FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Rex Ryan insists the uncertainty regarding whether Sunday's game against the Patriots represents his final home game as coach of the Jets is not on his mind.
"No, I haven't thought about that at all," he said Friday.
Instead, the Jets' sixth-year coach said he's trying to do what he's always done best -- keep the atmosphere as light and collegial as possible.
There obviously is no playbook for an NFL coach on how to handle oneself at a time like this. The Jets have been out of the playoff hunt for months, and it feels -- at least to people outside of the Jets' offices -- as if Ryan's fate has been all but determined for quite a while, too.
Already this week, former Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis -- a Ryan favorite -- called it "kind of sad for the position that Rex is in right now."
And Friday, longtime Jets linebacker Calvin Pace, whose days with the Jets predate Ryan's, said he thinks it will be "emotional," at least at the start of the Patriots game, because of Ryan's precarious status.
But Ryan has not let his uncertain status affect his folksy public persona.
Asked Friday how he's been able to keep a lighthearted mentality throughout this mess of a season, Ryan said: "I'm just going to be myself. I'm not dead yet. I'm always going to be me and that's just my personality. That's just who I am every day."
Ryan even got a good laugh Friday during his post-practice news conference when he responded to some criticism lobbed his way by one of his former players. Cornerback Josh Thomas, whom the Jets cut earlier this week a day after he lost his playbook, signed with the Lions and told Detroit reporters that he "wasn't getting the attention necessary" from Jets coaches. He added, "It became where I was there as a player and wanting and desiring some feedback that wasn't given."
Ryan didn't need to have those words relayed to him. When they were brought up, he looked down but couldn't hold back his smile. When he looked up, he threw his arms up and laughed.
"Obviously the young man has a right to his opinion and things, but that's funny," Ryan said. "I've never heard it ever in my life and I've been coaching a long time -- not about me or anybody else. That's a new one."
If this is Ryan's final home game with the Jets, it's almost fitting that it comes against the Patriots, continuing a rivalry Ryan always enjoyed stoking with public barbs. But on Friday he kept the jokes at his own expense.
Asked about his relationship with Patriots coach Bill Belichick, Ryan said, "I probably think he's a lot better coach than he thinks I am, I think it's safe to say."
Notes & quotes: Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (left big toe) is questionable and expects it to be a game-time decision. "It still hurts," he said. "I mean, it's getting a little better each and every day, but it's still bothering me on the field." . . . Ryan said safety Rontez Miles had emergency surgery Thursday night after suffering what appeared to be a bruised shin in practice . . . Willie Colon was fined $8,268 for his involvement in last week's brawl in Nashville.