(SportsNetwork.com) - NFL coaches can be a lot like politicians when it comes to word play.
That's why when you really want to know what a mentor is thinking, you ignore the semantics -- artful or not -- and focus in on the actions.
Understand, unless your Jay Gruden, NFL coaches simply don't put players on blast and that's why you won't see a Rex Ryan stepping to the podium and giving you his honest assessment of a player like Geno Smith.
Ryan's handling of the second-year quarterback who ultimately will cost him his job in New York couldn't have been more transparent on Monday night, however.
"It had zero to do with us not having faith in our quarterback," Ryan claimed after figuratively tying Smith up in a 16-13 loss to Miami. "It had everything to do with us trying to win the game."
In one fell swoop Ryan lied to his constituency before rebounding and allowing a grain of truth to escape. Inject Ryan with sodium pentothal and that statement would have read "I have no faith in our quarterback and I was trying to win the game."
With Ryan and his team limping toward the finish line, the Jets (read that GM John Idzik) turned back to Smith at quarterback against the playoff-hopeful Dolphins.
Ryan, who will be first in line to file his change of address form on "Black Monday," understands the only power he has left with this team is between the lines on game day and this contest served as his very own occupy movement, a protest against the GM who forced an ill-equipped QB on the coach.
The overmatched Smith threw a total of 13 times against Miami, five of which came after the Dolphins kicked what proved to be the game-winning field goal late in the fourth quarter.
Up until Caleb Sturgis converted that 26-yard chip shot, Ryan ordered his offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg to make Smith hand it off again and again and again ... and again.
The Jets' run-to-pass ratio was a ridiculous 49-8 before necessity gave Smith a few meaningful throwing opportunities, a clear indication Ryan had absolutely no confidence in the signal caller.
And the coach's lack of belief was only amplified by that fact that two of the Dolphins' top three cornerbacks -- Cortland Finnegan and Jamar Taylor -- were injured and Miami was forced to play street free agent R.J. Stanford.
Granted the Jets were more than successful on the ground early, piling up 210 yards in the first half but when the Dolphins ultimately adjusted and stacked the box, New York still wouldn't allow Smith take a shot against a corner who was busy getting his early Christmas shopping done the previous week.
"The game plan was to try to establish the run and when you have that kind of success running, that helps the football team and that's why we stayed the course," Ryan said.
What Ryan left out was the fact that the course was originally plotted because he didn't believe the quarterback could carry his own water.
"Well, I don't know about that," Ryan said Tuesday when asked whether Smith gave him the best chance to win. "I have said all along that I feel good, that we could win with either Mike Vick at quarterback or Geno Smith and I have always said that. Geno Smith wouldn't be in there if we didn't think we had an opportunity to win. I can promise you that."
Again, ignore the words and watch the actions.
The decision to take the ball out of the quarterbacks's hands was ultimately Ryan's definition of giving his team the best chance to win.
"If we can run for 300 yards again this week, I would love to sign up for it," Ryan said. "We are just trying to find a way to give us a chance to win the football game and I thought we did that, it's just unfortunate (that) we came up short."
And then the dam broke.
"Yep, absolutely, 100 percent," Ryan responded when asked if he was embarrassed by his team's 2-10 record. "I'm embarrassed for myself absolutely. It is, it's an embarrassment. It's definitely embarrassing to me. I feel like I've let my owner down. I've let our fan base down."
The absence of Idzik's and Smith's names in Ryan's confession stood out as starkly as his game plan on Monday night.
WEEK 14 (All Times Eastern)
Dallas (8-4) (-3 1/2) at Chicago (5-7), Thursday, 8:25 p.m. - Week 14 of the NFL season kicks off on Thursday night when the Bears host the Cowboys at Soldier Field. Each team will try to rebound from lopsided divisional losses on Thanksgiving Day as Dallas laid a 33-10 egg against visiting Philadelphia, and the Bears suffered a 34-17 setback at Detroit. Dallas is a perfect 5-0 on the road this season, the best mark in the league as a visitor and relies on a strong running game, led by DeMarco Murray who tops the NFL with 1,427 rushing yards and has run for at least 100 yards in 10 of the team's 12 games this year.
