Mike Pettine Interview Transcript 9/15/11


On Thursday New York Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine addressed the media.  Here is the transcript courtesy of the Jets.

On the Maurice Jones-Drew play from two seasons ago…

It was just a situation that we practice for a one point game called a “freeway”. You try to be good actors and you allow an opponent to score, let it be an eight-point game, and now you have a chance. Because the way the situation was with the game, we wouldn’t be able to stop the clock. It was right above the two-minute warning. So looking ahead we realized, as much as a defense it goes against every shred of your defensive mentality and your body to allow that to happen, it’s part of the game and I’ve seen it used successfully for teams to get back and have the ability to tie a game up. So we called it and (Marques) Douglas made a heck of a play. It was just an instinctive thing, I think he shed a block and dove and tackled him, but right then he knew it because then at the two-minute warning we could see their coaches talking to Jones-Drew on the sideline, we realized we’re not going to get that chance again. And sure enough, on the next play, that’s when he ran down and broke the heart of some fantasy football owners and took a knee at the one-yard line. But we’ve watched that game, it’s still one that bothers us because we allowed a team to come in here and be more physical than we were. We were inconsistent that game. We had stretches that game, we played lights-out. But we allowed a long drive early and then we had a chance to close the game out. We had taken the lead and we let them drive right down the field and kick the game-winning field goal. That’s obviously something we never want to have happen, especially at home.

On Rex Ryan saying that the defense made seven glaring mistakes during the Cowboys game…

I don’t know the exact number, but I think there were more than seven. It all depends on your definition of “glaring”. That’s all definition, are we talking about mental mistakes? Are we talking about technique errors? Errors that end up being big plays? We can have a colossal bust on a play but it ends up being a great play for us because the ball ended up not going there. (You) turn a guy loose, don’t even cover him and the ball gets thrown somewhere else. Whereas, where a guy like Eric Smith who has tight coverage and it’s just a perfect throw by (Tony) Romo over the top and it was against the right coverage and the help on that side of the field was low instead of high by design, and they hit a big play on it. So again, a lot of it depends on the result how you look at the mistake whether it was a critical error or not. But again, that maybe was his count, but I think for us as the defensive staff and the position coaches, we’ll probably have that number a little bit higher.

On if he was surprised at the number of mistakes the Jets defense made…

No, I wasn’t surprised. It was an opener. They did some things that they hadn’t shown that gave us some trouble. (It’s ) a credit to them, that’s a very intelligent coaching staff. They had the entire lockout, the entire offseason to prepare. I think that’s probably why, contrary to popular belief, that people I think thought the defenses were going to be ahead of offenses and you look at the results, (in Week One there were the) most passing yards in a weekend, all the points being scored, I think that’s a credit to a lot of the offensive staffs out there that had all that time to come up with some pretty good plans and study the defenses in that offseason. I’m not surprised by it. Obviously, we were thrilled, relieved, whatever the word is to get out of it with a win. Hey, we’re going to learn from the mistakes we made, but when the smoke cleared, we ended up 1-0. That’s obviously huge, and that’s life in the NFL. The other team is going to make plays and I give credit to them. You hear some people out of the Dallas market, I mean you hear the owner say that’s as good as he’d seen Tony (Romo) play up until the fumble. And he did (play well), he made some throws that were lights out. The one he hit Dez Bryant on the sideline, it was a perfect throw, you can’t cover that. Marquice Cole hit him with a dead run, hit him from full blast from 20 yards away and to his credit he stood in and made that throw. That’s going to happen, so again, the sky wasn’t falling for us after it. But again, it was, “Hey, we’re not as good as we think we are” moment in the defensive room as well.

On if he expects Jacksonville to run the ball a lot…

I think what they’ve done since coach (Jack) Del Rio has been there is they thrive on win boring. This is not a flashy offense, and especially on the road they’re going to come in, they want to take the crowd out of it. They’re going to run the football. They’re going to keep the passing game, it’s not a lot of stuff down the field. You’re not going to see a lot of deep balls being thrown. Every once in a while they’ll block it up to take a shot, but for the most part, I think the kid had 24 attempts, only 170 yards. There weren’t a lot of chunks in their yardage, but it was all efficient throws. Three step boots, screens, and then he plays to his defense. The style, it’s not pretty, it’s probably not what the league wants, but it’s very effective for them and it can get frustrating. And then you get guys who try to come out of structure and make a play and next thing you know you are giving up a big play.

On if Luke McNown can win a game if the Jets defense loads up on the run…

He did. I think that’s hard on most quarterbacks. There are the elite ones that can do it, but we certainly would like to get him into that situation. Here’s a guy that has been in the league for a long time, only has what is it? Eight career starts. Anytime you have a guy who is inexperienced, you want to put the game on their shoulders.

On if Bart Scott has earned some defensive freedom…

Well it’s not necessarily freedom, but I think what Bart has proven over the years is that he’s a pretty good pass rusher and Bart’s pretty good when he’s around the line of scrimmage like that. He’s not a guy that can just line up and put his hand down and be a defensive end, but from a standing up position, and I think it’s good that we kind of mix up the amount of time that he’s in coverage and the amount of time that he’s rushing the passer. Like I said, he’s proven he can do that, and there are situations where we want to keep him on the field, so instead of subbing for him in some of those third down groupings, we’ll keep him on the field and just have him be part of the rush.

