Toronto, Canada – By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York Jets coach Rex Ryan is happy if people want to call him a trash-talker but he prefers to see it as confidence in his football team, who take on the red-hot San Diego Chargers in the playoffs this weekend.
Ryan's Jets, who had a 9-7 regular season record, began the Super Bowl tournament rated as 50-1 longshots to emerge as champions but have every intention of making the oddsmakers cringe.
They are one down and three wins to go in that quest and the next hurdle is a daunting trip to San Diego on Sunday to face the Chargers (13-3), the winners of 11 straight games.
The showdown will pit an explosive Chargers offense, fired by quarterback Philip Rivers and his crew of big receivers, against a ferocious Jets defense that yielded the fewest points per game in the National Football League.
Before the postseason began, Ryan scoffed at the odds and said the Jets should be favorites to win the Super Bowl.
He handed out a month-long schedule to his players that outlined the team's itinerary through four playoff victories, including the Super Bowl and a celebratory parade to follow.
"I'm true to myself," Ryan told reporters after practice at the team's training center in Florham Park, New Jersey on Wednesday.
"I just build our guys up. If it's trash talking that I believe in our football team, then yes, I'm the biggest trash talker there is.
"I'm just taking my team in and I expect to win."
Jets Pro Bowl center Nick Mangold said he appreciated Ryan's enthusiasm.
"I appreciate his style, seeing his intensity. It's a motivator."
Safety Jim Leonhard said: "He has a lot of confidence in what he does and the team he put together and he lets you know that. So you go out there and play with confidence. You don't worry about making mistakes."
"You realize how important it is to be yourself. If your style is over the top, or a yeller, or a soft-spoken teacher, whatever it is."
"Ditka was a tough-ass guy," Ryan said. "And that's the way his team was."
(Editing by Nick Mulvenney)