|Was Ryan offering an unvarnished scouting report or trying to motivate the rookie WR? (US Presswire)|
Jets coach Rex Ryan appears to have changed tactics. Instead of the chest-thumping theatrics that annually rubbed everyone the wrong way, Ryan has decided against Super Bowl guarantees and has instead employed subtler methods to motivate his team (and almost certainly himself).
On Friday, he announced that the 2012 Jets -- the same outfit that didn't score a touchdown in August until the backups to the backups managed to find the end zone in the fourth and final preseason game -- might be the "best team I've ever had." Presumably, Ryan said this with a straight face, though his remarks wouldn't have been any funnier if they were delivered with Ryan dressed like Lloyd Christmas while doing this.
On the same day that Ryan made his comments above, Sports Illustrated's Don Banks wrote that the Jets are heading into the season with big issues on offense, particularly at wide receiver. For anybody half-paying attention this isn't news. But Ryan saying that he didn't want to draft rookie second-rounder Stephen Hill is.
"Well, nothing told me he would (contribute),'' Ryan told Banks. "Nothing. When I saw the tape (of his collegiate play) I was concerned. But (Jets general manager) Mike Tannenbaum and (senior personnel executive) Terry Bradway and all our scouts were adamant about this guy. They were adamant that this guy can do it. He can run all these routes, he had good hands and he's got 4.2 speed at 6-foot-5. He was the guy they all wanted, but honestly, when it came down to it, a wideout? Not my dream pick. But now that we have him, of course, I want to claim him: 'Oh, that was my pick.' But it really wasn't.''
We wouldn't call that a ringing endorsement. (Related, rhetorical question: What does this say about the Jets' thoughts on Plaxico Burress?) Hill, the wide receiver from Georgia Tech with just 49 receptions during his college career, has had the usual rookie growing pains in training camp and preseason. But this isn't necessarily about Ryan publicly distancing himself from Hill in the event that things don't work out. It's more likely that Ryan is employing another Jedi mind trick to motivate his players. That's the theory put forth by PFT.com's Mike Florio and one that seems reasonable given Ryan's history of doing just that.
Whatever his master plan, Ryan's going to need somebody to step up. Because as it stands, the Jets have mercurial wideout Santonio Holmes and, well, that's it. And we know it doesn't take much to get him off his game. Of course, there's always the chance that the Jets move Tim Tebow to wide receiver…
Back on Earth, Banks took to Twitter over the weekend to clarify Ryan's remarks: "Ryan was clearly giving credit to Tannenbaum-Bradway for picking Hill … Being defensive-minded, Ryan wasn't in love with picking WR. But he was saying he's now glad they did. Rex being Rex, tongue-in-cheek. … Reading Ryan's entire quote gives context to his self-deprication in this case. He wasn't dissing Hill as much as he was dissing himself."
Make of this what you will.