Bears 28, Cowboys 23
Pittsburgh (7-5) at Cincinnati (8-3-1) (-3), Sunday, 1 p.m. - The AFC North rivals clash at Paul Brown Stadium in the first of two meetings over the final four weeks. The Bengals, who have won five of six and are 13-1-1 in their last 15 at home, hold a 1 1/2-game lead over the other three teams in the division (Steelers, Baltimore and Cleveland). Pittsburgh receiver Antonio Brown enters the final month of the season leading the NFL with 96 catches and 1,258 yards.
Bengals 24, Steelers 21
Indianapolis (8-4) (-4) at Cleveland (7-5), Sunday, 1 p.m. - The Colts can be the first team to clinch a division title with a win and a Houston loss but they won't be doing it against Johnny Manziel. The embattled Brian Hoyer will remain the starting quarterback for the Browns, at least for the time being.
"After thorough evaluation and talking to the staff, we feel Brian gives us the best opportunity to win on Sunday," said Cleveland coach Mike Pettine in a statement on the club's website. "This is a football decision and those are always going to be based on what we think is best for our team."
Last week, Indianapolis scored six touchdowns of at least 30 yards in a 49-27 win over Washington, becoming the first team to register at least six 30-plus yard touchdowns in a game since 1966 (Washington, Nov. 27, 1966, 72-41 win vs. New York Giants).
Colts 33, Browns 17
Tampa Bay (2-10) at Detroit (8-4) (-9 1/2), Sunday, 1 p.m. - The ex-NFC Central inhabitants renew hostilities with the Lions being the only relevant participant. Detroit is one game behind Green Bay in the NFC North with a Week 17 matchup looming. Lions QB Matthew Stafford has averaged 301 passing yards and three TDs in two career meetings with the Bucs.
Lions 27, Buccaneers 17
Houston (6-6) (-5) at Jacksonville (2-10), Sunday, 1 p.m. - The J.J. Watt show invades Jacksonville as the presumptive NFL Defensive Player of the Year looks to build on his historic season. Watt is first player with three offensive TDs and two TDs on takeaways since Bill Golding in 1948. He also leads all AFC players with 48 sacks since entering the league in 2011.
Texans 24, Jaguars 14
Baltimore (7-5) at Miami (7-5) (-3), Sunday, 1 p.m. - The Ravens and Dolphins are two of five AFC teams at 7-5 and the loser of this one could be crippled in the conference playoff hunt. Baltimore QB Joe Flacco is 3-0 in his career against Miami with a 105.1 passer rating, a number which foreshadows success for the Ravens. Baltimore is 49-9 when Flacco crosses the 90.0 barrier.
Ravens 21, Dolphins 20
NY Jets (2-10) at Minnesota (5-7) (-6), Sunday, 1 p.m. - The Jets have won seven straight and are 8-1 all-time against Minnesota but Rex Ryan has checked out when it comes to Geno Smith while Vikings rookie signal caller Teddy Bridgewater is trending upward, compiling a career-high 120.7 passer rating against Carolina in Week 13.
Vikings 20, Jets 13
Carolina (3-8-1) at New Orleans (5-7) (-9 1/2), Sunday, 1 p.m. - The Saints have been uncharacteristically bad at the Superdome, losing three straight but Carolina has dropped six consecutive overall and Drew Brees has a 129.8 passer rating in his past three at home against the Panthers.
Saints 31, Panthers 14
NY Giants (3-9) at Tennessee (2-10) (pick 'em), Sunday, 1 p.m. - Two dismal teams battle in Music City. The Giants have lost seven straight and failed to beat 2-10 Jacksonville last week after jumping out to a 21-0 lead. Titans rookie QB Zach Mettenberger is expected back under center this week after being knocked out against Houston with a shoulder injury. Tennessee has failed in six consecutive tests.
