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Hearing from the Jets

Posted Oct 9, 2013

Jets Coach Rex Ryan and guard Willie Colon talk about Sunday's game against the Steelers.

Jets Coach Rex Ryan

Do you feel like you guys got things turned around the other night in Atlanta?
No. We just obviously feel fortunate. We finally had the game going pretty much our way, but give those guys a lot of credit, they fought back and battled back, which we knew they would, and then took the lead with under two minutes. We were fortunate to get out there, have three timeouts remaining and drive into field goal position, and Nick fold delivered. It was a good game. We know we have to make a lot of improvements as a football team and we’re working hard to get better every day.

Re: Progress of Geno Smith:
This last game, it starts with protection. As a football team, you’ve got to protect the quarterback and give him time to make his reads. The young man has got a lot of talent, and he’s accurate with the football, but again, we have to do a great job to try to keep him away from the clutter and things. Going against Pittsburgh, there are a heck of a lot of defenses that are easier to play than the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dick LeBeau and company. We know how big of a challenge this is going to be and we’ve got to do an outstanding job. Certainly the Pittsburgh Steelers – this will be the biggest challenge to date for our offense, without question.

Most didn’t predict for you guys to do many good things this year. How have you been able to get to this point so far?
Inside our walls our expectations were certainly much higher than other peoples. When they have you 32nd in the league, they weren’t paying attention. That’s as simple as that. But again, we know we have a long way to go. We’re taking a workman-like attitude and our guys are preparing to the best of their abilities. We try to get better every day on the practice field.

How do you feel about rookies playing right away on the offensive line? Are they more ready or less ready? How do you feel about that?
Certainly, I think the quarterbacks are more ready now to come in and contribute because teams are throwing the ball so much in college football now. With an offensive line, we have Brian Winters starting at left guard for us as a rookie. We have five rookies that will be starters for us out of this class. I think we have seven new starters or eight new starters on defense and the same on offense. We’ve got different guys all over the place. I think today the game is so different now that guys are more prepared when they come out of college to come into the league and contribute.

Is that more true with offensive linemen?
It’s hard to say. Usually there are guys. We have some guys that have come in and had some success as rookies and then there are others that struggle. I’d still say that’s probably the toughest position to come in because the speed of the game. You’re seeing so many different fronts and techniques. It’s tough. We’re fortunate that we drafted Brian Winters. We feel really good about him.

There are only two teams in the NFL right now giving up less than 300 yards per game. You are one of them. What’s happened to defenses around the league?
I think the way the game is played offensively. Teams do a lot of no-huddle stuff and that’s going to pump your numbers up, but doesn’t pump your wins up a lot of times. There are some teams that we’ve played that they’ve come out and they’re snapping the ball every 22 seconds, and they want to brag about that. They get some yards but they don’t get any wins. I think sometimes it’s more about your team than it is for just getting numbers. Sometimes those numbers can be inflated a little bit, I think through all the no-huddle and stuff. At the end of the day, your good teams – you look at Pittsburgh with Dick LeBeau, you know what his team is going to be. It’s the same way with us. We know we’re going to end up first, second or third in the league every year. That’s the way it is with a Dick LeBeau defense. I’ve been fortunate to be around a lot of good defenses and then you usually get one team that shows up one year. Historically, and not bragging, but myself and Dick LeBeau are going to be in the top three, generally, every year. The teams that play great defense will continue to play great defense.

How do you stop the combination of Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown, which has been very successful?
I don’t know [Laughs]. That’s certainly going to be a challenge. I will say this about that kid, he is quite a dancer. We did a little dance thing at a Pro Bowl one year when he made it as a returner. His score was like a zillion times higher than mine, but either way that goes without saying. He is quite a receiver, and then the [Emmanuel] Sanders kid as well. Jerricho Cotchery is still doing a great job, averaging close to 17 yards a catch. Big Ben, gosh, every time I see him out there I’m like, “Who is going to tackle this big monster?” He can hold the ball. He doesn’t have to throw it in rhythm like a lot of quarterbacks, even though he will. He can shake off a guy, and he’s always done that. Against me, he’s done it several times. He is still a tremendous player and obviously it’s hard to stop him. Nobody has stopped those guys yet.

