Rex's Thursday News Conference

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

You might have noticed we practiced outside. That's in case they move the game, so we're prepared for everything [smiling]. Injury update: everybody practiced. Guys that were limited: Shaun Ellis [hand, knee] was limited. Kerry Rhodes was limited. He bumped his knee out there, so he'll be a new one. David Harris and Bart Scott were limited, ankles. Guy that were full: Tony Richardson [rib], Donald Strickland [hand]. He broke a finger that we never knew about. Then Sanchez with the knee and Danny Woodhead with the knee. That's our injuries.

On matching wits with Peyton Manning..

Yeah, that and Tom Moore and Howard Mudd. Those guys have been together a long time. They really know what they're doing. I like when they say my record against Peyton is not a good one. I've got news for you. Nobody's is against him and that combination of Tom Moore, Howard Mudd and Peyton Manning. We've just got to be better on Sunday. That's the only thing I care about. I don't care about the overall record or anything else. We'll see what happens on Sunday.

On his record against the Colts…

As a head coach, I'm 1-0 against the Colts.

On Peyton Manning changing things at the line of scrimmage…

Yeah, he does. He's really good at recognizing what you're in. You can't just change your back end. You've got to change your front as well. There are things that he'll see with your defensive front and he'll figure out what you're in coverage-wise, not just by the back end but by the front as well. That is something I really noticed him doing in this last game.

On when he realized they still had a chance to make the playoffs after the Atlanta game…

It wasn't until the next morning.

On if someone told him…

No, I think I heard about it coming in. I was getting ripped coming in [laughter] and I heard it on the radio. I was like, "Man, is that right?" Then, of course, they had all the scenarios. Bruce [Speight] and Mike Tannenbaum had already come down there. That was when they realized we were actually in a better position than we were the previous week because of all the tiebreaker scenarios.

On where the team is now compared to the day of the Atlanta game…

That day was a bad day. There is no question. We lost. I thought we really had that game where we wanted it. We missed three field goals. We had the ball 47 plays across their 50, and to Atlanta's credit they held us out of the end zone. They made a play and we didn't at the end of the game. It still bothers me. It really does and not just because everybody brings it up that I made that comment, because I followed it up with I thought that team could win a Super Bowl. The nucleus of this team can win a Super Bowl. Maybe it's going to happen a year earlier now than that statement. I certainly hope so. It was a strange thing. Our focus, and I've said it before, was just on we thought we had to win six straight games to even get into the playoffs. We found out we just had to win five.

On only giving up 14 points a game…

Well, it's still a burr in my saddle that we gave up seven touchdowns without the defense being on the field, because that number would be less than that. It's just that it shows that we understand how to keep people out of the end zone for the most part. Now, Peyton does a better job. They score about as well as anybody, so it's a huge challenge. If we're going to keep Indianapolis from scoring 14 points, that's even a stretch for me to say. I know one thing, we're darn sure going to try.

On the Baltimore players that followed him to the Jets…

Our priorities were we wanted to get an inside linebacker that we could team with David Harris, who we knew was an outstanding young linebacker. We went out [and] we made the decision to go after Bart [Scott]. We showed up at 12:01[am]. I think that will show you the priorities we put in the free agency signings. [I'm] just happy that he came here. He's had a huge impact on us. When he came in, he never took the locker room over. He was just being Bart, being one of the guys. I think they all appreciate him now.

When you bring in Jim Leonhard and you bring in Marques Douglas, for them to just jump in and take the leadership might have been looked at differently. They came in and just were themselves. They've had a huge impact, obviously, with Marques Douglas coming in on the D-line. You had Bart at linebacker, and then you had Jim Leonhard in the back end. You had three guys that the players could lean on to try to learn this system. To let them know it's not overwhelming. It's easy once you understand the rules. It wasn't just the coach telling them, but it was the players as well. I think they realized that they're just part of this group. They're proud to be New York Jets. They were proud to be Baltimore Ravens at the time, but they came over here. It was going to be a tough task and the guys have done a great job. They really have done a great job to take this defense to number one in the NFL with a brand new system. I don't know what the rankings were before, but it was a huge leap to be number one by 35 yards a game also. I think that's quite an accomplishment for the players.

They helped Mike Pettine, they helped Dennis Thurman, Bob Sutton, Jimmy O'Neil. All those guys put this defense in. That's something that they should really feel proud of. And by the way, they're great players. You look at the impact Jim Leonhard's had, especially in the playoffs. [He's] just a little guy that all he does is make plays. He's passionate. I think everybody appreciates him. Bart is better known for his mouth, but he happens to be a great football player. Then Marques Douglas, he doesn't look the part, but all he does is make plays. I think all three of those guys were free agents when they came out of college. It just goes to show that they've had great NFL careers.

On how Shonn Greene and Thomas Jones complement each other…

I think it's going to be the one-two punch again this weekend with Thomas Jones and Shonn Greene. You don't need to just saddle up one back. You're going to have a fresh back in there every time. Whether that's Thomas or Shonn, we feel great about both of them. I think they're both outstanding runners. When you look at Thomas Jones, here's a guy that ran for over 1,400 yards and I don't know how many touchdowns, but a ton of them. He's just a great back. He's durable. He's dependable. He gets the tough yards. When you look at Shonn, he's a young guy that is huge. He's 230 lbs. A 230-pound back with great vision, great feet and a bulldozing style. Both those guys are outstanding backs. They are a little different, but I'm confident in either one of those backs.

