ellis with his left knee, Bart Scott with his toe and Joe McKnight with his ankle, those guys won’t practice today, but everybody else will practice. We’ll have some guys limited. LaRon Landry, Sione [Po‘uha], Eric Smith, [Jeff] Cumberland, [Nick] Mangold, Brandon Moore, Bilal Powell, they’ll be limited, but they’re going to be out there. I’m excited to get the team healthy and make this push the second half of the season.

On if he is optimistic that Scott, Ellis, and McKnight will play on Sunday…

I’m optimistic, but they’re being held out today, so let’s see if they’re ready to go on Wednesday, I’m not sure. Those guys, today, will be held out of practice.

On self-scouting during the bye week…

Again, I don’t want to get into specifics, but you definitely do that. There are some things that you see about yourself. Again, some of the things, it’s really disappointing. We’re turning the ball over. We’re fumbling the ball away. The red zone turnovers have really been costly, obviously, because you’re taking points off of your board and in some cases putting them on the other team’s board. On defense, things are really not to our standards with our red zone defense and our third-down defense. Our run defense is not where we want it to be, it’s improving, but it’s not where we want it to be. Those are the main areas that we have to improve, and on special teams, where we normally lay our hat that, hey, this is how we build our football team. We have to get back to who we say we are.

On if the preparation for this week was interrupted by the hurricane…

Again, things were different, some guys couldn’t come in the building, we had the building closed, some guys did anyway, coaches of course. It’s almost like hey you’ve got, everybody stay out of the building, except coaches of course. So you had a little of that. But a lot of coaches would take their work stations, their computer things and take them home with them. And so a lot of preparation was that way, where they had to take some of their stuff home. But again, you’re never too far away from your work, that’s for sure. And obviously, you want to make sure that they’re protecting their families and that they’re there with their families in these trying circumstances.

On if it was different not communicating in person…

We did communicate some in person, but then some by text and things like that as well.

On if he lost power…

Yeah, we haven’t had power for a while. That’s just like anybody else.

On how much it bothers him that the fundamentals need to be corrected…

I think we’re getting better, though, I think we’re making strides. I think you see that in those numbers that I mentioned. You see us getting better in those areas. We’re not to where we want to be, but I see us getting better and that’s encouraging. You look at this team right here that we’re getting ready to play, it's really stout. It’s a tough defense and physical and they get after it. Then you look at on offense, they run the ball about as well as anybody. Marshawn Lynch, he’s a tough cookie. But again, we know we’re going to be challenged. I feel like we’re getting better but we have to keep improving.

On the open roster spots…

There’s a couple things we plan on doing. Again, you’ll see Mike will do that at his appropriate time. But we have some definite plans for those two spots.

On if he’s confident in the schedule for the week…

Yeah, absolutely. Again, we kind of pulled the Andy Reid, gave them the entire week off. We never planned on that, it’s just, obviously, with the hurricane, players' safety and everyone’s safety is the highest priority, obviously. But I know our guys will be back and ready to go. We’ll be popping out of our skin, and that’s the way it should be.

On if he will discuss the turnovers against Miami with Sanchez…

I’ll sit down and talk to Mark. I’ll talk to a lot of guys, but Mark and I have conversations throughout the week anyways. But it’s more about this football team. Like I had mentioned last week about finding ways to get [Tim] Tebow looking at everything. With Tebow, maybe how we’re using him, all those types of things. But really it’s more of a, and you had mentioned Mark, it’s more about how we’re using everybody. Are there things that we can do to help this player, to help this player, whatever it is, those are things we really are looking at.

On if the players will be focused with the distraction of the hurricane…

Yeah, I absolutely do. Obviously, you have to make sure you take care of your family, that’s first and foremost, obviously, yourself, probably second, and this team third. We need our players focused. I believe we’ll have them focused. Our organization does a tremendous job of helping our players in any way they possibly can. But in this situation, our players are no different than anybody else in the community, and that’s the way it should be. Those are things that everybody in the area has to deal with and our players aren’t exempt of that.

On if Tebow will have an increased role…

I don’t want to get into specific things but I guess we’ll see.

On if he has addressed the team…

I’ve already talked to our team.

On what he spoke to the team about…

It’s just blunt-force trauma, just tell it the way it is, like always. I showed where we are, where we want to be, and how we plan on getting there.

On if the practice schedule had changed…

That was just kind of today, I think.

On why today’s schedule is earlier…

No, not really. I think that was, to be honest with you, I never realized it.

On if Friday’s schedule is earlier…

Friday is definitely earlier. OK, I see what you’re saying, on that for sure. We’re definitely leaving, we’re going to leave early, we’re going to stay on East Coast time like we do anytime we travel west, that far west, we do that as well. I appreciate you bringing that up. Whether we play the 49ers, Seattle, Oakland, whoever, we’re on that type of schedule. When we get to the hotel, we always try to stay on East Coast time, kind of keep our bodies timed the same way. That definitely is a change.

On when they will leave for Seattle…

We will leave Friday.

On if traveling to the West Coast interferes with the routine…

No, sometimes when you travel west, it kind of breaks your routine up because you’re traveling on a Friday night instead of Saturday. That kind of breaks it up. But I think by staying on the east coast time, even though you’re out there west, I think that helps it. It hasn’t been that big of an issue in the past, in fact, it’s been a good thing. I know we played poorly when we went to Oakland one time, but other than that, I thought we’ve been pretty successful going out there.

On if the team will come back home before going to St. Louis…

Yes.

On playing teams the Jets don’t face very often compared to AFC East squads…

You know each other so well that you can only trick each other so much. When you face a new opponent, there is more challenge. I think sometimes you have to dial them in more. You’re not familiar with Marshawn Lynch — actually, that’s probably a poor example because he was with Buffalo all those years, but maybe a lot of our guys aren’t. You have this young quarterback, different guys. I think you have to do more preparation that way. Knowing the game plan and studying the tape on your specific opponent, I think you have to do that.

Preseason Live: New York Jets

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