Jets under siege in New York

New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan walks the sideline in second half of their NFL football game...

New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan walks the sideline in second half of their NFL football game against the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Massachusetts October 9, 2011. (REUTERS/Adam Hunger)

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 5:44 PM ET

When you happen to be a New York-based team and are under performing, the second-guessing and finger-pointing reach art form status.

So it is with the New York Jets who have lost three in a row and unexpectedly find themselves in dire straits in the AFC East.

Not content to lay the whip on head coach Rex Ryan and quarterback Alex Sanchez, Jets critics have also focused on offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer as a source of the team’s woes.

This in turn has prompted both Ryan and Sanchez to come to Schottenheimer’s defence.

Schottenheimer was at the centre of a New York Daily News report that stated receivers Plaxico Burress, Santonio Holmes and Derrick Mason went to Ryan with problems regarding Schottenheimer’s system.

Ryan has been aggressive in denying the report.

“I said it was untrue, because it was untrue,” Ryan said. “The great thing is, with that one, I can guarantee it was untrue because I was the guy supposedly that had the conversation. Well, I can tell you this: 100 percent, I did not have the conversation. So that was it.”

On his weekly ESPN radio spot, Sanchez also came out in defence of Schottenheimer.

“That’s an easy out for fans and critics but that’s fine,” Sanchez said. “That’s their job and they’re supposed to have opinions and when you don’t play well people are going to let you know what they think and how they feel and that’s okay. But I’m totally behind Brian, I know that, and all the coaches and players are as well.”

A loss next Monday to Miami, though, and it could be every man for himself.

DAZED IN ATLANTA

A funny thing’s happened to the Atlanta Falcons as they stumbled to a 2-3 start to their season.

They’ve forgotten or abandoned their running game.

Last year when they exceeded expectations by posting a league best 13-3 regular-season record, the Falcons sported a well-balanced attack as they ranked 15th in passing offence while their running game was ranked 12th overall.

Running back Michael Turner was their go-to-guy on the ground as he rushed for 1,371 yards and 12 rushing touchdowns.

It was a pretty good one-two combination the Falcons had going for them — Matt Ryan through the air and Turner on the ground.

This season, though, it’s been a different story for the lose-one, win-one Falcons who rank 23rd in rushing with 98.8 yards per game.

“It’s not where we want it to be,” Turner, who is 12th in the league with 360 yards, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution. “We are a running team, and we are going to keep that mentality.”

The problem for any team is that when you fall behind, you are forced to throw the ball to catch up and you become a one-dimension offence.

“A couple of ball games we had to throw the football because when you are down by two scores or more you are not going to get back in the ball game by running,” head coach Mike Smith said. “We want to be able to attack the defence based on how they are trying to defend us. Philosophically that’s what we do. That’s what we believe in, and that’s always going to be the case.”

Ahead or behind, Turner wants the rock.

“I’m a competitor,” Turner said. “I always want to have the ball more. I want to contribute any way I can.”

NO EMOTION IN PHOENIX

If you can’t give your fan base wins, at least give them some emotion.

That seems to be the case these days out in Phoenix where the Arizona Cardinals have been a major disappointment as they’ve stumbled to a 1-4 start.

Not content to heap their frustrations on the erratic play of quarterback Kevin Kolb, Cardinals fans would like to see more out of coach Ken Whisenhunt. It seems that his calm demeanour on the sidelines and after losses is getting under the skin of the faithful.

Whisenhunt may be serene on the surface, but underneath he is far from satisfied with his team’s performance.

“Am I angry? You’re damn right I’m angry,” he said the other day. “Am I upset? Yes, because I know what kind of team we can be, and I’m very frustrated for our fans that we haven’t done that yet.”

The fans, though, haven’t seen that frustration from their coach.

“I think it’s important you stay consistent in your approach,” Whisenhunt countered. “Whether it’s good times or whether it’s bad times, as long as you stay consistent the way you’re approaching it, then ultimately that’s the way your team will respond.

“It doesn’t do me any good to rant and to rave, because those guys know I’m upset. You have to be consistent with these guys, because that’s what they’re looking for. They don’t want somebody who is up or that’s down, because whether you’re winning four games in a row or losing four games in a row, it can turn the next game.”

Just once, though, maybe he can fire his headphones to the ground.

BUCS TURN TO BAD-BOY JACKSON

Desperate times call for desperate measures and after a 48-3 shellacking a team will be looking in every nook and corner for upgrades — or to grant second chances.

So given that scenario it is no surprise the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are prepared to give troubled safety Tanard Jackson another kick at the can.

That’s the same Tanard Jackson who was suspended by the league for more than a year for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. That’s the same Tanard Jackson who has violated the league’s drug guidelines at least three times and been suspended twice.

But when you are coming off a 48-3 beat down and at 3-2 are attempting to establish yourself as a playoff contender, no stone goes unturned.

Jackson, 26, will have two weeks to show the Bucs whether he is worthy of a spot on their roster.

“Good to be back,” he said. “Fifty-six weeks. Wow. I’m anxious, very excited and just willing to do whatever it is at this point to help this team.”

In 46 career games, Jackson has eight interceptions and once was a quality player. He now has to show he’s the same player but a changed man.

“It’s not going to be overnight,” Jackson said. “It’s not going to be something done in a year. It’s always going to be a matter of being accountable to those who supported me through this.”


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