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REX: I Believe This Team Is Coming Together

Posted Nov 14, 2012

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

We’ll start with the injury report: Guys that will not practice today [Bilal] Powell, with a concussion, Stephen Hill was sent home today with an illness and then guys that were limited in practice, Joe McKnight, ankle, Bart Scott, toe, Sione Po’uha with a low back, ankle. Then everybody else will be full, Kenrick Ellis, knee, Brandon Moore, hip, Nick Mangold, ankle, thumb, Eric Smith, knee, Mark Sanchez, low back, Matt Slauson, knee, Calvin Pace, shoulder, Mike DeVito, finger, Clyde Gates, shoulder, Damon Harrison, thumb, Jeff Cumberland, wrist, Tim Tebow, ribs, Jeremy Kerley, heel and LaRon Landry, heel.

On the anonymous comments from players on Tim Tebow…

Well, first off, if a player doesn’t, or anybody, doesn’t put their name to something, an anonymous source, I’m not going to comment on specific things that are said in an article that doesn’t have a name to it. I will say this. When we made the trade for Tim Tebow, he came here to be the backup quarterback. We recognize that he has a unique skill set that you can do more than just be a backup quarterback. What I look at, he came here as a backup quarterback and a guy that is going to work on developing his skills. Every single day when he hits the field, he works about as hard as anybody I’ve seen. He stays longer than probably any player we have working on those skills. So I would check that box, he’s done that. He’s a football player and I said that from day one.

We never brought him in here to be the starting quarterback. We already had a starting quarterback in Mark Sanchez. I thought I was clear on that from the day we brought Tim in here. But what we also were clear on is that he’s a football player and we are going to use him in different roles. We have used him in the Wildcat and those type of roles. You saw it expand a little bit last week, throwing the ball and things, and that will still be part of what we do. We’ve also said it could be from two snaps to 20 snaps or whatever. That will depend on the opponent and things. So he has done that for us.

Recognizing the fact that he is an excellent football player, we asked him, former Heisman Trophy winner, first-round pick, a quarterback that led a team to the playoffs, that, "You know what? We would like you to be our personal protector. We think that’s going to give us an advantage in the punting game." And when you look at it, we have a young man, [Robert Malone], I think this might be the best net punting we’ve ever had here. A lot of that can be attributed to having Tim Tebow as your personal protector. And the reason I say that is, we’re getting single flyers outside. So you’re getting a lot of 1-on-1 opportunities outside. But when you look at it from a statistical standpoint, I think, this is the highest net punting we’ve had. So I think that’s been a success. We had one, I think he’s had one negative thing, obviously, and that’s something he works extremely hard on, when we had a blocked punt and he was in there for that.

He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do. That’s it. He never came in here to be the starting quarterback. I thought I was clear on that from the time we took him. Again, that’s how I feel about him. I also brought him in, I thought he was a great teammate and a humble guy. I think when you look at that, everything he’s done, everything we’ve asked him to do, he’s done. We’ve put him out in different roles, running back, tight end even, and some of these types of things. He never asks why, he just says, “OK, no problem.” He’s ready to go. So to me, he’s been outstanding.

On Tebow’s throwing ability now as compared to training camp…

I really think his hard work, I believe, is paying off. I think he’s improving fundamentally. I think when you look at it statistically, he’s thrown one incompletion this year and that ball actually should’ve been caught. So I think he’s, if you want to look at a tangible thing, I guess he’s thrown one incompletion in I don’t know how many attempts, maybe six or seven or something like that.

On how he can get the team back to playing good football…

I think again, it’s going to be something that, it’s overall, collectively, obviously, every unit has to step up. A thing that we’ve laid our hat on is playing great special teams. I think, like most things, we’ve had some peaks and valleys. We’ve been really good, we talked about our net punting is as high as it’s ever been. We’re third in punt return with Jeremy Kerley back there so that’s been really good. Our kickoff returns, we’re close to popping some like we always do. We've had some returns for touchdowns, punt return, kick return. We’ve run two or three fake punts that have been successful. Those have been some real positive things on special teams.

