During Tuesday night's "Total Access" on NFL Network, former Jet LaDainian Tomlinson said Rex Ryan once joked before a Patriots game that he was going to set the tone by hitting Bill Belichick when both coaches met at midfield.
"Rex is a master motivator, and it was going to be a big game, a heated rivalry game," Tomlinson, now a NFLN analyst said. "Rex got in front us and he said, ‘I’m going to set the tempo today. I’m going to set the tempo when I meet Bill Belichick in the center of the field I’m going to start it off and punch him in the face’
"We loved that, I loved that from Rex. He was motivating his guys and he wanted to jump it off…(And) we won."
Tomlinson said Ryan's players "absolutely" loved the confidence he showed in them. However, the ex-NFL running back said Ryan's boastful act often got old.
“Here’s the thing, that was part of Rex growing up as a first-year coach, as a first-time head coach," said Tomlinson. "He didn’t know obviously all of the things that need to happen as a head coach, and some things you can say and some things you cannot say.
"I credit that to him being a young coach, but absolutely there were times where we had to back up what Rex Ryan said. A couple of years he came out and said we were going to win a championship. We didn’t really like that but as players we had to back it up.”
Tomlinson reiterated on air that Ryan's strengths lie in his defensive coaching and his ability to motivate players.
"Rex really knew how to pump up his teams and get them ready to play," he said. "That’s one of the things that I really enjoyed about Rex, is when I stepped in that meeting room the night before the game, I knew I was going to be ready to play.”