Thursday, September 9, 2010
Updated: September 10, 8:49 PM ET
Ray Lewis says Jets have 'no excuses'
By Rich Cimini
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Ray Lewis sounded fed up with the amount of hype surrounding the New York Jets. Join the ever-expanding club, Ray.
Managing to out-talk the trash talkers, the Baltimore Ravens linebacker unloaded Thursday on Rex Ryan, Darrelle Revis and Mark Sanchez, suggesting the Jets -- Ryan, in particular -- yap too much for a team that hasn't won anything.
"We're talking about the Jets like we're talking about the Saints," Lewis told reporters in Baltimore. "Those are the only people that can be dethroned: Drew Brees and the Saints, not Mark Sanchez and the Jets."
Earlier, on a conference call with the New York media, Lewis said his former defensive coordinator, Ryan, is making it tough on his team by delivering brash predictions.
"The only danger is writing a check you can't cash," Lewis said. "That's pressure on his players. Rex can talk all he wants to, but Rex ain't putting on the pads. ... At some point, you put that bull's-eye on your head. They're doing all this talking, like they're in the Super Bowl. OK, do what you do, but come Monday night, the whistle is going to blow and somebody is going to get hit."
On Monday night, the Jets and Ravens meet at the new Meadowlands stadium in what Ryan described as "a game people will remember." It's the season opener, but it's also open season on the Jets. In recent weeks, Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison, Tom Brady and Terry Bradshaw have criticized the Jets for their big-talking, hard-knocking attitude.
Ryan claimed his bravado puts the pressure on him, not his players, because he's the one making the bold statements. As for Lewis, whom he called the greatest linebacker he's ever coached, Ryan said he took no offense to the remarks.
"It doesn't matter what he says in a negative light, because I still respect him," Ryan said. "But we're going to try to smash him, I can tell you that much."
Most Jets players took Lewis' comments in stride, although some thought it was funny that he compared the Ravens to the Los Angeles Lakers. That came in response to cornerback Antonio Cromartie, who compared the Jets to the Miami Heat.
"If y'all are the Miami Heat, we've got to be the Lakers, because we're looking for multiple rings," Lewis told the Baltimore media.
It has been 10 years since the Ravens won the Super Bowl, a not-so-small fact that seemed to undermine his Lakers analogy. That prompted some snickers in the Jets' locker room.
Of course, the Jets have gone 42 years without a title, but they talked Super Bowl all summer -- and that was before Revis ended his holdout. With Revis back, they feel whole, raising the confidence needle to an all-time high.
That's fine by Lewis.
"I'm glad he signed, so there are no excuses," he said. "Don't come and say, 'Oh, we didn't have Revis.' Have everybody y'all need to have. Whoever y'all need to sign, bring them out of retirement, whatever you need to do. ... Stack your deck and let's play football."
Lewis seemed chagrined by all the attention Revis has received.
"Revis puts his pants on one leg at a time," he said. "He's not a machine. He's a simple man, and he has to deal with everything we're willing to bring to the table as well. Hopefully, he's ready to play. Hopefully, his 35-day layoff didn't hurt him.
"But we don't need no hope. Y'all can keep your hope because we've got enough hope over here. We're packing our bags, and we're not packing our bags to come play water polo."
Lewis also took aim at Sanchez, claiming he "struggles" when the Jets' running attack is slowed and he's forced to throw. Ryan took issue with that, claiming his second-year quarterback plays well in big games.
This is all hot air, of course -- meaningless talk. On Monday night, talk is cheap.
"I know he doesn't like us," guard Brandon Moore said of Lewis. "I know he wants to bash our heads in. That's nothing new. We feel the same way about him."
Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com.