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REX: Saints Defense Takes to Rob’s Mentality

Posted Oct 30, 2013

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

First off, I think the practice probably took a little longer than normal. We had a few repeats. Not surprising. We're facing an opponent that is very multiple, both on offense and defense, so you put your stuff in and sometimes you have that. But I think our practice was really good, especially on offense. We had a lot of guys out, but some guys had a step up and I thought it was good, that it was very intense. I think our nine-on-seven in particular was outstanding, so I was pleased with practice. Obviously, we’re playing the Saints and it’s been well-noted that they’re 6-1, a great football team, well-coached, we know all those types of things, so it’s a huge challenge.

With that I have my injury report [pulls out a sheet of paper with separate pictures of him and Rob Ryan on the back; laughter]. Willie Colon did not practice, he has a calf. You've got [Jeff] Cumberland out with a concussion today, he did not practice. Stephen Hill with a foot, so he did not practice today. Santonio Holmes, hamstring, he did not practice. And [Jeremy] Kerley with his illness did not practice today. Nick Mangold was limited with his ribs, so that’s pretty much it on the injury report.

On which twin wishes he could look as good as the other, him or his brother…

Oh please, it’s pretty obvious. The lap band worked for me. I’m just going to say that, putting it out there.

On if the media has any questions for Coach Ryan…

Not anymore [joking, laughter]. I did hear that one of these top-selling costumes for Halloween is the Rob Ryan out there [in New Orleans]. That’s what their reporters told me, so no surprise there [laughter].

On the Jets playing well against good teams this season…

That’s true up until last week. That one, we knew that team was good, too. With us, we’re going to put it out there. We’re going to give everything we have. Clearly, we’ve played better at home, which is not surprising. We feed off the energy of our fans. That clearly helps us. Obviously, we’re striving for consistency that way and you have to be able to win away from your home field, but we do feel that energy and it’s pretty obvious how we play in front of our fans. We’ll definitely need that this week for sure. We know we have to get better. We’re striving and we’re working that way. We’re clearly not there yet. We have a tough match this week, but that team will get everything we have.

On the focus being on the next week’s opponent last week…

I think when the focus is really just about the next week’s opponent, that’s when you don’t get into anything else. It’s just about one game a week and that’s where the focus is. It’s not looking down the road, it’s not looking behind you, and that’s really this football team’s mentality.

On if it is hard to get a handle on what he has with the team because of their win-one-lose-one trend…

I just hope that trend continues this week. Obviously we'd like to win this one. And it seems like we’ve said that one two, three, four weeks in a row. The opponent has a lot to do with it, too. We’ve played a lot of good teams coming after victory. Our focus is about this one, New Orleans, and that’s plenty to worry about.

On if New Orleans’ offense is similar to Cincinnati’s…

Similar. It’s a team that really pushes the ball vertically on you, probably more so than anybody. I told the team this, too, that quite honestly, they’re going to watch that tape from what happened last week, I wouldn’t be surprised if Drew Brees and company aren’t on the flight here early to make sure they got here. We have to play a heck of a lot better and we will. The way this team pushes the ball down the field, that’s who they are. Clearly, we have to do a heck of a lot better of a job than we did this past week.

On getting better each week and putting together consecutive wins…

Again, it’s focus on the present, right now. This is what we focus on and we have to get better this week. You can’t just say, “Well, in eight weeks, we have to be better.” I’m anticipating that we will be better, but right now, we have to get better in a hurry and when we talk about fundamentals and technique, that’s what has to improve.

On Zach Sudfeld

I see a big dude out there. He’s 6'7" and he has some receiving skills. As a blocker, I think his blocking has to improve. He’s smart, he’s willing, and those are two good traits to have.

On what Rob Ryan has done to make the Saints defense better…

I think first off, the job that he’s done, and I talked about it, for my money, he and Bob Sutton are probably the defensive assistant coaches of the year. I don’t think it’s close. Both those guys are phenomenal. But I think it’s his mentality, that shows up, that meshes well with Sean Payton, but that team takes to it. Obviously, they’re practicing hard because you see it on the field. They play extremely hard.

