Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Vacation time sending wrong message
By Rich Cimini
Plaxico Burress is planning a family trip to Disney World. Darrelle Revis, he of his own mythical island, will stay on the mainland, relaxing on a beach near his home in Fort Lauderdale.
Rex Ryan gave the New York Jets a six-day vacation during their bye week, prompting Burress, Revis and many other players to get out of town and enjoy what amounts to spring break in the fall.
It's a mistake. Ryan, of all people, should know better.
Ryan is 0-2 coming off bye weeks, and that includes an absolutely dreadful performance last Halloween against the Green Bay Packers. That, too, came after a six-day break, and the Jets responded by sleepwalking through a 9-0 loss.
The Jets were lucky because they still had a 5-2 record, and the loss didn't damage their playoff chances. This season, they don't have that luxury. At 4-3, every loss is a blow to the solar plexus, and you could make the argument that the next two games -- against the Buffalo Bills and New England Patriots -- will determine their season.
But instead of focusing on X's and O's, the Jets are taking R & R.
The new collective bargaining agreement requires at least four consecutive days off during the bye week, including the weekend. That probably explains why teams are experiencing the post-bye blues -- a 3-9 record coming off the bye.
Armed with that information and with the knowledge that his team has a history of struggling on long rest, Ryan still went ahead and decided to stick with last season's bye-week schedule. It's a unique approach in the AFC East.
The Bills practiced once last week, followed by four days off. They return Sunday to face the Washington Redskins.
The Patriots practiced twice last week before five days off. Bill Belichick must have been in a generous mood. We'll see how they respond against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Dolphins practiced three times, received a four-day vacation and lost to the Jets on a Monday night, but you can't put too much stock in that because they lose to everybody.
The Jets won't practice until Monday. They will have missed one or two practice opportunities to address their many issues.
"We just have to be smart in that first practice back on Monday, or whenever it is, and not have the typical 'Oh, you-guys-look-like-you-took-a-week-off' day," guard Brandon Moore said. "We really have to zero in and get a lot out of that day, and gain a little bit of an advantage there after losing a little bit during the week off."
A veteran GM once told me he'd never consent to a six-day break, saying, "The players get too familiar with life again. That's not good. You want to keep them in a routine."
Bill Parcells never used to let his players know their bye-week schedule because he didn't want them making travel plans ahead of time, figuring they'd be more apt to stay in town on short notice.
Look, every coach has his own philosophy, but they all share this belief: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. You can't say Ryan's approach is broke -- 0-2 isn't a large sample size -- but there's enough evidence to warrant a tweak or two.
Ryan likes his way because, "The bye is not just for one game; it's for the rest of the season. We'll do it business as usual; the only difference is, we're going to win coming out of the bye this year."
But here's the problem with that: It's not about the rest of the season; it's about next week. The Jets should be in a week-to-week survival mode, with no let up on the gas pedal.
There was a lot of self-congratulation after beating the San Diego Chargers, creating a palpable sense of relief in the locker room. It was a huge win, to be sure, but the Jets acted as if they had accomplished something by getting back above .500.
This is no time to be content; the sense of urgency should be greater than ever. A six-day vacation sends the wrong message.