Rex's Monday News Conference

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Transcript of Jets head coach Rex Ryan's news conference following Monday's midday practice:    

On if he watched football Sunday…

I was stuck in a traffic jam, so I was listening to football. I watched a little bit of the game last night and that was it.

On how much they are looking forward to the second half of the season and potentially making the playoffs…

We're looking forward to the opportunity. We know our schedule is brutal. Jacksonville is playing well. New England is probably playing as well as anybody. You've got the Colts who are undefeated. Carolina, as I was listening to them, they sounded pretty good to me. I didn't watch it, but it sounded scary. Buffalo has already beaten us once. You have Cincinnati who beat the Ravens twice. You've got Atlanta. Who else is next? Summit [High School]? They're undefeated. That's a tough schedule.

We're capable of beating any team in this league and I believe that. I've said it before, if we don't play our game and we keep making mistakes, we can get beat by anyone as well. That's the challenge to us. I really think if we can improve little steps, I don't think we need to improve a great deal, but just make improvements in all areas and we'll be just fine.

On what needs to improve…

Just doing the little things. Our special teams, at times, have been outstanding and where we thought they'd be. Get a snap down, give us an opportunity to make the game winning kick. As good as Jay is, challenge yourself. Place the ball. Let's make sure we're doing the little things. Gang-tackle on special teams, I think, would be huge. Even on offense, the turnover is going to happen, but we need to get the guy down. You've got to get the guy on the ground. You have to give our defense a chance to go out there and keep them out of the end zone.

On defense, our communication needs to still get better. There are things we're doing well, but we've got to get some turnovers and score with turnovers. Usually, we're the team that's scoring with takeaways. There are things I know we can get better at and I'm confident in our group that we will get better at those things.

On how they can increase turnovers…

Number one, I think you need to get ahead of somebody and when you do, that's when mistakes happen by your opponent. We've got to be thinking score. Once you get the turnover, you've got to think score. Don't just be happy with getting the thing, you've got to do a great job setting up blocks and hustling and getting into position to thrown some good blocks for guys and then return it. That's what wins games. When you look at it, we lost a couple of games because teams have gotten the takeaways and put it in our end zone. We've got to do a better job of that ourselves on defense.

On where he spent the bye week…

I actually went to Fort Lauderdale for two days. I figured no one would bother me out there because there's no way in heck Rex Ryan, me and my family, would go down there after losing twice [laughter]. It worked out well. I just wanted to get away from it a little bit myself. I dropped my youngest son off in Baltimore, I flew in there and then drove up from Baltimore.

On if there was any heckling from Dolphins fans…

No, not really. Nobody recognizes me, which is good. I was wearing all Yankees stuff [laughter].

On if the team seemed refreshed today during practice…

It was really just a glorified walkthrough. The guys are ready to come back. That's what I knew would happen. That's why I wanted to give them a straight shot through and not break it up. We worked the rust off a little today and tomorrow and then back on schedule on Wednesday. Our guys are ready. Everybody wanted to get back here, I know I did. I couldn't wait to get back to work. It seemed to me like our players, our coaches felt the same way.

We have a heck of a lot that we can accomplish. Nobody said it was going to be easy. Our goals are still intact and we've just got to go for it. We open with Jacksonville and they're the ninth rated offense in the league. They can run the football. They've got Maurice Jones-Drew, a little bowling ball. We're going to be challenged. I'm excited because we're going to be a huge challenge for anyone we play, including Jacksonville.

On what little things have driven him crazy…

Unfortunately, there's more than the one example. There's penalties. There's self-inflicted wounds, we call them, that shouldn't happen. There's way too much preparation involved. Our guys shouldn't make those mistakes. There have been critical errors at critical times. We'll definitely get better at that.

The good thing is we can. We can get better at that. Preventing scores when the defense isn't even out there is part of our job as well. We need to have tackling drills or something. We've got to get the guys on the ground. I think that'll give us a chance every game. Defensively, we talked about those other areas as well. I know we can get better and I'm excited about the opportunity moving forward.

On how much better he expects Mark Sanchez to be in the second half of the season…

You can just look at the turnover battle. When we win the turnover battle we win, when we lose it we've lost. He's played well. He's played well enough to win most games. For a rookie quarterback, he's better than maybe I even thought as a rookie. He's just part of the team. He doesn't have to do anything Herculean. He just has to play the position. Go play quarterback. I'm confident that he'll do it. I know he got away and went down and was a scout team quarterback at his high school. I heard he did pretty decent [laughter]. Not a bad scout team quarterback.

On if he's looked at the AFC standings…

I could sit back and say, 'Well, we're not even close to being focused on anybody else,' but I know where we're at. I know New England is on top of us. We've got to go through them to win our division. That's obvious. We can't go through Miami because they beat us twice. Right now, they're playing as well as anybody in this league on offense, defense, special teams. They've got it going pretty good. They're going to be tested this week and then they're going to be tested next week.

On winning the division is the better road to take in making the playoffs…

It's definitely the better road to take because you're playing at least a home game, so that's the route you want to get. It is too early to say we can or can't be a Wild Card team. We just need to put some wins together. If we can get a bunch of them, then we're going to be just fine.