Giants 17, Titans 16
St. Louis (5-7) (-2 1/2) at Washington (3-9), Sunday, 1 p.m. - The Rams have remained very competitive thanks to their strong from on defense which includes star pass rusher Robert Quinn, who has nine sacks and four forced fumbles in his past seven games, and rookie DT Aaron Donald, who leads all freshman with six sacks. Washington is sticking with Colt McCoy at QB after a 392-yard, three-TD performance in a shootout loss to Indianapolis last weekend.
Rams 23, Redskins 21
Kansas City (7-5) at Arizona (9-3) (-1 1/2), Sunday, 4:05 p.m. - Two teams aiming to stop the bleeding after consecutive losses tangle in the desert. The Chiefs are now among five teams at 7-5 on the AFC side and can ill afford another setback, while Arizona's 9-1 start has regressed to 9-3 and a slim, one-game edge on the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks in the NFC West. The Cards are 6-0 at home this season and have won 10 of their last 11 overall in Arizona.
Cardinals 20, Chiefs 17
Buffalo (7-5) at Denver (9-3) (-10), Sunday, 4:05 p.m. - Buffalo's stout front will try to slow down the powerful Broncos. The Bills lead the NFL with 48 sacks and are the only team with three players who have nine-or-more sacks (Mario Williams, Marcell Dareus and Jerry Hughes). Williams has 6 1/2 sacks in his past four games while Dareus leads all interior lineman with 10 QB takedowns. Hughes, meanwhile, needs just one-half sack to record back-to-back 10-sack seasons. Denver QB Peyton Manning leads the NFL with 36 TD passes and has a TD pass in 51 consecutive games.
Broncos 27, Bills 20
San Francisco (7-5) (-8) at Oakland (1-11), Sunday, 4:25 p.m. - The Bay Area Bragging Rights Bowl shouldn't be much of a contest as the 49ers are in desperation mode to keep their playoff hopes alive and the 1-11 Raiders are fresh off a 52-0 drubbing at the hands of the St. Louis Rams.
49ers 31, Raiders 10
Seattle (8-4) at Philadelphia (9-3) (-1), Sunday, 4:25 p.m. - The Seahawks and Eagles are both coming off big divisional Thanksgiving Day victories. Seattle won at San Francisco 19-3 while Philadelphia recorded a 33-10 win at Dallas. After two consecutive division wins - both by scores of 19-3 -- the Seahawks enter the final month in control in the NFC West. If Seattle wins out, which includes a Week 16 matchup against the 9-3 Cardinals, Seattle will take home the division crown for the second consecutive year. The Eagles have sole possession of first place in the NFC East and LeSean McCoy surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark (1,018) against the Cowboys while wide receiver Jeremy Maclin reached the 1,000-yard receiving mark (1,088).
Seahawks 23, Eagles 20
New England (9-3) (-3 1/2) at San Diego (8-4), Sunday 8:30 p.m. - Sunday's action concludes with two teams in the thick of the AFC playoff race. At 9-3, the Patriots lead the AFC East and are in control for home-field advantage in the conference. The 8-4 Chargers are currently the top wild-card team and sit just one game behind Denver for the top spot in the AFC West. The Pats, who have won seven of eight, need one win to join the 1983-98 San Francisco 49ers as the only NFL teams with 10-plus wins in 14 consecutive seasons.
Patriots 27, Chargers 20
Atlanta (5-7) at Green Bay (9-3) (-12), Monday, 8:30 p.m. - Rarely is a division leader favored by double digits over another division leader but that's the story here. The Falcons enter the final month tied with New Orleans for the top spot in the NFC South at 5-7. The powerful Packers are 6-0 at Lambeau Field this season, outscoring opponents 245-106 in those contests. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers has thrown 360 consecutive passed and 31 touchdown passes at home since his last interception, both NFL records.
Packers 34, Falcons 20