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Rex's Monday News Conference

Posted Jan 24, 2011

Transcript of head coach Rex Ryan's news conference with Jets reporters following Monday's final locker room availability of the season at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center:

First off, I want to thank everybody for your coverage of our team. Most of the time they were good comments, not always, but sometimes we deserved those bad ones. I do want to thank you for the coverage that you guys give us in this organization.

After looking at that game, boy, it was brutal to watch. That first half in particular, it wasn't like we changed a whole lot of calls defensively, it was we changed the way we played. I'm kind of at a loss for words on why we played that poorly. You've got to give them credit. [Rashard] Mendenhall made some great runs. We had him hit in the backfield a number of times and he'd spin out for nine, 10 yards. It was uncharacteristic of our team. We got it together. I was proud and I think we all recognized the heart of our football team [with the way] that we responded. We thought we were going to win the game in the second half, but to their credit, they made enough plays at the end of the game.

One thing I told our players was to be proud to be a Jet. There's a lot to be proud of. The fact that we didn't reach our goal this year, clearly that's a disappointment, but it doesn't mean we had a bad season. We had a heck of a season when you look at it. How close are we to realizing our goal? We're pretty darn close. We're the only team of the final four teams that went [to the conference championship round] last year, to make it back to the final four. I think that's something for optimism, that we're a pretty good football team. I don't think there's any doubt about it. Now, we weren't good enough to get it done, but that doesn't mean we won't be good enough to get it done next year. We beat some pretty good teams along the way. I think the fact that we played five road games out of the last six, including trips to Chicago, Pittsburgh twice, New England, Indianapolis, that's about as tough as it gets.

We have ourselves to blame. We've got to find a way to win our division and that's no easy task. This isn't just about beating New England because, quite honestly, we've done a pretty good job of it. It seems like nobody else in the league can beat them, so we've got to find ways to beat Green Bay, to beat Baltimore, to beat these other teams that we lost to. I think that's going to be a huge challenge to us. I challenged our guys, with the uncertainty of the CBA, to hold each other accountable, to talk to each other, to stay in touch, [and] to do those things. We don't know what's going to happen. Nobody does. But, [I told them] to hold each other accountable and that you represent yourself, [but] you also represent this organization on and off the field. I have to be mindful of that as well, obviously, with my past history. Be proud to be a Jet because I know I am.

On if he is optimistic that the team will be able to keep their core together for next season…

I don't think there's any doubt. I would love to have our entire 53 guys back. Is that realistic? No. We all know that's not realistic. There's going to be some guys that are going to make a lot more money than we can afford to pay, but it doesn't mean we don't appreciate them, because we do. There's probably going to be a guy who may retire [and] a guy that for whatever reason we move on from. I think this is a heck of a football team, and I would love to have this entire group back next season. I recognize that's not realistic.

On if he worries about how hard it is to get back to the AFC Championship game…

Well, it is [hard to get back]. That’s what I'm [talking] about. We're [the only one of the] four teams [from last season] to get back. It shows you that, yeah, we're good, but it also shows how tough it is to get back there. I think that our best is still yet to come. I think we have a lot of young core players that I think are ascending, and I think they're only going to get better. Start with the quarterback [Mark Sanchez]. He's still one of the youngest players in this league. The great thing about [having] a great quarterback is then you can have a heck of a football team and have a heck of a run. That’s obviously what we plan on doing.

On if he was aware Santonio Holmes made comments about playing in the first five plays of the game…

No, I'm not aware of that. I wasn't aware of that.

On if it is important for the players to shake off the loss or if he wants them to hold on to it…

I think you want to look at both ends of it. I think you want to realize how close we are and watch the Super Bowl game. I've taken the opposite approach. I haven't watched the last two of them because of the pain of it. But in a way, you've got to appreciate where you were and the kind of season you had and realize how close it is. Is that team really that much better than us? I don't believe that's the case. Let it drive you into realizing that it's not a fluke that we're the only team to go back-to-back in the final four. That's not a fluke. That means we're a heck of a football team. It means we're a consistent football team. The great thing is, I think we're on the uphill climb, not the downhill. Everything that talks about winning, we've won 13 games this year. The fact that we beat Indy at Indy, the fact we beat New England at New England, there are a lot of positives to take from this season and things that I would be encouraged about. Are we guaranteed we're going to go to the Super Bowl? Maybe not. Maybe when I said that, “Soon to be champs,” I just don't know when that [will be], but I believe it. In my heart, I believe we'll be champs.

