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REX: We’re Emptying Our Tank for the ’Fins

Posted Oct 24, 2012

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

Big game, obviously this is a critical game. You look at it this way: a divisional game. We always say it’s a game and a half, but it is huge. The fact we haven’t swept Miami in the past, it would be quite an accomplishment. Obviously, we know we’re going to get the very best Miami has. They’re going to be well-rested coming off the bye. They’ve won two games in a row. They have to be feeling pretty good about themselves, without question. The last game was anybody’s game. We were fortunate enough to win that game, so I think this is going to be a big game, without question.

It’s going to be big that the Jets are going to be retiring Dennis Byrd’s No. 90 jersey, so congratulations to him. He has been great. I’ve gotten to know him a little bit and I think that’s a great tribute to him.

They had 185 yards rushing the last time we played them, and that was with Reggie Bush getting hurt in the game and not being able to finish the game. So obviously, we know that’s going to be a point of emphasis for us this week. We have to do a much better job of stopping the run and containing Reggie Bush in particular. The play of their quarterback, [Ryan] Tannehill, entering our game he had a [57.5%] completion rate, and his last three games he’s got a 67 percent completion rate, so he’s getting comfortable back there. He makes some great throws down the field. He’s accurate throwing the football, and obviously we know we’re going to be challenged.

Their defense has got a stout front seven. They’re really getting after the quarterback lately. They’re the No. 1 third-down defense in the National Football League, which is really saying something. They’re putting a lot of pressure on the quarterback, so it’s going to be challenging on both sides of the ball. Then their special teams unit, if you look at them, there are about 14 categories that you look at when ranking special teams units and they're second. It’s a challenge across the board, one team is going in fresh.

But I’ll tell you about our football team, we’re going to empty the tank. Whatever we have left, we’re pouring it out there. I believe our guys are going to be focused, determined. We know how important this game is and we’re emptying our tank out on Sunday.

These guys will not practice today: Kenrick Ellis, knee, Eric Smith, knee, Bilal Powell shoulder, Joe McKnight, ankle, Jeff Cumberland, wrist, Bart Scott, toe, Calvin Pace, shin, Nick Mangold [ankle]. We’re assuming right now that they will not practice. Guys who will be limited are Sione [Po‘uha] with a low back, Clyde Gates, shoulder. These other players will be full: Mark Sanchez, low back, Brandon Moore, hip, Matt Slauson, knee, Jeremy Kerley, finger and LaRon Landry, heel.

On if McKnight injured himself more at New England…

No, I think it’s just pre-existing. It probably got sore because of the fact he did play on it. I think it’s pretty sore and he has that boot on right now.

On how Pace got hurt…

That was from the game. He got hit in the shin. I think he got kicked in the shin. It swelled up pretty good. I think he’ll play, but it’s a pretty nasty looking thing.

On if Cumberland can play against Miami…

I think so. We’ll see. As the week goes on, we’ll see about that, but right now he’s out.

On Po’uha’s status against Miami…

The fact he’s limited, I think, as the week progresses, we’ll see. He’s out there giving it a shot this week, so we’ll see.

On McKnight’s toughness…

Absolutely, he’s a tough guy. Let’s face it. Last year, he had a hyperextended elbow, and then he had a shoulder separation, and he played in the game. He still played. He is a tough guy. There’s no doubt. Was I surprised that he gave it a shot? Not really, knowing Joe. But the fact that he did, I think showed all of his teammates the kind of commitment and toughness that he has.

On if he is worried about payback for his “hot sauce” comments about Bush…

I’m not worried about that. Shoot, I apologized for my comments. I expect him to do the same.

On Sanchez’s play at New England…

I just think Mark is improving as a quarterback. We see it. I think statistically, it was one of the best games that he’s had. He’d probably like to have one or two throws back, obviously the interception being one, but I thought he was tremendous. In that kind of environment, that kind of atmosphere, it kind of felt like almost a playoff-game-type atmosphere and he was at his best. I’m excited about that. It all starts with the protection. We’ve all said give this young man time to throw the football down the field, he can be effective.

On if he ever has to build up Sanchez’s confidence…

We knew the kind of young man we were getting when we drafted him. We felt good about it. We’ve said it, not everybody can play quarterback in this town. There’s no doubt about that. It might eat you up. You’re going to get a lot of criticism. It’s that old adage, they get more of the praise when they win and they get probably more of the blame when they lose.

On the run defense…

I just think that over the last three weeks, we’ve been getting better. I think our techniques where we’re getting off blocks have been a little better. It’s still not where we need it to be, but we’re working hard to improve it, working hard on the practice field. Obviously, you give up 185 yards, we’ve given up [247 rushing] yards, that’s definitely not to our standards.

On if he expects Bush to apologize for his comments about Darrelle Revis’ injury…

I do because my thing is I never was saying we were trying to injure Reggie Bush. That’s not even close. He’s going to get our attention. I’m sorry, but he’s the type of player that’s going to warrant a lot of attention and we’re going to give it to him, there is no question. That’s what I meant by my comments. If it was taken differently, out of context, I apologize for that. Trust me, we know when he’s in the game. He still is going to get our attention.

But his things about Revis, I understand he got hurt in the game and that’s bad for football. We never want to hurt a player. I respect him as a player. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him and I never want to see that. I’ve said it from day one and I don’t care who it is. Look, as bad as I want to beat Tom Brady, I don’t want to see Tom Brady out of this league, there’s no doubt. That’s bad for the league. Shoot, I’m a football fan as well as a coach. This game is great because of the players and the talent that plays in this league. That’s what I mean. If Reggie thinks about it, you want Darrelle Revis playing in this league. I know I do.

