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REX: This Team Feels Like the 2009 Team

Posted Sep 5, 2013

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

First off, practice I thought went well today. Let’s say we’re getting a good grasp of the game plan. The thing that we’re really stressing, too, is focus on the penalties, those self-inflicted things we’ve talked about. We’re back to doing our pushups. Last year, I thought, as soon as we did that, the penalties went way down. So we’re starting the season, instead of waiting until five weeks in or whatever, we’re doing that.

We're really focused on pursuing the football. With those running backs, with [Doug] Martin at running back, obviously, we have to get a lot of hats on him. He’s a guy who runs hard, runs through tackles. So we have to swarm the ballcarrier and really put an emphasis on that defensively. I thought we did a good job on blitz pickup today, in particular by the offense. That was impressive. I thought Geno [Smith] threw the ball well as well.

Here’s the injuries. Three guys did not practice today: Quinton Coples with the ankle, [Mark] Sanchez with the shoulder, Santonio Holmes did not practice today with the foot. These players were limited: [Antonio] Cromartie with a hip, Kenrick Ellis with a back, Kellen Winslow with a knee and [Leger] Douzable with illness. That’s the injury report. Holmes’ deal, that was scheduled. Just like Winslow was scheduled, it’s the same thing we’re doing with him, kind of like a pitch count, so to speak. That’s why. He did not have a setback. This was a scheduled miss.

On if Holmes will play on Sunday…

Like I’ve said from day one, you know what I’ve said. I certainly hope so. But again, we’ll make sure we have the absolute clearance from our doctors and our trainers before we do that. Obviously, he hasn’t appeared in any preseason games this year, just now practicing. So we’ll lean on them. But as I’ve said all along, I certainly hope he plays.

On how Holmes looked in practice yesterday…

I thought he looked pretty good. He really hadn’t practiced a whole lot. It’s a new system. I thought he caught the ball well and I thought he moved around pretty well.

On if Holmes’ status changes the game plan…

Maybe so a little bit. Normally if you know he’s healthy, if you played 70 snaps, he’d be in 70 of them, so I think that would be altered a little.

On what they would like to see from Holmes to make them feel comfortable about him playing Sunday…

It’s not really what I would see because I’m comfortable with him. I was comfortable with him when he was in a boot [laughter], but it’s more the trainers and the doctors. I’m not really sure. I just know that you’re not going to put a guy out there if he’s not well.

On if there are things they can do to make Geno Smith feel more comfortable on Sunday…

If Tampa Bay would sign up for it, than we’d be all for it, but I think they’re going to come at him full-speed. But really, I don’t know. You have to protect the quarterback. That’s where it starts. And if you get protection then the quarterback generally feels comfortable, but as far as batting back the nerves and all that kind of stuff, I’m not sure. I hope that it’s more excitement than it is nerves. I think, clearly, the onus is going to be on us protecting the quarterback.

On if they will put him in Smith more to make him feel comfortable…

That would’ve made sense probably if we were just starting, but now it’s all through mini-camps, training camp and all that. This is his offense now.

On if they will run the ball more because they have a rookie quarterback…

If that really was the game plan, I don’t think we’d tell Tampa Bay. It’s probably not a good start if that was really your plan. They did lead the league in run defense. I get what you’re saying, clearly, yes, you want to win the football, there’s no doubt. You go into every game, you want to be able to run the football. But we know what we’re up against. But again, Geno has a good grasp of our system and we’ll see what happens.

On if he has noticed a change in Smith’s demeanor now that he’s starting…

No, I think the big thing to me is now he’s moving around more like pre-injury. I think he’s moving around much better than he has in a long time.

On what he is doing in defensive meetings now that he was not doing last season…

I think my presence. I’m in the meetings, in all the defense meetings or most of the defensive meetings, when last time, I was mostly split in between. So I think that’s the big change. Dennis [Thurman] and I have been together forever, so it’s smooth sailing whether I’m in there or not. But the fact that, yes, I’m in there and I’ll install the defense and things, I think is a big difference.

On if the strong team cohesion can help the team play greater than its parts…

I think it plays to our strength and the fact that we are a team and it’s not based on a certain individual talent or whatever, it’s best on all of us. And we recognize that, "Hey, we’re going to be like this." We’re not going to have maybe a 2,000-yard rusher. We might have that. We might be able to rush for 2,000 yards, but it’s going to be by committee. We’ll see.

I think it’s just the feeling that I get. It’s very similar to my first year when I got here, 2009. It feels the same way to me. It was a close group. That was a team the persevered a great deal. It’s not going to go as smooth, obviously as we’d like. There’s going to be bumps in the road along the way, but when you have a team with that kind of resolve like we had in the 2009, you can do some special things. When I look at it, this team, it feels like that and it feels that way to me.

