NFL Team Report - New York Jets - INSIDE SLANT
Things worked out pretty well for head coach Rex Ryan the first time he prematurely eliminated the New York Jets from playoff contention. But even he knows history is not going to repeat itself this time around.
It was a good thing in Week 15 of the 2009 season, when the Jets fell to 7-7 with a 10-7 loss to the Falcons. Afterward, first-year head coach Ryan said the Jets were knocked out of playoff contention, but they still had long-shot hopes -- long-shot hopes that they cashed in on by upsetting the unbeaten Colts in Week 16 while five AFC teams with six or seven losses all lost.
That meant the Jets just had to beat the Bengals -- who had already clinched the AFC North and were resting their regulars -- in Week 17 in order to reach the playoffs, which they did via a 37-0 rout.
This time, alas, the long-shot hopes are considerably longer, and less hopeful. The Jets, who haven't won consecutive games all season, need to beat the Browns and Dolphins in Weeks 16 and 17 while the Ravens and Dolphins lose out and the Steelers and Chargers all lose at least once apiece.
If any of those things fails to happen, the Jets will officially be eliminated from playoff contention for the third straight year. The end could come as soon as Monday night if the Ravens beat the Lions in Detroit.
Whenever the end arrives, the questions about Ryan's future -- he's unsigned beyond next year and working under a first-year general manager in John Idzik -- will only increase in volume and intensity.
"The only thing I know I can do is do the best job I possibly can and keep my focus on the job at hand and not worry about other things," Ryan said Monday.
There will be plenty of time for that -- almost certainly sooner rather than later.
NFL Team Report - New York Jets - NOTES, QUOTES
--The Santonio Holmes Era -- or Error -- is ending in predictable fashion for both the Jets and the mercurial wide receiver.
Holmes provided the Panthers plenty of bulletin board material last Thursday, when he said Carolina's secondary was the weak link of a stout defense. While that may have been technically true -- the Panthers allowed a league-low 79.4 rushing yards per game in their first 13 games -- they weren't exactly getting beat through the air. Entering Sunday, the Panthers were surrendering an average of 217 passing yards per game, the fifth-lowest figure in the NFL.
"Just from a numbers perspective and guys in their position, nothing from my perspective puts those guys in (the elite) category," Holmes said. "It's the way they're ranked throughout the NFL. It's not my perspective."
Suffice to say the Panthers enjoyed the opportunity to alter Holmes' perspective Sunday, when quarterback Geno Smith threw for just 167 yards in the Jets' 30-20 loss. David Nelson said afterward that a Panthers defensive back told him during the Jets' first series -- a possession in which Holmes committed a terrible drop -- that Carolina would be looking to prove Holmes wrong all day.
"They made a point to let us know on the first drive that they weren't appreciative of the comments and that they were going to make us pay throughout the game," Nelson told reporters. "On the first series, they were gunning for us."
Holmes was a complete non-factor Sunday, when he had just two catches for 14 yards and failed to corral a Smith pass that was returned for a touchdown by Captain Munnerlyn in the fourth quarter, but he remained as defiant as ever when asked if he'd made a mistake inspiring the Panthers.
"I'm an eight-year vet," Holmes said. "I wouldn't regret anything."