On Holmes criticizing offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer for not playing in the beginning of the game…

That's not the way I like to operate, but it talks about the emotions that you're feeling at the time. Just like when I was saying nobody has a right to write negative comments about us. That's a ridiculous statement. It was just raw. That’s the emotion of it at the time. Those are things, obviously, you wish you had back.

On if they alerted the officials about Sanchez’s headset malfunctioning…

It's your team's responsibility about the headphones. That’s not why we lost the game. It’s something that happened, but that's not why we lost the game. I don't know what else I can say about that.

On the goal-line stand where they threw on second and third down…

If we had the benefit of hindsight, we should have probably just run Shonn Greene or LT [LaDainian Tomlinson] four straight times. That's easy to look back on it. We clearly thought that we had some good plays designed, and it just never worked out.

On if they need to win the division to get to the Super Bowl…

Yeah, I'd certainly like to play games at home. I think the way the schedule worked out, five-of-six on the road was a little tough. If that's the road we have to travel, then we have to find a way to get it done. We can be a great football team, but I'd just as soon [have the bye in the playoffs. That would be great if we could get a bye. Playing a game at home, I think that we need to grasp that this is our home field. We're going to have to find a way to make this a huge part of what we are, that you don't come in here and beat us at home.

Certainly, that's the way we want to play our games, where you don't have to travel. You can sleep in your own bed. You know where the restaurants are, can get in your routine. The whole deal about staying at home is something that I think is huge. That's what we've got to find. Unfortunately, we play a team [New England] that no other team in the league can beat. That's what seems to happen. We might be able to beat them, but we're not getting a whole lot of help from anybody else when they play that team. We’ve got to be good enough to win against all these other teams.

On if there is any significance to what he is wearing around his neck…

Just my Jets dogtags. Like I said, I'm proud to be a Jet, and I'll wear my Jets dogtags just like the rest of our guys.

On how much he wanted Sanchez to have an opportunity have one last drive…

I just can't believe we didn't stop them. To their credit, they made some gutsy calls. One where we went to knock the ball down, instead of putting our hand in. The kid [Ben Roethlisberger] made some great plays. Ben Roethlisberger had a 35 quarterback rating, yet helped win the game for them. He might have won the game for them with two big throws. With all else being said, the game that Mendenhall had, it came down to Ben Roethlisberger making two huge plays against us.

On if he thinks Sanchez would have been able to make big plays to win the game…

You know I believe that.

On how difficult it will be to work with the labor uncertainty…

I just hope it gets worked out at the end of the day. Obviously, I have a lot of faith that it will be. Man, it's some scary times. As a coach, you want to know and you want to get your guys back as fast as you can. Let's get on to the new season. It really is uncertain times. That's why I went and reached out to our players about holding each other accountable, whether that's working out or whether it's thinking football.

On if Sanchez will need surgery on his shoulder…

I'm not sure. I'm sure if Mark goes to get an opinion, it won't just be one, it will probably be five or six opinions. We've got to do what's in the best interests of Mark and our football team.

On if any other players will have off‑season surgery…

Not that I know of.

On if players become immune to what a coach’s approach…

I'm sure it can get old. If a coach says one pitch, then I'm sure it would get old. The good thing about the way I handle our team is that I'm just myself and I'll always be myself. I don't throw one pitch. Hopefully, I'll be around a long time and we'll win a bunch of Super Bowls. One day when they tell me to leave, I hope they tell me to leave and to take [my] Super Bowl trophies with [me] [smiling]. I hope that happens. That's the way to go. I never see myself retiring from this position, so eventually, they're going to have to get tired of me. I think my style is sustainable for a long time because every day is different.

