Topic A for many Jets fans and reporters is Mark Sanchez. But Rex Ryan wasn’t ready on this afternoon’s conference call with reporters to declare anything about his starting quarterback for Sunday’s next big game, against Atlanta.
"I’m not sure yet," said the Jets head coach. "Mark did a great job of getting the treatment over the weekend. I think Wednesday we’ll see how he feels."
Ryan remained optimistic about Sanchez’s right knee but not to the point where he’s handicapping the QB situation. He’s confident the rookie QB will participate in practice this week, with some splitting of the first offense reps with Kellen Clemens until everyone can assess where Sanchez is physically.
"Clearly, if Mark’s going to be playing, I want him to get the majority of the snaps, just like I would if Kellen was going to be playing," Ryan said, adding that if healthy, Sanchez is the starter: "If we think he’s ready to go, he’ll be in there."
Here are some other topics Ryan addressed today:
The coach had words of praise for the veteran safety, who returned to the starting lineup in a three-safety sub package along with Eric Smith and Jim Leonhard tailored for the Bucs’ offense.
"I knew going in that to open the game I wanted to get that three-safety look and match Kerry up on Kellen Winslow," Rex said. "That’s why I knew he’d be starting but I wasn’t going to tell everybody that Eric would be starting as well. As the game went on, Kerry played more snaps than Eric."
And Rhodes, said Ryan, played those snaps successfully.
"Kerry played his best game since I’ve been here. He was tremendous. He had a couple of big hits, a great play in the running game, and obviously the interception he made was an outstanding play," the coach said. "It almost looked like mentally and everything else that this was his best game."
Winslow was held to four catches for 26 yards, nothing longer than 8 yards, by Rhodes and the pass defense, which again is No. 1 in the league.
Which segues into a general riff on the Jets’ phenomenal "D" of late. Among all the No. 1 rankings the unit will have after tonight’s Arizona-San Francisco game is over, the Green & White are now and will in the morning be the NFL’s No. 1-ranked defense in total yards. You’ll recall last week that the Jets were No. 1 on Monday but No. 2 on Tuesday after Green Bay rose up to shut down Baltimore. But neither the Cards nor the Niners can catch the Jets this week.
"We’ve given up one third down in the last 25 attempts, two out of the last 38 third downs have been converted against us. So I think we’re playing OK on defense," Rex deadpanned. "I think our guys are more familiar with what we’ve been doing. I think their preparation has been great. Pretty much the plan’s in place. I thought we might be in a groove here defensively as the year went on, with people being familiar with our system. They’re understanding this is our defense now. It’s not Baltimore’s defense, it’s the New York Jets defense. And I think the guys are getting a great grasp of it."
Several noteworthy stats and charts have come out of Sunday’s game and out of the recent stretch of games to underscore Ryan’s view of the D. For instance, Tampa Bay’s six first downs were tied for the fourth-fewest in a game by an opponent in franchise history. (The two most recent low-FD games were 1997 against the Buccaneers in the Meadowlands, a 31-0 rout, and on Christmas Eve 2000 in the 34-20 loss to Rex Ryan’s Ravens in Baltimore.
And the 124 yards allowed marked the third consecutive game the Jets defense has held an opponent to less than 200 yards. That’s only the third time in Jets annals that this has happened, with the other stingy stretches coming in 1971 and 1981. No Jets team did it four consecutive games.
But the chart I like has to do with TD-to-INT margin. We all know that quarterbacks are often measured by this handy gauge. But let’s turn it around and examine the defense’s’ INT-to-TD margin for the past three games, vs. Carolina, at Buffalo and at Tampa. The Jets have given up no touchdown passes in those three games while posting eight interceptions. So that’s a plus-8 margin.
That’s merely the best three-game stretch in franchise history. Here are the 10 Jets teams that posted plus-7’s over the years (Jets home games in CAPS):
Ryan said Bart Scott will still have some "restitution" to pay for his unnecessary-roughness penalty that gave the Bucs their first first down of the game and enabled them to get close enough for their only points on Connor Barth’s field goal to ruin the defense’s shutout bid. But Rex wasn’t saying exactly what the payback will be.
"That might be a private issue, but absolutely there’s going to be some ramifications for Bart," Ryan said. "I’ll just let him tell you. He’ll find out Wednesday. It’s good news/bad news for Bart. We’ve got a few things in mind for him."
Scott taped his weekly "Barking with Bart" segment with my partner, Eric Allen, during which he talked a little more about the background of the penalty. The show and EA’s blog will both be live on newyorkjets.com Tuesday.
Ryan was asked about giving his players off today the day after the 26-3 Tampa thumping. A number of players were at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center for treatment and to do running but there were no required corrections walkthrough or position meetings.
"They definitely earned it," Ryan said. "It was really warm out there [in Tampa], we were getting in late, and I just thought it was appropriate to give them a little rest. We’re going to have to play a physical game when the Atlanta Falcons come in here and we’ve got to be ready to roll."
If you want to hear Ryan’s conference call today, there will be audio (but no video) of the call available from the newyorkjets.com home page soon.
Tags: Bart Scott, Eric Smith, Kellen Clemens, Kerry Rhodes, Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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