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REX: Raiders Down, Sizing Up the Panthers

Posted Dec 10, 2013

Transcript of Coach Ryan's Monday news conference.

Watching the tape, I’m glad we brought the guys in. We had some things to correct, especially on defense. Normally a big strength of ours is our gap integrity in the run. Obviously, we had a couple issues in that, so clearly moving forward that has to be a strength, not a weakness. That long run, it’s actually embarrassing anytime you give up a run that far. Sometimes you can give up a pass that way, you feel bad about it. But it almost like rips your heart out, you give up a run of that distance. That’s kind of how we take it. So certainly we had to spend time to get that corrected and make sure everybody’s on board with the call and how we’re going to play it.

We came through, injury-wise, I think we’ve got a couple things but we got through the game pretty clean. With that said, I’m sure something will pop up. It seems like it anyway. I know Jeremy [Kerley] came through the game pretty good and I think Santonio [Holmes] did as well.

On if Antonio Cromartie is in concussion protocol…

Yeah, I think he’s going to be in that concussion protocol. Again, he felt better today so I think that’s a positive thing. These things are different though. I think as it’s explained to me that it’s a real positive sign that he’s improved from that point right after the game. Hopefully that’s a good sign.

On if Cromartie suffered a concussion…

Yeah, he’s in that, I guess, because if he’s in it I would assume that that’s what happened.

On if Cromartie was evaluated for a concussion during the game…

No, I don’t believe so. So I think it was just after the game he came back and said, “I’ve kind of got a headache,” or something like that and that’s when obviously they go into that prevention. He certainly wasn’t forced out there. If anybody would have known about it or whatever, there would have been some concerns.

On if Cromartie was injured colliding with Ed Reed

I’m not sure. I’m not real sure.

On if they had the right defensive call on Marcel Reece’s touchdown run…

I thought we did. But what happens, sometimes we overran a couple things. We ended up having the three technique outside the tackle so as they blocked down, we ended up crossing the face of him, so he was getting double-teamed. Generally you want to stay in that hole, stay in the gap. We ended up getting knocked out of that gap.

By the way, David Harris had a tremendous game. He had 15 tackles in the game. We know the missed tackle he had. That’s probably a little embarrassing. But if there’s one minus he had for the game that was probably it. He kind of overran that play and then we missed a tackle at the line of scrimmage. It’s one of those things. And then he split us. Like I say, you think you have a good call, that’s why you’re calling that play, and then sure enough they pop the run on us.

On if he is concerned about the run defense …

No, not really. I don’t know how many carries, I think Miami might have had almost 40 carries or something, if you give up 100 yards that’s fine. I just want to make sure that we know exactly where the error is and all that. We’ve been pretty good, we gave up the one. You’re not going to lead the league in run defense if you give up one big one, we’ve given up two now. We’ve given up the one on the short-yardage play to Fred Jackson and this one, things that we think are really correctable. I want to make sure we understand exactly how to play it.

On if he has done work on preparing for Carolina yet…

No, really not.

On what he has seen from Carolina’s defense…

I just know they’re really active. The [Luke] Kuechly kid from Boston College, I remember he was a tackling machine coming out of college. Apparently, he’s still a tackling machine. They’re really active up front and they’re doing a tremendous job. I watched that New Orleans game and obviously that’s not indicative of how they play. Defensively, I think it was some crazy stat that they haven’t given up even 14 points by halftime or something like that, but I think New Orleans was able to score three touchdowns or something like that. Obviously, they do a great job playing team defense. We’re certainly going to have our work cut out for us.

On how they stuck with the game plan after Geno Smith threw the interception…

Well, we stuck with the game plan, we did a good job mixing the run and the pass, I thought. The big thing is, I thought he did a nice job, he had that bad throw but the very next play he’s running the boot and he sticks one in there in tight coverage. I think that showed you what he thinks of himself, too, he was able to put that throw in there, I believe it was to [Kellen] Winslow.

Again, I think it started up front. I think the way our guys played up front allowed Geno to step into his throws. We did move the pocket some and all that. I think he was more comfortable standing in that pocket and delivering, he never had to throw it out of the well. I think that was really encouraging.

I think a big thing that he did was that he made some big plays using his legs, I think that’s huge. Anytime you talk about putting a defense on their heels, when you’re throwing it and now all of a sudden you take off with it, it presents a lot to a defense. Obviously, with this kid we’re getting ready to play, Cam Newton is a big, fast kid back there. He’s got a great arm too, that’s going to present problems.

On if Smith getting out of the pocket added versatility to the offense…

Oh yeah, no doubt. The fact that you can run some zone read and stuff like that, it’s tough preparing. We’ve talked about it. If we had somebody else who hated preparation, timing and all that. Trust me it’s real, its real. It does take a lot of time preparing for the different scenarios and working your defense against certain calls. I think with that kind of mobility and things, it’s a challenge for a defense.

On if Carolina facing Rob Ryan’s defense last night helps them…

Yeah, I don’t know. We’ll see. The two defenses are pretty different, but we’ll certainly look at it. I’ll be talking to him for sure. There’s no question. It could be worse. You could face my dad for a fourth week or something. But no, it is strange, it really is.

