It is all about the bye week blues for the Jets under head coach Rex Ryan, who has won the game after their bye week only once in four years.
If the 5-4 Jets want to take the next step and be a serious playoff contender, they need to buck this trend and come out with a win at the Bills.
The record flies in the face of conventional wisdom which holds that a bye week gives a team not only a chance to get healthy, but another few days to prepare for an opponent.
Some head coaches are masters of the bye week. Chiefs head coach Andy Reid is 10-4 all time after the break and Ravens head coach John Harbaugh clearly takes advantage of the time off with a 5-1 record. Then there are some, like former Packers head coach Mike Holmgren, who was a ghastly 1-10 in his coaching career following a bye week.
“I think if you want to win those, bring a good team with you and hopefully that’s exactly what we have. But really, I think it’s going into it more importantly. What the message going into it [is] taking care of your bodies but also [being] mentally ready to come back and where you don’t disappear from it completely, you’re still thinking about it,” Ryan said. “And that’s kind of how I felt when we got in the building today. I felt that enthusiasm to be back in. And that’s sometimes different, last year in particular, [we were] really struggling. I don’t know if I really felt that coming back in, that energy, or as [former Ravens head coach] Brian Billick would say, the synergy, because he was really smart. I had no idea what it meant. Just that, ‘Wow, we’re excited to be back here.’ We know what our purpose is. Our purpose is getting ready for this football team and playing to the best of our abilities on Sunday.”
Last year, the Jets lost, 28-7, at the Seahawks. In 2011, the team came off the bye with a 27-11 win at the Bills. In 2010, they laid an egg when the Packers handed them a 9-0 loss at home. And in Ryan’s first year as head coach, the Jets lost 24-22 at home to the Jaguars in what was one of the ugliest games of his tenure, when quarterback Mark Sanchez had a quarterback rating of 25.4.
But beyond the 1-3 record, it is even worse for the Jets than just losing games. They are starting off lethargic and listless as they consistently look sluggish after the bye week. Perhaps the bye week takes them out of their rhythm, making them rusty and throwing off the timing of the offense.
They have a combined 17 first-quarter points in those four post-bye week games under Ryan and a combined 23 first-half points scored. Also troubling, on Wednesday, Ryan said his team “didn’t look as sharp” as he’d like in practice. It is all pointing toward another game where the Jets could struggle early and risk another post-bye week loss.
So far this week, the Jets haven’t changed the practice schedule in an effort to avoid the bye week blues.
“There’s nothing different. [It] feels like a normal Wednesday, a normal practice,” tight end Jeff Cumberland said. “I didn’t even know about the record till you told me.”
Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.