With that being said, how are they 0-4?
I think it’s the turnovers. When you look at them, obviously Pittsburgh is a team that is built on taking the ball away on defense, as are we. The fact that they’ve been struggling to do that so far, I hope that happens one more week. When you look at it, you know Dick LeBeau’s and my defense will always be up there, which we are. But here’s one [a stat] that blows me away, percent had intercepted. Pittsburgh is 32nd and we’re 31st. Are you kidding me? Two teams that you expect to get a lot of interceptions haven’t done it, quite honestly, up to this point yet. I think that’s the main reason, the turnover differential. I think it’s minus-11 for Pittsburgh, which is totally uncharacteristic for them.

Re: Update on Santonio Holmes:
We’ll see. I know he’s trying his best to get back out there. I’m not real sure about it. I don’t feel great about it right now. We’ll see how the week goes. He’s not going to practice today, I’ll tell you that.

What do you like about the wildcat?
We run it some. Sometimes it keeps you off balance, and it’s more about the numbers. It’s more about trying to create a numbers advantage to you, or at least not a disadvantage to you. That’s what some teams do with it and it’s certainly what we do with it. It just kind of changed the maps of the defense a little bit.

Can you talk about the impact Willie Colon has had on your team this year?
Oh my goodness, absolutely tremendous. Don’t think for a second – Mike Tomlin knows Willie Colon – and everybody knows this is a tough man. You guys know it as well as I do. He’s great in the locker room. He’s brought so much leadership to us and is still just doing a tremendous job for us as well. He had his best game of the season this past week and he has done a great job as a player, but I’m really proud of the contributions he has made for our football team. He is quite a leader, probably one of our biggest leaders on the offensive side.

Colon is kind of back home with you guys. Has that given him a little juice at this time in his career?
I’m not sure. You’ll have to ask him. I know he’s happy to be around his family, certainly.

Just to summarize, we should expect your defense and LeBeau’s to be right up there at the top. What about Rob Ryan’s defense?
Rob is usually down the pack a little bit, but he’s pretty good. My brother is pretty good. I’m proud of the way they’re playing in New Orleans. I think they haven’t given up more than 18 points in a game this year, so that’s a pretty good combination when you have Sean Payton and Rob Ryan. I don’t know what it is. He’s a little distant from Dick LeBeau and myself, I think when you look at the numbers. He is a great football coach and guys do things a little differently. He’s willing to give up the run more so than I am, historically. I like really stopping that run. He’s a guy that will give you more of the run. He’s a great coach in his own right, and hopefully one day he’ll be a head coach soon.

Critique Rex Ryan:
Just a guy that’s passionate about the game. He loves his team, and I love what I’m doing. I’m just having as much fun as I possibly can have and am just competitive as hell. I’ll say this about your coach; he’s the exact same way. Mike Tomlin is the exact same way. The only difference is that he’s got a couple of Super Bowl rings that I don’t have and that I’m certainly working every day to try to get, but the same kind of person, same kind of passion, same kind of energy, same kind of mentality that your coach has. Obviously, he’s one of my favorite coaches. I really respect Mike Tomlin and Dick LeBeau and lot of those coaches on that staff.

Re: Tight ends Kellen Winslow and Jeff Cumberland working together as a pair:
I really like it. I think this Cumberland kid is a young man that is really coming into his own. He was a receiver in college and we converted him to a tight end, which would make you think that he’s a receiving-type guy. He’s just the opposite. He‘s more of a Heath Miller-type than he is a receiving type. Even though he’s got the great speed, obviously he was a 4.4 speed guy coming out of Illinois, so he gives some advantages in the passing game. But I’m more proud of his blocking than I am his receiving.


Jets Guard Willie Colon

How are you enjoying the Jets?
I’m having fun. I’m home, obviously. They’re treating me like the hometown kid, so all is well.

The Steelers can’t win without you.
Yeah, well that’s in the past now brother [Laughs].

What do you see when you see the Steelers defense on film?
I know those guys. I know Cameron [Heyward], and I know Troy [Polamalu], Ryan Clark, Ike [Taylor] and all those guys. Their back end is still playing at a high level. Up front, I think Steve [McLendon] is playing really well. [Brett] Keisel is obviously doing a great job. I think defensively they’re still up there. They’re still doing what they need to do to be efficient. They’re kind of like us how we started off, the turnovers are killing them. The turnovers are killing us, so we can relate to that in that regard. But nevertheless, like I’ve been telling these guys, just because they’re 0-4, by no means can we overlook this team. Pittsburgh, even when I was there, was extremely prideful on defense. They’re going to give us their best shot. That’s just kind of the attitude that, “Hey, these guys are going to come into town and give us their best shot, and we’ve got to be ready to go.”

