Terse Rex ‘disagrees’ with Super Mario + where Mario goes from here

Rex

Jets head coach Rex Ryan at Monday’s news conference. (my photo)

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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Rex Ryan seldom is a man of few words.

But the New York Jets head coach let his brevity do the talking Monday when asked about Mario Williams‘ charge that Austin Howard, the Jets right offensive tackle, resorted to illegal tactics to prevent the superstar Buffalo Bill from sacking Mark Sanchez on Sunday.

“Well, I’ll say this,” Ryan said at his Monday news conference, a stern look replacing his usual smile. “Mario Williams is a great football player. There’s no question. He’s a tremendous player. But I disagree with him on this.”

Next question.

Williams, the premiere available free-agent defender in March, who signed a six-year, $100-million contract with Buffalo. He was expected to be a sack monster, but Howard tamed him — completely. Williams had zero sacks and zero pressures in a 48-28 Jets rout.

“Pass blocking doesn’t include hands to the face,” Williams complained to reporters after the game. “When someone tells officials that, and they just walk away, or they don’t call it, that is disheartening.

“(Howard)’s a hands-to-the-face guy, and they don’t call it, so he will continue to do it.”
NFL pass blockers are not allowed to put their hands under a defender’s face mask and into his face.
Ryan said he couldn’t be happier with Howard’s performance.

“There are no two ways about it. He had an outstanding game.”

MarioThe Jets mixed up their pass-blocking schemes to assist Howard against “Super Mario,” Ryan said.

“We had some chips, we had (third tackle as tight end) Jason Smith on (Williams) 1-on-1 a few times. We had some slide protection. But Austin had him a lot of times by himself.”

Left guard Matt Slauson told me after the game that the original plan in pass-pro was to slide the other offensive linemen to the right, to help the 25-year-old kid out.

“But after a few plays,” Slauson said, “we saw he didn’t need any help.”

That is one hell of an indictment against Williams.

Let’s get this straight. A third-year journeyman on his third NFL team, making his first career start at right offensive tackle, should not be able to completely shut down supposedly one of the fiercest pass rushers in the game. Time after time.

Often all on his own.

I asked Ryan if he and his coaches were surprised that Howard so completely neutralized Williams.

“We’ve seen him do this thing on the practice field,” Ryan said. “But against Mario, in your first NFL start? That was impressive.”

The key, Howard himself told me after the game, was all the preparation work he and his offensive linemates put in.

“Confidence comes from preparation. The coaches made sure that we were prepared for this game. We worked hours on end in classroom, film study. Plus extra film work, on my own.

D’Brickashaw Ferguson even took all the tackles after practice every day and did more technique work — all camp long, really. To have those guys to lead me, and to emulate, and to follow — the confidence just builds and builds every day.”

I asked Ferguson about Howard, and he said that the Iowa native’s abilities are no mirage. Nor is his unflappability.

“His poise and his talents work well for him,” Ferguson said. “I think he did an excellent job.”

Too bad Williams couldn’t see that. Or at least acknowledge that after the game.

Where does Super Mario go from here?

Sunday’s game was just that — one game. Bills head coach Chan Gailey put it best, perhaps, when he defiantly told reporters afterward in regard to Buffalo’s non-existent pass rush: “Let it go. It was awful today, I understand that. But don’t kick the dirt on us yet.”

Williams, though, had better rise up and shake the dirt off. He will be facing better offensive tackles than Howard soon enough. And better offences.

The Bills need him more than ever to be impactful. Right away. Like, starting in Sunday’s home opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Because a couple more performances like this past Sunday’s, and the highest-paid defender in NFL history will have more than dirt kicked on him. He’ll have the “bust” label thrown at him, from every corner of America.

And there’ll be no replacement refs he can blame for that.

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JETS’ REVIS OUT WITH MILD CONCUSSION:

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Losing your star cornerback before a game against Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would be a real kick in the head. No thanks to a real kick in the head.

The New York Jets’ Darrelle Revis‘ status for this Sunday’s game in Pittsburgh was uncertain on Monday.

Widely regarded as the NFL’s best cover cornerback, Revis suffered what head coach Rex Ryan termed a “mild concussion” in the second half of the Jets’ 48-28 win over Buffalo on Sunday, when Jets linebacker Bart Scott accidentally kicked Revis in the head.

Per the league’s new concussion protocol, Revis is not allowed to speak to the press until he is cleared for physical activity (running and lifting). That had not happened by mid-day Monday.

“I understand it’s a mild concussion. He seems to be feeling good,” Ryan said at his Monday news conference. “But whatever those (concussion-test) scores are — apparently (his are) low. But I’ll lean on the doctors and trainers and we’ll see how he progresses during the week.”

Revis had one of three Jets interceptions of Buffalo’s Ryan Fitzpatrick.

 

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