- Jane McManus, Reporter & Columnist, espnW.com
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- When Jets punter Steve Weatherford started running with the ball on fourth-and-18, plenty of jaws inside the stadium dropped. If anyone thought that call came from the coaching staff, Rex Ryan wants to make it clear that it didn't.
"The two most shocked guys were me and [special teams coordinator Mike] Westhoff when he started running with it," Ryan said. "It was like, 'What are you doing?'"
Weatherford successfully ran the risky fake twice last year, at Miami on fourth-and-6 for 26 yards and at Oakland on fourth-and-7 for 16 yards, but the coaching staff must have seen something it didn't like. Instead of giving him the freedom to make the call on when to run, Ryan and Westhoff put on the brakes. Weatherford was supposed to run only after getting a signal from the bench.
"In that situation, he never checked with anybody," Ryan said. "He just went. We had the same thing happen last year, so we kind of put the brakes on him then."
The day after a 9-0 loss to the Packers, Ryan answered questions on everything from botched challenges to getting back to the running game.
Ryan explained that he thought Jerricho Cotchery came down with possession of the ball, and thought a review would give the Jets possession and that the yardage gained even from a punt would be advantageous in that situation.
As to speculation that because the ball was in the possession of a defender the call couldn't have been overturned, Ryan said, "Dual possession would've been the offensive player's football."
As for the running game, Ryan said that it was hard to be effective running the ball when penalties backed up the line of scrimmage. He said the Jets weren't built to be in a first-and-20 situation, so as players in the locker room echoed the words, "self-inflicted wounds," Ryan made it clear where they got the term.
"It's tough enough to beat a good opponent and we helped their situation," Ryan said.
The wide receivers, fresh off the worst performance of the season, were another focus. He admitted that Braylon Edwards was wide open in the end zone when Mark Sanchez forced a ball to Cotchery, ultimately an incomplete pass.
"That's what I'm talking about," Ryan said. "There were plays to be made."
He wouldn't lay all the blame on his quarterback, even though Sanchez took responsibility for the loss after the game.
"That's the nature of the position and it takes broad shoulders to play quarterback in this town," Ryan said.
Brad Smith, who had a fumble on a Wildcat play, said Ryan wasn't too hard on the offense in the meetings earlier in the day. Smith said Ryan was frank, but players still feel a level of respect even on a difficult Monday.
"He motivates because he believes in you and that's what fuels it," Smith said.