Transcript of new Jets head coach Rex Ryan's introductory news conference on Wednesday morning:
First off, with all the cameras I was looking for our new president back there [smiling]. I think we'll get to meet him in the next couple of years anyway.
I'd like to thank Mr. [Woody] Johnson and Mike Tannenbaum and the entire New York Jets organization. I can't tell you how excited I am to lead this organization. It's a dream come true. I plan on being here a long time, there's no doubt. To get that done, you have to have great support — my wife, Michelle, of 22 years. There are only two kinds of coaches' wives in the NFL, and that's ex-ones and great ones, so 22 years' worth. I know what you're thinking, "Man, did you outkick your coverage." You're right. I'm a great recruiter, though, I guess.
I'd also like to thank the Baltimore Ravens, Steve Bisciotti, Ozzie Newsome and John Harbaugh, really everybody there for their support. Now let's go ahead and talk some football if you don't mind. That's my expertise.
What can you expect from a team that has myself as a leader? Number one, I'm going to surround myself with the best people I can find. The kind of coaches that I bring in here are going to work with me. They don't work for me, they work with me. There are a lot of talented guys already here in place, which makes it much easier for me. Mike Westhoff coaching special teams and Bill Callahan are already committed. We've got things in place. I just hired Mike Pettine who was with me in Baltimore for the last several years as our defensive coordinator. He's a rising star in the league. We don't want to pump him up too much. We want him to be around here for a while as well, but you're going to see he's a star in this league.
My job as a head football coach is to provide our players and our coaches with everything they need to be successful, whether it's through the scheme that we play, what we can provide, materials, learning materials, all of that. We have a philosophy here that's .... you've heard of K.I.S.S. philosophy, which is "Keep It Simple, Stupid"? That's for somebody else. Ours is a K.I.L.L. philosophy. We're going to "Keep It Likeable and Learnable."
We're going to make mistakes, but we're going to make those mistakes full-speed, and you're going to see an attack team here. We're going to be aggressive on both sides of the ball and with our special teams. It's all about our team here. It's a team concept that we're going to have with the Jets. Our offense is going to pick up our defense, our defense will pick up our offense and our special teams will pick us up on both sides of the ball.
How are we going to build each other up? Our offense is going to build up our defense by the way we work against each other and vice versa. Some games our offense may need to score 21 points. Sometimes our defense may need to shut them out. Whatever the case may be, we're going to pick each other up. It's about a team, it's not one side versus the other side, but we're going to compete against each other in practice.
As far as our mentality, our aggressive mentality, you're going to see that through our preparation. It starts with our preparation. You're going to also see that on the practice field. We're going to get after it. We either go through it walkthrough speed or full-speed. That's how you do things here, and that's how we're going to get it done. You can't expect a guy to know how to play on Sunday when he hasn't seen it throughout the week. So we go full-speed, and that's the way it's going to get done.
We will be an aggressive football team and a physical football team. We want to have an all-weather offense. What kind of offense? We're going to have an all-weather offense, and that starts with a running game, being able to run the football, because I think it's important. You've got to win when the snow falls to get where you want to go, and that's to win Super Bowls. John Harbaugh always used to say "We want to win multiple Super Bowls." We'll start with the first one, but then we're going to move on from there.
One of the reasons I took this job, besides the obvious meeting of Mr. Johnson, Mike Tannenbaum and Scott Cohen [assistant general manager] — I was blown away when they came down and visited. I just knew that this was where I wanted to be. I understand the pressures, the things that go with the New York media and the expectations of a team coming off a nine-win season. I look at that as an opportunity and an opportunity where we can win immediately. There's no reason we shouldn't win immediately with the kind of players that we have and the kind of coaching staff that we're bringing in here.
The only way I know how to handle a challenge is to hit that thing head on, and that's what we're going to do. The message to the rest of the league is "Hey, the Jets are coming, and we're going to give you everything we've got, and that's going to be, I think, more than you can handle." We're going to find out.
We're going to try to put pressure on everybody that we play with our style of play. We want to be known as the most physical football team in the NFL, and whatever that means, you figure it out. We're going to take care of each other. The players will have each other's backs. If you take a swipe at one of ours, we'll take a swipe at two of yours, and that's just the way this game is going to be played.
As far as the opportunity here, I can't thank Mr. Johnson, Mike Tannenbaum and the Jets organization enough for this. This is like a dream come true. My dad started his pro coaching career with the Jets, and in his first year they won the Super Bowl. I'd love to do that, duplicate that this year, and we're going to do everything we can to get that going. But he was a long-time NFL assistant with the Jets for eight seasons, and like he told me, "Oh, don't screw it up. This is my team." I'm like, "Yeah, don't worry, Dad." But you're going to see him in the building and all that.
It's on. I can't wait. We're bringing in as good a coaching staff as we can find, and we're going to try to do the same thing with our players. Every decision we make will be based on our team, what's important for our team. Not necessarily the individual but the team. I know you guys know about [Baltimore's] defense. That was never focused on an individual. It was always focused on the unit, the pride of the unit, and that's what we're going to have. We're going to have a pride of this football team. All three phases, all three units are going to be special.
