- Jane McManus, Reporter & Columnist, espnW.com
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You expect incompletions in a driving rain, but the New York Jets started dropping balls last week in New England long before the raindrops started falling. Clyde Gates and Stephen Hill, starters, both contributed, sinking an offense that struggled to turn yards into points during a 13-10 loss to the division rival.
In that game, Gates was thrown eight balls and had two receptions for 42 yards, and no Jets receiver caught more than half the balls thrown his way. On Friday, Gates stood at his locker and talked about how the Jets move past those mistakes.
“I’ve been past it,” Gates said. “When something like that happens and you have a game like that, you’ve got to be itching to come out the following day or the following week, just to better yourself, focus better, see what you did wrong and fix it.”
According to Pro Football Focus, Gates had three drops on six catchable passes. But Jets coach Rex Ryan isn’t down on Gates.
“Is it going to be the last time he drops the football? No,” Ryan said. “The last time somebody else drops one? No. We believe in him, we know he can do it. I see him. He catches everything. The main thing is here’s a young man who knows how to run routes and catch the football. Go do it.“
Offensive lineman Willie Colon acknowledged that the wide receivers have been under a microscope, and tried to shift some of that pressure onto his own group for the upcoming Bills game on Sunday.
“That’s a prideful unit,” Colon said. “I know Santonio (Holmes) and those guys don’t want to be called out -- just like we don’t want to get called out if we have a bad game. We were kind of called out this week like 'hey the strength of their defense is up front.' If we want to win this game it lies on the offensive line. So our number has been called and we have to show up, so all eyes on us this Sunday.”
Jeremy Kerley will return this Sunday after missing the New England game because of a concussion suffered in the season-opening win against Tampa Bay. The slot receiver said he thought he could’ve helped the Jets last week, but that the drops have been overplayed.
“That’s just part of the game though, they blew that up,” Kerley said. “New England had almost the same amount of drops. It’s part of the game.”
Ryan seems to be sticking with his regulars. One reporter asked on Friday if Ryan might try to go to a newer receiver like Ryan Spadola, give him a chance considering other struggles. Ryan was blunt.
“I don’t think so,” Ryan said. “That’s about as honest as I can be I think.”
Colon said it’s not fair to blame all of the Jets' offensive struggles on the drops. There are other areas where the team needs to improve.
“The key for us right now is we’ve got to finish drives,” Colon said. “We’re not doing a good enough job in the red zone -- under four minutes we had a chance in that (New England) game. We got [to] finish games and we got to finish drives. We’ll march and we’ll get good yardage, but we get down to 35-and-in, we’ve got to get after defenses. And we’re stagnant right now, so that’s what’s hurting us. Our defense is playing lights-out, and they’re giving us chances, but if you get to the 35-plus and you’re not getting at least 3, and of course you want 7, If you’re not putting something on the board you’re hurting your percentage to win.“
Either way, Gates is ready to get back on the field and rewrite the narrative on Sunday.
“You can’t let it get to you where it shakes your confidence, because if you’re not confident on this level of football, then you’re going to go nowhere fast,” Gates said.
You expect incompletions in a driving rain, but the New York Jets started dropping balls last week in New England long before the raindrops started falling.