Rex: The Third Downs Killed Us

Transcript of head coach Rex Ryan's news conference Monday midday at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center:

I think the big thing, before we get into our meetings and all that kind of stuff, is going to be learning from this game. It's bad enough to lose a game, but you need to learn from it. What are the correctable mistakes that were made in the game, how you go about fixing it, and those type of things. If you can learn from them, then obviously, losing the game, there's nothing good that comes out of it except for the chance for learning from it. You'd much rather win a game and learn from mistakes in those games. I thought we did that even last week. I thought the defense was much more physical this game than it was in the previous game against Buffalo in stopping the run. I thought that was positive.

I thought we had some other positive things. We knew it was going to be a challenge going up against Pittsburgh. For the most part, I thought we were efficient in our pass protection, so that was positive. I thought we had some good runs. We averaged 4.1 yards a carry against Pittsburgh. That's positive. But we made too many mistakes to beat Pittsburgh. [Ben] Roethlisberger did what he did. Our biggest thing was not getting off the field on third down and not staying on the field on third down in the second half on offense. That was the difference of the game. When you look at other things, it's probably even, maybe. We had our moments, but the third downs killed us.

On if after watching film he saw opportunities where he should've used the Wildcat…

I thought we were doing a great job offensively, early in the game, especially the beginning of that game, almost the entire first half I thought we were moving the ball well. For us, you're always going to do what's in the best interest of your team, what you think is going to give your team a chance to be successful. We did have some Wildcat plays going into that game, but as the game went on, we're down by ten points late in that game, I even thought about it. But it was more like, "Eh, we're down, let's see if we can't make some plays." We knew we we're getting a lot of press coverage on the outside, we thought we could make some plays. Quite honestly, they just executed better than we did.

On the running game…

Well, I think there's things that you can always improve on. I think we're doing a better job at blocking down field than we did last year. I think we're getting more movement than we did last year. We did run the ball pretty efficiently in really both of the games, so I think we're ahead of where we were last year at this point, I don't think there's any doubt about that.

We'd prefer to run the ball more, we want to run the ball more than we did. When you look at it, we're a big team that talks about runs and completions. Well, it wasn't even close in that game. Pittsburgh had 52 and I think we had 32 so it wasn't even close. Even though Pittsburgh averaged 2.5 per carry, they still ran the football, and I think that sometimes is a hidden stat that affects wins and losses. So again, what it all boiled down to, and I think it really boiled down to who did better on third down. Clearly, they won that battle.

On Mark Sanchez's play…

Mark's play, I think, a little inconsistent. I thought he did a tremendous job early. Obviously, he was dead-on, he was very accurate with the football. I think later, as it went on, obviously, they pinned their ears back, that's what Pittsburgh does. It was probably more of a combination of a lot of things. You go in there, you don't turn the ball over, so I was happy with that. But obviously, I'd like to see us throw at a higher percentage level.

There's a lot to do with it, not just Sanchez, but we have to catch the football better, routes have to be crisper, there's a lot of things that go into it. But I was happy with the fact that we never turned the ball over. At times, I thought Mark really threw the ball well. I think the big thing for us is, learning that it's during the week. Our week's preparation going into the Buffalo game, we looked different than we did last week. Last week we had guys out, we weren't near as sharp during the week as we were the previous week, and it carried over to the game obviously.

On if Sanchez should have checked down more…

There were a couple where he probably could have hit a guy in the flat or whatever, but we're trying to make some plays. Obviously, you'd prefer to go high to low, if we think we can get one for more yards, then you have to make that throw. But there's only really one time that I remember that I thought, "Oh, just take the checkdown." Again, he's trying to make a play, and he's going to try to give us a chance to make a bigger play.

On what he was thinking before the half…

I get with Tony [Sparano], Tony and I both on the sideline and Sanchez even. Our thinking was, we get the ball to start the second half, that if we pop the run, we had a run called, if we pop it, we'll continue. Obviously, then you're in that mode. And there's a chance that you can pop it there, they're expecting you to pass. We've seen it happen several times where you're able to get right to the line of scrimmage and go. When they stop the run, that put us in a different mindset. So we discussed those things before we went out there.

On if he believes Darrelle Revis will play on Sunday…

I don't think you can assume that. I think he has to, to the NFL standards, pass those tests right now. He looks to be doing well, so hopefully he will be playing.

On if he thinks a few third-downs would have made a difference in the game…

It would have made a huge difference. We had third-and-long and when you look at Pittsburgh's success, this is what Roethlisberger does. Pittsburgh is one of the top third-down teams in the league. Ben extends plays and that's exactly what he did. We had some pressure on him, but he extended some plays. He's got some targets. He's got four guys that are pretty darn good out there, so they present some matchup problems there. Ben does a great job himself. We thought we did a decent job of getting to him. It's just that you have to find a way to get him on the ground or at least disrupt him enough where he's not going to be accurate with the football.

On if the conditions of the game have to be right to use the Wildcat…

We've always said from day one that we can do it 20 times, 40 times, 10 times, two times, whatever, but we determine that. It's not just going to be that these specific things have to be lined up, it's just that that's exactly what happened in this game. Does that mean that given the exact same scenario against a different opponent that we may or may not use it? That'll be us. We'll always do what we think is in the best interest of our football team. Clearly, what I loved about when Tim [Tebow] was in there, was when he made that big run, the emotion and all that kind of stuff. It was great to see. I've always said he is a tremendous football player, so we'll see how many times we'll run it this coming week. I'm not sure yet.

