Rex Ryan Told his Team they have the League Right Where they Want It

September 11, 2012 – 6:00 am by Eric Schmoldt

Rex Ryan didn’t particularly care for a graphic in the tabloids last week that depicted his New York Jets team as a circus, but he didn’t particularly use that as motivation with his team heading into Week 1. Instead, Ryan told his team that it has the league right where it wants it because few were giving the team respect after a weak preseason offensively.

Ryan’s message worked, at least for one week. Quarterback Mark Sanchez silenced any early Tim Tebow talk and the Jets trounced the Buffalo Bills 48-28. New York will get a much tougher test in the second week as it travels to Pittsburgh for the Steelers’ home-opener.

Rex Ryan joined ESPN Radio New York with The Michael Kay Show to discuss what he didn’t like in Week 1, Tim Tebow’s role, shutting down Mario Williams, staying focused after winning in Week 1, the circus comment last week, what he used as motivation and the play of Mark Sanchez.

Is there anything you didn’t like about the Week 1 victory?:

“I never liked the way we finished, in particular on defense. When we got up 41-7, things were rolling pretty good. Then, the Bills have some good football players and they certainly weren’t laying down. They stayed after it and I never thought we responded very well. I thought we did a poor job of tackling. We just never had that passion that we played the first three quarters with and that bothered me.”

Jeremy Kerley said the early pick wasn’t an issue and that it wasn’t even addressed or thought about. Do you think that’s a change from last year?:

“I never thought it was … an issue, or whatever, last year. Certainly, this year I can tell you it’s just, ‘Hey, let’s go get it back,’ and we were fortunate that’s exactly what happened. But there was no panic, none of that whatsoever, on the sideline.”

On Tim Tebow and him not playing much of a role in the first game:

“Each week could be different — how much we play him, what we do. I can tell you we have a couple more plays than the ones we just showed out of that wildcat. Certainly we can do several different more snaps with him out there, or we don’t have to. And I think that’s what we’ve said all along. I’ve also said he’s an outstanding football player and, as a football player, he made a nice play on an onside kick, as well, for us.”

Were you surprised your guys shut down Mario Williams as well as they did?:

“I thought, going into it, we had a great plan to keep him off balance, changed looks on him. … We had our chips, had different things that you do, slide protection. Then, as the game went on, we realized Austin was doing a tremendous job against him, and I think that really opened up things that we could do offensively.”

Is there any dialogue with the team to make sure they don’t put too much on winning the first game and making sure they’re focused going forward?:

“There’s no doubt. Sometimes a common thing is that if people lose, take the Buffalo Bills, they lose this game, that doesn’t mean the Buffalo Bills aren’t a good football team. It just means that the Jets were better that day. That’s the way we look at it. We better not be too overconfident because we’re going to one of the hardest places to play, in Pittsburgh, where they’re having their home-opener. It doesn’t get much tougher than that.”

It seems, talking to players, that you were chapped about the team being labeled a circus. Is that true?:

“I was a little bit, because I think our team deserves a lot better than that kind of comment. We are a team. We feel great about each other. We know the kind of work that all these guys are putting in — these assistant coaches and all our players are doing a phenomenal job and working extremely hard. I don’t think that’s really fair. Judge us for who we are right now. We think we’re a good football team and this season, we get to prove it.”

Did you use that as motivation?:

“I don’t know about motivation. I think I did tell them that I thought we had the league right where we wanted them. A lot of people weren’t giving us a whole lot of respect because of the fact we struggled scoring in the preseason and things like that. Again, there’s a lot of teams that maybe will show more of their hand, but being a brand-new staff, coming here, we felt confident that, ‘Let’s just show some base things and then unleash everything that opening week.’ That’s basically what we tried to do.”

How proud are you of the way Mark Sanchez played and has the presence of Tebow fueled him?:

“I think just the competitor that Mark Sanchez is, that he was wanting to get back out. We never accomplished what we set out to do the year before. It’s not even just with Mark, it’s with all of us. But, regardless if Tim was here or whoever was here, Mark would prepare the same way. … I don’t think Tim’s presence really affected Mark.”

Listen to Rex Ryan on ESPN Radio New York here

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