The Jets' conservative play-calling in the waning minutes of regulation in New York's 29-26 overtime loss to the New England Patriots on Sunday reminded many observers of the Herm Edwards era.
In those years, the Jets tended to play it safe during the two-minute offense and usually lived to regret it, most notably in an AFC divisional playoff overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers following the 2004 season.
In defending the play-calling Monday, coach Rex Ryan took the Edwards similarities a step further by actually sounding like the ex-Jets and ex-Kansas City Chiefs coach.
"Everything we do is to play to win the game," Ryan said during his press conference.
All Ryan was missing was the exaggerated "HELLO?" that Edwards uttered during his infamous "you play to win the game" press conference early in the 2002 season, after which the Jets came back from a 1-4 start to win the AFC East at 9-7. That landed Edwards a deal to write a book titled, you guessed it, "You Play To Win The Game."
Ryan's YouTube-worthy press conferences earned him a book deal of his own ("Play Like You Mean It" was released in 2011), but can Ryan follow in Edwards' footsteps and steer the Jets back from a rough start to win what looks like a watered-down AFC East?
The Jets certainly look like a much better team than they were three weeks ago, when they were reeling from a 34-0 loss to the 49ers. But the Jets are just 1-2 since then, with narrow losses to the Patriots and the then-unbeaten Texans, and Ryan and Edwards would certainly agree there are no moral victories in football.
Ryan knows the Jets' playoff hopes will be in mortal danger if they can't beat the Dolphins at MetLife Stadium this weekend.
"We're playing much better than we were three weeks ago as a football team," Ryan said. "Obviously, with the games that we're playing, we're just not there yet. We have to keep going and keep getting a little better. We have to win these types of games. I think that's what has to drive our team to prepare and get better.
"When you look at it, we have to do something this week that we haven't done since I've been here, and that's sweep Miami," Ryan said. "That has to be it. That's the only thing that has to be on our mind. We have to learn from our mistakes that we made in this game and move forward."
And Ryan is certain, as he made clear Monday, those mistakes against the Patriots had nothing to do with the play-calling. The Jets only used Tim Tebow on four offensive snaps Sunday, including the first snap after the Jets recovered a Patriots fumble inside the New England 20-yard line with two minutes to play and the game tied 23-23.
The Jets ended up losing 7 yards and using up just 19 seconds on three plays on that "drive," which ended with a 43-yard field goal by Nick Folk.
The Patriots then marched down the field to tie the game on a Stephen Gostkowski field goal at the gun. New England drove for what turned out to be the game-winning field goal during the first possession of overtime.
Talk radio was filled Monday with declarations that the Jets played scared down the stretch Sunday, which led to Ryan channeling his inner Edwards.
"We go down to win," Ryan said. "I think saying we played scared is (said by) somebody who has probably never played the game in his life That's a ridiculous comment. That's certainly not what we do.
"If you lose, people have the right to any opinion they want. They can make that (assumption), but to say we were scared, that's not even close to being accurate."