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REX: We Have to Stop the Run

Posted Nov 9, 2012

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

Kenrick Ellis and Joe McKnight we’re going to keep back here. Both of those guys will not play in the game. Kenrick was limited in practice and he’s just not quite ready to play. Hopefully, next week he’ll be ready to go. With Joe McKnight, it’s one of those types of deals where if he can get 25 percent better by not playing in a game, it’s probably time to do that. That’s why we’re going that route. Hopefully, we’ll be able to get him back where he can practice and play, so he won’t play in this game. These players are listed as questionable, that’s Bart Scott, with a toe, Brandon Moore, hip, Nick Mangold, ankle, Eric Smith, knee, Bilal Powell, shoulder and Sione Po’uha, low back. All of those guys were limited in practice but I believe all of them will play. These other players are probable, they were all full in practice, that’s (Mark) Sanchez with a low back, Matt Slauson, knee, Calvin Pace, shin, Mike DeVito, finger, Clyde Gates, shoulder, Damon Harrison, thumb, Jeff Cumberland, wrist, Jeremy Kerley, heel, and LaRon Landry, heel. All of those guys were full today. I expect them all to go. This hat I’m wearing, I don’t know if you see the hat right here, is something I’m going to wear the hat on behalf of the organization. Basically, it’s just to let people know, especially the people in our region that were affected by Hurricane Sandy, that our thoughts and prayers are with them. Hopefully, when they see this on the sideline that they understand that we’re with them and we’re definitely thinking about them. We’re also trying to represent our region when we go up there to play this game. If they can get something encouraging out of our performance, then that really motivates and drives us as well.

 

On players’ comments about making the playoffs and whether it’s different when those assertions come from players…

I think so, but to me, it’s like look, we’re 3-5. We know the task is a huge task in front of us. Again, this is how the team thinks. We’re down, but we’re certainly not out. We have half of our season in front of us and we’re attacking it with the mentality that we are going to make the playoffs. We are confident in ourselves. Others, outside of our fan base and our organization, maybe they aren’t as confident, but quite honestly that’s fine. Here, you’re going to see that. We’re a confident football team. None of us are where we wanted to be, but again the season isn’t over. For us, we feel confident in our abilities that when it’s all said and done, no matter how tough the task, that we can make the playoffs.

 

On adjusting the running game due to injuries…

Sometimes we’ve gone into it literally without Bilal Powell and Joe McKnight, so it has affected us a little bit. We’re fortunate because we get Powell back this week. I think that will really help us. When both of those guys are down, and that’s really at any position, if you lose a couple of guys at the same position, obviously that’s a real stress for your depth and your quality is eventually going to go down. It’s good to get Bilal back. Bilal’s a tremendous pass protector and has good receiving skills and run skills, so that really helps having him back.

 

On whether the game plan for the running game has to be adjusted when running backs are out…

Sometimes you definitely have to do that. When you go in there and it is questionable a guy is going to play, then you’re not going to set your game plan up as if you’re going to have Joe McKnight and all of a sudden he doesn’t play. That doesn’t make sense. Your planning is different. Even though Joe played the last couple of weeks, we really never had him a whole lot. He played more against New England. Again, it was something that you almost can’t count on if a guy has that type of injury. If it’s going to be a game-time decision, you really can’t plan on him playing, so you do just the opposite

 

On Muhammad Wilkerson’s comments on rattling SEA QB Russell Wilson…

The point I’m sure Mo (Wilkerson) was trying to make was, to do that, we have to stop the run. I think that’s the number one priority. When you’re going up against this Seattle football team, they actually throw the ball less than any team in the league. We have to do a great job of stopping the run, and then put Seattle in a position where they don’t want to be, where they have to throw the ball more. I think that’s the thing. This quarterback is an outstanding quarterback, but like any young quarterback, you want to mix your pressures (and) coverages (and) give him different looks. That’s certainly what we’re trying to do.