Once I get through this day, I go from 8:15 to 5:45 today doing interviews and all that kind of stuff. If I can get through this day, I'm going to be fine because it's going to be football. I'm not blessed with a silver tongue, but I know one thing, I know how to coach this game, and I can't wait for the opportunity to line it up and get after it.
On if he will welcome QB Brett Favre back to the team…
Brett Favre is a tremendous player, and I look at it this way: I got whiplash from playing against Brett Favre or coaching against him from him going up and down the field against the Ravens. I believe we played them in 2001, and if it wasn't his best game he ever had as a pro, I can't believe it, because it sure felt like my worst day coaching. It was one of those 32-for-35 days and a bunch of touchdowns [27-of-34, 337 yards, three TDs]. We couldn't stop him. So I know the kind of talent he has and the kind of competitor he is. And I would think anybody would want him as their quarterback.
On Favre's performance through the final five games of the season…
I haven't seen those games, quite honestly. I was trying to prepare the team that I was with, the Baltimore Ravens, trying to get us to a Super Bowl. Everything will be looked at and our coaches' input and everything. Sometimes you don't have your best game for whatever reason, and we'll take a look. I know the respect that I have for Brett Favre is great, and it just comes from first-hand info. I've seen him up close and personal, and that's enough for me.
On if he thinks he is prepared to be a head coach…
I'm not a one-hit wonder. When you look at my background, I've been successful at all stops along the way, whether it's in college or the NFL. At Cincinnati, we were 13th in the country in defense; I'm not sure what the numbers were. At Oklahoma, when I was there for the one season, my job was defensive coordinator then and we were sixth in the nation. You look at Oklahoma now and they're tremendous on defense, but I took over a team that I believe was 78th or something like that and then jumped it down to sixth and we started a ton of freshmen right out of high school. It gets done at all levels.
In Baltimore, we've been consistent. You can look at the top 10, if you just take a 10-year period, over the last 10 years we probably ranked first or second in every category. There's some consistency there, and I know the kind of responsibility it is to be a head football coach, but you've got the right guy. I plan on proving that each week.
On if he will retain offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer…
I'm going to be meeting with Brian soon. Brian has a great reputation, is a tremendous coach, and certainly I want to sit down and visit with him face-to-face. If anybody has gone through what Brian has, I know the disappointment he's feeling by not getting this job. I went through the exact same process last year in Baltimore, and we hired John Harbaugh, who's a great leader. In fact, I recommended they hire John.
We have a lot of things that we can talk about, personal things. I know the sting of not getting a job. You've got to remember, I went through nine years of coaching the Ravens. I felt a little betrayal there, to be honest with you. But then when I got over myself, I realized that this was going to be a great opportunity for me to learn under the guidance of John Harbaugh, and he gave me a new perspective on things. I know I'm more prepared to be a head football coach this year than I was last year, but I am very excited to meet with Brian in the next few days.
On if Favre will return…
Quite honestly, I can't tell you that. The job right now is for me to put together the best coaching staff that I can for our players to be successful and that's my focus right now. We're setting up the calendars, and once we get all that stuff down and we feel good about that, we can move on. There are a million decisions that need to be made, and obviously Brett will be a huge decision. He may make that decision for us. We'll look at that when the time comes.
On when he plans to speak with Favre…
I plan on talking to all the players. I'm excited about getting to know all our players. I'll start knocking off about four or five a day and when it gets down to the F's I'll talk to Brett [laughter].
On how he will change the Jets culture…
You're going to see. The exciting thing is this team won nine football games. This is a good football team. There really doesn't have to be a drastic change, but I think you're going to see a drastic change in some of the style of play, in particular on defense. We're not going to "read and react" —, that's for somebody else. We're going to be attacking from the whistle. You're going to see us not just to the whistle but through the whistle and that's how we're going to play. We're going to turn the heat up, we're going to let the fur fly and see what happens.
This is a good football team. It's built to play the kind of style that we're going to play. We've got some unique guys, some edge pass rushers. We've got the man in the middle right there, Kris Jenkins, and we've got some linebackers. We've got a free safety [Kerry Rhodes] that's a ballhawk and, to me, the best corner in football [Darrelle Revis]. That's a pretty good starting point right there.
You're going to see it. The first practice, first day you come out to practice, you will see the intensity in the style of play that we'll have. We know how to play defense and we know the style that we want. We know what it looks like.
On LB Vernon Gholston…
When Vernon came out, everybody was like "Wait until you see this guy." He blows the combine charts up, the strength and the running and the jumping and all that. He had 15 sacks. This is not a guy that was not productive in college. He was very productive. I see some things in his play that I knew that I would like to coach this young man because I don't even think he's scratched the surface of the kind of player he can be.
Now with that being said, he's going to have to give a heck of a commitment from himself. He's going to have to humble himself, just like Terrell Suggs did. I remember when I had Terrell, people said, "Oh, he's a bust." I was coaching the defensive line, Terrell was with the linebackers, and Ozzie [Newsome] said, "Rex, I want you to coach him." This was like the week before the first game, and I'm like "Yeah, finally, I get a shot at this kid."