On if it’s fair to say Kerley is replacing Santonio Holmes as a go-to receiver…

I don’t know if you can say that. They’re a little different in their styles of play. Jeremy is his own style of player. I don’t think anybody really replaces Santonio Holmes. I think Holmes is a top-five receiver in this league. I think when you look at Jeremy, he’s tremendous in the slot. He’s doing more, though, as an every-down receiver. He has a lot of ability, but his game is going to be a little different than Santonio Holmes’.

When we talked about the weapons we had, this is what we wanted in Jeremy Kerley. He is a matchup problem. In the slot, he is tough to handle, like a Wes Welker. Those guys are super tough to handle. They have [Davone] Bess in Miami, who has that kind of talent. They’re really tough to match up with. We have Dustin Keller, then when you had Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill, that’s why I said I like our weapons. Right now, obviously with Santonio being out, it’s unfortunate, but other guys have to step up.

On Dennis Byrd reaching out to the team before the 2011 playoff game at New England…

It was amazing. When I saw it, I couldn’t believe it. I absolutely couldn’t believe it. I was extremely proud that he identified with that Jet team. I thought that was really tremendous. Then when I talked to him about coming out and speaking to our team, he was, “Absolutely.” He spoke to our team from his heart and it meant everything to our team, I can tell you that much.

On how inspiring it was for Byrd to give him his jersey…

There’s no question it’s a source of inspiration. Again, with the league it kind of carried it out there. I think every player was touched by that. I think every person in that room was touched by his comments.

On if the team is are still in the mix in the AFC…

I don’t think there is any doubt. We haven’t even gone through half our season yet. Anything can happen. It’s a long year. We just have to focus on ourselves and how we can improve, how we can get better. Two of the top teams in the AFC right now clearly are Houston and New England and we fell short in both of those games. We’re close, we just have to try and close that gap. The only way you can do that is improve yourself and not worry about somebody coming down. We have to step up and try to raise our level where it’s higher than those teams and we can compete.

On if there is a huge gap in the AFC between Jets and top teams…

I don’t think it’s that huge at all. We were down 10 points and came back on the road against New England. We’re right there. I don’t think that there is that big of a gap. Certainly, I think we’re getting better. I think that there is still room for us to improve in all facets of our game, with the exception of our kicker. I think he’s been perfect. We think we can get better in a lot of areas. That’s really making me confident.

On if he is finding enough ways to use Tebow from the line of scrimmage…

Again, we haven’t had the dramatic results that we had with the punt team, obviously with those plays. Really, he affects almost every punt. When he was back there as a personal protector, New England just played defense, they’re just going base. Our guy back there, Robert Malone, is able to take his time. Watching some punts, people aren’t attacking us. They know we’re faking and I know we’re scared [joking], but we will fake it in our own territory and all those other areas of the field, but we’ll see. Again, we’ve played seven games and we’ll see at the end.

I will say this, I’m happy that Tim is with us. There’s no question about that and I’ll stand by my comments that he is a tremendous football player and quarterback, he’s an outstanding football player. We will always do what is in the best interest of our football team. If that’s an expanded role for Tim or if it’s more of a secondary role, then that is what it will be.

On if he understands that the competitor in Tebow wants to contribute more…

Of course, I think every competitor wants to be out on the field, there’s no doubt. You take a competitor like Bart Scott, you think he never wanted to be out there this particular week? He had a very little role compared to what he normally does, but because of his injury, he wasn’t able to be out there as much. From all of them, maybe it’s a defensive back. Aaron Berry, he’s super competitive and he really hasn’t been out there yet, but it’s when he’s called upon. We’re a team. I think it’s all about that. I think Tim understands that a great deal, that however he can help, he’s about as positive as a guy there is. Would he like to be out there? I’m sure he would, just like any of our players would.

On if he expects an apology from Bush…

No. I don’t expect one, but maybe Darrelle Revis. I’m sure he got caught up in in the moment. He was injured and obviously nobody likes to get hurt. That certainly wasn’t my intention and I hope he understands that. He doesn’t ever have to say anything to me or reach out to Revis, but I would expect him to, just for the simple fact that Revis is his peer. He’s one of the elite players in this league.

On if it is considered a success that the Patriots linebackers had to shift for Tebow’s first two plays…

I know it takes preparation time. I know it does those types of things. Would I like to see us average eight yards carry with it? I absolutely would. I know teams are preparing for it. They’re sticking them all down there and it’s going to be hard, tough sledding. He made a tremendous run. That first run he made going to the one-yard line, that was a tremendous run. Did he want to finish the drive? He absolutely did. Did he want to run that next play? Of course he did. I do know one thing, he was happy to see Shonn Greene score a touchdown.

On if Bart Scott’s injury will linger all season…

I’m not real sure about it. You would hope that it gets better in time. We think it will. It will get better. Certainly, those things, the Cowboys, my brother was crying literally on the phone because they just lost their great linebacker [Sean Lee] to a toe injury. I’ve seen Jonathan Ogden, a mountain of a man, it was a toe injury that was in the end of his career.

I’m not saying Bart’s is like that, because I don’t think it is. Bart has a lot of football left, but it’s amazing you’re thinking a toe injury. That’s easy to play with. Let me tell you this, when it first happened, there are probably very few players in the league that would have played with this injury that Bart has. The fact that he has played three weeks in a row with it talks to you about his toughness as well.

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