If Rex Ryan is seething inside after watching the team he doesn’t want to take a back seat to win Super Bowl XLVI, he’s sure hiding it well.
Ryan insists the Giants’ captivating run to their fourth Lombardi Trophy -- a trek that truly began in earnest on Dec. 24 with the Giants’ 24-19 win over the Jets – hasn’t added any extra fuel to his desire to make good on his countless Super Bowl guarantees.
“Nah, you can’t be more motivated than we are,” Ryan said before the Long Island Association’s annual luncheon at Crest Hollow Country Club in Woodbury. “A goal of ours was to host a playoff game. Well to do that, you have to get in front of New England – that’s hard to do. I drove around [MetLife Stadium] for self-motivation. Like, ‘Ooh, gosh.' I want to be playing a playoff game at our stadium next year and obviously that’s something that you try to do.
“But to be more motivated as an organization because this team won or that team won, no absolutely not. You can’t get be more motivated than we are.”
The Jets were in the same predicament as their crosstown rivals when they met in December. Their playoff fate was in their hands. Winning their final two games would’ve cemented a postseason berth for a third straight year since Ryan came to town.
But things seemed to unravel once Victor Cruz darted 99 yards into the end zone, turning the Jets’ 7-3 advantage into a 10-7 deficit just before halftime. They never recovered.
“That 99-yarder, I don’t know how many more guys we could have covering that kid,” Ryan said. “He made a great play. We had momentum in that game and then when he made that play, you could sense the Giants took the momentum of that game over based on that play and they carried it through the Super Bowl.
“So you’ve got to give them all the props in the world. They found a way to get it done.”
Ryan said the Jets are in the initial stages of prepping for free agency and the draft. He didn’t give any insight when asked what needs he thinks the Jets will look to address over the coming months.
“I think we are a good football team,” he said. “We’ll look at all the things that are out there, all the guys that are out there like we always do. I think Mike Tannenbaum does an outstanding job of that, of identifying players that we think can help us and that’s what you are always trying to do – is build your team up.”
Ryan recently met with owner Woody Johnson upon returning from spending a few days in Indianapolis during Super Bowl week. The two had dinner together, discussing ways to make sure the problems that were prevalent in 2011 don’t arise again.
“We had a great meeting,” Ryan said. “We all have identified things that we think we have to get better at as an organization and we are excited about moving forward. We’re learning from what happened this past season and, hey, we’ve got some scars from it. There’s no question. But I respect that and if you learn from it, then you can get better from it. And that’s what we are going to do.
“This team and this organization is so committed to finding a way to get better, to be competitive-type team that we know we are. We’re excited about what’s getting ready to happen.”
One thing that won’t happen is Ryan completely toning down his bravado. Still, he’s talking like someone who’s learning he can’t just make certain statements and not expect they'll get a rise out of the opposition – as LaDainian Tomlinson suggested weeks ago.
“No. 1, I will never lose the confidence that I have in our players, our coaching staff and this organization. That’s never going to change,” Ryan said. “I have complete confidence in our organization from top to bottom. One thing you have to look at though – there’s several things – but making the guarantee and all that, I thought was going to put more pressure on myself. But I also wanted to send a message to our team.
“That was a unique situation. The CBA was what it was. Nobody really knew what was going to happen there. I made that before even knowing who our team was, but I wanted guys to know that, ‘Hey guys, we got as close as you can get without getting to the big game and this is the year that we can do it. The guys know that I speak what I believe to be the truth. Now, it never worked out that way. But that’s what I believe.
“But after hearing LaDainian’s comments and my intent was not to put pressure on our players. I wanted to put pressure on me and let them play loose and fast. But I have to take ahard look. Maybe there was more pressure, maybe opponents looked at us differently because of the guarantees that I made. I’ve got to look at all those things.”