New York Jets: 2013 Week 14 OAK at NYJ

Eager Jets haven't quit on Rex Ryan

December, 8, 2013

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Rex Ryan's first victory occurred an hour before kickoff, when his owner, Woody Johnson, said in a radio interview he was "pretty happy" with the direction of the franchise -- and that was with a three-game losing streak.

One can only imagine the boss' giddiness Sunday after the New York Jets got done with the "Bad News Bears," as safety Charles Woodson described his Oakland Raiders. Johnson might have been ready to draw up papers for a long-term contract extension for his coach.

Kidding, of course. But clearly, Johnson has modest goals for 2013. He recognizes this is a rebuilding year and -- unless he was blowing smoke during his ESPN New York 98.7 interview -- he wants to make it work with Ryan, who deserves another shot in 2014 if he can squeeze another victory out of this season and remain competitive in the final three games.

The Jets haven't quit on Ryan, who is 40-37 in four-plus seasons. That was the biggest takeaway on a cold, gray day at MetLife Stadium, where the Jets' feeble offense scored not one, not two but three touchdowns in a 37-27 win -- the team's highest point total since the 2012 opener.

"It felt like we hadn't won in a century," tackle Austin Howard said.

It was 35 days, to be precise. In the NFL, a drought that long can destroy a team, especially when the team gets outscored 79-20 over a three-game losing streak. Finger-pointing begins, fissures form in the locker room and the rats take over the ship.

That could've been the Jets, but they showed they still have a pulse -- or at least a stronger pulse than the Raiders (4-9), a woefully undermanned team that dropped its 13th straight game in the Eastern time zone.

"I'll be the first to stand on the soap box and scream, 'Keep him!'" guard Willie Colon said, alluding to the speculation about Ryan's future.

In Ryan's eyes, the Jets are 1-0. He said last week he wants to be judged on how the team finishes the season, meaning how it performs at full strength. Coaches usually don't get to make the ground rules, but it looks as though Ryan will get that chance.

Finally, his offense was nearly whole, with Jeremy Kerley returning from a serious elbow injury and providing an early spark with a 25-yard touchdown catch. Santonio Holmes, coming off a two-snap cameo in last week's Miami debacle, was healthy and played his best game in more than two months.

For a change, the Jets looked like a real offense, reaching the end zone for the first time in three games.

[+] EnlargeRex Ryan
Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY SportsIt was good to be Rex Ryan on Sunday.
For a change, Geno Smith looked like an NFL quarterback, playing instinctively and -- surprise! -- using his legs.

For a change, the Jets were able to win on a day in which their defense didn't play well.

The Jets improved to 6-7, equaling last season's win total. If they finish 7-9, with a roster comprised largely of rookies and one-year stopgaps, Ryan should get a one-year extension. If they finish .500, it would be a major accomplishment.

"You have to judge us for the whole season, and I understand that -- that's the way it should be, absolutely -- but to get an accurate opinion on who we are, especially offensively, let's get some of our guys back," Ryan said Sunday.

Translation: Ignore the three-game losing streak, Woody.

Apparently, he did.

Beating the Raiders is no great feat, but it was hardly a gimme for the Jets, considering the recent waves. Ryan navigated a tough week, making the right choice by sticking with Smith. He responded with a solid game, throwing his first touchdown pass since Oct. 20 and running for a score.

Ryan's offensive coordinator, Marty Mornhinweg, cooked up a clever game plan, employing a no-huddle for a good part of the game and accentuating Smith's strengths by moving the pocket and calling designed runs.

Then there was the motivation part. That's Ryan's strength.

"He bleeds green and he believes in this team even sometimes when we don't believe in each other," Colon said of Ryan. "So many times he stood up in front of us and cried and did everything to show us that, if we stay together, it can get done.

"He gives us his heart. He gives us his fire."

Ryan didn't turn into a paranoid dictator last week, the way some coaches get when the heat is turned up. He gave the players their space, some said. Out of that mindset came a players-only meeting in which D'Brickashaw Ferguson and David Harris addressed the team.

Ryan praised his team's preparation, claiming the Jets worked extra hours during the week. As a result, they avoided their first four-game losing streak in the Ryan era.

