Rex's Thursday News Conference

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

Injury update: The only two guys that never practiced were Lito [Sheppard] and [Donald] Strickland. They were iffy, especially Strickland. I said it last week, but Lito looks like he's coming around. He was running today, so we'll see with the trainers. [Larry] Izzo, Jim Leonhard, [Darrelle] Revis, Kerry Rhodes, all those guys fully participated. We expect those guys to play.

It was a good practice today. We had a few too many delay of games I thought with our offense seeing one thing, trying to get to it, checking off things, and that's what you've got to do. That crowd noise we've got at practice is good because it's going to be double that when we get to playing the game for real and we know that. We've got to be sharp. If we're getting out of plays, we've got to get out quick and make the proper audibles. We're going to work hard on that tomorrow as well. Other than that, I thought it was a good practice, a great tempo. Our guys are looking forward to this competition.

On if he can tell the week before a game if his team will win or lose…

I don't know if you can say it Wednesday. I think you let it play out the week. I think there are times where you really have an idea when you feel great about this game. Unfortunately, I always feel great about every game, so I would be the wrong guy. My prediction would always be that it'd be a victory. Obviously, that doesn't happen all the time.

I always feel good about it. I know our guys prepare. I think if you didn't, something would be wrong with you. The competitor in me and I think the competitor in this football team, we feel good about ourselves. Regardless of who we play, we think we can win. We're going in to the game expecting to win. We know what the competition is, but it doesn't get any harder than what we're up against defensively and then our defense is playing decent. I think they're in the top 10, which is good for most teams.

On the running game…

We leave that to Bill Callahan in particular. We've got to give credit. Tennessee had the No. 1 rated run defense in the league heading into that game and they earned that spot. We knew it was going to be tough sledding, but you just keep pounding it in there. Eventually, we'll start making big plays. I believe in them.

On Saints MLB Jonathan Vilma…

I like Vilma and I hope it's not tampering [laughter]. He's a tremendous player. There's a reason why I think he may have even been a Pro Bowl player in his first year, if I'm not mistaken, or was the [2004 NFL Defensive] Rookie of the Year. He's a great player. I remember when he came out of Miami, we wanted to draft him when I was in Baltimore. He's our kind of guy.

The scheme wasn't a great fit if you're going to play a traditional three-four defense like Eric [Mangini] had. He probably doesn't fit that as much as other guys. I will say this, with us we let our players over schemes. We're not just going to pigeon hole our guys into a system. We're going to make the system adaptable to the players and he was a great player. He would have been fun to coach. To be honest with you, I'm pretty happy with what we've got.

On if he looks at New Orleans video from previous seasons to see what Sean Payton calls on offense…

Yes, we'll go back. We'll look at this year because that's obviously the current things. His offense is ranked No. 1, so he's probably going to lean on that. I'll go back to when we played him before. I'll go back to common opponents, maybe there's a 3-4 team, Pittsburgh, if we feel it will help us. For instance, we played New England. It depends on your team, but I would go back and see how they went against us, how they did. The game that we had against New Orleans in Baltimore was probably three years ago, yet I'll still go back and look at that tape.

On his philosophy of special teams…

Sometimes I would like to give you coach-speak and say that, "Oh, well, absolutely this was my plan. This is how we were going to do it." But I never thought one minute about special teams. I know it's important. What I would do is hire the best special teams coach I could relying on being around John Harbaugh, who's obviously got a great reputation as a special teams coach, Jerry Rosburg, guys that I've been around. That was what I was going to lean on heavily.

It just so happened that we had Mike Westhoff here and as John Harbaugh told me, "He's at the top of the totem pole." So that wasn't a hard hire right there. When I first met him, the only thing was does he want to stay here. That was it. It was more me recruiting him than a typical interview, I guess. Clearly, when Mike wanted to stay, I couldn't be happier.

On what happens if special teams are taken for granted…

You can't do that. My thing was I knew that wasn't even close to being my expertise. Even on offense, I've gone against all these offenses through my career, so I can formulate a better opinion about who should be the offensive coordinator. On special teams, I was never involved, never had to stop anything, so I would have been completely lost. That was not going to be my strength in being able to sort things out, so I really relied on other people that I had a lot of trust in, faith in.

Obviously, the Jets knew what they had in Mike Westhoff and the numbers speak for themselves. All you have to do is pull out the numbers at the end of the year. They always rank in the top-five. Mike Westhoff, I'm sure would tell me, "Well, it's usually one or two, Rex." [laughter]. The way I am about defense, he is about special teams, there's no doubt, and maybe even more so.

On how much notice he thinks people have taken of the Jets since he arrived...

I've got no feel. I think we've been saying from day one that we would have an outstanding defense. A big part of it is who we have on this coaching staff. When you bring Mike Pettine in, you have Dennis Thurman, you're able to keep a Bob Sutton on your staff and you bring in Kerry Locklin, Jeff Weeks, Jim O'Neil. We've got Chuck Smith — maybe he's not officially on our staff, but he's doing a great job working in particular with Vernon Gholston and our pass rushers. So you've got a chance to be successful with those guys doing the day-to-day stuff.

Then I think I've got a decent background as a playcaller. I know the systems pretty well, what works with our players. The most important thing is we've got outstanding players. We have great personnel. They had outstanding personnel before I got here and then we just added to the mix with some guys that knew our system in Bart Scott, Jim Leonhard, Marques Douglas, Howard Green. We made the trade for Lito Sheppard. We have what we need. We have all the pieces in place to be an outstanding defense and we've never shied away from that from day one.

On if he has a feel about how people will view the Jets if they beat the Saints...

