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REX: Our Team Understands This Is About Us

Posted Nov 25, 2013

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

They always say, “Well, it’s never as good and never as bad as what you think.” That was pretty close, though, to being about as bad as I remember. Then there were some things that we did really well and I think this team is a lot closer than it might appear of being a decent football team because there are some things that we’re doing in a lot of areas that are pretty impressive. With that being said, there are other areas where we still have to improve, like more than a little bit. That’s a challenge. That’s where we’re working. And obviously, as we say, you have five weeks left in the season, it’s all about Miami and that’s where we’re at. It seems like I’ve said the same thing the last couple of weeks, but that’s where the focus is and certainly we have to get better.

The mistakes we made, they’re not on one person. Offensively, as it always does, it seems like as we talk about Geno [Smith] all the time, the stats are out there for the public awareness, I guess. Here are the facts, he was nine-for-whatever, but it doesn’t paint the whole picture and it’s certainly not on one guy. When you look at the numbers, "Boy, that guy really struggled." But there’s a reason. Some of it’s protections. Some of it’s dropping the football. Some it’s a poor throw. Some of it’s running not a precise route. There are a lot of factors that [are] involved in it. Defensively, it’s getting the ball thrown over our heads, but there’s times where we’re just flat not making the play down the field. We had a couple passes right in our hands [and] we dropped them on defense. Hopefully that will change and hopefully it changes in a hurry.

On if he is concerned about Smith’s current play…

I’m concerned about all of our play as a football team. That’s my concern. With Geno, sure, we have to get more production out of the quarterback position. I understand that. Some of it, he’s making throws. As a defensive coach, you always talk about making them throw out of a well. Basically, you’re trying to paint that picture where you’re pushing that pocket so much that he literally is having to throw the thing out of a well. That happened to us more than a couple of times and it’s hard to be consistent and hit what you’re trying to aim at when you’re altered that way.

The last interception, it was a blown coverage. If we played the coverage like they did, they would’ve scored twice on us. That’s just the way it is. But the kid [Corey Graham] makes and unbelievable play. He’s playing No. 1 over there, but he actually undercuts No. 2. Both of them are running verticals. We got the tight end running. I think he sees that the safety misplays it and says, "Oh shoot, I’ll just feather the ball in there instead of driving the ball in there." Sometimes it’s like, “Pull the trigger.” Like it’s right there, you still have to throw it. He just never wanted to miss it and kind of just put touch on it instead of firing it in there like he always does. The kid undercuts it, makes an unbelievable play. He has to learn from that. If a guy blows a coverage, you have to fire it in there still. That’s what you have to do. I think he will learn from it.

On CBS analyst Dan Dierdorf saying on air that Rex said he would not take Smith out if the game was still close…

I have confidence in Geno. I don’t necessarily understand that. Yes, we’re going. The game’s going.

On Dierdorf indicating he would not take Smith out if he was struggling and the game was still close…

I don’t think like that. They’re saying a blowout or whatever, I never think like that. I think we’re going to win the game and that’s how you go in there. Obviously, if it’s a situation where you can win the game, then I wasn’t going to take him out. We’ve come back, he’s led four comeback drives for victories. I guess I’m missing the point.

On if a player can’t get benched during a game if he’s not playing well…

No, I’ve never once said that if a guy doesn’t play well that he won’t be yanked. I’ve yanked guys in the past. That’s why I said I don’t understand it. Obviously if you’re in a situation to win a game, why would you pull your starting quarterback out? I don’t get that. Now, if a guy’s struggling, anybody can get benched and I’ve benched several players in the past. I think the point that you guys are trying to bring up I don’t think is accurate. I certainly wouldn’t think that he feels that there isn’t a chance that he can be replaced if he’s not playing well. I don’t think’s there’s anyone on this team that would feel that way. There’s an accountability to everybody and I think everybody feels that.

On if Smith is starting against Miami…

Yes.

