REX: You Want a D That Can Pick Your Team Up

Transcript of head coach Rex Ryan's midday news conference before the Jets' Wednesday afternoon practice at the Atlantic Health Training Center:

Today we have some [MetLife] stadium employees that are going to watch practice. I think that's always a good thing. They do a lot for us and it'll be good to see those people out there.

On injuries…

It seems to be doing pretty good. Sione [Po'uha] is going to be held out. He seems to be doing better, but we're not ready to put him in a game yet, he's not ready to play yet. Santonio [Holmes], we'll see, I think he's progressing. Hopefully he can do a little bit more, keep doing a little bit more, and hopefully we get him out there to play some this week. Jeremy [Kerley], I've been impressed with how Jeremy is out there. I know he's not in team drills, but he seems to be doing pretty well. Chaz [Schilens], he's got that high ankle. Again, he's doing well; I just don't think he'll be ready to play this week. Eric Smith is out also.

On if Wayne Hunter will attend practice…

Yeah, Wayne's here. Also, Calvin Pace is here. He'll practice today as well.

On if he thinks the defense has the potential to carry the team when the offense is struggling…

Yeah, I hope so. I think you want to have a team, and you guys know me and my standard response, but you want to have a team that if one side is struggling for one reason or another, the other side can lift it up. You certainly want to have a defense that can do that. You want an offense that can do that. I also like our special teams.

It's funny because our special teams, at times in the preseason, looks like the special teams we always think it is. They're close to popping some. They had a couple great plays inside, some pooch punts, all that kind of stuff. We kind of lack some consistency there. Obviously, we had the blocked punt. T.J. [Conley] uncharacteristically hit two balls out of bounds. Our field goals and everything else, our kickoffs have been absolutely terrific. There are a lot of positives there. We just have to put it all together. Hopefully by the time we get into regular season we're humming.

You want to have a defense that can pick your team up, there's no doubt. Again, do I believe we're going to have to do that at some point during the season? Yeah. Whether it's at the beginning, end, or in between, yes I do. I also think the offense is going to have to do the same thing to the defense. That's how you win consistently in this league. Both sides can pick the team up when need be.

On if he can see a difference in speed this season…

I think so. From just a speed standpoint on the field you see it. When you add a LaRon Landry, Yeremiah Bell, Bart Scott, he's lost weight, he's faster physically. Even the communication makes you faster. I think now that it's year four it makes sense. Even adding two new safeties to what we have, we're still playing really fast. I was talking with [Darrelle] Revis, and I was like you know, right now it seems like we're dialed in on the communication part of the game and that's huge. That's when you can play fast. Even your young defensive linemen are getting into it. We're seeing very few mental mistakes over there. That allows you to play faster.

The one thing I'm concerned with is, I was pushing Darrelle, and just that we have to be in unbelievable shape. You need to be in that kind of conditioning. A lot of these teams are going no-huddle. You see Miami and Buffalo, all these teams, New England obviously, with that no-huddle attack you have to be in great shape. That's something that we're telling our guys. You see them doing more wind sprints and all that. They're not just going through the body of practice, but even on their own that they'll be working that way.

On talking to Darrelle Revis about the defense needing to be in shape…

We were talking how I think this can be a really good defense, and I mean a really good defense, but make sure that we're on top of everything, keep our communication going, make sure we're in great shape and I think that's something we can do. Even push yourself to where you're building endurance and everything else. The fact that you don't have the two-a-days, a lot of times in those two-a-day practices, you build that kind of shape. I don't want to find out, now obviously this is our second year doing it, that we're not in as good of shape as we were back then. Push yourself even more. I know he looked at me and absolutely understands where I'm coming from there.

On the 2000 Baltimore Ravens defense.…

It was a phenomenal year. I think, and this sounds crazy, but during the time we went five-straight games without scoring an offensive touchdown, I think we won two of those games and that's what you talk about where a defense can pick up an offense. Yet it's funny because during that year, the offense picked up the defense. I believe Tony Banks threw five touchdowns that year in one game, and the whole year, I think [joking]. We had a bad day defensively, but had an unbelievable game offensively.

What was funny that year — that's why when I say these things they're based on my past experiences — we played the Jets. Vinny Testaverde threw for 500 yards against that defense, but threw several picks, one returned for a touchdown by Chris McAllister about 100 yards, and we had two punt returns for touchdowns. That day the special teams picked up both sides. That's what I'm talking about. When you have a special team and have a great year, those things happen. You can look at any team that's had success — both sides will pick each other up over the course of a season. That's how you try to build your team.

