Sep 22, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan on the sideline during the third quarter against the Chicago Bears at MetLife Stadium. Chicago Bears won 27-19. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
At the quarter post in the 2014 season, the New York Jets are 1-3. The Jets have lost three in a row, been IN each of the games, yet are in last place in the AFC East. The one consolation is that the Jets are only one game behind in the race, thanks to the mediocrity of the division. Rex reflected on that when he met with the media yesterday:
Yeah, I think when you look at us, well it’s easy for me to say, ‘Well don’t look at the standings’. Yeah because we are at the bottom of it. To me it is early, and we just have to take care of our business. We have to find ways to win or it’s not going to matter. So, we know that is the urgency that we are feeling. We have to find ways to win and regardless of who is doing what, you almost don’t even pay attention to it. We just know that we have to improve as a team. With that said, obviously we watched Kansas City handle New England (joking).
Aug 4, 2014; Cortland, NY, USA; New York Jets defensive endMuhammad Wilkerson
(96) speaks with the media following training camp at SUNY Cortland. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports
Coach Ryan talked about what is keeping the defense from becoming great:
Well I think there is a couple of things. There is a couple of factors that we definitely have to get better in. Obviously, the red zone defense. The good news is we are getting them to third down which is where you want them, and we are not finishing. So that’s big. We have to start getting takeaways, and then when you are talking about those backed up things, man, play to the strength of our team. We are finally getting momentum, we have to pin that team down there, and you’re right, we have given up some big drives. During the course of the game we are doing some really good things, but we are not being a complete defense. And I am not saying we are always going to shut people out, but certainly that’s the goal. You try to eliminate your opponent’s success, period. That, and we are giving up too many big plays, so we have given up some in coverages where you think we have a guy doubled, and we give up an 80-yard touchdown, a 60-yard touchdown. We have to stop doing those things, obviously. When we do that, I believe that now we are going to start becoming a much better defense.
Sep 28, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterbackGeno Smith
(7) reacts on the field against the Detroit Lions during the second half at MetLife Stadium. The Lions won 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan does believe that Michael Vick is an effective influence on Geno Smith:
Again, Geno, I want (him) to be confident in his abilities. There is no reason why he shouldn’t be. To have the presence of a Mike Vick on this football team is a good thing. It also is a thing, where we all know, we all recognize that Mike Vick can play. There is no question about that. But, he was brought in here to not just mentor Geno Smith but to push Geno Smith. And to push himself and to push his teammates, and I think Mike did that, he has done that so far.
I do believe that Rex Ryan would pull Geno Smith if he felt it would give the Jets the best chance to win. He knows what Michael Vick can do. He does, as do I, believe that Smith gives the Jets the best chance to win. There are a lot of elements involved in the Jets’ performance, not just the quarterback.
November 18, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers (17) during the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
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Rex Ryan has always had a healthy respect for Phillip Rivers:
Philip Rivers has always been a great quarterback. When they had more wins than anyone in the AFC my first year he was (and) he is a great quarterback. He has always been. It’s a different offense, you are not seeing quiet the vertical passing game like you have seen maybe out of Norv Turner. They are not pushing it down the field as much. Even though they had some deep shots this past week. But, he is getting the ball out of his hand quick, he is smart, he is competitive, he is tougher then heck, so he has always had those traits. But, he has been a great player this year, last year, the year before, as long as he has been playing, he is a great player.
This is a big one on Sunday, as we talked about earlier today. Despite Rex Ryan being and sounding relaxed, he knows it. The Jets season has a defining moment on Sunday. Rex Ryan will have the team ready for battle.