Rex's Monday News Conference

Transcript of head coach Rex Ryan's midday news conference following Monday's morning training camp practice at SUNY Cortland:

On his shoe superstition…

I had to change the shoes per league mandate. I don't want to get fined. I think I've been fined enough by the league. Anyway, that's a little tradition we started 24 years ago, I think, wearing that kind of shoe. Then as you do get into apparel things for whatever, I just wear them for one practice now and then put them on the field or in a bag for the rest of the season. The one year that I never did that, we couldn't stop a nosebleed so I assumed keep that tradition. It might not have anything to do with it, but I think it has a lot to do with the success I've had throughout my career.

On the first practice of training camp…

Today was good. I was a little disappointed with the, I don't know, the first day of pads, maybe if I would've just put the ball down and said, "Let's have at it," maybe so, but I don't know. I was expecting sparks to fly a little bit, but I will say this: our young fullback we drafted from Kentucky, I think we all see why he has a short neck. I mean, he was pounding people. He took the breath out of three guys today, three linebackers, so that was good to see. I'm always happy when we're right on a draft pick and you can see this early that this kid is the thumper that we think he is. Just beware if you're out there playing linebacker, here comes the isolation. He really was impressive.

I thought we made some usual mistakes at this time. You think you know it, but then you miss some obvious communication. We had a lot of free runners in the back end, which is never a good sign. We have to clearly do a better job of communicating in the back end, really from defensive backs to linebackers. It's the same running theme you get early in camp, but still not acceptable. Anyway, with that, I'll open it up for questions. [Silence]. All right, thank you. This many people, somebody has to have a question. A math question. Something.

On how it feels to be back in Cortland…

It feels great to be back here. It's funny, I think last year, we never really had our grass field until about the fifth day of practice last year so we were on the turf. When you look at it, that's two amazing fields. Our grounds crew did a great job of getting those fields like that. It looks like a beautiful golf course out there. I'm ready to take a pitching wedge or something from 100 yards out, but it'd take three swings to get there. Anyway, really beautiful fields. The way the community, last year, opened their arms was another big reason why we wanted to come back. They really made us feel at home. The facilities were top-notch and only getting better as we see now. We feel we can accomplish everything that we set out to do in camp by coming here.

On the team's new additions…

They're doing great. I'll tell you a quick, little thing about LT [LaDainian Tomlinson]. He had a bit of a hamstring. He was training and all that, called, [he said] he had a bit of a hamstring and our doctors said, "Hey, look, I don't think he should try the conditioning test." So we approached LT that way, and he said, "Oh, no. Absolutely not. I'm doing it. I ran yesterday. I feel great. I'm doing it." I mean there was no hesitation and we said "OK." We watched and we had a trainer over there the whole time, but he made it. He's in great shape. He looks super.

Then Jason [Taylor], remember, he couldn't really practice because he had the shoulder and all that. Then you just say, "How you feeling?" and he's got a big smile on his face. It's always great. Those guys, with Coles, of course this is his third time here so he knows almost everybody, so he's fitting in. They're Jets now, plain and simple. That's the way they're all treated.

On his expectations of the Mark Sanchez/Mark Brunell relationship…

I think it's going to be great. You guys were telling me for a whole year how good this would be if we had a veteran quarterback, and I said, "Look, we have our veteran quarterback in [QBs coach] Matt Cavanaugh." But again, I'm a first-time head coach. I don't know. I don't have all the answers. Clearly by bringing this guy in, he's going to be great for all the quarterbacks. And oh by the way, he can still play. He was impressive out there today. As Bart [Scott] said, "Hey guys, don't' forget. He's a lefty." Well, he's been a lefty for a long time, Bart. Maybe we should've gotten that memo earlier, you know with all those boots and things going that direction. He really looks good.

On lessons he's learned from his rookie season as head coach…

I need to softpeddle a little bit more, I think, instead of just letting those statements fly like I do. But no, realistically, you can't buy experience and that's it. I thought I had all the answers. Excuse me, I knew I had all the answers when I came out of college to become a coach. I couldn't believe how dumb everyone was that they never saw that. I was applying everywhere. Ended up, Roy Kidd's the only guy that gave me a chance, at Eastern Kentucky. Then, I started realizing, "You know what, there's a lot more to it than that. You don't have all the answers."

I may know a defense, but it's all of those types of things. It's my first experience ever, being a head coach. Just the way I manage the game, I thought I got better as the year went on. It's similar to a rookie quarterback, some of the mistakes and growing pains. But like I say, I'm clearly not as good as I may be 10 years from now — notice I said 10 years from now — but I'm learning.' I have great mentors with me, as well, in Bill Callahan, [Bob] Sutton, and Mike Westhoff. Hell, Westhoff's a mentor to everybody. He's been coaching for so long. It's not something I take light. I don't want to be what keeps this team back. I want to be level with most guys, not Belichick, but even with most guys. That's what I'm looking to do this year.

