CORTLAND, N.Y. -- Rex Ryan revisited the past in hopes of getting his team back on the right path.
On the Jets' first night in Cortland, he reintroduced his blueprint from the 2009 season -- the same year he took over as coach and his players shocked the NFL en route to their first AFC title game appearance in more than a decade.
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His vision had been all but realized that year, save for the Super Bowl title. But after the Jets failed to make the playoffs last season, Ryan is excited to return to 2009 form. By showing his players the blueprint, he hopes to foster teamwork and to remind them of what it means to "play like a Jet."
And within minutes of the team's first training camp practice Friday morning, Ryan was even more fired up. The offense was crisp, as balls went whizzing downfield into the hands of tightly covered receivers. The biggest catch of the day came from Stephen Hill, who snared a 40-yard pass from Mark Sanchez on a ball tipped by Darrelle Revis. But Revis' interception on Sanchez later that morning had the defense chirping.
"It was everything we wanted this first day," Sanchez said. "We're really excited about it."
This is the time of year that excites Ryan. It's a clean slate, a new chance to erase memories of unattained goals. And with the arrival of offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, Ryan is more confident than ever.
"I have everything in place right now," he said. "And Tony's a big part of that. And I made sure the team knew that this is what we brought in and this is why we brought it in. He sees things through, not just as an offensive coordinator, but as a team. And not saying that Brian didn't, it's just that things are a little different."
With his faith in Sparano, Ryan said he can focus more on the defense, "whether it's calling games or whatever."
The coach stressed defensive coordinator Mike Pettine is "his right-hand guy." But nevertheless, "I look at myself as the best defensive coach in football," Ryan said.
Though he's made a conscious effort to tone down his bombastic ways, Ryan insisted he hasn't changed at his core. "I am who I am," said the coach, who curtailed his yearly ritual of guaranteeing Lombardi Trophies after his players started to be targeted by other teams. "I'm going to be myself."
He's already miffed about preseason polls that rank the Jets third or fourth in the AFC East. But there's nothing Ryan likes more than a challenge.
"This isn't the first time that there's been people that don't believe in me," he said. "I don't care what you think. And that's the case. If it was the spelling bee, I'd bet against me. But anything else: A fight? Coaching football? I'm betting on me."
Notes & quotes: Ryan confirmed that Vladimir Ducasse and Matt Slauson are competing for the starting left guard spot. The pair split first-team reps during practice . . . Health-wise, Jeff Otah, who has had years of problems with his left knee, believes he's "almost there." But when asked if he thinks he'll pass his physical by next week, he said: "We'll see." If Otah, who failed his first physical, does not pass one by Wednesday, the trade from Carolina will be nullified . . . Otah, LB Demario Davis and G Terrence Campbell (strained hamstrings) and S LaRon Landry (Achilles tendon) did individual work on the sidelines. Ryan said on Thursday that Landry, who was activated off the active/PUP list, would be on a "pitch count" during training camp.