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REX: Going Against SF, It Has to Be Precise

Posted Sep 27, 2012

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

It looks like a beautiful day out there today. Yesterday the energy level was great in practice. Scout teams again did a tremendous job. I think that’s kind of what gave us an edge last week was how they practiced. They got us prepared for the game. We made some mistakes. Whenever you put in a new game plan, it’s the little things like route depth, all the kind of stuff, we kind of lacked a little consistency in that yesterday. I’m expecting better things today. Going against San Francisco, you almost have to be perfect. Going against this kind of team, it has to be precise. The only shot you’ve got is to do those things, so that’s what we’ll be working on today.

Injury-wise, I can give you what I have now, because we’re going to say Bart Scott did not practice today, but he actually may, so we’ll see how that goes. Stephen Hill won’t practice today with the hamstring. [LaRon] Landry won’t practice, that’s just what we do with him. That’s been really good. He went full yesterday, obviously, and as we go, it’s not the injury, it’s just what we do with him. Guys that will be limited: Dustin Keller, hamstring, Bryan Thomas, hamstring, and now John Conner may or may not practice. We’ll see how he feels with his knee. Patrick Turner will be limited and Eric Smith will be limited today with his hip and knee.

All of these guys that I mention, the rest of them, will practice full today. That’s Sione [Po‘uha] with a low back, Isaiah [Trufant], ankle, [Antonio] Cromartie, shoulder, [Nick] Bellore, shoulder, [Mark] Sanchez, low back, [Nick] Mangold, wrist, Calvin Pace, Achilles, [Mike] DeVito, calf, [Brandon] Moore, hip, Ellis Lankster, back, and then a new guy on the list is [Matt] Slauson with a knee. But all of those guys will be full.

On Eric Smith not practicing Wednesday…

He and Landry have been almost alternating. With his injury, that knee and hip, we were kind of giving him a day off. Those two guys of kind or rotating.

On the officials returning…

I haven’t really thought about it. My thoughts are just on getting our guys prepared, and that’s it. No excuses before, after, or whatever. My job is to get this team ready and that’s where my focus is.

On if the film looks different without Dustin Keller…

I don’t know if it’s easily noticeable. [Jeff] Cumberland has filled in, I thought, pretty nicely for him, just the different roles and things. You’re talking about one of the premier receiving tight ends in the league and he’s competitive as a blocker, so those guys are hard to replace. I think there is a difference, but I think Jeff’s done a nice job. Maybe now it’s our chance to get both of them on the field more, we’ll see. I think hopefully Dustin will be out there this week. I assume he will be.

On Joe McKnight’s transition to cornerback means a larger role for Tim Tebow

Again, let San Francisco worry about that or be concerned with that. I think Joe [McKnight] misunderstood, too. We’re trying to teach Joe our defense, the coverages and things like that. He still has a role on offense. It’s not that he’s being forgotten as a running back, that’s not the case. I want him to learn the coverages and things like that on defense. The way the league is now, you almost can’t have enough corners. They’re going three, four, five receivers or something, so you have to be able to match up.

The one thing I know from a physical standpoint, that Joe can, from a talent and a physical standpoint, he can matchup. He can run. He’s got size. He’s got some natural instincts, and that’s what we’ve seen. When we used to put him on scout team, that’s what we saw. Yesterday, he actually picked off all three quarterbacks. That’s a good thing and a bad thing [laughter].

On balancing McKnight’s meeting schedule…

I’m putting him in defensive meetings right now, because I think he needs that. I think offensively he’s got a good enough grasp of our system, where he can do that. On defense, he probably can’t tell you anything. “Reduce 63-Sky”, what does that mean? Well, you’ve got a good enough chance of telling me about it as he does right now. That’s why we’re putting him in there, to kind of bring him along that way and work him on defense. Obviously, he’ll still have a role on offense.

On if McKnight is feeling that moving to cornerback meant he wasn’t good enough at running back…

That was certainly not the message that I wanted to send to him, so I wasn’t clear on that. He’s got talent as a running back. The one thing I know about Joe is when [he’s] given an opportunity, as a kick returner, he led the NFL as a kick returner, so I think that’s pretty impressive. He was the number one kid in the country coming out of high school. His talent is pretty special. I had a coach from USC tell me that the day he walked on campus he was their best corner. They wanted to play him a running back, but that’ll give you an indication of the kind of talent that Joe has.

On why McKnight’s role on offense is limited…

Well, he’s not a starting back. We feel pretty good having Shonn Greene there. Obviously, we work in Joe and Bilal Powell. I think we feel pretty good about where we’re at with our running backs.

On if he is more involved with the defense with Revis out…

I think we do it collectively, like we always do. We’ve been down this road before. I remember in Baltimore we had our fourth corner as our first corner, so we’ve overcome some injuries before and we know how to do it. Obviously, not with somebody of that caliber, but my schedule has actually been the exact same as it’s been the whole season. The first day, I spend on defense, Wednesdays. Thursdays, I go in the offensive meetings. My schedule has been the same.

