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REX: You Have to Pick Yourself Up, Find a Way

Posted Nov 23, 2012

Transcript of head coach Rex Ryan's Friday morning conference call with Jets reporters following the Jets' 49-19 loss to the Patriots at MetLife Stadium on Thanksgiving night:

Obviously watching the tape, it’s still hard to fathom the one stretch. I’ve never seen anything like it coaching football or even following football, I’ve never seen anything like that. It was a game, looking at the tape, we did some good things, especially offensively early in the game, and to have that stretch, it’s just amazing. I don’t know how else to put it. I think I said "nightmare" last night and I’ll stick with that because it’s just hard to imagine, but that happened.

On the injury front, looks like [Clyde] Gates has a concussion, and then other than that, I’m not sure of any other significant injuries.

On why Greg McElroy wasn’t active if Tim Tebow was injured…

I think people have played with cracked ribs. Guys have played, and it was told to me that [Tebow] could play. But I wasn’t going to play him unless it was an absolute emergency and that was when I would play him. It was never told to me that he could not play. In fact it was just the opposite, that he could play. It was me that wanted to say, "No, I’m not going to play him unless we absolutely have to." Tim came to me, he’s specific, he’s like, “I can play, I want to play.” And again, it was something that I went in and absolutely said, "Listen, I don’t want you to play him." I told that to [Mike] Westhoff, I told that to Tony [Sparano]. It was just the thing where it’s like he was cleared to play but I did not feel comfortable on it and that’s the truth.

On if he will consider activating McElroy this week…

We’ll see how the week progresses.

On when he knew Tebow had a rib injury…

Well, I was told the day before about his cracked ribs. And literally, I saw him and I could tell that he was [injured], but that was when I found out about Tim having the cracked ribs.

On if he found out the day before the game…

Yes.

On if he went from the Seattle game until Wednesday not knowing Tebow had cracked ribs…

Right.

On not knowing about Tebow’s ribs for an extended period of time…

Well, no, we knew he had some rib [injury], but then they took a look, I don’t know exactly what it was, a CAT scan or whatever it is, and it showed that he had some cracked ribs. It talks about his toughness, like he’s a kid that you probably think, "Well, he’s got bruised ribs or whatever." Well, it was more than that. The kid, we all know how tough he is and everything else, but obviously, when I found that out, I was like, "Shoot." And I know guys have played with it, he’s played with it, he told me he’s played with way worse than that, he played with a broken collarbone, he’s played with all kinds of things. But I never felt comfortable about playing him.

On why McElroy wasn’t activated if he was uncomfortable playing Tebow…

It was something I considered, but like I said, he was cleared to play. And you’re facing an opponent, that it’s obviously the biggest game of the year. And Tim’s like, “Hey, look, I can play, I want to play,” and he’s cleared to play. I think when you factor those things in, it’s like, look, if we absolutely 100 percent had to have him, then I would’ve played him. But like I said, I’m not trainer, I’m not a doctor or anything else, but I’m a human and that’s why I felt for him. It was to the point where I know when the doctors are telling you he can play, the young man’s telling you he can play, and knowing that he was going to be in the role he was as the backup quarterback, he had gotten reps the entire week, that was why I had him active.

On his reaction to learning Tebow had cracked ribs…

Again, it’s the thing where certain tests, I don’t know the exact specifics of it, if it’s a CAT scan, I’m not sure what showed the cracked ribs, I’m not sure of what it was but when I found out and I was talking to Tim, we knew he had sore ribs or whatever but I don’t think anybody, not Tim or anybody else, knew the extent. When we looked into it further, then that’s when we found out that he had the cracked ribs.

Now understand, players can play with cracked ribs. A lot of them will take shots to numb it and all that. I absolutely do not want us to do that. So that’s where we’re at. I’ve always said this, mighty men play this game and there’s guys that play where some people wouldn’t even think about stepping on the field. A lot of guys will play. In this case, there was a thing about he could protect himself and he could’ve played in that game. He absolutely, 100 percent could’ve played in that game.

On how they can recover from the loss to NE…

You just have to pick yourself up. I don’t know any other way to do it. That’s what you have to do, you have to pick yourself up from that and find a way and keep fighting. And that’s just through hard work and determination and belief and that’s what you have to do. And when I talked about it last night about, we’re wounded and we’re about as badly wounded as you can be, but we’re not dead. We're going to keep fighting and that’s what we do.

Who could’ve predicted we’re going to fumble a kickoff for a touchdown, have another one where the quarterback’s trying to go down with the ball, pops up, goes for a touchdown. There are things that are very uncharacteristic of us. We have a couple of miscues in the back end with coverage that leads to two touchdowns. It was just, it’s so uncharacteristic that it doesn’t happen, let’s just put it that way. It doesn’t happen and it actually did.

