In his short time as coach, Rex Ryan has made it very easy for Jets fans to get excited about their team. He's talked big about winning big, a welcome change from Eric Manigini's focus on process and Herman Edwards's desire for effort. He's also taken dead aim at Bill Belichick and the Patriots, making it clear that taking them down is an imperative part of the Jets becoming the team that they want to be.
He gets his first shot at them in the Meadowlands on Sunday and he's doing everything in his power to make sure that things go his way. The Jets Blog passed along a voice mail he left for each of the Jets season ticket holders this week asking for their help.
"Hey, this is Rex Ryan, Head Coach of the New York Jets. I just want to let you know how much we need you this week. You know, I’ve already admitted that the Patriots have a better head coach and they got a better quarterback than us, but we got to see who’s got a better team. And the other part, the reason I’m so confident is that they’ve got to face you and the got to face the rest of our fans. And my challenge to you is that we need you at your best, so let’s come get ready to go for four quarters and get after them, especially when our defense is out there we really need you. We want it to be miserable for Brady & company and seem like there’s 13 or 14 guys out there on defense. It’s tough enough when we have 11 but when our fans are into it it’s almost impossible to do anything against us. So, that’s my challenge to you. Again, I admit that I’m not as good as Belichick, but at the end of the game, I want to be 1-0 against him. So, help me out if you don’t mind, so that’s my challenge. OK? Thank you. Bye."
It's really, really, almost impossibly hard not to like this guy. Jets fans have to love the confidence, Jets players have to love the confidence and the NFL has to love the fact that a Week Two game has been given the kind of buildup usually reserved for games in December and January.
None of that means there isn't a downside to the bravado, though. And it's only partially that the Jets might lose to the Patriots on Sunday. Worrying about that is like Sundance worrying about the fact that he can't swim when it's the fall that will kill them. Losing to the Patriots in and of itself is bad, but the fall from the pedestal that Ryan has placed this game on will be much worse. Keep taking those falls and no matter how high you climb there will always be that lingering feeling that you can't win when there's something on the line.
It's the same thing that continually happens with Ryan's old team in Baltimore. Every year when the Ravens play the Steelers, Ravens players go out of their way to atagonize the Steelers and puff up their chests in the weeks leading up to the game and every time they lose. When you've drawn such a clear line in the sand against a team you play at least twice every year, you've got to cross it every now and then or it will become your epitaph.
Ryan's drawn the line, now he's going to have to make sure he gets his team across it.