Rex Ryan Press Conference: 'Our Playoffs Start Right Now'

Here is the complete transcript from the press conference held Friday by New York Jets coach Rex Ryan to discuss Thursday night’s 17-13 loss to the Denver Broncos.

Opening Statement…
First off, it was obviously a huge loss for us. At times, we did some things that were outstanding in this game. Starting off with (Mark) Sanchez throwing 11 straight completions at one stretch in the game. You look at the defense, how they played for really the majority of the game. There were (seven) three-and-outs. Five times the ball started out inside our territory and the defense gave up three points. But then there were the inconsistencies, obviously we had some breakdowns in protection, we had a turnover for a touchdown, we fumbled another special teams play on a kick return after we had a huge return, and then obviously the 95-yard drive which, it’s still hard to really fathom. It really is. But, you’ve got to give Denver credit. They made the plays. They made more plays in critical times in that game than we did. Rest assured, we’re going to be working on that.

On how the team will bounce back from the loss…
Our playoffs start right now. There’s no question. We have to beat Buffalo. I don’t see any breathing room. We’ve already used that up. We have to get right back at it. I know this team wants to be in the playoffs. We work hard. This team probably works as hard as any team I’ve been with. I know we want it. I believe in every player. I believe in every coach. I think we’ll get better. I really believe that.

On whether one thing stands out as his biggest concern…

Every area of the team has certain issues, even our special teams. As good as our special teams has been, we have a shanked punt, a fumble on a kickoff return—that’s two weeks in a row. I think we’ve had four fumbles on returns, even though that’s an area of strength on our team, we know that. Our kick coverage team has been the best in the league, and yet we give up a 60-yard return yesterday. On the offensive side of the ball, obviously the running game, we had 28 attempts, but we only averaged three yards a carry. I think our pass protection has been inconsistent. Sometimes, it’s really good. Sometimes, it’s really bad. So, those are things that concern me. And then on defense, (we need to) close out games. As good as we played for 59 minutes of it or 57 minutes of it, whatever it was, it wasn’t good enough to get the job done at the end. Those are things, as a coach that we have to become more consistent. We have to eliminate those mistakes, and that’s my responsibility as the head coach. I’m looking forward to the preparation and everything, because I think we can get better. I don’t think there’s any doubt. We have a resilient team. We’re going to be in this thing. We’re going to be shoulder-to-shoulder, with coaches, players and everybody, and we’re going to try to find a way to get this done.

On whether there are any updates on injuries…
Not really. To be honest, we’re just now getting in, doing our film and stuff like that. With Shonn (Greene), obviously, he had some ribs. I’m not sure. He came out there like he was going to try to go back in. Again, I don’t know the extent of his injury. I know Sanchez, obviously, was beat up pretty good. And then you mentioned Muhammed Wilkerson. I’ll say this. I know one thing. He played a great game. That entire front was tremendous. I know this is off of your topic, but I will say this. I think that’s the best our front three has played since I’ve been here. They absolutely dominated the inside running game.

On the thought process behind sending an all-out blitz on Tim Tebow’s game-winning touchdown run and whether he would do things differently…
Hindsight behind 20-20, obviously, we would’ve done something, anything but that. But at the time, you make several calls in a game. At that time, we had pressured him. We thought there were going to do really what they did. They ran verticals in the passing game, so we wanted to pressure it, and quite honestly, he made a great play. If you had to do it over again, of course you would’ve called something else, knowing the result. I even told the defense before (the play), this kid is not going to take the ball out of his hand. He is going to keep it in his hand, and that’s exactly what he did. He ended up just making a great play. None of us saw it coming. The call wouldn’t have come in that way if we didn’t think we’d actually get better.

On if Eric Smith should’ve have taken a wider rush on his blitz to provide more containment…
When you look at it, it’s a tough thing on him. I’ll just say this, it’s a tough assignment. There is no question. Quite honestly, I’ll take Eric Smith every day of the week. He’s a tremendous player. Could we have said, ‘Hey, (have) him be wider? Should the end be wider? Everybody be wider.’ Maybe you could’ve, but you have to give Tebow credit. He made the play. I will say this, Eric sold out. Eric laid it on the line for us and we came up a little empty. (He) made a diving stab at him, but he never quite got him on the ground. Again, when you look at it, I think it’s easy to obviously second-guess, but we need to start looking forward, instead of behind us.

On the decision at the end of the first not to use a timeout and settle for a long field goal attempt…

I thought we had the better team. I thought our defense was doing a tremendous job. I thought our offense was moving the ball, effectively. I just thought, ‘Ok, by us playing this clock, we’re not going to give this team another chance.’ You might recall the week before, there were a couple of opportunities (for the opposing offense). Really, the last two games, the defense has been on the field for two two-minute drives. You have to try and balance that. I wanted them to go into halftime with just three points for sure. That was the number one priority. Then, we take the ball and we take our shot at getting Nick in field goal range to go ahead in the game. That was basically my reason behind it. I was not one to put extra time on. In that light air, you can launch that 60-yard field goal. I didn’t want to give them any momentum, whatsoever.

