Ryan says struggling Jets 'desperate' for win
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP)
Rex Ryan is tired of walking off the field angry and without a victory.
The New York Jets coach has gone through three-game skids before. Five of them, in fact, including two during his first year in 2009 - en route to the AFC championship game. His team turned things around back then, but Ryan knows things need to change in a hurry this time around.
The Jets (3-6) last won on Oct. 14 against Indianapolis - more than a month ago. Seems even longer, though, to Ryan.
''Forever, that's how long it feels,'' Ryan said Friday. ''Each week, you go in there, you feel confident and then we haven't got it done. It's frustrating and all that. Obviously, we expect a win each week. You put everything you have into it and when you fall short, it's terrible.''
New York is in last place in the AFC East and could see its fading playoff hopes take a serious hit if the Jets lose to the Rams (3-5-1), who haven't won since beating Arizona on Oct. 4. After facing the Rams, the Jets play the division-leading Patriots on Thanksgiving night.
''We have to get a win,'' Ryan said. ''We need a win desperately. Not just, we need a win like every other team. No, we need one. We're desperate for a win. Clearly, if you have goals, as any team would have goals to make the playoffs and all that stuff, then we have no choice. We have to win.
''There's no tomorrow. We need to win.''
This is the Jets' worst start since they opened 1-8 in 2007 under Eric Mangini, en route to a 4-12 season. A victory Sunday, though, would put New York at 4-6 - just as the Jets were in 2009 before winning five of their last six and squeaking into the playoffs and going on an impressive postseason run that ended in the AFC title game in Indianapolis.
''We've been down that road before,'' Ryan said. ''That's what we're hoping for right now, that after this week, get that fourth win, get to 4-6 and let's see what happens.''
Ryan and his players are trying to remain positive despite the growing sentiment outside the facility that this season is about to spiral out of control.
''For us,'' cornerback Antonio Cromartie said, ''we have to win.''
A victory would give the Jets the same record as Miami and Buffalo in the AFC East, behind the Patriots, who have an intriguing matchup Sunday at home against Andrew Luck and the Colts. A win by Indianapolis would then set up an opportunity for New York to host New England next Thursday night and move within a game of the division leaders.
None of the Jets' remaining five opponents after the Rams and Patriots - Arizona (4-5), Jacksonville (1-8), Tennessee (4-6), San Diego (4-5) and Buffalo (4-6) - currently have winning records. And that is what is motivating the Jets to put it all together in St. Louis to give them at least a chance at salvaging their season.
''I think the biggest thing for us, we just have to make sure when it's time, when we can get off the field on third down, we have to get off the field defensively,'' Cromartie said. ''When there's a chance to make a play, either get an interception or there's a ball on the ground, we have to make sure we cover the ball to try to get a ball back to our offense anytime it's possible. So they can at least have an opportunity to try to get the ball into the end zone (or) get us a field goal.''
The problem is the Jets have given very little indication lately that they're much better than a 3-6 team with lots of issues. They've been outscored 58-16 in their last two games.
''We've had plenty of opportunities to score a lot more points, and we have to do that,'' general manager Mike Tannenbaum said during a radio interview with 660 WFAN. ''I'm sick being 3-6.''
Much of the criticism has fallen on Tannenbaum, who has been blamed for not putting together a winning roster with adequate depth and skill at key positions. Others have blamed quarterback Mark Sanchez, who is struggling through a rough stretch and not taken the expected leap in his fourth season.
Even backup quarterback Tim Tebow has taken some shots, being called ''terrible'' by an unnamed player in a newspaper report with other anonymous members of the team saying he hasn't developed into a serious threat to Sanchez as the starter.
Ryan is also a common target lately after being the toast of the town during his first two seasons in New York. The coach boasted about someday winning Super Bowls and meeting the president, but he has toned down his bravado the past two years while also continuing to support his players and insisting his locker room is as strong as ever.
Ryan has rubbed many outside the organization the wrong way with his confident approach, including current 49ers running back Brandon Jacobs, who got into an argument with the coach on the field last season while with the Giants. But even Jacobs thinks Ryan might be getting a raw deal for what's going wrong with the Jets.
''Rex Ryan is a really great coach,'' Jacobs said at 49ers practice. ''I'm sorry he's going through what he's going through in New York. Guys love him. You can't give up on your team. You can't give up on your coach.''
And for the Jets, as desperate as they may be, they refuse to give up on this season. Not yet.
''I have faith that these guys can turn it around and we just have to keep fighting and don't question your preparation,'' Sanchez said. ''If you have something that you know it's going to help us, work. Don't stop watching film, watch more. Don't stop throwing routes after practice, do more. It'll turn.''
NOTES: Rams C Rob Turner, who spent his first five seasons in New York, called the Jets ''the Chicago Cubs of football'' - a shot at both franchises' long stretches without a championship - on Thursday. Ryan, always fond of Turner, laughed off the comments, saying: ''I expect that the double-play combination of Tinker to Evers to Chance is going to show up on Sunday in St. Louis. I'm just going to throw it out there.'' Ryan said it was ''interesting'' Turner would say that, and added: ''Either way, we're bringing our mitts and here we come. If they want to play two, that's fine also with us.'' ... Tebow was asked if he likes playing in open-air stadiums or domes, such as the Rams' Edward Jones Dome. ''I prefer grass,'' he said. ''I prefer playing in elements and grass. I feel like that's how football should be played. It really doesn't bother me too much.''
AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley in Santa Clara, Calif., contributed to this report.
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