On the long play to Dez Bryant on the first drive…

I think Brodney (Pool) was a little late getting lined up. I think that was the first problem, is that he was a little lazy getting out of the huddle and they quick-counted us. They got up and snapped it pretty quick, so he wasn’t set and his job was to see the release of the inside receiver. If he released inside, he was supposed to squeeze number two, try to get his hands on him, and he gave him free access, which is obviously a big no-no to give an elite athlete like that free access, especially when he’s not going against a corner, when he’s on an inside route, so that’s one there. Obviously he didn’t have him down the field, but we needed to get a re-route there.

On if the coaching staff realized the defense wasn’t as good as they thought during the game…

Not so much during the game, I just think afterwards when you come out of it. That’s something where you feel as a defensive staff, “Hey let’s take the positives from this. Hey guys, we’re not as good as we get hyped up.” And a lot of times guys buy into it. “Hey I’m wearing a Jets jersey, I must be good.” Whereas it doesn’t happen that way. They have to understand, it’s human nature when you go for such a long period of time, “Hey you guys are an elite defense.” Well, we’re an elite defense when we prove it on the field, and I think that was a good wakeup call for our group.

On how good the defense is…

Good enough to be 1-0.

On struggling against Jason Witten and tight ends in general…

It was a combination (of things) when we looked at it. Obviously that’s a concern, we had some games last year where we gave up some catches and some yards to tight ends. We know that, especially with how good we are outside, that’s how we’re going to get attacked. Sometimes it’s personnel, there are certain tight ends in this league that are hard draws, that are too big to cover with a (defensive back) yet too athletic to cover with a linebacker. That’s the problem with Witten for example. You want to put a guy down on him and next thing you know they’re running the ball and we have a corner trying to cover him but now he’s trying to get off a block and make a play in the run game. And then you look at the flip side of it, trying to have a linebacker cover in space. You have to mix it, you have to do some different things, they did some things schematically that got him some balls early on, but we made an adjustment later in the game that helped us. It’s something we’re aware of and it doesn’t get any easier this week, I know (Marcedes) Lewis is listed (on the injury report), whether he’s questionable, probable, whatever it is, I know he has a calf injury. He isn’t going to practice until tomorrow, but we’re expecting him to be full go. And he’s right on that list (of elite tight ends). We basically go Week One and Week Two, probably play two of the most complete tight ends in the league. Guys that can block, that are darn good blockers, that can turn around and break you down in the secondary as well.

On his impressions of Muhammad Wilkerson…

I thought he was solid in the game. Solid, not spectacular. I don’t know how he ended up on Coach Carrier’s grade sheet, but I don’t think there were too many minuses on there. I think it was a good start for him. We didn’t want to get him too many reps. Again, just being opening night and on that stage, I didn’t want to have to throw the kid out there to play 60 snaps, so he was in the rotation. I thought the five guys that played, I thought all were pretty solid. Ropati (Pitoitua) was solid. Marcus Dixon played well, and then obviously, (Mike) DeVito and Sione (Pouha) were the usual, did their job as well. And then you asked about Kenrick (Ellis). He had a real good week of practice this week, so we have that decision to make. This is a running football team. We usually have that meeting on Friday, it could be later today, though, the five versus six D-linemen up (for the game) discussion.

On having Pitoitua healthy…

It’s huge. We were really feeling that he was going to be a big part of our success a year ago. That’s why it was so heartbreaking to see him go down (last) preseason with the injury. He’s come back and has picked up exactly where he left off. He’s that guy. He’s high-motor, super strong. He’s a guy that, for as big as he is, sometimes you have to worry about his pad level, but he’s so strong that he can still pop up a little bit and still be effective. He’s a Jet and he plays like that. He’s passionate, he’s relentless. The phrase we use, he plays like his hair’s on fire. He doesn’t say a word. You can just tell he loves football, and that clearly makes him one of us.

On why Wilkerson is the starter over Pitoitua…

To me, if we had to choose, if I was leaning one way or the other (Wilkerson is ahead). If you had really graded him during camp, we had Mo ahead of him.

On why Wilkerson was graded higher…

He does his job a little bit better. They’re both good players and it’s a great decision to have. We see it as (having) five starters.

On what Pitoitua has to do to get to Wilkerson’s level…

He just has to keep being Ropati. Whatever his job is that play, do it. We don’t compare like that. Guys earn playing time based on how they are individually. We don’t get into, who’s the starter. We see it as five starters. Somebody’s got to be out there first. We decided it was Mo, in our expert opinion.

On whether it was only the second time Revis has blitzed…

That probably (was). I had (that play) penciled on the sheet to be the other hash mark, so it would (have been Antonio) Cromartie. No, it was one that we felt we wanted to go with it, so we sent him. That’ll be a once-in-a-blue-moon-thing.

On whether that might be the last time this season that Revis blitzes…

Yeah, that might be it for his career. (Joking)


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