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Rex Ryan Press Conference Transcript 8/2/11

by Tyson Rauch on August 2, 2011

On  Tuesday New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan addressed the media.  Here is the transcript courtesy of the Jets.

Opening statement…

I apologize again for you guys (the media) being out there for the walk-thru (laughter). It’s just the way the schedule is set up. For all of our sakes, we’d like to have the hitting and practice and all that stuff in the morning, but we’re going with this meeting, walk-thru stuff. We’re getting used to it, but it feels kind of funny though. Anyway, that practice went really well (laughing). Oh my goodness. I don’t know what you’re going to draw from that. I guess I’ll just open it up for questions.

On if there is any concern about the new rules and not being able to hit…

I don’t think it’s going to affect us at all. We take care of our players, I don’t disagree that we hit (each other) some in training camp. I think you get used to that, those goal line scrimmages that we have and all that kind of stuff, but we’ve always taken care of our players. If you recall last year it was always one padded practice or then a practice in the afternoon in shorts or a special teams practice. We never went padded practice then padded practice. So I don’t think it’s really going to affect us that much. I did challenge our guys that there were 36 practices that we had last year, and this year really it’s just 24 before we open up the regular season. So I think that gives you the, “We’re on the practice field, we can’t have a bad day.” And that’s basically our challenge to our players.

On whether losing the whole offseason is impacting installation of plays and packages…

That’s basically what we’re doing. We’re stepping up the meetings. We can’t do the physical work, but we’re doing the mental part of it. So I’m sure it’s a little frustrating for the guys that have been in these systems, especially the offensive players who have been around (Brian Schottenheimer) for five or six years and then the defense, now going into our third year in the same system. It’s always good. You think you remember, but you really don’t. You have to get energized, charged back up and I think that’s good. What we’ll do is we’ll go these first few days without pads we’ll install, a heavy install, and then when we go back to pads, we’ll go back to repeating it. Because normally you’re exactly right, you usually have minicamps, those type of things, OTA type stuff and then you have training camp so they’re seeing it again and again. So we’re kind of revising it a little bit to kind of get a jump start.

On if he has improved as a coach since he’s been with the Jets…

I think (I have) each year, and I hope I’m here for 20 years. I know there’s probably a lot of people out there that wish I’d be gone next year. I really think that as you get going, you can’t buy experience in this job. Obviously, I had a great background being the son of an NFL coach. It was a huge thing, I was around football all my life. So that’s 48 years of experience whether I was picking up this or that, I don’t know, but I was around it all my life. But I was never a head coach at any level. Mr. Johnson took a shot on me. Did I make some mistakes in my first year of coaching? Sure. And I’ll make mistakes now, just like every coach. Everybody besides (Bill) Belichick probably (joking). And I say that because it’s probably true, but I’m working there. I’m trying to get there. I really lean on guys that coach with me. Mike Westhoff and obviously Bill Callahan, Bob Sutton are great mentors to me. We have other coaches that are going to be head coaches in this league in Mike Pettine and Brian Schottenheimer. We have a lot of smart guys so I lean on our guys. It’s not about me. That’d be ridiculous. All of us are a lot smarter than me; the collection of us. But sure, I think I’ll be a better coach now than I was my first year for sure.

On improving the defense but still having the same roster…

We have to tighten things up. We looked hard in the off-season at what we’re doing defensively. Obviously, we’ll be creative and those things that have been kind of a trademark for us. We’ll find ways, we’ll steal from people, whatever it takes. If my brother does something good, trust me, we’ll have it in. But it’s never been about me, but it is about the tradition that we’re trying to set here on defense that we’re going to play great defense. We’ve said that from day one and it starts with the commitment to each other. It starts with the commitment in the classroom, on the practice field as well as the game field. So that’s it. We have a certain standard that we expect and we’re going to work to getting that. Obviously, there are a lot of good defenses out there but we want to be the best.

On the perceived lack of an effective pass rush last season and improving it this year…

I think we have to give our guys a chance too. Sometimes we come up with different ways to do that, but that also helps us. Some of the things that we do helps us get to the quarterback. Drew (Coleman), I don’t know how many sacks Drew had last year but he had a bunch of them. So there are different ways of getting there. Overall, I don’t think we’re as bad as maybe the people want to (say). We never had the guy with ten, twelve sacks, but we had a lot of guys with sacks. We were eighth in the league last year in number of sacks. So I don’t think we’re as desperate as (it is) out there. I think Westerman has a chance. It’s finally time, it’s his third year, it’s time to unleash him. The thing that is great is that he’s been up against (D’Brickashaw Ferguson) forever. So when you’re going against one of the elite players in this league, day-in and day-out, either two things happen. Either you get beat down so bad you just go home and go onto your life’s work or you get better. And you work and work and work to get better. And that’s what he’s done. And this young man is Dwight Freeney one week, the big kid from Houston (Mario Williams) one week. It just goes on and on and he’s done a fine job and he’s worked all those moves.

