Rex Ryan cool with team's talk

Updated: July 29, 2014, 5:18 PM ET
By Rich Cimini | ESPN.com

CORTLAND, N.Y. -- There's a lot of bluster coming from the New York Jets, and Rex Ryan is cool with that.

Responding to recent headline-making boasts by some of his players, the Jets coach endorsed the outward confidence even though he knows it could make his team a target.

Ryan You get a few bullets shot at you when you take this approach, so maybe that's not recommended, but you know what? It's who we are. It's how we feel.

-- Rex Ryan

"You get a few bullets shot at you when you take this approach, so maybe that's not recommended, but you know what? It's who we are. It's how we feel," Ryan said Tuesday after practice. "They can laugh, but they have to play us too, so we'll see at the end of the day.

"The beauty of it is we get to find out. We're not running from it. We're running into it."

The attitude is reminiscent of Ryan's early years, 2009 to 2011, when he bragged about everything and went so far as to guarantee a Super Bowl berth. With 13 new starters, three new coordinators, a new general manager and low outside expectations, Ryan adopted a muted approach last season. But now the swagger is back.

"I have no idea where they get that from, no idea," Ryan said with a smile, cracking, "I'm a great coach. Just ask me."

The Jets are coming off an 8-8 record, their third straight season out of the playoffs, but that hasn't stopped certain players from making bold predictions. Some might call them outlandish.

Dee Milliner called himself the best cornerback in the NFL.

Geno Smith said he expects to be a top-five quarterback in a year or two.

Linebacker Calvin Pace said the Jets have the league's best defense.

Actually, that isn't too crazy, considering they were a top-10 defense in four of Ryan's first five seasons. But Milliner and Smith are coming off erratic rookie seasons. Milliner, the ninth overall pick in 2013, was benched three times before ending on an upbeat note. Smith's rookie season had the same trajectory, minus the benchings. He still hasn't been named the starting quarterback, although it's his job to lose.

Ryan, too, has contributed to the rhetoric, saying he expects the Jets to make the playoffs. Explaining his confidence, Ryan dusted off an old Sugar Ray Robinson quote that he's used in the past.

"To be great, to be a champion, you have to believe in yourself when nobody else will," he said. "You can't hide in this league, so if you're saying it, that's great because they really believe it. You don't want to get embarrassed, that's for sure, but that means you're going to put in the work."

On the day he was hired, Ryan famously predicted the Jets soon would be visiting the White House as Super Bowl champions. When his Super Bowl guarantee backfired in 2011, he vowed to tone down the bravado, claiming it did more harm than good to the team.

The old Ryan -- or someone close to it -- is back.

"No one's here saying we cornered the market on anything," Smith said. "We believe we have to put the work in, and if we do so, then we'll have a good team."

Milliner didn't back down from his claim, saying, "I have to go out and show why I'm the best corner." He has to face some of the premier wide receivers in the first month of the season -- Jordy Nelson, Brandon Marshall and Calvin Johnson -- but he didn't seem concerned that his words would come back to haunt him.

"We certainly believe in everybody that has chimed in a little bit," said Ryan, acknowledging that he's more confident than a year ago.

Clearly Ryan's players are feeding off him. They have high expectations after a strong finish last season and an offseason in which they added Eric Decker, Chris Johnson and Michael Vick.

Holdover David Nelson said he has no problem with his yapping teammates -- as long as they back it up.

"If there's a disconnect between what they're saying to the media and what they're producing on the field, it needs to be addressed, it needs to end right away," he said. "But the guys who are saying it, they're producing on the field. They have a track record as playmaker-type guys. It's our job to back them up."

Ryan all but admitted that he can't help himself.

"I tell the truth, what I believe to be the truth," he said. "I know it gets me in trouble, but I'm telling you what I believe."

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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