Ryan wants Jets' D to match Ravens right away

February, 20, 2009
2/20/09
2:28
PM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

INDIANAPOLIS -- Bashful isn't a word that would be used to describe Rex Ryan.

The New York Jets' rookie head coach, known for his smashing defenses with the Baltimore Ravens, isn't afraid to proclaim his new team is capable of matching his old one -- immediately.

 
  AP Photo/Darron Cummings
  Rex Ryan responds to a question during a news conference at the NFL scouting combine.

Ryan, holding a news conference at the NFL scouting combine in Lucas Oil Stadium, didn't hesitate when asked how long it would take for the Jets' defense to meet the standard he established for the Ravens.

"I think next year," Ryan said.

After Ryan left the podium, I asked him to clarify if he meant next year as in next season or as in 2010.

"This season," he replied. "I'm not backing away from a challenge. I want to be successful now."

The Jets ranked 16th in total defense last year, allowing 329.4 yards a game. The Ravens ranked second, yielding 68.3 fewer yards a game.

One way to give the Jets a more Raven-esque personality would be to add legendary linebacker Ray Lewis, who has said the idea of playing for Ryan again was compelling.

Ryan declined to discuss the possibility of pursuing the unrestrcited free agent. Ryan said he didn't want to be accused of tampering.

But Ryan rattled off a bunch of names in praise of what he called "a pretty good foundation" on defense. It would be easier to say who he didn't mention.

Of New York's defensive starters from the season finale, Ryan didn't mention defensive end Kenyon Coleman, inside linebacker Eric Barton, cornerback Ty Law and strong safety Abram Elam.

Barton and Law are unrestricted free agents. Elam is restricted.

"If we bring in the kind of players that we're talking about, we only need to add maybe one or two guys," Ryan said. "But the foundation's already there.

"I just think maybe the mentality that we're going to play with, maybe the style of play that we're going to play with is going to help the guys we already have.

"The proof will be in the pudding. But you know me. I'm not one to shy away from expectations. I think we'll be terrific. I think we'll have a defense our fans can be proud of."

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