Jets coach Ryan tired of hearing excuses for team's 4-4 start

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Rex Ryan wants results, not excuses.

The New York Jets' first-year coach wasn't happy with his players' effort near the end of practice Thursday and let them know it. Being 4-4 just won't cut it, especially when mistakes have cost them a few games.

"I believe in being honest and telling the truth," Ryan said Friday. "Practice today, I thought was outstanding with the focus, attention to detail. We're close."

Ryan has said the Jets could be 6-2 if not for some foolish penalties and bad plays, while some of his players believe they could be 7-1. None of that matters at the moment to Ryan.

"You can't have a good practice or a good game, and then all of the sudden one or two plays, 'But if this doesn't happen or that happen, we'd be 7-1,'" he said. "The fact is, those things have happened."

The Jets have lost four of their last five games, and some players, including defensive end Shaun Ellis, called Sunday's game against the Jacksonville Jaguars a "must-win." The Jets' last three losses have come by 12 total points, and the team has been called for 26 penalties during that stretch.

"We're tired of making excuses," Ryan said. "We don't need to make excuses. We just need to play better and find ways to win. That's the message to our team."

The sting of the Jets' 30-25 loss to the Miami Dolphins two weeks ago is still fresh for special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff. The Jets allowed Ted Ginn Jr. to return two long kickoffs for touchdowns during the third quarter, turning the game around with what Westhoff called "two atomic bombs."

Westhoff said he returned from the bye-week break and told the players on his unit that he was starting from scratch, making evaluations on everyone beginning Sunday.

"We can't go back," Westhoff said. "We can't change it. We're a sick 4-4, not a happy 4-4. Now, when we were 3-0, we felt pretty good. That's how I'm going to approach it, with that in mind, and build from there."

Ryan knows he'll either be praised or heavily criticized for giving the players six days off during the bye week. He made the decision a few months ago and wasn't going to punish the players that way.

"We're going to see on Sunday," Ryan said. "Those six days off are going to be judged by how successful we play. That's fine. I think we're going to play well. Our guys are fresh, and I think we're focused. It's going to be a great game on Sunday."

Ryan again has called on the fans to be loud at the Meadowlands after taking a similar approach before the Jets' Week 2 game against the New England Patriots. He believes a raucous crowd can help the Jets on the field, but the team knows it needs to give the fans something to cheer.

"Watching the first-half cutups, just a couple of plays here or there got me excited to come back, I know that," Jets rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez said earlier in the week. "That's the general consensus around the building. We're excited to play again. We know we're in a good spot. Missed some opportunities in the first half of the season, but we're looking to capitalize on them this go-around."

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The Jets also need to capitalize on a favorable schedule, at least at the start of the second-half stretch. After playing Jacksonville (4-4), New York is at AFC East-leading New England (6-2), followed by games against Carolina (3-5), at Buffalo (3-5) in Toronto and at Tampa Bay (1-7). Things then become a lot tougher as the Jets finish against Atlanta (5-3), at Indianapolis (8-0) and home against Cincinnati (6-2).

"When you consider how long these guys have been at it, all the minicamps and OTAs and the training camp and half your regular-season games, to get that time off, it is the stretch run," Ryan said. "Albeit at the beginning of the stretch run, but that's what it is. There's got to be that sense of urgency. Don't wait for somebody else to make the breaks for you. We've got to do it ourselves, and we understand that."

Notes: Ryan said it's "a real possibility" that Justin Miller might not return kickoffs against the Jaguars, two weeks after re-signing him. A former Pro Bowl returner who sustained a serious knee injury in 2007, Miller's speed is being evaluated. He could be replaced by Brad Smith or Dwight Lowery. ... The Jets had close to 100 members of the military, representing every branch, as honored guests at practice Friday. ... The team is asking fans to bring nonperishable food donations to Sunday's game as part of its annual food drive to benefit the Interfaith Nutrition Network.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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