NEW YORK — Rex Ryan was humbled, his boasts little more than hot air.
Forget kings of the city. The New York Jets are now a desperate team on the verge of missing the playoffs for the first time since Ryan took over as coach.
"We've won eight games," Ryan said Monday. "Obviously, we were hoping to win more than that."
That was certainly the plan. Ryan guaranteed it months ago, when he declared this Jets team the most talented bunch he has coached in New York. Even better than the teams that went to the AFC championship game in each of his first two years.
The Jets (8-7) have proven themselves to be anything but. Still, at this time last week, the Jets controlled their playoff destiny — a win, and they would've likely made the postseason. Ryan claimed his Jets were the best team in New York, superior to the Giants based on their two previous playoff runs.
Not this year. They need to win at Miami on Sunday and get lots of help to keep their season alive.
"Anything can happen in the NFL," left guard Matt Slauson said. "The Packers were kind of in a similar situation last year and sneaked in through the back door and wrecked shop. The NFL is a crazy world and anyone can win any day."
Or lose, in humiliating fashion, as the Jets did on Saturday. In fact, Ryan's big words might have served as motivation in the Giants' 29-14 victory, but the coach has no regrets.
"I'll stand by everything I said," Ryan said on a conference call. "Did it work out? No, and I'll be the first one to say it never worked out. I'm responsible for that. Obviously, the Giants were the better team that day, without question. So, I deserve the criticism that I take for it. I definitely deserve it."
The thing with Ryan — love him or hate him — is that this is who he has consistently been since he got to New York three years ago. He was a breath of fresh air after Eric Mangini's tightlipped regime, a guy referred to often as a player's coach.
But despite being a win away from the Super Bowl two years in a row, some fans and media believe it's time for Ryan to pipe down. Well, don't count on that anytime soon.
"I've always said from Day 1 that I'm going to be true to myself," he said. "When I leave this job 10 or 15 years from now, I'm going to be true to myself."
Nose tackle Sione Pouha said Ryan's talk to the team Monday was "positive; it was hopeful. He was very optimistic."
At the same time, Ryan wasn't ignoring the problems his team had in the loss to the Giants, and the rest of this season. He pointed out the lack of more big plays down the field being "an area of concern" on offense, and putting teams away defensively also a major culprit. He also said he supports both quarterback Mark Sanchez and offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer despite some sentiment that changes need to be made with at least one of them in the offseason.
"I have a huge amount of confidence in both guys, there's no doubt," Ryan said.
Some fans and media say Schottenheimer needs to go because the offense isn't good enough. Some have also said Sanchez is not playing the way the face of a franchise should — and might not be that guy in the end.
"I don't agree with those things," tight end Dustin Keller said. "I've always been very happy with both of them. I think Schotty's done a great job. Obviously, anytime things go wrong, it's going to fall on the shoulders of the quarterback and offensive coordinator."
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