Rex Ryan was subdued at this afternoon's news conference, and for good reason. Even though we've remained either at or a game above .500 all year and in the AFC playoff picture, Sunday's solid 37-14 defeat at Buffalo was a tough one for Rex and the players to wrap their heads around.
"A lot of things contribute to a poor performance like that," Ryan said.
The questions at the top of the newser at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center concerned QB Geno Smith, of course, and Rex spoke on what he and his staff can do to get Smith going, stop him from committing turnovers, if Geno could be benched ("Without question Geno's going to start this game" at Baltimore, he said), if he could lose snaps at practice, etc.
Reporter Charlie Frankel is handling the Geno/Rex angle in his story, which will be posted shortly.
But Ryan had several other topics preying on his mind as well that caused him to lower his voice, measure his words and set his jaw for the Ravens and the six remaining games on the schedule.
Deep Ball Blues: Nothing has helped reduce the steady diet of deep balls opposing QBs have dropped on the secondary. In the first three quarters, EJ Manuel hit three — a 34-yard "punt," as Rex called it, to T.J. Graham for the first TD, then later a 40-yarder to Graham and on the next play the 43-yard TD strike to Marquise Goodwin.
The Jets have yielded 33 pass plays of 20 yards this season. At that rate, opponents would have 53 for the season, the most since the '88 and '89 Jets gave up 57 and 62 such passes respectively.
Ryan said he's considering bringing into practice this week "the old Buddy Ryan drills," which he described generally as "Deep Ball Fridays, or Thursdays, or Wednesdays ... competition drills down the field."
As for something he alluded to in his postgame news conference, not playing as much man-to-man and more zone, he said today, "Certainly if we're not going to, I'm not going to tell the opponent that, but we'll look at everything."
Where Has Hill Gone?: WR Stephen Hill got off to a strong start capped by his three-catch, 108-yard, one-TD game against Buffalo in Game 3. Ever since, he's faded. In the last seven games he's had 31 balls targeted for him with 10 catches for 107 yards and no scores. This time vs. the Bills he went 0-for-7 on passes thrown his way. Some of those misses were off target. Still...
"The young man's nicked up a little bit. He's trying, I know the want-to's there. It's just that the production hasn't been there, for whatever reason," the coach said, adding that opponents "recognize him, they're playing him differently than maybe they would have when he came into the league. We've got to make sure he's well, get him out there, and see what happens.
"It's frustrating to him and all of us. We've been expecting bigger things from Stephen and quite honestly it hasn't happened."
Winters Skid: Brian Winters, the rookie LG, had his hands full with DT Kyle Williams, who had two sacks, including the strip that set up the Bills' second TD.
"He had his best game the game before against New Orleans. I thought he was really coming," Ryan said. "What happens sometimes, when you get beat, you've got to battle back, you've got to come back and rely on your technique, your fundamentals. He went away from that. He reverted back to some of his old habits. Obviously that wasn't a good thing. We've got to get him dialed back in.
"Sometimes that happens in a young player. That's not an excuse, but sometimes it happens and you've got to play your way through it."
Road Rut: The Rex Ryan formula for victories has flipped. In the first two playoff years, we were 9-7 at home and 11-5 on the road. The last two-plus seasons, the home mark is 13-8, the road is 6-15. This year, the difference is even starker: 4-1 at home, 1-4 on the road. And the Ravens threaten to make our road even steeper at their friendly M&T Bank Stadium confines.
Along with road tactics, fixes are needed to increase takeaways, decrease giveaways and get a more consistent pass rush instead of the one that sacked Manuel eight times at home in September and once for no yards Sunday. Whatever Rex and staff are drawing up for the specific problems, they're planning and hoping that road improvement and ultimately that elusive two-game winning streak will result.
"That old saying is you've got to bring your defense with you" for road games, Ryan said. "But you've got to bring a good team with you. We've just been an inconsistent team at this point."