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REX: We'll Get to See What This Team's All About

Posted Sep 5, 2012

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

It’s finally here. I almost feel as schools are starting up, public schools are starting up on Thursday, you kind of feel like you’re starting school when you come back in for the first Wednesday of a gameweek and the first game of the regular season. There’s so much excitement from me, I feel that excitement.

What’s this team going to look like? I have a good idea of what it’s going to look like. You have that first test on Sunday, against a team that really has improved. When you look at it defensively, they were one of the weaker teams in the league last year statistically in every area except one and that was turnovers. It starts with [Jairus] Byrd back there — he’s a ballhawk. But that defense doesn’t look the same. Obviously, you have Mario Williams, who’s somebody that’s 6’8” over there that can really rush the passer. He looks different. Kyle Williams is back and he’s raising Cain in there. This is a different defense.

Offensively, it’s the same team. They spread you out. It’s interesting, when you think about a team that spreads you out, they do throw the ball all over the place, but they led the AFC in rushing, they were fourth in the NFL in rushing. Fred Jackson, a tremendous back, but it’s the same offense that you’ve seen. Special teams, they’ve always been loaded at returner. [Leodis] McKelvin, their punt returner, averaged close to 19 yards a punt return last year. Obviously, that’s a challenge.

That first game, you recognize who the opponent is, but you want to see yourself. You want to see how we come together as a team and not hold anything back. We’ll get to see what this team is all about and I’m excited about it.

On his reaction when Mario Williams signed with Buffalo.…

You kind of sit back, go ooof! He’s a tremendous player. Your first thought is you’re going against him, then ... he does get to play New England twice, so that’s kind of a good thing [laughter]. If we can survive, hopefully New England will struggle with him. That’s it. It’s like ooof! The conference, our league is getting better. You steal one of the top pass-rushers in the game. Clearly, "Oh, man." You hope that he doesn’t go in our division, but here he is. Obviously, you take notice of that one. Mark Anderson was kind of an under-the-radar guy, but is a good pass-rusher, not Mario Williams-good, few are like him, but still a good football player.

On if Williams will line up against Austin Howard

I expect him to be at left end this game. I don’t think there’s any doubt that’s where he’ll be.

On the challenge for Howard of facing Williams the first game…

I think that’s safe to say. Probably the only thing worse than that would be the [DeMarcus] Ware kid, who’s going up against somebody tonight. That probably would be the only bigger challenge.

On if they will help Howard block Williams…

I guess we’ll find out. You don’t want to just leave anyone out there by themselves down after down, but sometimes he is going to be by himself. There are other things you have to do against any great pass rusher. You have to do things to help slow him down.

On if Dustin Keller will practice today…

I’m not sure if he’ll practice. I don’t know if he will practice today. If he does it’s just going to be very limited. He’s coming off that hamstring. You’d like him to test it a little bit, but I don’t think we are ready to test him full-go right now. We’ll see. If he does anything, it’s going to be limited.

On if Keller will not play if he doesn’t practice this week…

No, we’re not one of those teams where if you don’t practice you don’t play. If you’re ready to go, we think you’re ready to go, clearly, a player like Dustin and his kind of talents, we’re going to put him out there.

On Sione Po‘uha’s chance of playing on Sunday…

I’m still not there. We’ll see. He did move around a lot better than I thought. He actually moved around better than Mike DeVito did. Mike’s coming off that calf and Sione with the back, but I’m still not sure of that.

On if Po‘uha will play on Sunday…

I have to lean on the trainers and our doctors. You never want to put a player at risk. If he’s going to be at risk, then you don’t want to do that, and we won’t do that.

On if Po‘uha not playing is because of conditioning or recovering from his injury…

I think you have to get him out there. He needs to be able to hold in there, anchor in there on double teams, I think that’s the big thing. Unless our doctors and trainers are convinced he can do that, there’s no sense in putting him out there.

On the decision to cut T.J. Conley and bring in Robert Malone

This young man [Malone] was impressive. This is the second time we’ve brought him in for workouts. He actually hit the ceiling with five punts, one time. I haven’t seen that done. If we think we can upgrade our football team, then that’s what we’re going to do. I give credit to Mike Tannenbaum and Scott Cohen and the guys up there, who are always looking to help our football team. If we think that there’s a way to upgrade then that’s what we’ll do. We brought in a couple of punters and different guys [for tryouts]. Sometimes you’ll bring in guys down the road and see where they’re at physically. Then there’s guys that you bring in where you know what, we think they can help our football team and that’s what you do.