On if he ever goes into a game worried…

I never worry about who we play. You may have some concerns, but you're never worried. The Colts are a great football team, but we're excited. We are excited to play this game. I think any competitor wants to go against what's recognized as the best in the NFL. We think we have the best defense in the NFL. We think we have and we know we do. We know we have the best rushing attack as well. Sure, Peyton Manning's the best quarterback in the National Football League. There are a lot of things they do extremely well, but there are a lot of things we do well.

We're excited about this opportunity and then the winner goes on and represents the AFC.

On the offense's development…

We've had pretty much the same style. I just think maybe we probably have a better grasp of the system. We know what we have. We lost a game and ran for 320 yards, so we're just finding ways to win those games now. We've had this ground-and-pound philosophy since day one. We're efficient in the passing game. Who knows, maybe we'll bust out some big pass plays this week. Who knows?

On what he learned from Baltimore's 2006 playoff game against the Colts where they held the Colts without a touchdown…

[Peyton Manning] was frustrated. He had a 30 quarterback rating, so I think that's maybe overlooked a little bit. All I remember is we dropped two interceptions.

On Baltimore dropping an interception on the goal line…

Well, there's actually three then. Ed [Reed] had two others that we thought he could have had. One was deflected and we thought we could get a touchdown on it. With that being said, you're never comfortable ever against the Colts. It's not just Peyton. They've got excellent receivers, Reggie Wayne, and you've got Dallas Clark. They can run the ball as well. It's a tremendous challenge, but it's one that I think we're going to be up for.

On his reaction to Manning leaving the last game in the second half…

I just looked at the time. It was like "Oh, he's not in there. Just move on to something." Obviously, we changed some things up knowing they had the young kid in there at quarterback. It allowed us to do different things.

On people saying they have a puncher's chance of winning this weekend…

Yeah, we've got a puncher's chance like George Foreman would have a puncher's chance. That's how I look at it. We don't punch just like anybody. We punch like George Foreman.

On if he treats Mark Sanchez any differently now…

No. It's just that I know he's got a good grasp of what we need out of that position. He is doing a great job. He knows our offense. Matt Cavanaugh and Schotty [Brian Schottenheimer] are doing a great job with him. I think he's in tune with what the team needs and I think that's what gives us such great confidence.

On the difference between the Colts approach and the Jets open approach…

We're going to be ourselves. So are the Colts. Jim Caldwell is an outstanding coach. I have a ton of respect for him. It's just we do things differently. If he would be more open, that might be a distraction to his team. If we had to close ranks, we'd probably be distracted that way. It's not who we are. We know we're playing against a great Colt team. They're playing against an outstanding New York Jet team. We'll see what happens.

On if he would go for a perfect season if his team started the season 14-0…

I hope I get to answer that next year or whenever. "Ryan guarantees 14-0 start for next season." [laughing]. I don't even want to go there. I can honestly say and I've said it from day one, that the Colts earned that right to play it out anyway they wanted. Like I said, Caldwell knows his football team a heck of a lot better than anybody else. He knows what he wants to accomplish and his goals for that team. For anybody to criticize it, they obviously don't know his team situation and what their goals were. It doesn't matter if what I think or Bill Belichick thinks or anybody else.

On if teams play faster after a bye…

I saw it first-hand last year with the Ravens. We really never had a bye because we had the hurricane come in. We practiced all week. We had to take our bye in week two. If we could have had a little time off, a little time to heal, we were hoping to find a way to beat Pittsburgh in that AFC Championship. We fully thought that that would give us that bye week and we'll come back and smash whoever shows up. That was what we thought.

We just weren't good enough to get it done, though. When you see them on the field and you see that defense, that is about as fast a defense as there is in the league. There is no question. That linebacker [Gary] Brackett is a heck of a football player. I love the way he plays. He flies around. He hits anything that moves. That's just the way they are. Their D-line. John Teerlinck has those guys doing what John Teerlinck's defensive lines always do, raising Cain. It's a fast defense. There is no question.

On if he's concerned that the Colts are fresher…

No, I'm not concerned with that at all. We're coming in there and we'll see what happens.

On why he thinks Peyton Manning is so good against the 46 defense…

I mean the 46? I don't know. I think he had one of his worst performances ever against it one year. One year, he'll tell you, I remember he almost apologized to me after a game. It was like, "Rex, you had no corners out there." I was like, "Yeah. I kind of felt that myself." [laughing] I've got a ton of respect for the guy. The guy's an amazing quarterback. He's smart. He's accurate. He's got all the skill. He's got a great system. Tom Moore, him, and Howard Mudd, just lump all them together. They've been together forever. He's a great quarterback and he's a great person. Many times I've gotten ready to play him. I don't like him right now. This week I really don't like Peyton Manning.

On getting to know Manning well at a Pro Bowl years ago…

Yes, I met him then. It's funny, I was brought out there by Peter Boulware before, Michael McCrary before, Sam Adams before, and Terrell Suggs. It was a whole list of guys that's would take you out. They did things the right way, but I don't remember that exact time. I just remember seeing them like, man. We thought we had it. 2006 might have been one of the best defenses in the history of the National Football League since nobody really knows that because I think we had 60 sacks [and] led the league in more categories than any defense had in the history of the NFL. Yet we got beat by the Colts and Peyton Manning. He knows how much respect I have for him, but it was frustrating. I still have a tough time getting over it. I thought we were built to win the Super Bowl that year.

On playing against Manning in 2006…

It might have been the loudest I've ever heard a stadium. It was. That was obviously playing in our favor. It was there in Baltimore. Thought we had a good plan. We did some things. We did a lot of two-man with an extra player with Ed Reed also being free to go where he thought the ball was going, which is always a good thing. It was just different things with two evenly-matched teams. They just found a way to win.

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