Rex Ryan focused on Jets

Updated: November 19, 2012, 9:27 PM ET
By Jane McManus | ESPNNewYork.com

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- It's Patriots week in Florham Park, which has meant that at any moment New York Jets coach Rex Ryan could talk about not kissing a certain AFC East coach's rings, or Antonio Cromartie could talk about an opposing quarterback in such a way that the quotes can't be used in a family publication.

But this week, Ryan is taking an unfamiliar tact: humility.

Asked whether he had a message for the Patriots and coach Bill Belichick, as he has in the past, Ryan stumbled before finding the right way to put it.

"Anything we do, we're behind where we have to be, and we can only focus on ourselves and just find a way to punch -- we are where we are, and we've just got to find a way to punch our way out and that's it," Ryan said. "I'm not even worrying about tweaking New England or anyone else. It's to the point where, no, no, no, we have to focus on just us."

Quarterback Mark Sanchez likes the change in tone, but he's never been one for bombast and guarantees.

"I don't see any point in it," Sanchez said. "It's never really been my style and it's just a different approach, and I'm all for it."

Contrast that with what Ryan said on Jan. 10, 2011, when the Jets were 12-5 and preparing to head to New England for a playoff game.

"I plan on being the best coach on Sunday," Ryan said before the Jets won to reach the AFC Championship Game. "That's what it is. I recognize that my level has to come up, and (Belichick is) going to get my best shot. He's going to get everything I have on Sunday, and if he slips at all, we're going to beat him."

The Jets, at 4-6, are not in much position to be brash. The Patriots are 7-3 and have first place in the division locked down. The only reason the long-term prospects for the Jets aren't dimmer is that they are tied with the Bills and Dolphins.

"Coach has seen what both sides can do," Sanchez said. "When you come out and say something It almost puts you in a position where you're supposed to win. And if you win it's like, 'Yeah, you already said you were going to win, who cares?'"

Ryan said he was not going to talk to his players about what kind of media approach to take this week. But he may not have to. Last week an article filled with anonymous players critiquing Tim Tebow's ability disrupted a normal work week. Ryan said he didn't expect a lot of talk.

"I don't know how much of that there will be," Ryan said, "but it's not something that I'll bring up to the team."

If anyone takes a lead from the quarterback, there won't be a lot of talk pregame.

"I know all of us are just thinking just business," tight end Dustin Keller said. "We're not going out there and saying 'We're for sure going to win this game,' or anything like that, all we can do is work throughout the week and hope we play our best on Thursday."

The Jets won their first game in four weeks on Sunday with a 27-13 victory over the St. Louis Rams. It's a quick turnaround for the Jets, who will host the Patriots on Thanksgiving night at MetLife Stadium.

When the Jets faced the Patriots last month, Ryan was brasher, saying in the buildup to the game, "I want them to know -- and they know -- I think we're going to beat them."

The Jets, however, lost in overtime at New England.

Jane McManus has covered New York sports since 1998 and began covering football just before Brett Favre's stint with the Jets. Her work has appeared in Newsday, USA Today, The Journal News and The New York Times. Follow Jane on Twitter.

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