FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Rex Ryan woke up Monday morning with a new outlook on the New York Jets' playoff chances.
"We're actually in a better situation right now this week than we were last week at this time," the Jets coach said. "That's unbelievable."
So much so that it stunned even Ryan, who was downright angry and frustrated after the Jets' 10-7 loss to Atlanta. On Sunday, he said the Jets (7-7) were "obviously out of the playoffs," not taking into account the many head-spinning scenarios that still give them a slim shot.
"I was dead wrong," Ryan said, offering a mea culpa. "You would think the head coach of the team would know the situations, know the playoff scenarios, all that. The only thing that I knew is, in my opinion, I thought we had to win out."
Ryan addressed the team's chances with the players Monday, laying things out for them. Truth is, the Jets would be sitting pretty had they beaten the Falcons because so many other teams in the mix lost.
"We got more help than any team in league history, I think," safety Jim Leonhard said. "Everyone that needs to lose is losing."
And now, it comes to this: The Jets need to figure out how to beat the undefeated Colts at Indianapolis on Sunday to keep their playoff dreams going.
"One thing I want to make sure that everybody is clear on, throwing in the towel is not who I am and that isn't who this football team is," Ryan said. "We ain't quitting. I don't care if we haven't won a game. We ain't quitting ever."
According to the Jets, they need the following to happen this week for them to control their own destiny:
- Beat Indianapolis (14-0).
- Hope Jacksonville (7-7) loses at New England (9-5), AND Miami (7-7) loses vs. Houston (7-7) at home.
Plus, either of the following:
- Have Baltimore (8-6) lose at Pittsburgh (7-7), OR Denver (8-6) lose at Philadelphia (10-4).
"I think I'm an expert on it now," Ryan said.
The most improbable of all of those scenarios would appear to be the only one the Jets have any control over. After the way they lost Sunday, they've given little reason to believe they can be the first blemish on the Colts' ride to a perfect season.
"We have to ask ourselves on offense, 'Do we really want to go to the playoffs?'" wide receiver Braylon Edwards said. "'Is this something that everybody on this team wants? Every position, every coach, is this something that we really want?' Because right now, it doesn't look that way. We're playing embarrassing on offense."
The Jets realize they blew a golden opportunity at home Sunday.
"We know that we've stubbed our toe enough this season to last a lifetime," Edwards said.
There were three interceptions by Mark Sanchez, three botched field-goal attempts, and several silly penalties.
"Playing the way we did yesterday," Edwards said, "we don't deserve to go to the playoffs."
The much-hyped defense, ranked No. 1 overall in the league, stopped Atlanta all game until it mattered most. The Jets allowed two third-down conversions on the Falcons' final drive, and then gave up a fourth-down touchdown pass to Tony Gonzalez — with everyone expecting the ball to go to him.
"There were opportunities for us to make plays to change the game, but we didn't get it done," safety Kerry Rhodes said. "So, we're sitting here at 7-7 and need some more help now."
Ryan had played Rhodes man-to-man on Gonzalez for most of the game, and the Jets held the big tight end in check for the most part. That's what made that game-changing play all the more frustrating.
"We played a little zone coverage and it just wasn't played the way it should've been all the way across the board," Rhodes said. "It was a play we should've defended."
Ryan said it was the right call to play it that way, even though Gonzalez said after the game he was stunned the Jets went to a zone in that situation.
"I've seen a few huddles snapped in my day," Ryan said, "and I know for a fact that's the best coverage you can be in."
Ryan also bemoaned some of the errant throws by Sanchez, who's tied for second-most in the league with 20 interceptions.
"We've got to make sure we're clear, everything is crystal clear, on what we expect of him in every situation, what we can't have happen," Ryan said. "I thought we were through it, but obviously, we're not. We're going to get better at our communication with each other and we'll get this fixed."
The Jets better hope it's fixed this week because there's no margin for error left. Especially against the Colts.
"For us, this is our Super Bowl," Edwards said. "No ifs, ands or buts about it."