FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Rex Ryan couldn't help himself, refusing to tiptoe around the verbal land mine that had been tossed in front of him.
The brash coach might've planted the bull's-eye squarely on the Jets' green and white logo when he took umbrage with his team's odds of winning the Super Bowl. The Jets are anywhere from a 25-1 to 50-1 long shot to hoist the Lombardi Trophy come Feb. 7 in Miami, by far the worst of any of the NFL's 12 postseason teams.
Ryan didn't exactly go off on a tangent when told the Jets weren't getting much respect from the oddsmakers. But he certainly spoke his mind as always, eschewing the opportunity to sidestep the grenade. Instead, he pulled the pin.
"To me, we should be favorites," he said. "So that's fine."
Just to make sure he was being understood correctly, Ryan was asked to clarify his thoughts. With the Jets 3-point underdogs for Saturday's wild-card game against the Bengals in Cincinnati, some weren't completely clear if he was talking about this weekend or the entire postseason. Rather than putting things in reverse, Ryan hit the accelerator and basically floored it.
"I mean, in the whole tournament," he said. "You know the way I feel. I think we have the best defense, I know we do. I know we have the best rushing attack. So those are two huge factors in our favor. I think with a couple of exceptions on our staff - myself, probably - I think we have a great coaching staff.
"If I had a choice to coach any team in the tournament, I would choose this one."
Many players backed the words of their outspoken coach, who's been no stranger to making bold proclamations in his first season. Shaun Ellis wasn't aware of the odds, but wasn't surprised by them, either.
Because the defensive end thinks few gave the Jets much of a chance once they dropped six of seven games, getting slapped in the face by Vegas oddsmakers isn't exactly earth-shattering in his eyes.
"Ain't nobody believed in us all season," he said. "The dude . . . on Fox [Curt Menefee] saying the Jets are a 'Mess! Mess! Mess!' He don't know us. He ain't never been in here. He don't know nothing about us. He just wants to find a team to pick on so he can feel a part of something up there, you know?"
That's when Ellis really dropped the hammer on SNY, the Jets' television home for everything other than the live games.
"It's the same thing with SNY," he said. "They haven't been on our side all year. They always want to find something negative to say or whatever. That's where it starts from. If your own interior people are doing it, then everybody else goes and does it. If our own interior people don't believe in us, ain't nobody else going to believe in us.
"So they've been doubting us all year and saying certain things about us all year . . . Adam Schein, he's probably one of the biggest Jets bashers. [Brian Custer], he be bashing us, too. He's like, 'The Jets are not making it, it's a long shot.' How you running the 'Jets Nation' show and you are talking bad about us? That's the outlet for everybody. So of course if our own show don't believe in us, ain't nobody else going to believe in us. It starts from the root."
The Jets' colorful coach is convinced they can get the job done, though. He believes in them - even if oddsmakers don't.
"We know we have to back it up," Marques Douglas said. "Rex's job is to get us in position to make plays. He knows who we have in this locker room and I don't think he would change that for anybody. When you look at how we run the ball on the offensive side, when you look at how we get after it on defense, I mean what other defense would you want to have right now? What other offensive line would you rather have right now? When you look at it, I like our odds also."
Hear that, Vegas?