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The Playoffs Bring Back Rex Ryan's Swagger

Difficult slate doesn't dampen Rex's confidence in his team

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Peyton Manning has knocked Rex Ryan out of the playoffs twice. And he's beaten the outspoken Jets head coach 5 times in 6 tries. Today, Ryan said that losing to Manning is personal, and ever since last year's loss in the AFC title game, he's been waiting for the rematch. (Published Monday, Jan 31, 2011)

    Get ready for another round of criticism of Rex Ryan.

    The dust had barely settled on a preseason-style victory over the Buffalo Bills before Rex Ryan decided to dial back up the rhetoric for which he has become notorious over his first two seasons as Jets coach. The question of winning the Super Bowl came up and Ryan answered it exactly the same way as he's answered it every other time it has crossed his path.

    "I was excited last year," Ryan said. "I thought we'd win it last year. I think we're going to win it this year. So we'll see. Regardless of who we play, we think we're better than any team out there. We've got to go prove it, though. ... This football team is ready. We have no excuses, not one excuse. We’re going to Indy or wherever and our goals are intact. We want to win a Super Bowl and we want to do it right now."

    Cue the howls from the gallery about how Ryan could even dare speak of winning a title in light of losing three of the last five games with one win coming against a Bills team playing out the string with a quarterback better suited for backup duty in the Canadian league. Get the blazing arrows out for use when and if the Jets should fall to Peyton Manning on Saturday night. Once again the fat man is flapping his fat gums before his team has given him any real reason to be so boastful.

    The funny thing is that these same people would be lining up to criticize Ryan if he had backed down one bit when answering questions about his team's chances in the playoffs. He's been all in since the day he got here, so he has to be all in now.

    And why shouldn't he be? The Jets, for all their foibles, found a way to win 11 games this season. They also won two games on the road in the playoffs last year and were leading the Colts at the half of a third before coming apart in the second half. Ryan might be overconfident, but he's got a lot more reason to think big about his team than he did at this time last year.

    He'll get killed for it, sure, but he doesn't care about that. He's held to a different standard -- you don't see anyone hammering Giants G.M. Jerry Reese for yapping before missing the playoffs altogether -- even though he's not saying anything particularly ridiculous. He makes it pretty clear that the Jets have no excuses for not playing their best and that they'll have to go out and prove they are better than everyone else.

    That won't be easy. Manning is up first with Tom Brady and the Patriots to follow if they make it that far. Maybe Ryan should wait until winning those two games before talking about being the best, although you have to wonder what would be the point. If the Jets do happen to pull it off, no one will need to be told that they are at the top of the heap.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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