"Whew! We needed that in the worst way, to say the least," a relieved Ryan said.

He offered the team a day off -- Victory Monday -- but the players rejected the idea, claiming this is no time to relax. Say this for the Jets: They're ready and willing.

Able? We'll find out over the next three weeks.

Jets players reject Victory Monday

December, 8, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Rex Ryan tossed his players a bone after Sunday's 37-27 win over the Oakland Raiders. They tossed it back.

The New York Jets' coach announced a Victory Monday -- an off day -- but the idea didn't gain much traction in the locker room. Willie Colon said he looked at D'Brickashaw Ferguson, and, speaking on behalf of the rest of the players, they decided to make it a work day.

"We realized, 'Hey, this is no time to relax,'" Colon said. "You give us two days off and we have to go down (to Charlotte) and play a lot that's kicking a lot of tail right now" -- the Carolina Panthers. "We have to put our foot on the gas."

Ryan said he was impressed with the players' attitude.

"Everyone was like, 'Yeah, let's go to work,'" Ryan said. "And that's what we have to do."

You call this defense?: This wasn't a good game by the defense, which allowed a season-high 150 rushing yards. Fullback Marcel Reece, the Raiders' fourth-string running back, ran for 123, including a 63-yard run in which he outraced cornerback Antonio Cromartie. The Jets let Matt McGloin, an undrafted rookie, pass for 245 yards and two touchdowns. His favorite target was receiver Rod Streater, who caught seven passes for 130 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown.

Ryan didn't sound that alarmed.

"We had a couple of amazing plays, which don't happen against us very often," he said. "We have a couple of things to fix. It's not something I'm overly concerned with."

Nice gesture: After the game, Ryan made a presentation in the locker room to general manager John Idzik, giving him the game ball. Idzik is mourning the death of his father, John Joseph Idzik, who died last Tuesday after a long illness. He was 85.

What the Hill?: Reciever Stephen Hill was inactive with a knee injury. He was a full practice participant last Friday, but was a late addition to the injury report, listed as questionable. It was his first missed game of the season.

Ryan said Hill has been bothered by knee swelling for several weeks.

"The young man has been competing his tail off, but he's just not himself," Ryan said. "He's not able to burst out of cuts. Quite honestly, as much as he wants it, it's best for us to make the decision to deactivate him this week."

The Jets used a four-receiver rotation, with Santonio Holmes, David Nelson, Jeremy Kerley and Greg Salas.

Injury Report: Cornerback Antonio Cromartie suffered a head injury, according to the team. He collided with teammate Ed Reed with 6:26 left in the third quarter, but he remained in the game.

Odds and Ends: Ferguson became the first player in Jets history to start the first 125 games of his career. ... The Jets scored a season-high 37 points and produced their third-highest yardage total, 352. ... Antonio Allen blocked Marquette King's punt and recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown. It was Allen’s second touchdown of the season (he scored on an interception return) and second blocked punt. Before leaving the locker room, Allen said he asked to no one in particular, "Who's going to give us that spark?" It turned out to be him. Allen became the first Jets defensive player to score multiple touchdowns in a season since safety Dwight Lowery in 2010. ... Nick Folk made three field goals, increasing his season total to 28-for-29.

Jets' Antonio Allen stars on special teams

December, 8, 2013
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- It started with the long snapper.

In their preparation leading up to Sunday's game, the Jets noticed that Oakland long snapper Jon Condo didn't perform proper drops after his snaps. The Jets believed they could capitalize on this and worked all week on exploiting that tendency.

[+] EnlargeAntonio Allen
AP Photo/Kathy WillensAntonio Allen blocked his second punt of the season.
In the second quarter Sunday, that preparation resulted in Antonio Allen getting a free path to Oakland punter Marquette King. Allen knew a game-changing play was about to happen.

"We about to make money off this," Allen thought.

Allen blocked the punt and recovered it in the end zone to help the Jets to their 37-27 win over the Raiders on Sunday at MetLife Stadium. It marked Allen's second blocked punt of the season (his first was on Oct. 7 against the Falcons).