On if he and Mike Tannenbaum have discussed the long term roster and how much input he will have…

I think I'll have a lot of input on that. Mike and I will definitely be looking at that in the coming days, weeks and months. We have an idea of what we want. The good thing you can count on is we're always going to do what's in the best interest of the Jets in our opinion, with one thing in mind and we all know what that is. We just want to be champions. We know we're on the right path. You can't luck into two straight final fours [being on the road every time]. That doesn't happen [everyday]. We know we're close and we're going to work [towards achieving] that goal. We're not trying to rebuild. We want to get right back at it.

On if it is still business-as-usual even with the pending CBA lock out…

Tomorrow morning, we're meeting on all of our players, having all the coaches read their reports on all of our current players and grading them. It starts right now. Our offseason starts right now as far as preparing for next season. It's starting right now.

On if there will be any offseason coaching changes and if there is any update regarding Sal Alosi…

The season just [ended] and, quite honestly, we thought we would still be playing. We haven't looked at that yet. Obviously, we'll have those discussions. As far as our coaching staff, I think we'll have several coaches that will be in demand, but I'd like to keep our coaches here.

On if Brian Schottenheimer will remain the Offensive Coordinator…

Yes, absolutely.

On why the first half was brutal to watch…

Just missed tackles all over the place. The 50 yards on offense that we had in the first half wasn't great, but what I'm looking at, more than anything, is the way we tackled. It's my job to get the team ready to go. We thought we had a good plan in place. It's just so out of character for our team to tackle like that. We pride ourselves on being a good tackling team. To the young man's [Rashard Mendenhall] credit, he made some nice runs. Roethlisberger had had a couple of big runs on third down against us. We had a big penalty. That drive lasted forever. Obviously, you don't want to start a game like that. Did it stun us and shock us? Yes. I thought going in that we had a great plan. I really did.

On why the team’s intensity did not match Steelers…

I don't have any idea. Maybe the Steelers didn’t have it in the second half because they were playing for the same thing we were. We're two pretty good football teams going at it. I don't know if it was an intensity thing. I think more than anything our tackling was so poor. It's just hard to imagine.

On how the AFC Championship outcome will affect next season’s roster…

I think we're a lot closer than when we started last year. Are we going to have all the same players? Probably not. We want to try to sign back as many as we can. I do think we're close. I think we can compete with any of these teams in this league. We're going to focus on bringing as many of our guys back as we can.

On if they can keep Santonio Holmes and Braylon Edwards on the team next season…

I don't know how feasible it's going to be, but I'd love to have both those guys back.

On talking to Trevor Pryce about coming back next season…

Trevor will be an interesting thing. Trevor talked to me about this would be it, that he was happy he came here and wanted to end it being a Jet. Whether he wants to continue or not, I'm sure he'll have those discussions. The thing that's tough is that there's going to be a lot of decisions. One thing we can always count on, we'll always do what's in the best interests of our football team.

On if Jason Taylor will be back next season…

I don't know. Sometimes the decision you make right now might change in a week or two weeks once you get removed from it. That was so painful. It wouldn't be as painful if you didn't have to sacrifice like we did. We put everything we had into it. We wanted this, not just for us, but we wanted it for our fans and for the “Same Old Jet” thing. Trust me, we wanted to put that somewhere. We tried everything we could. Our guys committed like nobody else in this league, 100 percent participation in the offseason conditioning program, the way we worked in training camp and all through the preseason, we laid it out there. I think that's why I never wanted negative attention to our team because I know the heart of the team.

On having the combination of Tomlinson and Greene next season…

I've said it, I'd love to have our team intact. When you look at those two guys, that's quite a combination with those two backs.

On if he tried to blend the disappointment with the pride when he talked to the team…

Well, you do because you don't want somebody on your team that isn't hurt. You want them to feel that pain because I also think it kind of moves you like, “I'm going to show you next year.” That's the way I am. I think any competitor that gets beat, a real competitor is going to come back stronger. I know that's how I'm going to be and I believe wholeheartedly that that's how our team's going to be. That's why I think you don't want to play the Jets next year. That's just my personal opinion.

On if he expects 100 percent participation if there are offseason workouts…

To be honest, I don't know what to expect. And that's really the only way I can answer that.

On if he is optimistic that the labor uncertainty will be worked out so there is no disruption in the season…

I hope so because I know there are a lot of livelihoods riding on it. I want to coach football. I know the players want to play and the owners want to get this thing done. Hopefully, they'll figure it out.

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