East Rutherford, NJ - With one brash statement after another this offseason, Rex Ryan made it clear he's not intimidated by anyone.
Especially Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.
``For me, the thing is I'm not here to kiss the rings,'' the New York Jets coach said this week, repeating his headline-grabbing statement from a few months ago. ``We're going to play. We're not conceding anything from a team standpoint. I'll concede he's a better coach than me, but that's it.''
A rivalry that was already tense didn't lose an ounce of juice when Eric Mangini was fired after last season. In fact, Ryan might have ramped up things with his big talk and in-your-face approach.
``Talk is cheap,'' Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said of all the Jets' chatter.
Well, true, but it's also what makes Sunday's game between the Jets (1-0) and Patriots (1-0) at the Meadowlands all the more intriguing.
for them,'' Ryan said. ``Oh, yeah? They've won eight in a row at the Meadowlands. So, you've got all that information. You've got that history, but I'm not conceding anything. I promise you, we are going to give everything we have, and I'm sure New England is going to give everything they have. If they don't, that's fine with me. But at the end of the day, we'll see who the better team is right now.
``And again, I have a lot of confidence in our football team.''
Ryan is the anti-Belichick, a loose, straight talker who isn't afraid to say what's on his mind. Meanwhile, Belichick has made a career of being secretive, keeping his strategy and thoughts close to his gray hoodie and conceding nothing to anyone.
A perfect example came when Belichick was asked if he'd use Ryan's quotes as bulletin board material.
``Whatever is between me and the team,'' he said, ``I think should stay between me and the team.''
OK, but how about all the ``kiss the rings'' talk?
``The biggest things for us is how the Jets are playing,'' Belichick said, ``and what they're doing and what we have to try to do to match up with them and try to compete with them.''
``I think everyone is entitled to say whatever they want to say,'' Brady said. ``You know, he's a very confident coach, and that comes across to his players. He's brought a different attitude to the Jets, and they are playing very well.''
The Jets were dominant in their 24-7 victory at Houston last Sunday, with the defense harassing Matt Schaub and the Texans all game. If New York brings that type of pressure this weekend, Brady realizes it could be a tough day for him and the Patriots.
``I tell you, there haven't been any easy ones, I know that,'' Brady said of the rivalry. ``They have all been challenging. This is one of the best Jets teams we have ever faced. They are talented in all three phases.''
The Patriots were tantalizingly close to dropping their season opener Monday night before Brady led them back to the 29th comeback victory of his career. Brady, in his first game back since last season's devastating knee injury, threw two touchdown passes to Benjamin Watson in the final 2:06 to beat Buffalo 25-24.
``They know how to win,'' Sanchez said. ``All I've known is them winning Super Bowls these last few years. They know how to win games at the end of the game. They don't just fall off and quit early. This team will play you until the end.''
and is 11-2 against New York since the 2003 season, and has won eight straight at the Meadowlands. Brady has also never lost to the Jets there.
``This is the New England factor for us,'' Jets safety Kerry Rhodes said. ``Whenever they come in here, it's going to be turned up, naturally. They are one of the teams where you just don't like each other. We have a lot of history, so many side stories.''
Added New England tight end Chris Baker, a former Jet: ``Every year, it was our biggest game because of the amount of wins the Patriots have put up in the past and things like that and our record against them.''
Because of the Patriots' mastery of the Jets at the Meadowlands, Ryan felt compelled to record a phone message that was sent to every season-ticket holder earlier this week. Ryan urged the fans to make it ``miserable'' for the Patriots.
``We need an edge; we want an edge,'' Ryan said. ``This is going to be a heavyweight fight.''
Ryan also quizzed backup quarterback Kevin O'Connell, acquired earlier this month from Detroit after he spent last season with the Patriots, and found out New England was studying the Jets' defense back in March.
``I'm no dummy,'' Ryan said. ``I talked to the quarterback. He's our quarterback. He's not New England's quarterback. O'Connell is our quarterback, so I know they have been working on us.''
``They don't get any bigger than this,'' Patriots center Dan Koppen said.
And, by the way, Ryan might have some trouble even if he wanted to kiss Belichick's Super Bowl rings.
When asked where he keeps the three big pieces of jewelry, Belichick didn't miss a beat: ``I'm not telling.''
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