On if Hill will play Sunday…

I would say that if you missed the first two days of practice, I would say he’s looking doubtful.

On if Bryan Thomas will play and who would fill in for Hill…

Well, we can rotate guys in, but I would think, yes, Bryan would if he’s healthy, he would go back as starter. To replace Hill you have Chaz Schilens and you have Jeremy Kerley who would step up in those roles.

On if Powell can alternate with Shonn Greene…

He’s in that role now as a guy that does alternate. If there’s something that happens to Shonn, then obviously, you play Bilal in there. I think he has those kind of skills, he can run inside, he has enough speed outside, it’s probably not elite like a McKnight would be, but he can do that. He’s outstanding as a pass protector and we think he has good hands out of the backfield. When we drafted him, that was what we saw on tape when he was at the University of Louisville. He’s doing a nice job for us.

On if he takes the next two games as a personal challenge…

I think as a competitor, you want to compete against the very best, there’s no question about that. That’s where probably, it’s not just our goal, but everybody’s goal is to be that team, to get your ranking up there, because what’s important is where you rank at the end of the year. Obviously, we know that these next few weeks are going to be extremely tough, there’s no question about that. But we’re definitely not conceding anything. They’re going to get our best shot and we’ll see if that’s good enough.

On Quinton Coples’ playing time…

I’m sure his play time will go up, it’s going to increase. He had his best day of practice yesterday, to the point where there were two guys I mentioned, Joe and him. Yesterday after practice, I had him break us down, so I think he’s ready to go. I believe you’re going to see him a lot more.

On if he’s happy with Coples' current position…

I like where he’s at now, as a defensive end, defensive tackle type guy. We’ll just keep him in that role.

On if he’s disappointed in Aaron Maybin’s performance…

I think a lot goes into it the way teams are attacking us on third down, different things, they’re moving the pocket, it’s hard to get to a guy then. We’re getting much more runs on third down than we’ve ever gotten. I guess, when you look at it, numbers wise, I’m disappointed that we only have [three] sacks or something, whatever it is, not a whole lot of sacks. But again, I think that’s coming. I think you look at the Niners, they have five sacks, but we all know they can really rush the passer. We’ll see, at the end, I’m sure those numbers will come.

On if he’s concerned that Santonio Holmes is becoming too much of a focal point on offense…

I think it’s good, that he should be a focal point because he is a playmaker. He’s our No. 1 receiver, so if you’re getting the ball in his hands a lot, that’s a good thing. I think having Dustin in there and a healthy Stephen Hill, maybe it will be dispersed a little bit. There’s times when maybe he’s going to be targeted, I think he’s been targeted, I don’t know how many times, what the average is, but 13 or 14 times the last couple of weeks. Will that always be the case? Probably not, but right now it seems to be.

On why Vernon Davis is better than Rob Gronkowski…

Because you know I had to get a shot in at a Patriot, of course [joking]. Vernon Davis is the No. 1 tight end in the league this week, and when we play Gronkowski, Gronkowski will be [laughter]. You know how that works by now, no doubt about that.

On opponents having success against the blitz…

They’re doing a great job. There are times when we played, you can go back to the Buffalo game, we would pressure, get a free hit on the quarterback, but he’s getting the ball off and he’s completing them. There are times when that happened. So you kind of pick your shot at when you’d blitz and those type of things. Guys have done a good job at getting the ball out of their hand against us.

On his respect for 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh…

How do you not respect that? I don’t know, they were 14-2 last year or something like that. The style of play, it’s hard not to respect. You have to love that from an old school football background, we both have that. I think you appreciate the way he goes about business. They take care of the football, they create turnovers on defense, and they run the football, and they stop the run. They play great special teams. So obviously, he’s done a tremendous job there. He’s smart, he did what I did, get great coaches around you. He hires Greg Roman to be the offensive coordinator, Brad Seely as the special teams coordinator and Vic Fangio as the defensive coordinator, that’s a great group. I did the same thing. I think that’s a smart thing to do.

I know how competitive the Harbaughs are. It’s that football family that obviously he’s in. It’s like the family I’m in is the same way, we grew up the same way. Only difference was he was probably a little better at quarterback than I was, All-American at Michigan, first-round pick, great NFL quarterback, “Captain Comeback,” whatever it is. But if you put me on the lot, you put a Buick out there and an oak tree, I was better, I’m just telling you that right now [laughter].

On if Fangio’s position in Baltimore was on defense…

No, it wasn’t defense, he was on offense. He literally was there to give a defensive perspective to the offense. When I was there, they asked me, I’m like, "Please, that’s a former coordinator that’s been in this league. How do we not take advantage of it?" He would do some scouting reports on the offense and the defense. He’s a football junkie, so he was helping out the offense and he helped out the defense. He was terrific, that’s an old school football guy right there. I bounced things back and forth with him and all that, wanted to get his perspective, being a former coordinator and things. He was a great football coach, a great football man.

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