The one thing I remember about the 2000 year that was kind of under the radar, obviously it had the all-time record for the least amount of points [allowed], I think everybody understands it was [about] 160 points, which is an incredible stat, but the rushing stat is unbelievable because if you look at the backs we were playing back then, it was incredible. Not only that, almost every team had a running quarterback: [Mark] Brunell in Jacksonville, Kordell Stewart in Pittsburgh, Steve McNair in Tennessee. Everyone had running quarterbacks. That was pretty impressive to me.

Ironically I thought the 2006 Ravens were a better defense. I think they led the NFL in more categories than any defense in history. I thought that really could have been that kind of defense, but unless you win it all nobody really cares, so it would never be considered in that group, and rightfully so. If you don't win the whole thing, then how can you consider it?

On keeping team chemistry when one unit is outplaying the other…

We're a team. I think when you look at it, that's the main thing. Sometimes you play to the strength of your team. The thing that I admire most about those teams in Baltimore is that we played to the strength of the unit. That defense is not going to set a record in points if it wasn't for the contributions of the offense. The offense contributed to that as well, it played to the strength of it. Sometimes you get a lead and maybe you're running the ball more than you're throwing it just because [you're keeping your defense rested]. You don't focus on the statistics offensively, you focus on the wins and you do the same thing on defense. I think stats line up more on defense more than they do on offense because you have to stop people. Sometimes on offense, you can take the air out of the football if that helps your team.

On the play of Shonn Greene and Joe McKnight against the Giants…

I thought Shonn ran the ball really well. Obviously, you're going against an outstanding defense with the Giants, but I love the way he saw that vision, you saw him squaring those pads up and he was running through. He looked impressive and he wanted it. He was feeling it. There is no question. If it was up to Shonn, he would have carried it 30 times. I saw him kind of in that groove. I feel really good about where Shonn is now. Joe McKnight is showing flashes of "here's that explosive-type athlete that you want over there." I don't think he ran the ball as well this game as he did that first game against Cincinnati. Obviously, he has a ton of skill when he puts that ball under his arm. You want things from both those guys. I've also been really impressed with Bilal Powell and what he has done.

On If practice now starts to resemble the regular season…

Well we're trying to put the schedule as close to that as we can. The big difference is we're still practicing against each other, so offense vs. defense where in the regular season you're going against scout teams. Which are simulating the defense that you're going to play, and the offense that you're going to play. So that's the big difference, it's basically called carted practice. You're not doing that here, you're still going against this defense and our offense, so that's the big difference. But I want to purposely put our schedule, plan our schedule, where it would be as close to a regular season schedule as we could.

On if he would consider practicing against another team next year…

I think so, I think next year would be an opportunity to do that. When you look at it this year, we're installing a brand new offense, I never really thought that this was the year to do that. The first year I got here we were putting in a new defense, so it just kind of worked that those things never worked out. It is something that I would like to do though, even if it's just for an extra day or something.

On if he practiced with another team in Baltimore…

We did. We would practice against Washington.

On if he will game-plan this week…

Well, I think you do a little more each week. You put in a little more of your package. I mean obviously I want to see some points on the board, we all want to see that, there's no doubt, but just trying to get better, working on things whether it's collectively as a unit, or individually. Just taking those steps to where we are getting better, communication, everything, just trying to tighten up everything, and get it a little better than it was a week before.

On if Tim Tebow will come in for a few snaps while Mark Sanchez is running the offense…

I think what we'll do is we'll go with Mark, and then when its time, we'll put in Tebow to close out the game. Do I see them out there together? No, I don't see that happening.

On how he evaluates the roster next week when he has WR Chaz Schilens and LB Ricky Sapp, both of whom he hasn't see play a lot…

Yeah, it's tough. Both of them have high ankle sprains, nothing they can do about it. That's just part of football, those things happen. It is tougher. To make a team you have to be out on the field and things. I think in Chaz's case, we've seen him do that, he played well in the preseason game. He's played really well at times, in the mini-camps, he looked tremendous. He had a bunch of those nagging injuries that have prevented him from getting as much work as he would like obviously. With Ricky its unfortunate, because before he really got to play in any games, in the scrimmage he comes around to get a sack and then he has the high ankle sprain, so that's unfortunate.

On if they will consider bringing in a veteran receiver if Schilens doesn't work out…

Well I think you always consider that. Number one I feel pretty good about Chaz, it's just unfortunate it's an injury. But the way Mike [Tannenbaum] and the way we'll run our organization is, you'll always do what's in the best interest of the team. If we can add a kicker to help our team, then you would look at doing that. That's just as simple as that. We have a responsibility to this organization, to this fan base, to always do that, to look at everything. And sometimes we get criticized, "Oh, you're looking at this guy." Well, yeah, we're going to look at every player. When 500 guys get cut, or whatever it is, trust me, Mike or his other guys will know something about every one of those guys, and if there is someone on that list who we think can help our team, then we definitely will consider that.

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