NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) – Jets head coach Rex Ryan joined WFAN’s Mike Francesa on Friday to explain what happened to his team during a disappointing 2011 season.
It’s been a long offseason already for Ryan. Greg McElroy publicly dishing on the locker room drama. Unnamed Jets players calling for Peyton Manning. And now veteran running back LaDainian Tomlinson speaking out on the toxicity between quarterback Mark Sanchez and wideout Santonio Holmes.
LISTEN: Rex Ryan with Mike Francesa
Ryan disputed Tomlinson’s claim that Mark Sanchez and Holmes had a rocky relationship, saying the running back might have overstated things.
“There’s some things that I disagree with. I think it was an isolated incident” Ryan said. “I don’t think it was pervasive throughout the locker room.”
Ryan told Francesa that he may have put more pressure on his players with his brash talk.
“I certainly don’t want to fuel the fire,” he said. “I want to take pressure off our players. In actuality, maybe I was putting more pressure on our guys.”
The season ended on a sour note for Sanchez and the Jets (8-8), who failed to make the playoffs for the first time in Ryan’s three years as coach. Sanchez struggled down the stretch with seven interceptions in the Jets’ final three games — all losses.
Ryan insists Mark Sanchez has the support of the organization, but added that “I think the competition [at the quarterback position] would be good.”
The Jets coach said he drove by MetLife Stadium during Giants playoff game to motivate him to get into the playoffs.
“I want to be a great head coach. I want to be. Am I there yet? No, I’m absolutely not there yet, but I am willing to work to get there.”
Ryan spoke on what he expects from offensive coordinator Tony Sparano.
“I want an all-weather offense. I want a “Ground-and-Pound” mentality.”
New York was a “Ground-and-Pound” offense during Ryan’s first two seasons, riding that style to two straight AFC title games. But when the Jets re-signed Santonio Holmes and brought in Plaxico Burress and Derrick Mason, they became enthralled with the passing game and wanted Sanchez to air out the football a little more.
When that didn’t work, Ryan insisted the Jets go back to running it — but that came along slower than expected. Suddenly, New York didn’t know what type of team it was on offense anymore.
“As much as I respect Brian [Schottenheimer] and things, I’m excited about this fresh start with Tony.”
Ryan regrets not having more of a feel for what was going on with the team off the field, particularly as tensions started to rise in the locker room. Things reached a boiling point in the season finale, when wide receiver Santonio Holmes was benched late in the game for arguing with teammates in the huddle.
“I need to be more involved, more hands on. I need to be sitting in all the meetings with them, learning,” Ryan said.
On guaranteeing that the Jets would be in the Super Bowl. “When I said that I truly believed it was our time.”
Looking toward next season Ryan admitted the need for changes. “Well, I think we made some changes. I have to look at myself. I think we’re a very talented football team. There are challenges.”
“I know we can get this team back,” he said.
“We’re gonna pour everything we’ve got into this football team. I think the biggest thing you’re gonna see [is] a team. And that’s my biggest challenge and I can’t wait to get it going.”
Ryan had some thoughts on this weekend’s conference championship games, predicting the Giants and Ravens will meet in a Super Bowl rematch.
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