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REX: Let's Talk About Jacksonville

Posted Dec 6, 2012

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

All right, let’s talk about Jacksonville since we talked about the quarterbacks all yesterday. When I look at this group, the first thing that jumps out at you is I’m familiar with their safeties obviously, I think they’re doing a good job. Dwight Lowery, obviously, was here. He closed out a game the other day with an interception and I’m like, "Oh, there’s the Closer.” He makes plays for them, he’s playing well.

Dawan Landry is, I think, one of the most underrated guys in this league. He’s a young man that I had at Baltimore and as everybody I’m sure knows, the brother of LaRon. Two different personalities, to say the least, and they play the exact same position and all that stuff. It’s just amazing how they play the same position and all that kind of stuff. I’ve had both of them and both of them are great to be around. But they are so different and it’s just amazing how they play the same position and they’re brothers and all that, but their personalities are so different. And their games are a little different. But he’s doing a great job out there. I think he’s definitely an impact player for them as LaRon is for us.

And then you have our old friend [Paul] Posluszny over there, the old Bill, and he’s flying around doing his thing. I know their ratings aren’t that high and all that, but they have some good players over there on defense.

And then offensively, this [Justin] Blackmon kid, he’s now what everybody expected him to be. You see the kind of skillset that he has, big, fast, strong guy that can run after the catch. So that’s going to be, obviously, a great matchup. They know, we’ll put Cro [Antonio Cromartie] on him most of the time, they know that, so that’s going to be a really good matchup there. And they have this giant tight end in Marcedes Lewis, a big guy. Is a combination, does it all. So he’s like a throwback-type tight end that can block, run, catch, red zone threat, so he’s certainly a big weapon for them. I’m happy to see that Maurice Jones-Drew’s not playing this week. I wish he was playing, but I’m happy he's not playing this week.

And then the big difference for them, when you look at the tape from earlier in the season and then where they’re at now, Chad Henne has stepped in and offensively I think they’re averaging over 26 points a game since Henne became the starting quarterback or played. I think that’s something about him. He pushes the ball down the field more than [Blaine] Gabbert did, so that’s something we have to be aware of.

I’m not sure if Cecil Shorts will play. Obviously, he had the concussion, got knocked out in the past game, made a nice catch on a touchdown, got hit in the end zone, looked like he kind of got a little dinged, and then a few minutes later that’s when he got knocked out. So I’m not sure about his availability. But he’s done a good job for a young man to step in. I think he’s averaging 19 yards a catch and seven touchdowns so he’s had quite a year for him.

On the injuries…

Let’s go over them all right now and then we’ll get into specifics. Guys that won’t practice today: Clyde Gates with a concussion, and he seems to be doing better. I think next week will be three weeks from the concussion I believe when he got hurt, so hopefully he’ll be up next week. Dustin Keller, ankle, won’t practice, LaRon Landry, heel, and it’s not been new there for LaRon, that’s just how we go about practice.

The guys that will be limited today: Sione [Po‘uha] with his low back, Tim [Tebow] with his ribs, Joe McKnight, ankle/ribs, Brandon Moore, hip, Stephen Hill will be limited today with a knee. And then all these other players that I’ll mention will all practice full today. That’s Kenrick Ellis, knee/low back, Bilal Powell, shoulder, Mark Sanchez, low back, Matt Slauson, knee, Jeff Cumberland, wrist, Calvin Pace, shoulder, Nick Mangold, shoulder, Jeremy Kerley, heel/hamstring, Bart Scott, toe, Aaron Berry, quad, Ricky Sapp, ankle, Mike DeVito, shin, Lex Hilliard, finger, and Chaz Schilens, knee. So all those guys will be full.

On when Hill injured his knee…

I think sometime during that game [against Arizona]. He played, so I don’t think it was that big. We held him out yesterday but he’s doing really well, did a good job yesterday in rehabbing. Today he’s limited, so hopefully, we think he’ll play.

On Keller’s ankle injury…

I’m not sure. The fact he hasn’t practiced in two days, I know he is getting better, so we’ll see how it goes. I’m not willing or ready to rule him out, certainly, but this is the second day that he’s missed, but I know he’s getting substantially better.

On the defense moving up in statistical rankings…

Yeah, but sometimes that’s misleading because I think the week before we’re like 14th or something like that. New England, obviously, we had some, like I mentioned, they’re a good football team, we had some mental breakdowns, you can’t do that against that team and they get obviously, two huge touchdowns, long touchdowns against us. But I’ve said before, this team, statistically, we got pummeled by Seattle but I think defensively we played pretty decent in that game. And then we started trying to create turnovers and all that stuff to where we’re not tackling, we’re just trying to get the ball out. Sometimes that happens to you. But I think, since we’ve come off the break, I think our defense has played much better. Obviously, the New England game, notwithstanding, but I think the rest of the season I think we’ve tightened things up and played much better.

On if they are running the ball better…

No doubt, and it’s funny because I forget who wrote about it but it was, I think it might’ve been [Mark] Cannizzaro or something, where I saw with over the last two months we had averaged 4.3 or something like that a carry. And I think that the proof’s in the pudding right there. At the beginning of the year, we were much less, but then the funny thing is, that’s where I learned about it. I always felt like it was going that way, but I saw it and I think, I’m not sure about the article, but I think that was said. And I was like, "Wow, it’s right there."

On if the running game is improving because they are taking a backfield-by-committee approach...

The fact we’re healthy, I think does. We have some guys that are pretty good backs, talented guys, Bilal Powell, Joe McKnight, obviously, is an explosive athlete. We just can’t seem to get Joe healthy, but when he’s healthy he certainly has some game-breaking ability. And we’ve seen that out of the backfield and obviously, as a kick returner. But it’s just trying to get him healthy. And then you have Shonn [Greene] and I think Shonn’s having a good year. It’s just, obviously, as a team we’re struggling. I think his individual performance, I think, Shonn is running the ball well this year.