I brought him down there. I told him in front of all his teammates that despite what other people are saying, that he was a complete bust in the organization, I brought him in front of the defensive line, and I said, "You're going to be the Rookie of the Year, and you'll be a perennial Pro Bowl player. I would have taken you with the first pick in the draft." I was being honest with him. Right now, I might have taken Carson Palmer ahead of him [laughter], but that's how I felt. I told him the way it was.
I knew that there were some things in his game that he could improve on. The way he strikes things, the way he would take on blocks, the way he would get off blocks, and everybody knew he had the pass rush ability, but it was everything else. With Terrell Suggs, the best thing he does, everybody knows he's a great pass rusher, but the best thing he does is play the run. He's a complete player. That's what you're going to see with Vernon Gholston and a lot of other people here.
I'm excited about this opportunity. There's some talent here that I think if you put them in a certain style of play you're going to see some great things. I expect to always be in the top five in the NFL in defense. With that being said, I want to challenge our fans. Our fans are part of our defense in particular. They're obviously part of our whole football team, but in particular you can see the value of your fans in how you play defense at home.
I bring that up because I'm excited about this opportunity. I know the Jets' fans. This is going to be great. This is a great marriage right here, I can honestly say. The style of defense that we're going to play, with our fans — whoo, it's going to be rough on people. Baltimore was pretty rough on people. This year nobody scored more than 13 points against us at home and I think that's the first time it's been done in 40 years in the NFL. The expectations are high for me as a head football coach. I have high expectations of our fans. We don't let them score at home. Anywhere, really, but at home let's put it on them.
With that being said, if our offense is on a 15-play drive, I don't need the fans to boo them because they want to get started again with the defense. I really, truly believe that if our fans are as loud as we think they will be — and we've got to give you reason to cheer for us, and we plan on doing that — it could really be a huge home field advantage for us.
On Favre being the quarterback…
My point right now is that anybody would want Brett Favre to be their quarterback. Not just me but anybody. We'll see. All the particulars and all that kind of stuff we'll get into later. Quite honestly, I'm probably not prepared to answer that. I haven't talked to Brett or anything yet. We'll see how he's feeling.
On how he characterizes the way he leads players…
I hope I don't irritate them. I'd like to keep this job for a little bit. I'm going to be myself and that's been pretty successful for me throughout my career. I'm not going to paint a false picture of myself. I'm a guy that's very confident. I'm not just confident in my abilities, I'm confident in my coaches' abilities and I'm confident in our players' abilities. It's my job as a coach to put our players in the best position to be successful, move guys around and things.
It's the team concept, and I'll give you an example. The way we meet on defense is as an entire unit and not just the defensive line, linebackers, safeties, corners, you've got all that stuff. We meet all together and it's kind of a unique teaching style. But again, it's likable and learnable.
I can honestly say that our corner will be able to tell you what Kris Jenkins' responsibility is on every snap and it's how we teach things. "What's Kris doing? He's going to knock the guy back, now he's going to get off the block. He's going to get off a block, but if it's played towards him he's going to rip and make a tackle. If it's played away he's going to go arm-over with his off hand." You're going to hear all that stuff. Kris will also be able to tell you where Kerry Rhodes is supposed to be, in the deep third or the middle third of whatever our defense is.
That's what makes it special. It's accountability to each other. They're not going to want to let each other down. You really know you've got something when the team's success is more important than the individual's success. There are plenty of opportunities to go around.
Ed Reed is a great example. Ed Reed and Kerry Rhodes. I'm excited to see and coach Kerry. Ed has a reputation of being a freelance guy, but Ed plays in the structure of our defense and whether you want to believe it or not, it's the case. We'll let him know where the traps are, we'll set traps and all that, and the thing that Ed did is take advantage of the opportunities that he got and that's something that we've got to understand. It's not just one guy doing his own thing out there. It's all 11 doing what we're supposed to be doing and doing it in a fashion where it's physical and aggressive always.
On if he will have a say on personnel decisions and hiring assistant coaches…
Obviously personnel decisions, Mike will have the final say, just like any GM has the final say in any organization. I truly believe we want to have a joint effort of coaches, scouting department, etc. We're going to watch the tapes. Our coaching staff is going to be evaluating these players as well, and we'll formulate our plan on what players we want, and then Mike will go get them.
We're going to have a huge opinion on players, and I would be shocked if there isn't almost 100 percent consensus on players. But if there isn't, then Mike has the final say, just like Ozzie has in Baltimore. You never hear anything about it, but Ozzie is the guy that makes that call. As far as the coaches go, there's not been one time that there's been any pressure to hire [an assistant] coach. If that's what the word is out there, then that's wrong. That's not the case at all. There just happens to be great coaches on this staff that I want to keep.
On if he wants to keep Schottenheimer as the offensive coordinator…
I think Brian is an outstanding coach. He's here already. I would be doing myself a disservice by not talking to him and seeing if he wants to stay a part of this Jets family. He's already here. He's one of the top coordinators in football. Of course, I'd give him that opportunity to say no or yes.