On if Westerman could be an every down outside linebacker…

I see Westerman as a DPR. A designated pass rusher. Even I can pull that one off. We have Calvin Pace and Bryan Thomas, so we’re pretty set with those two guys out there.

On possible free agents at the outside linebacker position…

I’m not sure, the way Mike (Tannenbaum) does it, he has the whole league sitting right there. He knows there are a few guys that can rush the passer that are still out there, but we feel pretty good about our situation right now.

On “airing it out more” this season on offense…

Absolutely. When you toss the ball out there for a sweep, that’s airing it out right? (joking) But no I think that’s the natural progression of where Mark is and that we’ll be able to throw the ball more effectively than we’ve done the last two years.

On still being a run-first team on offense…

I think that it’s going to be more balanced. But I still think we’re a ground and pound team. We’re deep. We have four tailbacks that can go. We’re not going to disappoint you. We’re going to turn and give it to somebody. But I would say when it’s all said and done that we’ll pass the ball more than we’ve done the first two years I’ve been here.

On offensive consultant Tom Moore…

Well, I’ll tell you about Tom right now and you have to love the mentality and the attitude. First off, all the coaches have these socks, these little half-things. There’s one guy out there with the old school ones. Old school, I’m being nice when I say that (laughter). And he says, “Yeah, those are sissy socks.” And I said, yeah, I’ll be in the long ones from now on. But that’s him. He’s great. He really is going to be Brian’s (Schottenheimer) guy. So whatever Brian asks him to do, it doesn’t get much better than having Tom Moore sitting in that room with you. So we’re really excited about some things. Obviously, he’s been here already during the offseason working on a lot of things. Not just red zone, but he’s been there with Brian a bunch, so I’m excited about it.

On why Moore was hired…

We’ve had great success, we’ve had Jim McNally who is a long-time offensive line coach, one of the best ever that has been with Bill (Callahan). He helps Bill, takes the film. He’s at home and all that, so it’s a sounding board for you. It gives us a head start. These guys will have the film on the next week’s opponent early, they’ll have it on ours as well. So I think they’ll be impactful and from a time standpoint as well. Guys will bring fresh ideas and really work side by side, albeit from his home, but with all the tape and everything else. I think it’s going to be a great thing for us. We weren’t the only team that was trying to get Tom Moore.

On rookie defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson…

He looks pretty good. I’ll let you talk to his teammates about him. He and (Ferguson) were going at it yesterday. It’s funny because they were getting after it, but they were four yards apart from each other because both their arms are so long. But they were getting after each other and that’s great. He belongs, he’s the starting defensive end right now, the day he walked in here. That’s why we drafted him, not to be a backup. We need him to be a player. He’s starting right now. And the big guy, you can’t coach 6’5”, 350. He plays hard, big (Kenrick) Ellis. Hopefully those two young guys will be here for a long time.

On if Wilkerson is solely an interior lineman…

I think when you get into a passing situation he’s an interior guy. You want one of those big guys to hit a gap, get pressure in the quarterback’s face and let the outside guys go. It’s funny, the game I always say is an easy game made complicated by coaches. Because really this is an easy game. The inside guy’s job is to push the pocket and force it to the defensive ends. The defensive ends’ jobs are to make that quarterback step up and turn him back to the tackles. That really is it. I think he’s one of those guys that can really push the pocket as an inside pass rusher.

On possibly playing Wilkerson on the outside as a pass rusher…

No. I think we’re in pretty good shape with some of the guys we have. I mentioned Westerman. Obviously, Calvin Pace coming back healthy, that’s going to be huge. That’s why I think we’ll get better defensively. Having Calvin healthy and then of course you have Bryan Thomas, so we have some guys who can rush the passer. We have this young guy, I don’t want to build him up too much, the Canadian kid we got. Number 50 (McIntyre). Canadian kid. Number 50. He’s a relentless guy, he’s one of those guys who is a pain to block.

On if the player Ryan is referring to is first-year player Garrett McIntyre…

That’s exactly who I’m talking about. Thanks for the assist there. He’s one of those relentless guys. So I think we’ll be just fine.

On the new tattoo on his leg…

It’s funny, I hear the mid-life crisis and all that type stuff. It’s mid-life alright, but what’d we talk about? (Mid-life hieroglyphics). That’s why we have (Director of Media Relations) Bruce (Speight) say it. There’s no telling what would come out if I said that.