On the run game having a spark against Arizona…

It seems we were running the ball fairly effective in that game. But that’s kind of the way it is. Sometimes the running game takes a little bit of time. You stay with it and all the sudden those three yard gains become five yards and six yard gains. And that’s really how good running games work. When Seattle was running the ball on us, or San Francisco ran it well on us, they got better as the game went on. That’s the same thing. That you stay with it, you stay the course. With the style of backs that we have, primarily Shonn, he will get better as the game goes on because he’s a big powerful back, that like I say, you may stop him early in the game but after a while, he kind of grinds on you. And we have a big, physical, offensive line that we think we can move some people.

On the running backs increased performance when McElroy was in the game…

I think they knew the challenge really was on them for the game anyways because we knew that was a good front seven we were up against. Our offensive line had to take it upon themselves and I think they do that each week.

On why the backs have not caught as many passes this year…

It’s interesting that you brought that up because that’s exactly right. You are trying to throw the ball down the field. That’s why our percentage maybe isn’t as high as it’s been. We’re averaging, I believe, a higher yards per reception. We’re not checking the ball down as frequently, but if it’s in your progression to check it down, then go ahead and check it down. That’s what we need to do. Obviously, when you lose a back like LaDainian Tomlinson, who was one tough guy to cover, there’s no question he was very skillful at that. We thought it would drop off a little, but I’d like for our backs to catch the ball a little more.

On if Coach Sparano’s emphasis is getting the ball down the field…

Even when you look at it when Tony was in Miami, where their yards for completion were way up there, almost all of their skilled position guys were averaging 15 yards a catch, even the tight ends. I think we knew that was going to be part of it, but we’d also like to take those shots. Sometimes when you’re so far out of the zone, you can get those checkdowns.

On if Tim Tebow practiced more yesterday…

He did practice more. Again, I’m still not ready to say that I’m comfortable with his health right now. We’ll see how he does today, but he did work quite a bit more with the scout team, more than he did before.

On if Tebow will travel to Jacksonville if he is inactive…

I don’t know, I never thought about it. I don’t see why not. I would say yes he would travel.

On if he knows who will be the backup quarterback on Sunday…

Right, I’m not willing to say that just yet. I want to go through the week and I’ll make that decision.

On if he had confidence putting McElroy in based on how much time he spends studying film…

Yeah, absolutely. Like I said, a lot of times, guys as backup players, you don’t get the reps that other guys get. You have to get them through film a lot of times. I was confident that he absolutely knew it, I had no doubt he would know what the game plan was and be able to function in it, without question.

On if he altered the practice schedule…

Yeah, I did, because it was getting darker and colder out there so I did alter the schedule a little bit. We’ll back off of a couple of plays per period. We’ve shortened the reps up a little bit by two snaps a period I believe.

On if the schedule is always altered midseason…

Yeah, absolutely. It’s what we always do.

On if brothers LaRon and Dawan Landry are different…

Absolutely, you guys see LaRon, so you can imagine, just go one extreme to the other. But they’re both beautiful. They are great people, are passionate guys about the game. They are very similar that way. They’re both great teammates and they love to play the game. It’s funny because they just approach it differently. When I had Dawan, he came in as a fifth-round pick from Georgia Tech and we needed a safety. I remember Ozzie [Baltimore GM Ozzie Newsome], saying, "Ozzie, you just drafted another running back." We had just picked up Mike Anderson. We had a whole stable of backs. I said, "Really, I still don’t have a safety." Literally, we had lost a bunch of safeties.

So we get this kid in the fifth round and Ozzie says, "Trust me." I say, "Ozzie, I do trust you." We get this kid in the fifth round and we have someone else ahead of him, but I’m looking at him and I say, "Wow, this guy knows his stuff." He practices like crazy. They’re similar that way, he just doesn’t smash his own guys the way LaRon does. But wow, he practices. I remember the owner, he says, “Who do you think will start at safety, this player or that player?” "No, no, no, our rookie is going to start." It was obvious then to me, and we never looked back. He had some great numbers. He had five interceptions, [three] sacks, about 100 tackles his rookie year.

Then [Washington] brings in his hotshot brother [in 2007], who was not fifth round, but the [sixth overall] pick. I said, "Yeah, my guy has better numbers." But then you see both of them. They both are great players and they just do it a little differently. I’m really proud of the way Dawan has handled himself and he’s going to be a guy who has a 10-year career, I don’t think there’s any doubt.

On if he feels his job security is tied to the success of Sanchez…

No, what I mean is that obviously we need to win. This is a big decision in determining wins and losses, the play of your quarterback a lot of times. No, I don’t feel that my future is tied in with how we do things. Obviously, this is a winning business and I know that. If you’re a head coach in this league, as [Former Baltimore head coach] Brian Billick told me the other day, “There have been 111 head coaches that have come and gone over the last 10 years,” so it’s probably not the most job-secure thing.

But one thing that can affect job security is winning. Everybody wants that. It’s what our fans want, it’s what Woody [Johnson] wants, it’s what we all want, obviously, it's what I want. I think this decision is a big one, though. The fact is that there are two positions where you can lose a game fastest in this league, quarterback and cornerback. I have confidence in Mark. I am 100 percent confident in my decision and I believe I got this decision right.

On his perceived loyalty to Sanchez…

I think I’m loyal to all of our players, I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. But I also have a responsibility to this football team, and that’s to put the best guys out there that give us a chance to win. I believe I’ve made the decision here to go with Mark because it’s something I believe in.

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