Gang needs win and a prayer for playoff shot

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Corey Sipkin/New York Daily News

Rex Ryan is trying to make sure his guys are fresh as they cling onto any playoff hopes they have left.

With three weeks left amid a group of middling AFC wild-card contenders, the Jets still face a complex, longshot scenario just to make the postseason. Sheldon Richardson, however, is keeping it straight-forward.

“If we lose, we out,” the rookie defensive end said. “We don’t want to be out.”

Though that isn’t technically correct — if the Jets lose Sunday they will only be eliminated with a Ravens win — a loss in Carolina would greatly diminish Gang Green’s postseason hopes.

“Every game is the playoffs,” Richardson said. “This is the playoffs for us. That’s our mentality right now.”

The Jets (6-7), are one game behind Miami and Baltimore and are tied with San Diego. They have already lost the head-to-head tiebreaker to Baltimore, but play the Dolphins in the final week of the season. In other words, the Jets don’t control their own destiny.

“If the chips fall for us, they do, if they don’t, hey, we fought hard,” Richardson said.

The locker room conversation hasn’t focused on the postseason like it did after the Week 9 victory over the Saints, but following the Jets’ 37-27 win against the sorry Raiders, there’s at least a ray of hope coming out of Florham Park. Rex Ryan, however, wasn’t touching that subject, saying his message to the team on Monday had nothing to do with the playoffs.

Ryan’s approach to the final three games of the year will include less practice, not more.

“I think what you do now is you want to make sure your guys are fresh. I think that’s what I learned,” Ryan said. “We have to have our legs this time of year. You’ve got to get them in the tubs … take care of their bodies.”

That’s a lesson he’s learned from the last two seasons, Ryan said, when the Jets ended each year on a three-game losing streak, being eliminated from the playoffs in the process.

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“Number one, I don’t look back on it, but you know, you just focus on the moment right now, what you’re facing. I hope that doesn’t happen again, my gosh,” Ryan said. “I’m confident it won’t.”

CRO HAS BELL RUNG
Add another to the list of issues with the Jets secondary: Antonio Cromartie has a concussion. Cromartie suffered the injury Sunday, Ryan said, though he isn’t sure exactly when it occurred.

“I think it was just after the game he came back and said, ‘I’ve kind of got a headache,’ or something like that and that’s when obviously they go into that prevention,” Ryan said. “He certainly wasn’t forced out there. If anybody would have known about it or whatever, there would have been some concerns.”

Cromartie is going through the concussion protocol, though Ryan said the cornerback is already progressing.

“He felt better today so I think that’s a positive thing. These things are different, though,” Ryan said. “I think as it’s explained to me that it’s a real positive sign that he’s improved from that point right after the game.” . . . Dee Milliner avoided Ryan’s doghouse against the Raiders. Ryan said there wasn’t a completion made against Milliner on Sunday. ProFootballFocus.com had the Raiders as 0-3 on targets to receivers Milliner was marking.

“(The quarterback) can’t make the throw because he’s in perfect position, where earlier in the week he might be at a different leverage spot,” Ryan said. “So, you can tell that he’s really taken to coaching.” . . . .Geno Smith said Monday he was entrusted with making a few more calls at the line of scrimmage, and that he felt he had the backing of his team even after his early pick.

“We came right back out and we passed it again,” Smith said.

“That shows that the offensive coordinator has trust in me as the quarterback and that my teammates (trust me) as well.”

Smith also noted he took some heat for lowering his shoulder on one of his runs Sunday.

“Yes, I did,” he said. “And it probably won’t happen again.”


Daily News – Sports

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