INDIANAPOLIS – Jets coach Rex Ryan offered no guarantees this year.
A year ago at the NFL scouting combine, a confident Ryan guaranteed that New York would win the Super Bowl. The Jets had reached the previous two AFC championship games, and Ryan felt the team was on the cusp of greatness. Instead, New York finished 8-8, missed the playoffs and watched the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.
In his return to the combine on Thursday, Ryan was apologetic. Before a single question was asked, he said the guarantee was a "huge mistake," an honest attempt to push his team that backfired.
"It's something that I've been thinking about a great deal," he said. "Obviously, we had a terrible season. I take full responsibility for it. Part of that guarantee really contributed to it."
Losing, it appears, is the one thing that can quiet Ryan. Or at least, make him think before he speaks.
"First off, no promises," he said. "There's not going to be any promises. But I will say we're going to have a team now that I think is going to have the potential to do great things."
Ryan said he'll still be outspoken and fun, but he won't say things that hurt the team.
"One thing I'm totally serious about is winning," he said. "If I think there's something that I say, a comment that I'm going to make that pulls away from us accomplishment, then I'm not going to say it. Will I always be myself? Of course."
When pressed about who he thought would play in the next Super Bowl, Ryan responded playfully.
"I have something I believe will happen, but I'm not going to share it with you," he said.
Though Ryan said 2011 was a bad season and he can't wait to move forward, he said the team wasn't as far from greatness as some might believe.
"I don't see us as we got completely off the track," he said. "We just got in the gravel a little bit. We've just got to right it. I'm excited about the challenge."
In every other way, Ryan was his usual self. He said his secondary was the fastest in the league except for Oakland's, then he that was only because the Raiders "have a better track team" than the Jets.
At one point, he nearly returned to his boastful self, but he showed restraint.
"At the end of the season, we'll know it was a great season," he said.
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