We’ve also had the valleys, the extreme highs and the extreme lows. Obviously, with two punts blocked, blocked field goal, all that, we’ve converted every other field goal. So there’s a lot of positives, but we have to eliminate the valleys. I think that goes for the entire team. Three-quarters of that game, we’re playing about as good on defense as we’ve played all year and even throughout the years we’ve been here, forcing turnovers, guys attacking the football. Yet at the end, whether it’s running out of gas or whatever, we never finish the game the way you would like to.

Obviously I’m not saying anything that’s a great surprise. We’re 3-6. So there obviously have been way more valleys than there have been peaks. At times we’ve really run the ball well, other times, not as much. At times, we’ve really protected the quarterback, then we’ve had some other issues at other times. Those are things you work at every day. Like I say, it’s not a magic formula, or clearly by now we would’ve all taken it, whatever it is.

I think the big thing for us is stay the course, work extremely hard like we’ve been doing. I know how hard this team works. I see them on the practice field and in the classroom and all that. We have not gotten the results that we wish we would have by now. But again, the seasons not over, we have seven regular season games left. We know that the margin for error if we’re going to move on is, obviously, slim to none. But again, it’s about every single day trying to get better and that’s what we plan on doing.

On repairing chemistry issues in the locker room…

I’m not concerned because, again, like Matt Slauson’s comments when I read the article and Matt’s comments, we’re not going to say, ‘Hey, look this is what we’re going to say to the media. This is what we’re telling everybody.’ I said from the day one when I took the job we’re not always going to be lined up exactly as is, but we’re actually going to tell you what we believe. I have no problem with Matt Slauson because he put his name on it. I don’t agree with everything Matt said. I agree with the fact we have a starting quarterback. We’re confident, and obviously Matt is confident in Mark Sanchez. I think it’s interesting that his comments, from my understanding, were made much earlier this season than they were. It’s not like a recent comment.

Again, Matt will be here to answer those things. I’m sure you can ask him how he feels or anything else and anybody else we have in this locker room. I’m confident in that, that I feel like I have nothing to hide. I’ll never say to the team you have to do this or say that. That’s not me. Quite honestly, I feel extremely confident that this football team is coming closer together than what maybe is being thought of as falling apart. I definitely don’t see that.

On clearing media speculations about him not wanting Tebow…

I absolutely wanted Tim here. The reason I say that is for the things that we’ve talked about. I was very honest from day one and I’ve never gotten off of that. I feel that I know how tough it is to prepare for. I think he gives you an opportunity that if a team maybe isn’t as ready to handle it, you can do some things with him. I recognize him as being an outstanding football player. When we made those decisions, I know the kind of competitor he is. We’ll do what we think is in the best interest of the team. That’s the kind of guy he is. The personal protector thing is, I knew that would give us an edge and that’s what we’re looking to do. Not just having him as a backup quarterback, but being able to do other things and contribute in other ways. I think he’s probably contributed more than probably any other backup quarterback in this league because of his unique skill sets.

On the effectiveness of Tebow’s packages…

I think we’ve used him on different roles and things like that. Have teams stopped us and things? Maybe we’re not averaging maybe what I hoped. I think that’s true. I don’t think you can look and point and say, “Hey, it’s Tim’s fault. It’s this guy’s fault or whatever.” No, I don’t believe that at all. I just think that this past week in particular, we showed we could throw the football out of different formations and that’s what it does. It’s going to hurt your preparation time and I think he can be effective for us. Again, maybe the results haven’t been as much as I would’ve liked to see, a six-yard average or whatever. We have had some success running it in short yardage situations primarily, but we’ll see what happens. I plan on this thing, it’s still here, we’ll use it, what we think is best. Again, you’re going to have to prepare. As a defensive coach you’re going to have to take a lot of preparation time to get ready. If not, maybe you’ll see how many snaps we do. I don’t know.

On if he is still confident guys are sticking together despite the anonymous comments…

I do feel that. Obviously, people are here today because of the negative thing or whatever, a negative comment about a teammate, which I don’t appreciate. I think if you’re going to make a negative comment, that’s fine. We never say that it always has to be a bed of roses, but again, put your name to it. I think people would respect you a lot more for it.

