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REX: Our Fans Could Very Well Be the Difference

Posted Sep 26, 2012

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

I think going against San Francisco, I’m glad were playing at home, because I think we’re going to need our fans. Hopefully, that will be a big edge for us, to have home field advantage, get our fans behind us. I think that will give us a big boost, because quite honestly this football team right here is loaded.

When you look at them, starting on their defense, when we evaluate players, our pro personnel department, they start with blue, red, white, whatever it is, but the grades, when you have a blue, means you’re Pro Bowl, or not even Pro Bowl but All-Pro. They have, in our evaluation, seven blue players on defense alone. When you look at it, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that many. When you look at them, they certainly are deserving of that. Both of their inside linebackers are tremendous athletes, run/hit guys. They fly around and never come off the field, except [Patrick] Willis came off obviously in that last game with a little bit of an ankle. I understand he’ll play. I was going to call Harbs [Jim Harbaugh] up and make sure that he doesn’t play, but I don’t think he’s going for that, so you start with those two.

Then you have the two bookends with [Ahmad] Brooks and Aldon Smith. Obviously, Aldon Smith last year had the 14 sacks, half a sack away from the rookie record last year, so that’s impressive right there. I think Justin Smith is about as good as there is at D-line. I remember when he came out of Missouri as a first-round pick, went to the Bengals for years, but wow, he was a great player then, but he’s an even better player now. You look at the secondary and you’ve got [Dashon] Goldson, the Pro Bowl safety with the six picks. He’s a big, physical guy. He can do it all. Was a corner in college. That’s what you’re looking for at that position, obviously. Oh, and by the way, [Donte] Whitner is the other safety, a throw-in. It’s a great group of safeties. Their corners, with a Pro Bowler, [Carlos] Rogers, with six picks. This is obviously a very deep and talented defense.

I know their coordinator well. He’s probably a blue also, a guy named Fangio, Vic Fangio — a great coach. I had the pleasure of coaching with Vic in Baltimore for a couple of years. He has a tremendous work ethic and is a great football coach.

Offensively, you look at that offensive line, I think you start with that offensive line, you have two Pro Bowlers on the left side, with [Joe] Staley and [Mike] Iupati. The right tackle I think will be a future Pro Bowler, that [Anthony] Davis kid, from right here at Rutgers. He’s a tremendous player, a very talented guy. The right guard’s a giant, Ohio State kid [Alex Boone], I think he’s 6’8”, 320. And then [Jonathan] Goodwin is a veteran center. That’s a solid group.

Vernon Davis, to me, is the premier tight end in football, 4.3 speed. They have Frank Gore back there, who’s had more 100-yard games than any back since 2005 with 30 of them. He’s pretty good. Oh, and that’s right, the quarterback has a 102 quarterback rating, Alex Smith.

True story, I had never met Alex Smith before and I’m at a Super Bowl function and I heard someone say Aaron Rodgers and all that. I said, “Oh, hey, Aaron Rodgers, good luck to you,” at some function. I’m like, “That’s not Aaron Rodgers.” It was one of those deals. You know he’s going to try and get me back for that one. [laughing] Obviously, Alex is a tremendous quarterback, great athlete. Like I said, the thing that’s impressive, you talk about game managers, this guy is much more than a game manager. When you look at a stat, of his last 250 throws, he’s thrown one interception. The guy’s smart with the football and he’s a good athlete. He’ll run with it when it’s not there.

At receiver, clearly they made an emphasis of improving their receiving corps. They go out and they obviously get Randy Moss as a free agent, they get [Mario] Manningham as a free agent. They have the first-round pick that’s not even active for them with the [A.J.] Jenkins kid out of Illinois. Obviously, that was an area they wanted to improve. They’re very talented. [Michael] Crabtree, I think is an outstanding route runner. He’s really doing a great job for them. They have plenty of weapons for sure over there. Greg Roman, I coached with Greg, another outstanding coach.

It’s funny, the teams are similar. You’ve got both offensive coordinators are very imaginative, very creative guys. Both of them are offensive line mentality. Both of them are powerlifters. I know [Roman] is a great powerlifter. smart, creative, innovative guys, and tough guys. That’s what they have right there with Greg Roman as well.

Then special teams, they were the No. 1 special teams unit in all of football last year, with the Pro Bowl kicker, obviously, and a Pro Bowl punter in Andy [Lee]. The big lefty out there, I’m drawing a blank. Akers? What’s his name? Yeah, [David] Akers. I’m trying to disrespect him [joking]. Just kidding. The guy has like a 30th-degree black belt. I’m not going to mess with that guy [laughter]. Either way, it’s a great unit, and that’s why it matches up well.

I think from their coaching staff, I know them very well, outstanding coaching staff with assistants, the players. This should be one heck of a game and that’s why I’m challenging our fans, that they could very well be the difference. We need you. We need the fans out there to be supportive, make it as tough as possible on them. We obviously have to do a great job on the field.

On the challenge of matching the 49ers physical play…

It definitely is a physical challenge and things, but smart — they give you a lot of different things, a lot of different formations, personnel groups, so you have to be on top of it. Mentally, you have to be sharp and then physically, a physical challenge going up against that kind of talent over there, obviously, is going to be a tough matchup as well.

On how they will compensate for not having Darrelle Revis

Well, I’d love to have Darrelle, I wish Darrelle was playing and all that. But we have to move on and we will. I like our plan going into the game and sometimes we’ll do multiple things, and that’s how we’re going to approach it.

On where the defense is ranked statistically…

The most important numbers are the 2-1 record. Obviously, that’s the most important one. But when my twin brother is number one in the league in defense and we’re 21st, that stings a little bit, there’s no question. I’m proud of him, but like I said, he can be two, that’d be fine with me. Clearly, we need to improve and definitely in two major areas. And we will definitely be challenged this week in those areas, the run defense, and obviously our third-down defense. Those two areas in particular have to improve for us.

