One personal battle down, next one up.
Rex Ryan just met with Jets reporters this morning, two days after the Jets vanquished Peyton Manning and the Colts at Indianapolis, 17-16. The Jets head coach last week said it was “personal” between him and Peyton. Today it’s Rex vs. Bill.
“I recognize that this week it’s all about Bill Belichick vs. Rex Ryan,” Ryan said of Sunday’s AFC Divisional Round rematch with the Patriots and their coach. “It’s personal. It’s about him against myself. That’s what it’s going to come down to. When you look at it, both teams are very even. Look at our players — solid across the board. Assistant coaches — we’re on level ground. So this is going to be about me raising my level against Bill Belichick.”
The impetus for this approach, needless to say, goes back to six weeks ago, when the Jets journeyed to Gillette Stadium full of anticipation (but also having just suffered the loss of defensive quarterback Jim Leonhard to a broken leg), only to get waxed before a Monday night audience, 45-3.
“I realize in that game that I was outcoached,” Ryan said today. “It wasn’t the players. My job as a coach is to get them where they know their jobs and there’s no gray area, they can be physical and aggressive. Clearly New England was like that and we weren’t.”
How to fix that? Ryan proposed the solution.
“It’s just got to be a ridiculous amount of preparation on our part,” he said. “The game plan might’ve looked good on paper, but it wasn’t realistic. When we had to make the adjustments, we couldn’t execute them. And obviously the Patriots did a great job, they were prepared. That was it. It really came down to coaching more than playing and that was obvious. They were that much better and Belichick was that much better than I was that last game.”
Some may — make that some will — question Ryan’s sincerity in saying Belichick “will go down as the greatest coach in the history of this league or he’s going to be close to it.” But as Ryan unfolded his thoughts on the Colts and Patriots this morning, there is clear respect for Belichick, QB Tom Brady and the Patriots.
But Ryan also amplified on his TB remarks from last week when, in praising Manning’s studying of the game, he said, “Brady likes to think he does … I think there’s probably a little more help from Belichick with Brady than there is with Peyton Manning.”
“That wasn’t my intent,” to insult Brady, Ryan said today. “My intent was to say as good as Tom Brady is — Hall of Fame quarterback, three Super Bowl rings, amazing quarterback — as far as how he studies, he’s not as good as Peyton Manning. There’s only one guy that belongs in that category, and that’s Peyton. That’s all I was saying.”
But then Ryan perhaps explained more when he added that Brady “took a shot at me with his antics on the field” and mentioned something that will warm Jets fans hearts in this cold weather we’re experiencing in the Northeast.
“He always points after he scores, at everybody. It’s just Brady being Brady,” the Jets coach said. “I don’t like seeing that. Nobody does. No Jets fan likes seeing that. And I know he can’t wait to do it. He’s not going to say anything publicly, but it is what it is. My job’s to keep him out of the end zone.”
One other phrase that will have many Jets fans smiling and many of the Patriots persuasion and NFL writers around the country frowning will be the bravado that Rex said he expressed during one of those most anticipated non-events after Jets-Patriots games, the postgame handshake.
“When we played Miami my first year, I said that will never happen to me again where I was outcoached,” he said. “Clearly, that was how I felt. I was wrong because New England did it. That’s kind of how I felt. I also told Belichick after the game, ‘We’ll see you in Round 3.’ He just looked at me.”
But lo and behold, Jets-Patriots, Round 3, has begun. Fasten your seatbelts.
Saturday Fan Rally
The players return to the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center on Tuesday, with their usual Wednesday-Friday practices to follow before heading to the New England area on Saturday.
Before the team leaves, however, there will be a Jets fan rally on Saturday afternoon, from about noon-2 p.m., at New Meadowlands Stadium in the West Great Hall. We’ll have more details as we get them in during the week, but if your Saturday midday is free, prepare to come out and send the Jets off to play the Pats.
One More Key
One further element of the Jets’ triumph over the Colts on Saturday night that I didn’t mention in Sunday’s blog was field position. The Jets’ FP was OK but the Colts’ was very constricting. Their nine drives on average started at their own 20.1-yard line.
What does that mean? Well, it is the worst starting field position by a Jets opponent in the last 29 games, or since the Raiders averaged an 18.1-yard-line start in the Jets’ 38-0 rout last season. And those two games are the worst opponent starting field position in the last seven seasons. Something similar would indeed be welcome Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium.
Ryan said Mark Sanchez’s right shoulder is “fine,” Damien Woody was “kind of wobbling around a little bit” and “we’ll see if he’s able to go or not” vs. NE. And about Brad Smith, he said with a small smile, “He’s got the groin. I’m not sure. … I don’t think they should prepare for the Wildcat.” … The coach said DE Vernon Gholston was inactive due to “nothing personal” but rather the matchups, which prompted him and his defensive staff to go with DT Trevor Pryce as the backup D-lineman.
“Inside the Jets”
Tonight’s edition of “Inside the Jets” will be at Grasshopper Off The Green in Morristown, N.J., as usual, but the time of the show has shifted to 6:30-7:30 p.m. Special Jets guests are tackle D’Brickashaw Ferguson and safety Jim Leonhard. Voice of the Jets Bob Wischusen hosts as usual. If you can’t make it out to the Grasshopper, you can listen to the show live on 1050 ESPN New York and on 1050ESPNNewYork.com.
Tags: Bill Belichick, Gillette Stadium, New England Patriots, Peyton Manning, Rex Ryan, Tom Brady
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