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REX: We've Got to Swarm Josh Gordon

Posted Dec 20, 2013

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

Everybody’s probable. So here’s the list, it’s right there, they’re all probable. So, that’s a good thing. Everybody should play. 

On if it’s unfair to judge Antonio Cromartie’s season compared to last season…

Well, no. Obviously, I understand you can judge anybody. The guy’s out there and everybody has the right to give their opinions and things like that. I understand that. Has Cro had as good a year as he had last year? No, absolutely not. Last year he was probably one of the top corners in football. This year, the tape will tell you all that. But you’re right, there’s some circumstances that maybe have contributed to maybe him to not playing up to that level. And that level was so high to begin with that it’s hard to play up to that level, but has he been better than an average corner? Yes, of course. But, up to that standard that he set, that bar that he set? No, he hadn’t played there.

But again, the hip, there’s a lot of things. And maybe there’s some guys that wouldn’t play if they were in the same circumstance he was. But, he’s such a well-conditioned athlete and he’s got a big pain tolerance and everything else, that he’s out there and week-in and week-out you can count on him. You look at his career, that’s the way it is. This young man plays. Is he at 100 percent each week? Absolutely not, but he’s probably better than the alternative. So, I certainly appreciate him going out there and competing and giving what he has to this team.

On if he got the player he thought he was going to get when the team signed Ed Reed

Well, yeah. And I got exactly the guy I thought I was going to get as far as how he’s helped and how he’s mentoring some of these guys. I don’t think there’s any doubt. Have we had the plays down the field that I was hoping to get, some of the picks and everything else? No, not yet. But again, and it’s crazy, you notice the ball isn’t going over our head anymore. It’s going underneath us [laughter]. To keep from crying, I’m laughing, but, it really hasn’t. With his presence out there, it might have something to do with it as well.

On defending Josh Gordon’s underneath routes…

Everybody’s tried different things with him. Certainly, you’d like to challenge him at the line of scrimmage, but we’ve got to do an unbelievable job. We have to do a great job of tackling. We’ve got to do a great job of swarming him. But you’re right, he’s the number one receiver in the league in yards after the catch and obviously number one in the league in yardage. He’s been able to blow the top off it and he’s been able to catch, he took a slant the other day and went 80 with it. Clearly, we’ve got to do a great job of tackling and not assuming that one guy’s going to bring him down. He’s like 220 pounds or 225 pounds, so big, strong guy and he can run.

On Ed Reed saying he would not want to come back if Rex were not back…

We definitely have a history together, but our history that I’m focused on right now is Cleveland, is playing this game. The other part, whatever happens, that’ll be addressed differently. I don’t feel like answering. It’s not bad, I understand where the questions come from, but really for me to comment on something after Cleveland I don’t think is appropriate. It really is about Cleveland. We’re two days away from the game and that’s where the focus is. Maybe those comments I can address at a different time.

On how Reed’s comments make him feel…

I get choked up like you did [joking, laughter]. I’m right there with you on that. But you know what? It does make you feel good that maybe you’ve had some kind of impact on guys that you’ve coached over the years.

On Reed saying the media does not know much about football…

You know what’s funny? Sometimes it’s tough for players to understand that, okay, we get it. Guys don’t get the coaching tape. They’re not sitting in the meetings. They can’t see everything. But, I’ve been around a lot of reporters and things like this, and shoot, you guys have a job to do and you believe your eyes. You see it and so obviously you have the right to write about anything that you see and you witness.

Does that mean you’re going to do it from a player’s perspective or a coach’s perspective? I don’t think you have to. You’re doing what you see. You’re doing it through your eyes just like I would do it through my eyes. Scheme-wise or whatever, if it’s something that you see and you feel strong about, why wouldn’t you comment on it? Are you going to know specifically, “Hey, you know what? That’s 32 Jacks Doublefield.” No you’re not going to know that. You do know that [joking]. I’m not talking about everybody [joking]. You might not know that part, but you recognize, “Hey, you know what? That looks like they’re playing two-man or they’re playing whatever.”

I believe, obviously, with this group, that it’s an impressive group. I’ve always said this, hey, not every article is positive. I get that. But, if we don’t play well, I understand what the articles are going to look like. I understand that. But if we play well then I also see what it is. I don’t expect everybody to understand, “Hey, it’s absolutely this person’s fault.” And you know what? If I don’t tell you whose fault it is, you’re going to put what you see and what you believe to be that. And sometimes I won’t do it to protect that player, and so I get it. But I think sometimes a player may think that, and not against Ed, but sometimes players think, “Well, he doesn’t know all of this.” Well no they don’t see all of it. But the writer understands the game. It might not be 100 percent what the call is, so I get that.

