Angry Rex delivers fiery speech to team

December, 22, 2013
12/22/13
9:05
PM ET
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- New York Jets coach Rex Ryan delivered a fiery speech Saturday night in a team meeting, mentioning his uncertain future with the team, sources confirmed.

It was described as a motivational speech in which he addressed the speculation about his job as part of a larger theme. He told the players that no one in the room had a secure future, and that they need to play for each other in the final two weeks.

But there was more to it than that. Ryan also was angry because he heard rumors the organization already is looking for his replacement, and he shared that with the team, sources said.

[+] EnlargeRex Ryan
Ron Antonelli/Getty ImagesRex Ryan wouldn't comment about speculation over his job status following the Jets' victory Sunday.
Ryan declined to comment on the meeting or a pregame report by Fox Sports, which said the coach told the team he could be fired.

"Whether the report is accurate or not, I'm going to tell you this: Those things will stay in-house," Ryan said after the 24-13 win over the Cleveland Browns at MetLife Stadium.

The players, instructed not to comment on the meeting or the report, echoed Ryan's remarks.

Ryan was happy, but defiant after the game. He said the Jets, despite a 7-8 record, are "on the rise." He was in an "I told you so" mood when asked about oft-criticized rookie cornerback Dee Milliner, who made his first interception and played his best game. He also dared the media to criticize him for giving the players a Victory Monday.

"You can rip me for that one if you want, that's fine and dandy," he said.

Ryan sidestepped questions about his future. The only thing he said was that he hasn't received any word from ownership on his job status for 2014.

"I know I have a contract for next year," he said. "What I do know, guys, is that I'm coaching this team. I've said this all season long: My job is to focus on the present and what's right now."

Several players expressed their support for Ryan, continuing a recent trend.

"I guarantee you, everybody loves playing for Rex," linebacker Calvin Pace said. "It's a blast coming to work every day. He motivates everybody and believes in everybody."

Wide receiver David Nelson, a former Buffalo Bill, said he enjoys playing for Ryan. He didn't like him as an opponent.

"From the outside looking in, to be blunt and honest with you, [I thought he was] arrogant and cocky. He's coming out and making those bold statements and brash comments. As an opposing player, you look at those and you think he's supposed to be politically correct. Now, getting to know him, he's honest. He's sincere. He truly believes in his players."

Guard Willie Colon, who has said on multiple occasions that the organization would take a step back if Ryan is fired, reiterated his belief in the coach. He admitted the speculation has been a distraction.

"Personally, it's hard to say it's not distracting at times because I love the guy so much," Colon said. "But, at the same time, it's a business."

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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