Rex Ryan wasted no time setting the tone for Sunday’s AFC playoff game against the Patriots. Within the space of 20 minutes at this morning’s news conference, Ryan delivered more shots aimed at Pats coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady than you could count.
If his intent was to take the pressure off his players and put it squarely on himself, mission accomplished. As the Jets attempt to recover from a 45-3 beatdown in Foxborough last month, Ryan certainly got his team’s attention to start off a week’s worth of preparation for the AFC divisional playoff game at Gillette Stadium.
“I was out-coached in that game. I said it then, I’m saying it now,” Ryan said. “Belichick is a Hall of Fame coach, and he’ll go down in history as maybe the best coach in the history of this game. He was at that level that week, and I was not. I recognize this week that it’s about Rex Ryan vs. Bill Belichick. It’s about him against myself. That’s what it’s going to come down to.”
Even if he’d stopped there (he didn't, watch the videos embedded below), Ryan would have delivered a strong message on Day 1 of Hype Week in a rivalry that has become among the most intense in sports. But Ryan was just getting started.
“This is going to be about me raising my level against Bill Belichick,” Ryan said. “It’s about being the best coach on Sunday, and I plan on being the best coach on Sunday. He’s going to get my best shot. If he slips at all, we’re going to beat him.”
Looking back now at last months’ loss, Ryan said he felt he didn’t adequately prepare his team when the 9-2 Jets visited the 9-2 Patriots.
“I think the plan might have looked good on paper, but it wasn’t realistic,” he said. “When we had to make adjustments, we couldn’t execute them. They were prepared, and they did a great job. It really came down to coaching more than playing, and that was obvious. Belichick was much better than I was that game.”
Ryan believes the result can be different this time.
“If it was up to the players, this would be a tie game,” Ryan said. “The fact that it was me against Belichick last game, it was 45-3 in his favor. I’m just trying to level the score. I recognize that I’m never going to be a better coach than him. My job is to be a better coach than him this week.”
Ryan also took a couple more shots at Brady, this after last week suggesting that Peyton Manning was by far the most studious quarterback in today’s game, even more so than Brady, who gets help from Belichick, Ryan said.
A reporter asked Ryan what he thought of Brady attending the Broadway play “Lombardi” on Sunday night with his super model wife, Gisele. The play began around the same time as the Jets’ 17-16 win over the Colts.
Said Ryan: “Peyton Manning would have been watching our game.”
The coach offered a smile just before he said it, but that smile didn’t last very long. Ryan also tweaked Brady for what he called his “antics” on the field.
“He took a shot at me [in last month’s game] with his antics on the field,” Ryan said. “I don’t want him to score, so I’m going to do whatever I can to keep him out of the endzone.”
Brady often points a finger in the direction of the opposing team after a Patriots’ touchdown, although the coach didn’t directly accuse Brady of pointing his way in last month’s game.
“I’m not as big a target as I used to be,” said Ryan, who has lost about 80 pounds since last season.
“That’s just Brady being Brady,” Ryan said. “I don’t like seeing that. No Jets fan likes to see that. He can’t wait to do it. He’s not going to say anything publicly, but he does it. It’s what it is. It’s my job to keep him out of the endzone.”
And so we begin. The Jets’ coach has offered up more material than the Patriots’ bulletin board can accommodate. But rest assured the Patriots will take note of more bombast from the Jets’ trash-talking coach.
… and it’s only Monday