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REX: Long Way to Go, but I Was Encouraged

Posted May 10, 2013

Transcript of head coach Rex Ryan's news conference at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center after Friday's midday rookie minicamp practice:

Today was good. It’s too bad that the team period wasn’t filmed, and not for reasons you might think, but because some of the defenses that we played out there, I would have loved to have got that through the league — there’s no way of recognizing some of the things we played [laughter]. So there’s a little work to do, both sides, obviously.

I always like to challenge guys mentally when they first come here, so you let them know that the process speeds up quite a bit, obviously, in the NFL game compared to college, so I always like challenging guys. The one thing my dad would always say, two things: “Don’t let the only limitations your players have be you as a coach” — I always thought, "How do you not take that personally?" — and the other one, “The players can always do more than you think.” But today, I don’t know if that was proven accurate, because, wow, we made a few [mistakes]. I don’t know if we ever played a defense properly and the same thing offensively. But either way, we have a long way to go.

I was encouraged by the looks of it. I went in and I saw our offensive line. Here’s a group that as people are familiar with us, when you went into the second half of the preseason games, it was like you never wanted your son to play quarterback or running back for us. Hopefully, that will be a little different this preseason, because I think we’ll be able to block some people. But it is an impressive group, when you consider that you have three draft picks on that offensive line and the All-American from Clemson [Dalton Freeman] at center, who looked really impressive to me. It’s a good-looking group. I was impressed with those guys.

I like the way that Geno [Smith] threw the ball in particular. Looked pretty good to me. He can spin it, that’s no surprise there. The guy that stood out at receiver was this young man from Tennessee, I thought he stood out, Zach Rogers, No. 15, he caught a lot of balls out there, slot receiver, I saw him return punts, and he did a good job on the special teams drills as everybody watched, you know, breaking down, form tackling, things like that, so he looked good.

Then on defense, it’s pretty obvious who popped out there. I mean, Sheldon Richardson was good. I don’t want to put expectations too high, but yeah, he was impressive, to say the least. For a tryout, we had Mason Robinson from Rutgers, he was playing some nickel. I like him. The coaches at Rutgers said that no one wanted to fight this guy. I’m like, “Wow, that’s pretty good for a little corner.” Now we’ll have somebody that will fight him [joking], but that’s impressive. I like that Kevin Carty was his coach in high school, so he was bragging about him, friend of mine.

It was to be expected, but man, we made so many mistakes, it’s like, "I have to a better job of teaching." Anytime you’re working with guys, you think you’re doing a great job teaching, and then they get on the field and you realize that you have a lot of work to do as a coach yourself. You take it personally and hopefully we’ll get better as these practices move on.

On what he looks for from a young quarterback…

You kind of listen to the huddle, all that type of stuff. Some guys can’t spit it out, [Smith] certainly can. Those are things you look at, the way he conducts himself, eyes up, all that type of stuff. Then you want to see the ball come out in some kind of rhythm, it’s what you look for as well. Today, the first throw when we go into team, the kid doesn’t play it right, and we’re playing a two-man, I think he’s expecting it, and the Sam is here and he holds, so he had to double-clutch. Well, that really doesn’t work in this league. There are obviously a lot of things that have to get better, but I thought for the most part, he did throw the ball in rhythm pretty well, he was fairly accurate with it. It was good.

On if he was happy to hear that Smith held a meeting with the linemen last night…

Yeah, I think that’s great. It’s interesting, because I thought it was unusual the way he did command the huddle. That was pretty impressive. And the fact that he’s already telling the guys, that’s pretty sharp.

On the criticism that Smith has received…

It’s fair for any rookie to take the criticism — no, I’m just kidding. With us, we just go by what we see. Don’t let someone say, “Well, this guy didn’t do this at our interviews” or whatever. OK, that’s fine. Sometimes guys won’t draft guys or whatever, but for us, we were impressed with Geno and all the other stuff is behind him. The guy was a pretty good quarterback, he completed 70 percent of his passes. What were his touchdowns [in '12, 42 to 6] touchdowns to interceptions? Like I said, I forgot what network was showing them, but I think we saw all the interceptions when we drafted him [laughter]. I think the kid is a pretty decent kid.

On how much time he spent with Smith during the predraft process…

A little bit. I never went to his pro day or anything like that. He came up here, so I had a chance to visit with him and in Indianapolis you only get 15 minutes, but I had a little longer than that, so probably about an hour I’ve spent with him.

