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REX: It’s All About Protecting the Football Better

Posted Oct 3, 2013

Transcript of head coach Rex Ryan's news conference following our Thursday midday practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center:

A lot of work to do, pretty good day. You play against a team like Atlanta, it’s different. You’re not used to playing them, different schemes on offense, defense, so there’s some mental preparation that’s involved. You don’t know your opponent as well. That’s really a challenge here. The fact that this team is 34-5 at home also presents some big issues for us. But our guys are working extremely hard. A pretty good day today, I thought, but we made some errors communication-wise, especially on defense that we have to make sure we get cleaned up before we go play that team, obviously.

We have injury updates. Guys that did not practice: Oday Aboushi with a knee, Stephen Hill, concussion, Santonio Holmes, foot and hamstring, Chris Ivory, hamstring, Dee Milliner, hamstring, and Kellen Winslow did not participate today with his knee. Guys that were limited: Clyde Gates with a knee and Darrin Walls with a shoulder.

On if Chris Ivory is making progress with his hamstring…

I think he’s made progress. Again, he wasn’t able to participate really during practice, but he is making progress.

On changing his mind about considering the traffic-light-system wristband…

I could say that I figured you guys already had the story written, but that’s not the case apparently [joking, laughter]. Sorry about that. We’ll go back to it next week [joking]. You guys already wrote it, we’ll come up with that next week. I think it’s his understanding of what we’re doing and I want him to play the position, I don’t want him to sit back and be focused on other things. Just play the position and I think he’s going to be just fine. That’s kind of going to be where we’re at.

On if part of his reasoning was that he could possibly hinder Geno Smith’s development…

A little bit of it, to where it’s like, ‘No, you can throw it, this guy is open, go ahead and throw it.’ So, there’s a little bit about that for sure. But again, protecting the football has to be at the top of our list right now.

On if he talked to people in between the time he told reporters he was considering the traffic light wristband and when he said on the radio he was not going to use it…

Yes, probably a little bit. There’s kind of a fine line on when you’re holding him back too much. But again, we certainly understand that protecting the football is huge to us and we have to get better. You look at all the top teams, it’s amazing, every year the teams that do the best job at protecting the football and taking the football away, they’re in the playoffs. Those teams are always in the playoffs. The teams that do the worst job of it are out of it.

With that being said, you get turnovers on defense when you’re ahead, you force more turnovers when you’re behind. I think that’s a given, most turnovers happen in the fourth quarter. What we have to do is there are mistakes that we’re making that we have to get better at. No. 1 at the quarterback position is taking care of that ball, as runner, as a if you’re taking a sack you have to protect it.

You might recall, in training camp I was concerned with that because you’re not hitting the quarterback live, you’re not doing those types of things. So you talk about and you do all that type of stuff, but when you get out there, you’re hoping, "Hey look, this is exactly what I’m talking about." I know we have [RBs coach] Anthony Lynn working hard with our quarterbacks as runners even, protecting the ball. So I think that’s probably unique.     

On if he talked Marty Mornhinweg about the traffic light wrist band…

I was talking to Marty and never said, "Hey, look, this is exactly what we’ve said in red, this is exactly what we’ve said in yellow and all that." But I wanted to get, obviously, everybody’s take on it. He’s certainly had a lot of young quarterbacks through his time that he’s developed. But I feel good about it. We understand we have to get better as a team protecting the ball, but Geno in particular.

On what he needs to see from the secondary…

No. 1, the mental mistakes, we have to eliminate the mental mistakes. Like we’ve said during the year so far up to this point, it seems like we’ve made one critical error in every game and it was mental. We didn’t cover a receiver in a tight position against New England and they scored one touchdown, that was it. Tampa Bay we blew a coverage that set up a field goal that could’ve won the game, on third-and-10. We gave up another touchdown to Buffalo, gave up one touchdown in that game, and it was on a blown coverage. If we can tighten those things up, I think we can be good, there’s no doubt.

The physical thing was this past week more than the mental, and that’s just when the balls in the air, we have to go get it. Certainly, we’re going to get opportunities this week because they’re seeing the tapes and they’re just going to take shot, after shot, after shot because that’s what they do.   

On the secondary struggling more than past seasons…

I think statistically we’re probably where we normally are. I think it’s [ninth] or something against the pass, so I think that’s [good].