 

On if you defend differently against a shorter quarterback like Wilson…

Yes, against a shorter quarterback, you try to condense the pocket. I’m not giving you our game plan, but you definitely try to condense the pocket on him, get some push and get your hands up. This guy (Wilson), he has escapability. He’s smart. He tries to find throwing lanes. He doesn’t have a whole lot of passes batted (down). They move the pocket with him. They do different things with him and he has a high release. I remember there was a quarterback who we played a few years ago, who was 6’-5”, but he had such a low release that the priority in that game was to push and get your hands up. This young man (Wilson), he’s shorter, but he does have a high release.

 

On the difficulty of facing Seattle’s pass rush with their stadium…

That’s it. Sometimes, (if) teams can get a bead on your cadence, it really plays into that defense’s hands. They’re built to rush the passer. They have two really explosive edge players and then they have some good pass rushers inside. Again, the communication is critical this week. The self-inflicting wounds, as we call them - their home field contributes to them, but we can’t allow them. Our focus has to be so tight (and) so detailed that we don’t allow it to effect the game or control the game.

 

On if Seattle runs so much due to Wilson’s inexperience…

I don’t necessarily see that. I see a team that’s really committed to running the football because of the personnel they have. They have some good backs. They do a good job up front. They do an excellent job of blocking on the perimeter and that opens things up down the field. As soon as a guy tries to fall in on the running game, all of a sudden it’s a double move over top of you. It’s a complementary offense. Where you run the ball, run the ball (again), then you (throw a) vertical pass. Again, it’s off the play-action. I think their first two receivers are averaging more than 18 yards on first down or second-and-a rushing situation. It tells you that it’s not just move-the-sticks, it’s if we throw it, we’re going to try to block it up and make a big play down the field on you.

 

On if he has more of the players’ attention after the loss versus Miami…

Absolutely, but it’s not even just the last game. I think when you have that bye week, you go back and you look at the entire season and the body of work and really some of our focus that we talked about. We went back to week one and all the way through and showed them black and white things - how, in detail, how some self-inflicted things that has nothing to do with your opponent, how you’ve also hurt yourself. And we’ve played some good opponents. We have to take care of this first and not contribute to beating ourselves. We have to take care of our responsibilities first and then attack the opponent.

 

On if he’s as comfortable telling players they’ve messed up as when they do well…

I know this may surprise you, but I don’t think it will surprise (the players). If you ask any of the players, they know that I have no problem doing that.

 

On how much they try to simulate the noise at Seattle with loud music at practice…

Well, that’s it. You turn it up as loud as you can and it’s brutal, as we all know standing out there.  But that’s what we do.  I think you try to get it to be as loud and as crazy and as hectic as you possibly can. Then, when you get there, the thing you can’t simulate is how they’re literally on top of you. That’s something that you really can’t get ready for. But the noise is something we think we can control. Pumping the music, the noise, the crowd noise, all that kind of stuff as high as we can. To be honest with you, it’s a relief when the defense’s out there, now you can turn that stuff down a little bit.  That’s really how you, I think the best way, to do that.

 

On height in Seattle’s secondary…

It is unique because you might have one of those guys on your team, but they literally have three and then their fourth guy is probably their best player, one of the best premier safeties in the league. Here we have Cro (Antonio Cromartie), so we see a giant all the time with, by the way, great speed, great skills, and everything else. We’re getting about as good a look as, they’re good at corner, no question about it, (but) they can’t simulate how good Cromartie is. But they do, they have three guys with that kind of size. It really is. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a group that big.  I think you’d probably have to go back in the 60’s when (that’s all) they ever cared about (and) you can hit guys all over the place.  You had Dick “Night Train” Lane as a corner and he’s like 250 (pounds) and he’s knocking people down all over the place. That’s kind of the style. It’s a real aggressive hitting unit as well.

 

On whether he could see the large secondary becoming a trend in the NFL…

There’s not as many out there, I can tell you that much. What you always do, there’s an old adage, the NFL obviously is a size speed league. But you take a good big one over a good little one, you always do that. In this league, that old saying about, the bigger they are, the harder they fall and all that. No, not in this league. The bigger they are, the harder they hit in this league.  So a lot of times, you get that kind of skillset, that’s what you look for, but these guys are rare.  It’s hard to find these guys.
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