Jets coach Rex Ryan has his players’ backs. Not only did he deny that his team quit, as San Francisco defensive back Carlos Rogers charged in a radio interview on Tuesday, but Ryan somehow managed to spin that damning allegation into a compliment to the Jets’ reputation.
Rogers, who returned a fumble by Santonio Holmes for a touchdown that gave the 49ers a 24-0 lead on their way to a 34-0 rout, made a litany of critical comments about the Jets:
“They just didn’t want to be out there…They don’t want to tackle…Them guys were ready to go to the showers.” You get the idea.
What Ryan chose to focus upon was the part where Rogers said, “That’s a Rex Ryan team. His defense plays throughout. That was the shocking point.”
Asked about Rogers’ comments, Ryan showed no anger. “Certainly, we didn’t play well,” Ryan said. “It’s obvious we didn’t play to [Rogers’] standards either. I think we have a reputation in this league as being a tremendous defense, and we didn’t play that way.
“But as far as us quitting, there’s no way. That wasn’t the case. We got beat. There’s no doubt about it, no two ways about it, and we talked about it. But I think it does show other teams expect a lot out of this defense, but obviously not any more than we expect of ourselves.”
Ryan suggested his team got fatigued while spending 36:56 on the field, giving up 245 rushing yards and 26 first downs. “I think we wore down a little at the end of the game, but there was no quit,” Ryan insisted. “You can look at that tape, and there’s no quit.”
At the same time, Ryan was hard-pressed to disagree with Rogers about the poor quality of the Jets’ play on defense no matter what the cause. “My team can’t play like this. That’s not who we are,” Ryan said. “I thought we got beat to the punch. San Francisco was more physical than we were, and that’s something we’re not accustomed to.”
Again, that was Ryan reinforcing his team’s tough defensive image rather than beating his players down after what really ranks as the worst defensive performance of his four-season tenure. Ryan noted the Jets still are tied for first in the AFC East with New England and Buffalo at 2-0, and he said expectations don’t change despite the loss for the season of cornerback Darrelle Revis and wide receiver Santonio Holmes the past two weeks because of serious injuries.
The schedule doesn’t do any favors for the Jets, who now must face on Monday night a Houston team regarded by many as the best in the NFL after four weeks of this season. “Well, I’d much rather play Summit High School than this team,” Ryan said. “They’re both aggressive on defense and have tremendous players across the board. They run the ball about as much as anybody in this league, maybe more so. But they do it with a different approach.
“San Francisco is a more gap-type scheme, power runs and things like that. This is your classic zone running team, and they run the ball about as good as anybody. We certainly have to play a heck of a lot better up front in particular against this football team.”
The 49ers weren’t the first team to destroy Ryan’s run defense, just the latest to do it after Buffalo and Miami. The tackling has been atrocious, and sometimes, that’s a matter of will as much as technique. But when asked why he expects his defense to improve, Ryan cited the character of his players.
“I will never question the character of the men in our locker room,” Ryan said firmly. “In fact, I’m leaning on that, and I believe wholeheartedly that we’re going to get the best that this team has…We’ve overcome things in the past. Does that guarantee we’ll do it this year? No, but I guarantee you the effort will be there.”