FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Even though Stephen Hill had a critical drop late in the fourth quarter of the Jets’ 29-26 overtime loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday, coach Rex Ryan was quite pleased with his rookie wide receiver’s performance up until that point.
“He was playing a terrific game. I mean he was really terrific,” Ryan said. “Some of the blocks that you’re not maybe necessarily going to see, he was knocking people on the ground, he was doing that, he was catching the football.
“It would’ve been probably his best game and then he has the critical drop. Now, obviously, he has to catch that ball, there’s no doubt, he needs to catch that pass. But when you see the other things, there are so many positives and then he has the big drop. Now, that’s not going to be swept under the rug, he knows he needs to catch that ball. But I was really pleased up until that point with how he was playing.”
Hill had four catches for 55 yards on Sunday. But it was the catch he didn’t make that got all the attention.
Down three with 2:15 remaining and facing a third-and-4 from the New England 25, Hill took his eyes of a pass from quarterback Mark Sanchez and dropped what would’ve been a first down had he made the catch, forcing the Jets to settle for a game-tying 43-yard field goal.
“I just think you can’t buy experience and he’ll get better the longer he plays,” Ryan said. “I think he wanted to make a play so bad and sometimes, he knew he had a lot of separation, and sometimes in those situations, he’s not the only receiver that will (say), ‘I’m going to go make a play,’ (and) try to start running with it before you catch it. I think that was just it. But the main thing is, catch the football, then we’ll run afterwards. I think if you ask him, I’m sure that’s what he’s going to say.”
• As Ryan pointed out Monday, the Jets have never swept this week’s opponent, the Miami Dolphins, during his first three seasons at the helm.
• Ryan says he sees his team getting better. “We have a ways to go to get to where we want to get to, but you see it. We’re making strides. Its’ not by luck, or anything else, it’s by design.”
• Ryan appeared to take offense when a reporter brought up the fact that he was down on Jeremy Kerley (seven catches, 120 yards on Sunday) in training camp.
“I’m down on Kerley (in camp) because he wasn’t out there. I expected more. This is what I expected from Kerley. ... Going into last year, the way he took off at the end of the season and now the way he’s approaching it now, I think (this) is the guy that we expected.”