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REX: Playoffs? We're Focused on Tennessee

Posted Dec 10, 2012

Transcript of head coach Rex Ryan's midday news conference on Monday at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center:

I just watched the tape this morning. There really were a lot of good things on the tape. Obviously, I loved the way offensively we were able to control the football, in particular in the second half, the way we really got our running game going. It’s a lot of multiple things that we did in the running game, but it was good. From a defensive perspective, when you see it, it’s like here’s this play and this play, all off of the same formation, which kind of makes it difficult. I thought our guys did a tremendous job. Jacksonville was running everything they could, stunts, blitzes, everything to try and slow the running game down. It was just kind of old school football, but very effective.

I also liked the way some of our guys were blocking. In particular, I thought Konrad [Reuland] had a good game. We put him in a lot of roles, where sometimes he plays tight end and sometimes he plays fullback. I thought he did a real nice job of finding people in space. I was encouraged by that. I like the way Bilal Powell and Shonn [Greene] ran the football. Obviously, we made the big play at the end with the passing game when we had to have it the most, so I’m happy with that.

On defense, really a good game overall, particularly on third down. We’re really doing a nice job on third down. I promise you that Muhammad Wilkerson gets a vote for Pro Bowl from Jacksonville, I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. It was a dominant performance for Mo. It seems like we say it each week, but clearly he’s a guy we talked about at the beginning of the year. For an interior lineman, he’s doing an incredible job. Statistically, he had one sack, but he beat his guy over and over again. Backs are having to pick him up. It’s rare to have an interior lineman get the attention from the backs. Usually that’s assigned to an outside edge rusher, but the backs are helping on Mo time and time again. It just shows you what the teams are thinking about this guy. What a performance by him.

I thought the communication for the most part was good. We did have a couple of miscues in the back, I think, communication-wise. Other than that, I thought we played a nice game. They really tried to do a lot of what we call “speedos,” deep pass combinations, and our guys did a nice job of playing those routes almost the entire day. On special teams, I was very impressed with Robert [Malone] still punting the football. I like the way we covered for the most part. I think when you put [LaRon] Landry in there as that gunner, I think that returner sometimes thinks twice before he takes off with it.

On injuries…

Stephen [Hill] unfortunately has that injury. I’m not sure the extent of that injury just yet, really with all of the injuries. Guys are still getting MRIs and things like that. I don’t really have the extent of his injury. Bryan Thomas has a pec[toral]. I don’t know the extent of that injury. I think Aaron Berry had a bit of a hamstring. I think that’s pretty much it.

On if DL Quinton Coples is showing his power game…

He is. I think that’s the combination that we’ve been talking about. Obviously, his athleticism really jumps out at you, but he is a powerful guy. We always say he’s country-strong, and he is. What we’re starting to do with him now is we’re mixing him up as an inside player and an outside player. Really, there was a strong performance, this man had a strong performance. He had missed a sack when he went over the top of [Chad] Henne, who did a nice job of avoiding him. I think he got one sack and then affected three more throws, including the last one at the end of the game. It looked like he was eating that tackle up pretty good over there. This is really the kind of ability that he has. I’m encouraged by it.

You have Muhammad playing at an unbelievable level, I mean a Pro Bowl level. You have this young man with that kind of ability and you see him getting better, I see him getting better each week. We have to get Kenrick Ellis back to that level. I thought at the beginning of the year, Kenrick was really playing well. He hasn’t played as well as he did then, coming off that knee. We need to get him back to that level. Those should be three guys that we can count on, that this organization can count on for several years.

On if he considers both Shonn Green and Bilal Powell as starters…

I don’t look at it that way. Shonn is obviously the guy that gets the majority of the carries, but we feel great about Bilal Powell. When you run the ball the way we were, both of the guys get the carries and that’s great, but 1 and 1-A, we’re just trying to find ways to win games. Generally, Shonn is going to be the guy that gets the majority of the carries, but I certainly like the way Bilal is playing.

On if they will have the same run/pass ratio in future games…

No, I think each opponent is different, so you tailor a game plan accordingly. We felt good about both phases. Being able to run the ball, though, if you can pick your poison, I think you’d prefer to run it because that controls the clock, controls the game more than if you have to throw it every snap. Clearly, we were confident throwing the ball against this group. It kind of had a little step back when Stephen went down, we were down to three receivers, so that was the issue. We really felt the way we were running the ball and controlling the game that that would be what we did the majority of the game.

On the possibility of bringing in another receiver if Hill cannot play…

We always look at all possibilities. Obviously, we’ve added Clyde Gates, we've added Mardy Gilyard. I think our pro department does a tremendous job of finding guys for us. Hopefully, that won’t be the case with Stephen. Hopefully he’ll be able to bounce back. We hope to get Clyde Gates back. Again, he was a guy that was really coming on for us. Obviously, you have Chaz [Schilens] and Jeremy [Kerley]. Hopefully, Stephen won’t have that big of an injury.

On why Jordan White did not play…

He wasn’t active.

On not playing White at receiver…

Again, we’ll put the guys in that we think give us the best opportunity to be successful. Obviously, I prefer Jeremy Kerley in the slot over Jordan White. That’s just how I feel.

