Rex Ryan waddled up to the front of the room and was greeted by a bombardment of camera flashes. His face bright red, eyes darting seemingly uncontrollably, the New York Jets head coach gripped the podium with clammy hands and leaned on it in a casual manner, as if he was used to this stage. As if he’d been here many times before.
Then, mustering the most calm, even voice he could, Ryan blurted out the one thing no second-year head coach has the right to even
“This is about Bill Belichick versus Rex Ryan,” Ryan said. “There’s no question, it’s personal. It’s about him against myself. That’s what it’s going to come down to.”
Now, let’s forget that Ryan has at his disposal one of the greatest running backs of this generation of players (LaDainian Tomlinson).
Let’s forget that the Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, one of the highest-paid players in the NFL has wide receivers Braylon Edwards and Santonio Holmes — both very near the peak of their careers.
Let’s forget that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has top targets in Danny Woodhead and Rob Gronkowski, who possess a combined three years NFL experience.
And, simply for comparison’s sake, let’s finally forget that, despite all this, it was the Patriots who claimed their seventh AFC East crown in eight seasons while garnering the NFL’s best record.
Impressive results from such a seemingly unimpressive New England crew could only have been engineered by Belichick, winner of three Superbowls and the popular consensus most brilliant tactician in recent NFL history, maybe ever.
The very idea that a newbie to the head-coaching scene like Ryan is on the same level as Belichick – who won his first SuperBowl when Ryan was still just a lowly defensive line coach for the Baltimore Ravens–is hilarious. However, this seemed to be exactly what Ryan was asserting when he discounted all of his and Bellichick’s players from the equation and left on the table a one-on-one duel between coaches.
Belichick, for his part, maintained the composed, no-nonsense attitude that has molded the Patriots into a professional team not only on the field, but off of it. Unlike Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie and linebacker Bart Scott, who leapt on every chance to take a shot at New England this past week, the Patriots remained silent, as has become expected of Belichick’s boys. And though he made no attempt in response to Ryan’s direct attack, the Patriots head coach did seem rather amused by Ryan.
“I don’t think you’ll see either one of us out there making any blocks, or runs or throws or catches,” Belichick said. “At least you won’t see me doing it. It’s probably a good thing for our team.”
Granted, even this Pats fan can’t ignore the resulting 28-21 Jets victory. That said, Patriots fans can take solace in the fact that Ryan finally did come back to earth after the game, withdrawing every word he never should have uttered against Belichick in the first place.
“I was dead wrong,” Ryan said. “I thought it would come down to me and Belichick and thank goodness it never did, because he won that battle like he always does.”
So much for the “Me Against You” mentality Ryan has established as a trademark. So much for the “Never Back Down” style that emanates every time he speaks. Within a few hours of sharing the field with Belichick, a humbled Ryan found himself at a loss for either – all the while winning the game. -J.B.
Led by outspoken coach Rex Ryan and second year quarterback Mark Sanchez, the Jets are headed to the AFC Championship game for the second straight year. As a long time Jets fan, even I was surprised this past weekend when the Jets beat the New England Patriots, proving nearly every football analyst wrong.
A big part of the Jets’ success has been due to Ryan. Ryan is the opposite of the many emotionless and thorny-faced coaches you see around the league, including the always scowling Bill Bellichick. Unlike Belichick, Ryan is not afraid of his emotions. I believe it is easier for a team not only to listen to a coach, but also to want and love to play for such a coach.
Some have claimed that Ryan’s in-your-face attitude has cast the club as one of the most controversial squads in the league. However, the players and their fans don’t necessarily see this as a bad thing. The Jets believe that they are different from any other team in the NFL, and are not afraid to come off as cocky or brash. These Jets walk onto the field like the badasses they are. The once soft-spoken Jets have become America’s new favorite team to hate.
The Jets embody the well-known concept that “any press is good press,” embroiling themselves in a plethora of controversies throughout the year — to mention just a few: Ryan’s foul language on the HBO series “Hard Knocks;” Braylon Edwards’ DWI charge; and the YouTube video released recently exposing the foot fettish Ryan and his wife have. While many of these controversies are unacceptable, I do think that they have drawn a lot of much needed attention to the once overshadowed New York team. Now, instead of ignoring that other team that happens to hail from New York, people cannot wait to see what the Jets will do next.
I’m not saying the Jets are going to win the SuperBowl, mostly because I do not want to jinx them, but I will be rooting for them.
The Jets are so much fun to watch because anyone can tell they love what they’re doing. And, as any loyal Jets fan would do, I have to throw this in: J-E-T-S, JETS, JETS, JETS! -D.B.
Bernstein and Bates are members of the class of 2014.