Ryan: Jets should push the physicality line, but not cross it
New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan calls a play from the sidelines in the first half of an NFL preseason football game against the Cincinnati Bengals, Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Tom Uhlman)
Cincinnati Bengals running back Cedric Peerman (30) runs against New York Jets linebacker Nick Bellore (54) and defensive end Jason Babin (58) in the second half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Tony Tribble)
Cincinnati Bengals defensive end Margus Hunt (99) works against New York Jets tight end Zach Sudfeld (44) in the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 16, 2014, in Cincinnati. Hunt is emerging as a regular on the Bengals' line in his second season. (AP Photo/Tom Uhlman)
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Just call ’em the Big, Bad New York Jets.
They’re an aggressive bunch who will hit you hard, push back if you shove them, and stick up for one another without hesitation.
At least, that’s Rex Ryan’s dream scenario for his team – with a few less penalties, of course.
“We want to be a physical football team, but we also want to be within the confinements of the rules,” Ryan said yesterday. “Are there things that we need to clean up? Did we cross the line a couple of times? I think we did, okay?
“But I think the point about guys sticking up for each other and all that, that’s what we do and we’re going to do it. You’ve got to take care of your players.”
The Jets were called for 12 penalties, including a whopping six personal fouls, in a 25-17 win Saturday night. Another personal foul penalty was declined.
“Obviously, it’s never going to be acceptable when you have six personal foul penalties,” Ryan said. “But it is to a point where the style of play, we were going to be aggressive and we challenged our guys to be aggressive.”
Some might call it sloppy and undisciplined. The Jets thought it might have been a case where they were making a statement.
“Yeah, I mean, Rex talks to us about being physical and being tough and doing the things that it takes to win games,” quarterback Geno Smith said. “So it started up front and I think a lot of those flags were a result of us trying to be a little chippy and having that hard edge.”
Both right guard Willie Colon and right tackle Breno Giacomini got into it with the Bengals during a first-quarter skirmish that including some pushing and shoving.
“We refer to them as ‘The Bash Brothers,’ ” center Nick Mangold said. “It’s that kind of mentality, as long as it’s within the whistle, that’s a great thing for us.”
A few times, though, penalties short-circuited drives, and that’s something the Jets recognize they need to work on, balancing being smart and aggressive.
“You can talk about it until you’re blue in the face and I don’t think it registers a lot of times with guys,” Mangold said. “This time, we were able to see the detriment that it had. When you go from 3rd-and-6 to 3rd-and-16. Third-and-6 is hard enough as it is, and now you have to tack on another 10. … I think being able to look at the film and say, ‘This hurt us,’ is a good thing.”
Ryan doesn’t believe teams will look at the Jets and try to bait them into committing drive-killing penalties.
“I think we went into that specific game with a certain mentality ourselves,” he said. “We weren’t going to be a punching bag. So, we approached it that way. We were the more physical team.”
And the slightly more-penalized team, too. The Bengals drew 11 penalty calls; it seemed yellow flags were constantly flying.
“We’ve just got to be smart and understand how far we can take it,” Ryan said. “Again, I don’t want to see a penalty ever. I want to be the least-penalized team in the league. But I also want to be the most aggressive that we can possibly be.”
Ryan pointed out that the last two Super Bowl champions, Seattle and Baltimore, were also the two most-penalized teams in the league in those seasons.
“I’ll sign up for that,” Ryan joked before reiterating the need to strive for fewer penalties.
Players must keep their composure, even when an opponent is trying to rile them up.
“You have to understand that we can’t put ourselves in tough situations, can’t shoot ourselves in the foot,” Smith said. “I fully expect to get those things corrected because we have veteran guys on the front line and within our locker room, and guys who understand what it takes to win. So we just have to do the right thing, and not get those flags.”