Friday, January 20, 2012
Rex Ryan to tone down talk
By Rich Cimini
The seemingly never-ending fallout from the New York Jets' late-season collapse continued Friday, with Rex Ryan disagreeing with LaDainian Tomlinson's assessment of the locker-room discord and -- are you ready for this? -- the outspoken coach admitting he will think twice before making bold statements.
Ryan also claimed the terminology of Brian Schottenheimer's offense was so complicated that even he had a hard time understanding it.
It never stops with this team and this coach, who may have set an official record for most mea culpas in a three-week span.
Ryan took issue with Tomlinson's claim that the turmoil was so widespread that it "got out of hand" late in the season, particularly the Mark Sanchez-Santonio Holmes feud. Tomlinson made the comments this week on Showtime's "Inside the NFL."
"There are some things I disagree with," Ryan said in a WFAN interview. "I think it was an isolated incident. I don't think it was pervasive throughout the locker room. It's not everybody in the locker room. We certainly had a couple of guys, and it had a huge negative impact on our football team, there's no question about that."
When the season ended, Ryan all but admitted he lost control of the locker room, saying he didn't have the pulse of the team.
Ryan also responded to Tomlinson's claim that the coach's famously bold predictions had an adverse effect because it put too much pressure on the team. Actually, Ryan agreed to a certain degree, admitting he will think before he speaks in the future.
Ryan's bravado backfired in a big way, because he guaranteed a Super Bowl last offseason and the Jets finished only 8-8.
"I thought it would put pressure on me," he said. "Clearly, when you have a team that went to back-to-back championship games, what else is there to go for? It's Super Bowl or bust. Well, we busted.
"When I guaranteed we'd get it done this year, I thought the bull's-eye was going on my back. That's where I wanted to place it. What I didn't anticipate was, I put added pressure on our players when I wanted to put the pressure on myself. That's something I obviously have to learn from."
Ryan said he received some insight during a call to ESPN analyst Steve Young, who made critical remarks about the coach's bravado. He said the Hall-of-Fame quarterback explained that brash comments generally aren't appreciated by offensive players because they fire up defenses.
"I have to take a good, hard look at it, because I don't want to fuel the fire," Ryan said.
Ryan said he was so disappointed by missing the playoffs that he drove by MetLife Stadium during the New York Giants-Atlanta Falcons wild-card Game -- a way to motivate himself.
The outside of the stadium was decked out in Giants blue, and "it drove me crazy," he said. "I drove by there specifically to see it, to get that taste in my mouth, like next year we're going to be here.
That's the determination I have.
"I will never stop chasing that Super Bowl," Ryan continued. "I want to catch it."
The Jets must be in damage-control mode, because they also made Ryan available earlier Friday on a conference call with season-ticket holders. General manager Mike Tannenbaum also was on the call, fielding questions from ticket holders.
The most interesting revelation came from Ryan, who said one of the reasons why he wasn't more involved in the offense last season was because he struggled with the terminology of Schottenheimer's system. That's curious, considering he and Schottenheimer spent three seasons together.
"Quite honestly, the verbiage we had last season was probably a little much," Ryan said.
Ryan said one of the reasons he hired Tony Sparano to replace Schottenheimer was because he's planning to run a simpler system. That, he believes, will benefit Sanchez, who regressed in his third season.
"When we were in interview process, he'd show me the verbiage and I'm like, wow, I can visualize our football team in this type of system, I can see Mark being extremely effective playing the quarterback position," Ryan said.
As for Sanchez, the Jets continued to endorse him. Tannenbaum told the ticket holders, "Mark will be our starter," adding that Sparano and current quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh are formulating a "detailed plan" to help fix Sanchez.
The vote of confidence came one day after owner Woody Johnson didn't rule out the possibility of pursuing Peyton Manning if he's healthy and becomes available.
Ryan, in the radio interview, acknowledged there will be changes at quarterback, but he said they will look to acquire a viable No. 2 even though he doesn't think Sanchez became complacent.
"I think we have to bring in a different look," Ryan said. "I think our quarterback room will look different next year. I don't think there's any doubt about that."
Rich Cimini covers the Jets for ESPNNewYork.com.