Rex Ryan Interview Transcript 9/20/11

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

Opening Statement…

First off, I’m wearing the Titans stuff because we are 5-1 in those throwbacks. That went according to plan, so that was good. Plus it was a 4x, so I feel good about that. Injury update, Nick (Mangold) did have his MRI and it showed a high ankle sprain. So I would say his status for the game would be, I assume, very iffy. I don’t think it looks very good as far as playing this week. But, with that being said, he thinks he can go. And he’s started (82 consecutive regular season games). We’ll see how it progresses. I wouldn’t count him out. He’s a tough guy, but the trainers will always do what’s in the best interests of the player and we’ll never put a guy out there that shouldn’t be out there. With that said, I think it’s iffy whether he plays or not. With all due respect to Nick, there’s where we are on that. Eric Smith and David Harris and Santonio (Holmes), they’re no worse now than they were, so I think that’s a good sign that they’ll play. I hope to get them better and be ready to roll, so we’ll find out. Other than that, I can’t think of any other injuries off hand right now.

On Mangold’s high ankle sprain and if it could be a long-term injury…

I guess you’re always concerned when you get an ankle, but I guess if you asked Nick the question, he thinks he can go. We’ll see. Things affect guys differently. I’m sure if he were a running back, that would hold true. The fact that he has to run in a small area, we’ll see. It’ll be interesting now, because as being the head coach of the Jets, he’s always been the center. It’s Mangold. He’s always going to be out there. Just like Brandon Moore, he’s always going to be out there. D’Brickashaw (Ferguson too). I hope he can go, but we’ll see.

On if there’s a risk of swelling if Mangold returns too early…

That’s something, again, that’s why you put it in the trainers’ hands. The players, a lot of times, from the competitiveness of the guys, (it’s like) “I have to go”. You have to lean on the experts on this, and that’s what we’ll do.

On if he’ll need to simplify the offense for Colin Baxter…

I think Baxter did a great job in that game. Considering he (was) thrown in there, I’m sure he (was) a little nervous. You kind of get thrown to the wolves there, but he played three-quarters of the game. (He) had a couple of mental mistakes, snapped the ball early that one time, but I was proud of the way he jumped in there. And, we’ll always say, whether it’s Nick or Baxter or whoever, we go on and there’s no excuses. If he can’t go, remember last year, it’s almost a similar thing to when we lost Darrelle Revis in the second game of the season when he pulled a hamstring. And now you have to replace Darrelle going forward, and we were able to do that. Same thing with Nick. You probably have, well, no probably about it. The way Darrelle Revis is the best corner in football and it’s undisputable, the same thing you can say about Nick Mangold as a center. But, we’ll find ways to get it done and it’s just what we do. That’s the New York Jets. When you have that decal on your helmet, you have to step in and do the job.

On if Caleb Schlauderoff would be the backup at center to Baxter…

Right, he could and it could be (Matt) Slauson too. Slauson’s done that. He backed up, we worked him as a center before and Schlauderoff maybe could play guard. We feel okay there.

On if they will look for options outside of the team to fill in offensive line depth…

I’m comfortable with the guys we have. I feel good about what we have.

On if he thinks the running game was better and if the offense will be balanced again next week…

Well, we’ll see. Again, that team Jacksonville did a pretty good job of holding Chris Johnson to 2.4 (yards) per carry. Sometimes a staple of a team (like) Jacksonville is the way they run the football and they stop the run. So regardless of how many guys they have down there, that’s who Jacksonville was. So I thought we did run it more efficiently this week than we had last week. And also, I’ll tell you the guy I was really happy with was (Mark) Sanchez. The three runs for 29 yards, (and) he also had another big one called back. But I thought he ran the ball well. We’ve been trying to get Mark, (when) you face certain coverages (and say) ‘Hey, don’t be afraid to just take off with it.’ And he did that. Because I can tell you, that stretches your defense out.

