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REX: Good Things, Room for Improvement

Transcript of head coach Rex Ryan's morning news conference preceding the Jets' Sunday midday training camp practice at SUNY Cortland:

We had some good meetings today. Watching all the tape we always said to play like a Jet win, lose, or whatever. There were a lot of good things on that tape. There were some other things that obviously weren't so good on that film but you learn from it. The thing I wanted to see was guys playing physical and playing with that kind of temperament. We saw that and the guys that really jumped out to me were two offensive linemen, Austin Howard and Vlad Ducasse. I thought both might have had some mistakes in the game but they jumped out at me. They're coming off the ball and knocking people off the ball. Austin Howard, in particular, he was a load back there. We've seen it on the practice field and he took it over to the game field. He played a lot of snaps into the third quarter and actually played the third quarter, so I thought that was good. I thought on a consistent basis our receivers down the field had a good effort blocking, which I thought that was encouraging.

Clearly, we have some room for improvement on both sides of the ball. Offensively, we have to find a way to protect the quarterback. With that being said, Cincinnati dialed up a pretty good blitz that I'll steal from them. It was a good blitz and one that we really haven't worked on, so you have to give them a check mark for that. I will say this, and it's very encouraging, we had very few mental mistakes on both sides of the ball, but we had some technique mistakes. With that, we have Dustin Keller, who is wide open. We have a three-man route and Dustin's wide open. It's the same play we've run out here on the practice field where he's wide open for a touchdown. Same thing here but we cut-block a blitzing linebacker, we cut him and he's able to get off the ground and make a sack, where if you could hold it a little longer and stay high and give the guy another split second to throw the football, it's going to be a touchdown, or at least potentially a big play, anyway.

There were things like that, from technical aspects, that we have to get better at and clean up but there were some real positives. I like the way Joe McKnight, as I mentioned after the game, played in the game. We all know Joe has a great deal of talent but also being able to pick up all the different things he was asked to do, I thought Joe did a nice job. Defensively, when you look at the tape, especially the starting defense that was only out there a couple of series, one of them, we really extended the series. Overall, we had six three-and-outs and 10 possessions, which was good, it was excellent, but 44 percent, which I think is what they were on third-down proficiency is way too high. Especially against our defense, whether its preseason or regular season, that area has to improve. I mentioned that I liked the pass rush, with our four down linemen. I thought we did a good job of converting some of our base defenses into some pass rush. I thought that was good.

We made some technique errors. One in particular, we're playing a two-man scheme, Bart [Scott] has been with me for 100 years and he let the guy inside. That's the one thing you can't do. He's trying to get a good hit on the guy and lets the guy cross his face. He's going to get separation anytime that happens in two-man and that was a huge third-and-10, a big play in the game. I'm just picking on that one example as a way on third down when you can't have that. Especially in the third-and-10 situation, we have to be able to get off the field in that situation.

Special teams, obviously, we had a whole rookie group in there on the blocked punt. That's not an excuse, but they have to take what we do on the practice field into the live action. We made a critical error and it ended up costing us a blocked punt. I'm sure the focus on the practice field will ratchet up some and it has to carry over to the game. Quite honestly, it's a thing we work on all the time but they did a good job executing.

On various player injuries…

What I know, right now, is all those guys will be out. I think they're going to monitor and see how Wayne [Hunter] is. I'm not 100 percent sure on him, whether he'll be out or not for practice. [Santonio] Holmes will definitely be out, and Eric Smith will definitely be out. He's listed as day-to-day. Technically he would be listed day-to-day, but I saw him today and there's no way he's practicing today. He's stiff and sore. He is actually doing better today than he was yesterday. Jeremy Kerley is listed as out, but I know he's making improvements. Hopefully by the end of this week we'll be able to see him out there on the practice field.

On the play of Austin Howard…

I think one thing is, you look at a guy like Austin, anyone that can play the way he played, is trying to tell you something and you have to find a way to get him out there. I don't know if that's competition, but you earn your playing time in this league. I think you've got to put him out there sometime. I don't know how many reps, or whatever. I told the team for as well as he played, I don't know, is he going to play tackle? Is he going to play this spot, that spot? Is he going to play defense, because anybody who plays like that deserves to play. That's something I was encouraged with. He put on a clinic. I should have brought that film like I did the first year, and you'd see what I'm talking about. Maybe I'll try and figure that out later in the week to show you what I'm seeing.

