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Rex Ryan upbeat about Jets' prospects

Jets head coach Rex Ryan reacts after a

Jets head coach Rex Ryan reacts after a play against the Oakland Raiders at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 7, 2014 in East Rutherford, N.J. Credit: Jim McIsaac

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Rex Ryan was full of optimism as he stood behind the lectern Monday, rattling off reasons to be encouraged by his work-in-progress Jets.

It was a departure from his surly disposition Sunday, when he harped on the missed opportunities in a season-opening 19-14 win over the Raiders.

"Quite honestly, you watch the tape, we dominated the game,'' he said Monday, referring to a 402-158 edge in total yards, including 212-25 on the ground.

Although the score didn't mirror the lopsided stat sheet, Ryan and his players believe they're on the verge of being a really good team as long as they eliminate mental mistakes.

"We're optimistic about what we can do,'' guard Willie Colon said. "We know we have a great offense. Geno [Smith] is going to get better, we're all going to get better.

"That's what motivates us. If we eliminate the penalties and eliminate the turnovers, the sky's the limit. We can do some good things.''

Ryan seemed most encouraged by the play of Smith, who completed 23 of 28 passes (82.1 percent) for 221 yards and a touchdown. He also threw an interception and lost a fumble inside the Raiders' 5-yard line.

"I don't know how many times that's happened,'' Ryan said of his quarterback's accuracy. "But I can't remember that happening with me being a head coach, anyway.

"Nobody's perfect. You make mistakes no matter how long you play the game. But he's learning. And the thing about Geno is, he's poised. Man, I see the arrow going up on him. I'm so encouraged by him.''

The Jets rattled rookie quarterback Derek Carr, and Chris Ivory (71-yard touchdown run) and Chris Johnson (13 carries, 68 yards) got their ground game going. But the Jets also committed 11 penalties for 105 yards and failed to record any takeaways, and if they do that again Sunday in Green Bay, it will be more difficult to overcome.

"The next week's going to be a battle, man,'' linebacker Calvin Pace said.

"That's a good team,'' added Colon, who committed three penalties. "They're always in the playoffs. We know their history, we know their resume. It's up to us to play top-notch ball.''

Ryan praised the play of his defense and his much-maligned secondary. But when asked if he's as confident about his secondary going up against the Packers, he smiled and said: "No, 'cause I haven't seen the tape yet. Aaron Rodgers can make anybody look bad.

"It's certainly going to be a different type of challenge. But I think whoever we'll have out there will play well.''

Smith acknowledged his mistakes and said the Jets have to improve their red-zone efficiency. He spoke of the Charles Woodson interception ("I think I may have been trusting my arm a little too much''), his fumble that Oakland recovered and his fourth-quarter sack that pushed the Jets out of field-goal range with a 13-7 lead.

But despite their miscues, Ryan & Co. feel good about where they can go -- if they allow themselves to get there.

"I think you take away what we can be, what we're capable of being,'' David Nelson said Sunday. "But it's a sobering fact that we also have to realize what we can do to ourselves.''

New York Sports