FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Perhaps inspired by a Michael Jackson song after their latest lethargic performance, the Jets are preparing to take a hard look at the "Man in the Mirror" during these next few days.
"Guys just trying to find answers is the biggest thing in this locker room," right guard Brandon Moore said Monday. "I'm looking at myself and other guys are looking at themselves and trying to find the answer of, 'How can I do better?' Literally, that's what's going on. 'What can I do better to help this team be efficient on offense?' That's the mood of the team."
Their swagger is gone, replaced by a bit of uneasiness after successive losses to the Patriots (45-3) and Dolphins (10-6). They had better regain their confidence quickly with the gantlet in front of them.
With two hungry, aggressive defenses likely salivating for their crack at the Jets' struggling offense, Rex Ryan knows the unit that's totaled nine points in its last two games has to step up. So that's why he did something unusual Monday, watching that brutal footage of Sunday's game with members of the offensive staff.
He noticed one thing in particular about second-year quarterback Mark Sanchez, whom he thought about benching in the third quarter.
"In Mark's case, you can't be accurate with the football if you don't have proper footwork," Ryan said. "It's hard to throw the ball when you're not set and ready to go. Some of that has to do with the pressure you're getting. Some of it has to do with if you're sloppy with your footwork mechanics. The young man has got plenty of ability, but you have to play with more fundamentals."
When Sanchez has been accurate, his receivers haven't always come up with the grabs. A wide-open Santonio Holmes failed to catch what would've been an easy 17-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter Sunday and Jerricho Cotchery could've had a big catch-and-run in the fourth quarter if he hadn't dropped the pass.
That big-play offense the Jets should have is not materializing.
"It's a number of things," Cotchery said. "You just can't put your finger on one thing, and that's something we talked about. It's different guys, it's different situations, things happening bad at the wrong time. It's not just one guy, and the way to get that fixed is just every guy taking that necessary effort to get better throughout the week so we can put up points and win games on Sundays."
Even with their two-game swoon, the Jets (9-4) control their fate. Sure, their chances of winning the AFC East probably are finished because they're two games behind the Patriots (11-2) with three games left. However, they are tied with Baltimore atop the wild-card standings and hold a two-game advantage over Indianapolis, San Diego and Miami.
Still, they can't afford many more awful performances like the ones they've been turning in of late.
"I know we can get better and I believe we can get better," Ryan said. "This is the toughest task that we're going to have, maybe all season with this [Pittsburgh] defense. We're getting ready to play. It has to get better or we're going to get smoked again, and I don't think that will happen.
"We've got a lot of work to do," he added, "and a short time to get it fixed."