On if it is hard to manage two quarterbacks…

When we had Brad Smith here, you're going to answer the same kind of questions. Why would you put Brad in there to run it? Well, it's about being efficient. If you're efficient in it, then we can do it and we can do it several ways. The difference is that this guy is a better passer than Brad. There's going to be times where he's going to be in a number of plays and there's times where he's here or here. That other team has to prepare for it and they don't want to sit back and not prepare for it, then all of a sudden we run it 40 times on you.

On taking Tebow out of the game…

I never said we had to do anything when you're second-and-16, you lose 6 yards against Pittsburgh. Right now we think Mark gives us the best chance to be successful in that particular situation against that particular opponent. Those are things that we'll always look at. I believe Tim can pass. We'll make the decision on when a guy is out there, not out there, or whatever.

On if he is more in tune with the offense…

Absolutely. There are a lot of things that I saw in the game, both positive and negative, offensively, not just on defense. I'm definitely more in tune with our offense.

On his concerns with the defense…

Bet against us, that's all I'm saying. Bet against us, we'll see where it ends up. I know where it's going to end up. I tell you every year, it's the same thing. We've had some issues. We couldn't get off the field on a third down and that hurt us. The first game, you get four takeaways in a half, I think that's pretty good, up 41-7 on a team, we'll take that, in regards to how many yards you give up in that kind of game. I was pleased with the way our defense played. I would have liked to see us finish better against Buffalo, without question. In this game we did a lot of good things. I thought we were much more physical than we were the previous week, and that was good, and stopped the run against a team that can run the football. Obviously, we have to improve third down, and we will.

On why Quinton Coples did not play a lot…

That's a huge offensive line. When you look at that offensive line, that's the biggest offensive line in the league. They're huge and they had a couple of big running backs, so we preferred to put a guy who's 320 pounds over a guy who's 280 pounds.

On the status of John Conner…

I'm not sure how John is. I know he was limping around pretty good after the game, but I'm not sure.

On if he knows the status of Dustin Keller and Bryan Thomas.…

No.

On if Vladimir Ducasse played for Matt Slauson because he was hurt…

No, Matt wasn't hurt. We were just giving an opportunity to Vlad to play. We do the same thing on defense. You saw Demario Davis in there some. You saw Josh Mauga in there. You saw the entire defensive line rotation. If you have a good football player, then you should use them. That's always been my belief. I think Vlad has earned that right to play some.

On if there is a competition between Slauson and Ducasse…

No, it's just that we're going to play everybody. If a guy is up, there's no sense not playing a guy if he has earned that right.

On if Sanchez took an tests after the game…

I have no idea. I've been in meetings the whole day, so I'm not sure. I thought he was engaged on the sideline. I thought he seemed to be sharp on the sideline.

On Shonn Greene's injury status…

I haven't talked to our trainers yet today, so I'm not sure what our injury status is.

On Lawrence Timmons' hit on Sanchez…

It was a helmet-to-helmet hit, so it should be flagged and it was.

On why Santonio Holmes hasn't had a big game statistically in a while…

I think he's getting a lot of coverage rolled to him without question. He's definitely getting a lot of coverage rolled to him. That shows that the opponent believes that he's one of our major weapons, without question. That has a lot to do with it as well. Our first year, I'm not real sure, I know he did make some big plays, but I expect him to make some big plays. When we get rolling, hopefully I think Dustin [Keller] will help us. Getting Dustin back will be a big help to us as well.

On Garrett McIntyre…

He plays hard. He's one of those guys who we always say "plays like a Jet," and that's what he does. On his first sack, he did a tremendous job, ran the stunt perfect, ran over that center and then redirected, made the sack. I thought that was tremendous. He's a guy that keeps going. Every single play he is going to give you everything he has. He's probably not the best space player of all time, playing in space like a Calvin Pace, but there are very few like that. But he can play. He's a ball of energy and I think that's good for us.

On if Pace was in coverage more than usual…

Probably so, a lot of times you'll take advantage of a skill set of some of your guys. Calvin has the skill set to do it all. He can play man coverage. He can play zone coverage. He's the best zone coverage outside linebacker I've ever been around and I've been around some good ones. Tremendous as a run player and he's good as a pass rusher, but sometimes, your scheme, you'll set up things where we need you to do this, where maybe the next week he's blitzing more. Clearly, he's probably the top guy in space. Maybe that will hurt him sack-wise, but I think, recognizing him as a football player, he does a tremendous job.

On Roethlisberger's ability to complete third-down plays and if they need to make future adjustments on third down…

I recognize Roethlisberger as a unique quarterback. It's hard not to. He completed four of them when most guys would be sacked. Four of those third downs he completed. With that said, what can we do different? Ben Roethlisberger or anyone else back there has nothing to do with the leverage we play with in coverage. If we're playing outside leverage instead of inside leverage, that's a problem. Playing the football down the field has nothing to do with who's at quarterback. We have to do a better job ourselves in doing things like that, understand the defense, win our leverages. What we are counting on when we make certain calls, this is what we're counting on. Looking at it too, what we can change up schematically to help us.

On Antonio Cromartie's coverage on Mike Wallace's touchdown catch…

Cro had about as good of coverage as you can have on a guy. We knew it was going to be a vertical shot. He played it perfectly right to the point, man coverage, where he turned and faced him. What happened with Cro was he drifted. As he was looking for the ball, he got both eyes back to see the football, and when that happens sometimes, you drift, your body drifts. I think that's exactly what happened. The kid made a great catch, he kept both feet in bounds. It was a tremendous catch on his part.

Sometimes, when you have that great of coverage, you can't be in better coverage than Cro was, it's just relying on your technique. I think he was in such good position that he wanted to find the football with both eyes. There's a thing we talk about, in control or out of control and he was clearly in control of the situation. He just misjudged the ball.

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