By Ernie Palladino
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As Superstorm Sandy blew his players’ lights out, just like the rest of their New Jersey neighbors, Rex Ryan spent what was supposed to be a bye week of relaxation and reflection huddled in his Florham Park offices with his assistants.
Presumably, that braintrust has come up with some way to fix its team’s problems and re-track it from a 3-5 start. Just hope that if things go south in the Pacific Northwest this week against the Seahawks, Ryan doesn’t blame it all on the big wind that blasted through here at the start of the bye week.
If he does, you’ll know right away that he and his staff indeed came up with zero answers for a team that hit the bye staggering, as if struck by a heavyweight’s body shot. The running game, improving but still not where it needs to be behind Shonn Greene and Joe McKnight, must become more ferocious. Mark Sanchez, the mentally fragile quarterback Ryan rightfully continued to endorse as his starter Monday, must settle down and commence with the completions, preferably the end zone kind.
Ryan didn’t give the press much to go on as his squad started preparations for Seattle. Oh, there was the typical, “We’re going to use Tim Tebow more” line, which has now become as clichéd as a rookie’s “I just want to contribute” claims.
If anybody truly believes Tebow will ever become an offensive threat under the Ryan-Tony Sparano regime, well, I have a bridge to sell you.
Mostly, Ryan offered excitement.
“I can’t tell you how excited I am,” Ryan said. “I know we’re not where we want to be. We’re not even close. We’re not sniffing the playoffs. We’re not sniffing anything right now. But I want to get there. I’m excited about the prospects in front of us.”
So what are those prospects? For starters, the Seahawks aren’t exactly a pushover, especially at CenturyLink Field. They’re 5-4, but they’re 4-0 in a home field where the crowd can certainly affect an opponent’s movements. Ask the Giants of a few years ago when the roar caused the offensive line to jump early 10 times.
As soon as that “12th Man” flag goes up in the pregame ceremony, the fans start in and don’t stop until either the clock expires or some enterprising guest quiets them by running the Seahawks off the scoreboard.
Don’t expect the Jets to push anybody out of his own stadium these days. They’re just not that kind of team.
They’ll go in with an offense that doesn’t score enough, and a defense that can’t get itself off the field enough.
Whether Ryan figured out solutions to those problems in the off-week is anybody’s guess. If he hasn’t, it won’t be for lack of suggestions. The head boss said his underlings had plenty of them, and none of them involved walking away from the final eight games.
He didn’t exactly lay out the future plans, though, except to say there was nothing radical about them.
That should be of great comfort to Jets fans because, you know, things are working so well these days.
“We got a bunch of suggestions. I hope they’re good,” Ryan said. “We definitely have taken them in. We’ll be doing some different things. If there’s an advantage to be gained, then I want to gain that advantage without letting our opponent know. I’m excited about trying to implement some of these things.”
Ryan said the suggestions had more to do with doing things “that can help this player or that player.”
We’ll have to wait for the second half’s grand unveiling to see what Ryan and his assistants came up with.
Suffice to say, dealing with the effects of Hurricane Sandy wasn’t the only thing that kept the coaches busy over the bye.
Will the Jets leave Seattle 4-5 or 3-6? Be heard in the comments below!