It's only Week 3, yet so much is riding on this one game for the New York Jets.
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The Jets coach spent more time discussing Miami's offense than he did for the previous two opponents. He did so partially because of his team's unfamiliarity with first-year Dolphins coach Joe Philbin and his rookie quarterback, Ryan Tannehill. But Ryan also wanted his players to understand that any letdown in a game of this magnitude would not be tolerated.
He preached the importance of conditioning in preparation for Miami's no-huddle offense in the heat and humidity, and he went so far as to restructure his players' sleep and practice schedules to ensure they are well-rested.
"For him to spend that much time . . . it just shows you how important he knows this game is," linebacker Aaron Maybin said. "All that stuff was emphasized a lot more this week. We're pretty much in that mindset now where we're trying to attack every game like it's the Super Bowl."
The Jets got a big boost this week with the return of the NFL's best cornerback -- Darrelle Revis -- who practiced fully (and with contact) for the first time since suffering a concussion in their Week 1 win over Buffalo. But with tight end Dustin Keller ruled out for the second straight week because of a hamstring injury, the chemistry between quarterback Mark Sanchez and wide receiver Santonio Holmes likely will receive even more scrutiny.
In their last game in Miami, the Jets lost, 19-17, and Holmes was criticized for quitting on his team. After being targeted just once, Holmes erupted in an embarrassing scene and finished out the final drive on the bench. It was a brutal end for a team with playoff aspirations and exposed cracks in its foundation.
The Jets, who are 2-4 against Miami in the Rex Ryan era, hope to confuse Tannehill -- an agile, but relatively unknown quarterback -- with different looks and blitzes. They also plan to key in on running back Reggie Bush, who was named the AFC's Offensive Player of the Week.
"We know what it means," Revis assured reporters this week. " . . . The expectation is high for us."
The Friday before the Buffalo game, players were so "on point" in practice it was "kind of startling," Maybin admitted. But their focus waned in Week 2. This week, however, the Jets believe they're back on track.
"Not only do we need to send a message for what they're going to see the second time as well, but this is a game that could be a deciding factor in whether we make the playoffs," the linebacker said. "So knowing those things, it just kind of makes you turn up your attention to detail that much more."