Just two days after predicting his Jets would upset Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots, Rex Ryan took a more respectful tone before Wednesday afternoon’s practice session.
“I see him as the best coach in the league, said Ryan of Belichick. “I’ve said that from the day I took the job, but again, he’s going to get my best. If it was just between Belichick and me, he’s going to win that battle.”
Ryan has never been one to concede anything whether it be divisions, Super Bowls or—in the case of Darrelle Revis—season-ending injuries. With the Jets and Patriots set to embark on the latest chapter of a heated rivalry, Ryan contends that the matchup of AFC East heavy weights has been highly competitive more times than not during his four seasons at the helm in New York.
“I know we’ve played them seven times since I’ve been here,” noted Ryan of the Jets’ head-to-head meetings with the Patriots. “They’ve won four, we’ve won three. I think it’s a pretty good match up. I think it’s a little closer than maybe the general public realizes. The fact we got slaughtered, 45-3, probably tilted that a little bit. I think we’ve played a little closer games than maybe what (it) looks like on the scoreboard at the end of the game.”
Even with a history of hard fought contests, the Jets are 11-point underdogs in Foxboro, yet Ryan remains unfazed by the challenge of overcoming great odds.
“I’m not betting the game, but we’re going up there and we don’t care what the spread is,” said Ryan. “We’re going up there and trying to find a way to win. That’s our mission. That’s what we’re out to do.”
While the Jets' offensive depth chart has changed drastically since Ryan’s first year in 2009, New England’s high-powered attack has been a tight nit group led by a perennial Pro Bowl signal-caller.
“I think it’s a unique challenge with the personnel that they have,” admitted Ryan of New England’s offense. “They’re obviously a really well-coached team but it’s that personnel they have and it starts with their quarterback. That presents a lot of things to you. They’ve been together for so long that it’s just, they probably don’t even have to say anything, they can just look at each other and know that he’s going to break the route inside or outside, whatever it is. I think obviously that’s a big challenge.”
Stuck in a logjam atop the division, the Jets and Patriots will be vying for early season bragging rights in Week Seven. Even though the two teams have identical records, Ryan understands that his team will need to be clicking on all cylinders if they hope to come out with a win on Sunday.
“They’re not used to being 3-3, stated Ryan. “I understand that. We know that they’re a great football team and we have to be at our very best to have an opportunity to beat them.”