ML: “Obviously it's a huge game for us. The Jets are playing very good football. They're a strong, downhill-running team. They run the power gaps, things like that. You've got to get your pads down and play. It'll be a physical game up front. Defensively, they're about as strong as you can be with their front group. We've got a huge game up front, and we need to have both sides of the ball played well, and be efficient with the ball. We've got, a big game against a really good team.”
Is this classic AFC North style, with Rex Ryan having been in Baltimore?
ML: “Yes. It's going to be a physical game.”
How has Geno Smith’s development been as a rookie?
ML: “Geno's done well. They've done a fine job of building their offensive team around him. Schematically, they’re involving the play-action drop backs, the nakeds and the screens. And there’s the involvement of the Wildcat stuff they're doing with other guys -- last week with Josh Cribbs -- and then to the read option that Geno is running. There's a lot of scheme. There's a lot of things. He's doing a good job of managing it. He's played well and efficiently, and they’re winning games.
Is this the biggest body of work that you’ve had to prepare for on both sides of the ball?
ML: “Well, defensively, you see a lot of scheme. Offensively, they work within that, but they have some variety to it, yes.”
What was the team’s reaction to
ML: “The team moved on from Leon going down on Sunday. We had no choice.”
Not everybody does that:
ML: “Unfortunately it's what happens in professional sports. There's nothing we can do to guard against that. You have to move on.”
ML: “Whoever plays will be fine.”
What has Dre done this year?
ML: “Every opportunity he's had, he's done a good job. Whoever the combination of people who play will be fine. Adam (Jones) has to play and do a great job for us. Terence (Newman) has to continue to do a great job, and the same for whoever else goes into the mix.”
In his two starts, how has Adam played?
ML: “I can't remember when Leon was hurt, so I can't really answer that.”
Will you place Leon on injured reserve today?
ML: “I don't think we'll place him on IR today.”
You sustained some other injuries in the Detroit game:.
ML: “I think we're doing pretty well. Sometimes we get some guys with bumps and bruises, and we're pretty fortunate to come out of it the way we did. We'll continue to get better as the week goes on. We went into the game about as healthy as you can be, and Leon got injured, and we've got to move forward to the rest of the people as we've done, but we're in a pretty good spot. We’ve just got to keep working, and you know we've got some young guys who haven't gotten an opportunity to play a lot, and as we go through this latter half of the season, that opportunity generally comes about. That's when we continue to push on and press each and every week, that your time and your opportunity can be coming up quickly, so you have to be ready when you're called upon.”
Does this make you feel even better about the last four or five drafts you’ve had as an organization?
ML: “You feel good about the guys that have been here and that have been in that room. They’re ready to go. The other thing that’s impressive is the guys that have come from outside of here, and the contributions that they continually make at the point of attack, and how involved, and how big some of their contributions are each and every week. They’re pro’s pros. Unfortunately we’ve lost a couple of real pros in
After the game on Sunday, you weren’t too optimistic about
ML: “Still is going to miss some time today.”
Possibly for Sunday too?
ML: “We’ll see.”
Does Rex Ryan’s personality kind of dwarf that he’s a heck of a coach?
ML: “Rex is a great coach. I had kind of known Rex from afar before we worked together, and I spoke to him on the phone about the position. Obviously I got a chance to coach with him, and I realize how good of a coach he is, and a man and person. He’s been very successful up there in New York, and they’re fighting for the same thing that we are.”
He seems to have an ability to motivate. Guys play hard and they seem to like and respect him:
ML: “He’s a big guy. Not quite as big as he was, but he’s one of them (laughs). He gets them going. He does. That’s what you love about him. He was that way as the position coach, he was that way as the coordinator, and he’s been that way as a head coach. He’s got special skills for that. I think on every coaching staff, you need guys like that, that have that kind of ability. He’s been able to do it at all the different levels, and that’s been great.”
As well as you know him, it seems that he’ll do anything, and maybe you’ll never really know him when it comes to schematics:
ML: “I don’t understand what ‘do anything’ is. That ‘do anything’ comes from the uneducated. He’s very sound defensively. They have sound concepts and sound principles. Occasionally people make errors. But you can see what they’re trying to do, and there is rhyme and reason to it. He understands offensively what you’re trying to get done, and he’s trying to attack that. To say he’ll ‘do anything’ is not a fair statement. He’s not an unsound football coach. He’s a very sound football coach.”
Not that he’s unsound, but that he’ll give you a bunch of different looks, right?
