Move over Peyton Manning. It’s Bill Belichick’s turn.
A week after Rex Ryan took aim at the Colts’ future Hall of Fame quarterback, whom the Jets beat 17-16 in their AFC wild-card matchup Saturday night, Ryan turned his sole focus to Belichick.
With the Jets preparing to face their archrivals a little over a month following that 45-3 drubbing at the hands of the Patriots in Foxborough, Mass., Ryan said Sunday’s AFC Divisional game between the top-seeded Patriots (14-2) and the No. 6 Jets (12-5) isn’t on his players.
It’s on him.
“I recognize that this week, this is about Bill Belichick vs. Rex Ryan,” Ryan said at the team’s training complex Monday. “There’s no question. It’s personal. It’s about him against myself and that’s what it’s going to come down to.”
Ryan said he thinks the Jets’ gameplan was a bit too complicated in their Dec. 6 meeting, pointing out that it might’ve looked pretty good on paper, but wasn’t overly realistic. He also said Belichick definitely got the best of him.
“I was outcoached in that game. I said that then, I’m saying it now,” Ryan said. “Belichick, I recognize the fact his is Hall of Fame coach and he’ll go down in history as maybe the greatest football coach in the history of the game or close to it, all right? And he was at that level that week and I was not. For whatever reason, I never had my team prepared the way it should have been prepared and that falls right now on me.”
Some may think Ryan’s putting the pressure on himself and trying to take it off his players. But the amount of talent on each team makes it a wash in his mind, which he believes puts the onus on the coaching staff – specifically him.
“When you look at it, both teams are very even,” Ryan said. “When you look at the players or teams, both are solid across the board. When you look at the assistant coaches, we are on level ground. So, this is going to be about me raising my level against Bill Belichick. And I recognize he’s the best and all that, but I’m just trying to be the best on Sunday. And I plan on being the best coach on Sunday. So that’s what it is.
“I recognize that my level has to come up, and he’s going to get my best shot. He’s going to get everything I have on Sunday and if he slips at all we are going to beat him.”
Asked how he plans on raising his level, Ryan said: “It’s just going to be a ridiculous amount of preparation on our part, and also recognize that my job is to make it simpler for our players. No matter how difficult that may be as a coach, that’s your job -- to get your players to play the highest level possible, and that’s taking away some of the gray area.
“They do a great job with their matchups. We’ve got to do a great job of making it – whether it’s a complex plan or not – it has to be simple because we have to play fast and physical. And that doesn’t mean we are going to dummy it up against them. You’ll get crushed. So, we have to find that balancing act. I have to find the balancing act, but keeping our team physical.”
And, as usual, he’s confident he’ll strike that balance and find a way to get to the AFC Championship game for a second consecutive year.
“I believe in myself,” Ryan said, “and I think we’re going to get it done.”