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REX: It’s Always a Jet Decision

Posted Jul 28, 2013

Transcript of head coach Rex Ryan's news conference before the Jets' Sunday afternoon training camp practice at SUNY Cortland:

Obviously we had to do some major improvising today with the schedule, but I like the way it went. We got together. We came up with an excellent schedule. The way it is now you have a walkthrough practice first. So we moved that into this indoor thing, where there’s several basketball courts. But it worked out well. The guys were focused. Then we kind of adjusted our meeting times but we’ll be on the turf here at 3:30 so we’ll get our practice in. We’ll warm up and we’ll basically get right to the team aspect. We won’t do the individual drills. We’ll get right to the team deals, 9-on-7, special cat[egory], 7-on-7 and team. So that’ll be good.

But I liked the way the guys adjusted, so here we go, first day in pads. We had to make a little bit of an adjustment. But either way, who looked good in the walkthrough, who knows [joking]. I did make the mistake, I’m sure as most of you did, without the raincoat. That was a mistake. That was coming down today. As any coach, you stay out there. It’s good to get a couple of days in the rain. Sometimes if you don’t get those type of conditions, you’ll actually dunk the footballs and have those types of days. So the plan, we definitely knew it was going to rain. We wanted to go out there but when the lightning came then obviously that changed a lot of the things.

On if he had any flashbacks to the 2010 training camp practice in the rain…

Yeah, absolutely. And you know what? If you don’t have the lightning, we would have gone right at it. But yeah, that was about as good as it gets because you’re doing goal line. It was a goal-line scrimmage. That was fantastic. I will say this, the funny thing about that, as now we saw the thing with Joe Namath, he talked about how he puts his hands and all that stuff, to this day that’s what [Mark] Sanchez does in bad weather. So we got that out of it as well. You hope like heck it happens again in that situation, obviously minus the lightning.

On if Joe McKnight was participating during the walkthrough…

He had a migraine or whatever, but I saw him out there for the walkthrough later.

On how tough it would be to miss a practice…

Well, you know, we’re fortunate. I think, unless it’s going to lightning the whole day, we will get in a practice. This has been five years, that’s the first time that we’ve ever had that indoor walkthrough up there, so it’s been pretty good. Because even if it rains hard, you can go right to turf, so we have great facilities here. The funny thing was I had no idea how to get there, and a lot of players, we had one group go, got dropped off at the weightroom, then it’s like, “Where’s so-and-so?” Oh, they’re in the wrong spot, and then they found their way over there. But the first time in five years.

On if the players will be in pads for practice…

Yes, absolutely.

On the value of losing a practice…

Yeah, you don’t ever want to lose a practice because, again, you want to have some practices in elements, but lightning, obviously, is not one of those elements that we’re looking to have a practice in. But yeah, you want some on the grass, in the rain. Today we’ll be on the turf because it rained so much. During the practice, that’s not a bad thing at all because basically, there’s a lot of different things like when the field’s wet, you can’t drive off your back foot. If you’re a defensive linemen or even an offensive linemen, you have to be more off of your front foot, so that’s an adjustment. Your stance needs to be more balanced.

So those are things that you like to go through through the practice, but no, without question, you don’t ever want to give up a practice because we’re installing. We’re also having opportunities to compete and every day you’re evaluating.

On whether the team was upset that the first padded practice might have been cancelled…

Everybody would’ve loved to stay out there. There’s no doubt, but when the lightning comes, obviously for the safety of everyone, players, coaches, but the fans as well. It wasn’t my decision. When the decision was made, for the safety of everybody involved, that’s why you make that decision. They’re always chomping at the bit to play. The main thing is though, when you really see that amped up is when it’s live. We’re not going to do that now. I want them to carry their pads for a few days and then we’ll have some live drills. But that’s when the fun really starts.

