Updated, 4:42 p.m. ET
The return to the Atlantic Health Jets Training Complex today brought a return of questions about where the Jets are headed in 2011. Rex Ryan addressed the events that, in the last eight days, turned his team from an optimistic 5-3 unit to a 5-5 team contemplating a tough road ahead to reach the playoffs for the third straight year on his watch.
“It’s rough, there’s no doubt,” the head coach said. “We were hoping this week we’d be at the top of the AFC, but we’re not. We’re not going to dwell on what’s behind us. We’re going to move forward. The seasons got six more games and we’re not going to get six wins by looking in our rearview mirror.”
Rex wasn’t guaranteeing or predicting. He had a quiet seriousness about him today as he pondered where the Jets are and where they might be going. He didn’t put a number on the Jets’ goal for wins the rest of the way but asked if five out of six would make the playoffs, he replied, “I would think so. And 11-5, you’re going to make the playoffs, I would think.
“But we have to beat Buffalo, period, end of conversation. That’s where our focus is going to be.”
The Bills were the last team the Jets faced when everything good was in front of them. Coming off their bye and heading to Orchard Park, N.Y., to play their then-hot rivals, the Jets pulled away with a strong second half to their 27-11 victory that lifted them to 5-3 and had them poised to play the Patriots for the division lead.
With that loss, Buffalo has fallen on hard times. And the Jets need to climb over their long-time division mates to keep hope alive. They have returned to work in a positive frame of mind, which is a start.
“In this game you don’t have time to feel sorry for yourself,” LB Bart Scott said. “You have to move on, and you have to get ready to play. We dealt ourselves a bad hand but we’re still in the game. And as long as you’re still in the game you have to perform. This is a good opportunity for us to get on the right track and try to go on a roll, because we have to. We can’t afford to lose any more games.”
“It’s a long season,” G Brandon Moore said. “We were written off when we had the three-game losing streak. It’s a long season. It has peaks, it has valleys. We’re in a valley right now and I know it sounds simple and cliché, but we’re going to have to get better until the end and win our next game. It’s as simple as that. I think our confidence is fine. Guys understand we have the playmakers in here, we have talent to win ballgames on a consistent level. We just have to be able to do it during the course of the week and prove it on Sundays.”
Ryan restated one of his and his team’s philosophies, that whatever has happened to this point, this is the time of year that his program is built for.
“It’s the way we do everything,” he said. “It’s the way we lift, the way we take care of our players — I’ve never been around a team that takes care its players as good we do. It’s the rest, the time I give them off during the bye week, which I always get criticized for. This is why we do what we do, to be better this time of year.
“That’s where we are. No excuses. We’ve earned that 5-5 record. But we’re focused on what’s in front of us. We’d better get it done and we’d better get it done in a hurry.”
As Ryan likes to say on Mondays, he provided some “bonus coverage” of the health of the Jets, bonus since he’s not required to submit an injury report until Wednesday before a Sunday game. He said that the three players who didn’t travel to Denver due to knee injuries — LaDainian Tomlinson, Jeremy Kerley and Brodney Pool — plus RB Shonn Greene, who injured his ribs early in the game, didn’t practice today.
“Those four were on the side,” he said. “I think, though, all of them will play. … I think everybody will play. We’ll see, obviously, as the week goes on. If we had to play today, I don’t know about that, but by Sunday I think our guys will be ready.”
Ryan was asked about G Matt Slauson, who also sat out.
“Slauson was on the side as well, but he’s a guard,” Ryan deadpanned. “That poor guy’s had a neck, an ankle, a knee … but he’ll play.”
Slauson said he got his sprain on the third play of the game.
“I came hobbling off and got a brace on it,” he said today. “The doctors were saying I was moving good enough to play, so I said OK.” He returned for the rest of the game and as a result was on the field for his fortuitous fumble-return TD, the Jets’ only six-pointer of the night, early in the third quarter.
Kerley was also optimistic about being available for the Bills.
“They haven’t said yet but I want to see myself at practice and get my confidence back right,” the rookie WR said. “Hopefully by Wednesday or Thursday I’ll be back.”
Ryan, in response to a question about injuries in the league at large this season, agreed it might be true that injuries are up but didn’t think it was applicable to the Jets.
“Right now we’re pretty healthy,” he said. “We’ve had some injuries but I think at this stage of the game we’re about as healthy as any team.”
In fact, the 18 players on last week’s injury report was the longest list Ryan’s had as Jets head coach, yet 14 of the 18 were listed as probable for the Broncos and all played.
One other player not at practice was WR Plaxico Burress, who a while back was given today and Tuesday off for personal reasons.
The Jets are practicing Monday through Wednesday and Friday this week only and will be home with their loved ones on Thanksgiving.
One Fine Day
At the top of his news conference, Ryan addressed the fine news surrounding his expletives directed at a fan during halftime at the Jets-Patriots game eight days ago.
“I got fined $75,000,” he said. “I received notice from Commissioner Goodell. I won’t appeal it. The commissioner’s got a tough enough job. I’m an NFL lifer. I know I represent the NFL and I represent the Jets. I’m accountable for my actions so I will not appeal it. I’m just moving forward to Buffalo.”
In response to a question, he said, “I just know it was a mistake and I’ve owned up to that mistake, there’s no question about it.”
He said before today he spoke with Goodell about the incident. What did he tell the Commish?
“Shoot, I just wanted to apologize to him,” Ryan said. “I never denied I didn’t make a mistake. I did.”
DeVito in Demand
DT Mike DeVito will be the guest of honor when my partner Eric Allen moderates this week’s Jets Chat, which will appear on newyorkjets.com beginning Tuesday around 4:30 p.m. ET. Fans can ask questions of DeVito live during the chat but we’ll also be accepting questions beginning now for DeVito. You can send your question as a comment to Randy’s Radar or via the Jets’ Twitter account.
DeVito also will be one of the Jets players featured on tonight’s “Inside the Jets.” The other player guest will be fellow Jets trenchman Nick Mangold, and the show will be hosted as always by Voice of the Jets Bob Wischusen. Come on out to the Grasshopper Off the Green bar/restaraurant in Morristown, N.J., from 7-8 p.m. to see the show in person or listen live to the proceedings on 1050 ESPN New York.
Tags: Bart Scott, Brandon Moore, Brodney Pool, Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos, Jeremy Kerley, LaDainian Tomlinson, Matt Slauson, Rex Ryan
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