On if he can draw from the analogy that strong team cohesion can help beat teams with more star players…

Yes, and saying that, we do have some pretty darn good players, there’s no question. But having that marquee guy or whatever, maybe we don’t have one, but I think we do, Mo Wilkerson. But the face of your franchise, I don’t know if Mo’s that. I don’t know how many tickets Mo is going to sell [laughter]. Maybe, but we have guys like that. We have some really good players, but it’s not a Brett Favre or someone like that out there.

But I’ll say the answer to that question, though, I think, each Sunday, it sounds crazy, but you just have to be the best team that day, and no matter what the paper says or anything else, that’s how you win. You have to be the best team that day. There've been times where I’ve been on both sides where maybe statistically on paper or whatever, that team was better than us going into it, big favorites or whatever and we beat a team like that. There have also been times when  we’ve been that team and we’ve been beat, so that’s why when everything you do is focused on this opponent, that specific opponent and you don’t look too far down the road, that gives you the best chance.

On what he expects of Wilkerson…

I just expect him to play great. That’s it. Statistics, I don’t know what they are. I think last year he was second in the league for tackles by a defensive lineman, right next to J.J. Watt. But again, it doesn’t really matter. He’s going to affect a team. His style of play is something that can really affect an opponent. [Gerald] McCoy here with Tampa Bay is an outstanding defensive tackle, and he’s a guy you have to be aware of. Well, Mo is clearly that way also.

On if the roster is better off now than if they had Darrelle Revis…

I’m not going to get into all that type of stuff. Darrelle Revis, I’ve said from day one that’s a once-in-how-many-years player. He’s a tremendous player. To say that, I don’t know if it would do anyone justice.

On if his philosophy is to throw at Revis since he hasn't played in a year…

[Shakes his head, laughter] No. We know him well. That might be some teams' [philosophy]. I don’t think that’s going to be our philosophy. I can’t even lie and say, "Oh, yeah, no, absolutely, we’re attacking him, yeah." I don’t see that happening, but again, we’ll see. Obviously, we know the kind of talent he is. All Jet fans know the kind of talent that he has.

On if Revis has come off a major injury before…

No, that’s true.

On Revis being in “unchartered territory” coming off his injury…

If I had my way, he’d rest it one more week. I think that’d be the best thing for him [laughter].

On if his bigger role in the defense is more comfortable for him with his background…

I just enjoy teaching. Absolutely, I just enjoy teaching and that’s part of it. As I said before, my job is the head football coach, but also, I’m not the only guy who calls plays. Sean Payton does a pretty good job in New Orleans I think, calling offenses. And there are guys who will call defense and things like that as well. [Bill] Belichick calls it, a lot of their plays. I’m not putting myself in that category because that will be a headline. But it is easy. It’s our system, the New York Jets system. It’s like riding a bike.

On what he has learned about Coach Mornhinweg since he’s been here…

Just his background. He’s a little tougher than maybe I though going in. Just his mentality and all that stuff, he always attacked and stuff, but even his background, he came from a family of wrestlers from Perry, Okla. He has some toughness. I love the way he is. He’s a great teacher. I see him out there. He gets the most from his players, he cares for his players. He’s been there and done it. He’s really fun to watch.

On if he will watch the Baltimore Orioles game tonight [reference to previous comments about the Baltimore Ravens not opening at home]…

I don’t want to get beat up by Buck Showalter [laughter]. When I was heavier, I think I could’ve got him down [laughter]. That’s somebody else’s team.

On what coaches will be in the booth…

We have the position coaches on the field primarily. Bobby April, you speak of Mike Pettine who’s a superstar, a young talent, this young man is the same way, just a great football coach. His background is not much different from mine and Mike Pettine’s, so he’s got his eyes up top, primarily, and Brian Smith is also up there. So those are the guys we really lean on, on defense. Again, David Lee, I know is upstairs on the offense as well, so I hear that communication quite about.

On Dee Milliner’s progression going into the season…

We know he’s an outstanding player, but you can’t buy experience. Certainly, we wish he would have more game experience than he got, or practice experience for that matter, but we can’t worry about it now. We just have to move forward. He’s done a good job. He’s a smart young man. He’s played in some big games before. This guy’s had four years of starting or being a part-time starter at Alabama. He’s played in some big games. It’s just getting that the talent level on this level, obviously, is higher than that, probably not much with the SEC and Clemson [laughter], but it’s still a little bit above.

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