Rex loose, focused after Jets’ final full practice
Rex Ryan walked into the press room, noticed the boxes of pizza
on a table and joked about how his Lap-Band procedure has limited
him to just a bite or two.
No worries, though. He smiled while acknowledging that he can
still chow down on Mexican food – his favorite dish.
That’s how Ryan’s final news conference Friday after his last
full practice of the season began. If the New York Jets coach knows
what his future holds, he’s certainly not letting on. He was loose
and playful, appearing anything but a coach on the hot seat.
”We were flying around,” Ryan said about the team’s
performance Friday. ”We’ve had some excellent practices. Really,
it’s been a great week of preparation. It’s been a great week of
practice and just the spirit and enthusiasm, we’re looking forward
to this game.”
That has been Ryan’s focus, at least publicly, all week: trying
to beat the Miami Dolphins, despite the uncertainty surrounding his
Ryan pointed earlier in the week to the teams’ last meeting as
the Jets’ lowest point, a 23-3 loss on Dec. 1 at home in which
quarterback Geno Smith was benched and New York looked woeful on
offense, defense and special teams. While the Jets (7-8) are out of
playoff contention, they have a chance to ruin the Dolphins’
postseason plans if they can win in Miami on Sunday.
As sweet as that would seem to be, Ryan insisted his team isn’t
being driven by that prospect this week.
”If that was New England, I would say clearly that would be
true, but they’re not your archrival like New England is,” Ryan
said. ”The satisfaction is going to come from us competing against
them and knowing ourselves, proving to ourselves how much we’ve
improved. I think that’s what we’re looking forward to the most,
getting back out there (against) a team that totally whipped us in
every phase and having the opportunity to go out there and prove
Ryan has one year remaining on his contract, but it’s possible
general manager John Idzik could be looking to bring in a coach of
his choice. Neither Idzik nor owner Woody Johnson has commented on
It’s possible – and likely – the decision has already been made,
but mum has been the word so far.
Meanwhile, Ryan has received an avalanche of support during the
last several days with countless fans, players and ex-Jets rallying
behind him to remain coach. An online petition urging Johnson to
keep Ryan has received nearly 500 signatures, and several in the
media have stated cases for why Ryan should stay.
Key veterans such as Antonio Cromartie, Calvin Pace and Willie
Colon, along with rookies Smith and Sheldon Richardson have used
the word ”love” to describe their feelings for Ryan.
”Anytime you get something positive said about you, you’re
going to feel great about it,” Ryan said. ”Like I said, the thing
about the opportunity in front of us with Miami is really the
focus, but I certainly appreciate positive remarks, as anybody
Rather than the idea of winning one for him, Ryan has turned
finishing .500 into a rallying point for a team that many people
expected to be among the league’s worst.
”That’s why we’re going down there, to win,” he said. ”That’d
be big for me because that’s why you take the field. Again, I think
part of that is 8-8 is better than 7-9, without question. Hey, I
even figured that one out.
”Even my biggest enemies will say, `OK, you got that
Ryan has had his share of critics during his five seasons as New
York’s coach, from his brash approach during his first few years or
his perceived shortcomings on the field. He was asked, though, if
ending the season with two straight wins – which would be the Jets’
first winning streak all year – could increase his ”autonomy”
given his current uncertain status.
”I see how you angled that one. That’s pretty good,” he said,
smiling. ”I’m just worried about Miami. Focused on Miami.”
NOTES: DB Ellis Lankster didn’t practice with a jaw injury as a
result of a dental procedure that also caused him to miss last
week’s game. He is questionable, and will be a game-time decision.
”Still couldn’t put a helmet on, so I don’t know,” Ryan said,
”but it’s hard to play if you can’t put a helmet on.” … Among
Ryan’s picks as Pro Bowl possibilities included DE Muhammad
Wilkerson, K Nick Folk and LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson. ”It’s hard to
imagine a Pro Bowl without Brick in it,” Ryan said. ”Obviously,
if Mo doesn’t make it, I don’t get it. It’s personal. Somebody
doesn’t like Mo Wilkerson for some reason.”
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org