On draft day the New York Jets used their first round pick to select a young man out of Louisville. That man was Calvin Pryor, a hard hitting and aggressive safety who fits perfectly into Rex Ryan's defensive schemes. This week critics have been talking about his remarks off the field rather than his play on it. The rookie made comments concerning his already developed hatred for the division rival New England Patriots.
"When I first came here, that was one of the first things I heard about: We hate the Patriots and we hate the Giants," Pryor said.
"We don't like Tom at all."
"So we hate those guys and I look forward to playing them this season."
Many fans would argue that Pryor is far too young and unproven to be making such comments, but Ryan seemed to enjoy them regardless.
"I definitely agree with him," said Ryan.…"Somebody (who's) in an opposite colored jersey, you don't want to like them," admitted the Jets' head man. "You respect everybody that you play against but you don't like any of them".
Ryan has a history of making boastful and often controversial statements off the field especially directed toward the Patriots. Bill Belichick and Ryan are complete opposites in terms of coaching philosophy, which has fueled the rivalry even more. Belichick is very conservative and abrupt with regards to his dealings with the media, while Ryan has been very brash and outspoken throughout his coaching tenure in New York. In fact, the New York Jets are famous for colorful characters ever since the heavily criticized Joe Namath guarantee a victory in Super Bowl III.
Many critics argue that Ryan shows a weakness in his lack of discipline towards his players. History has shown that Ryan's attitude about trash talk often pays off. Just before an enormous playoff game between the Jets and Patriots in 2011, there was a significant amount of trash talk being slung by both sides. Ryan supported his players throughout the week, whereas New England's Belichick punished any player who tried to answer back. As a result Belichick benched Pro Bowl receiver Wes Welker for the first possession of the game. The final score of the game was Jets 28 Patriots 21. Rex Ryan proved that it is possible to talk the talk and walk the walk.
Other than the moments of glory in the 2009 and 2010 seasons, the Jets have floundered the last three years by failing to break the .500 mark. On the other hand, the Patriots have won the division 10 of the last 11 years. Ryan understands that the Patriots are the team to beat in the AFC East.
"You probably respect them more than anybody but you also at the same time, know, you don't like them," noted Ryan of his arch-nemesis. "They've earned what we're looking at. That's to win that division."
The fact is that the Jets need to be able to compete with the always talented and always consistent Patriots' offense. This is the reason that the Jets selected a defensive player in the first round for six years running. Pryor should fit well into the Jets' defensive formula since he is an aggressive safety who likes to get in the box and stop the run. Pryor's tenacity and ferocity might just be something that this Jets team needs to finally get over the hump and unseat New England atop the division.