On seeing the defense play without Revis…

You have 11 guys out there. We never had the "Revis Rule" in play. That was probably the only difference there.

On Laveranues Coles being on the team for only four games…

Well, that's certainly a possibility. He could get cut. He could make the Pro Bowl. But I was up front with him. We have Santonio Holmes, who's suspended for four games. We can't wait until he comes back — one of the most explosive players in the game, and clearly we'll have a spot for him when he comes back. I'm not big on not speaking what I believe to be the truth, so I just told him what I believe to be the truth.

On preparing the team for the expectations of this season…

It's interesting. I'm used to playing the underdog card. I don't think I ever played that. My thing is that I went into every game last year expecting to win, and that's the truth. Maybe the public or whatever had us in an underdog role. I can accept that. But I certainly didn't. I expected to win every game last year and that's the way we'll go into every game. I've gone into every game of my career that way, and trust me, I've been wrong a bunch. But I know one thing, we're going to expect to win here.

On keeping Shonn Greene healthy…

Well, I think the durability, a lot of it is taken with the fact that he runs over the first guy a lot of the times. He runs hard. He finishes runs and he takes that extra hit sometimes. [RBs coach] Anthony Lynn and I talked about is there pads for him? Can he look like Lee Roy Selmon when he's out there, all padded up? His running style has to be that. That's what makes Shonn an unbelievable back. I don't want to take anything away from Shonn or tell him how to run. If anything, let the experts, let Anthony take care of that. I love his running style. I think that he's a battering ram-type back.

On if he has concerns about Greene's durability…

You let him go. You do have some concerns, but obviously, he's a great back. I don't expect him to have to carry it 30 times a game. We have LaDainian here. We have [Joe] McKnight here. We have all that, and of course, Woodhead's always live. We have enough guys where we can spell him a bit, but I'd hate to change his running style.

On if it's concerning that Darrelle Revis might not be ready for the first game because he is missing practice…

Obviously Darrelle Revis is a great player. I want him here. I'd love to have him here right now. I'd love to have him here whenever, but if he signs a contract one day before the first game, Darrelle will be starting. It's as simple as that, but I'd love to get him here. But as a concern, we've got to get who we have ready to go. If Darrelle is not here, then we're going to move on. We don't make excuses. We expect to be a dominant team. When people think of the New York Jets, we want them to expect and not be disappointed with the type of product we put out on the field. We think we're going to have a great defense anyway and I know we will, but it's just a hell of a lot easier if Revis is out there.

On if he sees a difference in Mark Sanchez now that he's in his second year…

No question. He's got a command of this offense like he never had last year, even in the playoffs. All that is, you've just got to tip your hat to him. The work ethic that he showed in the offseason and rehabbing himself. He's changed his body also. You look at him physically, the GQ shots to now, he's a different guy [smiling]. He looks good. He's taking care of himself physically. The thing that I'm most impressed with is his mental preparation. He's way ahead of where he was last year.

On how Mark Brunell with affect Sanchez…

It's funny because when you look at [Mark] Brunell, he sees the field so well. He has a guy sitting right next to him. He's got a great mentor in Matt Cavanaugh, so he's getting the player perspective sitting right next to him. He's getting the coach right there in Matt Cavanaugh. Oh, by the way, he has Brian Schottenheimer, who's also a quarterback guy. I think you have to ask him to get more specific on those deals, but I know he's going to help. He's going to help all the quarterbacks, not just Sanchez.

On the impact of Matt Cavanaugh coaching from the sidelines…

When we put Matt [Cavanaugh] on the field, it was late in the year. Mark, the way he progressed, had a lot to do with Matt on the sideline. I've been calling defenses for years and also being a linebackers coach or a d-line coach and it takes away from you. You can't just spend your time with the one guy. You've got to be thinking ahead. You've got to be getting your plan ready as a coordinator. We thought it just made sense to putt Cavanaugh on the field and when we did I think it really helped Mark out.

On if he plans far in advance…

Just the opposite. I am a guy that is a one-game-at-a-time guy, but I also know the big picture. Our goal has never changed. You can write it, last year, this year, or whenever. Our goal is to win the Super Bowl. Now, I don't care if you like it or it makes no sense. Everyone laughed at us last year when we said we were going to do this and this and we backed it up with a huge exception. We failed at our goal, and this year we're going attack it. We're going to go try and reach that goal and we're going to do it next year, too.

You can write the same story, but one game for sure — one play at a time, I'll even say. That's how you get there. We know as talented as we are, that doesn't mean anything. We lay our jocks out there, we're going to get crushed. It doesn't matter who you play. This is the National Football League. Everybody is a good football team. I think we can be special. We've just got to put the time in, get everything down where we're just a well-oiled machine and have at it.

