FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The bluster is back after one big win for the New York Jets.
Rex Ryan has never been shy to say what’s on his mind — especially when it comes to the AFC East-rival New England Patriots. The Jets coach was at it again Monday after being mostly low-key through the first few weeks of the season.
“I want them to know, and they know, that I think we’re going to beat them,” Ryan said. “I don’t buy into all that other stuff. Look, I recognize they’re a great football team and (Bill) Belichick’s a great coach. I’ve never once said he wasn’t, OK, but we’re not going to back down or concede anything.”
Hey, that sounds like the “old” Rex Ryan, doesn’t it? You know, the one that used to guarantee Super Bowl appearances and rile up opponents.
Well, wait — there’s more.
“They’re going to get our best shot,” Ryan said of the Patriots. “We know we’re going to get theirs. It doesn’t matter who says what, because we’re going to be ourselves. We’re coming up there to take our swing. We’ll see if we land that punch to win the game.”
It sure didn’t take long for Ryan and the Jets to move on from a 35-9 win over Indianapolis and focus on their showdown Sunday at New England against the Patriots. Both teams are 3-3, as well as Miami and Buffalo, leaving the AFC East wide open.
After struggling in two straight losses that left many wondering if the Jets’ season was about to spiral out of control, they bounced back in a big way. Shonn Greene ran for a career-high 161 yards and three touchdowns as the Jets rolled up 252 yards on the ground against the Colts. Mark Sanchez was efficient, throwing for 82 yards but hitting on passes he had been missing on badly the previous few weeks. Even Tim Tebow got in on the fun, completing a pass on a fake punt and running for a first down at quarterback.
“It was big, especially having some losses like we did,” said tight end Dustin Keller, who had one catch in his first game back from a hamstring injury since the season opener. “This is a big win for us. Everybody kept calling it a ‘must-have.’ I don’t know about all that, but we’re very happy we did and it’s going to give us a little momentum going into this next game.”
The maligned defense, which came in ranked 28th in the league, forced rookie quarterback Andrew Luck into three turnovers and the Colts could muster very little on offense.
“We played well,” said defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson, who had seven tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and a pass defensed. “We wanted to stop the run and get after Luck and get some pressure. We hit home, got a couple of sacks.”
The Jets will need a similar performance on Sunday against the Patriots, who have the top-ranked offense in the NFL with a balanced approach with Tom Brady throwing the ball and a running game that shares carries between Stevan Ridley, Brandon Bolden and Danny Woodhead.
“We just have to play physical up front like we did,” Wilkerson said, “and we won’t have any problem with New England running the ball.”
The Patriots have long been the team that has stood in the Jets’ way in the AFC East, and Ryan acknowledged that he has shaped New York’s roster with New England in mind. Drafting cornerback Kyle Wilson in the first round in 2010 and bringing in veteran safeties such as LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell solidified the secondary, but also gave the Jets a better shot at defending against the Patriots’ dynamic duo of tight ends in Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.
“I’ve never stopped not thinking about them,” Ryan said. “That’s the team you have to beat to win our division. You always think about them.”
New York has finished second to New England in the AFC East three straight years, and Ryan is 3-4 against them — including a playoff win. The Patriots are coming off a stunning 24-23 loss at Seattle, so the Jets know they’re preparing to go up against an angry New England team.
“I’ve got news for everybody: We always get their best,” Ryan said. “They always get ours. We’ll see if our best is better than their best on that particular day.”
Last week, it was all doom and gloom. The talk centered on Sanchez’s struggles and when Tebow was going to step in and take over as quarterback. An impressive victory has likely quashed all that for at least another week. It’s all about the Patriots now — just as it always has been for the Jets.
On Sunday, Ryan said he didn’t “feel like tugging on Superman’s cape today, but maybe tomorrow.”
Sure enough, he tugged away on Monday.
“Are they more vulnerable? I don’t know,” Ryan said. “They’ve lost three games. That’s probably more than they normally lose in a season, but we need to worry about ourselves more than anybody else.”
NOTES: RB Bilal Powell has a dislocated right shoulder, but he and the Jets were still awaiting results from an MRI exam to determine how many weeks he might be sidelined. He was injured after a 4-yard run in the third quarter against Indianapolis. … RB-KR Joe McKnight has sprained left ankle, but Ryan had no updates on the results of the MRI exam to determine McKnight’s availability for Sunday.