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REX: I Believe in Geno

Posted Dec 2, 2013

Transcript of head coach Rex Ryan's news conference late Monday afternoon at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center:

It’s like I said last night, it was just a poor performance on our part. Obviously, Miami had a great game against us. They dominated us in things that we always want to do. The runs and completions battle, I think is one where that’s probably as many as we have given up, I think it was 63-35 or something like that. That’s just one stat. Field position, you name it, they dominated the game. It’s basically what I said last night, that hasn’t changed.

When looking at the tape, we’re going to go with, and I’m going to go with Geno [Smith] as our quarterback. I believe in Geno, I think he has the tools to be a good quarterback in this league. I believe that. Obviously, he’s going through some rough, rough times, these last three games in particular. They have not been good for him and quite honestly, for a lot of it it hasn’t been good. In this particular game, we have some challenges. At receiver right now, we’re kind of shorthanded a little bit compared to some of the guys. [With Santonio] Holmes not really being healthy [and Jeremy] Kerley being out, it obviously plays into it a little bit. Hopefully, they’ll be ready to go this week.

Defensively, whether I placed too much of an emphasis on not having the ball thrown over our head, obviously that was a point of emphasis, but we have to challenge more. We have to challenge more on the outside, that’s a given. We didn’t tackle well. There’s things that we have to get better at. With this team that we’re getting ready to play, although I’m just in the process of looking at them now, I’ve seen a couple games, it’s a very challenging offense. They have skill at receiver, they have some size at receiver and some speed. And obviously they run the ball extremely well. It’s going to be a big challenge there.

On how long he debated who to start at quarterback…

I think, again, really watching the tape and once you get an understanding and you really evaluate the tape. To me, I just look at Geno as a guy, as I’ve said, I think he has a chance, a chance to be a really good quarterback. One thing about Geno that’s been impressive, he’s been through it already, he’s had the ups and downs and all that type of stuff. His perseverance is impressive to me. He’ll bounce back from this and I’m just waiting for him to have a great game. Obviously, it’s a challenge to everybody, not just him. I think he has it in him. I don’t think there’s a doubt that he has it in him. We’ll find out soon enough.

On how much the front office was involved in naming Smith the starter…

Well, I think as an organization we’re involved in our decisions. That’s where it is for any decision we make.

On who is involved in the decision…

We have conversations. I have conversations with John [Idzik] all the time. I have conversations with, really John’s my main guy up there, but Rod [Graves] maybe. But John and I are in touch with decisions that we make, organizational decisions. Do I include all the scouts? Absolutely not. I don’t have time. I include the coaching staff, Marty [Mornhinweg] and I, specifically. Whether David Lee’s in that, he’s very aware of how I feel, how we feel. But again, I’ll look for things, but I see it with my own eyes as well. So when you make a decision it is an organizational decision.

On if there is anything from yesterday’s game film that made him think that Smith is a better option than Simms…

Well again, look, if we’re just looking at that tape, the option doesn’t look very good for either guy if you’re just looking at how they played in that game. But it’s more than that. It’s the protection, we went a lot of eight-man protections and we’re still getting hit. So there’s different things. Were guys getting open? Not like you would think, not like I would want. So there’s a lot of contributing factors into it. I have confidence in Geno and that’s just the way it is. Not saying I don’t have confidence in Matt, but I feel that Geno has a chance to be a good one.

On his assessment of Simms…

He battles like crazy, always does. I love the enthusiasm and things like that. And I’m not trying to rip Matt at all. We had a lot of the same issues with both quarterbacks.

On if he thinks Smith can learn by watching…

No, I don’t believe so. I really don’t. If I truly believed that, then that’s what we’d do. But I don’t see that. I think right now, number one, he’s our best shot in my opinion. But the other deal is, as I mentioned, I’ve seen him bounce back. It’s not like this is the only time it’s happened. It’s just happened three weeks in a row. I get it. I understand where everybody’s thinking. I believe that he’ll bounce back from this.

On the mixed messages of benching Smith and Dee Milliner differently…

Well, but again, I think Dee never missed a start. He missed one because he was injured, but he never missed a start. And I’m not worried about sending mixed messages or whatever. My thing is I’m fair and I think whether you agree with, not just you, people agree with me or not, I believe I’m being fair and I’ll always do what I think is in the best interest of the football team and that’s part of it. I might not be right, but the team knows where I’m coming from and I’m sure that they believe that I’m fair.

On why he believes it would benefit Smith to be benched…

Well, he took a breather in that half. I mean, he saw it from the sidelines for that half. I think he’ll be ready to respond this week. I truly believe he will.

On why the team is struggling with protection from the offensive line…

Again, I think some of the one-on-one battles, like Austin Howard for instance, he’s going against one of the best pass rushers in the league. Had a terrific game, ok, but now you’re going to lump him with everybody else. There’s a lot of things. When you have eight guys in the protection, there’s only five offensive linemen. I understand where they’re going to get the, ‘Well, we can’t protect, the offensive line’s not doing its job.’ We could play better, yes, but there’re times when they’re doing a tremendous job. Maybe we’re not getting it done at other places.

On Santonio Holmes

Again, we’re looking at some things. We thought that he was going to play a little more than that, but we noticed as coaches that the burst wasn’t quite there. And so, instead of him possibly having a setback, we were only going to play him, in what we said, was a must situation because we can’t afford for him to take a step back, lose him for the rest of the year. We need him to be going forward. But with that said, we thought we could get [some plays out of him]. We started him first play. We had exactly what we thought would happen: the safety came down and doubled him and then we thought we were going to throw the big ball over top. That wasn’t the case, we got sacked. He’s a presence, he gives us a presence out there and if he’s healthy enough, you want him out there.