On if he spoke to Woody Johnson after the game…

Briefly.

On if anything came out of their conversation…

No.

On if he’s ever seen that many turnovers in such a short time in any football game at any level…

I’ve never seen it. I can’t recall ever seeing that.

On where they have gone wrong…

Again, I’m not going to say, well, it’s this, it was that. It’s been a certain number of things. It’s just a number of things that, obviously, I never thought we’d be in this position, but we are. And I can’t worry about it, we have to get better right now. We have to get better and that’s why I’m confident we will. We have five games left in the regular season and I think that we will get better. I know we’ll get better.

On what gives him confidence…

I saw us making strides up until this game. Even in this game, I think our offense is improving, I really believe that. I think we’re running the ball more efficiently than we have. I think our protections are better. Obviously, it’s not going to look like it when we got blown out. That’s what gives me confidence. I think we’re getting better on that side of the ball. On defense, I’m confident that we’ll get back to playing much better.

On if he would feel comfortable playing Tebow if Sanchez had to come out of the game…

I don’t know what you want me to say. I know Tim was cleared to play in the game. He wanted to play. I’m not going to get into the what-ifs or all that stuff. Obviously, if he was not cleared to play or they thought he could be in serious jeopardy to himself, then he never would've been activated, he never would've been cleared to play. Tim was cleared to play, he wanted to play, and that’s just the way it is.

On the long touchdown by Shane Vereen…

I’m not going to say it was this or that. Obviously, they made a great play and that’s what it is. It’s not on one guy in particular. We clearly have to do a better job. It starts with the communication and we have to do a better job. I’ll say this about Bart Scott: During that game, he did a tremendous job in a lot of areas. He was hitting people. We should have played him more. I thought he was getting after it. It’s not one player, this player, that player, a lot of what-ifs there. Again, everything starts with communication. You have to give the opponent credit. They had a great play call and they executed it well.

On Bill Belichick’s play-calling decisions when the Patriots were up by 30 points…

It’s our job to stop them. That’s what they do. It’s our job to stop them.

On why he has been reluctant to change quarterbacks when the team is trailing by a lot late in the game…

I think first off, in this game in particular, with Tim’s situation, I wasn’t going to put him in unless we had to. The game was out of reach. That was not going to happen. Again, I believe in Mark. I definitely believe in Mark. I’ve always said I think he gives us the best opportunity to win and that’s how I feel.

On how the team is different from past years…

This isn’t where we expected to be by any stretch of the imagination. It’s just where we are. My focus is not going to be about 2009 or 2010. It’s about right now and how we can get better. That’s really where my focus is. To look back on this or that and if we had this over or that over, I don’t think that would help.

On if a team’s record should fall on the head coach…

I’m responsible for everything. I’m responsible for the 4-7 record. I’m responsible for how we play. I will say this: I’ll also be responsible for how we finish. I’m confident we’ll finish.

On if he is struggling to get the team going…

I know how to get it going. My answer is a truthful answer. We have to get back. We have to improve ourselves. We have to go back and it’s through hard work. That’s how you get it done. If it was just a magic deal, then yeah, I’d search and say this is the magic play, but it’s not. I’ve been around this game for too long. I know how you pick yourself up and that’s believing in each other and getting after it. It’s working hard, and it will pay off for you in the end.

There’s no shortcut to success. You have to work and for us to do that, that’s what we’re going to do to get back. I do see improvements in some areas of this team. It might be hard to see from the outside, but I see it here. That’s why I’m confident we’ll finish strong these last five games.

On why it took 10 days to diagnose Tebow’s injury…

I will say this: My understanding is that guys have played with this injury. Regardless of the position, guys have played through cracked ribs. Again, I’m not a doctor. He was cleared to play. Let’s make sure we understand that. He was cleared to play.

On if he feels like the gap between the Jets and Patriots is too great to ever win the division…

No, please. I’d never say that, ever, no way. Yeah, look, they took us to overtime, we got beat by them at their place in overtime. We had some things happen for a stretch in that game that nobody can predict. When you turn the ball over five times, what do you expect the score to look like? That’s it. When you have a couple of blown coverages against a great football team, the way the game came out, that was reflected on the scoreboard.

To say that this team is that much better than us, I don’t believe that. They’re a good football team, there’s no question, they’re an excellent football team, but to say we’ll never catch them, that’s ridiculous. There’s no chance, absolutely no percent of a chance that I believe that in my heart, no way. I’ll never concede that.

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