How low can the Jets go? That's a question Rex Ryan probably doesn't want to contemplate heading into Thursday night's game against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium.
Ryan does agree with one measurement of the Jets' current distress: Their five-game losing streak is the low point of his six-year tenure as head coach.
"Yeah, I would say so," Ryan said Monday, a day after a 31-17 home loss to Denver dropped the Jets to 1-5.
Of course, Ryan being Ryan, he then went right into his usual positivity mode.
"It's not by a lack of effort," he said. "We're trying everything we can. It just hasn't happened for us yet. But again, it's our first divisional opponent. From the outside, it may appear that, 'Oh, you guys are out of it.' No, that's not the case. We've just got to find ways to win. And obviously, we're still searching. There's no doubt.
"Playing at New England, on a short week, is probably not ideal. But they know what they're going to get. They're going to get our best shot and we're going to get theirs."
The Jets didn't have a lot of time to salve their physical and mental wounds from Sunday's loss before turning to the Patriots, who have won two straight. But even if Ryan was moving a little slower because of a lack of sleep, it didn't stop him from summoning his inner cheerleader.
"Hey, we might be counted out, but we're not dead," he said. "And we're going to fight our tails off. One thing about it: This group is a hard-working group and it's a resilient bunch and we're going to put it out there. We're going to compete . . . As I told our team: A team that doesn't quit is hard to beat. And we ain't quitting."
Still, Ryan said, "Any time you have the record we have, it's not going to be the happiest place to be, obviously."
To a man, the Jets say they are not out of it. (It would be newsworthy if they said otherwise.) But they also know where they stand.
"We've got a lot of issues," guard Willie Colon said, "and we've got to figure out a way to get it fixed fast."
Center Nick Mangold seemed to agree with the "low point" description.
"It's definitely up there," he said. "Having a five-game skid is not fun for anybody. It's definitely not what you expected. I've had some difficult times through the nine years. This would definitely be one of them."
Said Ryan: "There's no way I would have thought that we'd have the record that we have right now at the beginning of the year. But it is what it is. It's what we have, but I can't dwell on it. I just have to go forward and get ready to give our best effort and give our players the best chance to be successful.
"That's what you do as a coach, and that's certainly what I'm going to do."