The New York Jets have overcome adversity under coach Rex Ryan, so they’re not too worried about a three-game losing streak.
Another home loss to the winless Miami Dolphins may drastically change that.
The Jets attempt to avoid their longest slide in four years by beating the Dolphins at home for the first time in four meetings Monday night.
Most sports books monitored by SportsOptions have installed the Jets as 6 1/2-point home favorites, with the total set at 42 1/2.
New York (2-3) has lost three in a row, and each defeat has come on the road against teams that appear to be viable playoff contenders – Oakland, Baltimore and New England.
The latest setback came at the hands of the arch-rival Patriots last week, with the Jets losing 30-21 as the supposedly vaunted defense surrendered a season-high 446 yards and ranks among the worst in the NFL.
Ryan shunned any talk of his brash and bold team losing confidence or focus, as talk of vying for a Super Bowl title have waned fast.
“This team is not going to (break) just because we’re 2-3 right now,” he said. “That’s when you get stronger. That’s when you come in together and you build character. This is a resilient bunch. I’m telling you, we’ll see. I believe in this football team.
“I don’t see us losing our confidence. I think maybe people outside of that room are going to lose confidence. We’re not. I’m confident in the fact that I see signs of us getting better. We have to, obviously. This is a critical game for us Monday night, and that’s where our focus is going to be.”
Ryan may be taking solace in the fact the Jets have rebounded from difficult stretches in each of the last two seasons since he was hired. They dropped three in a row twice during a seven-game stretch in 2009, and lost three of five to cap the 2010 regular season. Both times, New York shrugged off those stretches to end up in the AFC championship game.
“It’s a 100-percent fact that each team is going to have to deal with adversity,” Ryan said. “And this is our opportunity.”
Facing the Dolphins (0-4) would seem to be a good way for the Jets to avoid their longest slide since a six-game skid in 2007, but they’ve dropped three in a row and four of five overall to their division rival.
“There can be a lot of titles for this game,” nose tackle Sione Pouha said. “But for us, it’s the next game and a game we’ve got to win.”
Mark Sanchez and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer are coming under criticism due to the offense ranking toward the bottom of the NFL. There was even a report that Jets’ receivers met with Ryan individually to voice their displeasure with Schottenheimer, but the team refuted it.
Derrick Mason publicly criticized the team two weeks ago, saying it had “cracks,” and was mentioned as one of the unhappy receivers in the report. The team dealt him to Houston for an undisclosed draft pick Tuesday.
“At times, I think our offense has looked productive, efficient,” general manager Mike Tannenbaum said. “At other times, we’ve all seen it, it hasn’t been to the level that we hope or expect. With that said, I believe in the guys in the locker room.”
The Jets’ offensive showing in the last meeting with the Dolphins in Week 14 last year may not inspire much confidence. They lost 10-6 at home, as the offense was limited to 280 yards while Sanchez contributed 216 on 17 of 44 passing with an interception.
Miami’s offense, meanwhile, hasn’t produced more than 16 points in its last three games, and any success it has Monday may need to come early. Outspoken receiver Brandon Marshall, diagnosed earlier this year with borderline personality disorder, said this week he’s been keeping his emotions in check thus far – but plans to change that against the Jets.
“My goal is to get thrown out midway through the second quarter,” said Marshall, who’s tied for third in the league with five drops – including three in the end zone.
“I’m serious. They want to fine me, it’ll probably be like a $50,000 fine. But I’m going to play. That quarter and half I’m out there, I’m going to play like a monster.”
Marshall will have a new starting quarterback targeting him. Matt Moore took over for Chad Henne, who separated his left shoulder during a 26-16 loss at San Diego in Week 4 and is out for the season.
Moore was 17 for 26 passing for 167 yards with one INT in relief, and had a 55.6 passer rating with five TDs and 10 picks in six games for Carolina last year before a shoulder injury ended his season.
“He’s been in the huddle as a starting quarterback before,” coach Tony Sparano said. “I think the guy has good leadership qualities. He’s run off a string of wins, four or five wins up there in Carolina. He’s a confident guy.”
The Dolphins will likely need to put up some points considering their defense has done little to stop anyone, ranking among the most porous units in the league by surrendering an average of 414.5 yards.
They’re returning from a bye looking to end their worst start since losing the first 13 games of 2007.