A guy is this big and comes off the flat back, you see it on the practice field, but he is driving people and finishing. That's what we've been talking about and I'm really encouraged by him. I'm encouraged with the way Vlad [Ducasse] played. I think that was encouraging as well.

On Bilal Powell's performance…

He looks pretty good. We had made, again it wasn't schemed, but a certain protection and I'm looking over at Powell taking on a defensive end 1-on-1. Let's just say it's what we ended up calling protection wise. Probably not the best thing, but man he's sticking his face right in there. He's a tough kid and I've really been encouraged by him. I've been encouraged by Joe McKnight and both of those two young backs were impressive in that game.

On the depth at safety…

Obviously when you have those three, Eric [Smith] in there with [LaRon] Landry and [Yeremiah] Bell, you feel great about your top three. Then we have our two young guys and really more than that, the two guys we drafted in [Josh] Bush and [Antonio] Allen, that at times look pretty darn good. Then at other times you're like oof. We have to get them up to speed a little bit. Sometimes an opportunity comes to guys, we already know Eric, and no matter what happens, Eric's going to be ready to go. He's smart, he's done it and we understand that. This is going to push some other guys up a little bit and we'll see how they compete.

On if or not he will bring a veteran safety…

I don't think so. I feel good about where we are. We have three, I think really good safeties, and two young guys that are draft choices that are pushing. Quite honestly, D['Anton] Lynn needs a chance to play. He's sharp as a tack and despite his father [joking], he's pretty impressive. I feel good about our young guys and we'll see how they do.

On Quinton Coples' performance at Cincinnati and in practice…

I know it's a bust, we should have taken this player or that player, but if you make five tackles, five hits on the quarterback, a sack, a forced fumble, and a knockdown pass on third down, then I'd say he's doing ok. To say the least, he's the guy we thought he was. Now, it's funny, Mike Pettine said "I'm going to put that game jersey out there in your practice locker room," to get him to go [hard]. The thing I think he'll grow from, is you think you're in shape, but there's something about playing in games. That adrenaline and everything else is going and he got a little winded but he kept coming. That's impressive and I think combined with the guys we have with him, the way Mo [Muhammad Wilkerson] is, Marcus Dixon the way he played. Obviously, Sione Po'uha isn't out there, but [Mike] DeVito and Kenrick Ellis, this is going to be a good group.

On Coples potentially becoming a dominant player…

It's not just necessarily flipping the switch, because you see it out here, too, but on a consistent basis, where he could be a dominant player, there's no doubt. At times you see the dominance here but then there are other times where it's like, What am I doing? I think most of it is the mental part. Sometimes it's hard.

One of the most physical guys I've ever seen play football is a guy named Otis Wilson, who played with the Bears. That first year though, Otis never really had the defense dialed in and I'm not so sure but I might have been able to block Otis. When you're sitting back there and he's wondering what he's doing back there, we've got to get him past that stage. It's got to be this is where I line up, this is my technique. Alignment, assignment, technique, and that has to be just like this to you and we've really stretched him.

We're putting him in for instance, what we call a taco personnel grouping, now he's playing end. We're in a base, now he's slides in and he's inside, so he's all over. It may be the same call but you have to hear everything. Sometimes it's sort of running together and that's kind of why we backed him off a little. [And then we] try to build him back up.

On comparing rookie safeties Allen and Bush…

They're pretty different. When you look at them, Allen was almost a linebacker-type, the old monster-type position in college, down and around the line of scrimmage. Everything he is doing in the back end is really new to him, but he's a football player and you see that on the practice field. He really has a chance. Josh was a converted corner. He moved to safety and had six picks his senior year. He's more of a true high safety type guy where Allen was more a low safety. What we're trying to do is combine both of them. One guy has to be more physical and come to the party a little bit and the other has to learn how to be more of a deep patrol as well.

On if they will be cautious with Smith's recovery…

Yeah, that might be true. I think that could be a true statement, but he's also a guy that recovers quickly and someone who we want out there competing. Hopefully he'll get a shot. We'll see how he is. He is truly listed as day-to-day. There is no way he goes out there today, but we'll see. He is a guy that loves to play and compete. You certainly miss him when he is not out there.

