Rex Ryan’s big talk and bold declarations set him up for the heavy criticism he’s taking as the New York Jets’ season continues to spiral.
The ever-confident coach still isn’t backing down.
“At the end of the day, I always say somebody is going to have egg on their face,” Ryan said Monday. “So far, it looks like me. But, I’m betting on me. I’m betting on our football team.”
While angry fans were calling into sports radio shows a day after a 24-22 loss to Jacksonville, Ryan was busy trying to figure out how to get his team out of the 1-5 slide that washed away a 3-0 start.
“It’s on me to find that answer,” Ryan said. “Trust me, I’m going to work to the best of my ability to find answers. Whatever it is, I believe we’ll find them. I know our task is hard, but it’s not impossible.”
Penalties, timeout mismanagement and mistakes on the field have plagued the Jets in the last several games.
“It’s like a comedy of errors, but it’s not funny,” Ryan quipped.
New York’s defense, which came in ranked No. 2 overall, failed to live up to its lofty status in the first half against Jacksonville by allowing 250 yards and 21 points.
“The most disappointing thing is you know your ability,” defensive lineman Sione Pouha said. “There is that poisonous word: potential. Not living up to it is probably the most hurtful thing.”
The Jets tightened up in the second half and didn’t give up a first down — until the Jaguars marched down the field for the winning field goal as time expired.
“This is four games, I guess, that we’ve lost basically on the last play of the game,” Ryan said. “They always say that you stay in the league long enough, it will even out. I certainly hope so, because it’s tough. But, I think it’s my responsibility to find a way for this football team to do the things to win the game at the end, that we’re celebrating.”
The changes have begun as Ryan waived special teams standout Ahmad Carroll and parted ways with defensive line coach Kerry Locklin. That could be just the beginning unless the team gets back to winning.
“We’re just hurting ourselves,” wide receiver Braylon Edwards said. “I hate to take credit away from these guys, but we’re losing games. We’re beating ourselves. We’re not losing to better teams or we’re not just getting beat. We’re beating ourselves.”
Things have gone so awry that Ryan made the right call near the end of the game, and it still didn’t go the Jets’ way. With Jacksonville at the Jets 14 and 2 minutes left, Ryan told his defense to let the Jaguars score because New York had no timeouts remaining — another big mistake after calling two unnecessarily.
Instead, Pouha and Marques Douglas took down Maurice Jones-Drew at the 10 while trying to knock the ball out of his hands. The Jets cleared the middle again on the next play, but Jones-Drew smartly took a knee at the 1 and set up Josh Scobee’s winning kick.
“We’re humbled, of course,” linebacker Bart Scott said. “Nobody expects anything out of us. We’ve just got to go about our business.”
After a hot start that had some dreaming of a deep postseason run, the Jets might now be alone in thinking of themselves of a playoff-caliber team.
“People outside the room don’t have to believe it, and that’s fine,” right tackle Damien Woody said. “Have we given them a reason to believe it? No. The only people that believe it are the guys in this locker room. There is one thing about believing and another thing to do it. That is what we have to do.”
The Jets also caught a break several hours after their game when New England blew a late lead and lost to Indianapolis. So, instead of being three games behind the AFC East-leading Patriots, they’re just two back with a matchup Sunday at Foxborough.
“I just kept thinking it’s a gift,” Woody said. “As far as things we’re trying to accomplish, there is a pulse. We’ve just got to collectively decide if we want to take advantage of this opportunity because it’s there. It’s not something’s that’s impossible. It’s tangible.”
Added Scott: “We’re on life support, and it ain’t over until it’s over.”
And that’s why Ryan still believes this season is not lost — yet.
“Again, it’s on me,” Ryan said. “I’m not pointing it at anybody else. I know where to look and it’s in the mirror. It starts with me, and I’ve got to get it fixed.”