He has some good coaches there with him, too. He has Joe Vitt, an outstanding coach, and I know he coaches with Rob, not for him. And they have "Crime Dog" [Wesley McGriff] there. It’s a good group. But it’s not surprising. I think when he inherited that, you knew that team would get better. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. But to this extent, fourth in points allowed, the yardage has come down, I think they’re 12th in the league as compared to setting the record last year, 32nd. It’s a team and unit that’s playing with a lot of pride.

On if he is looking at personnel or scheme changes after the struggles last week…

I think you look at everything, but clearly we have to play a zillion times better than we did, and schematically, you’re always looking at different things against certain opponents.

On if Dee Milliner is still going to be one of his starting cornerbacks…

Yes. I think with Dee [Milliner], when I went back, I watched that tape, he’s a lot closer than I think given credit for. He’s close to being that player that we want. I will say this, by the time the season’s over, I think he will be the best rookie corner and playing better than any rookie corner in this year’s draft. I don’t think there’s any doubt. We anticipate that. He was the number one cornerback selected, but that’s how we feel about him. I think he’s close. I really do.

On Jimmy Graham…

Oh man, hopefully he doesn’t play a whole lot. Last week, he played 18 snaps, was target three times, had three catches, albeit, he had two touchdowns, but as a receiver, this guy, you talk about a problem, he has the size, he has speed, [he’s] phenomenal at adjusting to the football and he has a great rapport with [Drew] Brees. It just seems like, where do they grow these dudes, they’re all 6-7, 6-8 and they’re fast. We’ve played them all it seems like.

On what gives him confidence in Milliner…

I just see him getting better. I do. And I know how bad he wants it. All facets, schematically, he’s not making the mental errors, so I think that’s a big thing. And just his technique, I see his technique coming. Now he just needs to have some success tied along with it, and I think that’s what’s missing, get an interception or two and I think he’s going to be good. He’s a smart young man. He wants it and I think he’ll get there.

On why he would not let Milliner work through his struggles at Cincinnati…

Well, we did. He was struggling. He struggled a little bit. I just thought there were a couple plays, where it was like, "Nah, you know what, let’s just sit him back here." Again, there are two positions I think that are critical with confidence, you want your guy confident, you don’t want the confidence ever broken, and I think that’s cornerback and quarterback. I think that’s just one of those things where there’s a couple of ways of looking at it, but my thing is I want him chomping at the bit to get back out there and then you purposely keep him back there.

My dad did that historically with a guy named Mike Singletary and it worked out pretty well. I’m hoping it works out half as good as that one did, but he made a mistake, he benched him. He was sitting there the whole game saying, “I’m ready to go back in.” He said, “Nah, we’re trying to win this game.” And I left him right there, oh yeah. I never told Dee that [joking, laughter], but it’s just one of those things and eventually he gets the thing where you never worry about benching him ever again.

On if Milliner may feel pressure about getting benched and make mistakes again…

But it’s not necessarily about making mistakes, it’s about confidence, mentality and everything else. It’s kind of a feel and I’ve done it with a lot of players in the past, but I just have a funny feeling he’s coming out the other end. I think he’ll do a nice job. I don’t think there’s any doubt.

On if he’s encouraged that Milliner’s mistakes were more physical than mental…

Yeah, mentally I think he’s right there. There are things in this league. The ball is going to be where it needs to be in the NFL, where it should be. If you have leverage inside, that ball is going to be outside. It’s not college. It’s not going to be on him, it’s going to be in front of him, and that’s wherever it goes. Sometimes, it just takes a little time to understand that.

Where he had some issues, where a lot of guys and not just him, but where you look back in the backfield, you have a man, the guy’s off a break, and you look back in the backfield, it allows separation, and those are some things that I know he’s working extremely hard on.

On what makes him feel Milliner is going to get better…

I feel it and I don’t think there’s any doubt. I see him. I see the intensity. I know how he wants to respond. And then when you watch the tape, it’s just little things right now. Now, unfortunately, a lot of little things, you’ll have inconsistency in your play, but I think we start really drilling in, and again, I have Dennis Thurman with me, I have Tim McDonald, I have Brian Smith, I feel great about the teachers and I think he’s going to get there. I don’t think there’s any doubt in my mind, no doubt whatsoever.

On if this week would be a good time for Milliner to start playing better…

That would be a great time to start.
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