3-5 Jets believe their season is far from lost
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- After spending their bye week in atypical fashion -- seeking warmth, food and hot showers in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy -- the Jets returned to their practice facility Monday with a clear vision.
The season is not lost, they said. The playoffs still are within reach.
And no one was happier to point that out than Rex Ryan.
"I know we're not where we want to be," the coach said. "We're not even close. We're not sniffing the playoffs. We're not sniffing anything right now. But I want to get there, man. I'm excited about the prospects in front of us."
A cross-country flight to Seattle awaits them Friday before they face an upstart Seahawks team that is 4-0 at home.
The Jets have only themselves to blame for their 3-5 record. They were humbled on their home field on Oct. 28 by the Dolphins, losing for the fourth time in the last five games to fall to 2-2 in the AFC East.
Ryan highlighted several issues that plagued their season's first half, none more glaring to him than their special-teams breakdowns and "poor" third-down and run defense. "Right now,'' he said, "we've earned that 3-5 record."
He addressed his players Monday the only way he knew how: using "blunt-force trauma." Players said Ryan's message was more about their specific failures "in all three phases" than their overall record.
"He's not going to hold back any punches because he cares about us," defensive lineman Mike DeVito said. "He wants us to get better, and the only way to do that is to be brutally honest."
The Jets are quick to admit that more work needs to be done, but safety Yeremiah Bell believes they "definitely have the resources" in house to turn the season around. Despite all of their blown leads and blown chances, several players said their situation is not as dire as it may seem.
"We're not as far behind in the season as our record might indicate," linebacker Aaron Maybin said. "At the same time, that's all lip service, because we have to go out there and we have to win games in order to put ourselves in position to be a playoff team, to be a team that's in a position to compete for a Super Bowl. To do that, we have to win."
Ryan wouldn't label Sunday's game against the 5-4 Seahawks a "must win." But it is, even if he won't say it.
"If we don't get in the playoffs, it's a boring season," safety LaRon Landry said as he detailed his only postseason appearance, the Redskins' 35-14 wild-card loss at Seattle during his rookie season of 2007.
"It's tough not getting in the playoffs. So that's my mind-set. Do everything in my willpower to get there."
The Jets' issues -- everything from running the football to defending the run to holding on to the football -- are correctable, they believe.
"It's all about if we want it fixed,'' Landry said. "Whatever we want to make it, man."
Ryan and his players still believe they can control their destiny. And as they see it, there's plenty of time to accomplish their playoff mission.
Said cornerback Antonio Cromartie: "The months of November and December, that's when most teams are made anyway."