New York Jets confident second half of season will be different

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets are coming off a bye week, which means there's been plenty of time to digest their 30-9 drubbing courtesy of the Miami Dolphins in Week 8 and to assess the first half of their season.

There was plenty to absorb. Mark Sanchez's inaccuracy. Tim Tebow's inactivity. The run defense's ineptness. The running game's ineffectiveness. The team's general inconsistency.

Talk about self-scouting. More like self-help.

So, in his first media availability in a week, Rex Ryan on Monday painted a realistic, tough-love picture: "We're not even close. We're not sniffing the playoffs. We're not sniffing anything right now."

Sounds about right. After all, the Jets have lost four of their past five games, and eight of 11, dating back to 2011. If the laughter has stopped at Florham Park, it's for good reason.

"We know we're in a bottom-line business, and that's wins and losses," Ryan said. "For football, that's really all that matters."

The Jets are 3-5. Which isn't where they want to be, but they're not buried yet. So, the internal message seemed to be something like this: The path won't be easy, but the Jets can prepare diligently, play their tails off and possibly earn their way to the postseason.

Feel free to move along. No headlines here.

But these are the Jets. And on Thursday morning, all of that changed. With eight words.

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"The Jets will make the playoffs this year," cornerback Antonio Cromartie told "NFL AM" on NFL Network. "We believe in each other, we believe in ... coach Ryan and his staff ... so, we definitely are going to make the playoffs this year."

There you have it. Less than 72 hours after not "sniffing the playoffs," the Jets regained their sense of smell. And their voice. Their head coach included.

"I know Antonio Cromartie had some comments about us making the playoffs and all that," Ryan said Thursday afternoon. "I feel as an entire football team that we should all feel like that. I think we do feel like that. Nobody wants to hear it, but who cares?"

Rex even borrowed the New York Giants' Super Bowl-winning mantra. "We're all in," he said.

Here they go again.

And, you know what, we kind of, sort of, like it. Because the Jets are who they are: brash, confident, somewhat delusional about their chances. It's as if that utterly embarrassing performance against the Dolphins two Sundays ago was put on by a bunch of understudies.

Measured, let alone muted, doesn't fit these Jets. The convenience of a bye falling at exactly the season's halfway point provides them the opportunity to write a different, and better, second-half script. The legitimate question: Are the Jets good enough to do it?

Their starting quarterback, Sanchez, remains last in the NFL in completion percentage. "Stay positive," Sanchez said of his message to teammates.

Their backup quarterback, Tebow, is one of the year's enigmas. Did the Jets really acquire him for ... this? But Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said his team has spent "a considerable amount" of time preparing for Tebow's Wildcat this week. By Ryan's measure, that's already a win, whether Tebow actually plays a meaningful offensive snap or not.

"For us, it's all about coming together," Tebow said. "I really feel that we're on the verge of doing that."

So does Rex, who oversaw "a phenomenal practice" Wednesday. Perhaps they worked on stopping the run, once a Ryan staple. His three previous Jets seasons all featured a top-five defense; this one is 16th overall. And 29th against the run. And 30th on third downs.

But there is a belief, and some evidence, that the Jets are getting better. Their circumstances certainly are: The Jets have the league's sixth-easiest schedule for the remainder of the season, according to win-loss records; to date, they've played the third-toughest.

But there's nothing easy about playing the Seahawks in Seattle -- they've yet to lose at home this season -- and Ryan knows it. "Maybe," he said, "that's what we need."

Sure, maybe. The Jets actually need the deck to be stacked even more decidedly against them.

The Jets say they're back. They're all in. They've got the mid-week proclamations down. Yes, there are skeptics, Ryan acknowledges, but he's confident.

Now, as is often the case around here, the Jets have to back up their talk with their play. Cromartie said they have to win Sunday. Against the Seahawks in Seattle. About that, there's no debate.

He's absolutely right.

Follow Kimberly Jones on Twitter @KimJonesSports.

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