On if he thinks they'll see a different New England team the second time around…

They're beating everybody. That's why I'm saying that they're playing as well as anybody. Do I think we match up against them? Yes, I think we do. I think they're worst game they played all year was against us, obviously. I hope that continues. We've got to get through Jacksonville before we play New England. Jacksonville has the exact same record that we do. They're coming off two wins in a row, so they're talented. You look at them offensively with Maurice Jones-Drew and he's a difference maker back there.

On the Giants vs. Chargers game…

I just heard it at the end. I was listening to one. I'm not going to say who it was, but they had the San Diego crew that was broadcasting the last two minutes of the game. I felt bad for the d-coordinator with the Giants because this guy was ready to take his job from him. If you look at the stats, they're leading the league in defense. I think they're maybe second in the NFL in defense right now, so he's probably doing a decent job out there. They were wanting his head.

On the importance of winning a home game…

It's hard to say we haven't played well on the road, but we need to win one in front of our fans. I don't know if our fans have lost faith in this football team. I would doubt it, but again, we've had two tough losses at home. Let's get back on the winning side.

On if he's going to change the personnel on special teams…

We have to make sure that we have enough guns on special teams and look at it closely. Every week the line up is going to change. Maybe a role of an individual will be much bigger in one week than it would be the next week. With that said, we've got to make sure that we have enough guys that we feel good about in all areas of our football team whether it's special teams, offense, defense, that we feel good about the people we have playing. That will be big because special teams has always been a plus for us. You can't take away or deny those two returns, but I think we had two stops inside the 20 then another one when the guy spins out and runs for 100. That's a prideful group and I'm sure we'll get it going again.

On if it's fair to say that every week it comes down to Vernon Gholston or Marques Murrell…

No, I don't think that's fair. They don't even play the same position on special teams in any of those spots. Vernon is doing a good job. You look at the special teams. I've thought Vernon's playing well on teams. The last couple of weeks, he hasn't gotten a whole lot of reps on defense but we went with two nose tackles for almost the majority of that game against Miami and the Raiders to some extent, so it really hasn't called for that. I think Vernon was making progress. I really do. I like his attitude. I like the way he was contributing on teams especially on punt team. He's a big, strong guy. I think he's playing hard. Vernon's coming. I know the numbers are down a little bit on defense, but sometimes that can be misleading.

On Kerry Rhodes' lack of interceptions so far this season…

It's interesting, but this has happened before. Even with Ed Reed it's happened. I think he had one interception at this time last year and ended with 11 on the year. Things happen. It is a new scheme for Kerry to learn, but I think Kerry is playing well.

It's almost the way the defense is. We're playing OK, but we need to get in front of somebody and then get after it. We had the opportunity against Miami and that was what was so disappointing. We get the lead, automatically the game is going to be over, so we're getting ready to put in on you. New England we had it a little bit. There have been times when we've played like that, but there are other times where we're just not quite there.

When I mentioned that we could improve on defense, there are some little things. Even it could be some assumptions on my part that these guys know the system. They're smart guys, but how did we not know this was coming or some little things like that? We kind of let a team off the hook. Those are things that we've got to get better at, really knowing the system and playing football. What do they like? The back is at 8 yards and he's at home — it's going to be a run. I don't care what the call is, it's going to be a run. Tighten up and play the run. You're not just playing out of a book, you're playing a defense and playing football. I think we can improve in those areas.

I would give anything to get Kerry an interception. Once it happens it's finally going to be like, "Oh, OK, now I can make plays in this system." I think he's playing pretty well. Again, it doesn't show up on the stats. [Darrelle] Revis only has two picks, but he's playing better than that.

On the defense…

I think what happens is you've got to look at it that when we get a lead on people, it's over. That should be our day. We get ahead of you we're not a fun team to play against. You look at Houston. We said that that guy is a good quarterback and that's a good football team. Yet we won on first down and second down. We put them in a third-and-longer situation. It played into our hands. We were able to be disruptive. New England, the same kind of thing.

When you're playing Miami, they're going to run first, second. It's tougher to really get in those kinds of situations. You've got to make them one-dimensional. That's any team, whether it's Pittsburgh on defense, us on defense, the Ravens on defense. You've got to make a team one-dimensional to have those kinds of results. The second Miami game, I thought we could have had that kind of game. Obviously, there were some circumstances that took us out of that.

On if the passing game will be more consistent with Jerricho Cotchery being healthy…

I think our passing game has looked pretty good at times when we've had those two big receivers together, Jerricho and Braylon [Edwards] when they're healthy. Then you've got David [Clowney], Wallace [Wright] and hopefully we'll get Brad [Smith] back there. We can have an outstanding passing attack. Again, we want to be able to run the football. If that happens, it will open up the pass. It will give us those opportunities on defense to make the big plays. A lot of times, they go hand in hand. If we don't turn the ball over, we control the clock and football, we'll have opportunities down the field to convert on third down. If there is a weakness of our offense right now, it's probably converting on third down. That's an area we can improve also.

On David Harris…

For being in that position playing the Mike linebacker in this system, it's a fairly complicated system. There are some things to it. His numbers speak for themselves. I think he's been outstanding. He missed one tackle and it's killing him [laughter]. 'What happened there? We had the tackle' and he goes, "I missed him in the hole." He's beating himself up over it, but this guy is doing a great job — plays zone, man, blitz, great vs. the run and great key-and-read guy. He's just been a tremendous player for us and leader for us.

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