Indianapolis – Fresh off a second consecutive run to the AFC Championship Game, and a day after making a cameo on the CBS hit television show CSI NY, Jets coach Rex Ryan was back at it today. Yup, another Super Bowl guarantee.
"I thought we’d win it the first two years,” Ryan said of the Super Bowl during a news conference at the NFL’s annual Scouting Combine. “I guarantee we’ll do it this year.”
It’s the same thing he said during an interview at a recent Knicks game at Madison Square Garden. And really, it’s the same thing he’s been saying since he was hired by the Jets in January, 2009. Only this time, he showed some defiance when he was questioned about whether he might be making a few too many guarantees.
“We made it to the AFC Championship Game two years in a row when some people predicted we’d win six games,” he said. “So I don’t care what people think. I care what our organization believes and what our fans believe. Empty promises? We’ve gotten better. I know we got to the same place last year. You think we can improve a little more, then why not us?”
Ryan then ticked off a partial list of his team’s accomplishments last season, including playoff wins over the Patriots and Colts.
“We did beat the team with the most wins in the league at their place,” he said, referring to the Jets’ playoff win in New England in the divisional playoffs. “We came here [to Indianapolis] and we beat a great [Colts] team. We’re the only team to make the final four the last two years, so why wouldn’t I be positive?”
Ryan then asked rhetorically if he should lower the bar of expectation.
“Hey guys, you know, I’ll be happy if we’re 8-8? That’s the wrong guy standing in front of you,” he said. “I’m always going to say the same thing. I believe we’re going to be champs and why wouldn’t I believe it? Somebody tell me why I shouldn’t believe that we deserve to be a champion. Guarantee? I don’t know. I just know how I feel.”
Ryan said he feels confident even if there is a lockout of NFL players. If no deal is made on a new collective bargaining agreement, the owners are expected to lock the players out beginning March 4.
“We feel great about our plan,” Ryan said. “We’re making no excuses. We’re going to find a way to get it done. That’s our goal. That’s what we want to accomplish.”
Ryan reiterated what he said the day after the Jets lost to the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game, that he’d like to keep all his players. The Jets went into the off-season with 17 free agents, and have signed only one – franchise designee David Harris, the team’s Pro Bowl linebacker.
“We want all our players back,” Ryan said. “We know that’s not realistic, but we know we have an outstanding football team and we want ‘em all back.”
Ryan did cite the need for improvement in a few areas, specifically with the red zone – inside the 20-yard line – on both offense and defense.
“We have to get better in producing in the red zone and defending in the red zone, which has usually been a strength of ours,” he said. “It’s a little disappointing we finished third in the league in [overall] defense. That’s not up to our standards.”
But he thinks the team will be ready to win it all next season. Which would mean a return trip to Indianapolis for Super Bowl XLVI.
“We’re set up to succeed,” he said. “Why wouldn’t I stand up and say that? I’m just speaking what I believe to be the truth. That’s what I said I was going to do the day I took the job, and that’s what I’m doing now.”