Rex Ryan is known as the ultimate players coach, the Maximus Decimus Meridius of the New York Jets. His players, especially those on defense, are loyal and love to battle for their leader.
But perhaps not always.
"According to Rex, we played [expletive]," Jets defensive end Shaun Ellis told New York Post reporter Mark Cannizzaro. "He said we weren't good enough. I guess we needed a shutout. I guess that's what he was talking about."
The Jets' defense played rather well. It rebounded from a 45-3 loss to the New England Patriots six nights earlier to hold the Dolphins to 131 net yards and just 30 net passing yards. The Dolphins averaged a paltry 2.3 yards per play. The Jets sacked Chad Henne five times and forced three fumbles.
The criticism did not sit well with the defensive players, likely explaining why most of them bolted from the locker room before reporters were allowed in. Linebacker Bart Scott, the so-called leader of the group, had someone bring him his clothes from his locker.
"It's frustrating to hear that because we played a solid game," Ellis said. "I guess he just expects so much out of the defense that there should have been zero points on the board, not 10."
Sunday's problem clearly was the Jets' offense. Ryan admitted he considered removing quarterback Mark Sanchez from the game in the third quarter.
Some defensive players came dangerously close to pointing fingers.
"On defense, we just try to make sure that we keep the offense in the game, and I think we did a great job of that," Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie said before changing course.
"We just want to make sure that everybody has each other's back. We're all out there fighting for our brothers and the guy that's next to us."