On his reaction to John Idzik saying that choosing the starting quarterback is a team decision…

I’ll sit down and talk to the quarterbacks and ultimately that’s who’s telling the quarterback. So when the guys come in, they talk to me. I tell you guys who the quarterback is. But at no time is it a one-man show. It’s always a team decision. That’s the way it’s always been. And whether it’s been talking about a player, whether it’s talking about the draft. John turned the card in for the draft. There wasn’t one coach or one scout that couldn’t turn the card in. That’s how much in tune that the team is and this organization is.

The decision on who to play, at quarterback in particular? Absolutely that’s going to be, it’s always going to be a New York Jet decision and it’s always been that way, whether it’s me telling you or all that. Now, will I sit down with the quarterbacks and tell them how we’re going to go forward? Absolutely. But again, it’s always a team thing. Everything I always talk about, what we always do, it’s based on three principles. The team, the team, the team. Obviously the decision doesn’t rest on just me or anybody else, any decision involved in this organization.

On whether the winner of the quarterback competition is still his decision to make…

I think you guys are making a mountain out of a mole hill to be honest with you because ever since I’ve been here, this is my fifth year here, not one decision has ever been made by one man, not one decision. And that’s whether it’s who’s up, who’s active, who’s this player, who’s going to be the starter at this and this, who we draft, it's never been like that. It’s always a group effort on what is best for this team. If I misspoke or whatever and misled in any way shape or form, that’s it.

Quite honestly, OK, I’m going to come clean. I don’t like John [joking]. He was a former receiver, so that’s a given [laughter]. He wants to play the 46[defense], I don’t want to, and now he’s twisting my arm and I’m playing more 46 defense [joking]. Guys, it’s not like that. And the funny thing is, there are a lot of new people and all that — this is as close a group as any I’ve ever been with and together where you look at everything, the communication is phenomenal. Every single person, I think, feels they have a voice. Whether that ultimately is a decision of the organization or not, you have a voice. The other thing is you’re in the loop.

The fact that it doesn’t get out all the time, what the decision is, I think is impressive also. But everybody, and when I mention it, the draft was a great process. Obviously, it’s more of a long-term thing, but every scout knew who we were taking, every one of them. Every coach knew who we were taking. Did John ultimately turn the card in? Yes. Will I ultimately turn the card in? Absolutely, but it won’t be just "Hey, you know what? I woke up and I said this guy’s going to start." D’Brickashaw Ferguson is going to start at left tackle. So far, quite honestly, OK, Bruce [Speight, senior director, media relations] made that call and we went with it [joking]. But guys, I want you to understand that’s always been the case, and if I made it sound otherwise on anything, well, this guy wanted him or he wanted him, that’s really not the case because it’s always a Jet decision.

On a head coach’s role in decision-making…

Well, again, guys, when you look at it, it’s interesting. In contrast, and I’m not going to get into specifics, but I’ll say there are a lot of teams in this league where the head coach does not have the final say on who makes the 53-man roster. The coaching decisions, obviously guys it’s going to come down to the coaching staff and the head coach. That’s a given. Who is up on game day, you’re going to do what you think. You’re going try to win the game with :"Hey, here’s what we've got." You’re going piece it together and you’re going set game plans based on what you have. If you’re going to split it apart, then that’s what you do as a team.

To say any team in the league, "Oh, this coach is going to determine who it is," if it’s going to get done, without question, it’ll get done. If I were to say, "This player is my starting safety, OK, he’s my starting receiver, my starting quarterback, my starting corner" or whatever and I've got eight guys who have a difference of opinion and I’m out there by myself, I’m not just going say this guy is starting come heck or high water. That’s not the case. There’s been other times when we sat back, even as a defensive staff where you are like, "I prefer this guy and here’s why," and you have discussions on things. Then you go out and make a Jet decision. I’ve always said it’s a Jet decision.

On if the decision should be his…

It’s so funny, there is no it’s this side and that side. It’s not. Our thought processes are so similar, John and I, we are side by side on almost everything. It’s not surprising when you consider our backgrounds. Both have coaching backgrounds, both grew up in that, we both see players the same way. It’s so smooth. It’s bad. You guys are trying to make it a situation that doesn’t exist. I know I have complete support from John, from Woody, from everybody in this organization. If it was taken a certain way, it shouldn’t be.

