Florham Park, N.J.– The Jets suffered another brutal loss yesterday, but it only took about 15-20 minutes for the loss to be rendered virtually meaningless.
The defeat dropped the Jets to 10-5, but their chance to secure a playoff spot yesterday was still alive. After the loss the players and coaches gathered in the locker room to watch the ending of the Jacksonville-Washington game, knowing that a win by the Redskins would send them into the playoffs.
The Jaguars were down by seven with time running out before they drove down the field and tied the game up sending it to overtime. With the Jaguars winning the coin toss it seemed as if the Jets would need to lock up the last playoff spot by themselves with a win over Buffalo next week, but then David Garrard threw a costly interception deep in Jaguars territory giving the Redskins the opportunity to win the game with a field goal.
And that’s exactly what they did, as soon as that kick sailed through the uprights, the Jets sailed right into the playoffs.
A dejected Rex Ryan was in the middle of his post-game press conference, talking about the brutal nature of the loss, when he was asked if he still felt the Jets were a championship caliber team, to which he said, “Well, we better make the playoffs first. I think that would probably be a good thing or will be watching like everybody else.”
Then just about a minute later, as Ryan was answering a question about the struggles of his defense, an explosion of cheers coming roaring from the visitor’s locker room in Soldier Field.
Ryan stopped his answer short and said, “By the way, I think we’re in the playoffs. It ain’t the way I wanted it, but I’ll take it.”
“Woo, my goodness.” Ryan said breathing a giant sigh of relief, “I can’t even hide that fact guys, that was like great. ‘Now we’re going to have play everybody, we’re going to have to get in and we’re going to have to stay here tonight.’ But man oh man, We beat Pittsburgh last week, they got in, I’ll be honest I’d much rather have won it ourselves, but I’ll take it.”
So with the good news, will that change Ryan’s plans for next week?
“Yeah, I think so. We want to rest, we never earned the bye this season so this might be a way to get some guys that are banged up a little rest.” Ryan said, “We’ll really look at Mark Sanchez, possibly not playing him next week.”
“Well, you know, this isn’t my 18th year or anything so I need as many reps as possible.” Sanchez said, “But with the situation we’re in now (and) with my shoulder, we’re going to see how it reacts to the game then we’ll take it day-to-day and play it by ear, but I’m with coach whatever he thinks is going to best for me and the team so we’ll handle it that way.”
“No real timetable we’re just taking it day-to-day, but it is pretty sore. It’s a matter of playing and fighting through it, giving this team all I got.”
Today, Ryan’s tune changed a bit though as he didn’t seem quite as ready to announce that Sanchez would sit on Sunday against Buffalo.
“My first thinking was good, we’ll just rest him, but I’m not so sure.” Ryan said, “I don’t know if that’s best for him. We’re going to weigh it as the week goes on.”
“This is kind of tough. Here’s what I’m looking at. Obviously, his health is the number one priority. The fact that he is in such a groove right now, we have to look at it has the week goes on. That was my first thought, to just not even play him. Number one, I want to win this game. I think it’s important to win this game. If we can get to 11 wins, I think it’s only been done five times in the history of the franchise. That would be huge. You want to go in with a win. That’s really what we want to do. I want to win this game.” Ryan said, “Now, obviously, his health is the number one concern. It’s kind of fine line because he is hot right now. We can’t afford for him to take a dip. We need him to stay at this level. Those are things we’ll definitely consider. I don’t want to say 100 percent he’s out or he’s in, to be honest with you. That’s what I’m weighing right now.”
Might Sanchez only play for a half, or a limited amount of drives?
“That certainly will be discussed, for sure.” Ryan said, “I don’t want to say. I’m really not clear right now. We’re not even back at the facility. That’s definitely a thought.”
Ryan said Sanchez has been receiving treatment while they were stuck in Chicago and is supposedly doing well and expects to have more information when the team returns back to their own facilities.
No matter what the Jets decide to do with Sanchez this week, they will be playing the following week in the first round of the playoffs, most likely against the Chiefs, possibly against the Colts, and really that’s all Ryan cares about.
“Again guys, we wanted to win to get in there without question. We never got it done, but I am excited to get into the playoffs, because that’s what you do. In the regular season you try whatever you can to get in there, obviously you want a higher seed, but we’re in the tournament now.” Ryan said yesterday, “That’s two years in a row and that’s where you want to be. And I would have signed up for it at the beginning of the year, because we’re in the tournament and a lot of teams can’t say that.”
The loud-mouthed, gregarious and controversial coach is right, all that matters is the Jets reached the second season and their chance to really prove they belong starts in two weeks.
The phrase of ‘backing in to the playoffs,’ needs to be removed from everyone’s thoughts about these Jets. The idea is silly and laughable at best. Last year the Jets supposedly ‘backed in to the playoffs,’ by winning games, albeit against some teams resting players, but they ultimately proved they belonged by making it to the AFC Championship. Now the same is being said after the Jets lost.
But how can it be considered backing into the playoffs when the team can turn around and even ponder the thought of resting their starting quarterback going into the final week of the season?
Make no mistake about it, the Jets didn’t earn a playoff birth yesterday, but they did earn it in the previous 15 weeks of this NFL season.