On Conley…

I think T.J. is a tremendous young man and I wish him nothing but the best. He did a nice job punting for us last year. He really improved as a whole. I thought that was impressive, but I was looking for a little more consistency. I think we were looking for a little more consistency. I think Malone will give us that.

On what areas Mark Sanchez has improved in from last year…

I think in every area. I don’t think there’s one area he hasn’t improved in — from leadership to learning the system and opponents, his physical things, he’s throwing the ball better, with more zip and accuracy. From a physical standpoint, he’s a bigger stronger guy.

On if he’s confident Sanchez can lead the team to playoffs…

Absolutely I am. He shows it every day, in the classroom, with his teammates and in the weight room. He’s working as hard as anybody, anybody I’ve ever been around. He’s been really impressive that way. Physically, just being around the other guys, I see him stepping up and challenging his teammates, all those types of things, not that you wouldn’t expect it, but it’s like this is him. You saw it coming. It’s his fourth year. I mentioned this before, as a rookie he was looked at as a weakness on our football team, and I said there’s going to be a day where he’s looked at as the strength of our team and not a weakness. I think that day is right now.

On how Sanchez handles comments about Tim Tebow

I understand how popular Tim is and for a good reason. He’s a tremendous young man, without question, a talented football player, but he is who he is. I understand the interest in him, but Mark has a job to do. Mark’s our starting quarterback and that’s how he approached it. I think if you asked Mark, I think he’d tell you he’s happy Tim’s here. I think we see Tim as being an outstanding football player. Is he behind Mark as the backup quarterback? Yes. Did that challenge Mark in a different way? I’m not sure, you’d have to ask him.

On Joe Theismann’s quotes

He’s the quarterback. Mark is our starting quarterback. I don’t get that. Joe can think the way he wants. I think teammates see it and the whole team sees it, that he's been tremendous this year.

On his confidence in Sanchez’s production…

Well, we all have to produce, we have to as a football team. Everybody has to do their job. But I have complete confidence in Mark.

On how confident he is in his offensive line…

Very confident in our offensive line. I think we’re the only one in the league that has three Pro Bowlers on it so it’s easy for me to be confident. They’re a tight group, they work hard, they study, they put in that time, they put in the time on the field, they work extremely hard. I think it’s going to be an outstanding group. They’re going to be challenged this week. I mean, this front now when you’ve got [Marcell] Dareus, you’ve got [Mario] Williams. Kyle Williams is the other Williams. He’s pretty darn good. He’s just short but man, he is a heck of a football player. And I told him that. I said one year, I’m like, "Man, we voted you to the Pro Bowl, but that doesn’t mean you’ve got to take it out on us." But he really is tremendous playing. He’s playing that 3-technique form. They missed him a lot last year when he was out. They really missed him.

On being picked third in the division and having the potential to be an underdog…

I think we’re right where we need to be. It does remind me a little bit for whatever reason of our first year here. But you’ve got to earn it. You’ve got to go back in and you’ve got to earn it. To prove people wrong or whoever, does that drive you a little bit? I’d be lying if I told you it never did. Of course it does. Human nature’s like, “I’m going to show you.” And that’s exactly how I am. I’ve grown up that way all my life. There’s smarter guys than me, all that kind of stuff, better looking, all those types of things, but I’m going to show you. There’s a reason I’m here today. I’m going to compete, and our whole football team’s going to compete, and this organization’s going to compete. Soon enough, they’ll make those decisions. I’d much rather be picked third right now, and then later be somewhere else at the end of the road. But we’ve got a ton of work to do and it’s just all about this game and this week.

On if he’s worried about losing Conley as the holder…

Not really, because if there were concerns, we wouldn’t have made the move. We worked out Malone in both punting and as a holder and things. It’s interesting with [Nick] Folk, he hits that 58-yarder, right? T.J. wasn’t the holder then, either, so I think it doesn’t matter. You put the ball there and let Nick kick it. Clearly, there’s more to it than that, but this young man does a great job holding.

On Isaako Aaitui…

I tell you what, I’m just going to say this, it’s just unfortunate that things just didn’t work out. That’s what I’m comfortable saying. I’m not going to get into anything else specifically, but it’s just unfortunate. He’s an outstanding young man, and it’s just unfortunate that it didn’t work out here.

On the replacement refs…

Well, really my job is just to get this team ready and that’s what I’m going to be focused on. But I think you’re going to get great effort out of people. They’re stepping it up, and we’ll see. But again, my job’s just to get this team ready and that’s really the only thing I’m focused on.

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