On if it was the plan for Smith to start all along…

No. I have a conversation with Marty [Mornhinweg] all the time and Dennis [Thurman] will watch the tape, I’ll watch it. The offense watches it together, individually and then together. And then the same thing on defense. I watch all phases and then, we’ll talk about it. We even get together as an entire staff and go over the game.

On if there was consideration that Simms would start…

Again, I think when you look at it, you’re just evaluating the tape, evaluating the game, that you don’t even know like the specific opponents. So really, most of the coaches haven’t seen one snap of Miami yet because all your preparation is into this game. Now, some of the quality control coaches and all of that, they’ve broken down the tape. But, when you’re looking at the conversation, not mentioning the quarterback situation, but anybody. If it was a tackle for instance, you’ve got to know who you’re up against.

In this case, with Geno, I think when you watch the tape and you’re factoring the things, I think he did a much better job. There are a couple factors I thought he improved. There are a couple areas I thought he improved in from the previous week, even though the numbers say there wasn’t a whole lot of improvement. I think the way he handled his pocket awareness was much better and believe me it was tough. You’ve got [Terrell] Suggs on one side and [Elvis] Dumervil on the other. Haloti [Ngata] and this other kid [Arthur] Jones pushing it through the middle, but it was tough. He stepped up at the appropriate time, he bailed at the appropriate time. I thought he kept things alive. I was impressed with that. I was also impressed with the fact that he threw some passes away that weren’t there. He wasn’t going to force the issue. So I was impressed with some of the things that he did.

On if he gives the team the best chance to win…

Right now, I would feel that he gives us the best chance to win.

On being a decent football team…

I’m just saying that when I see a decent team, I think there’s some phases where we can be dominant. I think right now, if you look at our team, we’re a dominant run defense. There’s nobody close to us in this league and when you look at it, saying from a statistical standpoint, I think we give up 2.8 or 2.9 [yards] a rush, when the next closest team is maybe 3.5 or 3.4 per rush. I think that’s the separation that you don’t see very often in this league from first to second place in rushing attempts. So I would say that we’re doing a decent job of playing the run. I would think maybe it’s a little better than that.

There’s some areas where, I think at times, we’ve done some good things running the football, but there’s other areas that clearly we need to improve on. When you look at it from a defensive standpoint, obviously still preventing the deep ball. We’re on top of almost every one of them in the game, except too, actually three. We dropped the coverage on one. We had a bust in the coverage for a 27-yard play and then we got the ball thrown over top of us for a 60-yarder and then the touchdown as well. Obviously, we’re not there yet, but we’re working there.

On decent being an average football team…

Decent for us would be much better than that. I think we could be really good. I think we have a chance to be really good in some areas, in particular that we’re working hard at. But there’s other areas that have to improve and those areas we’re going to [improve]. You can become really good when you make your weakness your strength. So obviously the focus last year, we weren’t very good at stopping the run. We focused on it, now we’re leading the league, so there’s ways of getting there, it just takes hard work and persistence.

On if he has a lack of confidence in the offense and the offense’s struggles the last two weeks.…

Well, no. Obviously the conditions, there’s several different factors. We know we have to score, there’s no question about that, and we have to do a better job on third down in particular in both those games. So that’s an area of emphasis that we’ll be focused on this week.

On if he’s concerned that the team doesn’t have enough talent at the skill positions…

I think we have weapons, it’s just that we need more consistency. I think part of it, guys on the practice field, some of the timing might be off all that. We haven’t had the full complement of guys on the practice field. We had Kellen Winslow misses a couple days. We had Santonio [Holmes] off the foot injury misses a couple days of work. David Nelson was sick. I mean, it just seemed like snowball effect.

The entire week we had the scout team offense was defensive players or defensive backs. They were running routes for our defense. Normally, you have your offensive guys do it, but we couldn’t, We weren’t healthy enough at receiver to do that, so that plays into it a little bit as well. That you’ve worked a certain route, now all of a sudden you have a different player running that route. We’ve got to get healthy and we’ve got to get our guys back on the practice field.

