Transcript of head coach Rex Ryan's morning news conference before the Jets' Friday afternoon practice at the Atlantic Health Training Center:
First off, knock it out, guys that won’t practice today:
I thought yesterday’s practice, when looking at it, obviously, a tad breezy out there. It reminded me of the old western Oklahoma days. Quite honestly, if the wind’s blowing like that, we’ll be ready for it, but it’s almost like you had to throw to half the field, that’s how breezy it was. Our punting, that was interesting watching them play in those conditions. But I understand it could be cold, it could be breezy out there, so we’re going out and practice in the elements and be ready for it. I’m not trying to send a message to San Diego that it’s going to be really breezy out here but I think it may be.
I think you see that raw ability that he has. I think as the season was going on, I think his confidence picked up a little. Obviously, he was inconsistent, had some big games right out of the gate, the two touchdowns, made some nice plays. Then he had some drops and things, but he was working extremely hard and I thought I saw more confidence in him as it was going on. And then, unfortunately, he gets hurt again. So he was hurt a couple of times. Actually, with both his knees, and it’s unfortunate because you really wanted to see what he could do as the season went on. But I think that’s really sums up his year.
On if Hill will need surgery…
No, I don’t know anything about that. I don’t believe surgery’s going to be required.
On the likelihood Keller will play Sunday…
The more he doesn’t practice, the less it looks like it. I’m not sure, but again, this will be the second day he doesn’t practice, so obviously it doesn’t look as good as I had hoped, that’s for sure.
On the injuries at wide receiver…
Unfortunately, that’s kind of been almost the way the season’s gone. It’s been first, obviously, the injury to [Santonio] Holmes. Whether it’s Stephen Hill out, even [Clyde] Gates, we pick up Gates, he looks like he’s doing really well, he gets a concussion. You have Chaz fighting multiple things. It’s just kind of been that way. You pick up a guy on a Wednesday and he’s playing on Sunday. So it’s not an ideal situation. We’ve had more injuries at that position I think than really anytime I can remember since being here. But it’s definitely not an ideal situation.
On Keller's injury not being ideal for the offense and Sanchez…
I think in the Buffalo game he only played like six plays. So remember, he was out for five or six games himself and then he’s had this as well. Obviously it hasn’t been. And it’s uncharacteristic because in has been durable up until this season, he had two different issues. I think there is. I think Mark’s familiar with Dustin. Dustin, from an athletic standpoint, a lot of times is a mismatch for you, as a tight end. And clearly, you’re going to miss that, I don’t think there’s any doubt, you miss that.
Not taking anything away from Jeff Cumberland. I think Jeff’s done a nice job for us, I think he’s getting better. And then Konrad [Reuland]'s not, obviously, doesn’t have the tools of a Dustin Keller, but there are really very few guys with his athleticism, I think. Obviously, we’ve missed that.
On what DE
I think now, he’s kind of hitting his stride a little bit. He’s more familiar with expectations here, how we do things. And then we try to use him multiple ways, I think that initially might have hurt him but I think now it’s helped him. We’re able to take advantage of the type of skill that he has. But I think going forward, this is going to be a guy that’s going to be obviously a huge part of what we do in the future. And I think it’s rare to get a guy with his kind of height, weight, speed.
Now, you watch him on the practice field, and I’m sure you guys have noticed it as well as I have, he’s a different player on the practice field now. I mean, he’s really learned how to practice. I think that was something that sometimes takes time, but you’re seeing it, I know I’m seeing it, as the year goes on. I mean, he’s flying around for loose footballs, he’s running around all the time, his technique is getting much better.
But if there’s one thing that he’s really going to have to improve on, I think maybe playing the run, his technique in playing the run sometimes, I think that’s an area where he can really improve. I think he’s made strides in that area, but I think he can get much better at that as well.
On if they’re going to trade Sanchez in the offseason..
Again, that didn’t come from me or anything else. Anything that is dealing with the future past Buffalo, I think will be handled, obviously, after that. So whatever the decision will be, will be handled then. It’s not something that I’m concerned with or right now. We have two games to play and that’s where my focus is. So that’s news to me.
On if it’s a possibility that Sanchez will be traded…
Whether it’s not a ringing endorsement or whatever, if that’s a true statement, if it’s not a true statement, I have absolutely zero focus on that right now. My focus is on these two games that we have left and that’s it. So everybody knows that I’ve been a supporter of Mark Sanchez. I think he has the skill set to be a good quarterback in this league. And we won a lot of games with him. But again, that’s for another day. I think right now, it’s about these two games for me.
