REX: 3-3? We Know They're a Great Team

Transcript of head coach Rex Ryan's early afternoon news conference before the Jets' Wednesday afternoon practice at the Atlantic Health Training Center:

First off, a few things about the opponent. This opponent is number one in the National Football League in total offense and scoring. I think they're fourth in rushing, so that's probably a negative for them [joking]. Overall, they average about 295 yards a game passing, 150-some rushing — huge challenge there. Obviously, it starts at the play at quarterback. The guy is on fire like he always is. He can make all the throws. [Wes] Welker has had four games in a row with 100-plus yards, over 10 catches a game, all that kind of stuff. He's doing a great job. As a slot receiver, I don't know if there's any better. He finds a way to get open. He runs routes. You think he sets you up, he's going inside and he breaks outside and vice versa. He's also sneaky fast down the field.

The tight ends, because we played a kid from the Niners [Vernon Davis], this kid [Rob Gronkowski] is probably the best tight end in football. He's huge. He's a guy that's tremendous as a blocker in the red zone. His numbers last year were almost 1,400 yards receiving with 18 touchdowns or something. This year, again, obviously a huge threat in more ways than one in the red zone and everywhere else. They get [Aaron] Hernandez back just in time to play us. Last week they put him on a pitch count, but he'll be ready to go this week. You know what? It's a big challenge. [Brandon] Lloyd will play against us. And then their backs, they rotate two guys, but primarily it's [Stevan Ridley] who has three 100-yard rushing games and then [Danny] Woodhead, who's doing a tremendous job in his role. You kind of hit the speed and quickness and then you have the power with Ridley. The other two backs that come in, [Shane] Vereen and [Brandon] Bolden, it's quite a combination.

With that being said, obviously it's a big challenge for our defense. We haven't talked about it, but one thing that's different this year than ever is they've always been an up-tempo no-huddle offense, but their tempo seems to be even faster. They try to trap guys off the field. You take your best player off the field, then they're going to keep him on the sideline with their tempo. You can't substitute. You have to be really sharp. With that, I don't think you can go in with a game plan saying we're just going to make this call or that call. You have to be multiple against them. If not, they'll light you up. We have to do that. That's a challenge for us this week. We have to do a great job in the classroom, on the practice field like always. We have to challenge our scout teams to be as fast as we can be. How fast can we go? I think that's a big challenge as well.

On defense, their defense doesn't get a whole lot of credit. The numbers usually aren't great from their defense, but what they do is they play complementary football. What I mean by that is, you can say it's a bend-but-don't-break mentality, but they create turnovers. They attack the football. They have three players that have forced three fumbles this year, which is pretty impressive. They have a rookie defensive end [Chandler Jones] that's doing a great job and if he's anything like his brother [Jon "Bones" Jones], I'm not fighting him. He's doing a tremendous job rushing the passer. They just create turnovers. I think they're second in the league in takeaways and that's kind of their game. They'll drop incredibly deep in some of their zone concepts, giving you the underneath. If the ball's deflected, then it's an interception. They'll come up and tackle you if you're not securing the football. They try to force fumbles. That's kind of what they do defensively. They have a Pro Bowl kicker and a Hall of Fame coach.

With that, let me give you the injuries. These guys will not practice today: Sione Po'uha with a low back, Kenrick Ellis, knee, Nick Mangold, ankle, Clyde Gates, shoulder, Eric Smith, knee, Bilal Powell, shoulder, and Joe McKnight, ankle. These players will be limited: Bart Scott, toe, Dustin Keller, Stephen Hill and Bryan Thomas, all with hamstrings. The following players will be full today, that's [Mark] Sanchez, low back, Calvin Pace, shoulder, Brandon Moore, hip, Matt Slauson, knee, LaRon Landry, heel, and Jeremy Kerley, heel.

One thing I also wanted you to know is we made a move. We had an injury settlement with John Conner, which basically doesn't preclude us from not bringing him back at some point. That is a possibility that he could be back with us, but quite honestly we needed the spot. We're going to bring up Marcus Dowtin, bring him up from the practice squad. We were actually going to do that last week until Eric Smith got hurt and we brought Antonio Allen up. These are two young players that we feel really good about and now is the time to get them up. They can help out on special teams and we'll see what we can do with them.

On if the decision with John Conner had anything to do with how Lex Hilliard is playing…

We really like the way Hilliard is playing. I think he's done a tremendous job for us stepping in, not just as a fullback but even on special teams. He starts on, I think, four of our special teams and he's been a really good addition. With that being said, there could be a possibility down the road that you have both of those guys on your team.

On if the Patriots look different from last year…

I think when you look at it from a statistical standpoint, I think it's the same team that you look at. I think it's just they've had in their three losses, I don't know how many points they've lost by, maybe five or six points. It's not like they're getting manhandled by any stretch. They've had some big leads and kind of lost a couple. I know against the Ravens, the Ravens came back, and this past week, obviously, against Seattle.

You look at the numbers, the statistics, you watch them on tape, it's the same team. They're explosive obviously on offense. They're doing what they do on defense. They create turnovers. Obviously, they've lost three games and since I've been here, it's probably the most they've lost in a season, I'm not sure. It seems like they don't lose very often. They're not used to being 3-3, I understand that. Actually, I really don't care. We know that they're a great football team and we have to be at our very best to have an opportunity to beat them.

On if he competes with any other coaches like he does with Coach Belichick…

Yeah, my brother. When you look at that, it's always "Hey, guess what, looks like we're ahead of you again." Actually, I can't say that this year, can I? [laughing] I think they're second in the league in defense, so I'm proud of him. We have some work to do and we still plan on catching them.

