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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- This time, Rex Ryan didn't go as far as burying the ball, but he did repeat a tactic he used once before in his tenure as the New York Jets' coach:
He tried to throw dirt on Sunday's 49-9 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals by not reviewing the game tape with the team. Ryan was so disgusted with the performance, the second-largest margin of defeat in his career, that he saw no benefit to reliving the nightmare as a group, instead shifting the focus to the New Orleans Saints.
"If we don't play better pass defense than we played this past week, [Drew Brees] will throw for 700 yards," a weary-looking Ryan said Monday.
If we don't play better pass defense than we played this past week, [Drew Brees] will throw for 700 yards.” -- Rex Ryan
The Jets suffered a similarly embarrassing loss in 2010, 45-3 to the New England Patriots. Ryan responded to that debacle by using an old high-school motivational ploy, taking the entire team out to the practice field during a morning meeting and burying a football. They also passed on the traditional day-after film review.
The Jets lost the following week, but they staged a late-season rally and reached the AFC Championship Game for the second straight year.
Once again, they're trying the selective-amnesia approach.
"We knew that wasn't Jet football," defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson said, explaining why there was no reason to review Sunday's game. "We've moved past that. We're getting ready for New Orleans."
On paper, it's not a good matchup for the Jets (4-4), who allowed five touchdown passes to the Bengals' Andy Dalton. Previously, the last quarterback to throw five touchdowns against the Jets was Dan Marino in 1988. Instead of Mark Clayton, Dalton had Marvin Jones, who set a team record with four scoring receptions.
Now the Jets have to face Brees, Jimmy Graham and the Saints' third-ranked passing offense, which averages 311 yards per game. Discussing the enormity of the challenge, Ryan mistakenly said the Saints are 7-1. Told they're actually 6-1, the coach deadpanned, "Shoot, if that's not foreshadowing ... "
At least Ryan has a sense of gallows humor.
The Jets had been playing well on defense before Sunday -- they were ranked fourth in yards allowed -- but their secondary was picked apart by Dalton, who averaged nearly 11 yards per completion. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie allowed two completions for 106 yards, and rookie Dee Milliner surrendered four for 108 yards and a touchdown in less than a half. He never made it to the second half because he was benched in the second quarter.
Milliner, the ninth pick in the draft, already has suffered two in-game benchings in four starts.
"It has to get better, and it should get better," Ryan said.
It was a total breakdown by the Jets, who failed to generate any pressure on Dalton. In fact, they were credited with only one quarterback hit, and that occurred when Wilkerson shoved Dalton out of bounds on a scramble. Officially, it was counted as a sack.
Wilkerson said the corners need to be more aggressive at the line of scrimmage.
"We need the defensive backs to hold up the wide receivers, so us up front can get a little rush," he said. "If they're not getting any type of hands or pressing on the receivers, by the time we make a move on the offensive linemen, the ball is thrown. There's not much we can do about that up front."
The defense allowed more touchdowns in the first half (four) than it did in the previous two games.
"You think you'll be able to put your foot in the ground and strike back, but it's kind of like quicksand," linebacker DeMario Davis said. "The more we fought back, the deeper we slipped."
On the eve of the game, defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman asked a member of each position group to stand up in the meeting and recite bullet points from the game plan. It sounded good at the time, but it never was executed.
Ryan, who runs the defense and calls the plays, was exasperated by the number of technique mistakes and alignment errors. He said he tried every coverage in his playbook, but nothing worked.
"Usually, you can stop the bleeding," he said. "We needed a tourniquet and we couldn't find one."
Now the Jets have less than a week to prepare for one of the most explosive offenses in the league. If the mistakes continue, Ryan said, "New Orleans will flat-out embarrass you."