Rex Ryan didn't kiss Bill Belichick's ring Monday. He did, however, give a metaphorical curtsy to the Patriots coach.

"They are better than us in two spots that I know for sure - head coach and quarterback," the Jets rookie coach said. "But we're going to find out who has the better team."

The Jets host the Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady on Sunday, which might explain why Ryan was sounding a tad bit more deferential than he was in June when he was asked about his plans for the team.

"I never came here to kiss Bill Belichick's, you know, rings," Ryan said in a June interview on WFAN. "I'm certainly not intimidated by New England or anybody else."

A week into the season, it's looking as if Ryan may be more than just a big talker when it comes to sizing up his team. The Jets have a lot of reasons to feel good about themselves after their 24-7 win Sunday in Houston.


Leading the list is a Jets defense that held one of the league's most powerful offenses to 183 yards. It also held the Texans scoreless, because Houston's sole touchdown came on a fourth-quarter interception/fumble return.

"We played like I thought we would," Ryan said. "We see what this defense could be. I think it could be a dominant group every week."

It will be harder to be dominant against the Patriots, who have Tom Brady back in the pocket. Yet the Jets are feeling pretty good about their own quarterback situation. Rookie Mark Sanchez displayed the poise of a veteran in his debut, with his sole blemish being the interception that led to Houston's touchdown.

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"Our team's got a lot of confidence in him," Ryan said. "Some of the guys were calling him Sanchize because he's a franchise quarterback. Who am I to argue with that?"

Ryan was so excited by the win that players say he choked up during a speech to them afterward. He is also thrilled to see how his team is going to measure up this week. It also sounds as though he is fairly excited to see how he is going to measure up as a coach.

Ryan said he enjoyed watching the rivalries that his father, Buddy, had with other big-time coaches of his era.

"It was Bill Parcells, Joe Gibbs, Tom Landry or Jimmy Johnson," Ryan said. "Those were the big guns when he was coaching with the Eagles. It was funny. My dad would beat Parcells, but lose to Gibbs. Parcells always beat Gibbs. They beat each other up. Those were the days."

This Sunday will be Ryan's day to see how he measures up.

"It's not about me against Belichick. That would be one-sided," he said. "But I think I'll compete. I know I'll compete. "He's going to get everything I've got."