When I look at him, I see him as the best coach in the league. I've said that from the day I took the job, but again, he's going to get my best. If it was just between Belichick and me, he's going to win that battle, I recognize that. It's not going to be by a lack of effort on my part. He's going to get everything I've got. Like I said before many times, maybe he struggles one day, then something happens and he's sick or I don't know, maybe I'll get him. I don't know. I look at it as you want to compete against the very best.

Maybe I'm crazy or whatever, which it's not even debatable, but I have dreams about what I want to achieve. I want to compete against the very best. I'm not worried about competing with somebody down here, I want to compete against the guy that's up here. That's eventually where I want to get one day. If I'm fortunate enough to get there, that'd be great. Maybe people want to compete against me the same way. That'd be terrific.

On how this week is different for the coaching staff knowing they are facing the Patriots…

I think it's a unique challenge with the personnel that they have. They're obviously a really well coached team but it's that personnel they have and it starts with their quarterback. That presents a lot of things to you. They've been together for so long that it's just, they probably don't even have to say anything, they can just look at each other and know that he's going to break the route inside or outside, whatever it is. I think obviously that's a big challenge. But again, you have a chance right now that you're going to a place that's really tough to play and you have an opportunity that's in front of you. We're going to take our shot and we always feel that way.

On how long McKnight and Powell will be out…

I'm not ready to say that right now. I'm not even going to speculate on specific injuries or anything else. It's just, I know right now, today, they're not practicing. We'll see about their availability as the week goes on.

On if he thought beating New England in the playoffs would be the turning point in the rivalry…

No, I mean they swept us last year. I know we've played them seven times since I've been here, they've won four, we've won three. I think it's a pretty good match up. I think it's a little closer than maybe the general public realizes. The fact we got slaughtered 45-3 probably tilted that a little bit. I think we've played a little closer games than maybe what it looks like on the scoreboard at the end of the game. And really, that's all that matters but I've always felt that, OK, I want another shot at them. Well, that's what this week's all about. We get that opportunity and we'll find out who the better team is on this particular day.

On if he thought the order changed after beating the Patriots in the playoffs…

No, we hadn't even won our division. We knew what they represented. They might've been the best team in the National Football League that year, it's just that we were the better team that day and that's all I really cared about. That was the case. We were better that day than they were.

On the Patriots' rushing defense…

Well, I think you start with they have an excellent front seven, there's no doubt they have an excellent front seven. You start with the huge, I'm sorry, the large man in the middle, Vince Wilfork. I don't want to say anything, I don't want Vince coming after me that's for sure. But he's a great player, he is a tremendous player. You have to block him with two guys because if not, you're not budging him and he's going to make play after play inside there. He's a terrific player, a Pro Bowl player. They have the [Kyle] Love kid, who I think's an underrated player. Then you have the inside 'backers. I like [Brandon] Spikes as a big hard-hitting tough guy. Then 51 [Jerod Mayo] is a he-can-do-it-all type player, run-hit guy, he's good in coverage. They have those front seven guys and they always do a good job stopping the run.

On if the challenge to get the run game going is bigger this week than last week…

I think it's different. Each week there are different challenges. But obviously, this one's big and it starts with the big man in the middle, like we said, with Vince Wilfork. There's not too many guys with that kind of ability, that kind of size and strength. He's a good athlete. In a short area, he is a good athlete.

On how Darrelle Revis being out complicates playing against Tom Brady…

Again, we're focused on what we have right now and it's a challenge for all 11 out there, it's not just on one man in particular, it's a challenge on all 11 guys.

On why he chose Quinton Coples over Chandler Jones…

Again, they're kind of different guys. We liked both those guys. But for me, I just preferred Coples. He's a little bigger and he was a guy we were going to take as an inside-pass rusher with Quinton and that's why we took him. But we liked both those guys.

On the biggest change in the Patriots offense…

I just think they are running the ball more. I think that's the biggest change that I see with their offense is that they are running the ball more. It seems like they're committed to it more than they have been in the past. Again, I think where people have played against them, you'd load up on DBs, I know we would. We almost activated Dennis Thurman to play them, that's how many DBs we've activated. Now, the game's a little different, they're running the ball more and they're more effective running so I think that's kind of the big change.

On having an 11-point spread with the Patriots when they have identical records…

I'm not betting the game, but we're going up there, we don't care what the spread is. We're going up there and trying to find a way to win. That's our mission, that's what we're out to do.

On Coach Sparano first using the Wildcat with Miami against New England in 2008…

I think initially, it would catch you buy surprise. You had never seen it, nobody had. I think that was part of it. But I still think it has a place, I do. Nothing specifically against New England per se, but I think in that game, I think it was overlooked though. I think they only ran it seven or eight snaps in that game. It's almost like there's a perception they ran it every single play, but that really wasn't the case. I still think it's something that can be effective, obviously.

On adding QB Kevin O'Connell…

Always a possibility. With us, you look at any way you can help your football team, I think you're going to explore that. Kevin's a guy that we feel really good about. You have to be prepared down the road as well.

On if they will sign O'Connell…

I'm not going to say one way or the other on that.

On his comments that if he were in a battle with Coach Belichick, Belichick would win…

I don't think I'm the best head coach in the league right now. I think he is, so I was truthful. And I know right now, we're 18th in the league [in total defense], so not very good. But again, that's not where I think we'll finish. I'm confident in my abilities and all that stuff, but if you're looking, let's face it, we know he has all the rings and everything else and the records. I just think when it's all said and done, when you look at what he's accomplished in his coaching career as a head coach, there probably won't be anybody close to him. I just think that obviously I'm not there and neither is anybody else in this league. So I just put him, respectfully put him there. But if it was just coaching defense, than I'd put myself with anybody.

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