FLORHAM PARK, N.J.- With four days until the Baltimore Ravens kick-off the season against the Jets in the grand opening of the New Meadowlands Stadium, the war of words has begun. Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis took shots at the Jets boisterous head coach, Rex Ryan, a former defensive coordinator with the Ravens, and QB Mark Sanchez Thursday via an intercom press conference.
“The only danger [Ryan’s confidence] can have is writing the check that you can’t cash,” said Lewis. “Rex can talk all he wants. Rex isn’t putting on pads, so that’s pressure on his players…[He] put that bulls-eye on [his] team’s head.”
Ryan said today that his Super Bowl aspirations don’t put pressure on his players to perform, but rather pressure on himself to ensure his players are prepared.
Many have thought of Ryan’s bravado as refreshing for a league where its coaches are as coy as they are tactful. However he has drawn recent criticism, circa Hard Knocks, for his over-the-top personality and better-than-the-rest attitude for a team that, in reality, was a second-half start by the Colts’ starters away from not even making the playoffs.
Lewis continues on Ryan. “They watched the Super Bowl from the same place I watched the Super Bowl from: our couch.”
Ryan, who was quick to react to Ravens’ FB Le’Ron McClain’s “no excuses” comment, was calm, cool and courteous when told about Lewis’s remarks.
“It doesn’t matter what he says in a negative light. I still respect him,” said Ryan, but ended with a little dig of his own. “But we are going to try to smash him.”
Lewis, who is often regarded as one of the most respected players in league, continued handing out the bulletin board material when the topic turned from Ryan to his second-year quarterback, Sanchez.
“We don’t have to guess. All we have to do is look at the film. He struggles a lot when he has to throw the ball a lot. That’s just not his forte. We don’t worry about Mark Sanchez as an individual.”
A week ago CBS analyst and Hall-of-Famer, Terry Bradshaw, sounded off on Ryan’s in-your-face style saying it’s easy for him to shoot off at the mouth because he doesn’t play. He also said that all of the Super Bowl hype he’s creating is putting too much pressure on Sanchez, who may crumble from it being a young player. Sanchez is the lynchpin for the team’s season, and it will be interesting how he handles the adversities that come with all the expectations that surround this team.
Lewis is a savvy veteran, fourteen years strong in this league, and singled out Sanchez for a reason. With only two combined years of college and professional football under his belt, he is surrounded by a veteran, well-established team. Aside from the pressures that come with being the quarterback, Sanchez has to be able to handle the pressures that come with being the quarterback in New York’s spacious spotlight.
Sanchez was not available for comment. However the newly-paid Darrelle Revis showed a bit of modesty in laughing off Lewis’s comments and simply said, “We’ll see him Monday night,”.
As the Jets enter the 2010 NFL season Monday night, they will certainly have no allies in this league given the pedestal they’ve put themselves on, but they wouldn’t want it any other way. A post-practice tweet from OL Damien Woody, “It’s us against the world. The way we like it,”.
Matt Slauson will be the starting left guard Monday night. “I just have to know what to expect,” said Slauson. I know that they’re going to be coming after me because they consider me the weak point now on the line. It’s my job to not just win the starting job, but to play at the same level as Nick (Mangold), D’Brickashaw (Ferguson), Brandon (Moore), (Damien) Woody and all those guys. I just have to study, prepare and get it done.”
Injury Update: NYJ—OUT: Pace (foot); DIDN’T PRACTICE: Brodney Poole (ankle); LIMITED: Shaun Ellis (knee). BAL—OUT: T. Cody (knee), J. Gaither (back), D. Stallworth (foot); DNP: P. Kruger (shoulder).
Ravens head coach, John Harbaugh, who is not as extroverted as Ryan, danced around questions of singling-out and attacking Revis, who will only have one week of practice before entering the game. Ryan has already stated that it will depend on Revis how much he plays. If he’s in the game late expect QB Joe Flacco to take a shot or two with new weapon, Anquan Boldin.
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