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REX: We'll See Where We Finish

Posted Dec 19, 2013

Transcript of head coach Rex Ryan's Thursday afternoon news conference.

Practice went well today. Saw some improvements yesterday, especially from assignments, so that was good to see. I thought Geno [Smith] was accurate with the football. That’s a positive. Not surprising, but he’s looked good. And then today, we had Ed out, so Ed Reed did not practice. But, that’s not injury related. Kind of the same thing we did last week. Guys that were limited today: Cro [Antonio Cromartie], so Cromartie with his hip, Holmes foot and hamstring, Ellis Lankster with his jaw, Sheldon Richardson wrist and finger, and Kellen Winslow with his knee. Everybody else was full today.

On how Cromartie’s hip has affected him this season…

You never really know. I’m sure he’s pushing through some things, but he told me that he feels good right now, so hopefully we get the Cro that we’re accustomed to.

On if Richardson broke his wrist…

No, I don’t believe it’s broken. It’s not broken. Like I said, it’s hard to describe, but defensive linemen go through these things. Their hands, wrists, thumbs, they’re always beat up and I think that’s really what it is. So, he’s got a finger and a wrist and like I said before, even yesterday, I think when you really look at our guys, all defensive linemen have something. That’s just part of being a defensive lineman, but nothing that’s going to keep him out.

On the defensive line and their potential…

I think if you would ask any coach really, if you were going to build defense, you would want to build it from inside out. It’d start with the defensive line and that’s really what we’ve done. Now, we had to replace a lot of good players obviously, but we were fortunate that Mo Wilkerson landed where he did, able to get him, [Quinton] Coples the next year and then obviously Sheldon this year. So, back-to-back-to-back defensive line, but these young guys, I think as it gets going, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t be one of the top groups in the league. And then you add on top of that a [Kenrick] Ellis and a ‘Snacks’ [Damon Harrison], I think that’s a young group that has the potential to be around for a long time.

On why the defense has not performed as well the last three weeks…

Well again, I think part of it is we’ve given up too many yards after the catch. I think that has been a big thing. Earlier in the year we were having trouble defending the deep ball. So, I think those are things that are kind of a little out of whack. We gave up a big run a couple weeks ago, which is uncharacteristic of us. That’s more of a how the heck did that thing happen, but again, we gave it up. So, I think that’s kind of where we’ve been the last couple weeks, but hopefully we’ll right the ship this week and against a good opponent. One that’s throwing the ball all over the place it seems like, so they’ve had success and they have some weapons obviously, we’re going to have to be focused on.

On Chris Ivory

Well, I think the thing you see about Chris is obviously he’s a big strong, powerful back that can run inside. You see some of his outside skills as well. I’ve been impressed with him in pass protection. It has not been perfect, but his blitz pickup in particular, he’ll step up in there and if you’re a blitzer, you better watch out because he’s had some hits in there that quite honestly, have knocked people to the ground. So, he’s been very aggressive in blitz pickup. I don’t know if I knew he’d be that good in blitz pickup. Does his protection still need to improve in some areas? Yeah, absolutely yeah, but I’ve been impressed with the way he’s stepped up in there and takes it on. And obviously, we all knew about the running skills.

On why he thinks the offensive is in good hands with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg…

With Marty I think his resume speaks for itself, and I think this is a guy that’s been there, done it. He’s done it for a long time. I think it shows that it’s not just a one-trick pony. With Marty you get a guy that can run the football, knows how to run the football, knows how to set people up, good in the red zone. You just look at everything, you can check that box. Obliviously this year, from a statistical standpoint, isn’t where we’d like it to be, but I just see that the offense, I think, we look at it, it’s like, ‘Hey, we had a chance here.’ And as long as we have some of our guys out there, we get [Jeremy] Kerley out there, we get our weapons out there, I think we can move the ball, I think against anybody when we’re healthy.

On Mornhinweg’s strengths as a coach…

I think just his expertise and his knowledge, obviously, his overall knowledge of the game. He’s a very confident person. I think you see that in a leader, you’re looking for that. I think he has that. He’s got the pelts that say, I guess his resume shows you that he’s been at the top of this league for several years. Top in rushing, top in passing, top in scoring, everything and it tells you that it’s not surprising. I think we have the right guy.

On what it says about Holmes that he said yesterday he would take a pay cut to remain with the team next season…

Again, that’s funny, great to know. Our guys, guys want to be Jets. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. Really, like even with all of them, with Tone and everybody, let’s just focus on Cleveland and we’ll address that at the appropriate time. But right now, every bit of our focus needs to be on this game. We only have two regular season games left and it’s our last home game. I understand where he’s coming from, but I wish that focus was just right on this game. Obviously, what happens after that is fine, we can address it then. But, I just want our guys to be focused solely on this. But, I understand where he’s coming from.

On if he told Holmes that his focus needs to be on Cleveland…

No. Look I did the same thing, it’s like, let’s just put it all here. Let’s just put it into this opponent and this game and the future, whatever that is, at the appropriate time we’ll comment on.

On players in general that make statements about taking pay cuts…

I get it.

On what he thinks the message is when players make statements about taking pay cuts to remain with a team…

No look, I just think that he wants to be a Jet – I think we all do. That’s a whole locker room that wants to be Jets and they’re proud to be Jets and that makes me feel good. There’s no question about that. But, my point would be about, to me, let’s finish this job, let’s put every bit of our attention to detail on Cleveland and I’m talking to myself as well. But, I haven’t told the team or anything specific about this is what you need to say or anything else. I haven’t done that.

On why he decided to have the team practice inside the last couple days…

Because I think when you look at it, obviously the day before the field was icy and so that was the reason then. But, you look at the weather, the forecast coming up, talking about 60 something degrees and so, I don’t think it makes a whole lot of sense to go out there in whatever the temperature is. Even though it’s chilly in there, it’s not the way it is outside obviously.

On the team not making it into the top eight in defense…

We don’t know that. You don’t know that. I’ve never experienced it, so I’m assuming that we’ll make it. We might have to have some unbelievable games. Again, you look back and say, ‘Oh, shoot,’ because I don’t know any different and that’s where we’ll be. Obviously, we’ve had some struggles that need to get fixed and hopefully these last two games we’ll play up to my expectations.

On if total defense or scoring defense is more important to him…

Well again, to me, wins and losses I think [is most important]. It really doesn’t matter. I would think sometimes both of them can be a little bit misleading sometimes because I think scoring defense, if you’re just talking about against a defense or whatever, that’s it. We’ve given up some returns this year that are adding to it and things and then sometimes total defense can be a little bit misleading also. Maybe you’re not as good as what it would say or something like that. When you look at the big picture I guess it’s easy, because how’s your red zone defense, how’s this, how’s that. There’s a lot of different factors that go into it.

On if yards per play is at the top of the list of important defensive statistical categories…

I don’t know. What do we rank good in? This year, run defense is probably the most important [joking]. No, I don’t know.

On if he’s disappointed that they haven’t been able to meet his preseason expectation of having a top five defense…

I just assumed that’s where we’d always be. But again, yeah, oh no, absolutely. I’d just assumed we’d be there, but to me it’s just the wins and losses and I think that’s the disappointment. That’s where the disappointment comes in. We have two games left, we’ll see where we finish.

On if his evaluation of Smith’s last two games means less because the team does not have as much on the line…

No, I think we evaluate the whole season. When the season’s over you can evaluate it. He’s also led us in last drives to four victories. We failed a couple times to come back in games, but we’ve also won games from behind as well. So, I think you just wait to the end of the year and then you probably get a fair evaluation.

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