On if not having Kerley influenced the decision to have Holmes active…

That’s a possibility. I think we’re a much better team if Holmes and Kerley are out there.

On Josh Cribbs’ injury…

I think it’s pretty bad. Again, we’ll have an update for you as we get going. I don’t have the specific thing right now, but I think it’s pretty serious.

On David Garrard

I think with David, David’s here really as the third quarterback and try to provide some experience and leadership help with the two young quarterbacks.

On how Garrard is doing as a mentor…

Again, I don’t think any of us are in that classroom with Geno. Maybe you should ask him and Matt possibly.

On if he knew he was going to go with Smith as the starter against Oakland when he arrived at the facility this morning…

I had a strong feeling about it, but I wanted to see it for myself. I wanted to see the tape and everything else, before we’re sitting back and making that decision.

On if he made the decision after he watched the game tape this morning…

Yes.

On if he consulted Mornhinweg or Idzik about who was going to start at quarterback against Oakland…

Well, no. I’m in there with Marty. I’m in there with John. I’m in there with DT [Dennis Thurman]. I’m around most of the coaches in the morning.

On if there is a possibility Ed Reed will not start…

No. I think he’s going to be starting unless he’s injured.

On why Reed will likely start…

Because I think Ed gives us the best shot.

On if Reed gives the team a better shot than Antonio Allen

Again, I think there are different roles. Quite honestly, I was wanting to play a certain way this past week and we kind of got out of it because I expected to play Antonio a little more, but that wasn’t the case. We’ll always do what I think is the best for our team, but I think if you look at it from a statistical standpoint or something like that, maybe I could see the question. We all saw him miss the tackle on Hartline’s touchdown, but Ed did his job. I don’t think there’s any doubt. It starts with communication. I think he did a good job communicating. I thought he did a good job. The ball did not get thrown over us, but again, we weren’t successful, for sure.

On if Dee Milliner will keep his starting job…

Instead of just going through all 22 guys, we’ll see. Their offense is a little different, what I’ve seen so far, so we’ll evaluate.

On when they noticed Holmes didn’t have the same burst…

Yeah, I went over and I asked Marty, because I saw him, I know he wanted to go, but it’s like, ‘Rex, he doesn’t have that burst.’ We were worried about him pulling and I think that was the main reason. Obviously, if he’s healthy and ready to go, then he’d be out there.

On if he talked to Mornhinweg during warmups…

This is during the game. He’s cleared to play. And hey, did we know we weren’t going to get Santonio at 100 percent? Yeah, we knew that, but I think, was I expecting to maybe get a little more out of him? I expected that we were going to play him more and then when he didn’t, I kind of asked and that was the reason.

On if Antonio Cromartie would be the primary kickoff returner if Cribbs can’t play…

No, we’ll take a look at our options. Certainly, Cro did a tremendous job back there, but he is our best corner. We’ll take a look at our options though.

On playing Allen more often…

We have to do a better job of playing him. I have to do a better job of putting him in there, but the defenses are a lot different. When you mention the job that Antonio did against Gronk [Rob Gronkowski], tremendous job, we were in man coverage, we looked him on there, same thing with [Jimmy] Graham. We were playing way more zone than we were going to play, so that was one of the factors for sure.

On Kellen Winslow

Again, we’ll see where he’s at this week as we go through the specific game plans. I know he’s been targeted five times in the last two weeks, he’s caught all five balls. I’m not so sure we can say that about anybody else.

On Winslow’s comments about practice carrying over to the games…

Along those lines, he wasn’t available on Thursday to practice. So sometimes you have a big emphasis in a certain area, that could be what he’s talking about as well. And Holmes wasn’t available on the practice field. Those are things where, if we get those guys back out there, they’re practicing, and we’re making plays, that bodes well for us. But, if they’re not available to you, even on the practice field, it’s hard to get consistency when some of your guys aren’t even out there. I think he understands, as we all do, that if you make plays on the practice field, you’ll make them in the games, but if you’re not available on the practice field, how much of an ability do you have during the game.

On being ranked 30th on offense…

Statistics sometimes don’t tell the whole story. Clearly we’ve had our ups and downs this year with our offense, there is no ifs, ands or buts about that. It’s not as good as what we’d wish it would be, we haven’t been as consistent. Sometimes it’s been really good and sometimes, especially as of late, it’s been really bad. I think there’s a lot of contributing factors that go into it. So I think that’s kind of where we are. We have to do a much better job, we’re going to be challenged big time with what’s coming down the road for us defensively, starting with Oakland. Hopefully we’re able to get some of our key guys back and I’m sure that will help us.

On not starting Dee Milliner in Week 3 after he was benched the previous game and if that would have an impact on the decision to start Geno Smith

No, I don’t worry about it. They know that I’ll do what I think is in the best interest of this team. They know that from me and so, I’m not worried about it. Every situation is a little different, but again, we’ll put our guys in position, if we think somebody is a better fit, then that’s the way we’ll go.

On if the team will continue to start Brian Winters at left guard…

We’ll just let this week play out and we’ll see what our plans are.

On announcing that starting quarterback now…

We did announce the quarterback and I’ll say why we announced the quarterback, the reason you announce the quarterback is that is a more challenging position than any other one. Basically their preparation starts sooner, not as far as they’ll watch tape [of the opponent] today, but they’ll get a jump on the game plan the day before the rest of them do. I think that’s the main reason you announce the starting quarterback because he has to understand that you’re going in there, you will be starter so he’ll start the prep.

On why not make Oakland prepare for two different starting quarterbacks…

If there was that big of a difference then I can understand. If a guy was an option quarterback and a guy wasn’t, their situation for instance, maybe that would be a reason that you wouldn’t say it. Again, I don’t think it would be that big of a secret to them, the styles of the quarterbacks are similar.

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