On whether the players have commented on his new tattoo…

Yes, they’re like “that’s cool Rex.” So you have the mountains, you have the waves, the shark tooth down there. You have it all working.

On how long it took to get the tattoo…

After I got through crying? (joking) The tattoo is nothing guys. It’s fun. It’s a smile, so I did it. It was probably an hour and a half.

On if there will be a Facebook video explaining the tattoo…

Yes we are.

On his brother (Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator) Rob Ryan’s comments…

I know he believes in his team, there’s no question about it. He’s just being himself.

On whether Jim Leonhard is 100% healthy…

I think he is. I think he’s a little sore, which obviously he’s running around a little bit. We’re going to be smart, but I think he’ll be ready to go. He doesn’t know it yet, but we’re not going to have him return punts. But he’s back there catching punts and all that, but I haven’t had the heart to tell him that he won’t be doing that in a game.

On the kick return situation…

Westy (Coach Mike Westhoff) is excited. He thinks that (Jeremy) Kerley kid has a chance. We have Kyle Wilson. Oh, gosh, we had a bunch of them lined up back there. (Joe) McKnight is one, so we’ll see. I think we’ll be fine . As Westy likes to tell me and point out, “Well, we had a Pro Bowler. This guy was a Pro Bowler. This guy was a Pro Bowler. This guy was a Pro Bowler. This guy led the NFL.” It’s almost like he’s telling me it really doesn’t matter who is back there. We’re going to block it so well. We had skill back there. This Kerley kid, he’s an excellent athlete. I’m sure you guys have seen that in the walk-thru (joking). He really is. He really is a tremendous athlete. Then, Kyle (Wilson) was one of the best returner in the country. I’ll say this about Kyle, I think he was so nervous last year that it was like, ‘Just catch the ball. Just catch the ball.’ He’s way more than what he showed last year. He’s an explosive guy. He has that kind of ability. I think when you look at the type of guys we have, obviously not even mentioning (Antonio) Cromartie, because Cromartie doesn’t know it, but when the game is on the line, you put Cro back there because he is an amazing returner as we saw in that Indianapolis game. We certainly have options at kick returner.

On whether he expects Muhammad Wilkerson to start and whether Shaun Ellis could potentially back up…

He (Shaun Ellis) is getting up there in age. We don’t need guys to play every snap anymore. We have these young guys. We brought Trevor (Pryce) in, who has had some unbelievable years, to come in and fill a purpose for us. Now, if Shaun was on this team, would we start him just to start him and keep this streak? Absolutely, but we’re going to play this young kid a bunch. Obviously, if we had Shaun, we’d play him too, but we brought this kid in to play.

On whether he wants Shaun Ellis back…

Hey, I’d love to have Shaun back. There is no doubt. Just like I mentioned before, I’d want Braylon (Edwards) back. I’d want Brodney Pool back, all those guys. There wasn’t one player that we didn’t want back. Now, we couldn’t get them all done, but we had a lot of excellent players. We weren’t able to keep everybody, but we’re certainly keeping our fair share.

On Randy Moss retiring…

I’ll tell you what, that guy had a heck of a career. He’s a heck of a player. I’m glad he’s retired because it seems like, even last year, we’d have to play him twice. We were excited when he was traded from New England. We were like, ‘Alright, Minnesota. Don’t we play them next week?’ It’s like, ‘Are you kidding me?’ But, certainly, I have a great deal of respect for Randy Moss, one of the all-time great receivers. I liked him, too. I liked his personality and he was good for the game. He was a great player, but that’s the thing about this game is you can’t play it forever. Even a great player as great as Randy Moss has been in this league, he decided he’s going to retire. It will be easier for me to sleep at night knowing that he’s not in this league anymore.

On Jason Taylor returning to Miami…

Like I said, we wanted all our players back. Jason Taylor was great. When he was here, he came in and he finished some games for us. He’s a tremendous person, a tremendous player. He played about 55 percent of the snaps last year for us, so we used Jason and I thought Jason played well for us. The fact that he went back there, he’s spent almost his entire career in Miami and if he’s going to play one more year, I can’t say I wish him the best because that would be a lie, but the guy is tremendous. He was great when he came here. He was all-in and that’s all you can ask a guy to do. I know he never wanted to leave Miami, ever. The fact that, for whatever the reason (and) circumstances were last year, we were able to get him and he played well for us. Again, as I like to say, he played like a Jet. The year for us, he played great and I’m happy he was a part of us for the year.

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