Florham Park, NJ– There are a myriad of reasons why football is America’s most popular sport, the violence, fantasy football and gambling are just a few. But perhaps the biggest reason for football’s popularity is the small schedule consisting of just 16 games, where every win carries that much more significance because there are only 16 opportunities to get one. In today’s parity driven NFL the significance is heightened even more, a win is a tough thing to come by in the NFL regardless of the opponent.

So for all these reasons and more fans, players and coaches all like to take time to savor the wins, especially a win that ends a three game losing streak, but this week the Jets simply don’t have the time to savor anything.

“Obviously it was a short night, if you will, we got back (and) watched the tape at night and then moved on immediately to New England so that’s basically where we’re at and I don’t have (an) injury report or anything else for you, so fire away.” Rex Ryan said as he opened up today’s press conference.

The Jets were able to keep their slim playoff hopes alive by beating the Rams in St. Louis, they even got some help with both wildcard leaders (Colts and Steelers) losing, but Ryan knows this team still has a lot of work to do to get where they want to be and that starts with the Patriots on Thursday night.

The Jets earned a big win against the Rams yesterday to keep their slim playoff hopes alive and the strong play of the offensive line was as big a reason as any. But that was yesterday, today the Jets focus shifts to doing the same against the Patriots on Thursday night. (JetsInsider.com Photo)

Jet fans surely took notice of the losses by the Colts and the Steelers, hoping this win against the Rams can turn the momentum of the season around and maybe, just maybe get the Jets back into the playoffs. As for the Jets themselves, Ryan said those losses weren’t anything they concerned themselves with either way.

“No. I mean right now we have so much work to do (that) all we can do is focus on ourselves, we’re not getting into that now.” Ryan said, “We know we have to get better, we know the challenge that’s in front of us but we’re just trying to punch our way out and that’s where our focus is.”

The Jets may have already turned their focus to the Patriots, but it’d be silly of us to move on from the Rams as quickly as the players. For many Jet fans the win against the Rams had to be somewhat frustrating, not the actual win part of course, but the part where the offense looked so competent it’s frustrating to wonder where that specific offensive display has been? The Rams aren’t a playoff contender (their poor offensive play being the reason why), but they have a very good defense and the Jets offense, which has been splendidly horrific for most of the season, looked downright functional for the first time in weeks. We’ve seen these offensive outbursts before and seen them vanish just as fast, but if it’s possible for this offense to keep this level of play up then their slim playoff chances become realistic after all.

As always most of the attention will be placed on Sanchez and his performance and he turned in a very good and efficient performance, but the key to this win and future wins or losses lay with the big men up front, holding down the line. The Jets offensive line manhandled the Rams front seven and opened up holes for the running back (to the point where all three running backs looked impressive, three!!!) and gave Sanchez enough time to find open receivers.

“Just real happy with, I thought our offensive line was really physical in the game. I thought that was, not surprising, but it was good.” Ryan said, “They (Rams) give you a challenge, they do a lot of things, multiple fronts blitzes and all that and I thought our guys were very physical and that was impressive.”

Skeptics will understandably want to see the Jets do this consistently before they begin to take the Jets seriously, even the most optimistic Jet fans out there will be just as hesitant. The Jets played a great game against the Rams, now they have to keep playing great games throughout the rest of the season. Yes the Jets need Sanchez to play at this type of productive level to continue winning, but he needs to continue to get help to allow him to play at said level.

“Well I think we all have to play at the top of our game (not just Sanchez). I don’t think there’s any doubt about that, I think we all have to perform there. I think sometimes when you look at a quarterback rating, you just target in specifically on the quarterback but obviously a lot goes into that.” Ryan said, “Obviously the protections go into that, receivers running the right routes, catching the football. A lot of things go into it, backs with protections, offensive line blocking so I think that’s a team thing more than anything else and clearly he (Sanchez) did an excellent job, I think the rating was 118 or something like that, so I’d love to sign up for that type of day, sure.”

More 118 quarterback ratings for Sanchez would likely equal more wins for the Jets, but Ryan and the players know a lot of players contributed to that 118 rating and they’re going to need to keep contributing just the same in order to replicate those numbers.

“Obviously Mark had an outstanding game, if you look at it, it really could’ve been 17 out of 20, because we had a couple of drops there, so he threw the ball really well. He had the one stripped sack, which we have to really emphasize this week, New England has forced six stripped sacks this season.” Ryan said as he shifted the focus to the Patriots. “Number 50, I think, (Rob) Ninkovich, whatever his name is, he’s a good player (laughing), but I know him by number. He’s forced five or six fumbles this year so they do a great job of attacking the football. I think they lead the league in forced fumbles so it’s something they’ve always done a great job of so we have to make sure that we’re protecting the football at all costs.”

Yesterday’s win against the Rams has given the Jets and their fans some new energy, but a loss against the Patriots will erase all that and usher in the doomsdayers again and as we know the Patriots tend to pose a tougher task than the likes of the Rams. The Jets defense has stepped up it’s game in all areas, coverage, running game and most importantly pressure, but even if the offense only trends upward from here on out the Jets will still need Muhammad Wilkerson and the rest of the defense to continue to be disruptive and on Thanksgiving night they will face their toughest challenge remaining in the regular season, even with Rob Gronkowski out with a broken forearm.

“I don’t know, they have like five tight ends on their roster so I don’t know if they’ll put another guy in that role, I’m not sure how they’ll do it.” Ryan said, “New England’s so multiple, sometimes it’ll be four-wides, five-wides, could be a bunch of tight ends and all that, but we’ll see how the game goes how it effects them.

“Obviously with Gronkowski (being) a huge target, especially in the red zone, I never like to see anyone get hurt, I’m not sad that he’s missing our game but I hope he gets back soon.”

Gronkowski will be out, Aaron Hernandez could be too, but as Ryan said this is still the Patriots, they have so many weapons and like to use them in “a zillion,” different ways. The Jets can’t concern themselves with who the Patriots will throw out on the field, all they can focus on is how to stop whoever is out there.

Last week the Jets talked about having to play with a sense of desperation, this week and every week for the remainder of the season the desperation level will be exactly the same. This is the hole the Jets dug for themselves and it’s the only possible route they can take to work their way out.

“Well, It’s there.” Ryan said when asked if they still feel the desperation. “We put ourselves in this spot and without question it’s there and again it’s not a panic thing, it’s just the fact that, hey we just got to be focused and tight and whatever the next challenge is to face it head on and that’s what we’ll do.”

Usually it’s easy to disregard much of what Ryan says as bluster or coach-speak, but last week Ryan expressed his confidence in Sanchez and it paid off. This week Ryan is eliminating the rhetoric and keeping the focus strictly on beating the Patriots and he proved this by not biting when the hook of bulletin board material dangled in front of him as he was asked if he has a message for the Patriots this week.

“I’m going to say this, right now we’re just swinging. Obviously we’re going to focus on our opponent specifically, but anything we do, we’re behind where we have to be and we can only focus on ourselves.” Ryan said, “We earned where we are and we just have to find a way to punch our way out and that’s it. I’m not even worried about tweaking New England or anyone else, it’s to the point where, no, no, no, we have to focus on just us.”

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