FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Rex Ryan and his coaching staff huddled up before the bye-week break and drew up a game plan for an imposing opponent: the New York Jets.
It was time for some self-scouting, and Ryan mostly liked what he saw from his 5-1 team.
“Good game plan,” Ryan said with a slight grin Monday. “It seems like the Jets pressure a bunch on defense and it seems like this team is very effective running the football. They have some playmakers over there.”
Ryan and all of his coaches traded information, ideas and suggestions last week — as if they were preparing to play against each other — to try to improve. Ryan did the same thing during last season’s break.
“It’s a good thing,” Ryan said. “Sometimes you can’t see the forest through the trees and this just shows you how an opponent would look at you. Opponents break film down differently, but you still get the meat and potatoes of what every opponent sees.”
So far, they’ve seen a tough team that still has plenty of room to improve despite riding a five-game winning streak and being tied with New England and Pittsburgh for the league’s best record.
“I don’t think we’re close on either side of the ball,” Ryan said when asked if the team has reached its ceiling.
Ryan said Mark Sanchez and the offense need to improve in the passing game and converting third downs, while the defense has to get better at stopping opponents on third-down opportunities. He added that the team’s strength right now is its special teams unit.
“We haven’t played our best football and we have the opportunity to do that,” linebacker Bart Scott said. “We have 10 games to kind of move ourselves up the rankings, but more importantly, we’re 5-1.”
After a six-day break, the Jets got back to work Monday with a light practice and the start of preparations for the Green Bay Packers at home Sunday.
“You could tell right away when we jumped back out there that everybody was fired up for it,” defensive end Mike DeVito said. “The practice was one of the best practices we had all year because everybody’s so fresh and running around.”
Many players agreed that having nearly a week off would help them focus better.
“You appreciate Rex giving you the opportunity to get away and break your mind away for a little bit,” center Nick Mangold said. “You’re sitting around watching college games and stuff and you’re like, ‘All right, I really want to get back there and get back out there.'”
Cornerback Darrelle Revis is also ready to go, declaring his bothersome left hamstring 100 percent healthy. The defense, ranked No. 1 last season, has missed him playing at his usual shutdown level, and it has shown. The Jets are ranked 22nd against the pass, and 12th overall — numbers Ryan is convinced will improve by Week 17.
“Our objective is to lead the league in wins,” Ryan said. “When it’s all settled, I expect have the best defense in the league, like always.”
Scott isn’t too concerned about the rankings, just as long as the wins keep coming.
“All you’re talking about is a couple of shutdown games and a couple of great performances and it’ll all balance out,” he said. “Eventually, the cream will rise to the top.”
Ryan revealed that one switch this season on defense has been him sharing the playcalling responsibilities with defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and sometimes defensive backs coach Dennis Thurman.
“The great thing is, you don’t know if I’m calling the play or Mike Pettine’s calling the play,” Ryan said. “We do everything now.”
Ryan called most of the defensive plays last season, but Pettine is calling “a ton of them” this season. But, Ryan says, don’t blame Pettine for any shortcomings this season on defense.
“It’s not his fault,” he said, smiling. “He’s been calling the ones that work. I’ve got to do a better job when I call them.”
The defense will get an immediate test against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers, one of the top passing offenses in the league.
“I know they’re going to come in here fired up and we just have to go out there and play well,” linebacker Calvin Pace said. “They’re impressive. … Defensively, we’ve got to be on point.”
Ryan doesn’t think that will be a problem for the defense or any other area of the team.
“Once you get on that kind of roll, you want to just keep going,” he said. “But for this football team, we’re better now because of the break. We’re fresher. We have no excuses. Let’s just go out and play.”
Notes: Several players went on mini-vacations during the break such as Santonio Holmes, who went to Las Vegas. Pace went home to Atlanta and took in a live performance of “Yo Gabba Gabba!” with his daughter. “I’m more of a Sesame Street guy,” he said. “I like Elmo and the old-school stuff.”
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.