On if the opinions of Marty Mornhinweg and David Lee will have the biggest impact on the starting quarterback…

I would think that, you know we’re not going to say that Jeff Weeks is going to have the same input. Again guys it’s how we come about, it’s the process of coming up with it. To say that somebody is going to have more weight than others, the great thing is, Jeff Weeks will have a voice. Now we won’t listen [joking, laughter], but he’ll have a voice. But if he has something, you never know.

I’ll tell you this, we had the same kind of discussion in Baltimore, when we had Joe Flacco. Joe Flacco came in and he was going to be the third quarterback. We had Troy Smith and Kyle Boller. So that’s how we drafted him. Well, the first day I'm like, "Who is this kid? I mean, wow!" and he‘s zipping it. And then you had the first scrimmage or whatever and it’s clear to me that this kid’s got, I mean, great poise. So we go around the room and everyone is talking about the quarterback position and I sit back and go, "The best quarterback is not close. It’s Joe Flacco. It’s not close.” OK, but I was heard, or they nodded, and then that was not going to be our case. We were not going to go that direction. But I at least had the voice out there. I wanted to make sure everybody knew how I felt about the quarterback situation.

Then Kyle Boller is throwing pat-and-go and his shoulder goes out. All right, there goes Kyle Boller. Now Flacco is No. 2. Troy comes down with an illness and now Joe Flacco is No. 1. That’s really how it happened. But everybody had a voice and its funny, they can pretend they listen or whatever, but I certainly gave my opinion of it. I didn’t think we were going to go that route, but I at least had my opinion of it as when we’re talking about guys.

We will meet. All the coaches are there, all the scouts are there, and everybody will have an opinion and then eventually we will make a Jet decision. And guess what, when we do, you will think it’s 100 percent, this is it, we’re all in, because we will be. Sometimes you may have a disagreement on a player or even a guy you draft or whatever, but as soon as you take that player, we are all in. There has been plenty of examples of that here that I won’t get into specifics. The funny thing is some guy who really felt strongly opposed and we go a different way ends up liking that player better than any of them. I mean it’s happened.

But that’s how it’s always been, but I want you to understand that number one, don’t think for a second I don’t feel 100 percent support by everybody in this organization, because I do. Every decision is a Jet decision, the right ones or the wrong ones. Now I’ll take the responsibility for the wrong ones, like I always do for everything. If it doesn’t go right I always take responsibility, OK? That’s the way it goes.

On his statement regarding saying it was his decision to start Greg McElroy last year, and if something has changed organizationally…

No. I just thought that if, why put it on somebody else or whatever, that way you can just ask one person the deal. But at no time was that ever just my decision. I mean, it was always a Jet decision. But I just figured instead of everybody harping on whoever somebody wanted to throw arrows at. If it would come up, it would be launched at me.

On if Idzik sought him out to clarify yesterday’s statements…

No. I talked to Bruce. Bruce came in and said, oh by the way, this and this, and it was. The funny thing is I’m going to tell you about this group. The entire coaching staff and scouting department went out last night. That’s how close this group is. And not because you make them, well half of them [joking], but we all go out and we sit around, we talk, had a water, but you feel that closeness. And I feel like it’s a team. And we try to show it, because I think if your coaching staff isn’t like that, how do you expect your team to be like that? And so that’s important to me. Same thing with the scouting department. Let’s go, let’s bring them. We’ll bring the entire organization next time. I think that’s something where, we probably slipped up. We should’ve made sure that everybody was invited.

On if Chris Ivory will practice today…

I’m not sure. He’s out in pads. I don’t think he’s going to practice. He’s carrying his pads on a bicycle I think. But it won’t be long. He does have that hamstring, and we’re going to proceed with more caution than just throwing him out there. Could he play if it was a game? I’m not sure. That might be a possibility but right now we just want to try to get him back to close to being 100 percent before we put him out there. But he will be carrying his pads today.
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