Rex's Friday News Conference

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Transcript of Jets head coach Rex Ryan's Friday midday news conference:    

First off, we had a little scary thing happen today. I've been coaching for 22 years, and I've never seen anything like that happen before. Both guys running vertical ran into each other. That was a little scary. Both guys are doing well. Wallace Wright and [Kenwin] Cummings, both of them are doing fine.

Cummings looked like he had a little bit of a concussion, or at least he's not feeling great. Clearly that's a scary thing and not to make light of it, but it was kind of funny when we check out a guy to see if he's OK, you have a position coach there and so the trainer will have the position coach ask the young man some football questions to see if he's OK. Cummings was great on the football questions, but wasn't good on the general questions. I don't want to make too much light of it, but it is kind of interesting. At least he knows his football stuff. That's kind of scary, but I think he's going to be fine. It was scary.

Wallace will be checked out later today to make sure everything's fine, but we don't anticipate him being out long. They won't practice this afternoon, clearly, but hopefully we can have them tomorrow. That was interesting.

I've seen that drill before. We used to do them back to back and then you had to spread it out a little bit. The quarterbacks would kind of run into each other. I actually had in college when I was on the field one time when a young man was going for a nine route or a go route, fly route, whatever you want to call it, and he ran into a cart. He had [about] 36 stitches in his leg. I've seen that happen before, but never the other way like it was today.

Other than that, I think the guys were healthy. It was good. I thought the offense came out today with a better tempo than the defense. I think that was great, a great teaching tool for the defense. No matter how talented you are, you come out there and try to put a day in, you're not going to be successful. They picked it up as the practice went on, but clearly the offense, I felt great about how they took to the practice field. I thought [Kellen] Clemens looked sharp today.

On Clemens performing well in practice…

I thought he looked outstanding today. Particularly, he did a decent job the first day, but I really like how he took charge of that offense today and really brought that unit out. Like I said, the tempo that they had, they had a lot of spark to them. He made some good decisions, showed poise, had pressure in his face.

Jim [Leonhard] told me, "Come on Rex, one good hit, let us rattle him a couple of times." I don't know, guys, they had your number today. He showed poise and he made good decisions. Clearly he had an outstanding practice. [Brett] Ratliff made some great throws. He has a talented arm. He still made a couple of mistakes in there and I'm sure that will be going back and forth as we're looking at these guys, but I thought clearly Clemens had an outstanding day today.

On if Clemens' performance this week affects what the Jets will do in the draft…

I know this sounds crazy, but when we look at the draft and all that, it's almost like - and I learned this through Ozzie [Newsome], Mike [Tannenbaum], the way those guys were looking at it is we want to improve the team, but generally you do that by taking the best player. If that fits a need area or whatever, then that's a plus, but if not, don't go chasing somebody if you have your grades and your scouts' grades don't warrant it. Ozzie was outstanding. He built a team that way. That's why you draft an Ed Reed. That's why you take somebody like that. He was the best player and that's why we took him. There certainly wasn't a need there, but it just so happened that he was our best player on the board and we took him.

I think sometimes if it's an offensive lineman, then if you feel good about where you have him and if he's clearly head and shoulders rated above the other guys, take the best football player. I think that generally works out in the end.

On if Clemens' experience helps him in the competition…

I think you'd probably be better asking him that question, but I would think it can't hurt, that's for sure. You know what to expect. You think this is pressure, just wait until we kick it off for real on Sunday. This is good that they see it. He certainly has the confidence and I think Brett does as well. It's going to be a great competition.

On how he would evaluate his work on the kickoff show team today…

The change of direction, the suddenness is not quite there [smiling]. Usually I cheat, but with [Jay] Feely's kickoffs, he takes that short approach, it kills a guy like me. I need to get the heads up, get the 10 or 15 yards in front and do that.

