Rex Ryan's brief tenure as Jets coach has made for several entertaining interviews and press conferences. He's talked about meeting the President after winning a Super Bowl, promised to hit two opponents for every Jet and, on Wednesday, made it clear that he doesn't worship at the altar of Bill Belichick. He was being interviewed by Mike Francesa, with the transcript helpfully provided by Brian Bassett of The Jets Blog.
"You know, they can figure it out and when they come here the second week of the season we’ll see," Ryan said. "‘Cause see, I never came here to kiss Bill Belichick’s, you know, rings. You know, I came… you know, to win. Let’s put it that way and so we’ll see what happens. I’m certainly not intimidated by, you know, by New England or anybody else and so, you know again, I’m not a guy that is going to say well, this guys that. Hey look, Tom Brady is a hell of a quarterback, no question. I’ve got great respect for him, but I also have a great deal of confidence in the people we have in this building. Again, if that team can beat us, if New England can beat us, then they must have one hell of a football team."
Confidence, swagger, what have you is music to the ears of Jets fans, but there's a line between believable confidence and false braggadocio. Ryan's getting pretty close to that line. If you think you're just as good as the Patriots, you don't have to constantly remind people that you don't speak about them in reverent tones. When you do, it starts to reinforce the notion that there's a gap between the Patriots and Jets that hasn't grown any closer over the offseason.
The only way to close the gap is to beat them, because if you don't all the people celebrating your brash style in June will turn into your harshest critics in September. There was a lot of talk about all the ways that Eric Mangini made the Jets a tougher team, albeit in a different style than Ryan, and a fat load of good it did him or the Jets over the last three seasons. Talking the talk sells tickets, fills papers and sounds fantastic, but unless you win it don't mean a thing.
Ryan's Ravens defense had the most swagger in the NFL and talked a lot about the way they would take care of business against the Steelers on multiple occasions. They lost to the Steelers three times last season, which made for a lot of empty rhetoric when all was said and done. That's reason enough to dial things back and let your play do your talking for you.