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IDZIK: It’s Been a Joy to Work with Rex

Posted Nov 4, 2013

Transcript of general manager John Idzik's news conference following our Monday afternoon practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center:

Good afternoon. Welcome to Florham Park. Nice fall day. We're a little bit beyond the midterm exams, so to speak, and a lot has transpired in nine weeks, really a lot has transpired when you go all the way back to the offseason, minicamp, preseason, and then ultimately we get to the real games. So much has happened which is good for our team. We have a relatively young team. We have a lot of new faces in the building, and I think it's brought us together. We've experienced tough road games, we've experienced some success at home, we've experienced a Thursday night, Monday night game, short weeks, experienced playing divisional leaders. So a lot has transpired in nine weeks. To get that type of experience in an abbreviated time I think has been valuable for our team. I think it will serve us well going forward.

On assessing Rex Ryan through the first nine games…

I think Rex, it's not only for the regular season the first nine weeks, again, this dates back to when I first came here, I think he's done very well. It's been great working with Rex and his staff. Here's another guy that not only am I new, we changed some faces on our personnel staff as we went through free agency and the draft, and then post-draft. We've changed quite a number of faces on the coaching staff, three new coordinators, five new coaches, I believe, on offense, a couple of new coaches on defense, special teams, every phase. Rex has pulled it all together. He's our leader.

Then once you look at what we've done on our roster, same thing. You have seen it. We've had a lot of new faces, lot of new starters, lot of new guys coming in midstream during those nine weeks. And they're productive in a short period of time. That's a tribute to Rex, it's a tribute to our staff. It's a tribute to Marty [Mornhinweg], DT [Dennis Thurman], Ben [Kotwica], our coordinators, all the guys on the staff. It's worked extremely well so far.

On what he’s learned about Ryan from working with him…

The more we work together, we learn how we have a lot of similarities, not only in our upbringing but really our view on football, view on the type of players and people that we want in the building that reflect what it is to play like a Jet and act like a Jet, a lot of similarities there. I don't think there have been any surprises. If you've learned something about me, I don't operate on any preconceived notions. You try to take that into every aspect of what we do, that we stay in the moment, we live in the moment, we practice in the moment, we play in the moment.

So you don't go in believing a certain way, you let things transpire and you've heard me say this a number of times, you let things play out. That tells you a lot. So far, through nine games, I think our roster, our team, our staff, our building has responded pretty well, again, considering so many changes have taken place in such a short period of time.

On the team’s approach to making roster moves during the season…

Well, there is a consistent and constant dialogue certainly within our personnel staff. We use Tuesdays, we use Mondays to work guys out. As you say, we're in constant contact with those agents and those players to monitor where they are. We do a lot of work in evaluating those guys to prepare for emergencies or things that may have to change. Our coaching staff is heavily involved in that as well. Obviously, the lion’s share of their time is spent preparing for each game during the regular season.

But we have weekly personnel meetings, evaluation meetings. They're heavily involved in our tryouts. So there has been a really nice dialogue within personnel and between personnel and coaching which I think is very important. It enables you to identify who you feel would be a good fit, especially when you don't have the luxury of time.

We're going through postgame injury evaluations right now. You're not going to know a lot of that until Monday night, Tuesday morning, and in some cases later on in the week where you'll wait and see how a player responds. But you have to be at the ready. By being at the ready, that takes a lot of background work with our personnel guys. It takes a lot of communication between our coaches and our personnel staffs, and we've had that. I think that enables us to identify who has the best chance. You never know until you get them here who has the best chance to be productive as a Jet.

On how he would evaluate himself…

I don't really evaluate myself, to be honest. I just keep my nose to the grindstone. Like anything else, like our players, like our coaches, like pretty much everybody in the building, we just focus on what we have to do and let things roll. I guess that's for you to evaluate.

On Ryan’s future with the Jets…

Again, we're living in the moment. Especially when you're in the regular season, as you have witnessed so far, each week is precious, each game is precious. The one thing this league teaches you is that if you skip a beat, you'll pay. We're just too competitive of a league. So we — meaning myself, our staff, Rex, his staff, the players — we're trying to remain disciplined in living in the moment and not getting too far ahead of ourselves. But in terms of my working relationship with Rex, again, it's been a joy to work with Rex.

