Ryan made a loud entrance to the AFC East in 2009, proclaiming the Jets would overtake the Patriots in the division and win a Super Bowl or 10. During Ryan’s tenure, the Jets have a 3-2 record against the Patriots, ended their rival’s season once and advanced to a pair of conference championship games, but the Jets haven’t supplanted New England as the division champs or danced with the Lombardi Trophy.
Some of that merits a little perspective. Ryan has completely turned around a floundering organization, but he hasn’t reached all of his lofty goals. Whether the Jets have passed the Patriots in the division is debatable — and the answer doesn’t mean very much right now, anyway — but Ryan thinks they’re still the ones doing the chasing.
“I hoped we would beat them more where we would win a division, but clearly, [the Patriots are] a great football team,” Ryan said Wednesday. “They’ve got the best coach in the league. You’ve got arguably the best quarterback in the league. It’s a huge challenge. To think that we’re just going to accept, ‘Ah, well, we can’t beat those guys.’ No way in heck. Hey, we’re here to beat everybody. New England is the best team in the league, but again, we want to be the best team in the league. That hasn’t changed one bit. We’re not backing down to anybody.”
Ryan knows there is a parallel between this week and the team’s playoff victory against the Patriots. The Jets went into that postseason game just a month and a half after a 45-3 loss at Gillette Stadium, and no one thought they had a chance to beat New England, which had the best regular-season record in the league.
New York is now coming off a debacle in Baltimore, which Ryan called “miserable” and “horrendous.” He is hoping his players can use this as something of a rallying cry to turn around their two-game losing streak. And they’ll also have to end Tom Brady‘s streak of 29 consecutive regular-season victories at home.
“First off, we have to beat New England,” Ryan said. “That’s the team that we have to beat to win the division. New England, I think seven out of eight years, has won this division, so if you want to beat them, if you want to win to get a home playoff game or whatever, you have to beat them. We know what’s in front of us. I don’t know how many games they’ve won in a row at home in the regular season, but I think it’s like 28 or something like that. We know it’s going to be a huge challenge for us.
“This is the biggest game there is for us. I don’t think a whole lot of people gave us a chance, but everybody in our locker room thought we had a chance. I think everybody wants to forget that we had beat New England earlier in the year. They just focused on that 45-3 nightmare, but we knew we were a heck of a lot better football team than that.”