It's a quieter, humbler Rex Ryan these days

It's a quieter, humbler Rex Ryan these days
February 22, 2013, 8:45 am
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INDIANAPOLIS -- Rex Ryan is promising a new beginning in Gotham.

Of course, the coach has played salesman before.

He's tried (twice) to sell his Jets as guaranteed Super Bowl champions. When those seasons turned out to be lemons, Ryan boasted the following year that This Team was actually His Best Team Ever.

He's tried to pass Mark Sanchez off as the right quarterback option -- based on a gut instinct.

Since becoming New York's head coach in 2009 he's advertised himself as a fearless, fool hearted, not-kissing-nobody's-rings field general.

But Ryan's pitch at the 2013 NFL combine was dialed back.

Though his voice still boomed and his pearly grin still gleamed, the tone had changed. Perhaps last year's losing season lined his usual hope with humility.

"We want to win," he said. "And we want to have a team that basically earns the loyalty and support of our fans. We're going to have that team. I believe that. I'm excited about the direction of our team when I look at the mentality and the offense we're going to have, and the attacking style. Our defense, our special teams. All of it.

"I'm excited about it and I think our fans should be excited about it as well."

He was sincere as ever. After all, nobody needs the Jets to succeed more than Ryan. The good feeling from 2010's 11-5 record and second consecutive trip to the AFC Championship has withered, along with the number in New York's win column. The very fact that Ryan spoke Thursday after a new general manager, John Idzik, encapsulated the team's failure. New York needed change and the axe fell at the very top. It's a wonder Ryan doesn't consider Idzik a deep scar, a physical reminder of a near-fatal wound.

Standing in Idzik's wake, the coach took his lashing.

"I'm usually not real good on my predictions. But a prediction that I will make -- how many wins are you going to have and all that -- I've figured it out," he teased.

"I'm going to tell you, I'm going to make my prediction, after the season. I'll tell you exactly how many wins we're going to have."

Touche.

Even when asked about stacking up against the Patriots, Ryan chose his words carefully. Yes, Rex Ryan: the coach who loves to tweak his rival.

This year he abstained from challenging the league ("we have to find somebody out there to beat New England besides us") and kept it simple.

"I can honestly say that we're going to get our shots, we're going to get our swings.

"We're stepping up to the plate and we've got a bat in our hands. We're not going to let any strikes go by without swinging. We're going to take our cuts. We may take a cut at a ball in the ground as well, but we're going to definitely take our cuts."

A far cry from guaranteeing Super Bowl titles.

Ryan's subdued media session doesn't mean he can't compete. It just means he knows the Jets have a lot of ground to make up this offseason.

"Every single decision we make will be in the best interest of this football team. And you know what? We might not bat 1.000 on all those decisions, but I know one thing, it won't be for lack of effort. I know that."