AFC East Update: Jets Searching For Answers

The New York Jets fell to the Baltimore Ravens in an old fashioned butt-kicking. New York is third in the division now. Rex Ryan has seen his team fall behind and needs to do something soon to right the ship.

 The Jets have prided themselves on being a tough road team under coach Rex Ryan. But they haven't been that the last two weeks.

   And the trip isn't quite over.

   After a loss at Oakland and a 34-17 defeat at Baltimore on Sunday night, the Jets (2-2) now must travel to play New England on Sunday at 4:15 p.m. The Jets are one game behind the Patriots and Buffalo in the AFC East.

   "We all had our share in this loss," said quarterback Mark Sanchez, who has nine turnovers through four games, five interceptions and four lost fumbles. He had none in the first five games last season.

   "We've got to work through it, and it starts with the quarterback," Sanchez added.

   But Sanchez hasn't had much help lately. A struggling offensive line, which has been without three-time Pro Bowl center Nick Mangold each of the last two weeks, has failed to help generate much of a running game, and hasn't been able to adequately protect Sanchez.

   True, he only was sacked twice against the Ravens, but he was hit eight other times.

   "You've got to have the protection first," Ryan said. "We've got to look hard and deep at what we're doing and how we're protecting the quarterback."

   "We aren't getting defeated physically," left guard Matt Slauson said, blaming the problems instead on miscommunications and blown assignments. "We're getting confused."

   So it would help if Mangold could return next week, and Ryan said, "I think he will play" when the Jets visit New England, which will be looking for payback after the Jets knocked the Patriots out of the playoffs last season.

   It's possible the Pats could be without star linebacker Jerod Mayo, who suffered a knee injury in Sunday's victory at Oakland, but it's unclear whether the Jets' offense can exploit any of the Patriots' many defensive deficiencies.

   "We have a lot of work" to do, wide receiver Santonio Holmes said. "I think things have to start more up front. We have to get a better job from our guys up front. They're focused on it, and that's going to be a big key. Once we get [Mangold] back, I'm pretty sure things will turn around."

   Holmes added the offensive line has to do "a better job of protecting Mark and Mark has to do a better job of making his reads and getting the ball into the hands of his playmakers."

   Ryan said he hasn't lost confidence in his team, but added, "We've got to get better in a hurry."

NOTES

   LINEUP WATCH: Outside linebacker Bryan Thomas left the game in the first quarter with what was announced as an ankle injury, and did not return. He was replaced by Jamaal Westerman, a third-year pro who has flashed some in brief playing time. Westerman is younger than Thomas and a bit more athletic on the edge, so he might be used more often as a pass rusher.

   UNDER THE RADAR: Fullback John Conner had his most touches in a game this season, three carries for 15 yards, including a 13-yard run on a quick misdirection play up the middle. With the running game struggling, perhaps the Jets need to use quick-hitting plays such as that one more often.
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