Jets' Ryan to take bigger role on offense

BY foxsports • November 24, 2009

Rex Ryan is going on the offensive for the New York Jets. That means Mark Sanchez will be hearing a lot more from his head coach from now on. "I need to be more of the game manager than probably what I even realized before," Ryan said Monday. "There's been some people here that have been critical of that, and it's probably more accurate than I wanted to believe." Ryan has worked almost exclusively with the defense since becoming head coach in January, leaving the offense to coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and special teams to Mike Westhoff. Ryan now will take a greater role in the offense and try to be a more balanced head coach. "It's not a threatening deal or whatever," Ryan said. "It's just something that my role needs to be this, and I think that's my responsibility. I oversee the whole football team. I really need to start doing that." His No. 1 goal is to try to help Sanchez work on his ball security, something that has plagued the rookie all season. "That was my challenge to him today - is let's get better at protecting the football and understanding that sometimes it's OK to throw the football away," Ryan said. "You're not sure about that completion, then sometimes it's better just to throw the ball away and punt the football. That's what he has to understand." The Jets (4-6) have lost six of seven after a 31-14 defeat at New England on Sunday in which Sanchez threw four interceptions and lost a fumble. Sanchez has thrown 16 interceptions and lost three fumbles this season, but Ryan said he'll stick with the rookie as his starting quarterback. "I just think that he's not going to get better unless he gets out and plays," Ryan said. Ryan insisted his decision to get more involved on offense is not a slight to Schottenheimer or quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh. He said Schottenheimer will continue to run the offense. "I'm here to advance our plan," Ryan said, adding that he'll be "standing shoulder-to-shoulder" with Schottenheimer during practices and games to help Sanchez get a better grasp of what needs to be done. "I have to be demanding of that because right now, that's not getting done to my satisfaction or this football team's satisfaction," Ryan said. He said he'll continue making the defensive calls in the meantime, which caused someone to ask if he might then have too much on his plate. "There's always a lot on my plate," the hefty coach said without missing a beat. Sanchez has had lots to digest as the fifth overall draft pick out of Southern California in April. After making just 16 college starts, he has shown signs of being the franchise quarterback the organization still believes he can be. But Sanchez has also had some brutal performances this season. There was the four-turnover game at New Orleans in Week 4, and his five-interception game against Buffalo two weeks later. His 16 interceptions are second only to the 18 Chicago's Jay Cutler has thrown, and his 61.1 quarterback rating ranks above only Oakland's JaMarcus Russell and Cleveland's Derek Anderson - both of whom have been benched. "It's clearly not just Mark's fault," Ryan said. "There's a reason he was named the starter, that I thought he gave us the best opportunity to win, and I still feel that." The players have echoed their coach's comments by defending their young quarterback. "We still support Mark," wide receiver Braylon Edwards said. "Mark, he's still young, and he's going through some growing pains. But in order to help a rookie out, you need to be flawless. We're professionals, and we need to be the best at our positions to help him out. That's our fault, and that's where we're letting him down." Right tackle Damien Woody said the veteran players must figure out what they can do to help Sanchez improve. "We've been around the block and understand how it is," he said. "We like the kid. Is he making a ton of mistakes? Yeah, but we win as a team and lose as a team. Nobody's perfect in this locker room." NOTES: Ryan said CB Donald Strickland suffered a concussion when he was hit hard by Patriots tackle Mark LeVoir on a block. "His availability obviously will be in the doctors' hands," Ryan said. ... CB Dwight Lowery has a high ankle sprain, and Ryan said he's doubtful against Carolina on Sunday. Lito Sheppard could start in Lowery's place opposite Darrelle Revis.