There was no rest for the weary in Florham Park today. Head coach Rex Ryan gave his troops the day off after yesterday's 30-21 loss in New England, but the team showed up for work anyway. Players were lifting weights, running, and studying film, refusing to take a break after three disappointing road losses.
"The one and only truly important thing is winning," said TE Dustin Keller. "We're up for anything and everything to get back on the right track."
Keller finished Sunday's loss with one catch for 7 yards after he entered the day averaging 4.5 receptions and 65 yards per game. He converted 13 first downs in the first three weeks of the season, including three on third down, but has not moved the chains in each of the last two weeks.
"It's very frustrating," said Keller. "We're a better offense than that. There has been a common theme in these games. We've started really slow and we haven't been consistent. There's nothing you can do about it now, except get on the right track for next week."
Consistency has been difficult to develop with the number of mistakes plaguing the offense through five weeks.
"It's the mental mistakes that are killing us," said C Nick Mangold. "Ten guys do the right thing, but if there's one guy that's not, that ruins the play. If we can clean those up, I think we're right where we want to be."
The return of Mangold was a breath of fresh air for an offense that had difficulty moving the ball and keeping QB Mark Sanchez clean. On Sunday, RB Shonn Greene rushed for a season-high 83 yards on 21 carries, including his second touchdown of the season. Sanchez was sacked twice and hit five times, down from two sacks and 10 QB hits in the loss to the Ravens.
Nonetheless, Mangold was not about to declare the offense healed. The good news is that the mental mistakes should be a quick fix.
"Definitely mush easier than physical mistakes," said Mangold. "If you're supposed to lift 50 pounds, and you can only lift 40, that's going to be a very difficult thing to fix. But if you're supposed to step right, and you step left, that's a very simple thing. Mental mistakes, while frustrating, are the better of the two mistakes."
Today, Rex Ryan said the offense "made strides" in yesterday's loss. There were no turnovers and a Greene's performance, and Sanchez completed over 60 percent of his passes. While the offense moved methodically in the right direction, the defense suffered a bruising day at the hands of the NFL's top offense.
New England RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis ran through the Jets, gaining a career-high 136 yards and scoring two touchdowns on 27 carries. It was the second time in three weeks that the Green & White have allowed a tailback to rush for over 100 yards, following closely the 171 yards by Oakland's Darren McFadden.
"Personally, there are a lot of things I could have done to be a little bit more effective," said DT Sione Pouha. "I need to do a better job of making sure my contributions to the defense are fulfilled. Every single man on the defense takes the same approach, making sure there are no stones unturned on their part."
Pouha stressed the importance for every man to take care of his own business, and teammate S Eric Smith agreed. Improving each individual piece in unison can make the entire machine more productive.
"I think we have some guys who may try to do things outside their job," said Smith. "It ends up leading to some bigger plays or bigger gains."
Today's message from the team was essentially the same throughout: Improvements are necessary, changes are not. The team will stay the course this week, but with an added intensity leading into Monday night's primetime matchup with the Miami Dolphins.
"There are a lot of cute titles for this game," Pouha said. "It's a home game, a Monday night game, a make-or-break game. But I think it's just going to have to be a Jets game. We'll all play our individual roles and make it happen."