On who will make the decision regarding Ryan’s future, him or a combination of people…

It's always going to be a combination. I think some of these buzzwords, we live them. I don't like to talk too much, but we do live in a business of collaboration in this building. So any significant decision we make, there is going to be input from a lot of various sources, especially the bigger decisions there are, the more information you require to make a sound judgment.

On his personality being different from Ryan’s…

Really? [laughter]

On if it has surprised him that he and Ryan get along so well despite their different personalities…

No, it really hasn't. From the first day I got here, I guess you could say I formally met Rex during the interview process. I got a chance to meet him, they gave us some alone time. It became very evident right from the get-go that we did have a lot in common. I think when you feel that, there is naturally a lot to talk about. The more you talk, the more you live together, go through experiences together, we have been through a lot, again, in a little time.

It just reinforces the fact that, you know what? We have similar makeups. It's not only our football upbringing, it's not only the fact that we're coaches' sons and we've played and we've had a lot of similar experiences. It's really how you view things. When we lay out a direction for the team to be tough-minded, to be physical, to be aggressive, to be competitive, to be centered on competition, those are similarities that we have. I think they're very important. I think it's felt in the building.

On if any part of him felt that inheriting Ryan as the new general manager would be an awkward situation…

No, I wouldn't say any awkward moments. Whenever you come into a new organization, I think people have to learn you and how you go about things. I mean, you're learning me to a certain extent. So I don't think it's awkward. It's just a matter of time and getting people used to you. But there really, to me, there is no my way, that Rex had to learn my way, or that I had to learn Rex's way. I think it's our way.

That's another area that we're very in concert with. It's a "we" thing, it's a team thing. We play the ultimate team sport at the ultimate level. To the degree where you actually live that, it's not about individuals, it's not about individual agendas or accomplishments. It's about what we can do as a collective whole, and Rex and I are very similar on that. We see eye-to-eye on that. I think that didn't make it awkward. That made it pretty comfortable from the beginning.

On Geno Smith’s rookie season being filled with ups and downs…

I think that's true with anybody, a lot of ups and downs. It's more visible at the quarterback position, particularly when you're in New York. You're front and center. Particularly when you're a rookie, you haven't been through it before. But, again, I look at it that he's gone game to game with turnovers, with key turnovers, then he's player of the week. He's gone games where he's had to throw the ball to win in key situations, and we had a game yesterday where we had to be effective in running the ball and managing the game. He made one of his finest plays of the year so far, a run yesterday to set up a field goal, not a splash play. Then he makes a great seam throw in Atlanta to Cumberland for a touchdown. So he's experienced a lot.

This is really building his background. I can't remember when so many things have transpired for a quarterback, a rookie quarterback in the first nine months or excuse me, nine games. Feels like nine months [joking, laughter]. But I think that's going to serve him well and serve the team well. He's handled it extremely well. I mean, you're getting to know him now. You're getting to know the Geno that we know and that we live with on a daily basis. He's a very even-keeled guy. He doesn't take the highs too high and the lows too low, which I think is very critical for that position. He's handled that extremely well.

On how long it will take to determine if Smith can be the long-term answer at quarterback…

Well, again, we'll always have strategic plans in mind. You look beyond and look long-term, but we live in the moment where we're in the regular season. Geno lives in the moment, our offense and our locker room live in the moment. I don't know that there's anything definitive like that.

I would ask you, the quarterback that we played Sunday, Drew Brees, when did it happen? When was that moment in time where everyone woke up and said, wow, he's the guy long-term. You just knew, you know, you just knew. That's an accumulation of experience and events over time. I don't point to a single moment. I think it's a feeling that you get in the building as to where we are as a team and how our individual players are contributing to the team.