I just hope we get that opportunity. That's all I care about. People are going to say what they want to say whether you win, lose or draw. I think people realize now that the Jets have a pretty darn good football team. That's important to us. Does my reputation increase as a defensive mind? I don't know. I think it was fairly high before I got this job, so I don't know if it would or not.

On watching opponents' video…

I like to just watch the tape and let it roll. I'll look at the specifics later. I get all the information. Jim O'Neil does a great job and Brian Smith, those guys do a great job breaking down all the tapes, so I'll have all the information in black and white. But I still like to see games. Mike Pettine does the same thing. We don't even meet together initially because we're separate and then we'll come up with "Well, here's what I think." "Here's what I think." We know each other so well that you can almost say, "Oh, you like that one? Well, how about this one?" It's who can outdo the other a guy a little bit.

You definitely get a feel for it. You know what their strengths are. You can almost say, "I don't like this call this week. We're throwing this out, these several things out. We want to keep this in our base things." Then you start coming up with some different ideas. Again, you always have your base defense, your bread and butter things that you'll always run against every opponent. But then you'll also add some specific things to that opponent.

On if he has any numbers to quantify how versatile New Orleans' offense is…

I would look at this way, you've got I don't know how many guys have caught touchdowns, but a bunch of them. You've got Marques Colston who I think leads the league with three [TD] receptions, you've got [Jeremy] Shockey, who has two. You've got three backs that they've used and all have put up numbers.

So this is a talented group and it's an overall talented group. They've got two speed receivers now that remind me of [David] Clowney, just a little bigger, especially one of them. The kid [Robert Meachem] from Tennessee is huge and he can play, a former first-round pick. They're extremely talented, but again nobody is feeling sorry for us on defense, because we're pretty talented on defense too.

On if it gives him more motivation to play a team with a good offense…

The fact of going 4-0, I think is a bigger one. I'm not going to sit here and lie and say it doesn't. When a team is ranked as high as they are, putting the numbers that they are up, my first reaction? Well, they aren't doing that against us. And we'll see. That's the beauty about playing on Sunday. We'll find out.

On what it would mean if the Jets win to become 4-0…

It just means for a quarter of the season, we've done a heck of a job. At the end of the year, everybody is shooting for the same thing. You can get a great start. If you can go 4-0, it's a huge plus. You stay on top of your division that would be a great start.

But again, our focus isn't down the road. It's just about this game and winning this game. Whatever we can do, whatever we have to do to win this game, we're going to give everything we've got. The Saints are going into a bye week after this so this is going to be huge for them. They're playing at home in front of them so we know how juiced they're going to be as well. It's going to be a great game.

On Kris Jenkins…

This is a guy who's a huge man. There are a lot of big men in this world, but there are very few that are as athletic as he is. He is a dominant force. When his pads are down, he's unblockable. If he raises up, he'll give you a chance to block him. When he comes off and his technique is good, forget about it. I don't care who you are. It's almost like defending the perfectly thrown pass. No matter how good you have coverage, you can't stop it. That's the same thing with Kris. If you've got one man on him, there's not one man on this planet that's going to block Kris Jenkins. There's no way.

On what Jenkins does to help the people behind him…

He comes off that ball and he's going to take at least two of them. If not, he's going to make the play. Last week was a great example. He's going against some good guys, but he's tossing them around like he's playing Summit High School. That's not a real shot at Summit because they are undefeated.

On pass rush consultant Chuck Smith…

Obviously he had a great reputation before, but last year we brought him to help with some of our pass rushers when I was in Baltimore and I know they wanted to bring him back. They were a little sore on him for choosing to come here. He's a loyal guy. This guy's going to be an outstanding coach, there is no question. He's learning to do all the other stuff it takes to be a great coach, even the little things, drawing cards, breaking down plays. He's humbled himself to start from the ground level as a coach and that's what he's doing.

Let me tell you, his hands-on approach, the way he teaches pass rush, the passion he has for the game, he ain't on the ground level there. He's way up here. He's about as good as I've been around when it comes to that.

On bringing in Smith to work on the fundamentals of pass rush…

That's not my job. Kerry Locklin is doing an outstanding job there too with Jeff Weeks. It was just something where if you can bring the best guy in, our organization is committed to our players to always give our guys the best opportunity to be successful. It just so happens that Chuck is a heck of a person and he fits in with who we are on defense. We go back and he knows me. He knows what I want. He's just doing a great job blending in with those other guys. We're excited that he's with us.

On his schedule on Tuesdays…

It's different. I'll always make sure that between Monday and Tuesday I'll be watching the films on my own. [Mike Tannenbaum] actually changed my office around where if I'm in this other room, nobody bothers me. If I'm back in my main office, then it's an open door policy. If I'm not, then that means I'm watching film and it's worked out well. Tuesdays are all game plan and I'm always around. I always talk to the coaches and see how they're doing. I usually get a workout or two in. Yeah, right. That's not happening [laughter]. I like to visit. I like to walk around and visit with everybody that I can, get a pulse for our football team, get a pulse for our coaching staff.

If there are any other problems that come up and Mike Tannenbaum and I meet on Tuesdays as well. We have a big game plan meeting with all the coordinators, included would be Bill Callahan and Bob Sutton, our senior assistants. I want all the coordinators to know what this game is going to be like, that way there is never a it's an offense, defense thing. It's all about how we're going to address it, how we're planning on winning this game, what we're going to have to do. For instance, maybe the offense has to take the air out of the ball a little bit. Maybe they've got to throw more. Maybe the defense thinks they have a great handle on something. Maybe they don't. Maybe there're injuries. When we walk out of there, I think we all feel good about what we're doing and how we're having a plan going forward.

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