On OC Tony Sparano’s performance this season…
Well, first off, I would think we’re running the football, we’re a top-10 rushing offense, right now I think, in yardage. I think that’s been impressive. The other numbers, like as far as total offense and different numbers, obviously, that’s not to where we would like those numbers to be.
But as far as Tony’s concerned, I see the work ethic he has, he never flinches. We’ve mentioned about the receiving corps, for instance, that’s been a troublesome area in the fact that we’ve had so many injuries. And maybe that’s not the word, but it’s trying and challenging for sure, and I think I just know the kind of work ethic he has and the drive that he has. Obviously, the numbers say that we’re struggling, I think we’ve struggled as a football team. But I know the kind of work ethic and the commitment he has to getting the job done and I see some things that we’re getting much better at. I think our protections are much better than they’ve been in the past, and I think the way we’re running the football is very encouraging to me.
On if he overestimated the Wildcat…
Well, it hasn’t worked out, and you guys would have the numbers more than I would even. We have had some big plays out of it. For whatever reason, it hasn’t had quite the success that I thought it would. But again, we’ll see, we have two games left, we’ll see what happens there. I think teams are more aware of going against it.
But I will say this: I think the way the future of the NFL is, and the guys that are playing that position, you’re going to have to be aware of it. People are running different things, versions of the Wildcat and things. You see it in Washington, you see it in Seattle, you see it different places. We’ve tried, we haven’t been quite as successful as what I thought and maybe what Tony thought as well.
On if there have been offensive improvements this year…
I’m not going to get into the this and that. I thought Brian Schottenheimer did an outstanding job for us. I thought just to ignore the fact that we went to two [AFC Championship] playoff games under Schottenheimer when I was here, I don’t think you can overlook it.
I think we have made improvements. I think we’ve made improvements in our protection. I think we’ve made improvements in the running game. I think obviously, from a statistical standpoint, we haven’t been as efficient in our passing game as we might have been in the past. It’s not like we were ever New England or somebody, but clearly that’s an area that we’ve struggled in this year. The big thing to me is the turnovers. I think that’s an area where we have to get better as a football team.
On if Coach Sparano will return next season…
I think with any situation, whether it’s a staff or whatever, you know the policy of this organization is not to discuss those things until the appropriate time, which would be after the season.
I think Mike DeVito, when you mention that, he had eight tackles [against Tennessee]. That’s impressive. When you watch that game, that might have been his top game since I’ve been here. He was absolutely tremendous. A lot of focus is going on
On Michael Vick…
[Laughing] I think I’ll focus on the players we have on this roster instead of somebody else’s players.
On if younger players will get more playing time the next two games…
The younger players are certainly going to get the opportunity, Quinton Coples, Bilal Powell, Vlad Ducasse. We’ve been playing those guys throughout the year and that will continue. I would think Quinton Coples you’ll see more of. I’d like to see Kenrick Ellis more as well. I think Kenrick’s a guy that unfortunately had the injury. He was playing well initially in the season and then he got hurt. Absolutely I want to see some of these young guys play.
I’m excited about
On where McElroy’s focus should be the next two weeks…
I think you go in, he’s starting and the ball is in his hands. You approach it like you’re the starting quarterback, like he is. Let’s see what he can do. The main thing is we have to find ways to win the game and be smart. We have to protect the football, but let’s see what he can do.
On making decisions on offense…
I think, first off, I know what it looks like. I’ve had to defend the best offenses in this league for years and years, so I know what it looks like. Also, I realize that every team is not going to have Tom Brady. I’ll be honest with you, if we had Tom Brady I’d be happy with that. We don’t but there’s only maybe one or two other guys that would be in that, whether it’s New Orleans [Drew Brees] or Peyton Manning.
Again, you have to look at your situation. I know what an NFL player looks like. We have a lot of them here. If people want my opinion or whatever when we do that, I certainly have a voice on every decision that goes into this team. I’ve been around the game all of my life. I do know what it looks like. With that, I hope I answered your question.
On who will be the backup quarterback Sunday…When I’m ready to let you guys know, I’ll let you know that. Quite honestly, Greg got every single snap in practice. When you cut down reps, he needs to do that. That’s really where my focus is, making sure he’s prepared. Sometimes as a backup quarterback you don’t get the snaps, yet you have to go in, just like Greg did when he filled in for Mark, you have to be ready to go. To answer your question, I’m not ready to do that.