Rex Ryan Acknowledges Missing Shaun Ellis, But Vows: “I don’t think you have to worry about our defense.”
In the latest installment of the rivalry between the New York Jets and New England Patriots the football world saw defensive end, Shaun Ellis, the longest tenured member of the Jets, decide he would change sides and join his former arch enemy. Who could blame Ellis? Mike Tannenbaum and Rex Ryan offered the 34-year old, who played 11 seasons in New York after being selected 12th overall in the 2000 draft, the veteran league minimum [$910,000] for this season. Ryan wanted Ellis back, but at the Jets price only. So as Ellis weighed his options Bill Belichick swooped in and offered the man ranking third on the Jets’ career sack list an offer he couldn’t refuse. Ellis signed a one-year deal between $4 and $5 million dollars.
Ellis claims he respects Rex Ryan, but doesn’t think the feeling is mutual from the other side of the table. In the following interview with ESPN New York Ryan gives his side of the story on how much he respects his former defensive end, but is honest with his assessment that he only wishes Ellis the best of health. This is the way the New York Jets do business over in Florham Park now as Rex Ryans proclaims his defense will be just fine with the young combination of Muhammad Wilkerson and Kenrick Ellis. Ryan also ties up some loose ends on how he is repairing his relationship with Antonio Cromartie after the Jets went all out on their pursuit of Nnamdi Asomugha two weeks ago.
Rex Ryan joined ESPN New York on The Michael Kay Show live at Jets Training Camp in Florham Park, New Jersey to discuss his early thoughts on Plaxico Burress so far in training camp, the New England Patriots offering Shaun Ellis four times more than what the New York Jets did, missing Shaun Ellis out on the field, Shaun Ellis bringing secrets over to the New England Patriots, how he spins the Jets public romance of Nnamdi Asomugha to Antonio Cromartie, being shocked that Nnamdi Asomugha signed with the Eagles over the Jets and Nnamdi Asomugha feeling that he has a better chance of going to the Super Bowl with the Eagles rather than the Jets.
Now you didn’t know Plaxico Burress before this season. How are you liking him as a person so far?
“I do. I do like him. He loves the game. He’s also a fan of baseball, basketball. He’s kind of an interesting guy. You can tell he loves football just the way he talks. He fits right in.”
The big story today is that Shaun Ellis signed with the Patriots yesterday. Here’s what I don’t understand Rex. You guys made him an offer. That’s what you thought he was worth. Then the Patriots go out and an up the offer by 4 times the amount you guys were offering. How could the Patriots think that much more of him than you guys?
“Well no. I disagree a little bit. I think what happens is that you look at your team. This isn’t a thing where you just have blank spending or we would have the entire team back. We liked our team from last year. This is about you gotta balance things. We couldn’t afford with the draft picks that we’ve had and things like that. We would have liked to have Shaun back, but it would have to have been at our price.”
At your price which was the veteran minimum for Shaun Ellis. Are you going to miss him out on the field?
“Well I think we will. I think he was an excellent football player, but just wait until everybody sees these young guys play. I don’t think you have to worry about our defense.”
Do you worry that one of your guys, the longest tenured Jet, goes to the arch enemy? Do we over-blow it as fans? Can he bring any secrets over there?
“I don’t think he can bring secrets. He can bring mentality. He can talk about the way we are going to approach games against New England and things like that. [Michael Kay: Does that worry you?] No. Everybody knows the kind of mentality we are bringing. As far as the playbook if that was Jim Leonhard going over there or somebody that was in the back end that knows the front coverage and all that. Shaun’s role was basically in a phone booth, so it was obvious he did a great job for us. I really don’t worry about that.”
You’re so good at your dealings and your relationships with the players. I’m just wondering about Antonio Cromartie. You guys had a very public romance of Nnamdi Asomugha. You don’t get him and Cromartie obviously knows he was the second choice. How do you spin that to Cromartie that you do like him?
“Well no it’s easy. His contract that we offered him I think shows that, but really that’s the way we did. We’ll do…he has the same agent [as Nnamdi Asomugha] and everything else. We were very upfront with the thing. We never came off our number of what we were going to offer Nnamdi. I felt he was the second best corner in football. I think Cromartie has that kind of ability, but I don’t think he is there yet. The funny thing is he probably has as much talent as anybody that has ever played the position, so we get him dialed in and you have a couple of great mentors in Dennis Thurman as coach and obviously Darrelle Revis. I really think another year in the system. I think Cromartie is going to be great for us.”
Rex, you always hear how football players around the league want to play for you and the Jets. The Jets offered Nnamdi Asomugha a great deal, but he decided to go somewhere else. Did that shock you when Mike Tannenbaum said we are not going to get Nnamdi Asomugha? What did you think?
“No it never shocked me at all. It’s one of those things. It’s where you place your priorities and if your priorities chase the last dollar than obviously that is what you are going to do. I felt we had a great chance to get him, but it certainly was not a forgone conclusion that we were going to get him. We never flinched one bit. In fact if you said this was the team we were going to end up with we would have signed on for this one. I think Nnamdi Asomugha is a terrific player. There’s no question about that. He’s a great, fine, young man, but again sometimes maybe this place isn’t for everybody. I truly think that this is the time to be a Jet. This is our golden age to be a New York Jet. I think we can compete with any team in the league. In fact I think we will beat every team in this league. The beauty of it is that it’s going to be starting up real soon and we are going to find out.”
Nnamdi Asomugha said he had a better chance to win Super Bowl in Philadelphia. Do you think he had a better chance in Philly or here in New York?
“We get to answer that on the field and I am happy for that. I definitely believe we can win it here. I don’t know there situation or whatever and I don’t really care. I know how we feel that we got the team to beat and we’ll find out.”