After yet another woefully inept performance in a 49-19 loss to the Patriots at MetLife Stadium Thursday night, the best Ryan could do was offer a promise that his 4-7 Jets will give it all they've got the last five games of the season.
Asked if he's thinking about the playoffs after being handed one of the worst losses in his three-plus seasons as head coach, Ryan almost seemed at a loss for words about where the Jets go from here.
"I'm not thinking anything about that," he said. "We just have to play as good as we can. However good we can play, that's what we have to play and then we'll see what happens. We have five games left, and let's see how good we possibly can play and how good we can coach. I can promise you we'll keep coaching and I can promise you we'll keep playing."
Yes, it has come to this: Ryan can only tell you that they'll give it their best shot and see what happens. Not quite the bluster we've been used to from the bombastic coach, who used to guarantee Super Bowl appearances on what seemed like a weekly basis in past years.
In fact, Ryan even faced a question about his own job security after this one. Asked if he believes he'll be back with the team in 2013, Ryan said: "I do, and I think our team will play a heck of a lot better. And I don't believe anybody will ask that question by the time the year's over. That's my personal opinion."
We'll see if that's Woody Johnson's opinion, too. If the losing continues, especially with a soft upcoming schedule, Ryan's job security might be a bigger issue than the coach believes.
Ryan's postgame defiance notwithstanding, the coach was remarkably quiet in the days leading up to Thursday night's game -- perhaps an indication he knew something like this could happen. Perhaps nothing this embarrassingly bad, but still, even by Ryan's standards, his pregame behavior was downright Belichickian in its say-nothing-to-rile-up-the-opponent approach.
No bulletin-board material from Ryan this time. Not even close. "We can only focus on ourselves and just find a way to punch it," he had said. "That's it. I'm not even worried about tweaking New England or anybody else. It's to the point where we have to focus on us."
Ryan called this one right. No need to stoke up the Patriots when you don't know how your own team will perform on any given day. Even after a solid road win over the Rams in which the Jets did just about everything right in getting to 4-6 and earning at least a puncher's chance to stay in the AFC wild-card chase, Ryan couldn't be sure which team would show up. Would it be the one that took the Patriots to overtime at Gillette Stadium last month? Or the one that got smacked at home by the 49ers and Dolphins this season?
The coach didn't need much time to figure out which it would be. Sorry, Rex. Same Old Jets.
"Obviously, that was a nightmare of a game, to say the least," he said. "We're about as wounded as you can possibly be, but we're not dead."
This was as bad a performance from his team as we've ever seen. And that includes some doozies, including a 45-3 loss to the Patriots in 2010 and blowout losses at home to the Dolphins and 49ers this season. The ineptitude was most pronounced in the second quarter, when the Jets allowed 35 unanswered points thanks to sloppy play in all three phases.
There were turnovers from Mark Sanchez, who had an interception deep in Patriots territory in the first quarter and a second-quarter fumble that was caused when he ran into teammate Brandon Moore's backside. The fumble was returned by Steve Gregory for a touchdown to give New England a 21-0 lead. And on the very next play, Joe Mc Knight's fumble on a kickoff return was returned by Julian Edelman for a TD and a 28-0 lead. Edelman added to the misery with a 56-yard touchdown reception to make it 35-0, a shocking result by any measure.
There are mathematical playoff possibilities that remain for the Jets, who don't face a team with a winning record in their final five games. But if they can't pick themselves up after this one, getting to the playoffs is just about hopeless.
Consider: They need to go 4-1 in their last five games just to get to 8-8. And even that probably wouldn't be enough to get into the tournament, not with so many teams competing for two wild-card spots.
The Jets simply haven't proven they're good enough. They've beaten only one team -- the Colts -- that currently has a winning record. Including Thursday night's loss, they're 1-6 against teams with winning records.
Probably a good thing Ryan wasn't full of bluster. Why bother when you have a team that isn't capable of playing into January?