FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Rex Ryan bristled as the questions about his diminished passing attack began to mount.
The suggestion that the Jets offense hasn't been as aggressive of late seemed to catch the head coach off guard -- and get under his skin.
"I'll take full responsibility that we haven't been as effective," Ryan said Wednesday, with a slight edge in his voice. "It's on me because we've been running the ball too much. I got you. I'll take it. I'm with you all the way.
" . . . When it works, it makes sense. When it doesn't, hey, we're running too much, not running enough. I get it."
Like every NFL quarterback, Geno Smith loves having the football in his hands. Unfortunately for him, he hasn't been asked to throw it as much lately. The Jets (5-6) attempted 29 passes, compared to 23 rushing plays, against the Bills in Week 12 and called 24 pass plays to 28 rushing attempts last week against the Ravens. Coincidentally, the Jets lost both games -- marking the first time they've fallen in back-to-back weeks this season.
Smith, who threw for more than 300 yards in his third NFL game, hasn't attempted more than 23 passes over the past three weeks. And though he's thrown as many 40-plus-yard passes (six) as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Tony Romo, Andrew Luck and Colin Kaepernick, Smith hasn't thrown for more than 200 yards since Week 7 against New England.
The last time he completed a 40-plus yard-pass was against the Saints in Week 9, a 44-yarder to Greg Salas. That was the last time the Jets won a game too.
Their reliance on the run has allowed opposing defenses to stack the box in recent weeks -- making it increasingly difficult for running backs Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell to gain yards on the ground. Smith agreed that stacking the box should, in theory, open up passing lanes for downfield throws.
"When you're throwing the ball down the field, it's not ever a high-percentage pass unless the guy's wide open," said Smith, who'll face a Dolphins defense on Sunday that is tied for sixth in the NFL in interceptions (14). "It takes a ton of precision. And, quite honestly, I haven't been as precise as I was in the first couple games."
Windy weather was a factor against the Bills and the Ravens. But the Jets' heavy dose of Wildcat, especially early on in Baltimore, seemed to be an indication that they trusted the ball in the hands of receiver Josh Cribbs and Powell instead of Smith.
"We're always trying to play to win. But with that being said, we have to protect the football," said Ryan. "To say it's in our best interest to throw 50 times, if that was the case, we'd throw it 50 times . . . What hurt us more then, was the fact that we couldn't sustain drives. We were 1-for-12 on third down. When you're not converting on third down it kills you."
Despite a decent start to his rookie campaign, Smith has just one touchdown and 10 interceptions in his past six games. Even worse, he's the first quarterback to complete fewer than 10 passes in three separate games since Tim Tebow with the Broncos in 2011.
But while Smith said the Jets haven't "shied away" from their passing attack, he repeatedly took responsibility for their wayward passing game.
"If I put it in some better spots for them," he said, "I think they'll come down with it."