We've grown accustomed to a certain style from Rex Ryan over the years, but the Jets coach threw a curveball when he addressed the media upon the team's return to work after the bye week.
Ryan didn't make any bold proclamations about making the playoffs and he didn't bubble over with emotion to the 3-5 first half. No, Ryan showed both restraint and a pretty fair assessment of where things stood for his team before ending with an optimistic note.
"We’re not where we want to be, we’re not even close," Ryan said. “We’re not even sniffing the playoffs, we’re not sniffing anything right now, but I want to get there, man. I’m excited about the prospects in front of us."
Safety LaRon Landry took a slightly different and considerably saltier approach than the boss. Landry isn't even ready to contemplate the possibility that the Jets season won't be ending with a playoff bid.
"We still can be in the playoff run," Landry said. "Sh—, if we don’t get into the playoffs, man, it’s a boring-a-- season. F--- that."
So can the Jets help Landry avoid the boredom that he's experienced in four of his five previous seasons as a professional? The schedule is one reason to think they have a shot.
Playing in Seattle is never an easy draw, but Ryan's defensive acumen against a rookie quarterback is never a bad draw. It's not any worse against Sam Bradford, John Skelton, Blaine Gabbert, Jake Locker or Ryan Fitzpatrick either.
The defense is coasting on Ryan's past achievements at this point, though. Antonio Cromartie has played very well and the young defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson has had his moments, but it's hard to point out any other defender who has played well above average at this point in the season.
All of the Mark Sanchez/Tim Tebow focus has served to keep that fairly well obscured, but the truth is that this defense hasn't been good enough to win games by itself. As long as Jeremy Kerley is the top receiver, Stephen Hill keeps dropping the ball and Shonn Greene fronts a mediocre run game, that's going to be the easiest path for the Jets to take to victory.
We'll find out soon enough if they are up to the task, but it's really hard to find anything other than a restoration of the defense that can get these Jets playing well enough to start sniffing the playoffs. A boring answer?
Perhaps, but it is the only one that even begins to answer the questions the Jets face at the start of the second half.