ML: “Well there’s nothing wrong with that. You just said that he’ll ‘do anything,’ and that’s not anything. He’ll be sound, and he’ll have guys that will be in different looks. Because they know what they’re doing, they have an ability to be flexible like that. If you can continually have the same guys doing the same things, now you have some flexibility and movement.”
Has that flexibility shown the last couple of years with the change in coordinators?
ML: “I that that’s why he’s more involved in the defense. Dennis (Thurman) is the coordinator now. Dennis has been with him for a while now. They were together in Baltimore. He understands what Rex is trying to get done, and I think that’s important. Rex is back involved calling the defense, and I’m sure at some point he’ll turn the reins over to Dennis, but right now he’s calling the defense.”
How important is
ML: “Vontaze has proven that he’s a great linebacker with skills to do whatever you want a linebacker to be able to do. He’s played well in the running game, played with his pads down in the running game to make a good, sound open field tackles. And he’s done good things in the passing game, to understand passing lanes. He understands the offensive football team. As a young player, he has great intellect that way to understand the offensive plan and what they’re trying to do based on formation, personnel, and so forth. He’s everything you want that way.”
How well did he play in Detroit?
ML: “He did a good job.”
How much of a challenge is Muhammad Wilkerson?
ML: “He’s a big, explosive, physical man. You’ve got to play with pads down and go. They’re going to have some vertical gains where they get up the field and go, and we’ve got to be up to the challenge of it.”
Is Geno Smith a big threat for the way he throws and can also run the ball?
ML: “Geno’s a threat running the ball, but he’s not looking necessarily to run very often. Yes, he has scrambled and run for some first downs. I think he’s carried about 28 times this season, with only about seven of them being designed runs. He’s extended some plays. He’s been sacked 25 times, so he’s been on the ground a few times. That’s part of it, too.”
Have they changed much with him at quarterback from what they did before?
ML: “They have a whole new offensive scheme with the coordinator and everything, so it’s different than what they did before.”
How hard is it to call defenses as a head coach?
ML: “The hard part comes from adjustments and things like that. The fact that you can’t turn your back and basically correct and adjust the defense when the offense has the ball. He’s got to turn that over to his coaches. He’s got to have some sort of mechanism in place to do that.”
AD: “There are some things that are very similar, because Buffalo’s coordinator (Mike Pettine) was there for a while running the defense in New York. So there’s a lot of carryover. There’s some more stuff that the Jets are doing that we’ve got to prepare for, but it’s nice having that carryover.”
They’re pretty loaded up front aren’t they?
AD: “They’re physical up front. They’re pretty good. That’s why they rank so well in run defense. They’re big, stout guys up front. It’s going to be another good challenge for the offensive line.”
How much of a challenge is their secondary, with Antonio Cromartie and Dawan Landry?
AD: “We expect Cromartie to follow A.J. around. We like the matchup. A.J.’s done a great job for us. They’ve been playing well in the secondary. We have to come out and compete and win the one on ones.”
When you look back at your rookie year, what challenges are there for a rookie starting quarterback like Geno Smith?
AD: “It seems like every week you’re facing something new, a new type of defense. You just have to prepare each week. That’s one of the biggest things, staying with the grind of everything and keep preparing. He’s done a good job this year. He’s won them some games, and it’s cool to see his success so far.”
Does it seem like a lifetime ago that you were a rookie?
AD: “It seems like it was a while ago, even though this is only my third year. But I can relate with those guys.”
He has a good game and then he won’t. How tough is it to not do it just once but over and over again?
AD: “There are only a quarterbacks considered the greatest guys to play the game, and it’s because they were able to string these good games back to back to back. That’s what everybody is striving for. It’s hard to do, but you’ve got to be able to get your team going, and prepare each week and play your best, and hopefully it shows in the game.”
How much do
AD: “Having two tight ends is big, because you can do different stuff in different personnel packages. That’s the biggest thing we’ve been able to do, doing things in different personnel groups where we get those guys matched up. They’ve definitely helped the passing game. Last week they both make big catches that help us win the game. We’re going to continue to rely on those guys.”
Is it even more lethal with the way they can stretch the field, like what Tyler did on the touchdown?
AD: “That’s what he was good at in college. You saw him doing everything. He was all over the place – tight end, receiver – and we’re kind of doing some similar stuff. It’s great to have a guy who can do so much.”
Is it almost a misnomer to call these guys tight ends, because they’re lining up everywhere?
