It's fairly common to find head coach Rex Ryan in the national spotlight for his choice of words. Prior to Sunday's season opener, however, he spoke loudly through his actions when he named wide receivers Santonio Holmes, Jeremy Kerley, Stephen Hill, Clyde Gates and Ryan Spadola, along with tight end Kellen Winslow, as our gameday captains against the Buccaneers.
The decision to name these six men as his representatives in the opener was no coincidence.
"The writers said that they were going to cancel Tone [Santonio Holmes] out and the receivers weren't going to be a factor," Hill said. "That's the reason why. It meant a lot saying that he believes in his receivers, saying that you all are going to be the captains today, and you all are going to go out there and do your thing to help us get this win."
"Rex was just pretty much supporting us," Spadola said, "and saying that if the media wants to go out and talk trash on our receivers and stuff, we want you guys going out there representing us today."
The receivers helped lead the way in our 18-17 victory over the Bucs. Hill caught a career-high six receptions, while Winslow, facing one of his former teams, hauled in seven passes for 79 yards and a touchdown.
"It motivates me when guys think they're better than me," Winslow said about playing with a chip on his shoulder.
Hill wasn't angry when he heard some of the storylines circulating in media about QB Geno Smith's lack of weapons, but he did feel disrespected.
"I mean, we're not just in the league for nothing," Hill said. "We can make plays, we can do certain things, we play ball the same way as everybody else, so we just took it and moved on with it."
Being named captain came as a welcomed surprise for both Hill and Spadola, who just 11 days ago was not even sure if he would make the team as an undrafted rookie free agent.
"Just to come out of the tunnel on Sunday afternoon and be among 53 guys who made the Jets team and to run onto the field in front of the best fans in the country is remarkable enough," the Howell, N.J., native said. "Then to be named a captain along with the other receivers and Kellen, it's pretty indescribable, but a great feeling."
Spadola knows what it's like to have the odds stacked against you, but the Lehigh product surprised many when he earned his roster spot this preseason, and he believes this group of receivers has what it takes to raise a few eyebrows of their own.
"We know we're a bunch of guys who are going to go out and probably shock the league this year," he said. "I don't want to say we got the laugh," Hill said. "I want to talk about that after the season, when we're probably one of those contenders to be in the playoffs. But we definitely sent a message. We sent a message to say we're actually here, the receivers are here, this is a receiver offense, and we will make plays. Rex believes in us and we believe in him, so that's a great thing."