Jets head coach Rex Ryan is seen during the first...

Jets head coach Rex Ryan is seen during the first half against the Buffalo Bills. (Sept. 22, 2013) Credit: Lee S. Weissman

David Harris knows what's coming next.

After all those penalties in the Jets' 27-20 grind-it-out, got-away-with-one win over the Bills Sunday, the push-ups are sure to follow.


Commit a penalty in practice and Rex Ryan will make you stop what you're doing and give him 10 right then and there. And it's not just the players. It's whoever is standing on the practice field whose paycheck has Woody Johnson's signature on it. Even Johnson himself.

"Every time we have a penalty in practice, the whole team has to do push-ups," Harris said after the win. "Players, trainers, front-office people, everybody."

After what he saw Sunday, when the Jets committed a staggering 20 penalties -- the most in a game since Ryan took over as coach in 2009 -- rest assured that he will be demanding push-ups at every turn.

And if the practices look anything like the Jets did against the Bills, the push-ups will seem never-ending. In fact, Ryan may want to have his players atone for all those penalties with a few pre-practice push-ups as well.

Credit the Jets for managing to win despite all the self-inflicted mistakes they made against the Bills, because it's not easy to win when you commit that many penalties. But Ryan knows he got away with one here, and that it can't happen with any regularity if this team expects to be any good. After a surprising 2-1 start that almost no one around the league anticipated, it will be a high priority for the coach to straighten it out ASAP.

Ryan's postgame mood was reflective of the problem. He began his news conference with an exaggerated smile after saying, "Obviously, we get a win. It's big, a divisional one, so really happy about that." Then he got to the penalties, and he looked as if he'd just seen a ghost.

"Twenty penalties? That's on my shoulder, no question about it," he said. "But I know we can get better. Just think how good we can be if we can eliminate the penalties and the turnovers. We overcame 20 penalties and overcame two turnovers to win a game."

Ryan should feel good about the fact that the Jets managed to beat a team that entered the game off a win over the Panthers last week -- yes, the same Panthers team that embarrassed the Giants, 38-0, on Sunday. He should feel good that after three weeks, he's only a game out of the division lead.

And he should feel especially good that he has a defense that is strong enough to overcome a mind-numbing number of penalties, many of them committed by that very same defense.

Cornerback Kyle Wilson, for instance, committed four penalties on three plays early in the fourth quarter, a sequence that prompted Ryan to briefly bench him to get him to chill out.

"Rex wanted me to cool off," Wilson said, declining to comment on the officiating. "That's all that was."

It was symptomatic of a team that looked way too undisciplined, and the problem stood out even more because Ryan's teams usually are among the least penalized in the league. But when the defense wasn't committing penalties, it was mostly dominating the Bills and rookie quarterback EJ Manuel.

The Jets limited Manuel's offense to 4-for-18 on third downs, gave up 120 net yards rushing to a team that boasts tailbacks C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson, and sacked Manuel eight times. In his previous two games, Manuel was sacked only once.

Someone asked rookie defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson, who had one sack, if Manuel was rattled. "I'll let you answer that one," Richardson said. When asked what he thought, he said, "How many times did he get sacked? Eight? Write it down."

Translation: You bet he was rattled. He was rattled by a defense that looks so promising that even its own mistakes couldn't ruin its good work through most of the game.

How good? "Defense wins championships," linebacker Calvin Pace said. "Hopefully it holds true for us, but we're just taking this one week at a time."

The coach knows things can't keep going like this, though.

"We have to get better," Ryan said. "We have to work at it. We have to get rid of these self-inflicted things. Yeah, I'm upset because of the 20 penalties and all that. I know we can get this fixed. We'll get it corrected."

Get ready for push-ups, fellas.


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