Ryan puts focus on himself

BILL LANKHOF, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:23 AM ET

Rex Ryan always figured it would come down to this: Him against Bill Belichick.

The Jets' head coach lost the last round when the Patriots plastered his club 45-3. After that debacle, Ryan told Belichick during the post-game handshake that he'd be back.

"I told Belichick after the game, 'We'll see you in Round 3,' " Ryan said. "He just looked at me."

Well the rematch comes Sunday, and if the Jets don't win says Ryan it will be all his fault.

"This is about Bill Belichick versus Rex Ryan," Ryan said Monday of the divisional playoff in Foxborough. "There's no question, it's personal. It's about him against myself. That's what it's going to come down to."

It's actually of course about a lot more than that. It's about whether the Patriots can stop LaDanianian Thomlinson and about whether the Jets have an answer for Tom Brady. It's about whether the Jets' defence can find even a dent in the Patriots' inpenetrable offensive wall.

Words can't stop Wes Welker from turning defensive backs into pretzel sticks. But that isn't going to stop Ryan from trying.

Ryan is the master manipulator. In the last week he's dissed Brady and he already called last Saturday's game a personal showdown between him and Colts' quarterback Peyton Manning.

He makes it all about himself. Meantime, his team merrily rolls along in the wake of the controversial coach, including beating Manning 17-16 to get to this Sunday's showdown.

Some people might not think calling out Belichick, one of the most succesful coaches in NFL history, is a smart idea. But Ryan uses the technique to motivate not just himself but his own team. He figures that kind of talk looks just as good on his team's bulletin board as it does on the other guy's --and, he might be right.

For all his bombast, perhaps because of it, players love playing for Ryan. While it eventually can become just so much background noise and guy's stop listening, for the moment it does inspire players to have Ryan's back. They don't want to let him down. If they fail him; they fail themselves.

Monday Ryan claimed both teams are equal and only his ability to outmanuevre Belichick will be the deciding factor Sunday. "I was outcoached in that (45- 3) game," Ryan said. "I recognize the fact (Belichick) is a Hall of Fame coach. He'll go down in history as maybe the greatest football coach in the history of this game, or going to be close to it.

"He was at that level that week and I was not. For whatever reason, I never had my team prepared the way it should've been prepared. That falls right down on me."

In other words, he's telling his players none of those 45 points were their fault. The fact the Patriots defence was on them like bees on honey? No worries, boys. My fault. If he can get the Jets to buy it, if his words can make Mark Sanchez shake the memory of that game and remember only that they've already upset the Colts, if Ryan can make them believe in themselves like Pete Carroll made the Seahawks believe, then maybe he can will his team to come of age.

"This is going to be about me raising my level against Bill Belichick," Ryan said. "He's going to get my best shot. He's going to get everything I have on Sunday. If he slips at all, we're gonna beat him."

Last week Ryan lobbed innuendo at Brady, intimating he was so succesful because, unlike Peyton Manning, he had Belichick as his coach. Then, told Brady had gone to see the film "Lombardi" rather than watch the Jets-Colts game, Ryan sniped: "Peyton Manning would have been watching our game."

The Patriots? If they've got a comeback for Ryan it seems they'll wait until game-time to prove it. "We're going to let our play do the talking as we always do," said Brady. "There's going to be a lot of hype and people saying things. The reality is none of it matters. What matters is that whistle is going to blow at 4:30 on Sunday night and the team that executes the best and is the most prepared is the team that's going to win."

In other words, what Rex Ryan said. It's just when Ryan says it, he makes it sound so much more interesting.


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