On if White is only a slot receiver…

No, I guess he could play outside, but primarily, he’s a slot receiver, really as is Jeremy. Jeremy is, to me, more valuable as a slot receiver than he is as an outside receiver. That’s no slight on him. You can say the same thing about Wes Welker, but obviously that’s a very valuable position in today’s game, slot receiver. For us to put a guy in there in place of Jeremy Kerley, I’m not comfortable with that.

On defensive third-down efficiency the last two games…

I think it starts with our pass rush. The guys up front, especially Muhammad, are really doing a great job beating one-on-one and actually having the running backs a lot of times as well. That’s really where it starts, being very mobile with our coverages and really running our package on third down. I think as the season goes on, you see our guys our more comfortable playing with each other, know what they can expect from each other, obviously, with LaRon and Yeremiah [Bell].

Getting Eric Smith back helps because he gives you so many different options how you can use him. You can rush him, you can blitz him, you can man-cover. The guy can play zone, high zone and low zone. Those are things that I really feel good about what we’re doing with guys. Antonio Allen stepped up in a big way, did a nice job rushing the passer primarily, but we know he has man-cover skills as well. I think Mike Pettine, Dennis [Thurman] and Bob Sutton are doing a great job really having our guys prepared. I like the fact Quinton Coples is now starting to step it up also as a pass rusher and I think that helps us.

On if the team will consider adding Braylon Edwards…

You guys know what I’ve always said about Braylon in the past, so you know how I feel about him, but right now, I think we’ll just focus on the guys we have.

On the possibility of bringing in Edwards…

My understanding is I think he’s on Seattle’s team if I’m not mistaken, so I don’t [know] about it. Plus, he had a bad comment about me and I feel bad about it [joking]. No, you know me, shoot, please.

On the team suddenly having playoff possibilities…

Well, suddenly, I’m not worried about anything else but finding a way to beat Tennessee. Our position is simple: We have to beat Tennessee, so I’m not really focused on anything else.

On why Greg McElroy was inactive…

The whole season when you looked at it, I was comfortable with Tim [Tebow] as our backup quarterback and when he was healthy, when I felt he was healthy, obviously, he was cleared medically, as I saw the way the week progressed that I felt good about getting Tim in that spot. I said it last week that if he’s healthy where I think he’s healthy, then he would have that role.

On what it says about the team to win the past two games after a challenging start to the season…

One thing I know about our group is we’re going to compete like crazy until the bitter end. That’s what this group does. But we try to get better, we try to do things right, we try to get better on the practice field and in the classroom and try to get better. A thing that I think you can really see the improvement is penalties. When you look at the penalties, I think we’re third in the league now in least penalized team but when we started in the bye week, we really studied on it, started focusing on it and you’ve seen that number come way down. I mean way down. I’m proud of that. I see our guys getting better and improving and I mentioned it.

I said before, I see our defense getting much better and the communication and it starts back there. The things that we can fix, I see us getting better at. Obviously, ball security still is an issue and it’ll still being addressed and we'll keep working on it. I don’t think anybody’s worked harder on it than we have. It’s something that we still need to get better at. That’s the missing piece. If we don’t turn the ball over, we’re going to be a tough team to beat.

On if this is the most injured team he’s been a part of…

Yeah, I’m not sure. I think it’s probably a true statement but I’m not 100 percent sure on that. It just seems like it. I believe it is, but I’m not real sure about that.

On if Dustin Keller will play Monday…

It seems like he’s getting better. I thought he was getting better as the week went on, but again, it wasn’t to the point where he could play. So hopefully he’ll keep making those strides and he’ll be able to play. And adding another day [of practice], Monday, hopefully that will get him back on the field.

On why he’s hesitant to talk about the playoffs…

I’m not going to guarantee a playoff spot if that’s what you mean. I think part of that is, look, the fact that we’re one game under 500, I think you’re probably not in the playoff conversation. So, to me, we just need to keep our head down and keep winning games. We know the only way we can affect it is to win our games and then we’ll see what somebody tells us.

On Joe McKnight’s migraines…

Yeah, I don’t know. He had like three in a row there so I saw him on the bus ride over, he was great. Everything was doing fantastic. But maybe an hour before the game, he’s having a migraine. Sometimes when he gets the medication and all that, he’ll come back around. Once it subsides, he’s able to go out and play. But again, you don’t know when it’s going to pop up. That’s why I activated [Kahlil] Bell. [We] went with, in essence, four tailbacks because of Joe’s situation with the migraines.

On if Bart Scott playing more third downs because he is more comfortable with him…

No, it’s about his health. I think that’s the big thing. He’s still probably playing [with an injury] when other guys wouldn’t, but he’s healthier than he was with that toe and all that. I think he would’ve had a sack yesterday, but he kind of slipped. He’s still not 100 percent, but he’s getting closer and that’s encouraging.

On if he thought he’d get through today’s press conference without being asked about who is the starting quarterback…

I think it’s Al Woodall this week [joking]. We’ll go with Mark [Sanchez]. But after last week, it was pretty amazing how many questions we had.

On the long completion to Jordan Shipley late in the Jacksonville game…

Well, we were playing 2-man. It’s just one of those things. A guy made a play. Give those guys credit. We certainly could’ve played it much better, without question, but you have to give them credit. Henne made a nice throw and Shipley got open and made a nice catch. It was disappointing to say the least. Certainly we could’ve called something different, but we could’ve executed much better as well.

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