On if he would like to see the running game get going against Oakland this week…

I’ll take winning by 29. I’ll take winning by one, so I wasn’t disappointed in the way we ran the ball or did anything offensively. I thought we did a great job in all phases of the game. Will they (Oakland) anticipate that? This reminds me of when we played Detroit, when they had given up a bunch of rushing yards to some team. They came in and they put everybody down there. (Detroit Head Coach) Jim Schwartz was down there (joking). Will that be what they do? I’m not sure. We’ll find out.

On how much of a leap it will be for Colin Baxter to be prepared for a starting role on Sunday…

I think he has a good grasp of our system, anyway. The fact that the terminology is similar to that of where he came from, San Diego, I think he already has a decent grasp of it. The thing about that young man is you can tell he doesn’t want to make the mistakes. Two mental mistakes, or whatever he made, was too much for him. You love that mentality that he has. He certainly understands that he doesn’t want to be the weak link. He wants to go in there and compete.

On if any tests were performed on Mark Sanchez’s shoulder because of the sack…

No, he’s fine. (It’s just) a bruise or something.

On whether he regrets trying to get Plaxico Burress the ball late in the game…

Yes, you don’t like to get your quarterback hit. If I knew he was going to get hit, would I have just run the draw or something like that? Yes, probably. I still like (the decision). I’m glad we tried to get (Burress) a shot and tried to get him a pass in there. He did a great job. It’s just that (Dawan) Landry did a good job. He got just enough of a piece of Plax to disrupt the pass or that’s going to be a touchdown, the first down play. But, yes, I would love to take the third down back because you don’t want to get your quarterback hit. That’s on me. That was my call. It’s interesting though when you look at Plax. Here’s a guy that has been out of football for two years, yet let’s see the kind of respect people have for him. Almost every single snap in that game, he was doubled. Almost every single snap. That just shows, does he still have that respect and everything else? Absolutely. He is a special player and people know it, the fact that he has been out of the game for two years and he still has that kind of respect. You kind of wish, ‘Hey, no, just single him up there,’ but they’re no dummies. (Jack) Del Rio is a smart coach and he knows that this guy can hit you on a big play immediately, as soon as you put one guy out there. I think I was more frustrated about it than anybody because I want to see him catch the passes and all that kind of stuff. I think we all do, but I think the coverage dictates it sometime a little bit.

On if Burress’ ego was the reason that he wanted to get him a catch…

No, it would be more my ego than his, for sure. He’s great because of how he affects the thing. I see how he affects the game. He’s been great for us, not because of the catches he’s had, but by how he’s affected the game. You look at Dustin Keller and Dustin does a great job. He had a huge game and all of that, but some of that is due to Plax playing outside of him. The way he is, we’re going to get more seven-man spacing, so I think that will open up the running game as well.

On how big a challenge it is to have accomplished receivers who are used to getting the ball…

Everybody signed up to come here to win, so that’s the beauty of it. So far, we’re 2-0. That’s good. The thing is, every one of those guys is really competitive. They all want to win. They all want the ball thrown to them. Yet more than anything, they want to win and they want their teammates to be successful. Santonio Holmes was coming over to me, saying, “Rex, let’s get the ball to Plax.” I’m like, ‘Yes, but you’re seeing the same coverage he’s seeing.’ He knew how hard it was, but he’s just a great teammate. These guys just pull for each other and that’s fun to watch. You’re exactly right. All three of those guys are accomplished receivers. There is no doubt. They’re all Pro Bowl receivers and, yet, they are there for the common good and they’re all happy with it. Whether it’s Patrick Turner making a catch, they’d be happy with that.

On why the team seems to enjoy playing on the road…

If you bring a good team with you, you have a chance. I think that’s the big thing and that’s what we bring to the road. We’re bringing a good football team with us. We’re not intimidated by any surroundings that we go into. Now, we’ve been together for going on our third year, we know what it takes, we know how to prepare going on the West coast, so we’re confident on the road, but we’d much rather play the game at home.

