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REX: I Think Our Guys Will Step Up vs. Texans

Posted Oct 3, 2012

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

First off, I know you were given the news on Santonio [Holmes]. He is going to be out for the remainder of the season. It’s a Lisfranc injury that’s going to require surgery. We expect him to make a full recovery, but he will be lost for the rest of the season. Obviously, that’s a big loss for us. Santonio is one of the top receivers in the game and it is a big loss.

With that comes opportunity for other guys to step up. I believe as a football team, especially after this performance last week, obviously disappointing — we disappointed ourselves, and we disappointed our fans — I think our guys are going to step up and I think you’re going to see improvement in our football team, despite the loss of Santonio. Obviously, it’s something we wish didn’t happen to one of our best players, but that’s unfortunately part of this business.

On how the team can bounce back from injuries to Holmes and Darrelle Revis

We do have to rally around each other, for sure. A very similar situation happened in 2009. Obviously it’s a different team right now, but in 2009 we lost, I believe back to back, Kris Jenkins and Leon Washington. It does check the resolve of your team, but that’s one of our strengths. Again, it’s unfortunate, but that’s what happens.

On if there will be a change in the style of offense…

Well, again, if there was going to be any strategic change, I certainly wouldn’t bring it up. I think we have some guys that can play out there, no doubt. I think Chaz [Schilens] is playing well. I think [Jeremy] Kerley is playing well. With Stephen Hill having the hamstring, we’ll see how he progresses through the week. [Clyde] Gates is going to have to step up. A guy with tremendous speed, he’s learning the system, so we’ll see what he can do.

On if he knows the details of Holmes’ surgery…

I do not. My understanding is that he’s going to be back. He’s going to make a full recovery. We have confidence that he’ll make a full recovery and be ready to roll next year.

On if Carlos Rogers' comments are a fair or unfair assessment of the Jets…

No, I think when you look at it, certainly we didn’t play well. It’s obvious we didn’t play as well to his standards either. I think we have a reputation in this league, as being a tremendous defense, and we didn’t play that way. I think that’s the big thing. As far as us quitting, there’s no way. That wasn’t the case. We got beat, there’ no doubt about it, no two ways about it, and we’ve talked about that. I think it does show that other teams expect a lot out of this defense, obviously, not any more than we expect from ourselves.

On if there is a fine line between quitting and playing with a lack of intensity…

No, I think if you look late in the game, I think did we get fatigued? I think we did. I think we wore down a little bit at the end of the game, but there’s no quitting. You’re going to look at that tape and there’s no quitting.

On his message to the team on facing Houston, regarded as one the NFL’s best teams…

I think we have to get better. We can’t worry about who we play. The fact that we’re playing the team that is regarded as the best team in the National Football League, we have to improve ourselves. We have to go back and look at our football team first and we’re trying to do what we’re asking ourselves before we actually get into really game plan specifics against Houston. That’s where the concerns are initially and how we’re going to improve as a football team.

On his level of encouragement after spending the last two days with the coaches…

Again, there are some things that definitely jumped out at me on tape, without question. It's my responsibility — our team can’t play like this, my team can’t play like this, that’s not who we are. I thought we got beat to the punch. I thought San Francisco was more physical than we were, and that’s something we’re not accustomed to.

On if it’s easier or harder to play Houston after playing a similar team in San Francisco…

Well, again, I’d much rather play Summit High School than this team.

On if it’s helpful to face San Francisco, a team somewhat similar in style to Houston…

It’s actually a little different. They’re both very aggressive on defense and things, have tremendous players across the board. But the running game is a lot different. It’s very effective, obviously. They run the ball about as much as anybody in this league, maybe more so. But they do it with a different approach. I think San Francisco was more of a gap-type scheme, power runs, things like that. This is your classic zone-stretch running team. Obviously, they run the ball about as good as anybody. We certainly have to play a heck of a lot better, up front in particular, against this football team.

On Plaxico Burress…

Plaxico, I have a great deal of respect for and obviously, he had eight touchdown catches last year. There are some things he did really well for us. We’re trying to look for guys maybe a little younger and with a little more speed. I think when you look at [Jason] Hill, the guy we just signed, he has those attributes, and that was what I think jumped out at us. We want to get faster as a football team. We think he’s a guy that has some tools. He’s played in this league and we think he can do some good things for us.

On if there was anything Burress did last year that made them shy away from bringing him back…

I had a great relationship with Plaxico and I think he’s a tremendous person. I just think in our situation, we were looking to go a different way. When somebody brings in Plaxico Burress, they’re going to get an excellent football player and a guy that, like I say, I have a lot of respect for. I just think our situation, we always do what we feel is in the best interest of our football team, and for us it was to sign Hill.

On how much of tackling is technique and how much is mindset…

You bring up a great point. Tackling is all about that desire to get this guy on the ground. There’s no question that’s part of it. Fundamentals is another part of it, bringing your feet with you, wrapping guys up, driving inside low number to high number, outside. We all know how to tackle. Head up, see what you hit, all that, but you’re going to miss more tackles when you’re having to make a lot of plays in space.

I think that’s what happened to us as a football team. We were missing a ton of tackles, but some of the tackles, we’re missing, there’s a lot of room. Obviously, when you shorten the area where a guy has to run through, you’re going to be a much better tackling team. I think that’s what happened to us. They were able to get some movement on us that kind of widened holes. We might get a guy to the ball carrier, but it’s such an area in space that it’s hard to make those tackles.

