Ryan, Jets have toned down the rhetoric

December, 16, 2011
12/16/11
4:40
PM ET
On Thursday, Bart Scott said the Jets weren’t a Super Bowl team, or even a playoff team. Surely that kind of pragmatic contemplation would be shouted down in a Rex Ryan locker room. Right Rex?

Only, when asked about his linebacker’s distinct lack of braggadocio, Ryan was similarly reflective.

“We know we have to improve as a team in all phases and we challenged our team that way,” Ryan said. “And that’s the mentality, we’ve got to keep getting better.”

Either something has gotten into the water supply in Florham Park, or the Jets have consciously adopted a less in-your-face persona this season. Even at the start of this year, Ryan’s only Super Bowl comments came at the prompting of members of the media. Is it fair to say that the NFL’s loudest team has toned down its act from last season?

“I’d say it’s fair to say, but we were 9-2 at one time last year, so it’s pretty obvious you’re going to be in the playoffs,” Ryan said. “Right now we’re fighting for our playoff lives. We’ve got to get in the playoffs before we can talk Super Bowl. Then we will.”

In the past two seasons, the Jets, now 8-5, have lost in the AFC title game, falling one game short of the Super Bowl that Ryan saw his team winning within three years of his landing the Jets job in 2009. He was ushered in as President Barack Obama took office, and Ryan speculated that his team would be hosted by Obama as Super Bowl champs.

In order to do it the easy way, the Jets were looking to win the AFC East this season. Instead, they now know a Super Bowl berth would only come as a wild card.

“Do I think we’re a playoff team? I absolutely do,” Ryan said, “but we have work to do.”

Still it seems that Ryan has learned that you can’t make something a reality just by saying it out loud, be that a division title or a Lombardi Trophy. Right now he’d be happy with making the playoffs, and starting the bragfest once that happened.

“Let’s make sure we get there first,” Ryan said. “I know, I should have thought about that in the offseason. I got ya.”
Jane McManus has covered New York sports since 1998 and began covering football just before Brett Favre's stint with the Jets. Her work has appeared in Newsday, USA Today, The Journal News and The New York Times. Follow Jane on Twitter.

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