Today’s Rex Ryan news conference and locker room player interviews were predominantly two sides of the same coin: the long bye week ahead, and, following the 30-25 loss to Miami on Sunday to fall to 4-4, what the Jets can do with the second half of their season once they return.
The bye week for the Jets arguably begins now, since most players have already left the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, and runs through the weekend until they return a week from today. Had the players ever had such a long in-season hiatus from football?
"No, I never have," said tackle Damien Woody. "I’m not complaining, though."
"This is the most time I’ve ever had off as a player" during a bye, said wide receiver Braylon Edwards. "But it doesn’t change anything, to be honest."
Safety Jim Leonhard said the time will be well spent by all.
"I don’t think it’s any more than any other year that I’ve played. It’s such a grind. You need that three, four, five days, whatever they give you, you just need to get away a little bit, get your mind back even and prepare yourself for the rest of the season."
Ryan was asked at this afternoon’s news conference about a six-day bye.
"And after a loss and all that? I understand that," the coach said about those questioning this hiatus. "My thing is this schedule was made months in advance. With the bye week right in the middle of our season, I think it’s a good deal. Everybody gives their players a few days off. We’re coming back and we’re going to work Monday all the way through. They’re not getting their traditional Tuesday off.
"I just think it’s best if they get away, they go home, go wherever they want to get away from football, then come back and get ready to get after this thing."
And that goes for his assistant coaches, too: "I want everybody out of the building by Thursday."
Some outside the building have their doubts that the Jets can rebound from their midseason slump during which they’ve lost four of five, but that clearly isn’t the feeling inside the building.
Woody was asked what it says about the Jets that, heading into tonight’s final game of Week 8, Atlanta at New Orleans, they have the NFL’s No. 1 rushing offense and No. 2 overall defense.
"Surely you’re cooking with something," he said. "If somebody told me that before the season, I’d be jumping for joy. We know we’re a good football team. We’ve just got to be consistent with it all the time. If we want to be the team we say we want to be, you’ve got to play your best ball in November and December."
"I’m very encouraged," DT Marques Douglas said. "We have a dominating offensive line at times. We have a dominating defense at times. I’m encouraged that our rookie quarterback, Mark Sanchez, has come into this league and has already won four games. I’m encouraged that Sione Pouha has stepped up and filled in Kris Jenkins’ shoes. I’m also encouraged by the way we just stick together whether it’s a win or a loss. There’s no divide in this locker room. The coaches made this very clear, that we win as a team and we lose as a team."
Ryan is insisting on that approach because that’s the best way to realize the goals he and his players have for this still only half-completed season.
"I challenged our players today that we want to be the team nobody wants to play," Ryan said. "I think we’re close to being that team, but we’ve got to find a way to win. That’s what we’re going to try to accomplish. We’ve got to get there one step at a time, we know that.
"But my confidence has not wavered one bit in the people we have in this organization, the coaches we have, the players we have. But we’ve got to really study hard to see if we can’t find a way to win.
"I think we understand playing like a Jet. I think we are playing like Jets — we’re playing with pride, we’re playing physically. We care about each other. We’ve just got to find a way to pick each other up and find ways to win. That’s what we’ve got to be focused on moving forward."
Coach vs. Coach
Ryan was asked by Newsday’s Bob Glauber today about his reaction to former Colts coach Tony Dungy’s comments on Sunday’s NBC highlights show taking two Jets opinion leaders to task for their comments following the loss to Miami. Dungy said Bart Scott "said too much" and said he disagreed with Ryan that the Jets outplayed Miami but lost.
Said Dungy: "My mother used to say, ‘When you win, say very little. When you lose, say less.’ "
Said Rex today: "That’s fine. I was brought up differently. … I respect everybody but I fear nobody. And my thing is we’re not going to get anywhere by tiptoeing. That’s how I feel about it. People can take offense to it, that’s fine and dandy. I’m not going to change who I am and how I coach because Tony Dungy said something. I respect him, I think he’s a great man and was a great coach, but I’m going to be who I am."
Ryan second-guessed himself some, in the wake of Ted Ginn’s two kickoff-return TDs, about deactivated special teams contributors Ahmad Carroll, Marquice Cole and Marques Murrell, but he said there were personnel issues involved with the inactive list. The Jets felt they needed both inside LBs Larry Izzo and Ryan Fowler active due to Scott’s sore knee, which had him listed as questionable for the game, and they wanted Danny Woodhead as a backup at both WR and RB with Brad Smith (quad) having to sit out one more game.
Besides the coaches’ and players’ belief in themselves, history tells us that 4-4 is not a death knell to postseason aspirations. Since 2000, 22 of 55 teams (40 percent) of the NFL teams that began their seasons at 4-4 reached the playoffs. One of them was the 2006 Jets, another the 2001 Patriots, yet another the 2002 Raiders whose head coach is current Jets assistant HC/offensive line Bill Callahan. And Ryan’s 2000 Baltimore team was 5-4 before winning its last 11, including Super Bowl XXXV.
"Inside the Jets" Postponed
Due to conflicts with the World Series and a Knicks game replay, tonight’s edition of "Inside the Jets," held live at Vanderbilt’s in the Hamilton Park Hotel in Florham Park, N.J., and aired on 1050 ESPN New York, has been postponed and moved to next Monday night at 7 p.m.
Tags: Braylon Edwards, bye week, Damien Woody, Danny Woodhead, Jim Leonhard, Marques Douglas, Rex Ryan, Tony Dungy
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