- Jane McManus, Reporter & Columnist, espnW.com
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Never mind the scoreboard in Seattle last Sunday, or the fact that the Jets offense has scored just six points in the last two games. Rex Ryan wasn’t about to blame new offensive coordinator Tony Sparano.
“I’m happy with the job he’s done,” Ryan said Thursday. “I’m not happy with our results, but to say I’m going to pin that on Tony, there’s no way.”
Many blamed former Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer for unproductive games in the first three years of Mark Sanchez’ career. The thing is, Schottenheimer’s Rams have produced slightly more total offense than the Jets this year.
But Ryan has his rose colored glasses firmly on his nose, and said he knows the Jets are getting better each week even as the losses keep mounting.
“I know our offense is getting better,” Ryan said. “I know our defense is getting better.”
Sparano was asked for specifics on how the offense is improving.
“I think we’re improving in the run game,” Sparano said. “I think we’re improving in the protection area. I think that we’re improving within the structure of identification of front coverages, all those areas. I think our short yardage and goal line, although not reflected in the last game, is improving tremendously, we’ve gotten better and better each week there, we lead the national football league in that area right now. And I think that over the last five games, our third down production has been better.”
Which sounds really good, except for the fact that the Jets have failed to score more points than their opponents in five of the last six games. The 3-6 start is so rough that owner Woody Johnson came out in the middle of practice to say this isn’t what he expected this season after passively agreeing to hire Tim Tebow and not for the purposes of selling PSLs.
“In a lot of pain this week again for losing this game,” Woody Johnson said. “It’s a miserable experience for us, for our fans, people in the media as well.”
Which makes it sound like Johnson has a more realistic idea of what a losing streak is about than either his head coach or his offensive coordinator.
As a side note, when defensive coordinator Mike Pettine was asked about the anonymous comments regarding Tebow, he said that the Jets defense has Tebow’s back. When Sparano was asked, he said he was limiting his comments to the Rams.
Ryan gave his offensive coordinator, who last year was the Dolphins head coach, his full measure of support in spite of the offensive slump.
“He’s a guy that I lean on a bit having a former head coaching background,” Ryan said. “He’s been a huge help. I knew he would be and I knew he was a guy that I really wanted.”
Ryan said Sparano has a burning desire to win, and is able to do well with the players he has on offense.
“I think the mark of a good coach is to maximize the talent that you have around you,” Ryan said, “and I think without question, we do that.”