On if Marvin Lewis asked him to not run the Wildcat against Cincinnati and if he was planning on running the Wildcat in the game…

No, I let Marvin [Lewis] think that, but no. It wasn't a thing where I was saying, 'Well, I'm going to do you [a favor]. No, what I wanted to talk about was the Wildcat is tough to defend. Are we going to do it? Of course, at some point we're going to do it. Again, some people think the Wildcat has come and gone. No, it hasn't. If anything, it's just the opposite.

I saw the kid from San Francisco, [Colin] Kaepernick. He runs a 4.4 or something. I was really intrigued by him when he came out because I thought we were going to lose Brad [Smith]. They drafted him before we could, but I was interested in him. He went for a 70-yard touchdown run the other day. You're seeing these guys and it's hard to defend some of that stuff. When you have the ability to throw as well as run, it makes it tough.

On if he has achieved his preseason goal of making future opponents prepare for the Wildcat…

There is no question about that.

On Chaz Schilens and his nagging injuries…

The unfortunate thing with Chaz is that he hurt his ankle. It's not related to the other ones. That's another guy who won't be on your list. He ended up coming out of the game with an ankle injury. He's trying to do everything he can to get on the field and it has just been one little thing after another. The good thing is that he hasn't had major injuries, he's just trying to deal with these little things. It's a hamstring. It's a groin. It's an ankle.

The one thing a liked about what Chaz did in the game was that he was after those defensive backs. He was out there to be a blocker and quite honestly we brought him in to be an enforcer type guy because he is a physical receiver. I want him to block. He does have good speed. There were some times he had some great releases, but we weren't able to get him the football. I see the frustration in him. There is no question. I know he's frustrated with not being healthy.

Quite honestly, I'm frustrated because I know what he brings to the table. This is a guy that I think can be a special teams presence. I think he's going to be a presence on the field. I saw it some. The defensive backs were looking around [thinking] where is this kid because they knew he was going to block them and he didn't disappoint them. I thought Patrick Turner did a nice job blocking has well.

On the performance of Stephen Hill against Cincinnati…

It was good until he had that drop on third down. He had a great release on that one slant. He caught a ball and I'm not so sure if the guy left both feet to try to hit him, but either way, he had a great catch on that. He did a nice job blocking and digging guys out. He was competitive down the field blocking. We all want to see him get the ball deep. We had a couple of shots at it, but Cincinnati was able to get to our passer before we got the ball down the field. I like what he did out there. I like the way he competed.

On Tim Tebow having a greater role when the offensive line struggles in pass protection…

By then you're going to make adjustments to your protection. It really wasn't about that going into our first preseason game. It was more about trying to set up some base plays. That's what we were trying to do. We're open to anything.

On LaRon Landry…

It was funny on the goal line play at the end. He was on the line of scrimmage like we had a bluff call. He bluffed it all right. He bluffed me into thinking he wasn't going to get back into his coverage responsibility, but he actually did. So, maybe he's further along in our package than I thought he would be. He brings an element to a team that very few teams have. I think you noticed it on the one pass route where the No. 2 receiver looked like he was open breaking inside, he was more concerned about LaRon than he was about catching the football.

I think that's the element that he brings to you. We have some guys that can hit you back there. With LaRon, Yeremiah Bell and Eric Smith, we have some guys that can hit you back there. He can also run. So far, he has been healthy. Our guys are still putting him on a pitch count so we can make sure we can get him there on opening day. We are trying to balance that. He has to learn the defense work with his teammates and be healthy. Right now, we feel really good about where he is.

On if Tebow's rushing success was aided by Cincinnati strictly playing man coverage..

He ran against man coverage, he ran against zone coverage. That's what he does. If you rush four he can run on you. You can rush six or seven and he can still do that. But I also liked the way he threw the ball. He made a nice slant pass in the second window, so to speak. He made a nice throw to Hill. Then on the third down, he hit Hill perfectly, but unfortunately he dropped it. [Hill] had a good game and then he dropped that pass. I wish we had that back.

I liked the way he threw the ball. His interception was a poor route. It was absolutely a poor route. [The receiver] kind of drifted on it. Those are the technique things we're talking about: "Hey, I have to snap that route off to give my quarterback an opportunity." With that being said, Tim has to make a better throw than that. Other than that, I liked the way Tim threw the ball for the most part. Obviously that dimension he has, being able to run, is what we've always talked about.

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