Rex Ryan fumed after the New York Jets’ defense failed to stop Miami and its wildcat formation Monday night, calling the unit’s performance an “embarrassment.”
He was still angry the following day, making it clear he wasn’t taking the 31-27 loss lightly.
“It’s blunt-force trauma,” Ryan said of his criticism of the team. “We went the first four games giving up three touchdowns, but we did that in the fourth quarter alone. That’s it. It is what it is. There’s no way in heck I would’ve ever thought that would happen. I never knew it. That’s never happened to me before in my life.”
It was a blow to Ryan’s ego, and a reality check to the big-talking Jets (3-2) who chirped all offseason about how they had the best defense in the league.
“You either come back and respond to this,” linebacker Bart Scott said, “or you go down and start pointing fingers and falling apart.”
Ryan went so far as to call Sunday’s game against Buffalo (1-4) a “must win,” something not normally heard in the sixth week of an NFL season.
“I know it was an embarrassment, but it’s done,” Ryan said. “There’s nothing we can do about it right now. Trust me, if we could, I would have changed it, but we’re moving on. We’ve got a tough task in front of us. I don’t care what their record is.”
Bills fans certainly do, though, and they’re not happy with what has transpired.
It’s gotten so bad, some fans are renting a billboard to advertise their frustrations and ask owner Ralph Wilson to clean house, starting with coach Dick Jauron. The situation even has some speculating about wide receiver Terrell Owens’ immediate future in Buffalo.
“I think the best thing to do is be part of the solution, not the problem,” said safety Donte Whitner, who hopes to return from a thumb injury. “The minute you start mouthing off throughout the media and you start talking down to guys, that’s when things go bad.”
As much as the Jets want to rebound, there may be even more on the line for the Bills. Buffalo, which hasn’t made the playoffs in a franchise-worst nine seasons, is on track to sitting out the postseason again.
“We understand that there are already enough people that tear us down,” Whitner said. “So we just need to stay a family, you know, fix the mistakes that we’ve made, understand that we can win these football games, and we have the opportunity to win games.”
Buffalo is coming off an excruciating 6-3 loss to Cleveland last week, a game in which the Bills held the Browns to 193 yards — the fewest it has given up since 2005.
“Hey, it’s still a long season and it only takes one spark to light a fire,” defensive tackle Marcus Stroud said.
Perhaps the Bills will find it by scrapping their no-huddle offense. The Bills were called for nine false-start penalties, eight on linemen and one on wide receiver Lee Evans, against Cleveland. Quarterback Trent Edwards has also been mediocre in his second full season as the starter, and hasn’t gotten enough protection to get the ball down the field consistently to Owens and Evans.
“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to say that it’s not what I expected,” Owens said. “We’re going with the cards that are dealt, as far as the situation that we’re in right now. Our record could be definitely different, except for a few plays here and there.”
Owens, who signed as a free agent in the offseason, has just 12 catches for 202 yards and a touchdown, including a game against New Orleans three weeks ago when he was held without a reception.
“For me, personally, I feel like I’m letting the city down, but every day I just try to go out here and focus, and practice hard, and try to get better,” he said.
The Jets’ defense has been complimentary of the talent on the Bills’ offense, but the players are surely licking their chops at a chance to get back to their dominant ways.
“We’re going to go back to the fundamentals,” Scott said. “We’ll do what we did for the first four weeks of this season. We put four solid performances together.”
The Jets’ pass rush, which has failed to register a sack the last two games, also might get better in a hurry against the Bills’ makeshift offensive line.
New York’s offense had a solid outing against Miami, with rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez having what he called his “best game” as a pro. He rebounded from a poor performance in a loss at New Orleans by leading the Jets on two fourth-quarter scoring drives that each gave New York a lead.
“I’ve still got a lot of improvement to make and I’m not anywhere happy with the way I’m playing,” Sanchez said. “I’m happy we won a few games and stuff, but I can play a lot better as things progress.”
Adding wide receiver Braylon Edwards to the mix certainly should help. The two showed instant chemistry against Miami, just a few days after the Jets acquired the former first-round pick from Cleveland.
Edwards caught five passes for 64 yards and a touchdown, and said he has already put his sometimes-tumultuous past in Cleveland behind him.
“I’m home now,” Edwards said. “This is it. Starting last Wednesday, I came home. I’m happy to be here. The fans are supporting me. I’m excited.”
AP Sports Writer John Wawrow in Orchard Park, N.Y., contributed to this report.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.