John Harbaugh is where we learned that from. We used to do it last year in Baltimore. We would put our ball-boys out there. We would put our coaches and things like that, because you need these guys to run down there. I could have been holding a bag or something like that. It is fun. I think once they see that you got the head coach running down there then it's hard for them not to. 'All right, give me that hat,' things like that. It is good and again, have some fun. Don't take yourself too seriously, but have a good time out there.

On if he was feeling confident with his own quarterbacking skills…

I thought I had a little more zip on the ball today. That was good. I stood in the pocket better [laughter]. More distance. The arm's feeling good. It is funny, I've been used to throwing baseballs to my kid so going to the bigger ball is tough.

On if he was involved in the Baltimore draft process…

Yes.

On the differences in draft preparation between the Ravens and the Jets…

I think it's different the way we do things here. I can't tell you how thorough our scouting department is. It is amazing, guys. I wish maybe after the draft or something we can go in there and show you, give you an idea of what they look at, where they have grades, all that kind of stuff. Then they put video clips of the guys so you know exactly what you're getting.

It's impressive and they're looking at guys that are ranked, like maybe you consider in the seventh round, the same way they look at guys in the top 10. They do an outstanding job. Basically, I'm along for the ride, I guess is what I'm saying [laughter]. But really, I did sit in in Baltimore all the time. It was the head coach and the coordinators in the meetings. If they were talking about your position, that position coach would be in the meetings, as well. They would always take the coach's input as well as the scout's. That's exactly the way it is here.

At the end of the day, you rank your board. You know, some guys you take off your board for character issues and other things. Maybe there's medical things that you'll take a guy off. There are some that are painful, to be honest with you. Some guys we really love, but medically they're off the board. Those are things that obviously the investment you're putting in these young men you want to see them through their contracts, obviously.

It was great experience there because I thought Ozzie was a great evaluator of talent and he used his people just like Tannenbaum uses his guys. It's a collective effort. Obviously, at the end of the day Mike will make that final decision. He's in charge of the draft, but it won't just be one man making that call. It will come down to him, but he is taking the input of everybody, position coaches, head coach, coordinators and all the scouts. I feel very fortunate that we have the people in place that we have here. We're going to make a great decision.

On if he has any interaction with the agents…

No, not really. I think the only time the agents really get involved with a coach, is when a coach would go down to work out one of the young men is to make sure that, first of all, the kid's going to be there, what time the workout is and all that kind of stuff.

Last year, I remember Clarence Brooks, a few years ago, went all the way to Oregon to work out Haloti Ngata, who happened just not to be there. We forgave him. We saw the tape and we said, you know what, you never worked him out, but we're going to take him anyway. Maybe that workout might be a little overrated.

On evaluating Vernon Gholston…

I'm just letting my eyes do our evaluation. What I see out there right now, Vernon is a New York Jet and I'm happy he is. Watch him out there these last few practices you guys have been out there, you see how he's flying to the football and making some plays. He had a couple sacks today. I'm happy he's here.

On how much it helps having some former Ravens on the team…

Besides the fact that they're pretty good football players it's great, because now guys have been through it. It just so happens that we have one in the front end in [Marques] Douglas. We got Bart [Scott] at linebacker. We got Jim Leonhard in the back end. It's not only that they know the system, but they know how things are done, what the expectations are, and understanding that we don't accept anything but that.

For them, it's critical that they have to step up there leading. Even though, like a Marques Douglas signs maybe at X amount of dollars, which he thinks is very low, according to him, but anyway, the kind of player he is. But you know what, you can have Kris Jenkins. Kris is automatically going to look at Marques because he's played in that system, he knows what's expected. Douglas plays great. He hustles his tail off. You see it out there.

Same thing with Bart, same thing with Jim Leonhard. That's what they understand. It's not just coachspeak, "Hey, look, you have to run to the football." There's certain rules that we have to be a defensive player, to wear that decal that says New York Jets on it. You got to play to a certain standard. Certainly these players play to that and the guys are noticing it.

