The New York Jets aren’t the easy team to figure out at the moment. Their offense looked impotent during losses to the Patriots and Dolphins; then the Jets played a complete game during a win over the Steelers; then most recently, the Jets hang 34 points on the Bears but the defense disappears and the Jets fall, 38-34. Nevertheless, Rex Ryan’s team is back in the playoffs as the No. 6 seed.
Ryan joined ESPN Radio in New York to talk about the Jets’ Week 16 loss to the Bears, the decision to go for it on 4th and 3 during the third quarter, his steadfast belief that the defense will still play better than it has, how the defense needs to get back to fundamentals more than anything else, how he’d still much rather play at home during the playoffs (not happening) than on the road even though they’ve played much better away from the Meadowlands, and how his team is still extremely confident despite all the ups and downs they’ve faced this season.
On his decision to go for it on 4th and 3 during the third quarter:
“Obviously it looks like a huge mistake now, but we studied it up, we thought we had it up, we got exactly what we wanted as far as the group out on the field, we thought it was as simple as pitch and catch but the thing is we never executed it and that’s what happened there and that’s why we kind of rolled the dice. It just never worked in our favor obviously.”
On him still believing that his defense can and will get better:
“Well no I think we can definitely make it better, from the front end, the backers, to the back end. We weren’t getting off blocks, that’s not how we play run defense. Our pad level was high, we’ve got to get our pads back down, and we’ve got to start getting extension and ripping off blocks. I always call it walking off blocks; you shed a guy, but that’s all you do, you won’t get your body in position to make tackles and that’s really what was happening. Poor tackling, and our inability to get off blocks and shed blocks like we normally do, we weren’t as good at.”
On how his defensive play calling strategy is altered when his defense isn’t at its best doing the fundamentals like shedding blocks:
“A lot of things will affect that. Like, can you hold up in the back end? You want to get pressure on the quarterback and all that, but what are you willing to risk? Those are things that go into it. As far as the ability to just get off blocks and things like that, that comes from, I mean, this is what we do every single day, and the fact that we didn’t put that on tape this week, that’s what we’ve got to fix. As far as the other part, playing the deep ball and all those other things, we obviously need a ton of work at this week as well.”
On if he plans to play starters more than he might otherwise next week so that they can work on improving prior to the playoffs:
“Well, here’s the tough thing: this is not a preseason game by any stretch. So you’re trying to win, but you’re also trying to make sure you’re healthy for the playoffs. We’re already in so it’s a fine line, but it’s not like there can be wholesale substitutions. So there’s going to be a lot of guys playing, starters playing, things like that. I just want our guys to get back to the fundamentals of what we’ve taught since training camp and lean on that, lean on your technique, lean on those things that you know how to do, and rely on that and some standards we have on defense – flying to the ball, shedding blocks, not walking off blocks, and being a good tackling team. That’s what this thing is based on. It’s not just about scheme and that kind of stuff.”
On playing on the road in the playoffs and if that might be preferable considering how well they’ve played away from the Meadowlands:
“No, I’d much rather play at home, the fans are great. The numbers may be what they are, you know, with wins and losses, but it’s a huge advantage to be at home, there’s no question about it. That’s just like this week – we have our last game at home and we want to win this game as much for because we want to send them home with a victory and let them know how much we appreciate them and things like that. But there’s no question I’d much rather be at home.”
On how confident his team may or may not be after all the ups and downs of the season:
“Well right now we’re very confident. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. We’re confident that we can beat you with our offense, we can beat you with our defense, and we can beat you with our special teams. And I don’t know how many teams can really say that. We’ve done it. We’ve beat teams when the defense has kind of had to carry the day; same thing with the special teams; and same thing with our offense. So that’s what gives me confidence and gives our team confidence. Playoff time you’ve got to be hitting on all cylinders, and that’s what the mission is…”