It wasn't the most optimistic of weather to greet the Jets in Cortland this afternoon. A thick band of thunderstorms rumbled through Central New York, raining on the Green & White parade of veterans in cars and rookies in team buses on their way up Route 81.
But the weather hardly put a damper on Rex Ryan.
"I think it's a great omen," the Jets head coach said. "I feel great about this team. Wins and losses, we're going to find out, but I'm certainly not afraid of that. But I feel incredible about this team."
One reason for that was that Rex's team almost literally came running out of the gate. The coach praised his team for their showings in this morning's conditioning run before the caravan left the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center.
"I challenged our guys," he said about his last message to them at the end of last month's full-squad minicamp. "I said, 'Two things are going to happen. Either you're going to get better or you're going to get worse in this next month before you head to camp." That's 100 percent on the players.
"And every one of them came back in phenomenal shape, so it's hard not to get excited."
"I'm not sure how everybody came out of the run today," Ryan said, "but he was flying."
"I'm good to go and do everything," the man once and still known as CJ2K said in between the late afternoon raindrops. "I went down to Dr. [James] Andrews and he cleared me. And after that, the little break we had, I've just been really working on everything, cutting drills and conditioning and stuff like that."
Everyone is feeling what Ryan is feeling, and they're feeling it not just on their side of the ball but across the trenches.
"We're optimistic," Johnson said. "We know how hard we worked this offseason. It's just not the offense, it's how the defensive guys are working and how we're working and the type of OTAs we had and minicamp. We know we're a pretty good team, but we know we've still got to take one step at a time."
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"Definitely I'm ready to get things rolling," said DE
That, of course, is a Rex mantra. It's about backing up your words with your play on the field.
"I think what's different than the past this year is that I'm not going to be the only voice," Ryan said. "The way these guys have responded to each other, there's a lot of accountability with each other. You see it, you sense it with some players, whether it's the older, veteran players or maybe even the younger players. They all accept it. We all know what we want from this football team.
"Again, the message is clear. And I think we sent a message today with the kind of shape we're in."
And the weather report for the next week? Sunny days are here again in Cortland, of course.