On if there is a long-term plan for determining Ryan’s future with the team…

Well, it's always in the background. But really when you're in Rex's shoes and his staff's shoes, they're on a very tactical plan. We're, believe it or not, we're addressing the bye. It may sound like this is just about getting recharged, hitting the reset button, but how do you manage the bye so that we can come back and be ready for Buffalo week? So, the lion's share of their focus right now is very tactical. There is always that hum in the background that there will be a strategic plan going on and we'll get to that in due time. But when we're in it to win each week, you have to remain focused on that week, and that's what we try to do. That's what Rex tries to do.

On Jeremy Kerley’s injury…

I don't know yet. He's still going through exams. He had a few this morning. I spoke to Jeremy on a couple of occasions. Usually those things we find out either later on this evening or tomorrow morning. Usually it takes a little time.

On if this team is good enough to make the playoffs…

I'm not in that business of predicting playoffs. The beauty of our league is its unpredictability. We've already witnessed that so far in nine weeks. So who makes the playoffs and who doesn't? I mean, I was on a team that made the playoffs and had a 7-9 record. I don't know that too many people would have predicted that. But we just do what we do. We take it a week at a time, and we're going to feel good about the results.

On if he’s happy with the team’s 5-4 record…

No one is happy at 5-4. You always wish you could win some of the games that got by you. But I can say that the way our guys compete, that's been our mantra. I think you've witnessed it, too. It could happen within a series, it could happen game to game, it could happen over a period. Now we have first half/second half. I think we're pleased with the way our guys compete. I think we're pleased with the way our guys have come together. We've got a real cohesive team here, and by team, I mean our staff, our players. We care about each other, we fight for each other, we have each other's backs. You feel that in this building. So I’m very pleased with that.

On if there are any significant decisions he’s made that he wishes he could have back…

Not really. Not that I think of. We don't look back too often. You want to learn from experiencing some things now that I know what I know, but unfortunately, you don't have that knowledge. So I don't think we look back. We're always looking forward. We'll learn from our experiences. We'll learn from a game in Cincinnati and apply that going forward. We'll learn from certain decisions that we make. But, no, I don't have any regrets.

On what he’s learned most about the job…

The thing I've learned most, really I've touched on a lot of the aspects of the job, but it's really the demand on time that's probably the most challenging. There is so much you try to accomplish, and you always feel like there are not enough hours in the day. So there is the next challenge right on your plate, which we thrive on in football and in the NFL, that's just how we're cut.

But I think it's just the overall demand on your time, especially in the regular season. You mentioned, you asked about the strategic things that you want long-term, well, that's going into the background and you're kind of doing double duty in paying attention to all the intricacies of the day and of the week. So there are those aspects of it.

On if he is surprised by the team’s success considering the expectations of people outside the building…

No, I wouldn't say it's a surprise to any of us in the building. Again, we feel really good about our group and the way we've come together in a short period of time. We felt this actually back in OTAs and minicamp. And then you say, OK, how is this going to translate into games, into live action and training camp? We felt it to a larger degree there. OK, how is this going to translate once we go for real? Then we felt it translate once we got into the regular season. So that's all supportive. We've got a good group of players and good group of coaches and a good building. What comes of that I don't think is a surprise to us.

On if he needs to make a decision on Smith after the season…

No, I don't think, again, I don't think there is a definitive timeline on it. I would say Drew [Brees] had some pretty good production with his first team, too. But I think you just have to watch it play out. I'll say this, too: The quarterback position is not [unlike] any other position. Competition will help us get better, and we lived that this summer and I felt like it helped Geno and it helped Matt [Simms]. I felt like it helped Mark [Sanchez], too. Unfortunately, he's not here to live that out for this season.

But I don't think there is any definitive period in time where you say, "OK, I feel it now." Again, in this league whether it's evaluating the quarterback position, evaluating anything you're doing, if you have a feeling of contentment or complacency, you're at risk, and we're not going to have that feeling in this building. We'll always push this train going forward.

On if he expects Sanchez to be on the team next season…

I'm not looking that far in advance. I think the way we handled Mark and his rehab, we're staying the course that way. Mark so far has done a nice job with his rehab, and we just want to get him back and get him 100 percent off of his surgery. That's what we're focused on right now.

On when Sanchez will be 100 percent healthy…

I don't know that. I can tell you the early stages of his post-op rehab have gone very well.

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