New York Jets coach Rex Ryan has never been shy about making predictions, but unfortunately, his teams haven’t quite lived up to expectations.
Before the 2010 campaign he wrote "soon-to-be-champs" on ESPN’s NFL tour bus. Yes, the Jets went 11-5 that season and made the playoffs as a Wild Card team, but they fell short of a Super Bowl, losing to Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship Game.
The following season, Rex doubled down on his bet, telling the New York Post: "There’s no way we don’t get it done next year." The Jets went 8-8 that year and missed the playoffs while the team with whom they share a stadium won the Super Bowl.
One would think that after getting egg on his face three years in a row, Ryan would back off heading into 2013 — but if he did that he wouldn’t be Rex Ryan. So naturally, he’s making predictions again, this time telling ESPN that his defense is going to be a top-five unit in the league, defending the claim by using his “history” as evidence.
"We have a lot of good players," Ryan told ESPN. "There’s going to be a lot of new faces in there, but I guess, you put that decal on the side of your helmet, it says ‘New York Jets,’ so you have to be special. You have to understand there are expectations that come along with it. I expect our guys to play extremely well."
Now, a few things: Yes, Rex has a reputation as a strong defensive coach, but predicting a top-five finish is a bold proclamation, especially for a unit that has lost some key players from last year — when Ryan said he was the NFL’s best defensive coach and then finished 20th in points allowed per game.
In fairness, a lot of those points came as a result of the offense’s ineptitude, as the Jets defense allowed an eighth-best 323.4 yards per game in 2012. But that offense isn’t getting any better this year, so it won’t matter if the Jets have the No. 1 defense in the league, because they’re not going to be able to do anything with it.
This February will mark the 45th anniversary of Joe Namath’s Super Bowl guarantee, but the only way the Jets will attend the Super Bowl in their own home stadium is with tickets from the league — top five defense or not.
That said, I’ll be watching this year to see how Rex’s latest promise pans out. If it doesn’t work out, maybe next year he should dial back another step further:
• “We will play 16 games, minimum!”
• “We will have 11 guys on the field for every play!”
• “All of our guys will make sure their chin straps are securely fastened before they take the field!”
• “We won’t forget our parking passes for the player lot!”
Or, better yet, maybe it’s time Rex Ryan just stop making predictions altogether.