Rex's Tuesday News Conference

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

Injuries first, as always. Guys that are full today who were listed as limited yesterday: D'Brickashaw Ferguson with a hamstring, he was full today. Sanchez was full with the tweaked knee. Jim Leonhard, knee, Calvin Pace, shoulder, Eric Smith, back, all were full today. Shaun Ellis was limited. Guys that did not practice: Robert Turner with the knee, [Donald] Strickland, concussion, and Dwight Lowery,- ankle.

Today we had the privilege of having Joe Girardi out here. We had a couple of issues that we needed to go over. Number one: the obvious — free agents, who's available. So after the counseling and my input, which I know he regards highly, then we got into the other thing of business. I had Joe come out here and teach [Mark] Sanchez how to slide. That's the truth. I actually did that. We had a little sliding mat out here. I told Schotty [Brian Schottenheimer], "I'm going over your head. I'm going over [Matt] Cavanaugh's head. I'm going over my head. We're bringing in a world champ to get this done."

We did have Joe Girardi out here and quite honestly, we spent 10 minutes out there. He was running and learning to slide off his right leg. We literally did that. He's too valuable and he needs to understand that we need him out there and people are going to take shots at him if he doesn't start sliding. I really did want to make an emphasis to Mark and get the best guy that we can in the area. I made a call today to the Yankees and I was really happy that Coach Girardi came over and did that for us.

On not being able to get Rickey Henderson…

Rickey Henderson, no, because he always slid head first. That's our problem. He's seen way to much of Rickey Henderson. You know Girardi was a catcher, so you know he was sliding feet first, so that how we went. It was great. He was really gracious and came out and spoke to the team. I always tell them, you always want to try to align yourself with winners, so it was really an honor for me to have him out here and speak to the team.

On Girardi being from Northwestern University…

He's a Northwestern guy — that was the only problem I had with it. I did ask him about the Cubs, like, 'What happened, man?' Right field was an issue I think.

Other than that, football-wise, we're ready to roll. We better be. We've got one more day and we're on a plane to Toronto to get this thing teed up.

On if Girardi came to speak to the team or for a sliding clinic…

No, I literally called the Yankees today. I called Randy Levine. Unlike most people, I never asked for World Series tickets. I thought about it and if it had gotten to Game 7, I would have. I want to make sure we do everything in our power to provide him with the best tools. I thought if you're teaching sliding, than who's better to teach than somebody in baseball and Joe Girardi's the best there is. He was gracious enough to come down. I had no idea who would come down, but I knew whoever it would be from the Yankees would be a lot more impactful than if I would teach Sanchez how to slide. As far as I was hitting them, I never had to slide when I was a kid.

On if he knew Randy Levine…

I met Randy at Woody [Johnson]'s wedding. He was great and had Seth [Ryan] and myself and some friends at a Yankee game. Treated us big time. He's absolutely a great guy. I called him and told him it's important. He called me back and we spent a half an hour on the phone and we made this happen. It was great.

On if he specifically asked for Girardi…

I thought Joe might be in Miami. I wasn't sure where he was going to be at. When I found out that he was in town, it was awesome.

On calling the Yankees this morning…

It came to me last night and I said, 'I've got to get this done.' I'll feel a lot better about it and I think with Mark, you could see the more times he did it, the more confident he was.

On if they taught him the hook slide or the pop-up slide…

He's popping up. No, I'm just kidding. That pop-slide is probably not recommended in football. If you pop up a little too quickly, you might get a Riddell in your face. It was good. The more he went through it, he talked about being aggressive when you slide and went through 10 or 15 slides. He's feeling good about it. We're going to keep the mat. He's going to work it each day a little bit where he gets used to it.

On if Sanchez knows he can't just slide for fun…

Well, he knows. I think he sees that when we bring Joe Girardi in, this is all about business. Mark understands that. We kid about the Sanchize name, but he's the face of our franchise. We've got to keep him healthy.

On if there were any particular plays that spurred the phone call to the Yankees…

That and I've been asking him, you've got to slide and he just looks at you. The real thing is, remember when [Tom] Brady slid on his knee and it never felt comfortable. He was a guy that grew up sliding off his left leg and was tentative sliding off his right leg. It was a confidence-building thing and now you've got the best teacher in the game teaching you how to do this. Really, you saw his confidence really come up from the time Girardi spent with him.

On why it is better for Sanchez to slide off his right leg…

Because his knee brace is on the left. You don't want that getting caught on the turf. Ever since the injury, he wears the brace. You don't want that thing getting caught in the turf.

On Girardi not being able to teach Sanchez when to slide…

No, but he did make a great point about being aggressive and hitting it. I think Mark knows when to slide. I just think he's tentative to do it. I don't think he was really confident in sliding off his right leg, but I think he's getting there now.

