With odds stacked, Jets look to restore pride
Mike Pettine read the quotes, word for word, and was
So, the New York Jets defensive coordinator printed out what San
Francisco’s Carlos Rogers said about the defense – that it appeared
to quit last Sunday – and put it up on a PowerPoint presentation
for all of his players to see.
No gasps. No yells. No cusses.
”When it comes from a peer,” Pettine said, ”you have to kind
of stop yourself.”
It’s Week 5 of the regular season and the Jets (2-2) are being
tested in a major way. They’re still in first place in the AFC
East, but injuries are stacking up. So are the criticisms, and the
odds, especially with undefeated Houston coming to town to play
Pettine says there was nothing on film to indicate the defense
quit in a 34-0 loss, but it was clear that something’s a little off
that needs fixing.
After all, their pride is at stake.
”I don’t think you can say anybody quit. I think we got worn
down,” Pettine said. ”The guys in the room know what it’s
supposed to look like.”
And, it’s not just the defense that failed last Sunday. Far from
it. The offense has hit the skids the past few weeks with
quarterback Mark Sanchez playing so poorly that many believe it
might be time for Tim Tebow to save the day – and the season.
”It could be one of the best things to happen to us all
season,” Tebow said after the blowout loss last Sunday.
He wasn’t brushing it off or trying to be just a team-first guy.
Tebow believes that maybe this adversity – including losing
cornerback Darrelle Revis and wide receiver Santonio Holmes to
season-ending injuries – can be turned into a positive.
”When you have defeats like this where you get beat up and you
get beaten in every phase, it really is something you can rally
behind and motivate you,” Tebow said. ”Different teams I have
been on with losses like this, I feel like we’ve rallied behind
because you don’t want to feel like that again. It kind of puts you
on edge a little bit.”
The Jets are a franchise that has lost a laundry list of locker
room leaders over the last few years, veterans who kept things
cohesive in the face of adversity: Thomas Jones, Alan Faneca,
Damien Woody, Shaun Ellis, LaDainian Tomlinson, Jim Leonhard and
Jerricho Cotchery, to name just a few.
Ryan stripped the captains’ ”C’s” from the jerseys after last
season, but insists there are still a number of players others lean
on. Bart Scott, Brandon Moore, Nick Mangold, Yeremiah Bell and Eric
Smith are among them. And, despite his increasingly tenuous job
security, Sanchez also is someone the team looks to.
”All the work and effort I’ve put in, they know how bad I want
it,” Sanchez said. ”When it doesn’t go right, I’m the first to
step up and say, `Hey man, that wasn’t my best and it wasn’t right.
I’ll get it right.’ They understand that and it’s my job to keep
pushing and leading.”
Most of the talk all week has centered on how complete a team
Houston is with its smothering defense and balanced offense, while
the Jets are in trouble. They opened as 7-point underdogs, but it
might as well have been 37 in the minds of some fans and media.
It’s really sort of like the scene from the movie ”Rocky IV,”
when Adrian yells at Rocky: ”You can’t win!”
Well, he defied the odds and went out and did, and now the Jets,
even this early in the season, face a critical point to change
their story line. They can still lose on Monday night and turn
their season around. But another blowout, and things will start
”I think, without question, our pride was hurt a little bit,”
Ryan said. ”Our football team, that’s not a typical New York Jets
game. Now, we’ve lost in the past, but we haven’t been beat like
Actually, as Ryan later pointed out, they have. Back in 2010,
when the Jets went to New England in a battle for first place in
the division – and the Patriots romped 45-3. New York got back up
and rebounded all the way to their second straight AFC championship
”That was probably the only game that I can remember that was
worse than that game,” Ryan said. ”We’re going to come back the
way we know how. We’re not covering up. We’re going to be throwing
The feistiness Ryan has always been known for still comes out,
but in smaller spurts now than they used to. He thrives in the role
of the underdog, and his teams have generally done the same.
But, he knows his team is up against the wall right now with key
players out and both sides of the ball having trouble establishing
themselves. So, Ryan and his coaching staff huddled for two days
and gave the players off so they could come up with some ways to
fix the mess. When offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo suggested
the offense and defense have a ”nosebleed Wednesday” – an extra
8-minute period of practice in which the base units go up against
each other – Ryan jumped at the chance.
”I challenged our guys to really compete against each other and
the only way to get better is when you go full-speed on each
other,” Ryan said. ”That’s what we got back to, and that’s what
The Jets talked about tackling after Ryan said during a radio
interview that his team missed 17 of them against the 49ers. There
were basic concepts discussed, such as players getting their bodies
in better position to actually take down an opposing runner and
also getting off blocks.
Fundamentals. Back to basics. Whatever you want to call it –
Ryan knew it needed to get done.
”I certainly don’t have all the answers,” he said. ”I’m just
trying to do what’s in the best interest of our football team. We
need to improve and I’m reaching out for ways to do that.”
NOTES: The Jets will honor former DE Mark Gastineau and WR
Wesley Walker by inducting them into their Ring of Honor on Monday
night. ”I’ll probably start crying,” said Gastineau, who made
headlines for his popular sack dances and high-profile romance with
actress Brigitte Nielsen during his playing days. Walker said he
supports Sanchez as the Jets’ quarterback, but wants to see more
from him. ”To become a premier quarterback, he has got to step
up,” Walker said. ”A big issue with leadership is can he perform
with the weapons he does have? I like Mark Sanchez, but he hasn’t
been that guy, as far as I’m concerned.” … ST coordinator Mike
Westhoff said newly signed CB Aaron Berry and FB Lex Hilliard will
have key roles on his unit.
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