INDIANAPOLIS — One year after he stood in the same room at the NFL Scouting Combine, declaring before a roomful of media that “this is the year we’re going to win the Super Bowl,” Jets coach Rex Ryan now considers it a giant mistake.
“First off, I know what everybody is thinking,” Ryan said Thursday to open this year’s news conference. “The return of the Super Bowl guarantee was here. Looking back, it was a huge mistake to make that guarantee.
“I thought it would motivate our team to talk about the team, to focus on the Super Bowl. In hindsight, I think it put undue pressure on the team. We lost focus on what we do best. It was obviously a big mistake.”
Humble pie? A lesson learned? Eating crow? You could call it all of those things. But Ryan most certainly isn’t making any major predictions this time around — other than that this upcoming Jets team will be prepared for “great things.”
“I know I’ll be better, and I know our guys will be better,” Ryan said. “I believe that.”
Ryan also addressed the late-season issues within the locker room, including the turmoil that existed between the team and WR Santonio Holmes. Ryan noted he was “angry” at certain comments, but he doesn’t believe the problems are irreparable.
“I don’t think it’s maybe the way it was portrayed — that we had huge problems,” Ryan said. “We had problems with individuals, but we have the right players, and we’re going to get it fixed.”
As the team moves forward and attempts to get to a place where these problems no longer exist, there’s been plenty of speculation about whether or not Mark Sanchez will remain the team’s starting quarterback. Once again, the team didn’t close the door on the potential acquisition of Peyton Manning should he become available. Ryan said the Jets would look at all available options, just as they do at other positions. He made a comparison to the cornerback position, noting the team still looks at multiple highly ranked cover men despite having two of the best in the game on their current roster.
Overall, though, Ryan said the team’s current focus is far more wide-ranging as everyone attempts to rebound from a season that began with a bold prediction and ended with dysfunction.
“We all feel terrible about the results, how the season ended,” Ryan said. “But we can’t do anything about it. We can only learn from it, and there’s going to be lessons well learned. Individually, there are things I can improve in, too.
“We’ll be focused on building a great football team.”
— Jeff Darlington