Rex Ryan says a lot of things, and you get the sense that much of what he says is in an effort to convince himself or his team that they're better than they actually might be.
You could argue that it worked pretty well in his first two seasons in New York -- the Jets went to back-to-back AFC Championship games. But the last two seasons have ended ingloriously, with a 2011 Week 17 loss to the Dolphins in a game that resulted in wide receiver Santonio Holmes getting benched for quitting on his teammates. And a 2012 season that was a disaster from start to finish and culminated in a 6-10 record.
General manager Mike Tannenbaum was fired this offseason, as was offensive coordinator Tony Sparano. Ryan survived but it's reasonable to think that if the team doesn't show marked improvement in 2013 he could be looking work come January. With training camp days way, Ryan has bigger concerns.
“I'm not worried about being a lame-duck guy,” Ryan told the New York Daily News recently. “I'm not worried about that. I am not. I look at this as an opportunity. … Look, I'm disappointed in the product that we put on the field (in 2012) both personally (and for) our fans. Because I'm a Jet fan. I'm no different than anybody else. …
"So I know (fans are) disappointed. I know they're ticked off at how we played last year. And I'm sure they're upset at me and rightfully so. At the end of the day, we'll see what happens,” Ryan continued. “I'm certainly not worried about it. In fact, I'm doing just the opposite. I can't wait. I'm popping out of my skin, because I feel in my heart I know what it's going to look like.”
As for the past, Ryan would like to leave it there.
“I don't even give a s--- about last year,” he said, adding, “I'm tired of talking about it.”
That's good, because fans are tired of reliving it.
Whether anything changes in the coming weeks and months is another matter. But if the Jets don't live up to expectations, it won't be because of the head coach.
"I'm a hell of a lot better football coach than I'm given credit for," Ryan said in June. "I don't care," he added, smiling. "I don't need the credit. But I can tell you one thing, when it's said and done, they'll look back and say, 'Oh man, this dude can coach his butt off.' And you know what? It's true. And I'll let the people that know best talk on my behalf about the kind of coach I am. I don't have to brag, even though statistically, I can brag about anything I've ever done defensively."
So, yeah, no way this ends badly.