New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) is consoled by tight end Kellen Winslow (81) late in the fourth quarter of the Jets' 38-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans in an NFL football game on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. At left is wide receiver Ryan Spadola (85). (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)The Associated Press
Tennessee Titans linebacker Zach Brown (55) pressures New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith (7) in the third quarter of an NFL football game on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)The Associated Press
Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez (88) makes a touch-down catch against New England Patriots defensive back Logan Ryan (26) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)The Associated Press
ATLANTA – The New York Jets are so limited by injuries at wide receiver that coach Rex Ryan joked he might have to resort to a different offensive scheme in Monday night's game at Atlanta.
Maybe something old-school.
"We're thinking about putting the wishbone in," Ryan said with a smile. "That would be something, wouldn't it? Maybe we should."
Geno Smith need not worry. Ryan isn't about to complicate things for the rookie quarterback with a new formation. Smith already has enough problems.
Smith shares the NFL lead with 11 turnovers, including eight interceptions. He threw two of them and lost two fumbles, leading to 28 points, in last week's 38-13 loss at the Titans.
The Jets (2-2) may be without receivers Santonio Holmes (hamstring) and Stephen Hill (concussion) against the Falcons (1-3). On Wednesday, New York signed former Bills receiver David Nelson, who could play a prominent role immediately.
The Falcons, meanwhile, have a longer list of injuries as they try to recover from their first back-to-back regular-season losses in six seasons with coach Mike Smith.
"I think there's certainly a sense of urgency," quarterback Matt Ryan said. "We haven't started the way we wanted, but we understand it's a long season and there's still a lot in front of us."
Left tackle Sam Baker (knee) is the Falcons' latest injured starter. Running back Steven Jackson (hamstring) and cornerback Asante Samuel (thigh) have missed two straight games. Defensive end Kroy Biermann and fullback Bradie Ewing are out for the season, and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon (foot) will miss at least six more weeks. Receiver Roddy White has played through an ankle injury but clearly has been limited by the injury.
The Falcons faltered in the red zone last week, failing to score touchdowns in five of six possessions inside New England's 20 in a 30-23 loss to the Patriots.
There was ample blame to spread around: Ryan was off on some key passes; Jackson's power running game was missed; the offensive line continues to struggle following the retirement of center Todd McClure; and the team's cost-cutting decision to not re-sign right tackle Tyson Clabo didn't help.
"Every team has its own nuances, its own strengths, its own weaknesses, its own personality," said Atlanta offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. "We've got to get to the bottom of this one and we've got to figure out how we're going to get into the end zone."
The bright spot for Atlanta last week was tight end Tony Gonzalez, who had 12 catches for a career-high 149 yards and two touchdowns. Gonzalez proved he can still cause headaches for defenses after postponing his retirement plans for one year.
"Quite honestly, I wish he would've retired," Rex Ryan said.
Here are five things to watch Sunday as the Falcons and Jets try to bounce back from losses.
WHO WILL CATCH GENO'S PASSES? Even with Nelson on board, the Jets will need help at receiver if Holmes and Hill can't play. Jeremy Kerley, who had four catches for 65 yards last week, and Clyde Gates, who has only six receptions this season, are next in line.
Tight end Kellen Winslow, who leads the team with 16 catches, could play an even more prominent role.
"We've got to use the guys that we have," Geno Smith said. "We still have guys who can step up and make plays."
WHO IS BLOCKING FOR MATTY ICE? The Falcons adjusted their depth chart this week, moving veteran Jeremy Trueblood, who signed with Atlanta on Sept. 3, past Lamar Holmes at right tackle. Holmes, who appeared in only one game in his 2012 rookie season, could start at left tackle if Baker can't play.
Holmes played most of last week's game at left tackle after Baker hurt his knee in the second quarter and didn't return.
FALCONS OVERDUE FOR SACK DANCE: The Falcons were held without a sack against the Patriots and rank near the bottom of the league with only seven sacks in four games. The pass rush was a concern when the team didn't re-sign veteran defensive end John Abraham.
Osi Umenyiora leads Atlanta with 2 sacks. The Falcons need Biermann's replacement, Jonathan Massaquoi, to help Umenyiora put pressure on Geno Smith.
"We've got to be more productive," Mike Smith said. "We've got to have pressure on the quarterback and at least affect him."
TEST FOR JETS' DEFENSE: The Jets rank second in the league in total defense and fifth against the run. The run defense needs to contain Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling, who are expected to share the carries for Atlanta.
A bigger concern has been New York's secondary. Rookie cornerback Dee Milliner, a first-round pick, has struggled with performance and injuries. He was benched after starting the first two games.
REBOUND FOR RYAN: Matt Ryan's numbers against the Patriots looked like another solid game. He passed for 421 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, but the leaky pass protection may be affecting his game. Ryan took responsibility for the red-zone woes. Perhaps expecting pressure, he was slightly off on some of his passes.
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