FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The standings may not reflect it, but Rex Ryan and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano believe the Jets' offense has improved recently.

The Jets have lost five of their past six games, and in three of them, they've been outscored by at least 21 points. Nevertheless, Sparano cited improvements in their running game, pass protection, coverage identifications and short-yardage and goal-line situations.

With a St. Louis showdown against former Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer on the horizon, Ryan maintains that he's happy with the job Sparano has done.

"I'm not happy with our results," Ryan said of the Jets' 3-6 record. "But to say I'm going to pin that on Tony -- there's no way. I see how he works."

Ryan was complimentary toward Schottenheimer, saying: "I'm looking forward to seeing the cat-and-mouse [game] between Schotty and our defense."

Wildcat confusionRemember when Ryan floated the possibility of using the Wildcat up to 25 times a game? Well, it turns out the Jets have used Tim Tebow in only "about eight true snaps" of the formation, Sparano said.

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Sparano said most people don't understand the definition of the offensive scheme and mistakenly assume Tebow ran the Wildcat at Florida. But he said the Dolphins ran the true Wildcat because running back Ronnie Brown wasn't a threat to pass.

"It's a little bit different here," Sparano said. "You have the element of pass with Tim."

Tebow has completed 5 of 6 passes for 40 yards.

Jet streams

Despite a published report in which anonymous teammates ripped Tebow, Ryan said, "We don't put muzzles on our guys." . . . WR Stephen Hill missed his second straight day of practice because of illness, but Ryan hopes he can play Sunday.