On whether any defensive players received game balls this week…

Yes, they’ll be a couple of game balls out there. I think we all know one in particular that will get one. The Cromartie kid did okay, I guess. (joking)

On whether he has been around a player with Cromartie’s type of athleticism…

Ed (Reed) was a different type of returner. He’ll go down as, he probably already does, (having) the most interception return yards of anybody in the history of the game. Ed’s a ball hawk. He plays safety. The thing that Ed is real crafty about, is once he gets it, he’ll take off and if it’s a deep pass, he’ll set you up one way and then bring it all the way across. He’s a different kind of returner. He’s never down until he’s down. Cro (Cromartie) is zero to 60 in a second. His explosiveness is unreal. It’s funny. You compare those two. They have the longest returns in the history of this game. I think Cro returned a kick 108 yards or 109 yards, or something, and Ed returned an interception, I think, 108 (yards) one time. They’re both rare. They’re really exceptional. Look at Cro. He averaged 42 yards a kick return (vs. Jacksonville) without popping a big one. That says a lot about him, as well.

On whether Cromartie has earned the right to return any kick even if he is deep in the end zone…

What Mike’s (Westhoff) basically saying, is that’s the standard deal. (If) it’s six or more (yards deep in the end zone), you probably leave it in, but I’ve also heard Mike say, with Cro, he’s got a green light. He can bring it in from the parking lot. That’d be alright with us. He’s going to make you defend it. We do a great job of blocking. Our guys blocking up front have been tremendous, absolutely tremendous. Cro doesn’t need much, but our guys are doing a great job blocking the safeties, coming back doing a great job with their one-on-one battles, so we’re confident in our kickoff return (unit).

On Sanchez’s decision making on his interceptions…

Well, we can be better there, that’s for sure. I think he was over 70 in his completion percentage, which was good to see. He probably wished he has two throws back, but you have to give them credit, as well. They were able to make the plays, especially the second pick. I think the young man did a great job of reading the route and made a great break on the ball.

On Shonn Greene and the team’s running game…

We’re close. First play of the game, Dustin (Keller) trips over the quarterback. (John) Conner ends up tripping over the guard a little bit, and (Greene) still goes for three yards. Maybe that’s a five, six, seven yarder. We’ve had some. We had a couple penalties on a long run. I think we’re close. I think we are. I think we’re getting better each week, and quite honestly, when you go back and really look at it, it’s not like we’re humming on all cylinders to start the season. We get a little bit better each week and we then finally find our grove. Our confidence in our running game will take off.

On Wayne Hunter’s penalties…

I think it’s all of us. We can all learn from a guy making a mistake. I guess (Wayne Hunter) had a facemask penalty and a holding call, but those are things we try to clean up. The week before we had no penalties. This week, I think we had seven. We want to pride on ourselves in being the least penalized team in the league. Not just Wayne, but that’s for all of us. Sometimes, an offensive lineman, unfortunately, the only time you really notice one is when there’s a penalty or you give up a sack or something like that. It wasn’t all bad, the way Wayne played, he had a lot of good moments, as well. Unfortunately you see the penalties and the hit on the quarterback.

On choosing to receive the ball to open the game and if that will be a trend for the future…

I think we could switch it up sometimes. It was just a challenge that we put out there to our offense and it was something I wanted to change. When I saw the stats and all that jazz, it was like, ‘I know we’re much better than this.’ I wanted to issue the challenge to our guys and they stepped up and did it. And after they scored, they were kind of giving me the business. That’s why our defense had to go out and score on their first position, with the safety. But we say it is a team deal. It’s not just the offense. It’s the team. The defense gets the ball back, creates turnovers, creates field position. Special teams as well, and that’ll help the offense, but the offense did a great job. (We) had a great kick return by (Antonio Cromartie) and then they marched right down the field and scored, so that was great. (It was) about as good a start as you can ever ask for.


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