AD: “These guys are doing so much and they’re just bigger guys, bigger receivers. But they can also block well. That’s one of the things you can see out of both. I think Jermaine is probably one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL, and Tyler’s done a great job since he’s been here. Both guys are well-rounded guys. They’re not just pass-catching tight ends.”
It seemed like when this run started there was more of a dedication to the run. Has there been anything that changed that made it click?
AD: “There’s not one thing that made it click. We’re just playing better. We’re making plays that we weren’t making in some of these games, and we’re doing some good things. We’ve got to keep it going. We can’t worry about whatever’s gone on in the past and what we’ve done. We’ve got to continue to move forward because we’ve got a lot in front of us, and we’re on the right track right now.”
Did you feel like Sunday was your best game?
AD: “I think it’s up there. I felt really comfortable out there. I thought the ball was coming out of my hands well, and the guys made some big catches. Hopefully I can keep it up and continue to do that.”
Did it feel like a breakthrough win for you because you were able to win a shootout against another good offense?
AD: “I wouldn’t say it was a breakthrough win. It was one where we felt like we matched up well and we did enough to win the game. We found a way to win at the end of the game. I wouldn’t say it was a breakthrough, because this team has won several big games this year.”
But do you feel like it was another one to quiet the doubters?
AD: “Everybody’s entitled to their own opinions. I’m just trying to win games. If I keep doing that, it’s all that matters.”
What is it about
AD: “He’s been practicing really hard. You see the different things he’s done in practice and it has translated into these games. He’s getting open, he’s making catches in key situations and I’ve got a lot of trust in a guy like that. It’s been great to have him step up. But he’s not the only guy that’s stepped up. Other guys made big catches on third down. He had the great touchdown catch and another third-down catch on third-and-12. The guy’s getting open and making plays.”
He made a tough catch on the TD and ran off with his arm hanging limp. Then the next time you see him, he’s catching a ball over the middle. I guess a guy gets respect by doing that:
AD: “For sure. When you see a guy that sells out for a touchdown, catches it and comes back, and he’s hurting, and doesn’t let it affect him, that shows a lot for the teammates. It shows he’s a guy you can trust.”
How good was it that all facets of the passing game seemed to click and everybody contributed equally?
AD: “It’s been big for us, especially the last couple weeks. There have been a lot of guys catching balls. It’s good to see. We see the potential everyone’s got, and we’ve been spreading it around to everybody. Everybody’s been helping this offense and helping this team win games.”
You had five different receivers catch at least three balls. You keep going back to guys again and again. In a perfect world, is that what you’re looking for?
AD: “It kind of depends on the looks we’re getting and things like that. But we’re getting matchups with guys. We’re moving guys around and guys are getting open. That’s the biggest thing. It’s not like we’re relying on one guy. Everyone knows A.J., but he’s not the only guy that can do some things with the ball in his hands. It’s been good to spread it around and get everybody involved.”
Was there any satisfaction on that touchdown pass to A.J. because the first past you threw in that stadium was picked off and this one goes for an 82-yard touchdown?
AD: “I wasn’t even thinking about that at the time.”
Well not at the time, but now a couple of days later:
AD: “Things are a little different than the first time I stepped on that field. I guess you could say there is some satisfaction because it was a big touchdown pass to start the game. We’ve got to keep hitting those.”
In 27 months, you’ve come a long way:
AD: “Well you would think so. It wasn’t like it was just a new offense for me, it was a new offense for everybody. And that was the lockout year. We had practiced 10-14 days maybe before going out and playing our first preseason game. You would like to think that we’d be a little bit better than we were then.”
Can you talk about the work of your foundation?
AD: “Our foundation is the Andy and Jordan Dalton Foundation. Our goal is to provide an opportunity for kids that are seriously ill or have special needs, to give them something to look forward to, something to help with their mindset and deal with whatever they’re going through. We’ve been able to do a lot so far. This year we’ve already done the ‘King for a Day’ at Kings Island, where we brought 100 kids and their families and gave them food, gave them the fast passes, gave them the drinks where they can get them throughout the park--giving them the day to not think about whatever they’re going through with their situation. That’s something we’ve been blessed to have an opportunity to do. Moving forward we’re going to be working with Children’s Hospital and providing grants for families that either can’t afford the treatment have insurance that won’t cover everything. We’ll be able to help provide some of those payments for them, or if somebody needs a wheelchair or something we’ll be able to help them out. The biggest thing for my wife and I is that we have a big platform and we’re trying to use it and help out people, families and these kids in need.”