When it comes to the AFC East, there is no bigger game that Patriots-Jets. This year is no exception and that’s what makes this week’s Monday night matchup between the two teams so enticing. Monday’s game against New England is just one game for the Jets, but to downplay the enormity would be foolish. The Jets and Patriots both sit at 9-2 on the season, they both have Super Bowl aspirations, they are potentially playing for the division title, potential home-field advantage in the playoffs, and bragging rights in the tough and rugged AFC East. The Jets won the first meeting between the two teams 28-14 in New York, but the Patriots are looking for revenge and this time they are the home team.
The Jets have already proven themselves to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender in the AFC, but if they can go into Foxboro, against Tom Brady and the Patriots, on Monday Night Football, there is no doubt that they are the best team in the league. They have a chance to prove it Monday night. Rex Ryan joined ESPN Radio New York with Michael Kay to talk about how big the game is on Monday night against the Patriots, whether or not they are looking to send a message that they can win anywhere on the road on any given day, why he got rid of Danny Woodhead in the offseason, and what he thinks of Bill Belichick.
On the enormity of the game Monday:
“Probably so because of the fact that you’ve got two teams that are 9-2, at the top of the division, and the winner of this game will be in sole possession of first place in the division. It’s just a great opportunity for us. We know the challenge that we have in front of us, but as a competitor, these are games that you love to play in.”
On the message they could send if they go into Foxboro and beat the Pats on the road:
“I think people understand that anyway because we have won our last eight regular season games on the road. It would be that clear message to the league that we knocked off the number one team in the league. That’s how people are looking at New England like they’re the best team in football right now and people want to dismiss what we’ve accomplished because of records and all that stuff of opponent but that’s okay. At the end of the day we get to prove if we are the best team. Right now we feel like this is going to be a huge game and obviously these guys are playing great, but were confident.”
On whether or not he has regrets about letting go of Danny Woodhead:
“I do now because he’s playing so well for them. Had I known that (Kevin) Faulk was gonna get hurt, I absolutely wouldn’t have let him go, but it’s one of those things. They were smart, they picked him up, and he’s fit right in. But whoever is in that backfield in this league is generally a good running back. No matter who they have in there would’ve been a good football player, but I am happy for Danny.”
On Bill Belichick and why he respects his so much:
“I just think he is the best coach in football. He’s got the track record, he’s got the rings, we’ve had to go against them, he’s one of the few coaches that I’ve actually stolen things from (Host: Like what?) Like looking at some of the defenses that he will run and I will be like ‘oh, that’s good.’ He’s a must-see guy for me that I would watch around the league. He was one of the guys that I would watch, him and Dick LeBeau. I know that Dick LeBeau has stolen things from us, probably doesn’t give us any credit for it, but Belichick, I definitely stole things from him. My brother, I know he’s got two Super Bowl rings when he coached under Belichick. He’s a smart guy and like my brother said, you think you could be two moves ahead of your competition, well he’d be about four moves ahead of you. He’s always a smart guy the way he watches tape, the way he studies everything, and the thing I appreciate about him is that he’s a real coach. He’s a guy that loves the game, loves coaching, his father was a great coach, and that’s what he is. He cares about football and it shows the way he coaches.”
On whether or not this is a be all end all game:
“It’s not an end all be all game, but this is way more than just another game. This is just another game between two 9-2 teams with the division lead riding on this and I’m not telling that lie. Of course this is a special game. How much more is this game worth than other ones? I don’t know but this is a huge game. It’s probably as big of a regular season game as I have been involved in.”