According to ESPN.com, Ryan presented his team with a calendar last week before the Jets’ 24-14 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday. The calendar went beyond a simple practice schedule; it included the AFC Championship, the Super Bowl in Miami, and to cap it off, a victory parade.
"I wanted to paint a picture, to make sure they were aware of what's in front of us, that we've been preparing for this," Ryan told the New York Post. "Our preparation all season was to get to where we are right now. Let's take advantage of it.”
Ryan has become known for his bravado and his overwhelming confidence in his team throughout his rookie season as head coach.
He also hasn’t been afraid to show his emotions. Ryan broke down in tears following a 10-7 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Dec. 20, assuming the Jets were eliminated from the playoff picture.
It could be debated whether Ryan actually knew at that moment that his team had a puncher’s chance to sneak in with a wild-card berth, but his team won its final two games and got some help to earn the right to face the Bengals.
Critics say the Jets backed into the playoffs as beneficiaries of an Indianapolis Colts team that rested many of its starters in Week 16 and a Week 17 Bengals team that already was preparing for a playoff rematch.
Ryan scoffs at the notion that the Jets don’t belong in the NFL's postseason tournament.
Even though rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez threw 20 interceptions this season, Ryan entered the playoffs claiming the Jets should be favorites. While his claim drew both shock and laughter from pundits, the coach held strong to his belief.
"When you lay it out in front of them, I think they can visualize it and realize that 'Hey, man, if we take care of business, play the way we know we're capable, we can get this done,'" Ryan said.
You can’t put anything past the divisive Ryan, not even crying on cue. He has relied on motivational gimmicks all year. From a recorded message for Jets’ season-ticket holders prior to their Week 2 game against the rival Patriots to his postseason calendar, Ryan has been a coach that Jets fans love and everyone else loves to hate. He may need to pull a few more rabbits out of his hat to make his Super Bowl dream a reality, but he won’t find any doubters in the Jets’ locker room.
"We're not afraid," said safety Jim Leonhard. "Why act like the Super Bowl isn't there? Why make it the big elephant in the room? That's our goal. We want to win it."
Vegas odds have the Jets at 14-1 to win the Super Bowl (an improvement from the 50-1 odds that drew the ire of Ryan before the game in Cincinnati) — tied with the Arizona Cardinals for the biggest long shot left in the playoffs. The Jets may not be favorites like their coach feels they should be, but if they find themselves lifting the Lombardi Trophy in Miami on Feb. 7, they’ll know that every meeting, practice and parade was on the schedule way ahead of time.