On the run defense…

I think certainly, you don’t want teams running the football on you. There’s times when you’re willing to give up some runs, but there’s other times when, quite honestly, we haven’t played run defense to our standards, without question.

On if he needs to change things schematically to improve run defense and third down defense…

If I did I wouldn’t say anything about it.

On how defensive meetings have been knowing Revis is not playing…

We’ve always said Darrelle, in my opinion, is the top defensive player in the league and he allows you to do different things. He’s not in there, so your plan adjusts. Like I said before, we are super fortunate to have Antonio Cromartie, who in my opinion, is a number one corner. Clearly, that’s going to be his challenge and Kyle’s coming in to be a starting corner, we know he has that talent. But it’s across the board, where our guys have to improve. We have to take it all on ourselves, each man has to pick it up a little bit. We’re very confident in the group that we have.

On if he handled defensive meetings differently now that Revis is out…

That’s every week, though. Every week you challenge, each coach has specific things that they’re really in charge of as far as getting it on paper. Then we do sit around, we throw things back and forth. The plans never stay the same, there are always adjustments and things like that, and this week was no different.

On if he will take more gambles in terms of rushing the passer…

I like what’s on our back end, but that’s something you definitely, you want to keep people off balance. Sometimes you pressure when they think you’re going to cover, sometimes you cover when they think you’re going to pressure, or you give simulated pressure, that’s what we always do. That’s certainly a possibility, that we could be more aggressive. I mentioned it with the ‘85 Bears, the ‘85 Bears had three college safeties and a college receiver in their backend, but they’re pressure was so intense that the ball had to come out extremely early or you got sacked 81 times or whatever it was, 72 times or whatever it was that the NFL record is.

On rushing the passer…

Well, it’s hard to rush the passer when teams are running the ball on you as effectively as they are, so I think that’s certainly been an issue. Again, we need to get in positions where we can beat guys one-on-one and things like that. That’s something that we have to do.

On reports that the NFL reached an agreement with the NFLRA…

Well, really, that’s news to me, number one, but if that’s the case, all we can do, and all I’m going to do, is get our team football team ready to play. No matter who’s out there officiating, that’s the job of any head coach. I can’t concern myself with who is officiating or not, we just have to get our team ready.

On why he didn’t use timeouts with 1:45 left in the half at Miami…

I thought about it going in, and on the first down calling it. I was actually trying to keep them running, was going to save one timeout, use it on second and third down and then they threw an incompletion. So whatever the case was, when we had the penalty, they ran the one play and I believe there was an injury or something on the play, but either way, as it worked out, hindsight being 20-20, I probably should’ve used them and forced them to punt. I probably could’ve done a better job of that.

On Reggie Bush’s comments about Revis’ injury…

My thing is, when I said “hot sauce," it means you have to pour a ton of attention on him. He’s going to get a ton of attention, just like Vernon Davis is going to get a ton of attention this week. Frank Gore is going to get a ton of attention this week. That’s kind of what I was meaning by it. I guess he took it a different way or something like that. I respect this game and I respect the players in this league, the men that play in this league, they’re special people. By no means do I ever want to see anybody leave a field due to an injury.

But with that said, I want to be physical. We want to hit guys, there’s no question about that that you want them going back to the huddle, "Do I really want to stick it in there hard because I’m going to get hit." That’s something you definitely want. We want to be as physical as we can, but I never want to injure a player. I think he misinterpreted what I was saying, and clearly it’s not just the New York Jets losing a great football player, but the NFL loses a great football player in Darrelle Revis.

On Bush’s comment…

I think he definitely misinterpreted my comment. The next time we play him, he’s going to get attention from us, because he’s a great football player. It’s almost a compliment, taken a different way.

On if winning the close game at Miami gives the team confidence …

I think any time you can win games like that, that go back-and-forth, I think that is huge. I think it does give you confidence in close games that you’ve been there before and you can find a way to win. I think that’s important. Clearly, a couple years ago, you made mention of that, when you looked, we got in the playoffs. That’s when we beat Indianapolis and even moving forward, had a close game with New England. Even when we got down to Pittsburgh, we never thought we were out. We knew we could come back. Why? Because we had come back in previous games. It definitely builds your confidence when you can win games like that.

On Sanchez struggling early, but making big plays in the fourth quarter at Miami.…

You look at everything because there are some guys, if it’s going bad, it goes bad the whole day. Mark is not like that. There might be times where maybe it’s not going perfect, but at the end of the game, and that’s what this team has, a huge belief that we’re going to win anyway, just because Mark actually gets at his best at the end of those games. He has done that throughout his career. You always feel like we have a chance.

On if any players at other positions will play cornerback…

We’ll do that this week with Joe McKnight. He’ll have a role on offense, but we’re also teaching him how to play corner, in not quite a full-time capacity, but he’s going to be over there a ton, in the meetings. He’s a guy that we saw on scout team when he was a rookie, that he has the necessary skills to be able to play corner. He has the speed, the size, the athleticism, ball skills, everything you look for in a corner. I don’t think there’s any reason not to think that Joe McKnight couldn’t be a corner. It’s just going to take time, obviously. With [coach] Dennis Thurman and Jimmy O [coach Jimmy O'Neil] over there, I think we have great teachers of the game and I think it will be interesting. I definitely would not bet against Joe McKnight becoming a good corner.

On if he feels like the officiating has been better in Jets games than other games…

My focus has always been on this football team. Those are the things that you control, just trying to get our team better. I think, in my job, you can’t worry about other things. We have enough worries about getting our team playing at a high level.
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