The New York Jets have a rookie head coach and a rookie quarterback and despite a roller coaster ride of a season, the Jets are in the playoffs. It wasn’t an easy road, but this past Sunday night, the Jets needed to beat the Bengals to reach the playoffs in Rex Ryan’s first season in New York. Not only did they clinch the final playoff spot in the AFC, but they did it in convincing fashion and may have sent a message to the Bengals. The Jets could be a scary team to see in the playoffs. This is a team that has an ultra-confident coach and is playing with a swagger heading into the postseason. They should be confident. They have the best defense in football, they havea dominant offensive line, they have a two-headed running attack that was second to none in the league this season, they have playmakers on offense, and they have a true shutdown corner in Darrelle Revis. It seems like a formula for success in the playoffs.The one issue that it seems like the Jets will have is the same issue that cost them some games in the regular season: a rookie quarterback. After starting off the season very well, Mark Sanchez cooled significantly, made costly mistakes in some of the Jets losses and could be a weakness in the playoffs. No matter what happens for the Jets against the Bengals this weekend, the future looks bright in New York and making it to the playoffs with a rookie quarterback and rookie head coach when it looked bleak is quite an accomplishment.
Rex Ryan joined ESPN Radio in New York with Michael Kay to talk about making it to the playoffs in his first year as head coach, why he has so much confident in his team, whether or not he is concerned with his rookie quarterback ,and whether or not his team can win a Super Bowl this season.
On making it to the playoffs in his first year as head coach:
“You’re exactly right as far as it is a great thrill to go to the playoffs. There’s no question about it. It’s hard to get into the playoffs. It took a lot of things for us to get in there besides having to play really well. They don’t come around all the time. You can’t assume that you’re always going to be in it that’s for sure. You’d like to think you would be but it is difficult. It’s one of the most difficult things to do in team sports. You can look at last years, somebody was telling me, the top four teams in last year’s tournament none of them made the playoffs this year. It just goes to show how difficult it is. Being my first year and all that kind of stuff absolutely I’m excited about it but that’s not our goal. We’re in it to win it. We’ve got a tough task in front of us going to Cincinnati. I believe in this football team and I think were built for this time of year. We’ve said that. Be able to run the football, play great defense, do a good job on special teams, protect the football and make plays down the field when we need to. I think we’re definitely built for it.”
On whether or not they used everything Sunday night against Cincinnati:
“Maybe not the whole bucket but when you know the systems the way we do and the way Brian knows our offense, trust me it seems like an endless bag of things that he can come up with. Then on defense, we’ll have enough tricks for them as well and do different things. We’ll be dialed in. I think were a difficult team to prepare for. We’re multiple on offense, defense and special teams as well. It’s a short week, we’ll see the adjustments they make and we’ll already have some adjustments as well.”
On people saying that they backed into the playoffs:
“People can think what they want. That’s fine. It’s hard to say you backed in when you lead the league in defense and it’s not even close. We gave up on average 252 yards a game against us on defense and the next closest team is probably 35 yards away per game. This defense has been spectacular. I know we haven’t finished some of the games the way we wanted to, but trust me, there isn’t a team in this league that wouldn’t trade our defense for their defense. I think that’s not backing in. I think leading the league in fewest points allowed and also by the way giving up seven or eight touchdowns in returns and still leading the league in fewest points allowed is also not backing in. Having the number one rushing attack in the league is not backing in. That’s how I feel about it but again everybody can have their opinions. That’s fine. We’re not making an apology for getting into the playoffs. We’re just focused on putting our best foot forward on Saturday.”
On whether his quarterback is ready for the playoffs:
“I believe he is. I really do. He had a big throw earlier in the game, but it was tough. (Host: The one Braylon Edwards dropped?) Yeah, I’m not mentioning any names. It would’ve been a great catch. I think Braylon woulda caught that thing eight out of ten times. I had a lot of confidence in our passing attack, but the way the game was going we really never needed to risk anything down the field. We were just going to run the football and our guys did just a phenomenal job. Two of the best drives that I have seen into the wind, in those conditions. You’ve gotta take your hat off to Brian Schottenheimer and that group over there. They did a tremendous job. Our guys were ready. Our guys did a great job of run blocking and communicating I thought all day.”
On whether or not he believes his team can win a Super Bowl this year:
“I believe that. I believe we’re gonna win every game. It doesn’t always happen but I believe it. You’ve earned that right to be one of those teams in there. One of the final twelve teams and why not? We have the number one defense by far in this league, we have the number one rushing attack in this league, we’re protecting the football, getting takeways now and playing good special teams. That’s what you have to have. I think we’ve peaked at the right time and we’re ready for this. I truly believe it.”