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Jets' Leonhard: What's wrong with Super Bowl talk?

Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez celebrates a touchdown by

Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez celebrates a touchdown by Thomas Jones in the fourth quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Giants Stadium on Jan. 3, 2010 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Credit: Getty Images

Jim Leonhard is bewildered, somewhat confused by the continuing dismissive backlash regarding the Jets' Super Bowl talk.

Perhaps it's because his brash coach is about as unconventional as they come, opting not to keep a lid on the team's chatter about playing in the NFL's ultimate game next month.

"I don't really understand," Leonhard said Monday. "It's not like we are trying to put down any other team or get ahead of ourselves. This is what every team in the National Football League plays for - to play for a Super Bowl. So I don't really understand why you can't talk about it. It's not that we are not extremely focused on the next opponent. We realize you have to take care of business now to get to where you want to go.

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"But the Super Bowl on most teams is that elephant in the room that no one can talk about. 'Don't mention it. Don't think about it.' Everybody knows it's there. We are not afraid to talk about it."

Considering how many of Ryan's predictions already have come to fruition, why should they be? In his introductory news conference nearly a year ago, Ryan boldly said the Jets would be visiting the White House soon. He drove that point home again last week before the Jets knocked off Cincinnati to earn a date with San Diego in the AFC's divisional round Sunday.

Ryan handed out the postseason schedule with everything broken down, including when the parade up Manhattan's Canyon of Heroes would be. This from the same guy who proclaimed the Jets would have the league's top-ranked defense, boasted how they had the No. 1 offensive line in his eyes and thought they would have the NFL's best rushing attack.

Check. Check. And check again.

"I'm really looking forward to getting my lottery numbers this week because most of his [predictions] have come true," center Nick Mangold said. "So I figure at least why not test the lottery out a little bit?''

Wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery agreed. "I probably would go play those numbers because a lot of things have been coming to life," he said. "If he gives me some numbers, I might just head down to the nearest store."

Ryan quickly has turned into a pied piper who has the Jets following his lead. What might've been taboo under close-to-the-vest disciplinarian Eric Mangini is welcomed in the Ryan regime, bringing a fresh approach the players just can't get enough of.

"It's that confidence, and it's nice to have the date set of when he wants to have the parade," Mangold said. "It makes you want to go out there and do a little here and there. Whether it be weight room, on the field, in the classroom, extra time at home studying to prove him right, I think that's one of the great things of his motivation. You want to be out there working hard because he believes in you.

"You want to make sure that he has a reason to believe in you."

And that belief goes a long way. Maybe even all the way to Miami, site of Super Bowl XLIV.

"In order to be a good team, you have to trust your teammates and your coaching staff," Leonhard said. "We believe we have a team that can make a solid run at these playoffs. All we need to do is win three more games to win the Super Bowl.

"So it's close, it can be done. Like I said, it's not supposed to be easy. Playoffs are never supposed to be easy. But we are not afraid to talk about what everyone is playing for right now."

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