Rex Ryan has been walking off the field a loser in five straight games. (Getty Images)
FOXBORO — The season-opening win over the Raiders must seem like a lifetime ago to Rex Ryan. The Jets beat Oakland, 19-14, and were tied with Buffalo and Miami atop the AFC East, a game ahead of the 0-1 Patriots.
Since then, the bottom has once again fallen out on Rex Ryan. The quarterback situation is a disaster, with neither Geno Smith nor Michael Vick leading any type of consistent offense. The already porous secondary suffered another blow Monday with the loss of Dee Milliner to injury.
Oh right, they’ve lost five straight and stand 1-5 in the division.
And now, in a short week, they travel to Foxboro to take on a Patriots team that has rediscovered its chemistry and execution on the field. Despite losing Jerod Mayo and Stevan Ridley for the season, and facing the possibility of playing without Dan Connolly and Bryan Stork, the Patriots are prohibitive favorites this Thursday night at Gillette Stadium.
How badly do Ryan and the Jets need to win a football game?
“About as bad is it gets, like you’re a 1-5 team,” Ryan answered Tuesday. “We’re desperate, to say the least.
Could a win over rival Bill Belichick and the Patriots Thursday night in the national spotlight salvage his season and, in turn, his job?
“No, I don’t look at that,” Ryan said. “It’s never been about me. You talk about job security late in the year, I’ve never flinched one time about it. All I do is the best job I can, and I’m confident in my abilities, and I’m confident in the guys that I coach with, the people that are here. So again, I don’t think twice about it.
“I just know we are going to do everything in our power to get a win. Obviously, it’s a lot easier said than done, especially traveling up to New England. We know we’re going to get their best shot, and they know that we’re going to give them our best shot.”
As desperate as things might be for Ryan, he still has his charm and sense of humor. Ryan was asked about the struggles of the Patriots offensive line and if he’s given any consideration of blitzing on every down.
“Oh yeah, that definitely,” Ryan began before catching himself. “You sound like my mom now. Everybody thought, ‘Oh my gosh, Buddy Ryan, what kind of blitzer he’d be,’ but my mom would be worse. The league is probably happy that she wasn’t a coordinator. Yeah, I don’t know if that’s the most sound thing.”
Told that his mom would want him taking his vitamins and getting good nights of sleep, Ryan turned into competitor.
“Hey, I’m showing up, I can promise you that,” Ryan said.
Here are some other takeaways from Ryan on Tuesday:
Q: When you drafted Jace Amaro, did you hope he could develop into something like the Patriots have with Rob Gronkowski?
RR: Oh, that would be nice. Do I think that’s the case? No. You’re talking about a guy that’s scored, what, 20-some touchdowns [46 career regular-season touchdown receptions]? Yeah, we would love that. We’d love half of that. But no, when we took him, we never thought he would be a Gronkowski. There is only one of those in this league. But we know he’ll be a good football player.
Q: How much of your offensive struggles do you attribute to the lack of stability at the quarterback position?
RR: It’s not just one man. We seem like we’ve been breaking down at certain spots throughout the year. We’ll need a big stop, and instead the team will drive it on us for a touchdown. We’ll turn the ball over. There’s something that happens, but it’s certainly not just on one man.
Q: Does Zach Sudfeld have any relevance for you guys now?
RR: Yeah, absolutely. Zach is doing a good job for us. We think he’s a guy that can develop into a good football player, and obviously, as you guys know, he was quite a red zone threat when he was there in the preseason when he was playing. I think he just keeps improving, he’s a hard worker, and I think the young man’s got a bright future.
Q: What’s been the difference between the game tapes of the Patriots for when they’ve struggled versus when they’ve had success?
RR: I think sometimes you need to give credit to the opponent that you’re playing. They see a lot of different things, and I think sometimes it’s not a focus of anybody. But they’ve played some good teams and for whatever reason, maybe they’ve struggled a little bit. This is a team that is still atop our division, like they always are it seems like, and obviously has a great deal of talent. They’ve got a great coach in [Bill] Belichick, and obviously they’ve got the Hall of Fame quarterback, so that makes it tough.
Q: How have you seen the Patriots offensive line evolve over the course of the season?
RR: Well, they’ve been using a lot of different guys, combinations in there and things like that. It seems like they’re settling in on more of the veteran group. But again, they have some talent there as well.
Q: How does losing Dee Milliner affect your secondary, which has struggled already this season?
RR: This is our sixth Pro Bowl quarterback that we’ve faced in a row, so it’s certainly been a challenge. But again, we’re certainly not playing defense to our standards. I think we’re sixth in the league in defense, so that definitely isn’t to our standards. But we’ll see what happens when it’s all said and done.
Q: Do you think in some way a short week can help your squad forget about the last game and catch Bill Belichick on a short week?
RR: No, I don’t think so. I think his record on a short week is probably ‘¦ I know it’s a lot better than mine. It’s not an advantage on a short week, a long week or anything else. We’re just going to show up, and the best team will win.