On if the statistics on the secondary play are misleading…

I don’t know. You tell me. I don’t know. Per play, all that stuff, it’s kind of where we expect to be. But it’s just making plays on the ball, down the field and things like that, we’re going to get better at it. Then the communication, if we can eliminate to zero, then we have a heck of a chance.

On any concern about the offense scoring enough on Monday…

It’s just as a team, certainly we recognize that Atlanta is going to put points on the board. There’s no doubt about that. They’re going to move the football, they have. I think they rank [fifth] in the league on offense, and they’re better at home. So, certainly that’s a concern. Again, it’s not like we’re going to have to go out and move the football the way they do or the way anyone else does. We’re just going to do it our way and it’s certainly going to be a challenge for us, but it’s going to be a challenge for Atlanta as well.

On how you can improve the communication in the secondary…

Well, you put them under fire. You’re preparation is critical, and then when it happens the communication has to be just sharp. Sometimes it takes a younger player a little bit [longer], [he] maybe [is] not as good now as he will be in Week 10, but it can’t be. There’s no excuse. We have to get it done. So that’s something we’ll be looking to improve on.

On who will play in the secondary on Monday and the play of Walls…

We’ll play our guys. Darrin has accounted for himself very well up until [parts of last game]. They made a few plays on him. They’re going to make plays on anybody in this league. He’s played well, particularly up until this last game.

On if Walls was wearing a red jersey at practice…

Yes.

On why Walls was wearing a red jersey…

We’re trying to eliminate contact from him. That’s the reason he has the red jersey on.

On Mike Goodson’s progress since returning…

He looks pretty good. Again, we’ll see how he progresses during the week, but he looks pretty good right now.

On how much playing time Goodson will see on Monday…

I think the football shape of it, the taking the hits, all that kind of stuff, there’s almost no way to really practice that. But it’s not like he’s going to carry it 30 times. That wouldn’t be the case, but we’ll see where he’s at. I’m hopeful that he’ll play on Monday.

On if he thought the fines for the Jake Locker hit were appropriate…

That’s what the league felt was appropriate. With me, I know that the intent certainly wasn’t to injure a player and never is. I thought Mo [Wilkerson] was just trying to rush the passer. I just saw it differently.

On if Milliner will play on Monday…

Not if he’s not going to practice, so we’ll see where he is tomorrow.

On if Milliner’s hamstring is worse than he initially thought…

No, I don’t think so. It’s just that he never practiced.

On Cromartie’s coverage on Nate Washington’s touchdown last week…

Yeah, he got beat. He was in great position, but misplayed the football. Even the great ones have that happen to them. But yes, I consider Cro [Antonio Cromartie] an elite cornerback. There’s no doubt about it.

On if you have to pick your poison against Atlanta with Gonzalez’s catching ability down the middle…

[It] seems like it. He gets doubled and catches it too. I’m watching some of those throws in there, number one, the accuracy was pretty impressive, but those guys go up and get it. They have huge catching radiuses and they go up and get the ball.

On New England playing vice coverage on Gonzalez on Atlanta’s final drive last week…

I certainly saw it against New Orleans as well. I saw that coverage. They might have seen it, too. So, I think I’ll give my brother [Rob Ryan] credit for that one first. But certainly that’s one way to play him.

On  the chances of Santonio Holmes and Stephen Hill being ready for Monday…

You guys figure it out. [It] looks like they never practiced today.

On how well he remembers Gonzalez’s touchdown catch against them in Week 15 of 2009…

I knew we’d make the playoffs that year [joking, laughter]. Somebody could’ve helped me out, I think. It kind of worked out for us. OK, another guarantee that I made that never came out. That one was brutal because we had played a great game defensively against them. You know it’s going there, and yet he catches it anyways. It was a clutch play, a fourth-down play by a [second-year] quarterback, throws it in there to a great receiver [Gonzalez]. Sometimes you know it’s coming and he still gets it. But yes, it’s still pretty vivid in my mind. There’s no doubt.

On the left guard position…

We are working Brian Winters quite a bit with the ones in there. We’re giving him an opportunity, a look there as well, but as far as saying he’s definitely going to be the starter, I’m not ready to say that yet.
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