As unsettled as the Jets’ quarterback situation looks heading into training camp, Rex Ryan prefers what he has now to what he had when he first came into the league as a rookie head coach in 2009.
“I like our quarterback situation much better than I did the first year I was here,” Ryan said in an interview Friday on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program.
That’s the year the Jets drafted Mark Sanchez with the fifth overall pick. Sanchez beat out Kellen Clemens and helped lead the Jets to the first of two straight AFC Championship Games. Of course, the players around Sanchez were far better than what the Jets have now, but Ryan is nevertheless more optimistic about his quarterback situation with a more experienced Sanchez and rookie Geno Smith, the Jets’ second-round pick.
“Obviously, [Sanchez] has had his ups and downs, but there’s a lot of positive things about what Mark’s accomplished, won four road playoff games,” said Ryan, who declined to predict who’d win the starting job. “But this Geno Smith is really a talented young man. The whole team, we’re all about competition and certainly that’s going to be a lot of competition right there.”
Ryan also joked about running with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain earlier this month. A brief videotape showed him avoiding a bull by climbing a fence on the side of the road.
“I’m 50 years old, but I can still do some of that stuff,” said Ryan, who has lost 120 pounds following lap-band surgery more than two years ago. He now weighs 230 pounds. “You run quite a ways. I started in the center of it, and my son and I ran all the way. At the end, I was actually looking for my kid. It’s such a massive group of people. He went through, and I’m looking around.
“The bull turns around and I’m like, ‘Whoa.’ If I was 350, I probably would have taken him on. The fact that I’m 230, no chance. But it was a blast.”
Asked whether this year’s Jets’ team was good enough to make the playoffs, Ryan made no predictions.
“We’re soon going to find out,” he said. “I’m excited about it. The key for us, no one individual is going to carry this football team. It’s going to be the collective efforts of this entire group. But when we left our mini-camps, we felt like we had out-prepared and out-worked every team in the league. Now, we’ll find out if that’s true or not, but I’m excited about it.”