On if his opinion of the media has changed since his first year as a head coach…

No, I think the one thing I said the day I came here is that I recognize the media has a job to do, I recognize that. I try to, with Bruce [Speight], and he’ll probably disagree with it, we try to provide you guys an opportunity to do your job. I think it’s good, whether the press is always positive or negative. Of course a coach would like more positive press, of course. If that’s not the case, I understand it. Shoot, especially here in New York, you’re not just going to write things through rose-colored glasses. I get it. If we don’t play well I know what it’s going to look like. I wouldn’t expect it any different. I think it’s an opportunity, creating a better opportunity for you guys to do your job gives our fans a chance to maybe get a truer perspective of things. Maybe you’re getting the players’ reaction if we can provide that. That’s what we’ve always done.

That’s something I recognized when I was in Baltimore. I thought that, “If I become a head coach, I’m going to make these guys, where their lives are not miserable. I’m going to recognize that fact that you have a job.” I think that was different even from my dad. When my dad was in the league his was, “Well, the media can’t help you if you’re not winning and they can’t hurt you if you are winning.” That was basically his philosophy, mine was, “Don’t these people have a job to do just like I have a job to do? So provide the opportunity where they can be successful and that’s it, with respect.” Certainly that’s the way I have approached it.

On if he reads what is written about the team…

Not as much as I used to. Way too negative [laughter]. Just kidding. I really don’t. You know why? I take the perspective, “Let’s put my attention to where it belongs and that’s getting the team prepared for each Sunday.”

On if he thinks it has been hard for Ed Reed to process the criticism he has received…

Well I think so, that’s a Hall of Famer, first-ballot Hall of Fame player. The fact there’s been some negative criticism and things like that, everybody is like, “Do you expect 25 or 26 year old Ed Reed back there?” That’s not it. This is still a good football player, he’s an outstanding player. Is he as good as he once was? No, but guess what? That list is really short because you have to start at the top with Ed Reed, because in my opinion, he’s the finest free safety in the history of this game. If he’s going down, he’s climbing down from the very top of the mountain and that mountain is Everest. Again, Ed is a prideful guy. I think he’s probably never faced criticism in his life because of the kind of player he is. I will say this, he’s still an outstanding player and a great teammate and he’s a leader. 

On the best play he has ever seen Reed make…

Two jump out at me, there are a million of them though. There really are a ton of them. But one was when he was in college. They’re [Miami Fla.] playing Boston College and they’re trailing. One of his players picks up a fumble, is running with it, but clearly he’s going to be tackled. Ed goes up behind him and literally takes the ball from his teammate and runs for a touchdown because they were behind. I think they might’ve been undefeated at the time, but that one stood out to me because I’ve never seen that before. He literally ran up, took the ball from his teammate and ran for a touchdown because he knew he wasn’t scoring. That was one that was interesting, but he’s made so many plays.

He was a difference-maker as a hitter. He was a difference-maker as a punt returner. Obviously he has a zillion returns and a million yards returning touchdowns and all that, but one that stands out, we [Baltimore Ravens] were playing Washington and we couldn’t get anything going offensively that day. We were struggling and we’re down, I believe, 10-0. We needed a play in the worst way and we sent him on a blitz. He sacks the quarterback, strips him, picks it up and runs for a touchdown. I think later he might’ve had a punt return or blocked a punt later in the game to help seal it. It was like, “Yeah, typical Ed Reed game.” That was it.

Whether you’re blitzing, whether he’s making a big hit, whether he’s returning an interception for a touchdown, whether he’s returning a punt for a touchdown or blocking a punt for a touchdown, those are the things I know most about Ed Reed.

On if it’s hard for some older players to cope with slowing down physically….

The thing that I see is they always say a game will slow up. For your real great veteran players, the game slows up for them because mentally they’re so sharp and he’s always been like that. But unfortunately with father time, eventually you’ll slow up some too. So you may see it and you might not quite get there like you’ve done in the past. I’m not saying that’s happened with Ed, but he’s not the Ed Reed of 10 years ago. But I’m happy we have him. Ed’s still pretty darn good, and he’s helped this football team more than maybe just what you see on the field. I think if you ask some of the players that are his teammates, I’m sure they’d tell you the same thing.

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