PHOENIX - Rex Ryan said he wants them to build a statue of him in Buffalo when he's done coaching there. He said he wants his players to think he knows the identity of the unknown soldier. He said he's going to be "as subtle as a punch in the nose" and that he wants to win "in a very big way."
In other words . . .
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"I'm back," the boisterous and rejuvenated former Jets coach said at the AFC coaches' breakfast Tuesday morning, representing the Bills there for the first time. "There's no question about it."
None at all.
"I'm as happy as I can be coaching this team," he said between gushing praise on Bills ownership, the front office, his roster, his coaching staff and the community.
Of course, the way things ended with the Jets wasn't happy. And it left Ryan's personality somewhat muted.
"Shoot, I was slapped down with a little humble pie there," he said of going 18-30 in his last three seasons including 4-12 in 2014. "It was tough. Embarrassing. But the thing I'm proud of is that it wasn't a reflection of the guys. My guys played as hard as they could. That's something I'm extremely proud of and that's probably why I'm sitting here today. But the results were a little embarrassing."
Ryan said he knew Jets owner Woody Johnson would fire him as he prepared for the 2014 finale against the Dolphins.
"It was pretty obvious it was going to happen," Ryan said. "Mr. Johnson had no choice. You win four games in this league, that's what's going to happen."
"There was no question about it. But I never dwelled on it. That wasn't my job, that wasn't my place. I was honest with everybody saying I wasn't thinking about it and I wasn't concerned about it. I think the opposite of walking in faith would be walking in fear, and I'm not afraid of anything."
That doesn't mean he enjoyed getting the ax the day after that loss to the Dolphins.
"Obviously from a competitive standpoint I never liked getting fired, I can tell you that much," he said. "But I realized it was going to happen."
Ryan brought the Jets to two AFC title games but never got over that hump and never won a Super Bowl for the Jets. That seems to be his one regret.
"The competitor in me, I want to win and I want to win in a big way," he said. "I'm excited about this opportunity right here [with the Bills] because that's what I plan on doing."
The Jets may have fired Ryan, but they did not get rid of him. He's still in the division. Ryan seems more focused on beating the Patriots than the Jets. He said he has "unfinished business" in the AFC East when it comes to toppling the reigning Super Bowl champs, and that he has made a clean break from his former employer. Ryan even shied away from talking directly about the Jets (although he did it in a very Ryan way).
When asked about the team bringing back cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie after he had been fired, he said: "I don't know if we could have used them, they might have been backups."
But at some point in the 2015 season he'll be back at MetLife Stadium, facing his old team with his new team. How will the fans react to him?
Ryan wasn't sure, judging by the multiple ways he answered the question.
"They'll love me like everybody does," he said at first, that self-confidence beaming.
Then, after a smile, he changed his mind.
"I'll get booed like crazy," he said. "They're going to boo me out of the stadium."
In a way, that showed just as much self-confidence.
Finally, he found a real answer.
"The one thing I know about fans in general is they appreciate efforts," he said. "The results weren't what anybody wanted there. Obviously you want to win a championship, and that's all that matters. But I think fans overall appreciate efforts and they know I certainly gave what I had."
No one is building a statue of Ryan in New Jersey. That wouldn't be appropriate.
Statues can't talk.