He laughed, cried, made bold predictions, and captured the imagination of football fans from coast to coast this year. And in between all that, he did a hell of a job in his first year as the head coach of the New York Jets. Rex Ryan certainly proved this season that he was long overdue to be given a head coaching opportunity in this league. The Jets magical run came to an end on Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, and as you’ll hear, Ryan is definitely disappointed that his team wasn’t able to hold on to the lead that held over Peyton Manning and the Colts. All in all though, the Jets and their fans have to be thrilled about the future of their franchise. They’ve got their head coach, a young quarterback in Mark Sanchez that looks to be the real deal, a violent and competitive defense, and one of the NFL’s truly outstanding offensive lines.
Ryan joined The Michael Kay Show on ESPN Radio New York on Monday to talk about the greatness of Rex Ryan, how the Colts were able to exploit their secondary, what he thinks the Jets needs to do to improve this offseason, and how he’s proud to be associated with the New York Jets organization.
On if he feels like his team – which didn’t necessarily make costly mistakes – just got bludgeoned by the greatest quarterback on the planet, Peyton Manning:
“Well I certainly feel like I did, there’s no question. You know, we came out, we were flying out of the gate, our guys were ready to play. It’s just at the end of the day, the guy’s unbelievable. It’s just unfortunate, it really is. I know we have a great football team, and it might be the best football team I’ve ever been around, but it’s just the guy got hot and it felt like no matter what we did we weren’t going to be able to stop him. That’s almost the feeling that I had, but again, I look forward to the opportunity to face him but we’re really going to have to look long and hard at what he was able to do against us.”
On the loss of CB Donald Strickland to injury and how the Colts were able to exploit the Jets secondary for the rest of the game:
“Clearly, they were going away from Darelle Revis. That was it. And unfortunately, he’s not a twin because there’s only one Revis and no matter what did it seemed like, they were able to take advantage of some of the matchups and things like that. But again, that’s to their credit. It’s not trying to slight any of our players, it’s just a credit to them.”
On the loss of running back Shonn Greene during the game to a rib injury:
“I never really knew the extent of it. I knew he had taken a shot in the ribs and I just looked at him and was like he may have broken ribs but hey go take a needle and let’s go. And he went in there and he took it, but sometimes it takes a little bit, it takes like 20 minutes and unfortunately we didn’t have that time. He was trying to come back and doctors were like, no way Rex. It was a big loss, but I really feel like the Strickland thing was even bigger. It just felt that way because T.J’s an excellent back. But Shonn really is a different back, he’s more your Larry Csonka type. The thing about Shonn is, he was dishing out some punishment but he did receive it right in the ribs. And Anthony Lim’s already been talking to him about I guess there’s some new rib pads, because with Shonn’s style of play, the way he runs through tackles, he’s going to get opportunities to get hit by a bunch of guys and we’ve got to be able to protect him.”
On the outstanding play of Mark Sanchez on such a big stage:
“Absolutely, I couldn’t agree with you more. I absolutely thought he did and when you look at him, this guy’s grown up. There’s no doubt. He knows how you win games, he knows how you lose games. And that’s the thing, protecting the football – I mean, the way he had two hands…he saw this big end coming off the edge, he puts two hands on the football, breaks it to his front shoulder and slides up inside to get rid of the ball, takes a huge shot and throws a TD pass to Dustin Keller. He can make all the throws, he’s as competitive as it gets, and now this is his offense. Do I see us being more of a balanced offense? I absolutely do in the future.”
On if he’s proud of the job he did in his first year as a head coach:
“Well, you know what? It’s not so much being proud of myself. I’m proud of this football team and I told them. I said I’m going to wear Jets stuff for the rest of the year. There’s no questions about it. And it’s for two reasons. The first one is because I am proud to be a Jet and the next is because it’s 4 XL. Those are the reasons, but you know what? I am proud to be a Jet. And our football team is proud to be Jets. And just like we’re sending guys to the Pro Bowl, it’s like hey you represent us – outwork ’em, show ’em what the Jets are all about, and that’s what we want and stand up for your teammates and all that. One of the things I said when I got here, I want every player in the NFL to want to be a Jet and I want every coach to want to coach for the Jets. So those are things that are important to me – that we do things the right way and we have a team that people want to come in – from the players that we have, and the style that we play and the fans that we have. I think we’re well on our way to doing that.”