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Jets Keep Their Focus for Carolina Ahead

Posted Dec 9, 2013

Victory Monday is a particular occurrence with the Jets over the years and around the NFL. Win a big game on Sunday, especially late in the season when everybody's dragging just a bit, and get Monday, or at least a good part of it, off.

But the Jets didn't roll that way today. Head coach Rex Ryan was going to give his players their lighter schedule, but right around the time he thought it might be better to bring everyone in to the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, the players told him they needed to be here.

"Watching the tape, I'm glad we brought the guys in," Rex said at his late afternoon news conference today. "We had some things to correct, especially on defense. Normally a big strength of ours is our gap integrity against the run. Obviously we had a couple of issues in that, and clearly moving forward, that has to be a strength, not a weakness."

Ryan was referring in particular to Marcel Reece's bust up the gut for a 63-yard touchdown before many fans had even gotten settled in their seats for the start of the second half.

"That's actually embarrassing any time you give up a run that far," the coach said. "Sometimes you can give up a pass that way, you feel bad about it. But it almost rips your heart out when you give up a run of that distance."

The run had several effects. It certainly tightened up a 20-3 game, although we never let the lead shrink below two scores. It also cost us our position as the NFL's No. 1 rushing defense, since we fell to No. 2 by 42 yards behind the new No. 1, which just happens to be the Carolina Panthers, our next opponent.

And that's another reason not to take any time off.

"I just know they're really active on defense," Ryan said. "That [Luke] Kuechly kid, he was a tackling machine coming out of Boston College and he's still a tackling machine. They're really active up front, doing a tremendous job. I did watch the New Orleans game [Sunday night's 31-13 Saints home win over the Panthers] and that's not indicative of how they play. They do a great job of playing team defense. We're certainly going to have our work cut out for us."

But that's where the classroom work comes in. Geno and his offensive teammates redoubled their studying efforts last week, as did rookie CB Dee Milliner, who Ryan said focused all week on getting better and better and as a result didn't give up a reception against the Raiders.

Of course, you could ask if the Jets really saw the seriousness of their situation last week, why didn't they perhaps figure that out a week or two or three before, before their three-game losing streak was born? Or maybe the players were concerned but it took them a few weeks to all get on the same page and iron out the kinks in the offensive and defensive meeting rooms.

Whatever it is, it sounds as if the players have pulled it together for whatever stretch run they can make. There will be plenty of time for Victory Mondays after this season's fate is determined.

Early Injury Watch

Ryan said his team came out of the Raiders game "pretty clean" injury-wise, perhaps in particular WRs Jeremy Kerley (elbow) and Santonio Holmes (foot/hamstring), who were among the catalysts for Geno Smith and the offense returning to its more productive side.

However, it could be another wait-and-see week for CB Antonio Cromartie, who Ryan said is undergoing the NFL's concussion protocol now after he told trainers after the game that he had headaches. Ryan wasn't sure where the concussion might have occurred, although a likely culprit was Cro's collision with Ed Reed on the 48-yard TD reception by Rod Streater. But Rex added that "it's a real positive sign that he's improved today from that point right after the game." One thing we know about Cro: If he can shake it off, he will.

Extra Points

Antonio Allen is the first Jet since Donald Dykes in 1979 to block two punts in one season. ... Tonight's guests on "Inside the Jets" from Grasshopper Off The Green in Morristown, NJ, are P Ryan Quigley and TE Chris Pantale.

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