Ryan thought about it. He decided Jones-Drew was a little like , who spent most of his career with the Boston Patriots (and was actually 6 inches taller and 25 pounds heavier than the 5-foot-7, 209-pound Jones-Drew). But wait. Ryan said Jones-Drew was also like , the 5-foot-11, 195-pound ex-Jet.
“We’re in throwback mode,” Ryan said. “We’ll go back a little bit.”
Nance and Boozer stopped roaming gridirons more than 30 years ago, but the A.F.L., in which Ryan’s father, Buddy, coached, is never too far away. This week, to hear Ryan tell it, the early days of the A.F.L. will come back to haunt fans in the guise of throwback uniforms.
For the first time in two years and the only time this season, the Jets will wear replicas of the blue and gold uniforms worn from 1960-62 by their predecessors, the Titans of New York, when they host Jacksonville on Sunday. Ryan said Wednesday that he knew what most fans thought of that idea.
“I know with our fans there is some grumbling with us wearing the Titans’ stuff, the blue,” said Ryan, who happened to be wearing a blue Titans hooded sweatshirt at the time. “Let me just explain it to you this way: We are 4-1 in those blue uniforms. So anything for a win.”
He continued: “It doesn’t matter if it was purple, we’d be wearing the purple. Anyway, I think our players kind of like it. The fans, I understand, are not really happy by it, but just bear with us for just this one game. Let’s make it 5-1, and we’ll all be happy.”
Reader comments about the throwback uniforms on the Jets’ Web site this week have been decidedly negative. Blue and gold are Cub Scouts colors, one wrote. Another wrote the uniforms should be buried in the Meadowlands with Jimmy Hoffa.
Ryan is correct. The Jets have won four of five games since introducing the blue throwback jerseys in 2007. (They are 1-1 in white Titans jerseys.) If the Jets wear throwback uniforms, the fans say, they should use the green uniforms and helmets from the 1980s.
But Ryan is also correct about something else: His players like the throwbacks.
“I love them,” said this week. “They give us some sweet gear and sweatshirts and all that. It’s really cool. I love those jerseys.”
They are, the players say, a nice change of pace. They do not seem to hamper the Jets’ ability to win games. The Jets practiced in their blue helmets Thursday and Friday, tight end Dustin Keller said, and no one appeared to be confused.
“Everybody likes a little throwback every once in a while,” defensive tackle Sione Pouha said.
When told that the Titans were not a very good or popular team, winning only 19 of 42 games in their three seasons, Pouha said: “I don’t know that much about them. I know they used to be the Titans. It adds a little scenery, a little color.”
Keller had heard that the Titans were not good. They finished 7-7 in each of their first two seasons, then were 5-9 in 1962. The team was renamed the Jets in 1963 and adopted green and white as their colors. Weeb Ewbank became their coach, and they won the six years later.
“You’ve still got to pay your respects to the past,” Keller said of the Titans era.
Keller likes the throwback uniforms, too. So does the 37-year-old receiver Derrick Mason, who played for the Tennessee Titans, whose forerunners were the Houston Oilers, then spent six years with the Baltimore Ravens, who used to be the Cleveland Browns. “I like these colors — I wish we’d wear them all of the time,” Mason said. “Baltimore didn’t have throwbacks, but that’s good, because the uniforms they used to wear were ugly.”
He said of the throwback uniforms, “It’s history, a tradition.”
Told that the Titans of New York were not such a good team, Mason smiled and said: “I know. But, luckily, we are.”
Rex Ryan said linebacker David Harris (toe), receiver Santonio Holmes (knee and quadriceps muscle) and safety Eric Smith (ankle) were limited in practice Friday and were questionable for Sunday’s game. “I do feel good about David,” he said of Harris’s chances of playing, but he was not as optimistic about Holmes and Smith.