NEW YORK (WFAN/AP) — Jets coach Rex Ryan set the tone Monday for a wild week leading up to a huge showdown with the rival Giants.
Ryan wasn’t even close to muffled after what he called a “horrible performance” against the Philadelphia Eagles.
“Quite honestly, I never came here to be little brother to anybody,” Ryan said on a conference call. “So, it’s on.”
In typical Ryan fashion, the coach used his mouth to inject even more hype into Jets-Giants.
“Certainly, we were the better team the first two years,” Ryan said. “We made the playoffs and went to the (AFC) championship game. To say a team’s better than you that never made the playoffs is ridiculous. Clearly, we were the better team my first two years. We get to prove it Saturday who the best team is this year.”
But the Giants wouldn’t take the bait. Not yet at least.
“I’m not going to pay attention to it,” said quarterback Eli Manning. “You hear little bits and pieces about it but I’m not going to go and read the paper to get every quote that Rex Ryan is saying and take it to heart.”
“I’m sure some guys will respond to it,” he added, “but it’s not gonna be me.”
Calling coach Tom Coughlin?
“I don’t usually get involved in the rhetoric part of this thing,” said the reserved Giants coach.
Even Antrel Rolle, as outspoken as they come, decided not to go there when asked how many out of 100 would go the Giants’ way.
“I really think I’m done answering that question,” he told WFAN’s Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts yesterday. “Washington made me put my foot in my mouth on that question. I think I still have it in there.”
Ryan spoke highly of the Giants, saying they’re an “excellent” team, adding that he respects Coughlin “immensely,” and calling him “one of the great coaches in the history of the sport.” He also praised Giants defensive lineman Jason Pierre-Paul for having an outstanding season.
But the pleasantries ended there. The Jets are desperate for a win now, and Ryan made it clear he’s not here to make friends. Not with bragging rights and playoff lives on the line.
“There’s no way I’m going to be second fiddle,” he said. “If we were playing the New York Yankees, I don’t want to be second fiddle to them.”
So is there anyone on Big Blue willing to step up to the Jets’ brash head coach?
“I know we’re the better team,” said Giants linebacker Mathias Kiwanuka. “We just have to go out there and prove it. The beautiful thing about it is we’re going to find out real soon.”
The Giants can still win the NFC East with victories over the Jets and the Dallas Cowboys. The Jets hold the last AFC wild-card spot with a tiebreaker edge over the Bengals — for now.
In his book that came out in the offseason, Ryan boasted that the Jets were the “big brother” of New York-area football. Well, we’ll find out on Christmas Eve — with both teams’ seasons practically on the line.
“I’m not worried about anything anybody says,” said Kiwanuka. “Especially somebody that’s not going to have pads on.”
Are Rex’s Jets the better team? Sound off below…
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