On Richardson playing at nose tackle today…

Well, we move them around. Depending on our call, you can have a guy at nose, you can have him at 3-[technique], you can have him at 5-[technique], there are several different things that he can do. But one thing we saw, explosiveness, effort to the football, the guy loves to play, you can already tell that. You could have doubled that practice and he would have been fine. The main thing with us is, in our system, just take a good defensive player and it doesn’t matter. I understand “He should go to a 4-3 team.” Well, half our defense was played in a 4-3 at least. It doesn’t matter. Our thing, just give us a good football player and this system will make a good player great. We’ll see what he does.

On Richardson comments that he was overly aggressive at times…

There’s that old saying, “You can always slow them down. It’s hard to speed them up.” That’s a good thing.

On if drafting Richardson was the reason for moving Quinton Coples to outside linebacker…

Well, it depended on what the draft presented to us. When John [Idzik] was talking about “Hey, well there’s a chance we may be able to get him,” all of us were like, “Really? That would be awesome.” It happened, so we could definitely do that. But if Quinton doesn’t do a better job in the weightroom, he’ll have to compete, like anyone else, for a job. So I’m a little disappointed in Q in the weightroom in the last day.

On reports Smith showed “diva” behavior in predraft visits…

Maybe I don’t know what diva behavior looks like, but he certainly didn’t do it here. He’s a football player that you can tell loved the game, very knowledgeable about his system. I never saw that at all.

On having Coach Mornhinweg as the offensive coordinator…

I think with Marty, his reputation speaks for itself. Results are what they are and they’re hard to hide when you’ve been as successful as Marty. Guys step in and they have that understanding and he’s got a presence — that’s important. He’s the leader of that side. For me, there’s a chance that we may have six or seven new starters on defense, so my time is going to be spent over there.

On coaching against a Mornhinweg offense…

Well, I think the way he can spread the field, he can spread the ball, the tempo. It’s not like it’s designed for just one guy. I certainly like the way he does things and you’re right, it was very challenging.

On talking to N.J. Gov. Chris Christie about lap-band surgery…

To me, anyone that is morbidly obese, I recommend that lap-band. I’ve been upfront about it because I know what it’s meant to me, 115 pounds and things like that. But as far as the conversation specifically with Gov. Christie, I’ll just keep that as a private conversation and let you talk to him if he wants to share something about it.

On how important it is for Dee Milliner to work on the mental side because he can’t practice…

It’s huge. Through the walkthrough, he’s a very sharp guy. Firing the questions at him the whole time, in the meetings and stuff like that, and we’re a little different, in the meetings we teach the entire system, so we’ll ask him defensive line questions and everything else. He’s sharp. But it is. He’s got to nail down the mental part because he’s not going to be able to physically do it. We’ll see. Hopefully at training camp he’s ready to roll. Clearly, he’s showed in college he is familiar with the coverages. Several of the coverages that Alabama plays are some of our coverages as well.

On saying he's "disappointed" by Coples in the weightroom yesterday…

Yeah, yesterday. He’s been doing great, but anytime I have the chance to get him, I’m going to, because I expect so much from him and if he lets up a little bit then we’re going to make sure he knows it.

On what advice he’ll give Smith…

Part of that is you don’t really need to say a whole lot. Quarterbacks command that respect and all that type of stuff. He has to know this offense better than his teammates know it. He understands it. Anybody that you talk to at West Virginia will tell you that. He knew it. He studied it more. He prepared harder than anybody. That’s all, just be himself, that’s the big thing, he already knows how to do it. This guy has been playing quarterback, been the leader of his football team for years.

On if Coples will drop in coverage or always rush the passer…

He’s not strictly going to go after the quarterback, there’s times when we’ll have him cover some in space. He’s got the athleticism and he’s got the length to be able to do that. But again, he’s not just going to be restricted to playing outside, he’ll play inside. We’re going to use him in multiple ways. He is sharp, mentally, he’s a sharp kid. He’s done a good job so far. It’s not like we’re running routes or anything, but we just walkthrough the stuff, he’s got a pretty good grasp of it, I think, so far. Now, most of the time he’s going forward, I don’t think we’re going to trick too many people, he is going to be going towards that quarterback most of the time.

On if he expects Milliner to be ready for training camp…

Yeah, I do.

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