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REX AT INDY: We’re Ready for It to Begin

Posted Feb 20, 2014

Transcript of head coach Rex Ryan's remarks today at the NFL Combine

The main thing about tonight is to get by without getting fined. With that I'll open it up for the questions I cannot answer.

On the Jets being one of the NFL's healthiest teams in 2013...

Number one, I think it talks about our building and the guys we have in place, our trainer, John Mellody, and his staff do a tremendous job with our guys. I think it shows the commitment that our owner, Woody Johnson, has in providing our players with everything that we can for the health and well-being of our players. It's just one of those things, obviously injuries are a part of the game, unfortunately. This is a game that is pretty much a 100 percent injury rate. We have been fortunate that even though we've had some pretty significant injuries, I think compared to other teams we've been relatively healthy.

On WR Stephen Hill's rehab progress...

Stephen, I think, obviously coming from the offense he was in in college, we knew that it was going to take some developing and things like that. Certainly he's got the raw physical tools that you look for. I think he might've been the fastest receiver in the draft the time he came out and at 6'5" that's impressive. His development obviously was hindered this year when we were expecting big things. He had an outstanding training camp for us, and then out of the gate I think he had 13 catches for [233] yards receiving in the first three weeks of the season so he was off to a good start. Then unfortunately he sustained some injuries and it got to where we had to place him on injured reserve.

But again, he's a guy we're excited about, I know he's rehabbing, doing a tremendous job, and he wants in the worst way to get back and finally showcase what he can really be when he's healthy and start to really come into his own. So hopefully he'll have a big year for us.

On tight ends in today's game...

I think the game is really featuring those tight ends, big guys, big-body guys that you can use in the running game and also down the field, flexing guys outside, things like that, because you have mismatches in height and all that. I think the game now is more the two-tight-end sets than it's ever been about fullbacks. Some teams don't even have a fullback now. So you're looking for guys that have that combination size-speed, basketball players if you will, guys that can run and have the size and strength to block as well. So that's what you're looking for.

On being in a better salary cap position heading into free agency this year...

I think you're right in the fact that we were tight last year and we do have more room this year to make moves and things like that. And obviously our guys, our pro department's done a great job of giving us lists of guys, and our coaches are just now getting through that evaluating not only our own players but also potential free agents. So we've done that, we're ready for it to begin, and we'll see what happens.

On Ed Reed's second-half contributions to the defense...

I think he did a tremendous job for us. He came in and it's tough, you've got to get into a new team. But I think Ed not only did a tremendous job for us on the field, but he also provided great leadership as a mentor to some of our younger players. We were very young in the back end in particular, and I thought Ed did a tremendous job that way. But again, the fact that he did have three interceptions in the last five games, I think we all know Ed can still play.

On what he thinks of Mike Pettine's chances as the Browns' new head coach...

Not much ... no. He's not a very handsome kid, so I'll start right there, that's pretty obvious [joking]. He's a football junkie, obviously his dad was a tremendous coach in his own right and he comes from a coaching family. He's a smart guy, and I think he wants to be great, I don't think there's any doubt about it. I feel fortunate that I had Mike with me for the years I did. Hopefully he learned a few things what to do, maybe what not to do, from me. I'm sure he's going to be very successful.

On how Michael Sam, the Missouri D-lineman who recently revealed he's gay, would fit on the Jets...

He'd be no different than any other player we have. One thing I know for sure, we have 53 different players, all different religious beliefs, different what they look like, height, weight, married, single. Everybody's different. The big thing we always talk about is respect in our locker room, and even though everybody's different, it's a respect thing. And if the young man is a good football player and a good teammate, that's all we ask for. So he'd fit in just like the rest of our guys.

On Sam's strengths and weaknesses as a pass rusher...

I don't know right now. I haven't really watched him on tape. So I don't really feel good about answering that question. I understand where you're coming from because he's 250, 260 pounds. Maybe down the road when I've watched him, I'll be able to give you a better evaluation.

On first-round pick Dee Milliner's emergence down the stretch at cornerback...

Somebody said it during the year that they thought by the end of the year that he'd be the top corner that came out in that draft class, I don't remember who that was. But that was based on the fact that he had no minicamp because he had surgery. Then at training camp he was hampered by an Achilles injury. But really he was kind of learning on the run, if you will. Sometimes you sit him down to watch a little bit and then he came back and I knew he'd come back strong, I saw it on the practice field.

I think by the end of the year, the last month of the season he was voted the NFL's top defensive rookie of the month. So I think that was very encouraging. It's all about confidence when you play that position. And certainly he closed out the year, we matched him against [Josh] Gordon, we matched him against Mike Wallace, and he did more than hold his own.

On Geno Smith's season and his QB plans for the coming year...

Let's just say this. When we look at him, there's a couple of stats that jump out at me, that tell me Geno's heading in the right direction. Number one, we closed out the last month winning three of four, and I believe the second-highest [ESPN QBR] rating in the league the last month of the season. And if you look at quarterbacks that led last-minute winning drives, only two quarterbacks had five game-winning drives to close out games. And that was Tom Brady and the second one was Geno Smith. So that's encouraging to me.

What our overall situation is, let's see what happens, how it plays out in the end. Certainly with Geno, the way he finished, he had some rough spots, but I like the way he finished.

On his thoughts about his locker room in light of the Wells report detailing the Miami Dolphins' situation...

I believe our locker room's strong. And I don't really know all the particulars in that situation. For us, as I say, it's about respect and recognizing the differences in each other but also understanding you have to have respect. You don't have to like all your teammates but you have to respect everybody and that's the way our locker room's handled.

On a coach not knowing what's going on his locker room...

Again, I don't know what that particular situation was, I don't pretend to. As a head coach you try to have a sense of where your team is, how they feel about each other, how they feel about their coaches. I always try to have a relationship or develop a relationship with every player I have and not just as a football player. I want to know something about that individual. Maybe it's the guy was drafted to play baseball and I can tell you what position he played, any little thing like that. I think the more information you have on your players, the better.

I remember at one point [in 2011] I had said that I thought I lost the pulse of our team because I thought I had already dealt with a situation but that clearly wasn't the case because we had something that occurred the last week of the season. So even though I think I would probably have as good a pulse as any coach in this league in the locker room, even in that case I thought a problem was resolved but it obviously wasn't. Those things can happen.

On if QB Mark Sanchez will return to the Jets this year...

If it's up to me, you know how I feel about all my guys, I'd like them all back. That's just the way it is. Right now with Mark, his whole thing — and I know he's doing a great job of this — is rehabbing. He's getting that shoulder back to where he's throwing right now. He had a little thing with getting his knee cleaned up as well. And I know he's doing whatever he can to get back. So again, I'd like them all back. I recognize it's the NFL and that's not realistic to have all your players back, I understand that, but again, we'll let it all play out and see what happens.

On if Sanchez will be physically ready for the offseason strength and conditioning program...

I've had conversations with Mark, basically how he's doing, how his rehab is and things like that. For me to speculate on anything, it's incomplete. We'll just let it play out.

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