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REX: I Always Assumed Gronkowski Would Play

Posted Oct 18, 2013

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

Guys that did not practice — Santonio Holmes and Greg Salas. I still haven’t introduced myself to that young man yet [joking]. I guess he’s on the team. Both those two guys will not play. They did not practice and they will not play. Everybody else practiced full, so everybody should be up, ready to go.

On if he can tell a game is a potential confidence builder during the season…

I think you hit it on the head. After the fact, it’s much easier to do that. It’s just like I said, it’s easier to make a guarantee after the fact, so I made a note of that. But really no, I think sometimes you’re right. Sometimes you can go back and say that was a game that really propelled us moving forward, or whatever. But obviously before the fact, all you do each week is prepare for a specific opponent to the best of your abilities and that’s all you can do. You’re not looking at it more than it is. For me, I’ll use a division game as a game and a half because I think that’s how important it is. But you don’t go in saying, "If we can do this, if we do that, we’ll have more success down the road." I don’t know if that’s really a true answer.

On if Rob Gronkowski playing changes the game plan…

It doesn’t change one bit. Like we said from day one, I assumed he’d play. I’m assuming [Tom] Brady’s going to play [joking]. But that’s how much we assumed this guy was going to play. I don’t know if they were saving him for us, or whatever, but I had a funny feeling he was going to play. After that first game, I thought for sure he’d play against us in the second game.

On if he is glad that Kyle Wilson and Dee Milliner will play with Gronkowski cleared to play…

Well, no. I think it’s good to have your guys, a full complement of your players, for sure. I don’t like the fact that Holmes is not playing. With Gronkowski, like I said, we figured he was playing, so it’s not going to make our jobs any easier, that’s for sure. Like I said, we did anticipate him playing.

On what he could have done better defending Gronkowski last time he played…

I think you’d have to ask a lot of teams the same question, like "Oh, you couldn’t stop him in the red zone." Yeah, that’s true, us and almost every other team in the league. That’s where, in particular, he presents a huge problem. He’s 6’7,” or whatever he is, and he goes up and gets it. We saw Tony Gonzalez have success against us just like he’s had against New England and everybody else. Those guys are hard to cover. Even when you think you’ve got them covered, they’re still open just because of their size and catching radius. Certainly it presents some issues for you.

On if Gronkowski is more of a problem going vertical than Gonzalez…

Yeah, maybe a little bit. He probably runs better than Tony, but Tony has a little more experience. He definitely presents a problem there.

On what role Zach Sudfeld had in game-planning for Gronkowski…

Well, he never really remembered anything [joking]. No, I’m just kidding. You obviously pick his brain and all that kind of stuff, for sure. He’s a sharp, sharp young man, so we do our due diligence and try to get what we can out of him.

On if he senses that the players think they let the first game with New England slip away…

No, I don’t think so. I think with us, we certainly saw that we had opportunities in that game. But again, you can’t look back and it doesn’t help because that was a long time ago, totally different circumstances. But you’re playing now. It’s all about where you’re at right now and I like the fact that we’re playing at home. So we’ll see how that affects the game. The fact they’ve got Gronkowski back and this player, or whatever. We have Holmes out. How it affects you, I don’t know. I guess we’ll all find out.

On how Antonio Allen did playing against big tight ends…

Well, I think we tried everybody we had on Gonzalez and that wasn’t good. I think we held him under 100, didn’t we? There you go, right there. That was good [joking]. New England gave up 150-something, I think, that game the week before. So give us the edge [joking].

On if the running attack changes with Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo out…

The big thing, we will find out because we’re certainly going to run the ball. That’s no surprise. But how they’re going to be affected by it, I don’t know. We’ll find out. Clearly Vince is a really good player, especially versus the run, so I’d think that would be a good thing for us.

On pressuring Brady…

Like I said, it’s easy to say, "Hey, let’s get him off his spot," whatever it is, make him throw across his body, whatever. It’s a heck of a lot easier said than done. He’s about as good of a rhythm thrower as there is in the league, so the ball is out of his hands quick. He knows where he’s going with it and he’s got capable receivers. That’s the big challenge.

On if Geno Smith is ready for a bounce-back performance…

We certainly need to be ready for a bounce-back performance as a team more than anything. Just go out and play the position, but it’s about the team. We’re certainly working hard to have a bounce-back. We’ll see. Obviously it’s a tough opponent, first-place opponent. They know a lot about us, we know a lot about them, so we’ll see.

I think you get behind this football team as we did and try to rally back, it’s about as tough as there is. New England is notorious for creating turnovers, getting sacks, they do that. They close out games extremely well. Hopefully, we’re not in that situation.

On Dee Milliner...

First off, I think he just needs to do his job. I think last time, we had a mental, alignment issue and it cost us a touchdown. I think getting lined up — alignment, assignment and technique — and that’s what it’s all about. He’s been in big spots before, so that’s not new to him. I know he wants to get back out on the field, but again, we’ll see how he is. I’m confident in the young man though.

On Aqib Talib…

He’s a terrific player. He was a terrific player at Tampa. He does have that kind of ability, that lock-down ability. Very physical, that’s what I like about him. He gets his hands on you at the line of scrimmage. This past week he did a tremendous job on [Jimmy] Graham. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody slow that kid down and he didn’t slow him down, he shut him out. That’ll tell you about him. They did a lot of things against the Jones kid [Julio Jones]. At Atlanta, they had a lot of help on top, but he was physical with him as well. He’s really a tremendous player and we’ve known that for a long time. He got two picks against us last time we played him. Again, we know that he’s a really good player.

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