On if the anonymous comments bother him…

Absolutely.

On if there is a problem similar to the end of last season…

Well I don’t think we have the same problem. First off, even back then, I think that was probably a little more over-exaggerated that the rift actually was in the entire locker room. I don’t think it existed the way it was portrayed, but I did recognize there was something wrong there and I’ve made it my personal agenda to go out and fix it. You can say what you want, and I’ll be judged one way or another, but that’s fine. If I’m going to be judged on this team, will it come together or not, that’s fine with me, and I’ll be here a long time because I believe this team will be like that. Will it be 100 percent that you’re going to have total belief in this guy or anybody? I don’t know if that holds water in the entire league whether you’re winning or losing.

On his confidence level in Tebow as a starter if Sanchez were to get hurt…

I think it would be extremely high. Here’s a guy that took a team to the playoffs with him leading them [to a 7-4 record when he was in the starting role]. That’s another reason we got him. We were confident, if something were to happen to Mark. We’re fortunate our quarterback is extremely durable. I think, in this league, durability is sometimes as important as athletic ability. We’re fortunate our quarterback is a durable guy, but in that case, we wanted to bring in a backup quarterback that could take his level up and you could still win with. In that case, I think we could win with Tim.

On what leads to people speaking anonymously…

The anonymous thing, you can get that whether you’re saying, “Hey, here’s a hard line that we’re drawing in the sand, it’s just going to be this.” You can do that, but an anonymous source can come from anybody. Whether you are looking at a hard line or [something else], I think you can still get that. I’m not hiding anything. Again, I know it’s probably a unique way of doing things and could it come back and bite you? I guess. I’m not afraid of it. I think that we’re building a team that will be close and we’ll build each other up. I look at it as an opportunity to actually build your team up.

On if he addressed the players about the anonymous comments…

Did I address it? I absolutely addressed it because I think it’s a cowardly thing, if you’re not going to put your name to it, I think that’s about as cowardly of a thing as there is. I even mentioned that. I don’t want to get into the specifics of what I said, but I did address it with our football team. Our football team, if you’re searching for things to try to drive a wedge through the team, my thing is, I believe in this team. I believe this team is like this, will continue to be like this, and maybe even become tighter. I’m confident that will be the case.

On Greg McElroy

Again, you have to look at different things. I think that each guy contributes differently. Greg McElroy, in my opinion, has really improved his game from the previous year. I think he has better arm strength. I know he’s been working extremely hard in the weight room and I see him getting stronger. He’s a sharp guy mentally, a student of the game. Obviously, being tutored by Nick Saban, it’s not that surprising, as I’m trying to get my son to go to Alabama [joking]. I’m just saying that’s what he brings.

I look at Tim, his skillset is unique. He’s a guy that has the power of a fullback, yet can throw the football. I think that in itself is hard to defend. When I look at the talent he has and what he can bring to this team, look we’ve won three games, but I think Tim is doing a lot of things for this team. I don’t see any other quarterback lining up as a personal protector. I think he contributes more than just being a backup quarterback.

On waiving Aaron Maybin and signing Kahlil Bell

There are a few things. When you look at your roster, I’m not saying that [Maybin] won’t be back, but you have to do what you think is in the best interest of your football team. With us having two backs questionable injury-wise, Bilal Powell having a concussion and Joe McKnight coming off an ankle injury, we felt we needed to bring somebody else in. I like Aaron. I love the way he plays. He flies around, does a tremendous job on the practice field. The numbers haven’t been there for him this year. I’m encouraged by the way Ricky Sapp played. I think he shows it on the practice field as well. That was the move we made at the current time.

On if he thinks the anonymous quotes will bring the team closer together…

No, I think this team is coming together. Will this galvanize it? I don’t know, maybe so. This team, in my opinion, is not going to be pulled apart by outside people. I think inside the walls, we are going to be [closer] and that’s what’s going to give us an opportunity. If I’m wrong on that, obviously, that’s going to be a different issue. I don’t believe that. I believe this team is coming together and we’ll see if there are no cracks in the armor, we’ll find that out. Maybe we’re not there right now, but I think we will be.

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