On if it has sensed a difference at camp with the extra media attention…

It's been a normal day at the office. I think we have a lot more people here, though, than we probably had last year and the guys that were here can attest to that. For us, it's easy. We're going out and practicing. We're going to meetings. It's not going to affect us and we'll see. We're just going to be ourselves and that's what we tell everybody, just go out, let's just do what we do. To heck with it. Let's just show everybody who we are.

On if Matt Slauson and Vladimir Ducasse will both rotate practices and reps with the first team…

All of the above. We'll rotate them how Bill [Callahan] wants to. We know the ideal situation is to once you've made that decision and feel good about it, to go with it. Right now, we're giving both guys equal shots and we're going to let the best guy play.

On McKnight's performance at practice after initially not passing his conditioning test…

That was a bad day that he had on the conditioning test because two-and-a-half weeks prior when it was 103 degrees, he actually ran the test and blew it out of the water. He's a young man that I think gets a little hyped up sometimes. He did that first minicamp also. He'd run the ball, throw up, run the ball, throw up. You look at him — that's an impressive kid. He really is. He did some great things. He hits the hole. He's explosive when he goes through there, made some nice catches, had a bad drop. He's a talent and he's a lot bigger than he looks. He's a 210-pound back. He's not just a 180-pound guy.

On doing the middle drill as the first drill at practice to send a message that the team is still a physically dominant team…

That's who we are. You're exactly right. That's how we do things. Our schedule has always been set, but that is the truth. We want to be a tough, smash-mouthed football team. That was what I was impressed with. The cream will rise to the top in those situations. If you're supposed to be a physical guy, you need to show up in those drills. It's just like we're placing our bets. OK. It's going to be Rob Turner, obviously in the first fight versus who? James Ihedigbo is the likely guy on defense, but he's a safety so we might just circle him up today and have at him [laughter].

That's when they're going to show up. That's when that Kentucky kid showed up today, [John] Conner. He was blasting guys. He took the wind out of three guys today. I don't think I've ever seen that before. He's a thumper and I just put a smile on my face because when I was looking at tape of a linebacker that he was killing and I was like, "Shoot. Forget him. Let's draft this one." As Mike [Tannenbaum] says, I get one pick a year and that was my pick [laughter]. I don't know about you guys, but he looks pretty good.

On if this is a make-or-break season for Vernon Gholston…

I think it is for us as a football team. He's got to step up and show what he can do. This is year three. That's when you're going to do it. I think the young man is going to play in the league a long time, but I want him to be a Jet. I want to see him make plays right now for us.

On how Antonio Cromartie is handling the transition from the San Diego defense to the Jets defense…

Doing pretty good. We put him at left corner today. We're going to work him through camp as a left corner until Revis gets here. That way we can switch them and do all that. He's always been a right corner, so we're trying to get him to play left-handed if you will. He looks tremendous. The thing that I was most impressed with, we sent him home with a mission, be patient because he's such a great athlete. He's long, has such great speed, but be patient. You don't have to be going full speed all the time. You've just got to run what the receiver's speed is and so he was. You saw those in the 1-on-1 drills. Just let it come to you buddy because I tell you what, when it happens, he's an amazing athlete.

On Cromartie backpedaling at San Diego…

That's another thing. I know one thing, they got 10 interceptions one year out there playing an aggressive team, so they did something right out there with him for sure.

On if Gholston is studying up at the point of attack at defensive end…

Oh, yes. I was kidding him today. We were doing that three-spot drill and the tight end and tackled messed up. They both stayed on Gholston so nobody blocked the outside guy. Gholston, they tried to move him and here he is just hanging on right at the line of scrimmage. I was like, "Hang in there, Vern." He is a load now. He is a strong. He might be as strong as anybody we got, just a big-anchor guy. He's got to work on that technique, staying low and being able to move. With that kind of athleticism and speed that he has, he should be a real asset out there.

On if Gholston is a victim of his own athleticism starting his career at linebacker…

I think what happened is that was the spot you want him to play in space. You'll see — he runs a 4.6 or even faster than that. You assume that's where you put him, but there's been a lot of guys you move back down. Now you take the strength that he has, that speed and that kind of ability to get underneath people. He did a good job in that sub package for us last year. We just thought let's get some speed on the field. You're now putting him in a position where he is the fastest defensive end in the league.

On why the team signed Laveranues Coles after learning Santonio Holmes would be suspended for four games but did not sign someone last year when Calvin Pace was suspended for four games…

There was like nobody out there that could have played in that role. I think here, we've got a guy like L.C. that is clearly an excellent receiver in his own right, so you're able to get him to come back here. He's familiar with the system. There is a lot to it when you look at a guy. He's got the ability number one, he's familiar with the system so there is no learning curve there and he can plug right in.

We know at the end of the day, with L.C., like I say, there is no guarantee that he makes it. He may go in and have an unbelievable season where it's impossible to keep him off the field, but I'm also realistic enough to know that [Santonio] Holmes comes back in Week 5, Santonio Holmes is here. He is a tremendous player. That's what it is. It's just an opportunity for us.

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