Two things jumped out from Rex Ryan’s day-after/week-before news conference at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center this morning.
One is the personal nature of the Jets-Peyton Manning Colts rivalry. Ryan put it in first-person terms, and that may rub some fans outside Jet Nation the wrong way. But Rex explained it perfectly.
“That’s the way everybody is” in the NFL, he said. “It’s not just me taking it personally. It’s every time you lose, head coach, assistant coach, all the players, everybody in the organization. You take it personally. And as a fan, you take it personally.
“With Peyton Manning, that’s how it is. I’m going to beat him. I don’t know when, but I’m going to beat him and I want it to be Saturday. Is it personal? Yes. Him and Reggie Wayne and all those guys? Freeney, Mathis and all those other dudes? Yes. You want to win. That’s why I’m here. That’s why I say they’re going to get my best shot, they’re going to get our team’s best shot. They’re a good football team. We’re going to see if they’re good enough to handle this.”
For the record here’s how Ryan’s teams have stacked up against Manning’s clubs:
2001 — Ravens 39, Colts 27
2002 — Colts 22, Ravens 20
2004 — Colts 20, Ravens 10
2005 — Colts 24, Ravens 7
2006 AFC Divisional Round — Colts 15, Ravens 6
2007 — Colts 44, Ravens 20
2008 — Colts 31, Ravens 3
2009 — Jets 29, Colts 15
2009 AFC Championship Game — Colts 30, Jets 17
Ryan was Baltimore’s D-line coach from 1999-04 and the Ravens’ D-coordinator from 2005-08. In all games his teams are 2-7 vs. Manning’s Colts, and as a coordinator or head coach, he’s 1-5.
And in those six games, Manning’s passing numbers are through the roof: 108-for-171, 1,513 yards, 12 TDs, 2 INTs (and just five sacks), all for a 110.1 passer rating. No wonder it’s personal for Rex.
Ryan showed the depth of his involvement when he reviewed this year’s expectations of the Jets compared to last season’s, which weren’t quite as high outside the team, until the Green & White ventured all the way to Lucas Oil Stadium in January.
“We got to the AFC Championship Game and we got beat by Indianapolis — I know, you can’t mention Indianapolis without mentioning Peyton Manning,” Ryan said. “I know he’s there, I know he’s there. I’ve seen him many years at the Pro Bowl and thinking, ‘Man, I respect the heck out of this guy, but I want to beat him one day.’ I just hope it’s this Saturday.”
Which brings me to the second thing that jumped out from Rex’s newser today, and that is how the Jets worked last week’s preparation, not just for how they would play the Bills on Sunday but beyond.
“We were working, even with the veteran guys, preparing — whether they knew it or not — to go into the playoffs, whether it was Kansas City or Indianapolis,” he said. “Our coaching staff was trying to get ready for both, get our team sharp, and that’s what we did. Our backup players, who we knew we were going to extend for the Bills, maybe they ran some plays that Indianapolis runs or Kansas City runs.
“The fact that our coaches took all last week getting ready not only to prepare for Buffalo but for everybody, we feel we’re ahead of the game. I think that gives us an advantage. Indianapolis had to win that game, they had to put everything they had into preparing to play Tennessee. We were able to sit back a little bit and spend some more time on Indianapolis and Kansas City as well as Buffalo. We divided it a little more equally. We feel we’re ahead now.”
Many other factors will go into how the Jets will fare this time around against the Colts. We’ll explore all those in stories this week. Then whatever happens in the game will validate or invalidate the Green & White approach. If Manning and Co. prevail, the Jets’ approach was flawed. If Rex’s team advances, the Jets’ approach was brilliant. And that’s OK. That’s a part of the game, especially at this time of year.
But also a part of the game is how Ryan and the Jets feel today. They won 11 regular-season games for only the fourth time in franchise history, they’re in the playoffs for only the 14th time and they’re ready to let it roll. Rex expressed a feeling that he and we and all Jets fans should feel this week:
“I can’t express how excited I am about this opportunity because there are a lot of good football teams at home that won’t get this chance. Do I recognize we’re playing an excellent team and one of the greatest quarterbacks in the game? Of course I recognize that. But we’re not going there to lose. We’re going there to win. That’s my mentality, always will be. Again, I’m not apologizing for feeling this way. I believe in our football team. I know that’s an excellent team we’re playing, but they’re getting our best shot. It’s as simple as that.”
Tags: Indianapolis Colts, Lucas Oil Stadium, Peyton Manning, Rex Ryan
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