On if Smith was spoken to about not running out of bounds…

Yes, it’s like, "Really, kid?" Again, I think the competitor in you, you love seeing that competitive fight and that competitive fire, but no, you’re a quarterback in the National Football League. It’s tough enough to stay healthy anyway, let alone putting yourself at that kind of risk, and that was an unnecessary risk, so he has to learn that.

On if playing in the snow favors the defense or the offense…

It’s weird. At first you always think it’s going to favor the defense, but I don’t think that’s the case. I think it’s as long as you have a dry enough football and you can be accurate with the football, I think it would favor the offense because you know where you’re going. But I remember back in the day, you used to say, "Oh, man, that’s great defensive weather." But as long as the football is relatively dry and your quarterback can throw it, you probably have the advantage.

On his message to the team about the final three games…

No, my message really just about today is learn from this tape going forward. It had nothing to do with playoffs or anything like that. We have to watch this tape. We have to learn from it. Good, bad or ugly, we need to learn from it because what happens in this league, let’s say for instance they’re running the ball out of a certain look, formation, whatever, if you haven’t got that corrected, you’re going to see that run over and over again. Same thing, if you’re struggling picking up a certain type of blitz, you’re going to see it over again until you fix it. So I think that’s what it’s about, getting the corrections, the teaching and that’s really what I mentioned to the team.

On if Newton is similar to a faster Ben Roethlisberger…

I don’t know. It’s different because he runs a lot of the Zone-Read stuff where Roethlisberger really doesn’t.

On if Newton and Roethlisberger are similar in how they use their size…

That’s definitely a deal. I can definitely see the comparison there because when you see the kid, I'll never forget we were playing them in the preseason, I’m like, "Who in the heck is going to tackle that kid?" He’s huge. Big, massive calves, he’s just big all over. This is a giant. Oh my goodness. Then you throw on top this dude’s fast. There’s a reason the guy was taken with the first pick. He has a great arm and it’s like wow. God gave this kid a lot of gifts now. There’s no question about it.

But I think with Roethlisberger, I can see it, just a big guy that can stand in there, shake you off, then make plays down the field. This guy will take off with it more than Ben will. Ben is going to stand in there, take it, give it back to you and then look to throw it. This guy, he’ll look to throw, but he’ll also look to run as well.

On what will be different this season from the past two that have both ended with three game losing streaks…

Oh gosh. Number one, I don’t look back on it, but you just focus on the moment right now, what you’re facing and certainly, I hope that doesn’t happen again, my gosh. I’m confident it won’t, but again, you just focus on this particular moment, where you’re at right now and go from there. But man, we’ve got to fix that one.

On what’s he’s learned from the three game losing streaks to end the last two seasons…

Sometimes if you’re out longer, whatever, I think what you do now is want to make sure your guys are fresh and I think that’s what I learned from it. We’ll have the walkthrough, like the walkthrough practice, those plays, you’re getting like 40 reps, OK, but I’ve cut back the team reps and I’ve done a little bit of that and kind of cut back the practice. The focus has to be there, so I’ve learned that. Because we’ve got to get those guys ready to go on Sunday. We have to have our legs. This time of year you’ve got to get them in the tubs, you’ve got to do all that type of stuff, take care of their bodies, but also, the energy level and focus, attention to detail, all that has to be revved up in the meetings.

And generally, that’s why a lot of times you’ll say, OK, well, I’m going to give the guys Victory Monday off, but at the same time, I looked around, no, let’s get right back in. You’ve got to figure out as you go. But certainly, you have to be mindful of getting the best out of your guys and if that means cutting down a little bit of practice to achieve that, than that’s what you need to do. If that means, whatever it is, you have to mindful of it.

On if the team being 6-3 when Kerley plays is telling of his importance or more of a coincidence…

I don’t think it’s coincidence. I think Kerley’s an excellent player. You see the difference that he makes. Even though he was primarily just as a slot receiver, it’s a big role and he’s a guy that can shake man coverage. He’s got good hands. He’s good at run after the catch. He does a lot of things for you, so I’m not surprised at our record is what it is with him, or [what] the record is without him. We go into every game thinking you’re going to win, but it’s a lot easier when you have him out there.

On if Dee Milliner had his best game of the season against Oakland…

Well, he never gave up a completion, so I think that would a great indication that it was a much better game. But he had that kind of game based on his preparation. I think this was a terrific week, this past week that he had on the practice field and in the classroom. Things that Dennis [Thurman] talked about, certain specifics, might make a mistake on the practice field, came back in, corrected it in the classroom and then later in the week, we saw him getting better at it, and then come game time, he’s all over it. Exact thing that we had talked about, he’s there. He can’t make the throw because he’s in perfect position, where earlier in the week he might be at a different leverage spot.

So you can tell that he’s really taken to coaching. I thought he took to coaching this week in particular. I told you guys about the extra time, the extra meeting times that they we’re putting in themselves, the players. He was certainly a part of that Ed Reed study group with the secondary. I know there’s benefits to having a player like Ed. The expertise he brings, his study habits and all that, he’s trying to bring to this team as well.

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