The usually blustery Jets coach sounded unusually humble Wednesday when discussing Gang Green's upcoming game against AFC East blood rival New England.
Ryan called the Patriots’ Bill Belichick “the best coach in the league’’ – though he didn't concede anything in the teams' Sunday showdown in New England.
“[If] it was just between Belichick and me, he’s going to win, no doubt,” Ryan said at his Wednesday news conference in Florham Park, N.J.
“I recognize that. But it’s not going to be by lack of effort on my part. He’s going to get everything I’ve got.”
When Ryan was hired by the Jets in 2009, he famously said he did not intend to “kiss Belichick’s rings” – a comment that rankled Belichick and created a distinct frost between the two that’s only gotten frostier over the years.
Since then, the numbers back up Ryan's unusual modesty. He is 3-4 against Belichick, who has won three Super Bowls to Ryan’s none.
“When I look at him, I see him as the best coach in the league,” Ryan said. “Maybe if he has his struggles one day, he’s sick, who knows, I get him."
Ryan also said Belichick's accomplishments are something to which he aspires.
“The way I look at it as, you want to compete against the very best,'' Ryan said. "Maybe I’m crazy, whatever, it’s maybe not even debatable, but I have dreams about what I want to achieve, and I want to compete against the very best.
“I don’t want to compete against someone down here, but I want to compete against the guy up here. That’s where I want to get one day, and if I eventually get there, that’d be great. Then maybe people would want to compete against me the same way. That would be terrific.”
Both teams are 3-3, with Ryan’s Jets coming off a 35-9 win over the Colts and Belichick’s coming off a 24-23 loss to the Seahawks.