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Defensive-minded coach Ryan will take bigger role with Jets' offense

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Rex Ryan is going on the offensive for the New York Jets.

That means rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez will hear a lot more from his head coach.

"I need to be more of the game manager than probably what I even realized before," Ryan said Monday. "There's been some people here that have been critical of that, and it's probably more accurate than I wanted to believe."

Ryan has worked almost exclusively with the defense since becoming the Jets' head coach in January, leaving the offense to coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and the special teams to Mike Westhoff. Ryan, who was the Baltimore Ravens' defensive coordinator from 2005 to 2008, now will take a greater role in the Jets' offense and try to be a more balanced head coach.

"It's not a threatening deal or whatever," Ryan said. "It's just something that my role needs to be this, and I think that's my responsibility. I oversee the whole football team. I really need to start doing that."

Ryan's No. 1 goal is to try to help Sanchez work on his ball security, something that has plagued the first-round draft pick all season.

"That was my challenge to him today, is let's get better at protecting the football and understanding that sometimes it's OK to throw the football away," Ryan said. "You're not sure about that completion, then sometimes it's better just to throw the ball away and punt the football. That's what he has to understand."

The Jets (4-6) have lost six of their last seven games after Sunday's 31-14 defeat at New England in which Sanchez threw four interceptions and lost one fumble. Sanchez has thrown 16 interceptions and lost three fumbles this season, but Ryan said he'll stick with the rookie as his starting quarterback.

"I just think that he's not going to get better unless he gets out and plays," Ryan said.

Ryan insisted that his decision to be more involved on offense isn't a slight to Schottenheimer or quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh. Ryan said Schottenheimer will continue to run the offense.

"I'm here to advance our plan," said Ryan, who added that he will be "standing shoulder-to-shoulder" with Schottenheimer during practices and games to help Sanchez have a better grasp of what needs to be done.

"I have to be demanding of that because right now, that's not getting done to my satisfaction or this football team's satisfaction," Ryan said.

Ryan said he will continue to make the defensive calls in the meantime, which caused someone to ask if he might then have too much on his plate.

"There's always a lot on my plate," the hefty coach said without missing a beat.

Sanchez has had lots to digest as the fifth overall draft pick out of USC in April. After making just 16 college starts, he has shown signs of being the franchise quarterback the Jets still believe he can be. But Sanchez also has posted some brutal performances this season. There was the four-turnover game at New Orleans in Week 4 and a five-interception outing against Buffalo two weeks later.

Sanchez's 16 interceptions are second only to the 18 that Chicago's Jay Cutler has thrown, and the rookie's 61.1 passer rating ranks above just Oakland's JaMarcus Russell and Cleveland's Derek Anderson -- both of whom have been benched.

"It's clearly not just Mark's fault," Ryan said. "There's a reason he was named the starter, that I thought he gave us the best opportunity to win, and I still feel that."

The players echoed their coach's comments by defending their young quarterback.

"We still support Mark," wide receiver Braylon Edwards said. "Mark, he's still young, and he's going through some growing pains. But in order to help a rookie out, you need to be flawless. We're professionals, and we need to be the best at our positions to help him out. That's our fault, and that's where we're letting him down."

Right tackle Damien Woody said the veteran players must figure out what they can do to help Sanchez improve.

"We've been around the block and understand how it is," Woody said. "We like the kid. Is he making a ton of mistakes? Yeah, but we win as a team and lose as a team. Nobody's perfect in this locker room."

Notes: The Jets said WR David Clowney's Twitter account has been hacked Monday night and that a series of expletive-filled tweets aren't being written by him. Clowney, a frequent poster, was suspended by Ryan for one game earlier in the season when the receiver admitted posting that he was unhappy about his playing time in a Week 2 game against the Patriots. ... Ryan said CB Donald Strickland suffered a concussion when he was hit hard by Patriots OT Mark LeVoir on a block. "His availability obviously will be in the doctors' hands," Ryan said. ... CB Dwight Lowery has a high ankle sprain, and Ryan said the veteran is doubtful for Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers. Lito Sheppard could start in Lowery's place opposite Darrelle Revis.

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