FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Two straight losses and a rainy fall day in Florham Park are sure to dampen the spirits of a team looking to, at best, finish the first quarter of its season at .500, right? Well try again, as the Jets turn the page to taming the firepower of the Detroit Lions on both sides of the ball this Sunday.
A 1-3 record would not be the end of the Jets season but such a record marks an ominous sign in the midst of an increasingly difficult schedule.
“Yes definitely, you don’t want to start off with the record of one and three. Obviously we want to win every single game. We feel as though if we (made) enough plays in our previous two, (that) we (had) a shot to win them,” said quarterback Geno Smith. “We have to work on moving forward. We have a tough team coming in with the Lions. We have to go out and battle, coming off a short week.”
The biggest re-occuring theme with the Jets this year is and has been in-game execution and closing the deal. Gang Green let the Raiders, with a rookie quarterback in his first career start, hang around for far too long in week one, failing to put away an opponent they controlled for the entire game.
In week two, they relinquished an 18-point lead after a scorching start at Lambeau Field as Aaron Rodgers found his rhythm in stride connecting with Jordy Nelson on a career day, just as the offense lost their stride, and penalties combined with ill-timed mishaps sank their chances at a 2-0 start.
On an extended week of practice to prepare for Monday Night Football, the Jets started the game facing an uphill battle after gifting an early two-touchdown advantage to the Bears (pick-six and muffed punt which resulted in a Cutler touchdown pass).
Injuries are apart of the game and inevitably every NFL team has one injury which could single-handedly change the course of a game whether in the game results or with lingering impacts.
This is the reality the Jets face at the present –
The Jets No. 1 wideout and guy that they brought in from Denver to be Geno Smith’s primary safety-blanket, Eric Decker is ailing with a bum hamstring. While their top corner, Dee Milliner has been limited since training camp with re-occuring quad injuries.
Regarding Decker, Ryan does not have any regrets taking the chance in testing out the receivers ailing hamstring against the Bears, pointing out that the team did not plan to play him on a full set of snaps on Monday.
Decker plans to practice tomorrow after being not practicing today, saying to reporters “I plan on being out there, I can’t make any promises.”
As far as their second-year corner Ryan said, “(Milliner) wasn’t good enough to practice, probably doesn’t look real good but we’ll have a few more days to see.”
Efficiency is key, and for the Jets a 4/12 (A: Green Bay) and 1/6 (H: Chicago) conversion rate the past two weeks in the red zone are not going to cut it. The ground and pound nature of the offense makes for one that can’t afford self-inflicted wounds in the manner that the Jets seem to grind games out.
“Obviously you don’t take sacks down there (in the red zone), above all else you don’t turn the ball over,” Ryan said. “Not taking anything away from our opponents, but we’re hurting ourselves.”
Touchdowns instead of field goals are huge in that it pits less pressure on the Jets Defense (#2 ranked – in total defense and #1 in rushing defense) staying on the field for longer periods of time as well as quicker turnaround from rest to action.
For the second-week in a row, Gang Green has been handed a gut-wrenching defeat but there is no progress without some form of struggle along the way, Mornhinweg alluded to.
“Knowing the outcome of course you would have done things differently,” he said. “I put a little too much on Geno’s plate, specifically in the red zone I just relied a little too much on him and I have to do a better job of helping him out.”
“It seems like every play there’s a new defense up there, new front, new pressure or a new coverage so it’s very difficult to zero in on the coverage,” said Lions Offensive Coordinator Joe Lombardi. “You know when you’re playing the Jets your not going to get a lot of sleep because of their defensive complexities.”
The rain rendered practice indoors today at the team’s facility. Ryan felt coming off of another difficult defeat that the action with his team ramped up and felt like a Friday practice on a normal week.
“We’re close I don’t think there’s any doubt, as far as breaking out I’m less concerned with that; I’m just focused on just getting a win,” said Ryan.
Willie Colon said after practice, that the team has “a checklist of things” they need to do better before they can become a great offense but feels they aren’t far from being one as a unit.
Facing the great challenge that the NFL’s best defense presents this Sunday, when asked would there be any consideration to playing Michael Vick if Geno continues to struggle, Mornhinweg responded: “Not quite at this moment. We’re right in the middle of developing a young quarterback, we’re going to go through some ups and downs but we have to motor through it all together.
“Geno’s going to be just fine. To be great in many cases, you have to go through some failures look at Monday night. Last year he had a great Monday night in Atlanta. The more cases in players experience turmoil the better they’ll be the next time around.”
C. Johnson (Full) – ankle, W. Colon (Limited) – calf, N. Mangold (Limited) – shoulder, M. Wilkerson (Limited) – knee, E. Decker (DNP) – hamstring, D. Milliner (DNP) – quad, D. Nelson (DNP) – illness
Dalton Freeman listed as limited, was the only player to leave practice today with injury getting caught up in pile during positional drills.
Ryan did note in case of emergency regarding Nick Mangold’s status that Willie Colon and Dakota Dozier besides the starting center can also snap the ball.
More praise for Suh and the Lions defensive line – When asked about similiarites as to what makes both the Lions and Jets fronts rank at the top of the league, Ryan said, “Sometimes stats don’t tell the full story,” and added the Texans into the equation, saying “When you have (J.J.) Watt and anyone else you’re probably pretty good.”
Defensive Coordinator Dennis Thurman said that the plan for the team this year is to keep Antonio Allen at Cornerback instead of safety, saying “Moving guys back and forth is where you get into trouble.”
According to NFL.com stats, Geno Smith is 19 for 34 for 145 yards and 4 INTs and 2 sacks on 1st down through three games of 2014 the NFL season.
For all the talk surrounding the Jets weakened secondary, don’t look now but Gang Green’s ranked No. 9 in pass defense giving up an average of 213.3 Yards Per Game.
Lions WR Calvin Johnson (ankle) misses practice for the second straight day, this will be a development to look out for as the week winds down into week four.