Rex Ryan has learned over the years that less in more – especially when it comes to his mouth.
But despite the toned-down version he displays for the cameras these days, the “Old Rex” hasn’t gone anywhere, he said. He’s as confident as he always was in his team and his expectations for the Jets remain as lofty as his first day on the job back in 2009.
After back-to-back seasons that ended one game shy of the Super Bowl, the Jets had hit “rock bottom” under his watch. But they have finally “turned the corner,” Ryan said. And now, the rest of the NFL will feel the brunt of their improved defense and passing game.
“I think we’re gonna do some things this year. I truly believe that,” the Jets coach said Thursday on Mike Francesa’s WFAN radio show. "I’m gonna be honest with you, I’m not so sure there’s too many teams that want to play us.”
Ryan said that he feels “better than pretty good” about his team.
And when asked by Francesa if these Jets are a playoff team, Ryan characteristically replied: “Absolutely. I know what our goal is, and I believe we can reach it.”
Regardless of who’s under center – incumbent second-year Geno Smith or veteran Michael Vick – Ryan believes the Jets’ offense will be far better in 2014 than last season.
“You’ve got a proven guy, obviously. A tremendous quarterback in his own right,” he said of Vick, who turns 34 next month. “And I think it’ll be good competition with Geno. I think they’re both going to push each other and I think it’ll be good, at the end of the day for Geno, to have somebody with Mike’s experience and the type of competition he’s going to bring. Clearly he can get it done.”
Ryan left open the possibility that Vick could wind up winning the starting gig. But he also reiterated “Geno Smith is going to be hard to beat out. I truly believe that,” noting that the second-year QB has a “much better understanding of what we want” for the offense.
So can the Jets win with Smith?
“I’m definitely convinced we can win with Geno Smith,” Ryan said.
The Jets walked away from this year’s draft with 12 rookies – including tight end Jace Amaro, guard Dakota Dozier and receivers Jalen Saunders, Shaq Evans, Quincy Enunwa and quarterback Tajh Boyd. But prior to that, they bolstered their offense through free agency, acquiring Eric Decker and Chris Johnson.
“Things are looking up,” Ryan said of the offense. “I think we are going to have more weapons.”
The Jets coach also maintained – contrary to popular belief – that he has just as much power within the organization under general manager John Idzik as he had under former GM Mike Tannenbaum. But Ryan conceded that the one area he’s happy to defer control is the offensive meeting room.
“Do I have a little say? Yeah,” he said, referring to the offense. “But I spend a ton of time in the defensive room.”