Rex Ryan is one sly fox.
With his Jets team facing their biggest game of the season Saturday in the battle of Gotham against the Giants, Ryan has been yapping up a storm.
Among other things, Ryan has said that if the Jets lose it will all be his fault, that his team is better than the Giants, that his team is the toast of the town, that he is a greater sex symbol than his Giants’ counterpart, Tom Coughlin.
Okay, I lied about the last part but it’s one of the few boasts that Ryan hasn’t attempted to slip by the New York media.
It’s an old ploy by Ryan even though he is in just his third season as the Jets’ head honcho. In their biggest game of the season, he’s willing to take all the heat and take plenty of same off his players.
There is a lot at stake for both teams.
If the Giants lose, they are out of the post-season mix. If the Jets lose, they still have a shot at the wild-card depending on how the Cincinnati Bengals do.
Ryan, though, doesn’t want it to come down to that so his mouth is running overtime.
“If we lose, it’s coming right down on me, and I can handle it,” Ryan told reporters.
“I hope I don’t have to.”
The day after he said his team was better than the Giants he wasn’t about to backpedal.
“You better believe that you’re better than your opponent,” Ryan said in his own defence. “That’s how I believe every week. It sometimes doesn’t work out that way, but I think in this case it’s pretty well noted that I came in here, when I got this job, I want to be the team that people talk about. I want to be the better team. There’s no question about it when you look at it the first two years. I love the deal, where we’re going to dismiss that. Why would you dismiss it? Facts are facts.
“I’ve only been here three years now. So I’ve mentioned from the whole time since I got here that I want to be best team and expect to be the best team for the next 10 years. I recognize the rich tradition of Giant football, there’s no question. And I’m not trying to take a run at the Giants or a shot at the Giants. I want to be the best team in the National Football League, and the fact that we share the same stadium, the same state, both New York teams, I don’t want to be the one that is not looked at as the best team in my own state, there’s no way. I want to be the best team, period.”
He didn’t stop there.
“Now, do I have the courage to say it? Absolutely. And if it doesn’t happen and we get beat by the Giants, I’ll be the first one to tip my hat to them. There’s no question. But do I believe, in my heart, that we’re the better football team? Yes. Did I believe we were the better team two years ago and last year? Yes. So I’ll stand by everything I’ve ever said.”
Love him or hate him, Ryan has never been afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve and pump up his team. The media may be cynical but his players appreciate it and that’s what counts.
“Rex always puts pressure on himself,” linebacker Bart Scott told the Daily News. “He’s a tremendous motivator. We feed off that passion. We feed off that confidence. It’s like anything. Sometimes when your coach or your mom, or somebody you look up to, has more belief in you than sometimes you have in yourself, it inspires you to try to make them right.”
Joe Namath is the greatest quarterback in Jets’ history and will always be remembered for his guaranteeing the Jets victory prior to Super Bowl III.
When asked about Saturday’s big Jets-Giants matchup, though, Namath wasn’t about to offer another guarantee.
Namath told the Daily News he believes the Jets will win. But that’s as far as he’d go.
“Hell no, I’m not,” Namath said when asked if he’d guarantee a Jets win. “I’m not betting any dinners on it.”
“After what I saw last week and what I’ve been watching, how do you feel confident about a team?” he said. “I wish I had seen the kind of football that would make me more confident. I’ve never guaranteed anything I wasn’t a part of, by the way.”
The Baltimore Ravens, who are concerned about the health of field goal kicker Billy Cundiff, who has been bothered the past two weeks with a calf injury, on Wednesday signed veteran kicker Shayne Graham as a backup ... Although nothing has been made official, the NFL Network reports that the Pittsburgh Steelers will sit injured quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and go with backup Charlie Batch for Saturday’s home game against the St. Louis Rams. Big Ben is recovering from a high ankle sprain and was next to immobile in Monday’s loss to San Francisco.
HANIE IS OUT IN CHICAGO
In Chicago, Bears fans have to be asking: What took so long?
With backup quarterback Caleb Hanie proving to be a complete disaster, Bears coach Lovie Smith announced Wednesday that Josh McCown will replace Hanie for Sunday night’s game at Green Bay.
Hanie has been simply dreadful since he took over on Nov. 20 after starting quarterback Jay Cutler suffered a broken right thumb. At the time, the Bears were 7-3 and in the driver’s seat as far as securing a wild-card position.
But with Hanie at the controls, the Bears have lost four consecutive games and will be put to rest with a loss to the Packers.
On the season, Hanie completed 51 of 102 passes for 613 yards. He has thrown just three touchdown passes against nine interceptions.
McCown, who broke into the league in 2002, has made 31 career NFL starts. When he meets the Packers it will be his first start since he started nine games for the Raiders in 2007.