On if losing Holmes and Revis changes his expectations for the team…

No, not at all because we’re a team. Every team goes through some unfortunate injuries. That happens in this league. There’s a 100 percent injury rate in this league. It’s unfortunate, the severity of those injuries, obviously, but no, our expectations are where they always are. Right now, when you look at it, doesn’t feel like it, we’re still on top of our division with two other teams. It looked like all of us were going to be in first place and last place, but Arizona was able to come back on Miami. We know how competitive this league is. We know how competitive our division is, but the fact we lost two excellent football players does not change our expectations.

On if they still have the players to commit to the run on offense the way they did in 2009…

We’ll certainly look at everything we’ve done. We’ve taken these last couple days, looking at some different things. That first year was maybe a bit unusual because we almost set a record in rushing attempts, but will we be that heavy run-wise? I’m not sure. I don’t know if anybody will, but we have to be more efficient in our running game. I think that’s something we’re really looking to do.

On why he is confident the team can perform…

I think our team will be motivated. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. We have to get it done. They have to start by getting it done in the classroom and on the field in practice. That’s where it has to take place and you can’t expect to get better on the game field if you’re not getting better on the practice field. The intensity of practice maybe will pick up a little bit because we all want it. There’s no question this football team wants it. I think we’re self-motivated. As far as me motivating the football team, I’ll tell you this, I’m motivated myself. I’m ready to go.’

On if he has talked to Jason Hill after his comments about the Jets before the Jacksonville game last season…

I haven’t talked to him yet, but I saw him before the game and he was funny, because, remember he never played. After he said that, I go, "Dude, are you serious, you’re not even playing? You can’t call out a guy and not play." He goes, “Please tell those boys I didn’t mean anything by it?” [laughs] They’ll probably have 10 guys jump him at practice [laughter]. We’ll see. I don’t know if he was working himself up to play against Revis. Then when he didn’t play, that was a little different.

On preventing the team from having a woe-with-me attitude after losing two of its best players…

There’s no woe-with-me. This is a resilient football team. There’s no doubt, and we’re a team. Those are some things that are really unfortunate. There’s no question about it, but it doesn’t affect how we go about our business. We just have to get better and we will, but the woe-with-me, how many people are going to feel sorry for the New York Jets? I know the answer to that, nobody. We certainly aren’t feeling sorry for ourselves. We’re ready to go. We’ll roll our sleeves up and we’re going to have at it.

On if Bilal Powell is now the starting running back since he had more reps than Shonn Greene against San Francisco…

No, will we rotate some backs? Sure, there’s no doubt. We’ve always done that. That was definitely a personnel grouping. That’s why he started. When you look at it, he had more snaps because quite honestly, he’s our third-down back, and when you get behind like we were behind, you’re obviously throwing the ball much more. You almost put that third-down offense out there.

On if he is confident Dustin Keller will play on Monday night…

I always feel confident that he’s going to have a chance to get back and I’ve been wrong, so maybe I’ll take the opposite approach and see if we can’t get him out there. But really, I’m not sure. I’m really not sure of where he is. Maybe we’ll know more about it the next couple of days. I don’t think he’s practicing today though, so we’ll just have to see how it goes.

On if Stephen Hill will also not practice today…

Stephen will be out also.

On what they can do to improve tackling…

I think the big thing is you still do what you do. We’ve been a good tackling team in the past. There are certain drills that you do without question, but you do talk about it, you emphasize it and those are things that you do. As far as going to live tackling in a practice, you can’t do that. There’s no way you can do that, but we will thud. We’ll come in there and end every play in a football position. Those are things that you try to do. Obviously, you’ll work drill things. You’ll do tackling circuits, all that type of stuff.

On why he is confident that the team will be motivated to play at a high level…

I know the character of the men in the locker room. That’s what I’ll lean on, without question. Did it go our way in that game? No, absolutely not. A lot of things happened in that game. Whatever could go wrong, did go wrong. There’s no doubt. We may get beat again, but I will never question the character of the men we have in our locker room. I know, in fact, I’m leaning on that and I believe in it full-heartedly, that we’re going to get the best that this team has.

On if there is merit in admitting there is nothing to lose and changing things up as a result…

I see merit in is there maybe things you can do schematically to take advantage of your players? Absolutely, the strength of your players, you absolutely will. That’s really where the focus of a good coach is. You always try to play to the strengths of your players, focus on what they can do, not what they can’t do. Those are things you certainly look at, but as far as "We have nothing to lose," last I checked, we were on top of our division, so we have a lot to lose.

To me, we go about doing things the way we do because we think that’s the right way to do them. We’ve overcome some things in the past. You look at it. You talk about how resilient this football team is, you do go back in the past and there are some things to prove it, the only team in the National Football League history to overcome two three-game losing streaks and make the playoffs. There are things that you can lean on. Lose two players, you’re still able to do it. Does that guarantee that we’ll do it this year? No, but I guarantee you the effort will be there. That’s what I’m looking forward to the most.

Again, the fact we’re playing Houston, when you look at that football team, whew. I understand where everybody is coming from and why they rank this team where they do. That J.J. Watt, whoa. I remember my brother and I talking about him when he came out in the draft and he was hoping that his team would take him. “Oh, we have to get J.J. Watt.” "Boy, no kidding, that would be a great one." He’s even better than I even thought he was. Right now, if you had a vote for defensive player of the year, it would have to be that guy. He's played four games, 7½ sacks, 10 hits on the quarterback, 10 tackles for a loss, six PBUs, two for interceptions. The guy is struggling obviously [laughter].

On if the players are as confident as he is…

I guess you’ll have to ask them, but I know how confident I am. I absolutely know how confident I am. I’m going to lean on them. I’m going to expect a lot from them, but you’re going to have to ask them. I would think we are. That tape though, that tape doesn’t lie. We have to improve. We have to get better and I think we will.
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