With odds stacked, Jets look to restore pride

Mike Pettine read the quotes, word for word, and was

bothered.

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.

Just silence.

”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

Monday night.

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

getting dicey.

”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

that.”

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

game appearance.

”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

punches.”

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

we did.”

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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