|ESPN.com: NFL||[Print without images]|
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Rex Ryan says he isn't going to change who he is just because Joe Namath criticized his team's preparation, and the New York Jets head coach welcomes the franchise's only Super Bowl winning quarterback to watch his team practice and see how they prepare first-hand.
In fact, Ryan jokingly said he might even let the long-retired Namath participate in practice and compete to be Mark Sanchez's backup -- that is, if the 68-year-old can still sling it.
"I'm not gonna change who I am because Joe Namath said something," Ryan said Monday. "Joe Namath can come in here, and if he can still throw, we'll have him as a backup quarterback. He doesn't know our team. He's on the outside. Even though he's a Jet, and once you're a Jet you're always a Jet ... but he's on the outside, he's not in these meetings. I think if he was he'd be shocked at the preparation.
"I'm confident with our football team. There's no question about it. And, I've told you this many times, I've never gone into a game that I didn't think I'd win. I haven't won them all, but I certainly think we can and will."
Namath had said he was alarmed by the way the Jets lost to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday afternoon, and questioned Ryan's team's preparation during a Monday interview on ESPN 1050's "The Michael Kay Show."
"It wasn't disheartening so to speak," Broadway Joe said of the Jets' 34-24 setback in Oakland on Sunday, their first loss of the season. "It's rather alarming is the way I'm looking at it.
"It starts at the top. Coach Rex Ryan I think has been doing a great job getting the team to two (AFC) Championship Games. But if there's one thing about the athlete, if you keep telling him how good he is, he's going to start believing it, to the point that he may not be preparing not quite the way he should. He may be losing some respect for the other team."
After hearing Namath's disparaging comments during his weekly segment on the radio show, Ryan said he disagreed with Namath assessment.
"I'd welcome Joe out here anytime he wants to see this team prepare, because this team prepares as well as any team I've ever coached and ever been a part of," Ryan said. "So I totally disagree with him.
"But hey, I'm not apologizing for anything. This is a bend in the road, but it's not the end of the road, and we get to prove it."
Ryan said he understands if his 2-1 team has its detractors, but he wants them to know that they're going to turn it around.
"If there's detractors out there that don't believe, I can understand that, especially after that type of performance," Ryan said. "But I believe we'll get this team fixed, and I know I'm the right guy for the job, so I get to prove it."
The Jets, who sported the top-ranked defense in the NFL in 2009 and the third-best defense last season, surrendered 383 total yards to Oakland, including 234 on the ground -- 171 of those courtesy of Darren McFadden. New York's run defense currently ranks 31st in the league.Mike Mazzeo is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.