- Rich Cimini, ESPN New York Jets reporter
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- A year ago, Rex Ryan created a color-coded wrist band to help Mark Sanchez through his rookie struggles. This time, Ryan is hoping some one-on-one time with his quarterback will do the trick.
With his quarterback mired in a two-game slump, the New York Jets' coach met Thursday afternoon with Sanchez. That's something new. Ryan, offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh usually meet every Friday with Sanchez, but Ryan decided some alone time was in order.
Ryan downplayed the significance of the meeting, saying the purpose was to help familiarize Sanchez with the Miami Dolphins' defensive scheme. Ryan worked with Dolphins defensive coordinator Mike Nolan with the Baltimore Ravens, and he believes he can help Sanchez with the nuances of Nolan's system.
"It was more of a big picture conversation regarding schemes and what they like to do," Sanchez said of the meeting with Ryan. "It's always helpful taking football with Rex because you spend so much time in offensive meetings and discussing our approach that it's good to get a defensive perspective regarding what that side of the ball is trying to accomplish. It really enhances your overall football knowledge. I think it was awesome that he took the time to do it."
Ryan is also planning to do the same thing next week, when the Jets face the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers are an unfamiliar foe for the Jets, and Ryan said he knows coordinator Dick LeBeau's defensive scheme from his days in the AFC North.
At first, Ryan joked about the meeting, saying, "This isn't a huge thing. It's a lunch date, so I can eat Mexican food with him." When pressed, Ryan admitted it could be more than just an Xs-and-Os discussion.
"We can just talk, like he's my son or something," Ryan said.
Asked if he's concerned about Sanchez's confidence after his three-interception nightmare in Monday night's 45-3 loss to the New England Patriots, Ryan cracked, "No, he's as messed up as I am. He's got plenty [of confidence]."
After pulling out dramatic wins over the Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns and Houston Texans, Sanchez has slipped the last two weeks. Against the Cincinnati Bengals and Patriots, he completed only 33 of 61 passes for 330 yards, with one touchdown and four interceptions -- a 47.8 passer rating.
Schottenheimer liked the idea.
"Rex's strongest suit is his people skills," he said. "He and Mark are great. Anything he can give him from that vantage point, I'm all for."
This could be the latest example of Ryan taking a bigger role in the offense than usual. When his quarterback struggled with interceptions late last season, Ryan announced he was going to start attending offensive meetings.
Coincidentally, that edict came after a blowout loss to the Patriots in which Sanchez threw four interceptions. That week, Ryan cooked up the wristband idea -- a green, yellow and red band designed to help Sanchez with his decision making. A red play call, for instance, meant that he had to be ultra-cautious with that particular pass.
It was remedial quarterbacking, but it worked, as Sanchez finished strongly and helped the Jets to the AFC Championship Game.
Sanchez got off to a terrific start this season, with no interceptions in his first five games, but he has regressed a bit in recent weeks -- 11 in the last seven games.
Rex Ryan met with struggling quarterback Mark Sanchez on Thursday.