Coach Rex Ryan arrived to work Thursday to the news that cornerback Antonio Cromartie had guaranteed the Jets would make the playoffs during an appearance earlier in the day on the NFL Network's morning show "NFL AM."
"The Jets will make the playoffs this year," Cromartie said on the program. "We believe in each other, we believe in what coach Ryan and his staff is putting us to schemes and stuff, so we definitely are going to make the playoffs this year."
Most NFL head coaches would respond by going into frantic damage control, and quite possibly bar Cromartie from speaking to reporters the rest of the season. Of course, Ryan is not like most coaches, and so he opened his press conference Thursday by declaring he approved of Cromartie's declaration that the 3-5 Jets would reach the postseason and displaying his usual defiance at those who might suggest the Jets shouldn't be speaking so openly of a long-shot playoff push.
"I know 'Cro' had some comments about 'we're gonna make the playoffs,'" Ryan said. "I feel, as an entire football team, that we should all feel like that. And I think we do feel like that. Nobody wants to hear that, but who cares? That's really how we feel. And that's our mentality."
Ryan was far more cautious earlier in the week, when he all but mimicked Jim Mora Sr. at his Monday press conference. "We're not sniffing the playoffs, we're not sniffing anything right now," Ryan said.
Why the sudden change of heart? Perhaps Ryan senses there's nothing left to lose by making bold declarations. Preaching reason about the Jets' playoff chances won't do anything to change Ryan's loose-lipped reputation, and with the Jets about to embark upon a season-defining two-game road trip, Ryan will need any shred of motivational fodder he can generate to give the Jets a shot at playing meaningful games after Thanksgiving.
"We're not happy with where we are, with that 3-5 record," Ryan said. "We know it's going to be tough to get into the playoffs, especially when you back yourself up with that 3-5 record. But again, we're gonna keep swinging until they tell us that we're out. And all of us, in my opinion, believe we can make it."