Less than 24 hours removed from their victory over the Carolina Panthers, the New York Jets took to the practice field Monday morning, beginning preparations for their Thursday night showdown against the Buffalo Bills at Toronto’s Rogers Centre.
“This week the preparation is critical,” said Ryan. “Mentally, you’ve got to make up for a few days. The thing about playing these Thursday night games (is) these are great games to win. They’re horrible to lose, but these are great games to win because it’s almost like you get another bye at the end of it. If you lose these games, it’s miserable because you’ve got all that time to wait before you get to play again.”
A second loss to the Buffalo Bills would be beyond miserable, it would be decimating. As they presently stand, the Jets are a game and a half out of the last wildcard spot (occupied by Jacksonville, who beat the Jets two weeks ago). With five games to go, the Jets still have a fighting shot to reach the postseason, but cannot afford a loss to the Bills.
Out of the five remaining games on the schedule, three can be classified as “winnable” (at Buffalo, at Tampa Bay, home vs. Atlanta). The Jets close out the season against Indianapolis and Cincinnati, both tough opponents.
Rex Ryan believes that the team can’t worry about playoff implications at this point and must focus on the game at hand.
“We’re not even looking at it,” said Ryan. “To have any chance at all, we have to take care of our business and that’s it. We put ourselves in this situation, but we’re not even at that stage of looking at and worrying about how other teams fare. We know we have to win. That’s all we’re focused on.”
Thursday, the Jets will look to build off their strong defensive performance against Carolina, in which they kept the Panthers out of the end zone all day, limiting them to only 179 yards of total offense.
Despite the defense’s dominating performance on Sunday, CB Darrelle Revis made it clear that the team isn’t gloating, they don’t have time to.
“It’s a short week this week,” said Revis, who intercepted Carolina QB Jake Delhomme twice on Sunday, bringing back one for a touchdown. “We’re done with it. We did what we had to do yesterday and now it’s a short week and we have to focus really fast. We have to get the game-plan down and we have to study for this week. The game comes Thursday and we have to do what we have to do.”
“It’s pretty intense, said QB Mark Sanchez. “This is huge turnaround for us and it’s quick. We have to make sure we don’t get caught up in the aftermath of last game. We’re excited about the win, but we need to move on. We can’t get too excited about it. We need to move on and prep like we do in a normal week which means extra preparation time, extra study time in the next couple of days and get ready for this next game.”
It’s been a while since Sanchez has played two games in five days. A long while.
“Probably early in high school,” recalled the rookie quarterback. “I played a JV game on a Thursday and ended up playing a varsity game on the Friday. That was kind of weird. This is a lot higher level than that. These guys are a lot better. I just really need to get ready. (It was) sophomore year, I think. I played JV and then started a varsity game. We did win. That was before I transferred high schools and we played two games.”
Cornerbacks Dwight Lowery (ankle) and Donald Strickland (head) sat out today’s practice and most likely will not be available for Thursday’s game against Buffalo. Ryan admitted that the short week really limits their chances of playing. “I know they’re trying to get back on the field, he said. “But this is a short week. Hopefully, we can see enough out of them. If they don’t practice, I don’t see how you can play them.” G Robert Turner (knee) was also absent from practice.
DE Shaun Ellis (knee), QB Mark Sanchez (knee), and OT D’Brickashaw Ferguson (hamstring) were all limited. Ryan said that Ferguson “tweaked” the hamstring during Sunday’s game, but it sounds like he should be ready to go on Thursday.
S Jim Leonhard (thumb), LB Calvin Pace (shoulder), and S Eric Smith (back) all participated in a full practice.
Homecoming for Rex
Jets head coach Rex Ryan will be on familiar turf for Thursday night’s game in Toronto. Ryan lived in the city for 12 years during his childhood with his mother and brothers Jim and Rob.
“It was kind of neat,” said Ryan. “First, when we moved out there I never knew how to skate. Some would argue I still can’t skate. You have to play hockey or you weren’t going to play any sport really, so I learned how to play hockey.”
“Toronto is a great town. I never thought I’d see the day where the NFL would be playing a game in Toronto. I certainly never envisioned myself coaching a team that would be playing in Toronto. It’s a great opportunity for us. It’s a great town, and, hopefully, we can convert some of those hockey fans to become New York Jets fans.”
Thursday’s game is slated for an 8:20 p.m. kickoff. The game will be televised on both the NFL Network and WPIX 11 for all you Cablevision customers out there.