On if he feels that some of the criticism of Mark Sanchez after last night’s game is undeserved…
It absolutely doesn’t belong on Mark’s shoulders. He’s just a player. He’s a big piece of the puzzle, but it wasn’t all on Mark Sanchez. I know he takes it. That’s the kind of young man he is. He would be the first one to admit that he has to be more consistent. We need to cut down on some errors and things, as does the rest of the team, myself included and every other coach. We’ll all take this collectively, but he doesn’t need to put it on his shoulders. Was it a poor pass, maybe a poor decision at that time where to throw the ball? Ok, sure, but that’s certainly not what lost the game for us. It was a big play for Denver, but there were several opportunities for us to win the game: protecting the football, we have a great return, protecting the quarterback, on defense, not allowing them to drive 95 (yards), we have a chance to get almost a safety and we miss the tackle with one of our best tacklers. It’s just different things. Everybody earns wins and everybody earns defeats. I think Mark certainly doesn’t need to take more of the responsibility than he should, but that’s the kind of guy he is. He wants to put it on his shoulders. He’s a super-competitive young man, but certainly that game was not his alone in that defeat.

On having so many areas of concern this late in the season…
Each year, you’re trying to get better at all kind of phases, there’s no question, throughout the year. That’s why I’ve always said before, that the best we’ll play is right at the end of the year because it seems like we get better, and better and better and better. But certainly there are some things here that I didn’t think that we’d have maybe as many issues right now, but every year we go through it. I just think that our team is set to where, and I believe that we will work through this and we’ll become more consistent. When we eliminate the mistakes, I think we’re going to have an excellent football team. But again, there’s plenty of work to do, we understand that, and I think that also gives me reason to believe that we can change.

On his confidence level in Sanchez…
I’m extremely confident. We’ll go out there and play tomorrow. That’s how I feel about Mark. This is our quarterback, he’s going to be our quarterback for as long as I’m here, which I hope is a long, long time. He can make all the throws, he’s a competitive guy. Has it been perfect? No, absolutely. But it hasn’t been perfect for our entire team. We just have to keep getting better and the one bad throw he makes, if we eliminate that, then all we’re focused on, if we found ways to win, how he was, at one point in the game, 11-for-11. So, we know we have the right guy, and we just have to get a little bit better.

On if Sanchez has to get better in order for the team to make the playoffs…
We all have to get better. There’s no doubt. We all have to get better. Again, I’m confident that this group wants it in the worst way, and it’s a resilient group. We’ve done it before, and we just have to do it again.

On if he will shake things up this week or change the approach…
I think you probably do both, when you look at it, are we going to change a few things, yes I think we need to. I think we really need to look, study some things. I won’t get into the particulars, but I think we really do, and also learn from our past, how we did things, and really try to look at that and try to get better. I think when our players come back on Monday that we’re going to have a great plan for them. We’ve already, this morning even, looked at several things where we feel that we can get better at. So I’m excited about it. I wish Monday was here already, but I’m sure the players don’t because it’s tough to play two games in four days. They need a little rest to come back, but when they come back I’m excited about some of the things that we’ve already talked about as a coaching staff.

On if those changes are procedural or on the field…
I think we all talked about the run and things like that, but it’s more than that. How can we run the ball more efficiently? Are there different things that we can do? Are some of our techniques different? And like I say, I think we’ll get better. I look at that front three that we had and how they played and they’re constantly working to get better, honing in on our techniques. And believe me, that was the best that the front three has played since I’ve been here. So I’m really encouraged by that. Is it a certain protection? Are there different things that we can do to give Mark a little more time back there? Maybe our routes, we’re looking at some different things right now.

On Wayne Hunter and choosing not to use timeouts on the Broncos final drive…
We had two timeouts left. I was going to take the timeout on third down, and then we would have one timeout left and I would save that to try to set our guys up in field goal position. That was the thinking behind it. There was an opportunity that they could get a first down, and then basically you’ve done them a huge favor because you’ve given them the time to find a way to possibly punch it in for a touchdown, and you lose the game. I (didn’t want to do that, I wanted to save the timeout. Obviously if we stop them on third down, which we thought we were going to, we take the timeout there. Then they come and kick the field goal, you assume they’re going to make the field goal at that time. Then you have a chance, you have one timeout left with your offense on the field and just needing a field goal. And Nick Folk has already proved he could kick a 60-yard field goal. So that was my thinking going into that. As far as Wayne Hunter was concerned, he was going up against an outstanding football player. Von Miller, I think, will be a Pro Bowl player this year. If not this year, he’ll be one next year. And that’s going to be tough on anybody. I thought Wayne, for the most part, did a nice job on him, but he did get Wayne a couple of times. There’s no question about that. (Miller’s) just an outstanding player and those things happen. It’s unfortunate, but Wayne might block him for 90 percent of the time, but the 10 percent that the guy got the better of Wayne are the ones that everybody is going to be focused on.

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