There’s no love lost between the New York Jets and New England Patriots and this week Rex Ryan stoked the fire of this increasingly bitter AFC East rivalry. Following New York’s 35-9 dominating victory over Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts in Week Six, Ryan told reporters that he would wait to ‘tug at Superman’s cape’ and had steered clear of any brash talk or bold predictions throughout the 2012 campaign.
Ryan harkened back to his boisterous ways this week, taking direct aim at New England’s 'Man of Steel', head coach Bill Belichick.
“Well, I just think that, I want them to know, and they know, that I think we’re going to beat them,” declared Ryan of the Jets’ upcoming matchup with the Patriots. “I don’t buy into all that other stuff. Look, I recognize that they’re a great football team. Belichick’s a great coach. I never once said that he wasn’t. Again, we’re not going to back down or concede to anything.”
With All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis and No. 1 receiving target Santonio Holmes lost for the remainder of the season due to injuries, Ryan and company refuse to lower their expectation level.
“You’d much rather be in a position where expectations are really high,” admitted Ryan of his outlook for the season. “It means you’re a good football team. I think we’re at that. We’ve had, for whatever the reason, the injuries, whatever you want to say, maybe expectations aren’t as high throughout the country, but in our locker room, they’re extremely high.”
The Jets have been a punching bag for critics and following a rocky start to the season now find themselves tied atop the division and right in the thick of the playoff hunt in the AFC. With first place on the line Sunday in Foxboro, Ryan isn't taking solace in a .500 start.
“It’s good news, bad news,” said Ryan of his team’s record. “Let’s face it, we’re tied for first in our division, so that’s great. We’re also tied for last.”
New York's top offseason priority was to counter New England’s dynamic tight end duo of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez with fast and physical safeties on the back-end of their secondary. In light of the Jets’ front office landing veterans LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell during free agency, Ryan isn't hiding the fact that his team’s offseason personnel decisions were dictated by the Patriots’ attack.
“You think about them, you even build your roster sometimes in trying to compete, trying to beat this team. You’re always thinking about them,” mentioned Ryan.”
With Sunday’s contest fast approaching, Ryan expects a heavy weight battle and remains hopeful that his squad will be the last team standing.
“They’re going to get our best shot and we know we’re going to get theirs, so it really doesn’t matter who says what. We are going to be ourselves. We’re coming up there to take our swing, and we’ll see if we land that punch to win a game.”