"It feels good to make a play on special teams. I've been trying to get out there and make whatever happens with my playing time," he said. "It's big for me and big for the team, and we got the victory."

Oakland has been susceptible to blocked punts in MetLife Stadium this season as they also had one blocked and returned for a score when they visited the Giants on Nov. 10. The Giants too said they saw something in Oakland's formations they believed they could take advantage of.

According to Allen, the Jets swung cornerback Ellis Lankster in front of Condo, and Allen shot the A-gap to get his free shot, knocking the ball down toward the Oakland end zone. He tried to pick it up, but Allen couldn't corral it and just fell on top of it in the end zone. Allen's touchdown marked his second of the season, and he's the first Jets' defensive back with multiple touchdowns since 2010.

"It felt weird, they just let me loose" Allen said. "I was surprised I thought the tackle was going to give me some kind of push but he didn't touch me, he just let me go right through. It was big for us."

As Allen made the big play on special teams, he also was more involved in the defensive game plan after three straight games of sparse playing time. Since the arrival of Ed Reed, Allen, who has shown promise in his sophomore campaign, has seen a reduction in his playing time to the point that he barely plays.

Jets coach Rex Ryan said he had made a mistake not playing Allen more and he aimed to remedy that Sunday. Allen played just 24 snaps in the previous three games, and he was in that neighborhood of snaps against the Raiders. He played extensively in the first half.

Allen, who believes he was having a "productive" season before Reed arrived, was down on himself after the game for not making an interception during Oakland's final drive.

"That's a play I got to make," Allen said. "With the defensive plays I do get I got to maximize my play time and make something happen."

Rapid Reaction: New York Jets

December, 8, 2013

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- A few thoughts on the New York Jets' 37-27 win over the Oakland Raiders at MetLife Stadium:

What it means: The Jets (6-7) snapped a three-game losing streak, avoiding the first four-game skid of the Rex Ryan era. This was their biggest scoring day since Week 1 of the 2012 season. Yes, really. Mathematically, they still have a shot at the playoffs, but that wasn't the story of the game. They needed this win for their own sanity, preventing a once-promising season from careening off the rails. A loss to the injury-plagued and talent-starved Raiders (4-9), who played with backup QB Matt McGloin, would've been devastating for Ryan. Before the game, he received a quasi vote of confidence from owner Woody Johnson, who said in a radio interview he's "happy" with the direction of the franchise. They equaled last season's win total.

Stock watch: Rookie QB Geno Smith, clinging to his job, delivered his best game in two months. He threw his first touchdown pass in seven games, ran for a touchdown and committed only one turnover, his 20th interception. Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, desperate to spark the slumping offense, used a lot of no-huddle and moved the pocket, allowing Smith to throw on the run. He also dusted off some read-option plays, one resulting in Smith's 8-yard touchdown run. Smith was far from perfect -- he missed open receivers -- but it should be a much-needed boost of confidence.

Offensive explosion: The Jets scored more points than they did in their previous three games combined. Wide receiver Jeremy Kerley provided a spark in his return, scoring the first touchdown, but this was a balanced attack. They ran well, led by Chris Ivory, and they handled the Raiders' blitz without too many problems. For a change, they resembled a real NFL offense. They began the day with an eight-quarter touchdown drought.

The defense rests: The biggest downer of the day was the defense, which allowed 63- and 48-yard touchdowns. That's inexcusable. They also allowed a 100-yard rusher (fourth-string running back Marcel Reece) and a 100-yard receiver (Rod Streater). Interestingly, the Raiders challenged cornerback Antonio Cromartie more than struggling rookie Dee Milliner.

Reed's role tweaked: Safety Ed Reed made his first interception of the season, setting up a field goal. It came on a day in which he lost some playing time, sharing snaps in the first half with Antonio Allen and Jaiquawn Jarrett. Reed, an every-down player in his first three games, was used only on passing downs early on. Ryan should've used him this way from Day 1, but he forced the future Hall of Famer into a full-time role.

What's ahead: It gets tougher for the Jets -- a lot tougher -- as they go on the road to face the Carolina Panthers (9-3).