Perhaps based on the shaky status of his quarterback situation, or his own, Jets coach Rex Ryan has been almost subdued this offseason.
But the brashness is always there under the surface, and it came out again when he was asked if his defense could be a top-five caliber unit.
“We will be,” Ryan said, via Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com. “Right now, we’re not there. Obviously, we have to make some improvements, especially after this past week. But I’m certainly confident that we’ll be where we always are — or better.”
Asked why so confident, he replied: “My history.”
The Jets have a number of issues on that side of the ball. They traded away cornerback Darrelle Revis, and are replacing him with first-rounder Dee Milliner. They’ve also lost outside linebacker Quinton Coples to a broken ankle, and have seven new starters on that side of the ball.
But they’ve also never finished a season worse than eighth in the league in total defense under Ryan, who makes the expectations clear.
“We have a lot of good players,” Ryan said. “There’s going to be a lot of new faces in there, but I guess, you put that decal on the side of your helmet, it says ‘New York Jets,’ so you have to be special. You have to understand there are expectations that come along with it. I expect our guys to play extremely well.”
They better, if the Jets want to be competitive.