NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) – Botched snaps, lousy throws and lots of turnovers. Throw in a sputtering running game and it all has Jets coach Rex Ryan extremely frustrated.
This is certainly not what Ryan envisioned for his team. Two bad losses on the road and now the capper: a game against the rival New England Patriots.
“I’m bothered by the fact that I think we’re a better football team than we’re playing right now,” Ryan said. “We’re not executing as well as I thought we’d execute by now.”
Ryan let his team know that – on Sunday night after New York’s 34-17 loss at Baltimore, and again at the team meeting Monday.
“Last night was definitely kind of hurt, very emotionally hurt,” left guard Matt Slauson said when asked to describe Ryan’s mood.
And, Monday? Slauson said the brash coach was, well, pretty ticked off.
At his press conference, Ryan appeared more somber than usual, no smiles or jokes. It’s only Week 5, but it’s gut-check time for the Jets (2-2).
“It’s just something that’s on us as coaches, that’s on me,” Ryan said. “That’s why, to me, I’m subdued, but there is probably a little more fire burning inside of me than I’m letting on.”
There are plenty of improvements to be made, and the embarrassing loss to the Ravens provided some clear indicators that if the Jets plan to reach the AFC championship game – and beyond, as Ryan has promised – things need to get better fast.
“Guys are frustrated,” safety Jim Leonhard said. “You never want to lose games. You never want to lose back-to-back games. We realize we have a tough one coming up. It’s not getting any easier.”
Wide receiver Derrick Mason stood at his locker after getting beat by his former teammates and issued a challenge.
“Obviously, there are some things that need to change,” he said. “They have to change. It’s evident. You saw it, there are some cracks, and nobody really wants to identify the cracks. Until we identify the cracks, we’re going to keep having the same problems. Whenever somebody wants to fill up the cracks, then we can continue to move forward.”
What are the cracks? Well, take your pick. Wide receiver Santonio Holmes said it all starts with the offensive line, a shell of the once-dominant unit it had been. Of course, All-Pro center Nick Mangold has missed the last two games with a high ankle sprain, but the line isn’t protecting Mark Sanchez enough and not providing much running room.
“I don’t think he was calling us out maliciously at all because it is true,” Slauson said. “If we don’t do our jobs, no matter how good Mark is or the receivers are, they aren’t going to be able to anything. We have to be able to pick up the pressure so Mark can deliver him the ball and they can just run.”
Sanchez was under pressure all game and finished 11 of 35 for 119 yards with a hideously low 30.5 quarterback rating. Worse, he couldn’t protect the football. He had three of his turnovers returned for touchdowns, while the other set up a field goal by the Ravens.
“I don’t care if Joe Montana is back there, (with) that kind of pressure, it’s hard to execute,” Ryan said. “There were times when it was like, shoot, they weren’t backing off one bit and neither would I. They hit him. I think they had like 10 hits on the quarterback. He’s not going to make it through the season if he keeps getting hit 10 times a game.”
Ryan sarcastically suggested that the solution could be for the Jets to use seven offensive linemen if it helps keep Sanchez off his back.
“Obviously, we don’t like it at all,” Slauson said. “I mean, especially since we in the past have been recognized as a strength, so it doesn’t feel good. But we aren’t going to falter. We’re just going to keep on working, keep on getting better and we’re going to be back. We’re going to be back very soon.”
Ryan insists that his “Ground-and-Pound” run-first approach on offense will also make a return. There has been too much throwing and not enough running for his liking.
“It’s no great secret that we need to be able to run the ball better,” he said.
Sure, Shonn Greene hasn’t done much in his first season as the lead back, running for just 157 yards and 3.1 yards a carry. But, Ryan’s not making any lineup changes yet.
“Shoot,” Ryan said, “how about we give Shonn Greene a chance?”
The Jets have been here before, as Slauson pointed out, hitting a rough patch during the past two seasons with many fans and media playing out the worst-case scenario. New York ended up making it within a game of the Super Bowl both times.
“Our confidence isn’t shot,” Slauson said. “It’s not gone and our season isn’t over by any means.”
Ryan wouldn’t put his team in the Super Bowl at this point, saying it’s too early to talk like that. But, he still believes his guys are headed to the postseason.
“By the time we get to the finish line,” Ryan said, “we’ll be right there.”
Will the Jets leave New England 2-3 or 3-2? Sound off on Gang Green in the comments below…
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