SAN DIEGO -- After the New York Jets got trucked by an undrafted rookie named Branden Oliver, only 5-foot-9, 187 pounds, linebacker Demario Davis did his best Rex Ryan impersonation. In other words, he took the blame for the lackluster defensive performance in the 31-0 loss Sunday to the San Diego Chargers.
"As a leader on defense, I take full responsibility for everything that happens defensively," he said in a near-empty locker room.
Davis made a few big mistakes, saying he was "virtually invisible," but the problems obviously went beyond him. He shared a couple of troubling opinions, saying: "Right now, we're not practicing like a championship football team." He also said, "I don't see a lot of guys putting a lot of effort into film study."
Whoa. That's a harsh claim.
To be clear, Davis said it's his fault because he has to set a better example during the week, but that may have been a subtle message to his teammates: Get your rear ends in gear.
The Jets (1-4) were shredded by Philip Rivers, who passed for 288 yards and three touchdowns. He's the hottest quarterback in the league, so you knew there would be some hiccups. But they also couldn't stop the run, and that is the hallmark of the Jets' defense. The Jets, who allowed only 250 rushing yards in the first four games, surrendered 162 yards to a team that was averaging only 69.5 per game. Oliver, a fourth-string back, ran for 114 and added another 68 yards in receiving. There were several missed tackles, including two big misses by rookie Calvin Pryor. The Chargers reeled off three 90-yard touchdown drives.
Rex Ryan played a rope-a-dope strategy, using extra defensive backs and daring Rivers to run the ball. And he did.
Ryan mixed and matched in the secondary, returning Antonio Allen to safety and reducing Pryor to nickel duty. Allen, in his old position, allowed two touchdowns to tight end Antonio Gates. At times, Ryan employed a dime package, which he doesn't do that often. Then cornerback Darrin Walls (knee) got hurt and he had to adjust. Seldom-used Phillip Adams ended up playing most of the game. He intercepted a pass, the Jets' first of the season, but that was the only bright spot.
"I was trying everything," Ryan said.
He apparently flubbed a couple of calls, according to Sheldon Richardson.
"He had his few communication problems, and we were in the wrong stuff, or it was a different call than what we were calling and he wanted something different," Richardson said. "It only happened like twice, and it really wasn’t that big of a play when he did mess up. So it’s all on us."
The low point was Oliver's 53-yard pass reception. The Jets let Rivers slip out of a sack, and he found a wide open Oliver in the flat. He was so open that he could've stopped to sign autographs and still made 50 yards. Davis blew the coverage. He went after Rivers, trying to clean up for a sack, but he let Oliver leak out of the backfield.
"All my responsibility," Davis said.