Ryan Sounds Off at NFL Owner's Meeting
By Jets Insider.com Staff
March 25th, 2009
On if he is still hoping to acquire a quarterback for the starting job
That’s what you hear in the papers but we like the guys we’ve got. We think with Brett Ratliff, Kellen Clemens and Erik Ainge, we have three young quarterbacks. We’ve been able to keep Brian Schottenheimer. He’s an outstanding coach. These quarterbacks have been able to stay in the same system their entire career. It’s not like you’re getting a rookie.
For Kellen Clemens, this will be his fourth year in this system. He’s backed up some pretty good quarterbacks. Obviously with Brett Favre, everyone’s going to back him up. With Brett Ratliff, all he did last year was have a 122.5 passer rating in the preseason. Obviously, he’s never had a chance in a regular-season game but it would be hard to get that kind of rating if you were going against air. We’ll see how he plays.
I saw him up close. [In Baltimore], we had a pretty comfortable lead [in 2007], we had a good fourth-quarter lead when we were playing the Jets. All of a sudden, he brings that team back. Quite honestly, if it wasn’t for a dropped ball, they would have tied the game with a pass that would have been a touchdown. I know that he can do it. He can move and he can make all the throws and I think that Ratliff can to. It’s going to be a good competition.
On what he may apply to the Jets from watching Joe Flacco’s development and success last year…
I give a lot of credit to [Baltimore offensive coordinator] Cam Cameron. He’s an outstanding coach. It was an honor to be on the same staff as him. The thing about Cam is that he cared more about winning. He wanted to lead the NFL in wins, not stats. If that meant taking the air out of the ball, that’s what he did. I heard him several times tell Joe, "If you’re not 100 percent sure that you can complete this ball, don’t throw it." That was just the way he was. Every now and then, he would take shots down the field.
We played to our strengths [in Baltimore]. We played to our defense. We played to our special teams, and we tried to score in the red zone. If you look at the numbers, I think [Baltimore’s] offense did a great job last year. In the beginning of the year, I think you saw there were some growing pains. [Flacco] had one touchdown pass and maybe six or seven interceptions and he fumbled a few times. He learned how to protect the football in the pocket and, as the year went on, he got more confident. He’s tremendous. He reminds me of Carson Palmer [in] the way that he can throw the football. I wouldn’t put him in that class right now, but he’s getting there.
On his comfort level with the quarterbacks…
I’m comfortable with the guys that we have. These young men have a lot of ability. They just haven’t had an opportunity to showcase what they can do. Kellen Clemens was a second-round pick and I saw him up close and personal [in 2007] while I was in Baltimore. We had a big lead. He brought that team back and if it wasn’t for a dropped post route, they would have tied the game in the fourth quarter against us.
I certainly know what his capabilities are. As far as Brett Ratliff, all I can go on is what I saw on tape. I even watched practice tape on him. He had a 122.5 passer rating in the preseason. That’s hard to do against air. He’s going to get a good shot.
On if he will bring in a veteran QB…
I look at it this way. I brought in a veteran quarterbacks coach to lead these young guys in Matt Cavanaugh. Matt played 16 years in the league and won two Super Bowls as a player, won a national championship as a quarterback at the University of Pittsburgh and was the offensive coordinator in 2000 when the Ravens won a Super Bowl. I think I’ve got plenty of leadership there. I also have Jon DeFilippo as the assistant quarterbacks coach. I feel great about the coaching staff. I feel great about the guys that are going to be lead these young guys.
I just think these young quarterbacks need an opportunity. Another thing I’m excited about is that they’re not coming in as just rookies. These guys are young but they have veteran experience in the system. This is Brian Schottenheimer’s fourth season, it will be Kellen Clemens’ fourth season. This will be Brett Ratliff’s third season. They’re familiar with the offense and I think that they can hit the ground running.
On if he would consider a QB who he thought could help his team…
I feel good about our quarterback situation. Everyone seems to think we have major issues there. I don’t think the situation is what people think it is. I think we’re going to be just fine. As I look at our offense, if we don’t have the best offensive line in the league, I think we’re certainly in that mix. We have one of the best offensive line coaches in the league, if not the best, in Bill Callahan. That’s a great foundation right there.
We have two Pro Bowl running backs in Leon Washington and Thomas Jones. We have a former Pro Bowl fullback in Tony Richardson. We’ve got a great receiver in [Jerricho] Cotchery. We’ve got a tight end that scares the heck out of defenses in Keller. I think we’ve got plenty of weapons on offense. I’d like to be the quarterback for those guys.