On if it's a difficult system to teach and learn…

No, I think it's the easiest system in the league on defense. It seems like it anyway. Once we get going, these guys get familiar with it, I think we have very few mental mistakes when we play in this system. It's aggressive and we have interchangeable parts.

I think as somebody said, it's organized chaos, but it's organized chaos because your players understand it and they can grasp it. It's easy to say, "OK, Sal is playing the X on this one." That's just how we do things. I know it's an effective scheme. It's hard to prepare for. Every coach in the league tells me after the game that that was the worst week of their life so that's a good thing.

On how much he expects Kris Jenkins to drop into coverage…

I tell you what, Kris Jenkins is an outstanding athlete. I know he's 370 pounds, we'll say that [smiles], but he's a phenomenal athlete. I remember when I went to Maryland to work him out he was an amazing guy. His flexibility for a big guy, he's just like a huge cat, he really is. He can bend at his ankles, knees and hips. That's usually for a guy much smaller. He is a rare guy.

But absolutely, you're talking about like standing him up and doing some of those things. I think we will probably see that a little bit. You may do it one snap a game, you may not do it, you may do it 20 snaps a game.

On if he will drop Jenkins 20 yards off the ball…

No, maybe 15, you know.

On if it's easy to presume the Jets will gear their draft towards offense after all the defensive acquisitions in free agency…

You can presume anything you want. I don't know what you're talking about in free agency, since we signed how many offensive guys? Really, zero new guys. You probably can figure that out. If it happens to be that clearly the best player on the board is a defensive player, Brian [Schottenheimer] is going to go crazy, but we got to be fair to our football team and let's get the best guy.

On how he views the tryout players in minicamp…

There's really few tryout players. They're a few of them that are new that we just picked up and things like that. You know, really we had three offensive linemen. I told the team when those three offensive linemen are in there then I'm going to coach the defense. We just picked those guys up like two days ago. I feel pretty good about coaching the defense [laughter].

You got to give them a chance. There was a young man struggling out there today because he's thinking so much, he was forgetting the obvious thing, which was the count. You can't use that against him. You have to give a guy an opportunity to let him showcase his talents and things. If it's a thing where the next minicamps we have a thing like that, the trend would continue, clearly you would have to move on from that guy. But, I liked the guys we picked up and I think all of them have a chance.

On if he feels comfortable lining Dustin Keller up as an every-down tight end…

Clearly he's an outstanding receiver. We hope that you're going to see that improvement as an in-line blocker. I know [Mike] Devlin does a great job. He had him last year and it seemed like he was getting better as the season went on, like more of an in-line blocker. He certainly doesn't lack the heart and the courage to do it. He sticks his face in there. That's the number one thing. A guy that won't do that isn't going to be a good blocker, but I think he's got a chance to be a good blocker. We'll see.

Clearly, his receiving skill is something that you think of first. I know as a defensive coordinator, you'd be sitting back going, 'Great, you have to have two guys on him,' like a [Kellen] Winslow or [Antonio] Gates or somebody like that. That's the first thing you worry about. If he can give us something, we don't expect him to be a punishing blocker maybe like you put an extra tackle in there, but I think he can get the job done.

On if there is anyone on the team he has been really impressed with…

I think David Clowney is one of those guys. I knew nothing about this young man. Then you watch the tape. I saw in the preseason games when I went back and looked, I think he was leading the NFL in receiving yards and stuff like that. It was like, wow, can this kid run. There's more to him than that. That's what you're seeing out here right now. I like the way he competes. He's having fun. He's got a smile on his face. He's got confidence. I know we don't have pads on. All I can go on is what I see out there and right now he's been very impressive.

On if he knew much about Danny Woodhead…

No, I understand that he led the nation in rushing or set the all-time record. Somebody told me that somebody beat it this year. That probably says enough about him. Clearly he can run with the football and things. First thing I noticed was, hey, there's another Jim Leonhard out there. We got the two guys that look like your next-door neighbor and stuff like that, but that's good [laughter]. Certainly, Jim Leonhard has proved people wrong and I think he's got a chance as well.

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