In a transparent attempt to calm a frustrated fan base and present a united front, New York Jets coach Rex Ryan and general manager John Idzik addressed the media Thursday, downplaying their relatively slow start in free agency and insisting they're working in tandem amid reports that Ryan is upset by Idzik's failure to acquire a top cornerback.
The latest blow occurred minutes before the media session, when they heard that former Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie, whom they were interested in re-signing, had reached a one-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals.
"I could say something smart-alecky, which starts with a P, that I'm really upset about him leaving," Ryan joked, alluding to a report that said he was "pissed" by missed opportunities in free agency.
Ryan wanted to sign Darrelle Revis and fumed after they failed to reach a deal with Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, sources said. That the players signed with the Jets' rivals -- the New England Patriots and New York Giants, respectively -- created a perfect storm for fan and media rage.
"I'm an emotional guy and sometimes I do get upset if a guy is in here and he chooses to go somewhere else," Ryan said. "I'm upset more with that individual. As far as being upset with John, there can't anything further from the truth. We are in this together and we have a great plan. It might not be the plan everyone wants immediately, but I know the plan. We're together. We're side-by- side in this the entire way.
"Some players recognize what we have here, some don't. If they don't, that's it, I'm done with them."
Ryan coveted Revis' skills and made his feelings known, source said, but the front office showed no interest in re-acquiring the star cornerback, whom they traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last year. As of now, the Jets have a gaping hole at corner opposite former first-round pick Dee Milliner.
"Quite honestly, when Darrelle went to New England, it was like, 'OK, that's it, he's now a Patriot,'" said Ryan, claiming he's happy with his current cast of corners. "From a coaching thing, this isn't fantasy football. There are a lot of factors that go into it."
Idzik sidestepped questions on why the Jets didn't pursue Revis, but he acknowledged there was interest in bringing back Cromartie. He took umbrage with the perception that the Jets have missed out on big names in free agency. So far, the Jets have added two starters, wide receiver Eric Decker and right tackle Breno Giacomini, along with re-signing seven of their own free agents.
The new hot name is free-agent quarterback Michael Vick, who is scheduled to visit Friday night with the Jets. Idzik wouldn't answer specific questions about Vick, but he noted the importance of having "inside knowledge" -- an obvious reference to offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, who spent four years with Vick with the Philadelphia Eagles.
"That's a tremendous advantage," Idzik said. "There is less projection, especially when you're dealing with a position that entails a lot, like the quarterback position. ... Anytime you have somebody who has witnessed how that player has handled himself in various situations, we're definitely going to lean on that. It enables you to make a wiser decision."
The Jets have to make a decision on Mark Sanchez by Tuesday, when a $2 million roster bonus is due. Idzik has been in touch with the quarterback and his representatives, but he wouldn't tip his hand. From all indications, the Jets will release Sanchez, putting pressure on them to sign Vick.
"When there are big decisions to be made -- and, obviously, decisions involving your quarterback are very big -- we're going to take advantage of time and gather all the information we can," Idzik said.
Idzik is known for his deliberate approach, which has frustrated players and agents, but he said he won't make knee-jerk decisions. The Jets have about $25 million in cap room, but he's in no hurry to spend it.
"We're not going to put a finger in the dike to do something for short-term gain if we feel like it's going to hurt us in the long term," Idzik said. "Winning isn't a one-time thing to us. Winning is going to be pervasive here. It's going to span time."