Talking Jets-Steelers With TheJetsBlog.com’s Brian Bassett: Part II

Continuing the conversation with TheJetsBlog.com‘s Brian Bassett that last left off talking about Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s many shortcomings (perceived or otherwise)…

(You can read Part I of the interview here)

Ryan: You know what’s funny, I think every fan base of every team hates every offensive coordinator. Steelers fans abhor Bruce Arians, Ravens fans abhor Cam Cameron more than Bruce Arians but not quite as much as Brian Schottenheimer. It’s one of the jobs that you’re not going to win unless you’re Josh McDaniels and you stay with the Patriots.

Brian: It’s funny, because I think about the guys who have been the recent coordinators for the Jets before Schottenheimer. It was Mike Heimerdinger, a pretty well-respected guy who was just there for a year or two, and before him was Paul Hackett. And right, no one ever left on a good note going back the last eight year or so. It just doesn’t happen that way.

(Editor’s note: it’s at this point that I realize that both Mike Mularkey and Ken Whisenhunt left Pittsburgh for head-coaching gigs on better-than-average terms with the fans.)

Ryan: What do you think about Rex Ryan, the coach? You mentioned the bluster and I wonder if that takes away from what he does as a coach. When he was in Baltimore as their defensive coordinator, he didn’t talk — or at least he didn’t talk a lot because coordinators typically aren’t granted that media access — and you respected him for the defenses he put on the field.

It seems like now that he’s in front of the camera and dresses up for press conferences and buries footballs and does Hard Knocks — and I think Michael Kay mentioned this on his radio show — does that give teams more of an incentive to beat the them and is that helpful to what the Jets are trying to accomplish?

Brian: Rex likes to take the pressure and put it on himself and not put it on guys who are slumping like LaDainian Tomlinson or normally Mark Sanchez. He doesn’t want to single out players where other coaches might do that. He’d just rather have the focus be on him.

But I do agree that I think it adds an element of an opponent saying, “I want to beat that team because they’re so full of themselves.” And it gives you extra incentive to practice or focus or whatever to get ready for that game. I certainly think that has to be part of it but what I would say in response to that is that I don’t Rex Ryan would have it any other way. I think he wants to see other teams at their best, to beat them at their best.

Ryan: Have you ever gotten to the point where you’re like, “Shut up. Please quit talking”? Or are you fine with his persona?

Brian: Yeah, I certainly have. It’s just so funny going from Eric Mangini, who wouldn’t tell you his favorite ice cream, to a guy like Rex Ryan. It’s totally different but I think it’s been embraced, a breath of fresh air, but when they hired him I said he’s going to be loved by the press and the fans while he wins. And it would have been the same with Eric Mangini who, what would you say, was tolerated while he won. But the attitude and all that is going to start to wear thin if they can’t continue to win.

So, yeah, I would say that it’s certainly an issue — and my concern is if players on the team know that they can get away with things because I’m not really being held accountable. And you can just go through the laundry list of stuff that’s happened to the Jets this year.

Ryan: How big a loss is Jim Leonhard?

Brian: You know, because I think going into it I didn’t think he was that big of a loss. You look at him, he’s a small guy, when he makes tackles he’s riding guys down. But I think that’s the thing: he really understood the defense very well, called the signals. He’s not great in coverage, but he’s better in coverage than everybody else the Jets have.

Now they’ve added this guy Dwight Lowery who is a slot corner to the mix. He played some last week and had some moments and he’s learning the safety position. But Leonhard was the best cover safety the team had and he’s gone now so they’ve had guys like Brodney Pool, Eric Smith and James Ihedigbo, who was on the shelf last week. But they just don’t have great coverage skills and that’s a big part of what Ryan does. He likes to move his guys up and back, and have a safety that sits one-high that goes to one side of the field to trap a quarterback into throwing to the other side of the field, towards Darrelle Revis or towards Antonio Cromartie.

Missing him has been a big issue, but the Jets responded well last week. But that was against Chad Henne. The Bradys, Mannings and Roethlisbergers of the world, they’re going to give them trouble because they’re actually good quarterbacks.

Ryan: I have never been less impressed with an NFL quarterback than I was with Henne against the Jets. I just stared dumbfounded at the television. He looked like Kyle Boller after Kyle Boller had beer-bonged 12 beers.

Brian: Right. The Jets’ defense played well and credit to them for playing well, but who are they beating up on? The guy who is going to be out of this league in two years or will be a backup somewhere in two years.

Ryan: I brought this up to JJ Cooper on the last Steelers Lounge podcast: do you think the Jets will have Darrelle Revis play on Revis Island against Mike Wallace? JJ didn’t think so, and I tend to agree, because even though, without a doubt, Revis is the best cornerback in the NFL, Wallace’s deep speed is jaw-dropping. Do you have any insights into what the Jets might do in that matchup?

Brian: Based on the type deep speed that Wallace has I’d actually think — and call me crazy — that Antonio Cromartie will probably see the majority of snaps and the reason I say that is because Cromartie played Brandon Marshall very well, and he played Randy Moss very well during the second half of the first Pats-Jets game.

What Antonio Cromartie does well — he doesn’t do a lot of things well — but what he does do well … he’s not physical but he’s speedy and he’s tall. So he’s great against guys that are fast and guys that go deep, but he’s not Darrelle Revis physical. He can’t take on Calvin Johnson or Andre Johnson, so generally, however the more physical receiver is, they give that guy to Revis. Like Terrell Owens instead of Chad Ochocinco a few weeks ago. Not that Revis couldn’t cover a guy like Mike Wallace — I think he could — but I really think Cromartie will really see the majority of the snaps.

Now, Cromartie might get burned, but he’s had a good season. The Jets have used him well so that’s the matchup I would imagine will happen.

Ryan: Okay, one more question, and this is random: if you could have one Steelers player on the Jets right now, who would it be?

Brian: Ooh. That’s a great question. Ah, man, I love their linebackers, I really do. Can I have James Farrior back? …Just kidding.

I think I would have to say LaMarr Woodley. I think he’s a great player, I think he would fit well in Rex’s scheme. And that’s one of the things Rex really needs on his team, he needs some guys who can get after the passer a little better. He and Harrison both are fantastic but I would absolutely love to see Woodley on the Jets.

Ryan: Because of the perpetually sorry state of the Steelers offensive line, I’m tempted to take D’Brickashaw Ferguson but the people reading this would mobilize and kill me for not taking Darrelle Revis. A lot of fans weren’t happy when the Jets traded up in the 2007 draft and got Revis and a pick later the Steelers took Lawrence Timmons. Timmons has turned out to be a good player, but I can’t imagine how good this defense would be with Ike Taylor opposite Revis.

Again, I want to thank to Brian for taking time to talk Jets-Steelers. Check him out at TheJetsBlog.com

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  • Randy Steele

    An item I heard on WFAN, New York, the other day about the incident involving the Jets and the woman TV reporter who complained about them while she was doing coverage: Apparently, the Jets’ coaching staff had been chucking footballs over her head while she was trying to work.

    What does that tell you about the intelligence and discipline of Ryan and his coaching staff, especially in light of the tripping incident?