On if he would still prefer, given his weapons on offense, to have a proven QB to go with them…
Last year we drafted Joe Flacco and he wasn’t supposed to play. Then in a span of three days, we lose Kyle Boller to a shoulder injury, we lose Troy Smith to an illness and now all of a sudden Joe Flacco is our starting quarterback. And we made it to the AFC championship game and we were close to beating Pittsburgh. You might have the next superstar in your own building. You’ve just got to give him an opportunity.
On if Clemens or Ratliff has the potential to be the next Flacco…
I think everybody is different, but I hope and I truly believe that whoever our quarterback is is going to experience the same success that Joe Flacco had. The success we had in Baltimore was based on a team. It wasn’t based on one position. That’s what we’re building here in New York.
On if it would be good for Clemens' confidence if he was told that the Jets were his team and he was the starter…
It’s not fair to say it’s his team now because this is going to be a competition. I’m a new coach and this is a major decision but we’ve got to do what’s best for this football team. If that means that Brett Ratliff is our guy or Erik Ainge is our guy, we owe it to our football team to put the best player out there.
On what he is looking for from his starting QB …
We want a guy that can lead the league in wins. We don’t care about leading in passing yards or any of those other stats. It’s about the team. I understand it’s a big part but he’s just part of the success and part of the solution. He doesn’t have to be the solution, just part of the solution. Some games may call for Brian to take the air out of it and still be successful. Other games may need to be just the opposite and we need to wing it all over the place.
We don’t want to be careless with the football and we need to score in the red zone. The quarterback’s got to be able to make throws in the red zone and convert on third down. If you can run and move a little bit, that helps you as well. All three of these guys can do that.
On if the Jets can win without an elite QB in a division that includes Tom Brady...
I think you can win with a team. That’s the big thing. You’ve got be a great team. Obviously, there are going to be teams out there that have a better quarterback than you do. There might be teams that have a better linebacker than you do. But you just have to be the best team. I think to beat great players, you’ve got to be a great team. If you’ve got a great nucleus around a guy, he doesn’t have to be a great player himself. He doesn’t have to take the whole thing on himself. Run the play. If the guy’s open, throw him the football.
On Bart Scott...
He has the type of temperament and mentality that we want to play with. I think the way that Bart will lead is the big thing. He’s a tremendous player. He can cover most backs in this league. No matter how good the running back is, Bart can handle him. That’s critical. He’s a complete player. He can blitz, he can play the run, he’s a good tackler, he’s a physical player, he loves to play. That’s the way this defense is built — around players like Bart.
On the AFC East and his approach to stopping the variety of offenses in the division…
I think this is the best division in football. I thought I came from the best division in football last year. We knew that one of those teams was going to come out and win the Super Bowl. We just thought it was going to be us instead of Pittsburgh. It ended up being Pittsburgh. I would not be surprised if the Super Bowl champ comes out of our division this year. We’ve got a lot of great teams and a lot of great coaches and players. I think our defense will be up for the challenge. Whether it's Wildcat, wishbone or whatever, we’ll be ready to play.
On the trend of hiring assistant coaches/coordinators as head coaches…
I think the NFL is a trendy league. Last year we had a lot of first-time head coaches and a lot of them were successful, very successful. The league’s a copycat league, it seemed to work and I think that owners feel good about that formula.
On the assistant coach who will be responsible for helping him with game management situations…
I’ve got several guys like that. The first one being on offense, I’ve got Bill Callahan. He’s done everything in this league as an assistant coach and almost won it all as a head coach. He’s seen a lot of huddles broke in his day. I’ll lean on him and I’ll lean on Brian Schottenheimer. Here’s a guy that’s going to be a head coach next year anyway. I plan on doing the head coaching responsibilities as well as [calling the defensive plays].
On Vernon Gholston…
For whatever reason, the young man maybe never played up to expectations, but there’s a reason that he was taken as high as he was. I believe in the young man. I think you’re going to see this kid really come into his own this year.
The thing I’ve really been impressed with about Vernon is that he’s been there almost every day. When nobody else was in the building, he was in there lifting weights and everything else. He’s ready to come out and, believe me, it’s in there. We all know it’s in there. But it’s my job to get this guy playing at a high level by any means necessary and that’ what we’re going to do.
It’s just a matter of letting him know what we expect of him and letting him roll. All I want is everything he’s got. That’s all I want. Nothing more. It’s funny because I heard the same things about [Ravens DT] Haloti Ngata when he came out of college, that he took plays off and things like that. I don’t hear anyone saying that now and it’s to that young man’s credit.
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