On if Girardi actually slid…

Yeah, he showed him. He's son did it. His son looked good, by the way. He showed him. He got down on the ground with him and was showing the techniques. It was really great. This is probably the first football player he's ever done that with, but he's a natural. He did an outstanding job. He even talked about protecting his left hand. He did a way better job than I knew I could do and I was right. When I saw him, I was like, 'Wow, it's too bad my kid wasn't here for the lesson.' You have an opportunity to get the best and that's what we did. We went out and got the best and I feel really good about it.

On Sanchez's knee at practice today…

I thought he moved well. We had him rolling to his left quite a bit at the end of practice. I think he looks great. Again, the injury, when I say it's a tweak, that's really what it was. He tweaked his knee. I think he's fine.

On if Sanchez will start Thursday…

Yes, absolutely.

On how different Sanchez is now than from the last time against Buffalo…

You can't buy experience. He went through that and I think he is a better quarterback now than he was then. You play this game long enough bad things are going to happen to you unfortunately. I think he's growing in the fact that he understands what we want from him. Don't force the issue. If it's not there, then find something else to do with the football. Check it down. Throw the incompletion. Run with it. Take a sack. Anything is better than forcing the ball in particular times and I know he learned from that.

On Dustin Keller's fumble against Carolina…

Again, I hate to always say all of the above, but the effort was outstanding. The catch was tremendous — great effort. I know what he's trying to do. He's trying to score. He's trying to get that ball with two hands across the line. It was unfortunate. At the time in the game, we can't turn the ball over. Ball security is the number one issue. I pick on Dustin because he had an unbelievable game, but there are other times. Obviously, Shonn [Greene] fumbled once and we talked about Braylon [Edwards] carrying that ball out there. We've got to get it secured. You've got to get that hand above your wrist. You've got to have the eagle claw on the nose. You've got to have it protected at all cost. It's too valuable. The success of our franchise depends on us protecting that football. That was my point I tried to get across to our entire football team.

On if he has talked to Braylon Edwards about ball security…

Ask him that question because I think I talked to him and I like the way you phrased it. Let him know that I wasn't the only one that noticed. That would be good. I let him know in front of his teammates too. He's got his own red, yellow, green card. It says, "Secure the ball. Secure the ball. Secure the ball." That's his code. I can give you his code, so when he's catching it, he's securing that football. We all have to do. We make light of it, but our point is also that we've got to make sure we're securing the football.

On Sanchez…

We treated him not like he was a rookie quarterback. We felt that he could make all the throws and we still feel that he can make all the throws. I think his decision making is the only thing that needs to improve. Mark can throw the ball with anybody in this league. The negative would be about the experience. Maybe he doesn't have the experience level of other quarterbacks. I know one thing, he's got the talent. [We're] just trying to make it easier for him. Giving him some parameters of what he sees, what he should do and what he shouldn't do, I think will help him. I think he played great.

Let's face it, last week he could have had maybe not a Drew Brees game, I don't think I've ever seen that before, but he could have had numbers way up there. If he doesn't throw that interception, his quarterback rating might have been 120, I'm not sure. He really had a good game. He understood where I was coming from and where Schotty was coming from. You just see the confidence. I felt it all last week. He's like, "Alright. Give me that darn card. Let's go." Pretty soon, he knows. Even today he said, "OK. You're putting me in yellow right now aren't you?" I said, 'No. I was thinking green, but because you want yellow, go for it.' He knows.

On the comfort level with Sanchez in terms of game plan…

He's got a great grasp of our system. He really does. Obviously Schotty, whatever he calls, he's going to go out and execute. Each week, you have specific plays that are up for games. I always look at it this way. You're game plan might end up being if you'll take a look at the picture here. Your good game plan might fit like this. It's when you start having to get outside the box, that's when the game is probably not going real well. You've got to kind of avoid that a little bit, but there are times when you have to get outside of the box depending on how your opponent is playing. Certainly, he's a smart enough guy and I think he does have a good enough grasp of the system where Brian can add some things to it.

On if the last six games take on an added importance in terms of Sanchez improving…

I guess that's true. I'd like to see our team improve in ball security. Right now, you guys would know the stats better than I would on the exact number of turnovers we've had. I believe it's not good. We're one of the worst, 31st in the league, maybe 26 turnovers. That's killing us right now, absolutely killing us. When we can prevent the turnovers, get the turnovers on defense and just protect the football we can win a lot of games. We know it. Right now we should be maybe not the talk of the NFL, but certainly one of those teams that is without question going to the playoffs. Right now, we're scratching and clawing just to win a game. Moving forward, these last five games of the regular season are going to be critical for us.

On the chemistry of Sanchez and Keller…

I agree with you. I think there is chemistry there, but I also think he's beating people. He's getting open. Mark is throwing the ball to the open guy. He made two outstanding catches last week. Obviously, we know the kind of receiver he is. The thing I'm most proud of is his blocking. We had a play where he just put the guy on his back and drove him five yards. I was like, 'Wow. That's Dustin." His blocking is really improving and I'm excited about that.

On his decision to waive Justin Miller…

I'll always do what's in the best interest of the team. I'll just leave it at that. That's more family business.

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