That's in part due to the fact that they were, quite literally, defeated just moments earlier by the New England Patriots, a team that has become a bitter rival. More than that, though, the players were trying to wrap their heads around their unexpected 2-3 record. It was a silent march, for the most part, with special teams coach Mike Westhoff's quick word with Jamaal Westerman serving as the only bit of chatter from a team known for its talking.
When the players did speak after the game, though, their mood seemed brightened. They expressed confidence in each other and in the coaching staff and stressed that it's still early enough in the season to turn it around. However, the sound of helmets and pads banging against lockers proved to be much louder than any words spoken in that locker room.
"We're searching and we'll find the answer," an uncharacteristically quiet Rex Ryan said after the 30-21 loss. "There were some encouraging signs, but not enough of 'em."
Veteran running back LaDainian Tomlinson, who was limited to just 13 rushing yards and two receiving yards, felt comfortable enough to talk about the Jets playing football in January.
"There's no panic," Tomlinson said. "It is early and we got a long way to go. … You always talk about playing your best football in December and January, so if that's the case, we're a long ways off. … We feel like we're making strides."
Cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who was burned badly on Deion Branch's third-quarter touchdown, was clear in insisting the Patriots did nothing to surprise the Jets.
"They really didn't do anything special," Cromartie said of the Patriots' offense, which gained 446 yards.
Wide receiver Derrick Mason didn't get much playing time and finished the game with just one catch for seven yards. He said his team, which was outgained by 191 yards, played as well as the Patriots.
"I think everyone played really, really well out there — as well as New England," Mason said. "It's just whatever way the ball bounces, and the ball didn't bounce our way today."
Plaxico Burress was one of few Jets to absorb some of the blame for the loss, but fellow receiver Santonio Holmes was quick to blame the lockout and lack of offseason preparation for the Jets' poor execution.
"You still gotta fault the lockout," Holmes said when asked about Mark Sanchez's lack of chemistry with some of his new receivers. "Not enough time to get a feel for all the players. He's a professional quarterback, we can't make any excuses for ourselves and for him."
Sanchez's offense converted just three of 11 third downs, going three-and-out on seven of its first nine drives. Despite those struggles leading to seven punts, Sanchez stressed the other two downs.
"We moved the ball fine when we converted on third down," Sanchez said. "Our first and second down production was great. We just stalled on third down."
Ryan, despite his quiet demeanor, spent extra effort to try to find the positives.
"I have seen this team, it's a resilient team, and I think we will be right there and I think we will get better," he said.
To the Jets' credit, they sang a similar tune last December, when they were blown out 45-3 in their final meeting of the regular season with New England. A little more than a month later, the Jets returned the favor with a playoff victory in the very same building.
On this trip, the quick change in appearance of the players from the moment they walked off the field to the time they talked to reporters in the locker room speaks to Ryan's ability to reach his players. He exudes confidence, and they believe in it. For now.
The players said all the right things, but with the Chargers (4-1), Bills (4-1) and Patriots (4-1) all on the schedule in three of the Jets' next four games, that confidence is teetering. Another loss or two could bring about fewer comments about how good they should be and more comments like Holmes had when asked how tough it is to lose to a team like the Patriots.
"Just losing to any team sucks," Holmes said, "and especially this team."
Powered by WordPress.com VIP