"I thought they'd be 14-2, have an unbelievable record," the New York Jets cornerback said Wednesday. "They have some unbelievable players on that team."
The Eagles turned into the Bad-Dream Team ... but you won't get the Jets to admit that, not this week.
They travel to the underachieving Eagles on Sunday for a game that quite possibly will define their season, so they cranked up the hyperbole in an effort to convince everyone -- maybe even themselves -- the Eagles are a lot better than their 5-8 record.
It made for some funny moments. Guard Matt Slauson, the loosest cannon in the building (next to Rex Ryan), passed up an opportunity to do his thing when asked if the Eagles are a Dream Team.
"Uh, no," he replied.
"But they could be."
Same question to linebacker David Harris.
"I'm not going to get into that," he said. "They're just another pawn in our way. We're going to treat them just like we treated the others."
Even Ryan, the most confident coach in the league, sounded worried about the Eagles. He went hard with the superlatives, raving about their team speed, their playmakers, their pass rushers and, of course, Michael Vick, who "can throw a strawberry through a battleship." (Ryan breaks out that line every couple of months or so.)
In the team meeting, Ryan made sure to tell his players that the Jets have never beaten the Eagles -- 0-8. What does that have to do with Sunday? Absolutely nothing, but Ryan wanted it out there, perhaps as his way of building up the opponent.
A lot of his players weren't born when some of those games were played. But, hey, a coach will use anything he can to motivate. He wasn't about to make the same mistake as his brother, Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan, who called the Eagles "the all-hype team."
The Cowboys paid for that, losing 34-7.
There were supposed to be a lot of those games for the Eagles. They bolstered an already solid team by acquiring Nnamdi Asomugha, Jason Babin, Cullen Jenkins, Ronnie Brown, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Vince Young, who did the team no favors by dubbing it the "Dream Team."
"They've got the personnel to end people's seasons," Jets guard Brandon Moore said.
Maybe, but personnel (i.e. talent) doesn't always equate to victories. It takes chemistry, consistency, luck and leadership. The Eagles have failed in most of those areas, but "they may send more guys to the Pro Bowl than any team in the league," said Ryan -- a remark that conjured up memories of his Norv Turner knock from earlier in the season.
Like the Eagles, the Jets began the season facing great expectations. They didn't make as many splashy moves as the Eagles, but they brought in Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason and, frankly, it was a surprise that no one on the Jets jumped on the "Dream Team" reference before Young.
"They made a lot of moves and made a lot of comments, similar to some of the quotes coming out of here," Moore said with a wry smile.
You want to know the difference between the Jets and Eagles? Here you go:
The Eagles lost four games by blowing fourth-quarter leads. The Jets won four games with fourth-quarter rallies.
The Eagles lost Vick to broken ribs and went 1-2 when he was gone. Rather remarkably, Mark Sanchez has avoided injury and has started every game.
Naturally, there are reasons why the Eagles stink in the clutch; just turn on Philly talk radio and you'll hear them all in 10 minutes. The Jets (8-5) aren't concerned with that staff, because they have to keep winning to maintain control of their playoff destiny.
"We know what the Eagles are capable of," Slauson said. "They can ruin your day. They have a lot of weapons on offense and their defense has every big name in the book. They're capable of being the best team in the NFL."
But they're not. So dream on.