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Jets search for identity coming off bye week

Head coach Rex Ryan’s self-proclaimed “best team I’ve had since I’vebeen the coach here” is currently 3-5 as they search for their identitycoming off a bye week.

Head coach Rex Ryan’s self-proclaimed “best team I’ve had since I’ve been the coach here” is currently 3-5 as they search for their identity coming off a bye week.

“We’re turning the ball over; we’re fumbling the ball away. The red-zone turnovers have been really costly, obviously, because you’re taking points off of your board and in some cases putting them on the other team’s board,” Ryan said. “On defense, things are really not to our standards with our red-zone defense and our third-down defense. Our run defense is not where we want it to be. It’s improving, but it’s not where we want it to be.”

The list of problems for the Jets is long, but the issues on the defense are most troublesome.

In Ryan’s first two years with the team, the Jets prided themselves on a defense that was consistently among the best in the league. They rode that stingy unit to consecutive AFC Championship game appearances. This year’s defense was supposed to carry an offense that had question marks all over the field. Instead, both units have struggled mightily.

The Jets have the No. 12 in the league in total defense and are No. 24 in scoring defense, allowing 25 points per game. Far from carrying the rest of the team, the Jets defense is helping to accelerate their downward spiral.

“We went back over the Miami game and reexamined ourselves, just recap the first eight games of the season and where we are and where we need to be. Basically getting back to us, getting back to playing Jets football,” safety Yeremiah Bell said.

“We’re definitely not where we want to be. I think we’re middle of the pack somewhere and we want to be front of the pack. These last eight weeks, it’s going to take max effort on our part and a little togetherness back there.”

Gang Green notes

» The Jets made two additions to the practice squad this week, bringing in linebacker D.J. Bryant and running back John Griffin. Bryant, whospent time on the practice squad of the Colts and the Buccaneers earlier this season, is an aggressive linebacker who had 118 tackles and 12 1/2 sacks in four years at FCS program James Madison. Griffin was with the Jets during an impressive minicamp, but had an injury settlement after suffering a high ankle sprain.

» Nose tackle Kenrick Ellis (knee), linebacker Bart Scott (toe) and running back Joe McKnight (ankle) were held out of practice on Monday. Ellis wore a brace on his left knee and did some agility training, while Scott and McKnight rode the stationary bike.

Follow Jets beat writer Kristian Dyer on Twitter @KristianRDyer.

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