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Friday, September 6, 2013
Rex: Negative talk is 'pretty comical'

By Rich Cimini
ESPN.com

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Two years ago, New York Jets coach Rex Ryan guaranteed a Super Bowl. That didn't work out.

On Friday, Ryan took it down a few notches, vowing his team won't stink this season.

"I think our team is going to be a heck of a lot better than people think," Ryan said on ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike."

It was a rare moment of bravado, if you can call it that, from a coach whose public demeanor has changed dramatically. After a few years of bombast, Ryan has toned it down, avoiding any bold predictions.

Friday was a glimpse of "Old Rex." Maybe it was triggered because "New Rex" is getting tired of hearing his team get bashed by prognosticators. Many media outlets have forecast doom for a team that began the Ryan era with back-to-back appearances in the AFC Championship Game in 2009 and 2010.

"There's a lot of negative talk surrounding our football team, which I think is pretty comical," said Ryan, who has dropped 13 of his last 19 games. "People don't know our team. Our team has had an incredible offseason. We know we have to improve a great deal as a team. With us, we're not driven by one or two players. We're going to be driven by the 53."

Perhaps people are down on the Jets because they finished 6-10 last season. Or because they traded their best player, cornerback Darrelle Revis, to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, whom they face Sunday at MetLife Stadium. Or because they have seven new starters on defense.

Or because neither of their top two quarterbacks for the opener, Geno Smith and Matt Simms, has taken a snap in an NFL game. Or because their top playmaker, wide receiver Santonio Holmes, still isn't 100 percent after foot surgery.

You get the picture.

"We don't believe the so-called experts who are picking us where they're picking us," Ryan said. "Well, we'll see. We get to play on Sunday, and I think everybody will see. And they'll see if [my personality] is any different or whatever."

Linebacker David Harris equated the Jets' situation to that of the 2011 San Francisco 49ers, who had a rookie coach in Jim Harbaugh and were coming off a 6-10 season.

"I'm pretty sure nobody predicted them to go [13-3] and reach the NFC Championship Game," Harris said. "You never know in this league. That's the beauty of the NFL."

Harris acknowledged there will be "extra motivation" to prove, from a defensive standpoint, they can maintain a high standard without Revis. The four-time Pro Bowl selection will be replaced by rookie Dee Milliner, who pronounced himself healthy after missing two weeks with a strained Achilles tendon.

"We're not naïve. We know what people are saying about us," Harris said. "Everyone is wondering if we'll be the same. This gives us something to prove."