Jets winning despite plenty of distractions

The New York Jets are getting pretty good at dealing with

distractions.

The national spotlight of a reality show. Darrelle Revis’

high-profile holdout. Key injuries. An NFL investigation for their

treatment of a television reporter. The drunken-driving arrest of

Braylon Edwards.

The Jets have managed to shove all that aside and stand tied

atop the AFC East at 2-1 after a 31-23 victory over the Miami

Dolphins on Sunday night. Their two divisional wins match the

number they had all last season on their way to the AFC

championship game.

”I mean, that’s a resilient team now,” coach Rex Ryan said

Monday.

After all, this is the same bunch that has been compared lately

to a frat house, a group of unruly jocks who don’t know how to

behave on or off the field. Much of it has been the result of

mistakes in judgment, and many in the media have pointed to the

brash and unapologetic Ryan as the force behind the ”Animal

House” behavior.

”That embarrasses me a little bit,” Ryan said. ”I think part

of it is just because my personality’s a little different. Maybe

from afar, people can judge it that way.”

Ryan is different, no doubt. When’s the last team you saw a

coach douse a player with a Gatorade bath after a win, as Ryan did

with Jason Taylor in the former Dolphins star’s return to

Miami?

”I was trying to go for the dump and I think somebody else was

going for the pour,” said Ryan, who was assisted by Steve Yarnell,

the team’s director of security. ”We ended up about knocking out

Jason.”

Ryan’s this-is-me approach is refreshing to many and agitating

to others. The problem for the Jets is that every move they’ve made

has been magnified, thanks in large part to the team’s appearance

on HBO’s ”Hard Knocks” this summer.

”I think one of the reasons I did ‘Hard Knocks’ is I wanted

people to see the men that we have on our football team,” Ryan

said. ”You know, I’m not saying we’re perfect by any stretch of

the imagination, but we do try to be perfect off the field.”

Edwards’ arrest for having a blood alcohol level twice the legal

limit in Manhattan last week was a huge blow to that quest. The

Jets came under lots more criticism when they decided to bench the

star wide receiver for one quarter rather than the entire game.

Tony Dungy, Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels were among the

many in the media who lit into the Jets for not making more of an

example of Edwards.

Ryan did it his way – as usual.

”I don’t care,” he said of Dungy saying Edwards should have

sat all game. ”Guys, how many shots do I take? Please. That was a

jab.”

The fact is, the Jets could have benched Edwards and risked the

players union filing a complaint. But, they followed precedent and

did what every other NFL team in the past two years has done in a

similar situation: They played their player.

”It was embarrassing to me that we had an arrest,” Ryan said.

”You know, there’s no question. I’m not picking on Braylon. The

other thing is, the guys know that I support them. We’re not going

to turn our back on players.”

Which is perhaps part of the reason the Jets are where they are

during this early junction of the season.

”You’re going to have distractions each and every week, even if

they’re not distractions that are in the paper or on TV,”

linebacker Bryan Thomas said. ”That’s just being a good football

team. The guys come together and support one another and just try

to overcome those distractions. Good teams overcome it.”

Just as the Jets did a week ago, when they turned things around

offensively after a brutal performance against Baltimore and beat

New England. Meanwhile, the team was being investigated for how it

treated TV Azteca reporter Ines Sainz in the locker room and at

practice.

Then, New York dealt with Edwards’ arrest last week and the

media crush that followed. There was also the fact they would be

without Revis, who strained his left hamstring, on top of not

having Calvin Pace (broken right foot) and Kris Jenkins, who’s out

for the year with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left

knee.

”It’s a job for us,” running back LaDainian Tomlinson said.

”When we step out on the field, we don’t even think about anything

else. That includes during practice.”

The Jets sweated out their win in Miami, with their once-feared

defense playing mediocre – especially a secondary that allowed 363

yards passing – and needing to be picked up by suddenly sizzling

quarterback Mark Sanchez and the offense.

”It was a great team effort,” said Ryan, whose defense allowed

an uncharacteristically high 436 net yards. ”But, yeah, my pride’s

a little hurt. No question about it.”

The fact that the Jets recognize they’re flawed has them

convinced there will be no letdown next Sunday at winless

Buffalo.

”We need to keep building from here,” safety Eric Smith said.

”We can’t overlook them, like we’ve accomplished something so

far.”