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Rex calls Tebow bashing 'cowardly,' but sees Jets 'getting closer'

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 14: Head coach

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 14: Head coach of the New York Jets, Rex Ryan talks with Tim Tebow #15 against the Indianapolis Colts at MetLife Stadium on October 14, 2012 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images) Photo Credit: Getty Images

In the face of anonymous rip-jobs reportedly coming from inside his own locker room, Rex Ryan maintained he hasn't lost control.

In fact, the Jets coach went so far as to say his Jets are growing tighter as a unit.

"I feel extremely confident that this team is coming closer together," Ryan said Wednesday, the same day a New York Daily News article anonymously quoted players and team officials who bashed backup quarterback Tim Tebow.

Ryan said he wasn't bothered, per se, by the comments -- which characterized Tebow as a talent-less "gimmick" and not a real quarterback. Instead, the coach was upset that those comments were issued anonymously.

"Did I address it? I absolutely addressed it because I think it's a cowardly thing," he said of the character assassination by nameless parties. "If you're not gonna put your name to it, I think that's about as cowardly of thing as there is."

Ryan, however, said he had "no problem" with Matt Slauson's comments in the article because the left guard put his name to it.

Slauson -- who told Newsday last month that Tebow as the starter was "not an option" -- was quoted as saying the talent-level between starter Mark Sanchez and Tebow is "not even close." He also added: "I have all the confidence in Mark. We don't really have a choice. We have (third-string quarterback) Greg (McElroy)...and we have an athlete."

Ryan said he disagreed with Slauson's statement, but said he won't tell his players what to say and what not say.

Despite the swirling rumors that owner Woody Johnson was the sole reason behind the trade for Tebow in March, Ryan insisted he "absolutely" wanted the backup quarterback on his team.

But the coach was quick to add: "He never came in here to be the starting quarterback. I thought I was clear on that."

With his 3-6 team struggling to keep afloat in the standings, Ryan can't afford more locker room division. But if you think these anonymous quotes are a sign of trouble on the horizon -- think again, he said.

The Jets coach denied the locker room fissures that sunk their 2011 season have re-emerged. "I don't think we have the same problem we had (last January)," he said, adding that last year's "riff" was exaggerated by the press.

Strangely enough, Ryan went so far as to evoke the "us against the world" mantra -- a tactic he often uses with his team.

Hinting that this outsider-derived controversy could "galvanize" the Jets, the coach added: "This team is not going to be pulled apart by outside people. I think this team is coming together." 

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