Back-to-back wins have turned the New York Jets into a viable
playoff contender, but the usually bold and boisterous Rex Ryan is
tempering any enthusiasm – for a change.
Ryan and the Jets will try to improve their postseason chances
by continuing to capitalize on a favorable schedule Monday night
when they visit the struggling Tennessee Titans.
It seemed inevitable that New York (6-7) would miss the playoffs
for the second straight time after a 49-19 home loss to New England
The Jets, though, have responded, albeit in less-than-convincing
With the remaining five games against opponents with losing
records, New York began the stretch with a 7-6 win over Arizona two
weeks ago before winning 17-10 at lowly Jacksonville in Week
The victories revived the Jets’ flagging season, putting them in
contention for at least the final playoff spot.
“I’m not going to guarantee a playoff spot,” a unusually
toned-down Ryan said. “I think part of that is, look, the fact that
we’re one game under .500, I think you’re probably not in the
Ryan may realize New York needs considerable help if it’s going
to reach the postseason. He’s also well aware of his team’s
offensive issues after the Jets totaled 559 yards – including 216
passing – over the last two games.
Still, the Jets’ remaining schedule is very friendly. After
facing the Titans (4-9), they’ll host San Diego (5-8) before
concluding the regular season at Buffalo (5-8).
“We just need to keep our head down and keep winning games,”
Ryan said. “We know the only way we can affect it is to win our
games and then we’ll see what somebody tells us.”
Mark Sanchez has continued to struggle despite less-than-stellar
competition. The Jets’ embattled quarterback is 22 of 40 for 208
yards with three interceptions and a fumble over the last two
He didn’t even throw the only touchdown pass in that stretch, as
third-stringer Greg McElroy had it against the Cardinals after
Sanchez’s last TD pass came in the final minutes against the
Patriots, a game remembered for him running into his lineman’s rear
end, causing a fumble that was returned for a score.
He should have a familiar target to throw to this week after the
Jets claimed Braylon Edwards off waivers from Seattle. The receiver
passed his physical and Ryan was optimistic about his chances to
Edwards was a member of the team that reached AFC championship
games in 2009 and ’10.
The outspoken Edwards already came to Sanchez’s defense on
Twitter last week after debate raged as to whether he or McElroy
“I played there,” Edwards wrote. “Blame the idiots calling
shots. Mark is a beast and will (prove) it when given a proper
With Sanchez struggling, New York will likely rely heavily on
the running game again after Shonn Greene and Bilal Powell combined
for 317 of the team’s 343 yards on the ground the past two
They may be in for another productive performance since
Tennessee allows an average of 127.0 rushing yards, tied for 23rd
in the league.
New York’s defense has been excellent the past two weeks against
the NFL’s two worst offenses and the Titans are only slightly
better, ranking 23rd with 331.9 yards per game.
Tennessee, though, does have Chris Johnson, just the eighth
player in NFL history to run for at least 1,000 yards in each of
his first five seasons.
“It’s real special to be amongst some elite company,” Johnson
said. “Just give God a lot of thanks being able to stay healthy all
the first five years I’ve been in the league and to be able to go
over a thousand yards each of those years.”
Johnson, however, has been held to 175 yards on 53 carries while
failing to reach the end zone during the Titans’ three-game slide.
He was held to 44 yards on 19 rushes in last week’s 27-23 loss at
Indianapolis after Tennessee blew a 20-7 halftime lead.
The Titans, who will miss the playoffs for a fourth straight
season, were dealt another blow when tight end Jared Cook was lost
for the year with a torn right rotator cuff. Cook is second on the
team in receptions (44) and third in yards (523).
Despite calls for improvement from owner Bud Adams, coach Mike
Munchak feels the Titans are headed in the right direction.
“That’s not my worry or my decision,” Munchak said. “My job is
to get these guys, we have to win football games. I get that. But I
think it’s all about, for me, is knowing that we’re heading in the
“I feel we’re doing that. I feel we’re not getting the wins, and
I get that. And that’s what I’ll be judged on when it’s all said
The Jets will have backup quarterback Tim Tebow active after he
missed the last three games with two broken ribs, but Ryan said
that Tebow will likely not run the wildcat or participate as the
punt protector on special teams.