Joe Namath: Rex Ryan being too nice

Updated: October 14, 2011, 5:26 PM ET
By Ian Begley | Special to ESPNNewYork.com

Joe Namath believes Rex Ryan has been "too darn nice" to the 2-3 New York Jets.

The Jets legend said Thursday on ESPN New York 1050's "The Michael Kay Show" that Ryan's lax attitude is one of many reasons the team has lost three straight games.

"Rex is Mr. Good Guy to these guys. He has been. He's been talking about how good they are all the time. He's doing everything to win their favor. He bends over backwards for the guys to be on their side," Namath said.

"It might work in the long run, I don't know," he added. "I just think he's been too darn nice to this team."

Some view the Jets' trade of wide receiver Derrick Mason as a departure from Ryan's "players' coach" attitude. Apparently, Namath doesn't share that opinion.

He believes Ryan's approach is one reason the Jets have struggled in recent weeks.

"These guys aren't as smart as they think they are," Namath said. "They're making too many penalties; they're busting too many assignments. They just haven't been focused the way you need to focus to win consistently in the league."

That lack of focus leaves Namath concerned about the Jets' ability to make the playoffs. The team has reached back-to-back AFC Championship Games under Ryan.

"We've lost three in a row and if it wasn't for Tony Romo it may be a 1-4 record. That game (a 27-24 win over Dallas), thank goodness we won, but it wasn't a particularly great effort," said Namath, who led the franchise to its only Super Bowl win. "They need to come out and play some really sound football and we haven't seen that yet."

The Hall of Famer thinks the Jets need to ignore criticism coming from the fans and media (plenty of which comes from Namath himself). Namath also questioned the Jets' talent on both the offensive and defensive lines and said that the defense -- which has been Ryan's pride and joy -- has "lost a step here and there."

While he doesn't support every play call offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer makes, Namath made it clear that the responsibility for the team's offensive failures lies mostly with the players.

"There's not one playcaller that has any influence on the play that's being run. It's the guys on the field. Those guys need to just take it upon themselves," he said.

Despite all of that pointed criticism (which he has supplied frequently this season), Namath believes the team still has a chance to turn things around.

"They're not eliminated yet from winning this division. They've only got one loss in the division," Namath said. "They're fortunate to have the Miami Dolphins come to town."

Ian Begley is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.

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