At the beginning of his Monday press conference, New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan praised his offensive and defensive players for the way they executed the game plan in Sunday’s 28-21 victory over the New England Patriots in the AFC divisional playoffs.
However, for all his offense and defense had done right, Ryan felt the execution -- or lack-thereof -- from his special teams unit, left much to be desired.
“I was really disappointed with the special teams,” Ryan said. “Something that we really pride ourselves in is having great special teams and that wasn’t a good effort.”
K Nick Folk missed a chip shot 30-yard field goal that would’ve put Gang Green up 3-0 in the first quarter. Two of Steve Weatherford’s six punts went for touchbacks, while another was returned 41 yards by Julian Edelman late in the fourth quarter, ultimately setting up a field goal that brought the Patriots to within 21-14.
“I think he's had six touchbacks in the playoffs and he had four all season,” Ryan said of Weatherford, who averaged just 36.0 yards per punt and saw only one pin New England back inside its own 20. “[If] we get back to punting like we know he can, that could be a huge plus for us. Our special teams are always a big plus for us.”
NO TRASH TALK FROM REVIS
Darrelle Revis was asked Monday if he had a message for Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Unlike fellow cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who called Pats' quarterback Tom Brady an ass--- last week, Revis kept it G-rated.
"We’ll see you on Sunday," he said when asked if he had anything to say to Roethlisberger. "Ya’ll guys know me. I don’t get into that, ‘You’re an a-hole' and all that stuff. I don’t do that. I respect guys and I know he's a great quarterback and I can’t wait to play against him."
Cromartie did a solid job returning kicks on Sunday. In fact, he even took one of them back 37 yards. But the Jets were clearly missing the explosive, game-changing ability that dynamic pro bowl snub Brad Smith usually gives them in that area.
Smith (groin) was inactive against the Patriots. And from the sounds of it, Ryan isn’t too optimistic that he’ll be able to play versus the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship game this Sunday night.
“He never played in [last Sunday’s] game,” Ryan said. “So I don’t think they should plan on him playing.”
If that is the case, Cromartie, whose 47-yard return late in the fourth quarter against the Indianapolis Colts in the wildcard round set up Folk's game-winning 32-yard field goal, will likely be thrust back into emergency return duty.
Smith, who returned two kickoffs for touchdowns during the regular season, is set to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
Nickelback Drew Coleman quelled any fears about his injured knee when, after coming off a corner blitz, he soared through the air and flipped over as he sacked Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady.
“I feel pretty good today,” said Coleman, who underwent a precautionary MRI last Thursday but was cleared to play after the results showed no structural damage. “[My knee] started aching around halftime. But I kept moving around, icing and getting it rubbed down.”
Coleman, who also finished Sunday’s game with four tackles, suffered the injury on the last play of Thursday’s practice. Initially, many thought it may have been worse than it actually was.
But Coleman wasn’t going to let the injury hold him out.
“[The trainers and coaches] kept asking me how I felt,” Coleman said. “And I kept telling them, I can handle the pain. I’ll worry about it in the offseason. I just wanted to contribute and help the team.”