On if he will give Simms more reps with the first team and what Simms needs to do to become a viable alternate for Smith…

Well, first off, I like Matt Simms. I think Matt’s done some good things for us when we’ve put him in some games. On the scout team each week I can evaluate him on the scout team each week. And then the other thing that I do is with Matt and I we stand next to each other when the offense is up and he repeats the play to me. Marty [Mornhinweg] has him do that and he’s right on top it. He can tell you exactly what the plays are and things like that. He’s impressive that way.

On if Simms will get first-team reps…

Again, I’d like to be able to watch a few plays on Miami before we decide that.

On telling the team to not listen to people outside of the building…

I don’t see that as a direct quote from me. To me, I think sometimes when you view the whole game, you see that the areas of concerns are more. It’s not just about the one position. I recognize that’s an important position, but when I said sometimes the protection’s letting us down, sometimes the timing of the routes are letting us down, sometimes guys aren’t catching the football, sometimes a poor throw and a poor decision on the quarterback’s part. I don’t know if you guys believe me or not, but that’s what I see. So I don’t see it necessarily about just the one man. It’s not about the one individual. It’s not a frustration thing on my part, it’s just the fact that sometimes this is what I’m seeing and I’m telling you what I see to be the truth. Whether you take it or not, I’m not trying to convince anybody, I’m just telling you what I see.

As far as the outside forces influencing our team, absolutely. My team is close. This team is close. There’s always going to be ups and downs with each unit whether it’s special teams, offense, defense or whatever. There’s going to be sometimes when the defense has to carry the load until the offense gets righted and vice versa. I know the way the game’s played. I know the way sometimes there’s outside influences that can try to chip away at your team and the foundation of your team and we certainly don’t need that.

On if not listening to people outside of the building was his message to the team…

It’s what I just shared with you. So that’s my message, that hey, I get it. But I think our team understands that this is about us. That’s what is so good about our room. Look, outside expectations, we were ranked 32nd in this league or whatever the heck we were, 33rd, 32-A or something.

On how serious Troy Davis’ injury was…

Yeah, I think that’s a real unfortunate thing. I know the NFL’s really trying to clean up those kind of hits, the defenseless players and all that. It wasn’t a penalty at the time. But certainly it’s something where he got injured, and before I go into his specific injury or anybody else’s, I’ll just wait until Wednesday to give the official report and by then maybe things will clear up a little bit.

On if he was surprised the hit on Davis was not a penalty…

Well, again, I’m not going to get into the me judging officials or anything like that. At the time I thought it was but I don’t have a great view of things. Apparently one of my coaches wanted to get a better view [joking]. I haven’t seen that one called. I saw that called one other time in all the years I’ve coached and I’ll never forget it. Jim Colletto, we bust a big run, he’s trying to get the guy to stay in bounds and the ref runs right into him and he goes “Whoops, that’s on me.” It’s like, what? He was a veteran coach for years and years and Jim’s voice was tremendous. I was like, "You’ve got to be kidding me." I had never [seen] that. But that was the first time in all the years of coaching, or the only two times, that’s ever happened.

On how other factors affect how he evaluates Smith…

Well, I think if it’s a clean pocket, it’s a lot easier to make a throw, an accurate throw than it would be with guys in your face and everything else. But again, I see it on the practice field. At times the guy’s done a nice job. Geno’s done a nice job here. I think the team has confidence in him and I have confidence in him.

On if a quarterback change is his decision…

In the heat of the battle, John [Idzik] is not beside me.

On if changing starting quarterbacks for future games is his decision…

Well again, if it would be a big decision on those things, whether it’s at corner or quarterback or whatever, it’s not that I’m just going to say, "This guy’s going to play or whatever, and that’s it because I’m the head coach." It’s I’ll look into the factors. I’ll talk to a Dennis Thurman. I’ll talk to Marty Mornhinweg. I’ll talk to whoever the position coach is. I’ll always get input from people before there’s a big decision on doing that. In the course of the game, clearly I’ll lean on them as well. I’ll lean on Dennis. I’ll lean on Marty and whoever. It’s something that whether you have the authority to do it or not, you want to make sure that everybody’s on board with the decision and that’s whether you’re replacing a guy during a game or not.

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