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REX: Many More Questions About QBs

Posted Dec 19, 2012

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

These guys will not practice today: Dustin Keller, ankle, Stephen Hill, knee, Aaron Berry, hamstring, Chaz Schilens with a knee and a calf, Brandon Moore, hip and foot. These players will be limited in practice today. That’s Sione Po‘uha with a low back, Braylon Edwards, hamstring, Bryan Thomas, chest, Ricky Sapp, ankle, LaRon Landry, heel. And then all these players will be full. That’s Kenrick Ellis, knee, Mark Sanchez, low back, Matt Slauson, knee, Jeff Cumberland, wrist and ankle, Calvin Pace, shoulder, Nick Mangold, shoulder, Bart Scott, toe, Joe McKnight, ankle, Tim Tebow, ribs, Bilal Powell, shoulder, toe, and Garrett McIntyre, hamstring. So that’ll be the injury list.

Things I’ll say about some of these guys: Brandon Moore, I think Brandon will be fine but I think off a short week, they’re just giving him a day, pretty much. Chaz Schilens did finish the game, so we’ll see about him. I'm concerned with Aaron Berry with a hamstring, we’ll see how that goes, I’m not that confident about that for this week. And then Stephen Hill, knee, he’s not going to be able to go this week. Dustin Keller, I’m not real sure about. I was hoping he’d practice some today, but we’ll find out. Obviously, I’ll lean on the trainers for that.

With that, obviously, we’re playing San Diego. This football team is very talented. It’s one of the better defenses in the National Football League. When I look at San Diego, it’s a team that has really done a great job at stopping the run — I believe they’re [seventh] in the league in their run defense — and they attack the football. I think they have 25 takeaways this year and they’re scoring with their takeaways. They’re tied for first, obviously with, I’m sure, Chicago. I don’t know that for a fact but I would imagine it’s Chicago with seven defensive touchdowns. That’s something that obviously will tell you about their mentality on defense, how they attack the football.

And with that defense I think they have the interior guys, they rotate five guys inside and they all do an outstanding job. Corey Liuget, I think his name is, I would just say he’s legit. And then you look at the outside guys, you’ve got Jarret Johnson, one of the toughest guys I’ve ever been around in my life. He’s physical, he gets after it. And obviously you have Shaun Phillips, too, on the outside. They have two excellent corners, both of them first round picks, obviously, [Quentin] Jammer and [Antoine] Cason — those guys have played a long time.

And then offensively, you have Philip Rivers. He's one of the best quarterbacks in this league. I know statistically it’s probably a down year for San Diego’s offense. But again, it’s one they have — I don’t know where they find these guys — but this [Danario] Alexander kid, big, strong receiver. He looks like he’s about 6'5", I don’t know if that’s his height, but he’s a big guy, battles for the ball. And you have the Hall of Fame tight end in [Antonio] Gates. So obviously, it’s going to be a big challenge. [Mike] Scifres, the punter, is a Pro Bowl punter. So they certainly have some talent and we know it’s going to be a tough game.

On who his backup quarterback is…

I think, the way the season is, like right now, this time of year, you kind of reduce your reps. So Greg [McElroy] is going to get, if not all the reps, the majority of the reps. I would really imagine Greg taking all the reps. But we’ll make that decision as the week goes on. There is a possibility that we’ll have all three quarterbacks active this week.

On why McElroy wasn’t active on Monday…

I think we had planned a couple weeks ago that we would’ve had three quarterbacks active, we had an issue come up with a running back. And this past week we went with six receivers up, which obviously is something we certainly would never do it, but we had some issues there at receiver with Clyde Gates coming off a concussion, he really wasn’t cleared until real late in the week so he never got a whole lot of reps. And then obviously, with Braylon Edwards being very limited throughout the week with the hamstring, coming into a brand new system, so we never wanted to be shorthanded there and that was the decision.

On if he would’ve had to change the entire offense if Tebow was made the starter…

No, I think when you look at it, I think it’s more the fact Tim can play quarterback, do our traditional things. But to me, I just kind of made a decision that in my gut I feel that the best thing for our football team is for Greg to be our quarterback now and that’s how I felt about it. I liked the way Greg finished that game, obviously, Arizona, and I like what he does on the practice field. So that was why I made that decision.

On why the Jets traded for Tebow…

Well, again, this season I think there’s a lot of questions, we’re 6-8. Again that’s obviously where we never expected to be going into this week, the first time in my career [as a head coach] that you’re not playing for the playoffs, you’re out of the playoffs. Obviously, I’m disappointed in the season, but ultimately I know I’m the guy responsible and this is my team and we’re 6-8.

On why they brought in Tebow…

I think we had a vision of using Tim different ways. Obviously, we used him as a personal protector, we talked about that. I thought that maybe we would use him in other ways or something, but again, we haven’t run a whole lot of those plays and things. Obviously, the cracked ribs contributed to the lack of playing time. That probably four or five weeks right there. Again, Tim is a great competitor, I knew he was and he’s a good teammate.

On what it says about the organization to trade for Tebow and not use him often…

Again, I think, we’re kind of ignoring the fact that he had two cracked ribs, for about four weeks or something there. But again, did I expect us to maybe have a little more success running the Wildcat? Maybe I did. I’m sure I did. But I know when he did come here, he did it very unselfishly. We had him be a personal protector and I think we saw where that can benefit us, obviously running the fakes but also in our net punting and things. He does a lot of that. He’s a backup quarterback who can do other things and I think that’s really the reason we brought him in here. He’s a good football player. Has it been a perfect situation? I would say we’re 6-8. There’s probably some things that I never anticipated things going. And again, like I say I’m the guy that’s ultimately responsible.

