The Jets will keep their “W” from Sunday night’s inspiring matchup with the Dallas Cowboys, and we don’t mean former President Bush. But head coach Rex Ryan isn’t kidding himself and wasn’t sugarcoating things for his players. Much work remains to be done now that the NFL regular season is under way.
“After watching the film again, we still won, so I think that’s the main thing,” Ryan said at today’s news conference at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. “It’s really what we thought it was. We had some good moments and then — whoof.
“Our correction period went a little longer than we normally do. With our scheme, our communication, whatever it may be, we’ve got to do a much better job. You’ve got to give Dallas credit — they gave us problems both schematically and with their personnel. Anytime you make those corrections and you found a way to win, it’s a good thing.”
How the game was viewed by Ryan and his coaches could be captured from the gameballs he announced he was giving out.
Two players on offense will receive the ceremonial oblate spheroids: RB LaDainian Tomlinson, who led the offense with 89 yards, 73 coming on six receptions, and WR Plaxico Burress, who returned to the game with a modest burst of four catches for 72 yards and his first touchdown in nearly three years.
Three balls go to special teamers: Joe McKnight and Isaiah Trufant for collaborating on the key blocked-punt TD return, and Nick Folk, who hit the game-winning 50-yard field goal and also finished strong with his last three kickoffs going for touchbacks.
And for the defense? None this time. How often does that happen to one of Rex’s prized units?
“Not too often,” he told reporters. “It’s good for that group to get all mad at me, mad at Pettine, mad at you guys. … When your defense is not consistent, when we don’t play to our standards, no gameballs.”
That’s not to say there weren’t some highlights. LB Bart Scott “played tremendous,” Ryan said. Darrelle Revis knew just what to do when Tony Romo marred his otherwise fine game by throwing the ball right into the middle of Revis Island. The D got stronger as the game went on, considering the Cowboys’ last five drives went fumble-two punts (one blocked)-interception-fumble to end the game.
A reporter theme today was if the Jets felt relying on fourth-quarter heroics, as they did last year and as they’ve now done for one game this year, was dangerous. Surely it is, and Ryan knows it. But he also knows that sometimes you need a few other clubs in your bag to pull out some victories, and he saw that in this game and again in the game video.
“I knew we had a lot of character and we had guts,” he said. “One thing you can say about this team is that we don’t lack fight. We may not win every game, but we have the belief that momentums coming our way. If we didn’t have that last night, there were several opportunities to let that game go. But we refused to let go of that rope.”
One Final Award
Ryan added one more gameball to his list as he left the podium: “That’s to me for winning the ‘Ryan Bowl’ again.” When Rex’s teams have played Rob’s teams the past four times, all four verdicts have gone to Rex — Ravens vs. Raiders in ’06 and ’08, Jets vs. Browns in ’10, and now Jets vs. Cowboys. Buddy Ryan, the twins’ dad, was at the stadium Sunday night and also was in Cleveland last year.
Ryan said he checks with all of his coordinators each week to decide “what’s in our best interests with the last spot or two spots on the roster.” This past week Mike Westhoff and Ryan agreed that special teams needed a dose of speed, so Trufant was signed from the practice squad and Mardy Gilyard was waived. “I thought of playing the young man from Dallas, Andrew [Sendejo],” Ryan said. “I kind of like that, letting a guy play against his former team and all that. But at the end of the day we went with speed.”
The Jets also went with a slight downsizing, since Trufant checks in at 5’8″ and 170 pounds — “That’s small by Summit’s standards,” said Ryan about his favorite North Jersey high school team.
Trufant, who was playing in his third game as a pro, said he got a number of calls and messages from well-wishers last night over his highlight-reel 18-yard blocked-punt TD return that tied the game up. “The funny thing,” he said, “is that a lot of people thought I was still with Philadelphia.”
Philly waived him and the Jets re-signed him the day of the Jets-Eagles preseason finale. Now it seems he’s making himself tougher to cut from the Green & White game plans.
“His best play wasn’t the touchdown. It was on a kick,” Ryan said. “He was the first guy down the field, he hits the wedge, three blockers are on him, then he goes and makes the tackle. He’s an amazing little guy. He just looks short to me but he doesn’t look small.”
Ryan noted that “We gave up a touchdown on the opening drive of the game and on the opening drive of the second half. That’s something we’re not accustomed to doing.” True enough: It’s only happened once before in Rex’s Jets tenure, at last year’s game in Detroit. The last time before the Lions that the Jets gave up two half-leading TD drives was in ’03 vs. New England.
Mark Sanchez had five completions of 25 yards or longer vs. the Cowboys. That’s the most 25-yarders in a game in his NFL career. Similarly, his 205 second-half passing yards were the most in any half in his career. And his 335 total passing yards were 1 yard shy of his career high of 336, also in that OT win over the Lions last year.
Ryan said the plan for the immediate future is to rotate Antonio Cromartie and Joe McKnight as the primary kickoff returner. … The coach displayed a long treatment list to reporters, significant of the physical nature of the game, but had no injuries to report.
Extra Exposure from NFLN
The Jets-Cowboys game will be shown Tuesday from 8-9:30 p.m. as part of NFL Network’s “Field Pass” schedule. NFLN calls it “NFL Replay,” which offers an exclusive look at the previous week’s games in a condensed format. With the use of bonus NFL Films and NFL Network footage, including never-before-seen camera angles and coaches’ commentary, combined with exclusive wired sound from the field, locker rooms and sidelines, viewers will experience the game like never before.
Tags: Isaiah Trufant, joe McKnight, LaDainian Tomlinson, Mark Sanchez, Nick Folk, Plaxico Burress, Rex Ryan, Rob Ryan
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