FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – The numbers and their recent level of performance indicate the New York Jets are done for 2012.
Their comments say otherwise.
Somehow, in the wake of two awful outings in losses to Miami and Seattle, the Jets talk about remaining confident, about turning things around, about eliminating the mistakes that are killing their chances.
Indeed, after coach Rex Ryan again emphasized that Mark Sanchez is the starting quarterback despite his sinking play, Sanchez mentioned Monday how "once things go right, they turn around so fast it will make your head spin."
Others might call that spin. The Jets (3-6) describe it as staying optimistic.
"I'm confident in who I am and my abilities, and I've said it a million times, I'm confident in the guys who coach with me and play for me," Ryan said after the Jets dropped the ninth game in their last 12, including the 2011 collapse in which they lost their final three games to miss the playoffs for the first time in his tenure.
"I know we have the talent, not just as players but in our coaching staff. We're going to get this thing done."
Getting anything done, beginning next Sunday in St. Louis, must start with cleaning up their on-field act. Although they are in the middle of the pack with a minus-2 turnover differential, the Jets are destroying themselves in the red zone. In Sunday's 28-7 loss at Seattle, Sanchez pretty much threw away at least six points and perhaps more with bad decisions.
Richard Sherman's interception on third-and-goal despite Sanchez having plenty of time to survey the field was costly. So was a fumble on a sack.
"Two plays really stood out," said Sanchez, who turned 26 Sunday, but had nothing much to celebrate. "The sack-fumble and the interception, especially as well as our defense was playing in the game early. We had a chance to take the lead and I have got to make better decisions. Careless mistakes. Totally on me."
The loss was not totally on Sanchez, although he was a mere 9 for 22 for 124 yards, and the Jets' only TD came on defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson's fumble return. The slump has been a team effort, prompting questions about whether the Jets have enough talent to compete. For the last month, the answer would be no.
Compound that with all kinds of gaffes — missed blocks, poor tackling, penalties, wrong routes run by receivers, blocked kicks — and the Jets have the look of an also-ran heading for a losing record under Ryan for the first time since he arrived in 2009.
"Week after week, we continue to punish ourselves," safety Yeremiah Bell said. "Self-inflicted wounds, time after time. That's something that as players we have to get corrected.
"We're going out there, being competitive, we're playing hard. But in this league you can't help teams win."
All the losing has ramped up calls for Tim Tebow to get more action at quarterback — he was in for 11 plays, although three wound up as penalties, in the 28-7 loss. It's also brought into question the play calling by new coordinator Tony Sparano; whether Shonn Greene is a No. 1 running back; if any of the receivers are capable of consistently getting separation; and whether the defense can avoid yielding big plays.
There doesn't seem to be a groundswell seeking Ryan's job, and it's not something that enters his mind anyway.
"With me, I will never waver," he said. "I am not going to make a decision to save my job. I am in it to win games.
"I'm not sitting back concentrating on how do I save my job. I am concentrating on how do we win."
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