Jets coach Rex Ryan has dropped more than 100 pounds but he hasn’t dropped his obsession with finishing in front of the Patriots.
Ryan came to New York promising that he wasn’t going to kiss Bill Belichick’s Super Bowl rings and he wound up leading his team further than the Patriots in his first two seasons, including a playoff win in Foxborough en route to the 2010 AFC Championship Game. A rough 2011 season for the Jets has the team spouting a little bit less bravado, but Ryan bristled at a reporter’s question about the Jets conceding the division title to the Patriots on Saturday.
“Do I respect New England? The fact is they’ve won our division a zillion times. The three years I’ve been here, they’ve won it all three times, and I don’t think it’s been close,” Ryan said, via Bob Glauber of Newsday. “But I’ll never back down or concede anything. When you talk about conceding the division . . . yeah, right. Not me. There’s no chance here, not with the Jets.”
Glauber wasn’t the only member of the New York media to build something out of Ryan’s statement, which is a bit odd because there’s nothing particularly noteworthy about a coach saying in late July that he refuses to concede the division title to a rival. There will surely be those who see it as another sign of Ryan blowing hot air, a standard Ryan has set for himself over recent seasons, but Ryan’s not wrong to take offense at the suggestion that the Jets just shoot for second place this season.
That doesn’t mean the Jets have a team that can outlast the Patriots. On paper, everything certainly favors another division title for the Pats, but paper doesn’t always hold up on the field and that’s why teams don’t give up the fight in July.