Rex Ryan. Egomaniac? Master of Motivation? World’s Greatest Decoy? Never met a camera he didn’t like? Something is going on here. Rex Ryan seems incapable of shutting his mouth, and considering the Patriots’ history of using bulletin board material I wonder if he should have strayed from the blueprint he established last week when the Jets finally took down the Colts.
How much credit do you want to give to Ryan’s brashness, though? The Colts were a battered mess, Jim Caldwell did everything in his power to lose the game, and still the Jets needed to sneak through the back door. It wasn’t the most convincing win, but Ryan hardly took a breath before moving the crosshairs to his next target. He had actually started talking trash on the Patriots during the Colts week, but once the game was official, Ryan zeroed in on Bill Belichick.
Ryan’s theory is that the Jets and Patriots are even. The only way to come to that conclusion is to say they both won a meeting during the regular season. The Jets won at home way back in week two, a game that feels like it was played five years ago at this point. The Patriots won their more recent home game in slightly more decisive fashion, 45-3. So, one game each, but not exactly a Steelers/Ravens type of split. The Patriots will be home again for this one, but Ryan sees a draw all the way up through the rosters and coaching staff. According to him, it’ll all come down to Ryan vs. Belichick. They hold all the cards.
I’ve never heard a coach say something quite like this. Sure, coaches take blame all the time after a loss, but this feels like Ryan is setting himself up to take the credit. I understand NFL coaches must be single-minded, and I’m sure there are a few egos out there that match Rex’s, but I’ve never seen it manifest like this. Not only is Ryan pointing all the attention at himself, he’s doing it by calling out the most successful coach of this era, and a coach who he acknowledges thrashed him in their last meeting. Why?
For me, I feel like the Jets must know they aren’t in a great spot here. Everything went New England’s way in their last meeting, but even so, it’s hard to imagine the Jets making up six touchdowns this time around. They’re underdogs. Pretty large ones for a game at this stage of the season, and Ryan is robbing them of their chance to take advantage of that. There will be no rallying around the “no respect” issue like Seattle did last week. There will be no chance that the Patriots allow their heads to swell and maybe New England comes out sluggish. Nope, Ryan took care of all of that. He sharpened New England’s intensity and robbed his own team of their underdog mentality in one short press conference.
I spent the afternoon yesterday trying to figure out if there was a logical explanation for what Ryan was doing. Maybe he’s superstitious to the point where he thinks he now has to make every game, “personal.” Or maybe he realizes it is going to take an alignment of the planets for the Jets to win this one, so he’s setting things up to take the fall himself, rather than have that scrutiny fall on the players. But, if the Jets lost this game quietly, I don’t think there would have been much scrutiny. They are more than a TD dog, and no one is really expecting them to win. In house disappointment would have been all Ryan had to think about, but now we have all this.
I’m sure Jets fans will say they love it. It’s Ryan coming to life the parodies of him at KSK, and I suppose if you are a Jets fan you must buy into the bravado. But, it seems a little hollow to me. Ryan is just crowing for the sake of crowing at this point. He wants the Jets to the top story on ESPN. He wants to be part of that story. He got a taste during Hard Knocks, and now can’t resist? I’m not sure, but I wonder if any of his players are thinking, when is this guy going to shut up?