Have you looked at the offensive line at all?
Yeah, I look at the guys, of course. They’re still my family, and I still have a lot of love for [Maurkice] Pouncey and Ramon [Foster], and obviously Big Mike [Adams] and [Marcus Gilbert] and the rest of those guys. It’s tough to see those guys go through what they’re going through, but I know they’ll find a way to get it done somehow.

When you were released, did that come as a surprise? Are there any lingering hard feelings over it?
Honestly, I think once Ramon was signed, the writing was on the wall. I knew they couldn’t keep both of us. To be honest, I did kind of expect a pay cut with me coming off my third IR [Reserve/Injured List]. That didn’t happen so obviously it was a business decision for them to move in a better direction. I have the utmost respect for the Rooneys, Coach Tomlin, who I love to death. Coach Kugler, when he was there, he helped me out so much in my career. I have no hard feelings towards that organization whatsoever. I referenced something earlier that I carry a big chip on my shoulder, only because me coming off my third IR, I was kind of labeled a limit, like I was kind of done with. That pissed me off. I know how hard I trained in the offseason. I know how much work I put in to be the best I could be. I never want anybody to put me in a box. With me coming in here it was fresh start, a new chapter. Pittsburgh gave me everything. I gave them everything, the good, the bad and the ugly. At the end of the day, I love that city. I love what they gave me, but it’s time for me to move on. I’m a Jet.

Would you agree that things have worked out almost perfectly then for you?
No, I wouldn’t say that. I think what’s happened that I’m content with is the fact that I have a fresh start, that I’m able to come to a ball club that appreciates me and that I’m in a locker room with guys who are starting to figure it out. They care about winning and they care about being a better franchise, and not being a circus group. I think having the Tim Tebow circus out of here and having different things that were kind of holding this team back are starting to go out the window. I think we’re all starting to care about football and only football, which is a good sight to see.

What do you love about Mike Tomlin?
Me and Coach T have a personal relationship. I think his ability to be a total general, his ability, when I was there, to always have a plan. There’s a plan A, there’s a plan B and there’s a plan C. Throughout it all, he never rode the emotional rollercoaster. He always had a direct order. He always believed in us as a line. He believed in my abilities to handle that room and he believed in me personally as a man. I’m forever grateful for that. There is so much I learned from him by just watching through my years there. It was priceless. I’m kind of in debt from him in that regard.

Do you think this team misses you?
I don’t know. I miss those guys. I miss Pouncey, I miss Ben, I miss Ryan Clark, I miss Troy, and I miss all those guys. Those guys are like family to me. At the same time, this is a business. We all know that. I wish all those guys the best of luck.

Re: What you bring to the Jets:
I came here with the attitude that this team was missing a lot. They were missing chemistry, and they were missing that fight and belief in each other. I don’t know how to do that but just playing how I play. Practice hard, leaning on your brother, talking to the guys, sort of like Aaron Smith did when I was there. When I was a young guy, Aaron Smith was a guy who I would just watch his work ethic and how he talked to guys and how he presented himself. I admire him. I admire Hines [Ward]. I admire Casey [Hampton]. So many of those guys I was just able to sit back and keep my mouth shut and watch how they went about their day-to-day business. They’re the reason I’m the pro I am today. I was brought into an amazing organization where all I had to do was just shut up and watch, and things worked out.

Cam Heyward and Ryan Clark both said you give the Jets a nastiness that maybe the Steelers would like on their offensive line. Your thoughts on that:
You guys know, that’s just my game. Coming here, Nick [Mangold] and Brick [D’Brickashaw Ferguson], those guys are not necessarily maulers. Those guys are just technicians that do their job well and do it at a high level. When I came here, I had an opportunity to kind of bring that spark, to not have a back-down mentality, to let them know that, “Hey, we don’t have to take crap from nobody.” We’re going to take every team on one at a time and we’re going to do this together. Those guys are starting to buy into it and it’s working out so far. We’ve still got a ways to go, and they know and we all know it. We’re getting closer week-by-week.

Re: Progress of Geno Smith:
Geno is doing well. His composure, how he prepares, I’m impressed by it. He understands that the weight of the world is on his shoulders and every time he’s out there he’s carrying the weight of New York on his shoulders. He’s doing a great job. He’s conducting himself accordingly. He practices hard, and we’ve got a great offensive coordinator that is doing a great job mentoring him.

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