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Ryan motivates Jets to succeed

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Recent posts by Eli Kaberon

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Posted Oct. 18, 2010 @ 4:48 p.m. ET
By Eli Kaberon

The Jets forgot to pack their 'A' game with them to Denver, as turnovers and sloppy play had them trailing 17-10 to the Broncos heading into the fourth quarter. Their leaders on both sides of the ball, QB Mark Sanchez and CB Darrelle Revis, had poor afternoons, as one threw two interceptions and the other was beaten for a long touchdown. After their Monday-night win in Week Five and a cross-country flight to the Rockies, this had all the makings of a letdown game.

Thankfully for Gang Green, LaDainian Tomlinson had no letdown. The star running back, who has re-emerged as an elite player since coming to the Jets in the offseason, scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns, the second one coming with just 1:13 remaining. The Broncos had one final chance to come back, but an errant snap gave the ball back to the Jets, who took a knee and escaped with a 24-20 win to improve to 5-1.

The PFW Spin

Rex Ryan has the reputation of being a player's coach, and the title is well-deserved. In training camp, Ryan held daily competitions to see which non-QB could throw the farthest pass, which non-kicker could boot the longest field goal, which non-skill position player could catch the most punts, etc. He tells reporters all the time how good his players are, putting a bulls eye on their back that the coach knows can be backed up on the field. Ryan is even giving his players an entire week off for their bye — no practice or meetings until Oct. 25.

In exchange for the fun, the hype and the rest comes hard work. Jets players seem to want to win for their head coach, a compliment that can't be given to every team. A lot of squads would have given up if they had been in the same situation New York was, trailing in the fourth quarter in a tough road environment on a short week. It's understandable. But the Jets kept fighting and pulled out another win, one that could make the difference between an AFC wild-card game and another bye come playoff time.

Ryan's father, Buddy, was the same way when he coached. As coordinator and then as head coach of the Eagles and Cardinals, players swore by Buddy Ryan. When Chicago won the Super Bowl following the 1985 season, a group of players carried head coach Mike Ditka on their shoulders, while a separate group carried Ryan. No assistant before or since has received that honor.

The Jets' 5-1 record comes from a lot of hard work from a group of really talented players. But that hard work and talent is magnified when the players are giving maximum effort. Rex Ryan has sold his players on the theory that they can beat anybody in the league and that they are worthy of being champions. On Sunday in Denver, the team showed the coach that statement is true.

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