On if the team misjudged Sanchez’s talent when drafting him…

Again, we’re 6-8 so he’s certainly not going to look like that and a lot of guys aren’t, I know I’m not, all of us who are 6-8. But when you take somebody with that pick, you understand there are physical abilities that go with it. Mark has all the physical abilities, he can make every throw. He’s got the athleticism to be a tremendous quarterback.

He’s won a lot of games. I think when you judge quarterbacks, you judge wins and losses. I think his record might not feel like it now, but if you take his body of work, he’s won, I don’t know, maybe the [seventh-]most games, or something like that, since he’s been here as a starting quarterback. So I think there’s some real positives. Obviously this year, has not been a good year for this football team and individually for Mark. From a statistical standpoint it hasn’t been one of his better years either.

On if he sees hope in Sanchez for next season …

I think right now, my concern and my focus is on the San Diego Chargers and then we have the Buffalo Bills. I think any long term discussion would probably be better served for after that game. I’m looking at it that I’m trying to win this game. My attention is right here on this San Diego game.

On Sanchez’s progress over the last four seasons…

There’s a lot of contributing factors. It’s not really on one guy individually. I think collectively we’ve earned that 6-8 record. There’s more guys responsible than just one person. If you are going to say it's one person, then obviously that person has to be me. I’m the guy that’s ultimately accountable. I haven’t shied away from that, not one day.

On if the decision to bring Tebow in was to make him a situational player…

We felt good about Tim being the backup quarterback, but also being a guy that can contribute in other ways, kind of like Brad Smith did for our football team, doing a lot of things, contributing on special teams and also being a Wildcat quarterback. Most backup quarterbacks, you never even see them, they never play a snap. We thought, and I thought, there was value in a guy that can do different things like a Brad Smith, who you can run as a Wildcat guy and so your backup quarterback is also contributing each week. That’s always been determined on we feel, we can run more of these plays or less of these plays. Each week the plan sometimes varies.

On McElroy’s potential…

I definitely think I want to see what Greg can do. I don’t think there’s any doubt. I want to see what he can do. We all know the tangibles he has. He’s a winner. He’s been a winner his whole life. He’s won a National Championship, won a State Championship. His whole resume speaks about him obviously being a very confident guy and a confident leader. He understands that we have to protect the football. That’s where we’re at right now. I also think with the way he primarily has been on the practice field, is something that I’m really excited about, to see how he takes it to the game. Now, the one game evidence we have was against Arizona. He led this football team to a victory. I just think right now at this time, in my opinion, let’s give this young man an opportunity.

On if something is holding Sanchez back from his full potential…

I think our big thing is turning the football over. If you can point at one thing that we have to do better as a football team and what Mark has to do as a quarterback, that’s the thing that I would look at. We have to protect the football. That’s the truth. When you look at him, Mark has won games in this league, it’s not like he hasn’t. It’s hard to win playoffs game in this league and he’s got four of them, all on the road. He has wins against Payton Manning on the road, wins against Tom Brady. It’s not like he doesn’t have the tools to do it. That’s why we did take him with the fifth overall pick.

On Tebow playing a full series…

We actually had that planned even before. We were going to start giving him series and that was unfortunate that he had the rib injury. I wanted to see it. I felt like he looked good on the practice field. It looked like he’s back to being healthy and I wanted to give him that opportunity to see what we can do. We had some plays up that we thought looked pretty good. We were confident that we could move the ball with both quarterbacks. I think unfortunately for us, as the game went on it was all about the turnovers. I thought we moved the ball and averaged about five yards a carry running the football. We made too many mistakes to win the game.

On if Tebow will play the third series again on Sunday…

I many know the answer to that, but I’m certainly not going to say it. That’s a possibility. I’m not going to give away that kind of information.

On why he chose McElroy over Tebow…

It’s clearly my decision and nobody else’s. I just feel like this is the right move. A lot of people here have seen Greg in practice. His arm strength has improved immensely from when he first came in here. It’s a feeling that I have. It’s not slight to this person or that person. I just want to give Greg this opportunity and see what he can do.

On if his perception of Tebow changed based on how he looked in practice…

I really don’t think that’s fair. When you look at it, did I think we would have more success running the Wildcat? At times we have. I think we’ve had 50 plays out of the Wildcat and we’ve had several big plays, 10-yard runs by Joe McKnight, big runs by Tebow a few times. It’s not like it hasn’t been totally ineffective. It just maybe hasn’t been as effective as I had wished. I don’t think it’s placed on Tim or anybody else. I just think that when we ran it before, Brad was averaging about 8 yards a carry. Obviously, if that’s what you’d expect then you’d run it every snap. For some reason it hasn’t panned out that way, maybe to my expectations and maybe Tim’s either.

On why the Wildcat hasn’t been effective…

I think the reason that you’re saying that is that defenses have attacked us a little different than maybe in times past. Maybe that’s a contributing factor to it as well.

On if the team influenced his decision…

No, that’s not it at all. It was strictly my decision. It wasn’t a player coming to me and telling me that. That’s not true.

On if he spoke with any players before making the decision…

The only guy I spoke to was Mark. I told Mark after the game that I was going to make a change. That was really the only player that I talked to.

On if he expects Tebow to be back next year…

If you look at it, right now I’m not looking further than this game against San Diego and we have one more game. We’ll see what happens. My focus has to be with those two games and that’s it.

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