Rex Ryan, always looking for a new metaphor to capture his exuberant enthusiasm in his team, found one that he broke out a few times before New York and national media at the start of the NFL Combine availability in Indianapolis this afternoon.
"This is the year we're going to do it. This is the year we're going to win the Super Bowl. I guarantee we'll win it this year," Ryan declared at the top of his remarks at Lucas Oil Stadium. "This is not just something I believe in or what I want. It's what a whole bunch of people want. The coaches, the players, the whole organization, and the fans — our fans want a Super Bowl. I sense it. I feel it.
"The reason we're going to win is that we're going to lock arms and find a way to get it done."
A short while later in the NFL Network studio, Ryan added, "No question, we're all in. We're going to go for it."
And with that, Ryan brought a jolt that helped lift the combine workouts off the ground. Many people will cheer Rex's undying optimism regarding his teams, which have been to the AFC Championship Game three consecutive years (the Jets in 2009-10, the Ravens in '08). Many others will pull their hair out upon hearing another guarantee from the Jets' big talker.
As general manager Mike Tannenbaum, with the proverbial tough act to follow right after Ryan spoke, said, "A lot has been said about Rex's personality, his guarantees. At the end of the day, he's done a great job and we're lucky to have him."
Ryan was asked by a non-New York-area writer why he'd put himself out front like this for another year, when he had Super predictions for his first two Jets teams that didn't quite work out. But that's not how Rex sees his first two years at the Green & White helm.
"The Jets have been to the AFC Championship Game two years in a row when people were predicting we were going to win six games a lot," he said. "I don't care what people think. I care what our organization believes, what our fans believe. It might not appear that we got better but I thought we got a lot better last year. If we can improve a little bit more, why not us? We're the only team ... to make the 'final four' the last two years. Why would I say I'd be happy if we were 8-8? I'll always believe we deserve to be champions."
Despite all these headline-grabbing quotes being offered, Ryan knows this guarantee of his won't get done automatically, without a lot of hard work. He didn't go into all the nuts and bolts in front of this combine crowd today but he mentioned a few areas that will be bullet points for the 2011 Jets.
"We've got to play better at home. We were 5-3 last year and the fans deserve better. We're going to figure it out," he said. "We can win on the road, we're going to get better at home. We have an all-weather offense, a tough-as-nails defense, and we play lights-out on special teams. That's what we're going to do."
And the key to getting at least one home playoff game (preferably two) is to win the Jets' first AFC East title since 2002. Last year they seemed to be on their way to that success with a 3-0 start in the division in the first quarter of the season, only to lose at New England and home to Miami in a six-day span in December and fall behind the Patriots for that division tiara once more.
"We see the importance for us. We've got to find a way to win our division," Ryan said, adding that the Patriots in his first two seasons as an NFL head coach "were the AFC divisional champions the last two years, so I would say we're behind them still."
But for Ryan it's not a case of "gotta," it's a case of "gonna." The Jets plan on finding the right mix of players as always this offseason, no matter what labor scenario unfolds, and on going for it again without reservations. What secrets could he tell reporters about how he can feel this way year after year?
"I'm around an organization that it's going to be hard not to succeed in. It's not my talents, it's the talents of all the other people around me," he said. "And always be true to yourself."
Ryan was surely that at the Lucas Oil podium a short time ago.
Rex-cellent Adventure on the CSI Set
Ryan opened with some unbridled remarks about his new acting career. One day before the combine, he and Tannenbaum flew to Los Angeles to do a scene for a spring episode of CBS' "CSI: New York."
"Mike dominated the scene," Ryan said. "Let's just say this about him: He's a diva. When he was complaining that his trailer wasn't as long as Gary Sinise's, well, you kind of get the drift.
"It was a blast. It was fun," he said. "You can't believe everything that goes into it, the hundreds of extras, all that kind of stuff. ... It was a great experience for me."